If any of us weren't completely awake after breakfast at the Kibbutz, certainly our first activity of the day would change things. We drove for a bit in order to meet up with two of the finest-quality Jeeps to ascend to the Golan Heights. Splitting into two groups, we were treated to a ride over some very rough terrain, across a small stretch of the Jordan River, and up to the point of the Syrian positions still evidenced by live minefields and empty "pillbox" bunkers.
Now fully awake, this is the BEST time to take us shopping for Israeli-made Naot shoes/sandals. And where better to purchase, then from the actual factory, itself?
As we were preparing to head out of the store back to the bus, a very strange event occured... RAIN! For just a brief period, geshem fell from the heavens. And the funny thing is that whenever rain comes after a long spell of dryness, what do people do? Like everyone else, we found ourselves -- like fools -- looking UP!
As I sit to write this post right now (a day late, as usual), I'm on the bus and it's raining pretty hard. This whole day (Tuesday) has been a pretty gray and rainy day. So good for Israel... and for those of us who have "endured" 80+ temps thus far, we'll deal with it. It's really quite hard to compain at this point.
Anyway, from Naot, we headed to the Israel/Syrian border overlook point in "neutral" territory monitored by the United Nations. This area -- called Har Bental -- is not a great place to stay long when the weather isn't great. Besides being cold and windy, the guide forgot his jacket and was freezing.
Off to lunch at a wonderful restaurant called Je'uni. A cafe that we enjoyed for about 90 minutes. Delicious food served in an enclosed patio area with heaters. While waiting for our meals the custom of the place is to bring brain-teaser types of wooden puzzles for the guests to try to solve. We had a great time, and solved most of them. A great stop, and a nice break from the walking, walking, walking...
After lunch, a long drive to the ancient city of Tz'fat -- the "home" of the mystical teachings of Judaism called "Kabbalah". Unfortunately, we did NOT run into Madonna. However, we did visit a magnificent synagogue, and spent about an hour in the art gallery of Tomer and Ketty Camus who produce some of the most magnificent modern Jewish paintings and 3-dimensional art. Several of us bought pieces from the artists, themselves, who were just delightful and -- in typical Israel style -- offered each of us "a very special price." (Read with Middle Eastern accent)
When we entered Tz'fat the sun was shining. By the time we left the gallery, the sun had set. And so, our day was nearly complete.
We headed off for a very long ride to Haifa (about 2 1/2 hours) and got caught in a bit of traffic. However, we arrived in time for Chanukah candle-lighting and a beautiful stroll through the upper levels of the tiered streets of Haifa. This was the first night our little group split up for dinner, some opting to stay at the hotel, others finding pizza or veggie meals, and a few of us choosing (upon recommendation) a fantastic fish restaurant called "Jacko's". Ken and I each enjoyed "Drum fish" while Jessica had a delicious pasta entree.
The day came to a wonderful end with a good night's sleep. Off to the next day's events...
Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan