Winter offers an olive branch Olives are integral to our past and present

If you’re in the mood to take a walk among olive trees, read this.

Olives from Beit Lehem Haglilit  (photo credit: NOA EVEN HAIM)
Olives from Beit Lehem Haglilit
(photo credit: NOA EVEN HAIM)
The olive has been associated with our people and our nation for millennia. Our state emblem features olive leaves with the menorah; olive leaves symbolize peace, central to the vision of our state. The olive also represents light; it was olive oil that burned in the menorah in the Temple.
With the winter season soon upon us, this is a great time to get out into nature, especially on the weekends. I highly recommend attending the upcoming olive festival organized by the Galilee Development Authority and the Tourism Ministry. The olive festival has been an annual occurrence for 23 years, and this year’s event will continue until November 19 with a variety of events, including tours of olive groves and olive presses, olive picking, oil production workshops and food fairs offering locally produced items.
Shemen HaMe’ah The Shemen HaMe’ah oil press at Kibbutz Deganya Alef offers activities for the whole family. You can watch a short film about the long process of producing olive oil, starting with the moment the olives are plucked from the tree until the oil is bottled. Guests can also watch a movie about the history of the kibbutz, whose first olive trees were planted more than a century ago.
At the visitors’ center children can participate in a short workshop in which they will prepare jars of pickled olives and prepare a sign for their front door by carving on a piece of olive wood. In addition, on November 17 there will be a free musical performance by Shir Sofer, in which he will play instruments from all over the world and conduct a drumming workshop using only olive-oil cans. The show will take place at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.
Dates: Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tours and family activities will take place at 10:30 and 11:30.
Details: 052-374-9170.
During the weekend, the public is invited to join a fascinating guided tour of Hurfeish, a Druse village in the Upper Galilee.
Hurfeish is the northernmost Druse village in Israel and going on a tour of the village is an exciting experience. During the tour, participants reach an outlook point at Nabi Sabalan from which they will are able to look out over the Galilee below. Next, the guide will take you through the ancient streets of the village and then to see the church named after St. Mariam Baouardy. Afterward, you will visit an olive press and watch folklore and darbuka performances. You will also be able to sample authentic Druse food prepared by the village elders.
The tour also includes a visit to an olive grove and participation in an olive harvest. The ending point of the tour is at the Abu Afif olive oil visitors’ center.
Date: Saturday, November 11 at 10 a.m.
Meeting point: Nabi Sabalan.
Preregistration required: 050-400-1054.
Nahal Tzalmon
If you’re in the mood to take a walk among olive trees, I recommend going to Nahal Tzalmon, which is situated in the Upper Galilee. The walk along the stream is an easy route that is great even for families with small children, and getting to the starting point is also very simple and convenient.
All you need to do is get on Road 804 (between the Rama and Hilazon junctions) and follow signs to the Nahal Tzalmon Nature Reserve.
There is a gravel parking area where you can leave your car and then follow the blue and white trail markers by foot down to the path that parallels the stream. The trail passes between olive trees and a fruit orchard, and after a short walk of 700 meters you will come upon a shallow wading pool where you can get your feet wet. Farther along the path, you’ll see abandoned agricultural structures and other remains from the ancient community that once existed there. If you continue another 150 meters, you’ll reach a clearing, which is where the path ends. Here, you can turn around and retrace your steps back to your car.
KKL-JNF Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund is playing a large role in the olive festival and is inviting the public to participate in a full-day tour that will focus on olive trees, archeology and olive oil.
The tour will commence at the Forest Archeological Garden, which is about a kilometer from Kabri junction. The Garden features reconstructed agricultural tools and machinery, an olive press with a millstone, as well as a wine press. From there, the tour will take participants to see the olive press, the threshing floor and the visitors’ center, where guests will hear a short explanation about the importance of olive oil in ancient times, how it was made, and its special qualities.
The tour is three hours long and is free of charge.
Preregistration is required: 1-800-350550.
Date: Saturday, November 11 at 10 a.m.
Eretz Geshur
The visitors’ center at Eretz Geshur, of Kibbutz Geshur on the Golan Heights, is inviting the public to come learn how olive oil is produced. There will be guided tours for the whole family, during which you will get to see live how olives are pressed, watch a short movie about the history of Eretz Geshur and taste the different kinds of oils as each one is described.
Dates: During the olive festival, Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free of charge.
Pre-registration required: (04) 676-4036.
Beit Lehem Haglilit
The Spice Route in Beit Lehem Haglilit, located in the Jezreel Valley, will celebrate the olive festival with a variety of activities for the whole family. The attractions, which will take place on each Saturday of the festival, include tractor rides through the olive groves, therapeutic olive oil production workshops, preparing jars of spiced olives, guided tours of the olive groves, olive oil tastings, decorating ceramic jugs and filling bottles with layers of herbs and spices. In addition, on November 18, there will be a free chef’s workshop given by Doron Bar-On in which he will teach participants how to cook with olive oil and spices.
Dates: Saturdays, November 11 and 18, starting at 11 a.m.
Some activities require payment.
Details: (04) 953-3405.