In the words of our lovely guide Rachel, “We’re in Israel, WOOOOO!” This time, the north. Day eight was spent in and around the Golan Heights where we focused on issues of security, borders, and water. After shoveling down an amazing breakfast, we boarded Bus 927 to head to the Tel Dan Reserve. Named after one of Jacob’s 12 sons, the nature reserve is full of rich history, both biblical and contemporary. Critical to Israel’s survival, the Dan River flows through the reserve and is one of the three sources of the Sea of Galilee, the main source of fresh water for Israel. A tel
is a mound made up of layer upon layer of civilization (demonstrated to the group by way of “Tel Margot” and the multiple hats placed on my head). According to the book of Genesis, about 4000 years ago Abraham came through the area to save his nephew Lot who had been taken captive in battle. At the time of Abraham, the village of Dan was a border town and we saw one of the earliest mud-brick arches dating back to that time. Today, the area still functions as a border between Israel and Lebanon in the northwest and Syria in the northeast. We discussed the national security implications of the release of captives, which weren’t a concern when Abraham helped free Lot. In 2006, a young soldier, Gilad Shalit, was captured on the border with Gaza and is still missing to this day. We focused on the dilemmas facing the Israeli public and government in respect to his release.
Our next stop was Mount Bental, an extinct volcano. The top of the mountain had incredible views of the snow-covered peaks of Mount Hermon and the Syrian Border, one the most heavily fortified borders in the world, but also one of the quietest. The volcano has two important things to see on top: one is a bunker used by Syria before 1967 Six-Day War when Syria controlled the Golan and the second is a fantastic coffee shop with the witty United Nations-themed name “Coffee Annan” (annan
is the Hebrew word for cloud). The hot chocolate was amazing and just what we needed after exploring the freezing mountain.
What better activity to fill the afternoon with than a wine tasting at the Golan Heights Winery in Katzrin? We got to see how the wine was made and bottled, followed by a small tasting of Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Muscat. After the winery, we headed to lunch filled with falafel and shwarma. To speed up the process, our guide Rachel jumped behind the counter and made many of the sandwiches herself. Next, we took an educational break: did you know that in the Golan Heights there are two ATMs, 1,200,000 mines, 40,000 cows, and only 18,000 Jews? After some soccer, a shower, and a nap, we all hit the buffet for another delicious meal at Kibbutz Ginosar.
No trip to the north would be complete without a night out on the town in Tiberius! Yes, that’s right, we popped, locked, and dropped to American music before going to bed in time for our 6:50 a.m. wake-up call this morning. Day eight was fun, interesting, and a little exhausting!
P.S. Israel's Givun imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.
-Margot Grinberg '12