(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On a hot Israeli summer day, a group of young people from France spent the afternoon at Adulam Park in the Lower Judean hills, which is being adopted by KKL-JNF France, at the initiative of Mr. Frederic Nordmann, the president of KKL-JNF France. They were at the Hurvat Burgin site, where they learned about the Jewish community that thrived here during the time of the Second Jewish Commonwealth.
Leora Atler, their KKL-JNF guide, explained about the group: "Modaon Loisirs of Paris, France organized this summer camp for young French Jews. Moadon is a center for Jewish culture in Paris, and this summer's trip to Israel was organized in cooperation with KKL-JNF's Youth and Education Division. There are 43 young people aged 15-16 in the group, and they will be in Israel for sixteen days. They were already up north, where they visited a number of KKL-JNF sites, such as Adamit Park, Nesher Park and the Jordan River Park, where the group worked pruning trees and clearing out brush. The truth is that they were up all night, but they still seem to be full of energy!"
On their way climbing up the tel - the archaeological remains at the site - the group stopped at what was probably an ancient wine press. Their guide explained: "About 2,000 years ago, there was a Jewish village here by the name of Kfar Bish. One of their means of livelihood was growing grapes on the slopes of the hills. They would bring the harvested grapes here, where they would press them, and the juice flowed into the pit. It was eventually made into wine, some of it apparently for the Temple in Jerusalem. Today also, excellent wine is produced in a growing number of boutique wineries in the region."
Adventure and work awaited the group at the top of the tel, where a hole in the rock led to an underground tunnel, also from the time of the Second Temple. Shlomit, an archaeologist from the Antiquities Authority, explained how the tunnel was used during different periods: "Originally, the tunnel led to underground rooms, which were cool and used for storage. During the time of the Great Rebellion and the Bar Kochba Rebellion, they were used by Jewish guerilla fighters, who would attack the Roman soldiers and then seemingly disappear into the earth. Unfortunately, the Romans eventually discovered these underground systems and smoked the Jews out. We have been digging out the ground inside the tunnel, and have found pottery, bones, glass and even coins. That's what you'll be doing here today."
Between carrying pails full of dirt and sifting them, we had an opportunity to speak with some of the members of the group, like Keren Symchawicz of Paris: "We're having a really great time. I've been part of Moadon since I was a young kid, and I've been in Israel quite a few times before. This time, however, I'm finding out about places that I never knew existed. I was actually named Keren for Keren Kayemeth. When my mother was pregnant, she really loved that name, and that's how I got it. I usually do something with KKL-JNF every summer."
For Laury Cohen
, 16, this was her second time in Israel: "Last time I
came to Israel with my family, but this time I'm here with friends, and
it's lots of fun. We planted trees by the Kennedy Memorial, which was
very nice for me, because I never planted a tree before."Kimberly Levi
, 16: "This is the second time I've been to Israel with
Moadon, but this trip is very different from the last one. This time
I've also been learning about what KKL-JNF does in Israel, which I
really didn't know much about before. Israel is my favorite country,
the country that I love."Kevin Simon Zouzon, John-David Davila, and Karen Bitton
were also very
excited to be on the Moadon trip: "All of us plan to come back again to
Israel, maybe even every year, if we can manage it. Working in the
Jordan River Park was a great experience, not to mention planting trees
in Israel. All in all, KKL-JNF is really a great teacher!
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