jerusalem forest 298.88.
(photo credit: JNF)
The entrance to the Jerusalem Forest provides an appropriate introduction to the surprise waiting at its center. The journey to this concealed destination starts in a short road with the pastoral name of Rehov Pirhei Chen -"Flowers of Grace Street," in the west of the capital. The narrow road wends its way between well-cared-for houses surrounded by luxuriant gardens, to two stone pillars that form a gateway. One of the pillars bears a KKL-JNF sign reading "Jerusalem Forest."
The narrow road leads into the pine forest. On the left is the Australia Recreation Area - an enchanted spot. The hiking trail, marked in blue, starts here. We drive along the road, which has been kept narrow in order not to detract from the beauty of the surrounding woodland, and follow the signs towards the Zippori Center. Before the entrance we turn right along a little road that descends into the parking and recreation center.
The woodlands spread down the hillside. At the recreation site are two stone posts, between which are signs bearing the donors' names: Dr. Max and Yonina Glassman, in honor of their children Robert and Shoshana and their grandchildren Yehoshua, Daniel Weiman. A paved road with wheelchair access winds away from the stone gateway.
The winding path ends in a row of steps flanked on each side by a silent honor guard of cypresses and pines whose heads nod in the breeze. Then, all at once, the magnificent view is revealed: below, in the valley, the slope is dotted with little cubes - the houses of Moshav Beit Zayit, where white paths stand out like contour lines and the terraces are planted with fruit trees.
But the most breathtaking sight of all is the sturdy retaining dam holding back the abundant waters of the Beit Zayit Lake. The scene becomes even more impressive as we make our way down the steps to the observation platform, which provides a slightly closer view of the landscape. Behind the concrete dam the boomerang-shaped lake can be seen, its brilliant turquoise waters complimenting the blue of the sky.
The Beit Zayit reservoir collects the waters of Nahal Halilim, Motza springs, Halilim Spring and other streams that fill up in the rainy season. When the lake is full to overflowing, the surplus water runs over the dam to join the waters of Nahal Sorek. KKL-JNF staff, with the help of distinguished donor Dr. Max Glassman, were wise enough to choose the most beautiful spot and turn it into a recreation and lookout area.
When the lookout was inaugurated in April 2006, Dr. Glassman said at the ceremony, "This beautiful observation point lies between Yad Vashem, which perpetuates the memory of those who died in the Holocaust, and the military cemetery on Mount Herzl, which symbolizes Israel's rebirth."
The site includes play and recreation areas. On the left is a trail that leads to an ancient roofed wine press.