After many meetings with members of Israeli National Police and the Israeli Defense Forces we took a day to explore the history and beauty of Israel.

We began by heading up to the Golan, stopping at Qatzrin for an overview, and then went to Ben Tal, the observation point. On our way we saw a full regiment of tanks in formation and waiting, since this is the front line of Syria. Some members of our group were a little concerned about why we were actually heading forward of the front line, but they quickly got past that as we saw the beauty and strategic importance of the Golan Heights from Ben Tal. We learned about the history of the Six Day War and saw some smoke coming up from the distance in Syria.

From there we made our way to the beautiful Assaf Winery where one or two group members seemed prepared to hang up their badges and work for the Assaf family making wine in this beautiful part of the world. After a fantastic lunch and wine tasting we asked the owner how he feels about being so close to the Border. He only half-jokingly told us that he feels he is so close that the rockets will go right over them. What a way to live?

Feeling rested and relaxed we headed to the beautiful Christian holy sites of the Mt. Of Beatitudes and the Sea of Galilee. It was peaceful and spiritual and we headed back to the hotel to prepare for a lovely Shabbat dinner in a private home in Safed.

Dressed up for Shabbat we walked the old stone streets from our hotel to dinner. I just lit Shabbat candles and as I walked, I reflected on the gift I have been given to lead this group to Israel for the first time and to share with them the country that I love. At dinner we sang “Shalom Aleichem” and welcomed in Shabbat with the kiddush and the motzi. We took time to reflect on all we had seen so far and shared some of our most personal stories and feelings. As we returned to the hotel and sat in the courtyard over a glass of wine, I felt this was a most perfect Shabbat.


Posted by Tammy Gillies, Regional Director