Israel is a very inspiring place. It’s the seat of three major religions, the home to a 3500 year of history, a melting pot of Jews from around the globe. We have witnessed a country that was a mid-range economy, a purveyor of fruits and vegetables to Europe, a tourist center now become a world capital of high tech innovation with one of the strongest currencies today.
Despite all that, we still see things and learn things that really make you see what tremendous heights people can reach. Take for example Kfar Tikvah, situated in the northern part of Israel, in between Haifa and Zichron Yaacov. Kfar Tikvah means the Village of Hope and was founded in 1964 by a German Jewish professor who had a step-child with special needs. As you know, at that time special needs adults rarely lived at home, often were institutionalized and rarely given tools to reach their potential. Kfar Tikvah was started to give a home, jobs, activities and support to special needs adults, and has now grown to a village of over 200 residents who live, work, have activities and get training there. The whole concept is super clever. The area is nicely laid out, the streets are named “colors” for easy recognition, there is a farming area and workshops and the facilities cover most needs, including medical care. To think that this village has been going string since the 60’s, way before most people were giving special needs kids and adults a real chance, is simple amazing.
Nestled away in Kfar Tikvah is the Tulip Winery. This boutique winery started 15 years ago and produces 300,000 bottles of high end wine annually. Several of the residents of Kfar Tikvah are employed at the winery which has had several award-winning wines in the past few years. Thanks to our awesome guide Yael, we got a full explanation of the philosophy of the winery, the care it takes to choose and use premium grapes and the production and aging process of the wines. Of course, then we tasted some of the wines produced at Tulip; they were superb, as was the friendly staff and the experience of watching them prepare holiday gifts being sent around Israel. This is a can’t miss place to visit, both for the excellent wines and the very inspiring story of the village and its mission.
That is just one of the stories we wanted to share from a very busy and fun week. And yes, the weather is very nice here, high teens and low 20’s, with one day of major downpours (Sunday), but the rest of the time really pleasant. I was toying with not mentioning the weather, considering the major cold snap that is going through North America at present. Israel does still rely on tourism, so a plug for the weather here is fair game, n’est pas?
After Shabbat last week with the kids, Barbara and I decide to take some time to stay closer to Netanya and catch up on some things. Sunday was cloudy and rainy, so a perfect day for staying home. On Sunday evening we drove to the Latrun area to the Shvil Izim restaurant on a Moshav Tel Shahar and met with Carol and David Novosellor. The rain did not really help our drive; going to the restaurant took 2 hours, but getting home after the rain stopped (and after rush hour) took 50 minutes including a stop at the airport to let David off, as he was flying to New York that evening. The rain did not dampen anyone’s spirits and it was a fun evening. Monday included babysitting for Ora and Elisha, preceded by a quick trip to Ikea in Netanya for some housewares (for us and the kids), and followed by a sushi dinner (inspired by the sushi dinner we had on Hanukah and Elan and Nomi’s!) I have spoke about Ikea in Israel before but we found out something new; the espresso and cappuccino appears to be “all you can drink” for the price of one cup (5 shekels). Another reason to just hang out at Ikea!
Tuesday's activities centered around a possible visit with Ariel for lunch near his law office in Tel Aviv. This was predicated on his schedule allowing a break that long. As it turned out, he was called into meetings and could not meet us, but we took advantage of a trip to Tel Aviv to visit a great place, the Artist Market at Nachalat Binyanim. This market takes place every Tuesday and Friday and is on a street parallel to the well-known Carmel Market, where residents of Tel Aviv can get their fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and middle eastern delicacies such as Halvah (which we gladly sampled and bought). Interestingly, Barbara had read about a store which specialized in Vegan products, in her quest for non-dairy cheeses and other lactose-free products. After chatting with the halvah vendor, we asked if he knew the vegan store. He laughed and pointed behind him; we were standing in front of it! The store has a line of kosher Violife vegan cheeses and meat substitutes produced in Thessaloniki, Greece, that are really great. It looks like this will be one of our go-to places. Now, back to the artists. This market is full of all kinds of handicrafts: material, leather, jewelry, Judaica Art, toys and anything else you can imagine. The artists are friendly and many regale the visitors with stories about their lives and their work. It’s an impressive testament to creativity and a great place to shop for gifts.
We wound up Tuesday heading North from Tel Aviv to Raanana, where we met our friends Michal and Ronen Sela (yes, they lived in Montreal in 1999-2001). It was fun to catch up with them and see how their family was growing; three of their children and married and they have several grandchildren! The trip to Raanana was a great advertisement for Waze; there was a major accident on the major artery out of Tel Aviv, so Waze rerouted us to miss all the traffic. In fact on Wednesday there was an accident blocking Highway 70, which was our presumed route to Kfar Tikvah, to visit the winery. We were re-routed all the way around the back way via the tunnels near Haifa, but it sure beat getting stuck in traffic. Very cool technology, made in Israel….
On the way home from the north, we wandered around Zichron Yaacov, an artists’ town in the Carmel mountains. On the way into Netanya, we found the source of the best Herring in Israel (according to Ariel and a few others); a store called Prodag, in the old industrial area of Netanya. In fact there are two Prodag stores, down the block from each other. Amazing selection of herring, smoked fish, frozen fish and Israeli salads of all types. As we were going back to our car, we saw a store that appeared to sell religious articles. We were looking for a parchment to put into a mezuzah (the ornamental box on the side of doors in Jewish homes which contains the text of the prayer Shema Yisrael). The store we walked into turned out to be a parchment factory, one of the largest suppliers of parchment and producers of Tefillin boxes in Israel. We got a tour of the place, the tanning of hides and how the special parchment used for writing Jewish holy texts are produced. The factory also does educational sessions on Jewish Texts, preparation for families of boys who will be bar mitzvah at age 13, and many other things. So, you think you are walking into a store, and you end up walking into a world that teaches you new things!
We wish you all a WARM and wonderful Shabbat Shalom
Happy 2018 to all!
Barbara and Bruce
Birthdays (in Chronological Order…)
Happy Birthday to Ziggy
Happy Birthday to Sheila
Happy Birthday to Uncle Peter!
Happy Anniversary to Sylvia and Haim
Mazel Tov to the Brandt and Hofman families on Yoel's engagement to Dina Morris!
We wish a refuah shelema to Zysl bat Bella