The Modi’in region, located halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. This time of year, you will find hundreds of cyclamens (rakafot) in the Ben-Shemen Forest, interesting archaeological finds dating back to the Hasmonean dynasty, and a number of creative tourist attractions.
This is the perfect time of year to visit moshavim in the area, where you can learn about modern ecological recycling methods, hydroponic farming, and taste some of the freshest vegetables and olive oil produced in Israel. Here are a few highlights of the amazing places to visit in the Modi’in area.
1. LILITH, THE HERBALIST
In Moshav Beit Nehemia, you’ll find Hava Tapukhi, owner of Lilith, the Herbalist, who makes handmade soaps and candles. Tapukhi welcomes guests in her studio, where she hosts short workshops.
As soon as you enter the room, you will be treated to the aromatic scent of the dried flowers and oils that she uses in her candles and soaps, made with fresh aloe vera, olive oil, essential oils and plants.
Tapukhi leads ecology tours in her garden, where she explains to guests all the various ways her family engages in ecological living, such as using a compost bin to recycle all their organic waste, and containers they use to collect water that they use to water the garden.
At the end of the tour, she shows her guests how she makes sourdough bread, pickles, and olives, and how she produces oil from the olives grown on the tree in her garden.
Price: Tour – NIS 100; minimum 10 people. Refreshments – NIS 30. Workshop – depends on the number of participants.Location: 59 Derech Hayasmin, Beit NehemiaDetails: 054-471-1855
2. ROOT AND LEAF FARM
The Root and Leaf Farm on Moshav Ben-Shemen is a hydroponic greenhouse where a variety of lettuces and other vegetables are grown, and visitors are welcome to join a guided tour of the farm. The Root and Leaf Farm subscribes to the farm-to-table social movement, and this method of selling really took off during COVID. The farm also sells directly to restaurants and at the local farmers’ market on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Once a month they offer a special family tour, plus a workshop during which participants are taught how to grow sprouts. The 1.5-hour program begins with a tour of the greenhouse and the organic garden, where participants learn about the different forms of hydroponic farming and why some methods are more successful than others.
Guests taste a variety of different vegetables, then everyone prepares a tray of sprouts from sunflower seeds, radishes and beans, which they can take home.
Price: NIS 75 for parent + child; NIS 50 for each extra child; NIS 20 for each extra parent. For ages 3 and upDetails: www.facebook.com/ShoreshVeAle
3. THE SECRET CYCLAMEN HILL
The best-kept secret of the Modi’in region is the Ben-Shemen Forest, and my favorite spot there is the Secret Cyclamen Hill. You don’t need to trek all the way down to the northern Negev to see expansive fields of colorful cyclamens.
To get there from central Israel on Highway 1, turn off onto Highway 443 toward Modi’in, and then turn right off 443 into Mitzpeh Modi’in. Continue on a narrow road, then take a right turn after the sign for Tel Hadid. Drive for 150 m., then turn left onto a dirt road when you see the sign for the “Kehilot” parking area.
Continue driving until you reach an intersection, where you should take the middle path. Continue another 150 m. until you reach a wider path, which you should pass over. Do not stop at the parking area that you’ll soon see.
Continue until the next intersection, where you should turn left, then right. Drive another 50 m., then park your car on the side of the road. The walking path starts there.
4. HAPPINESS IN A POT
Sima Nahon, a talented cook, likes nothing better than making people happy by feeding them good food. She runs Simcha Basir (Happiness in a Pot), for which she bakes, makes salads and cooks down-to-earth dishes.
She changes her menu constantly, but you can almost always find schnitzel and meatballs. You can order a plate or a sandwich, and then sit and eat it on-site at one of the picnic tables or order takeaway.
Nahon makes all the food herself, and also offers baking and healthy eating workshops for small groups. She says that her love of cooking began by spending time in the kitchen with her grandmother. Every Thursday night, she bakes a batch of special breads filled with delicacies such as beef, onions, and Swiss chard to make her customers’ Shabbat extra happy.
Prices: NIS 40 for sandwiches. NIS 50 for a plate with beef, sides and saladsHours: Monday-Thursday 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Friday 9 a.m.-2 p.mLocation: Bareket Street, NofekhDetails: 050-971-6023
5. LEVIN FARM
Thirty years ago, Shmulik Levin planted his family’s first grove of olive trees. Nowadays, he works together with his wife, Keren, and sons Avinoam and Yuval to produce extra virgin olive oil, for which they have won prizes in Israel and abroad.
At the Levin Farm, visitors can join a guided tasting tour and hear how farmers manage to survive despite the tough competition from imported olive oils. In the gift shop, you can purchase olive oil, pickled olives and honey.
Price: Tour – NIS 600 for a group of 12 (NIS 50 per person) Days: Sunday-FridayLocation: 5 Hashachar St., MazorDetails: 054-648-8663
Translated by Hannah Hochner.