A guide to falling in love with Israel again

Father and son David and Eran Galor have published a series of books for the discerning Israeli hiker.

travelers 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
travelers 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
David Galor, the man behind an Israeli hiking book series called Maslulim, is familiar with overcoming rough patches. A survivor of skin cancer, Galor, 48, decided to leave a business career at a top Israeli company, choosing instead to spend his time traveling and living a healthier life. The former director of marketing and commerce for the Osem food corporation, Galor, together with his 23-year-old son Eran, recently released a volume of travel books, entitled Maslulim - Fall in Love with Israel Again. Published four months ago, the series of 17 paperbacks concentrates in great detail on specific regions of the country, is user-friendly and provides recommendations for walking trails [maslulim in Hebrew], from the Golan Heights in the North to the red mountains of Eilat in the South. Winding his way through nature wasn't always Galor's main passion. Approximately 18 months ago, as he drove daily between Petah Tikva and Jerusalem, maintaining a highly demanding career, he began to dream of an alternative way of living. "The idea to retire first came up four years ago following a routine physical examine in which I was diagnosed with melanoma," Galor recalls in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, together with Eran. "It was not easy for me to accept the fact that I was ill, and it took me a long time to realize that I wanted to live differently and to develop myself in other ways. Slowly but surely I chose my path. When I expressed my desire to retire, I was asked to stay and to establish the commerce and marketing division [at Osem], and I accepted." Almost two more years passed until Galor finally left the company and the field in which he was considered a promising director, and he began to breathe new life into his and his son's vision and dream. Their first trek was set for the first day after Rosh Hashana in 2006. "I had just gotten released from the army and I had this desire to tour Israel, to learn more about this place and to do it thoroughly," Eran says. Eran has a history of exploring and studying the State of Israel and its rich history and heritage through books and his legs. After high school, Eran enrolled in a pre-military preparatory program in which he studied philosophy, Judaism and Zionism, and the history of Israel, as well as doing volunteer work within the community. "I believe that these years are crucial for a young person who is still being shaped and still is adapting his values and norms, and that was the place for me, regardless of my personal background," he says, alluding to the fact that he was not raised religious. "In addition, when I was a child, our family went on vacations twice a year in Israel and abroad, and so the need to get to know our homeland was stronger than the need to go on the usual trip after military service to South America or South Asia. Besides, I like do things methodically, and I thought I can do that here." So, two months after he completed his service in the Intelligence Corps, Eran and his father went on their first trip. It began at the village of Neveh Ativ, at the foot of Mt. Hermon, and ended five days later in Nahal Yehudiya in the Golan Heights. With sore muscles but high spirits, they returned to their family home in Jerusalem, but ventured out again the next week. "This busy period lasted eight months, and we traveled between two to five days every week to a different area and geographic region," David says. "Whenever we slept outdoors, we lodged in a tent, in Beduin camps and guest rooms. Any sort of lodging except for hotels." In the course of the year-long trip, David and Eran became closer and developed a plan to publish a series of travel guidebooks. "Every night Eran sat down and wrote up the course we had finished a few hours before, and we both were consulting and drawing the recommended route to tour these spots," David recalls. "It was a continuing dialogue and a process of studying life on the road, the archeology, the geology, the vegetation and the landscape. But we didn't talk business all day long. There was a lot of fun, and when Adi [David's second daughter and Eran's sister] joined us, she brought singing and dancing as well." However, being absent from home for many days of the year was not the easiest thing for David's wife, Helly. A first- and second-grade teacher in an arts school, Helly had to stay behind and take care of Ofir, 14, their youngest daughter. For months she had to be apart not only from David and Eran, but also from Adi, 20, who had followed her brother to the same pre-military preparatory program. "The decision to change our way of life was made together," David explains. "Helly and I both understood that it's not worth leaving the house at 6 a.m., returning at 10 p.m. and being exhausted during the weekend without being able to enjoy what I had worked for so hard. But being apart for so many days was harder for her, and we tried to sleep at home whenever we were an hour or so away." David's and Eran's year of travelling ended just before Pessah in Eilat, and to celebrate the occasion, the entire family joined the travelers for a festive toast. "Up until two weeks ago, we were traveling as usual but now I have to deal with the books at the sale spots, and Eran continues his routine of traveling within the big cities and taking down notes that await my editing and proofreading," David says. The father and son have a detailed business plan to keep expanding and cover the broader Middle East next and other continents later on. In the meantime, David Galor has invested almost a million shekels in the venture. The Galors recently launched a Web site that offers traveling tips, suggestions for hiking trails and more. "I pay Eran and Adi a monthly salary because they work for me, and we live off our savings," he says. "Any financial gain from the books and the Web site will be invested in further development of the final product we have in mind, and later on we'll start using other writers' material with an emphasis on keeping the high level of information we provide our readers." Both David and Eran feel greater love for the landscapes and deserts of the South. "I love the green North, but the southern views attract me more, and I find myself breathless over and over again when climbing at Ha'Etekim Cliff and watching the Dead Sea from above," David says. "I also prefer the desert landscapes but accompanied with flowing springs," adds Eran. "For that reason and the personal connection to the area, my favorite route is Perth Stream [also known as Wadi Kelt] since I did the pre-military preparatory program in the area, with its steep cliffs on the one side and water on the other side."