The Galilee: Art, culture & cuisine

Dozens of sites in the Western Galilee, including a number of culinary and art establishments, are now open for business.

Druze town of Hurfeish (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Druze town of Hurfeish
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Despite talk of a second COVID-19 wave, tourist sites here are beginning to show signs of life. Hotels and attractions are slowly getting back to normal schedules while closely following new Health Ministry regulations. Dozens of sites in the Western Galilee, including a number of culinary and art establishments, are now open for business.
Now that we’ve fed our bodies, it’s time to feed our souls. Pretty much anywhere you go in the Upper Galilee, you will find great places to hike with gorgeous scenery. If you’d like to join a guided tour led by local residents, tour guide Carmit Arbel will be leading fascinating tours of the Druze town Hurfeish. Arbel will take you to interesting parts of the village that you’d never find on your own.
BYZANTINE-ERA church in the Druze town of HurfeishBYZANTINE-ERA church in the Druze town of Hurfeish
In addition, she brings the group to visit Rokmot Hatahara (“Embroidering Lace”), a nonprofit that was created in 2009, in which 65 local women get together and create embroidered items using traditional Druze methodology, which are then sold by the association. The idea behind the nonprofit’s creation is that many religious Druze women found it difficult to find work outside of their community, and Rokmot Hatahara provided them with the ability to engage in work they enjoyed and that would also help them provide for their families.
Arbel will also take you to visit a church that dates back to the Byzantine Empire. It’s quite surprising to find a church located right in the heart of a Druze village. The church, which had lay in ruins for many years, was recently renovated by funding from the Vatican. The church is named after the Discalced Carmelite nun Mariam Baouardy, who’s also known by the name Mary of Ibillin. Born to Greek Catholic parents in Hurfeish in a house next to the church, Mary had an extremely eclectic and exhilarating life.

Booking church tours: 050-914-6347.
Booking tours with Carmit Arbel: 050-440-0980.
After the tour, I recommend partaking in the traditional local cuisine, including Druze pita with labaneh and sambusaks with stuffed grape leaves at any of the local eateries. And before leaving, you must stop at Nasim’s pastry shop on the main street of the village, where you can taste some of the best kanafeh in the country.
Details: 072-3971654.
Old Acre
In an effort to boost business, the Western Galilee Now association will be holding the July Art program, which includes new exhibits, guided tours around the Galilee, meetups with artists, workshops, theatrical performances and exhibitions in local art galleries. In July, a free exhibition called The Crystal Palace, will be opening at Hamerhav Gallery in Old Acre. The exhibition, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, features works by five artists who live in the Galilee and work with a variety of art forms, including glass, iron, mosaic, ceramics and recycled materials.
Another exhibition that will be held at ART-192 in Acre by artist Edna Piorko is called Biography from the Stomach and features ceramic figurines that tell the life story and intriguing recovery of the artist. A third exhibition of drawings called Bereshit between Black and White by artist Liora Kuris will take place in Alon HaGalil. The exhibition includes large-scale paintings and video art. On Saturday, July 18, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., local artists will be opening their homes and galleries to the public.
For the next few weeks, tour guides will be leading guided tours throughout the region. Visitors can join Carmit Arbel for a “Fairytale Concertiyul” for the whole family, which will take you on a magical journey through the forest, or for a women’s night out. Both of these tours will be accompanied by a flautist. Amnon Gofer will be leading another “Fairytale Concertiyul” through the narrow alleyways of Peki’in, which will be followed by a visit to the Saint George Monastery, an encounter with singer Ella Medina and a unique a capella concert.
HEAVENLY PASTRY at Nasim’s in Hurfeish.HEAVENLY PASTRY at Nasim’s in Hurfeish.
Jara Studio
Artists from all over the country are happily inviting visitors into their studios to display their artwork and engage in conversation about the art world. In Klil, a community in the Western Galilee, guests are invited to Jara Studio, where they can meet the artist couple Alon Gil and Batya Margalit, both of whom are graduates of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Gil works with ceramics and Margalit with glass, and when they arrived in Klil more than 30 years ago, they decided to build their house/studio all by themselves on an empty plot of land. The artist couple offers workshops and private lessons for aspiring artists. In conjunction with Western Galilee Now, they’re currently offering the public to join a special 90-minute workshop in which guests will learn methods for working with ceramics and glass. This workshop is appropriate for all ages and is limited to groups of 25.

Price: NIS 80 per person; NIS 25 for groups of 10 or more. Pre-registration required.
Details: 052-469-8631.
Moshav Yodfat
Before setting out on a full day of touring Israeli art, I recommend starting the day with a hearty Israeli breakfast. There are a number of excellent breakfast eateries in the North. One of my favorites is Café Yodfat in the rural boutique center Boacha Yodfat, located at the entrance of the moshav.
BREAKFAST is on the menu at Café Yodfat.BREAKFAST is on the menu at Café Yodfat.
Café Yodfat is on the top floor of the center and has a balcony with a gorgeous view of the surroundings. The café offers a variety of tasty dishes made with locally grown ingredients, including eggs Benedict, locally smoked salmon served with a rich hollandaise sauce, as well as spelt crepes filled with mozzarella cheese, Swiss chard and caramelized onions. In short, you will find healthy and tasty dishes here that are not the normal fare at most restaurants.
After filling your stomachs, you can go downstairs and take a tour of the Yodfat Monkey Forest, find delectable shops selling handmade cheeses, tasty pastries and chic clothing. All of the above is located conveniently in the Boacha Yodfat Center.
Location: Boacha Yodfat Center, Moshav Yodfat.
Details: (04) 822-5860.
Alternatively, you could dine at one of the most renowned culinary establishments in the Galilee: Adelina at Kibbutz Kabri. Located in a stone structure with a gorgeous view of the surroundings for the last 15 years, Adelina offers a menu full of Sephardi appetizers and mains. Owned by restaurateur Ilan Oppenheimer, Adelina is run by chef Roshdi Dakwar, a Christian Arab from Ma’alot-Tarshiha who studied at Cordon Bleu in France. Using mostly local ingredients, each meal at Adelina begins with fresh bread that is straight out of the stone tabun oven, served with an eclectic arrangement of tapas even before you get a chance to pick a meat or seafood main dish from the menu.
Reservations: (04) 952-3707.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.