Traveling north? Make memories at Kibbutz Mizra

Nowadays, Kibbutz Mizra is an extremely popular tourist destination for families interested in experiencing authentic kibbutz life.

 THE GUESTHOUSE has 65 rooms and suites in a variety of sizes. (photo credit: Meital Sharabi and Barak Baram)
THE GUESTHOUSE has 65 rooms and suites in a variety of sizes.
(photo credit: Meital Sharabi and Barak Baram)

In the northern part of the Jezreel Valley, surrounded by a breathtaking landscape, you’ll find Kibbutz Mizra, founded 98 years ago.

Located at the halfway point between Afula and Nazareth, Mizra was established by Jewish pioneers from Poland, Russia and Germany. What started out as a small agricultural community became in pre-state years an important center for Jewish settlement, a magnet for Aliyah Bet immigration in the 1930s. It even hosted Palmah headquarters during the Mandate Period.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, Kibbutz Mizra became known as a stronghold for secular Israelis, well before the large aliyah of Russian Jewry and the opening of delicatessens with non-kosher meat. In those early days, it was one of the few places where pigs were raised for their meat. For many years, Ma’adanei Mizra was the lone supplier of non-kosher meat in Israel, which angered many religious Jews.

That’s all water under the bridge, however, and nowadays Kibbutz Mizra is an extremely popular tourist destination for families interested in experiencing authentic kibbutz life. The Kibbutz Mizra Guesthouse is located on the outskirts of the kibbutz, overlooking the vegetable fields. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live on a kibbutz and eat in the massive collective dining hall, then this is your chance.

Visitors staying in the guesthouse are welcome to join all of the kibbutz’s day-to-day activities, such as sitting around a bonfire, taking a tour and seeing the main attractions of the kibbutz, tasting falafel from the kibbutz’s own mobile falafel stand, and listening to a presentation of what it was like to live and work on a kibbutz in years past as well as now.

The kibbutz guesthouse has 65 rooms and suites in a variety of sizes that can accommodate singles, couples and families. All of the rooms overlook the lovely green surroundings, whether it be a grass lawn or agricultural fields. All the rooms have been recently renovated, and now sport modern and aesthetic furnishings. It still feels like you’re staying on a kibbutz, but a really comfortable and stylish one.

For me, the nicest part of staying at a kibbutz guest house is that the moment I get to my room and plunk down my bag, I take a deep breath and a big smile immediately forms on my face. It’s such a relaxing atmosphere, where kids can run around the grassy areas freely, and parents can relax with a cup of coffee while lounging in one of the many hammocks that have been placed in strategic locations.

Another part of why I love staying over at kibbutz guesthouses is I love meandering along the kibbutz pathways and watching kibbutz members going about their lives. The common spaces on kibbutzim are huge and welcoming, and there are always a few small businesses, like a secondhand shop, a small museum or a petting zoo, which usually has free entry for people staying at the kibbutz guesthouse.

 Meet the animals of the petting zoo. (credit: Meital Sharabi and Barak Baram) Meet the animals of the petting zoo. (credit: Meital Sharabi and Barak Baram)
Petting zoo

Most people will agree that one of the most exciting attractions on every kibbutz is the petting zoo, since it is a great way to introduce little children to animals. Kibbutzim, however, also often have really large and expansive petting zoos where kids can come into contact with large farm animals such as horses, donkeys, rabbits, various types of ducks that wade in small ponds, peacocks, pigs, parrots, chickens and goats. Some of the animals are allowed to roam freely around the open space, and children are welcome to pet them. Families can walk around on their own, or can join a guided tour.

Swimming pool

Just before the summer is over and fall weather sets in, I recommend taking advantage of Kibbutz Mizra’s large swimming pool that is surrounded by grassy lawns, with lots of shady areas and a small kiosk where you can buy cold drinks and ice cream. Unfortunately, there isn’t a kids’ pool at the kibbutz, so you might want to bring along a portable blow-up pool if you’ll be traveling with toddlers. There is also plenty of room to open up your kiddie pool next to your guest room.

Kibbutz Mizra Museum

The kibbutz was founded in 1923 in an important strategic location, as it lies right along the Jezreel Valley Railway. The Kibbutz Mizra Museum was established to tell the story of the kibbutz, beginning with its pre-state days. Visitors can learn about how the early settlers dressed and spoke, as well as what kind of work they did to sustain themselves on the land. Inside the museum, you’ll also see an original piece of the old railway tracks.

Ma’ayan Harod National Park

About 20 minutes from the kibbutz you’ll find Ma’ayan Harod National Park, which is the ideal spot for going on a short, relaxing hike or stopping for a picnic with the family, especially if you like wading in shallow pools. The spring that flows with the nature reserve begins at Gideon Cave, which is located on the side of Mount Gilboa. The cave was named after the prophet Gideon, who led a victorious battle in the area against the Midianites. The cave is a short walk from the entrance of the park, and certainly worthwhile to visit, since you can see the water flowing from the spring into a large wading pool. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be excited to seethe remains of flour mills and an ancient aqueduct that date back to the time of the crusaders.

If you like camping, you can stay overnight on the camping grounds at Ma’ayan Harod National Park. This is the perfect time of year to go camping, since the days are a little cooler and it’s still not too cold at night. The camping grounds are relatively large, which means that you won’t feel too crowded even if there are lots of other families camping there.

Price: Adults NIS 28, Children NIS 14.

Registration: Israel Nature and Parks Authority website.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.