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ESRA Computer Centers provide free access to computers and innovative instruction in computer skills for underprivileged children, youth and adults helping to close the cultural and educational gap.

Where the Blue Sea meets the Green Galil - our annual overnight trip to the North

News Date: 
18. June 2017 - 8:00
On a sunny day in May ESRA travelers boarded our bus for a 2-day overnight trip to the Western ‎coast and Galil.‎ First stop was the unique Tunisian Synagogue in Akko, the result of 54 years of ‎work of local resident Zion Badasche.

The Synagogue ‘Or Torah’ in Akko, known as the "Jariva, boasts ‎‎7 Torah arks with engraved silver doors. The walls inside and out are covered with mosaics made from hundreds of millions of natural stones from all ‎over Israel, ‎depicting the history of the Jewish people and of ‎the Land of Israel through Bible stories, flora and fauna, IDF corps and more.
Next stop was the mosaic floor at Moshav Shavei Zion situated near the lovely beach promenade. ‎These remains from a Byzantine-era church were discovered in 1955 and dated to the 4th century. ‎The excavations include an Artesian aquifer which serviced both the fishing village located nearby ‎and pilgrims who stopped on their way to and from Lebanon.‎

hacienda_banana.jpgAfter leaving the mosaic floors we made our way from “the Blue Sea to the Green Galil”, to ‎Moshav Betzet to visit Idan and Nadav. This young couple decided to combine their life experience ‎and academic knowledge to develop a business producing 100% natural dried fruit with no ‎preservatives, sugar or gluten. They call their business “Idan Hapri” (“Fruit Age”), also a pun on her ‎name, focusing healthy and tasty foods. ‎
Idan gave us a tour of the banana plantation and explained about the various types and how they ‎grow. In the product display area she gave us another interesting and informative talk on dried ‎fruit, with an opportunity to taste. We were then able to browse and buy in the shop.‎

Our next stop was Mi’ilya, one of two villages in the Galil which are solely Christian Melkite Greek ‎Catholics. It enjoys a high socio-economic standard of living (compared to Moslem communities) ‎and many of its residents are professionals.‎
Mi'ilya was built over the ruins of the 12th century fortress, built by the Crusader King Baldwin III, ‎and called the "King's Fortress" (Chateau de Roi, Castellum Regis). The site was previously a large ‎Bronze and Iron age city, identified as "Aloth", one of the cities of King Solomon. During the 17th ‎Century a group of Greek Catholics migrated from Lebanon to the village, and its former Muslim ‎residents moved out to a nearby village (Tarshiha) and their mosque was leveled. In 1845 they built ‎the Church on top of the hill on the ruins of the Crusader fortress, naming it after The Virgin Mary.‎

Our overnight destination was “The Hacienda Forest View” just outside Ma’alot-Tarshiha, a lovely ‎place in a pastoral setting of rich green woods. ‎

After an excellent breakfast we drove to Kfar Vradim - our guide Adina explained the background ‎of this lovely “village of roses” founded by Stef Wertheimer as part of the Tefen Industrial Park.‎

hacienda_plia_kf._vr..jpgThe house of Sara and Avraham "Hatzadik" Heil stands out because of its extraordinary structure. ‎The house, built by Avraham himself, and all the rooms, are round, and the ceilings are ‎domed.  Avraham, a convert of English descent, and Sara, a Jew of Bukharan descent, decided to ‎dedicate the building to the people of Sara's community. ‎
Now called the Plia Center for Bukharian Jews, visitors are greeted by Bukharan music and Sara ‎introduces herself, in perfect English, and tells the family story in an extremely amusing and ‎entertaining way.‎
She recalls that when she came to Israel at the age of 6, her parents clothed her in traditional ‎clothes and she became a laughing stock in the eyes of the Israeli born children and felt very ‎embarrassed. She decided to disassociate herself from her Bukharan heritage."‎
While Andrew was building the house, he discovered Judaism and decided to convert. He changed ‎his name to Avraham, the couple became more religious and Sara also returned to her Bukharan ‎roots.‎
The sudden death of her daughter 'Plia'' who died nine weeks after birth, drove her to open the ‎center in her daughter’s name. From that time, the house has been open to visitors, displaying ‎photos of Sara's family and many traditional artefacts of the Jews of Bukhara.‎

In the Druze town of Hurfeish we visited the Heritage Center in memory of Colonel Nabiya Mer'i ‎who was the highest-ranking Druze officer killed in the course of his Military service during the ‎period that followed the Oslo agreements. The heritage center teaches not only about the image ‎of a commander in the IDF, but also about the connection of the Druze Community within ‎the IDF and Israeli society.‎

The final visit of the trip - the highlight of the 2 days, was at Kibbutz Ga’aton where we watched a ‎rehearsal of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. KCDC is one of the leading dance ‎companies in the world, founded in 1973 by the late Yehudit Arnon who laid the foundation for a ‎first-class center for dance. The International Dance Village comprises nearly 80 Israeli and ‎international dancers with international study abroad programs called Dance Journey. There are ‎also year-round and summer intensive courses for both international and Israeli dancers.‎

Founder, Yehudit was born in Kumarno, Czechoslovakia and survived WWll as a young girl in the ‎Auschwitz death camp. On liberation she moved to Budapest and joined Hashomer Hatsa’ir. In ‎‎1948, together with her husband Yedidia, she arrived in Israel with the first group of pioneers from ‎Hungary, who established Kibbutz Ga’aton in Western Galilee. ‎

To view the full collection of pictures taken by Dr. Hylton Bark follow this link ‎!Agd1EJMmAnaFgYEqClwX1GAN-I1H2Q