A tour with an Israeli date

A new visitors’ center at Kvutzat Kinneret takes tourists on a historical journey through the country’s date industry.

Date trees in Kvutzat Kinneret (photo credit: SHUNIT WEISS)
Date trees in Kvutzat Kinneret
(photo credit: SHUNIT WEISS)
Kvutzat Kinneret, a kibbutz near Tiberias, has been a pioneer in the farming of dates since the first Zionist settlers founded it about a century ago. Now, in time for Passover, a new visitors’ center housed within its large date and food specialty shop hopes to tell the story.
At the center, which also offers organized tours of the area in Hebrew and English, visitors can watch a 10-minute film that follows the journey of Ben-Zion Israeli, a Zionist farmer obsessed with reviving the date, one of the seven species of the Land of Israel, on biblical ground.
With many of the species having died out in the Land of Israel, he and his partners journeyed to Iraq, Syria and Iran to bring back date plantings – often through difficult terrain – while serving as Zionist emissaries to Mizrahi Jews in the process. Their efforts formed the basis of Kvutzat Kinneret, today one of the leading date producers in Israel.
The literal fruits of their labor are on display not only through the many date palm orchards and historic spots along Lake Kinneret, but also at the company’s outlet shop, where dates, spices, teas and other gourmet foods are sold. And for the climax of a century of effort, the shop offers samples of the kibbutz’s most prized product, silan (date honey), offered in many cooking flavors, which demonstrates how the date has come into its own in Israel cuisine.
Silan, however, has long been used as the base for the haroset served at the Passover table by Jews hailing from the Middle Eastern lands where Israeli made his first journey. Just mix with chopped walnuts and serve!
Tours are available by appointment: Kvutzat Kinneret, (04) 675-9667. For more information: tamarkineret.co.il