This morning we drove away from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem and headed north to the Galilee through the Jordan Valley along the Jordan River. Little did we realize that we were actually traveling back in time. It was kind of like Back to the Future, but a lot further back!
Our first stop was Beit She’an, an ancient Roman city. There was a man-made large hill/mountain that Daniel desperately wanted to climb (since he didn’t get to climb Masada – closed due to heat), but due to time constraints he stuck with the group.
Every group that came to this area to establish themselves destroyed the city that was already there and built a new one for themselves. Beit She’an was a prime location because water was plentiful and it was a nice-sized area that accommodated people amongst its streets.
We noticed ruins of white stones which are limestone and others of black rocks which are volcanic rock. As we stood in the theater, we learned that our very own Yuval, Maya’s sabba, still conducts orchestras here. We were disappointed that we weren’t there for one of his concerts, but we could surely imagine how magnificent it must be!
Kids tried carob
We saw many arcs and pillars which we learned knocked down due to an earthquake in year 836. It was then that we learned that Dikla bought the discounted tickets for us to enter. In order for us not to have to pay full price, she informed us that we were required to lift a pillar back onto its base. We’re unable to board the plane home until we finish the job! 😉
The main street running through the center of the city is called Cardo, like cardio, the heart that keeps the city (or Polis) going.
Our next stop on our ancient tour was Kfar Kedem where we were each transported back to biblical times and we were dressed as people did during the time of the Torah. Our guide explained that history came orally, but when the Jews dispersed, the information needed to be written in order to be transferred to future generations. This led to the Talmud and other compilations. We’ve had the opportunity to see writings that describe life in the earlier years.
Before beginning our journey, we had to give up our “cooking pots” (hats) and wear the garb of the time. (please check out the photos with our ancient dress uniforms (same for men and women), along with the white headdresses.
The differences of goats and sheep were explained and the used of the hair that gets cut off of each. (No electric razors at that time!) Hair of goats get put on Bedowin tents, while wool from sheep is spun and made into yarn for clothes. Or, if someone pressed a bunch of the wool together with cold water, then dropped it into hot water, it would stick together and bags, etc. could be created. There was no waste of anything back then! All parts of the sheep are used. Horns are put into ground until the stuff inside disintegrates, then they become shofars.
Adam and I were fortunate (?) to milk a sheep! Interesting experience, but not ready to quit my day job!
The people at Kfar Kedem milked the goat before we got there, but we still watched how fresh goat cheese was made. After the milk was cooled, Aidan stirred it with fig tree leaf stems which also contains milk. After stirring for a bit, Aaron and Maya held the cheesecloth while Daniel drained the mixture. Voile! It can be kept for months. If it dries up, put a little water on it and it will be fresh. I think we found a congregational activity! 😁
Wheat was the basis of ancient existence. The technology to collect wheat was a flat board with holes on the bottom stuffed with rocks and attached to donkeys. Someone would “surf” on the board being pulled by the donkeys collecting wheat. Then, the bulgar would be ground on volcanic rock. The wheat was turned into flour and mixed with water until it became doughy. It was stretched and placed over a fire until cooked. That whole process from start to finish took no more than 18 minutes. This would be another great congregational activity!
Just as Shabbat is a day of rest after 6 days of work, workers back then would tend land and plant for 6 years and rest on the 7th year (Shmitah). They would just live off the land during that year and would share the crops with others.
While tending the land, we learned that bulls and donkeys could not be used to tend land at the same time. First of all, species were not mixed because of their strengths. Only one at a time were used. The bulls were used for strength and donkeys were used for long, slow walks.
One other thing or guide mentioned was that we rely on G-d for rain. While we may say things that are true, such as a person is wearing a gold necklace, it’s what is lingering in our minds that may hinder the rain to help crops grow.
The last piece of advice that was given to us was to use what we have from the past to help guide us in the future.
After eating a nice meal of pita, hummus, vegetables, kabobs, chicken, rice and baklava, we admired asses. Each one of us got to ride a donkey and we each got a kick out of telling each other who had the nicest ass!
On our way to the Kineret, we stopped to attach a thank you note to a pigeon for the people at Kfar Kedem. Dikla received a pigeon from them prior to leaving the grounds. She told us that pigeons used to be used as food. They’re kosher, common and easy to catch. Also (on a special note), pigeon pop was used as frolics in the fields. Offerings are a monogamous couple for their entire lives. Every year they lay new eggs and the pigeons always go back to where it was born. So, by attaching a note to the pigeon, we expect that it will make its way back to Kfar Kedem.
As we were arriving at our hotel which is set overlooking the Kineret, we learned that this body of water is the lowest freshwater lake on earth. Our hotel also overlooks the Golan Heights which was conquered from Syria in 1967 due to excessive fighting. The lower Galilee mountains aren’t high and in between are large vallies where many olives are grown.
Our brains are working overtime, but we’ve learned a ton and experienced even more! As Adam has already shared, we have stayed full of energy with the incredible new tastes we’ve encountered! Love it!
We finished the day on a beach by the Kineret, roasting mallows and potatoes in a bonfire, listening to chill, Hebrew music and enjoying each other’s company.