Land of milk and honey

There is no better way to celebrate the holiday than going on a water hike in a stream, or picnicking next to a water hole in one of Israel’s many nature reserves.

Spend Shavuot frolicking through nature (photo credit: DUDI LAZAR)
Spend Shavuot frolicking through nature
(photo credit: DUDI LAZAR)
Shavuot, which in Israel is largely about water (perhaps because the Torah is often equated with water), is a wonderful opportunity to get out and tour the country. Since this is a leap year and Shavuot falls later in the secular calendar than usual, there is no better way to celebrate the holiday than going on a water hike in a stream, or picnicking next to a water hole in one of Israel’s many nature reserves.
If you prefer to go hiking on less crowded days, there are also plenty of organized activities around the country for Shavuot. Here are some of my favorites:
There’s no better way to celebrate the water festival than at the Kinneret. There’s a path that encircles the entire lake, and I’d like to recommend a small part of it that you can easily hike, even with young children (but without strollers). The circular path is 3.8 kilometers long, passes by lots of trees and flora, and has a breathtaking view. In addition, there are plenty of shady spots for resting along the way.
The path begins just in front of the entrance to the Alonit gas station next to Kibbutz Ha’on (Road 92).
Just follow the black trail markers that will take you southwest towards the Samara River. At the river’s mouth, you’ll be able to see the Dragon’s Teeth, which is actually just concrete that was poured there by the British during World War II. After a quick glance, continue along the path marked with white, blue and purple trail markers, which encircles the Kinneret, toward Kibbutz Ma’agan. After about 900 meters, you’ll notice a new pumping station. From here, take the blue path, which loops back to the gas station.
For more information: *55477.
Milk and Honey Festival
In the Jezreel Valley, you can go to the Milk and Honey Festival that celebrates nature and agriculture in Israel. There will be musical and dance performances, an agricultural fair, hikes and Shavuot workshops, nighttime learning sessions and an exhibition featuring works by 50 artists who hail from the Jezreel Valley.
On Friday, June 10, the show Love Among the Corn Stalks will be performed. Directed and written by Yoav Kotner, it features Danny Robas, Miri Aloni, Danielle Solomon, Dana Adini, Liron Lev, Rivka Zohar, Ella Daniel, the Shalusharot, and Ben Artzi.
In addition, during the festival, there will be a bikkurim (firstfruits) ceremony in Kfar Yehoshua in which Jane Bordeaux, Natan Datner, the Asner Brothers, and Yehuda Poliker will participate.
For details:
White Festival
For the fifth year in a row, the White Festival will take place in the Modi’in region. There will be a variety of agricultural activities in which you will be able to experience what it was like to harvest wheat and other crops in ancient times. In addition, visitors can shepherd sheep, taste wines and cheeses, and make pitot on a tabun. Moshav Ben-Shemen and Airport City will be hosting fairs, and at Mevo Modi’im guests can learn how to herd sheep and goats and make cheese from their milk. At the Hasmonean Village in Shilat, guests can watch a show about Megilat Ruth, and at Neot Kedumim there will be a harvest celebration in which visitors can learn how to write on ancient parchment.
For details:
Nahal Taninim
Cycling enthusiasts are invited to join a pastoral bike tour along Nahal Taninim with bicycles you can rent at the Binyamina railway station. As the easy eight-to- 10-kilometer path follows the river towards the sea, it passes orchards and there are lots of scenic places to stop along the way, including water springs. If you like the idea of speeding along the sea without getting too sweaty, you can rent a golf cart and follow the same path in comfort.
For details: 052-455-9052.
Mei Kedem
When the temperatures start soaring, one of the best places to spend the day is at Mei Kedem, an aqueduct built by the Romans to bring water to Caesarea.
At Mei Kedem in Alona Park near Binyamina (just past Moshav Avihayil), visitors can walk through the 300-meter water tunnel that has been preserved almost in its entirety.
The Romans dug down into the spring so that the tunnel would continually fill up from natural spring water. At different parts in the tunnel, the water can be as low as your ankles, but also rise to 70 cm. at times.
Water shoes are required and flashlights are recommended, although some natural light reaches the tunnel and electrical lighting has been added. The guided tour is 50 minutes long, including a short film. Tours begin every 30 minutes.
Price: Adults NIS 24, children over five NIS 18.
For details: (04) 638-8622.
Golan Heights Winery
Guests who come to Golan Heights Winery in Katzrin on Shavuot will be in for a nice surprise. The veteran winery’s regular couples tour of the visitor’s center will be upgraded to include a picnic basket full of locally made goodies, which guests can enjoy in the adjoining garden, next to one of the Golan’s many streams, or underneath a blossoming eucalyptus tree.
Tour lasts one hour.
Price: NIS 200 per couple.
For details: (04) 696-8435.
Teva Ez
During the three-day Shavuot festival (June 11-13) at Teva Ez at Moshav Ben Ami, visitors will be invited to participate in guided tours of the farm. They’ll be able to milk goats manually, hand-feed older goats and bottle- feed kids (baby goats), create art projects and participate in a cheese-making workshop.
Visitors are also welcome to eat their picnic lunches on the expansive green lawn on the premises.
Price: NIS 30 per person.
For details: 077-996-4465.
Bell Ofri Farm
At the Bell Ofri Farm in Kidmat Zvi in the Golan Heights, Tami and Babi Kabalo are known for taking in unadoptable animals in addition to the goats, peacocks, pigeons, rabbits, marmots, guinea pigs, tortoises, chickens and ducks that live in their petting zoo.
This Shavuot, they are planning lots of fun activities and workshops for adults and children. Visitors can pick and then stomp on grapes from their vineyard, grind wheat kernels into flour, or lead a mule around the reconstructed ancient olive press. The Kabalos aim to give guests a glimpse into the lives of Jews who lived in the region during the talmudic period. The winery is located inside an abandoned Syrian bunker and children can participate in workshops where they will learn the secrets of bread making and how to make different kinds of cheeses.
Tours take place daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To reserve a tour: 052-880-5026.
Price: Workshops for children: NIS 30. Tours for adults: NIS 35.
Miriam’s Maze
Miriam’s Maze at Moshav Nir Moshe will be full of aromatic and tasty activities this Shavuot. Visitors can walk through a maze where they can pick (and eat) pitanga berries, learn to identify a variety of herbs through smell and taste, fill pouches with fragrant herbs, and learn how herbs and spices can be used for our benefit.
Price: NIS 30 per person.
For details: 050-427-2004.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.