Touring Israel: Social enterprises in the Western Galilee

The Western Galilee is about a 90-minute drive from central Israel and is home to a plethora of pleasant hikes, quaint cafés and social enterprises.

 Touring the Western Galilee. (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Touring the Western Galilee.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Now that the summer is well and truly over, this is the perfect season for traveling around and enjoying all the wonderful things our magnificent country has to offer. This week, I will focus on the Western Galilee, which is about a 90-minute drive from central Israel and is home to a plethora of pleasant hikes, quaint cafés and social enterprises. Here are a few select options worth visiting.

1. Teva HaGalil

Found in the heart of Koranit, a small residential community in the Galilee, you will find Teva HaGalil’s enchanting Garden of Herbs, which is a small family-run boutique factory that produces natural cosmetics. 

The factory was established by Lior and Yahel, both of whom grew up in Koranit and believe it’s important to engage in a healthy and natural lifestyle. In an effort to make it easier for others to live healthily, 10 years ago they came up with the idea to create their natural cosmetics business. They produce soaps, cosmetics for body and face care. All of their products are handmade and made with extra virgin olive oil and plant extracts. 

Lior and Yahel offer guided tours, which start with a short explanation about how cosmetics are made and how natural cosmetics differ from conventional mass-produced products. Then, visitors are invited to join a guided tour of the herb garden where they will learn about the various plants and their unique qualities. Finally, guests can participate in an hour-long deodorant-making workshop made from natural ingredients, and of course can take home their creation. 

Price of workshop: NIS 50. Details: 072-397-1235

 Kamah Café (credit: MEITAL SHARABI) Kamah Café (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

2. Kamah Café 

In the Galilee, south of Shefaram, lies Kibbutz Harduf. The relatively young kibbutz, which was founded in the 1980s by members of the anthroposophical movement, is one of the most intriguing communities in all of Israel. Even though it was founded well after most of Israel’s kibbutzim, and is relatively small with less than 500 members – more than 100 of whom are adults and children with special needs – it is considered one of the biggest Israeli producers of organic food. Moreover, it is famously known as being a warm and welcoming community that promotes inclusion of all members of society. The kibbutz runs dozens of environmental and conservation programs, one of which is Kamah Café. 

The café is run by the Kamah Association, which is a cooperative that actively promotes social change by integrating people with special needs into the greater community. Two such initiatives are Beit Tuvai, a boarding school for children and teens who had to be removed from their homes, and Beit Elisha, a home for adults with special needs. 

Kamah Café is a social enterprise that offers people with disabilities the opportunity to engage in gainful employment. The café, which is open daily for breakfast and lunch, bases its dishes on locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes pastries and cakes that are baked in the on-site bakery, shakshuka, vegan burgers and great coffee. 

Customers are welcome to enjoy their meal while sitting inside, or outside in the shady courtyard. There is also a gallery at Café Kamah where you’ll find a range of products created by residents of the community. Residents who live in Beit Elisha work in the kitchen, the bakery and also serve as waiters in the café. The ceramic plates and bowls in which meals are served in the café are made by Beit Elisha residents, and on the shelves in the café you can see other items made by residents that can be purchased. Patronizing the café and gallery is a great way to enjoy a tasty meal, become familiar with a part of society we don’t often get to see and support people with disabilities. 

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9:15 a.m.-2 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.Details: 072-397-1199.

3. Ishu Café

I’m willing to travel halfway around the world for good, quality coffee – or at least to Eshhar in the Galilee, south of Karmiel, where you’ll find Ishu Café, a boutique coffee roasting house that was founded by Genadi Kozakevich. After working as a tour guide for 25 years, Kozakevich decided to change gears and take a coffee roasting course and learn more about the coffee industry. He took a coffee bean roasting course overseas, in which he learned the best grinding practices. 

Then, since he had lots of time on his hands due to COVID-19, he felt it was time to open up his own roasting business in his home. Kozakevich roasts green coffee beans, and word of this delicious coffee has reached every corner of the country. Visitors are invited to take part in coffee making workshops, which also include wine and food tastings, and lots of entertaining anecdotes about the world of coffee and Kozakevich’s personal experiences in the world of coffee. 

Price: NIS 150 per person in groups of eight to 12 people. Details: 072-397-1661

If you’re already in Eshhar, I strongly recommend going for a walk along Shvil Hatziporim, which is just a few minutes’ drive from Ishu Café. This path will lead you to a lookout spot with a breathtaking view of the region. This is the perfect place for a picnic or to enjoy a short break. And if you’re visiting after the rainy season has begun, you will be treated to an impressive array of colorful flowers. 

4. Kishor Winery

Situated at the top of a mountain in Kfar Kishorit in the Western Galilee, and surrounded by natural forest and lots of quiet space, you’ll find Kishor Winery. Kfar Kishorit, which overlooks the beaches of Nahariya and the winery’s vineyards, is home to 200 adults with special needs, all of whom work in the vineyard or in wine production. In addition to providing gainful employment to these individuals, the winery produces 12 varieties of quality wines. At the Kishor Visitor Center, guests can watch a short clip about Kfar Kishorit and its affiliation with the winery, taste six varieties of wines and enjoy a platter of focaccia and olives. 

Price of wine tasting: NIS 50.Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.Details: 072-395-7565

Translated by Hannah Hochner.