The Is­raeli town that time for­got

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

STAND­ING IN THE tiny ham­let of Bat Shlomo, it seems that Is­rael’s muchtrum­peted high-tech boom is old hat. It is lowtech where the growth is re­ally hap­pen­ing. Sit­u­ated around 20 miles south of Haifa, Bat Shlomo is the spot that his­tory for­got. Like many other Zion­ist set­tle­ments, it was founded in the 1880s by Baron Ed­mond de Roth­schild, who helped res­i­dents with their of­ten ill-fated agri­cul­tural projects. Most grew, such as the nearby Zichron Yaakov, now a town of around 20,000 peo­ple. But Bat Shlomo never ex­panded be­yond the orig­i­nal sin­gle street of 12 houses (the neigh­bour­ing Bat Shlomo North is com­pletely sep­a­rate).

There is a shul, but no post­card stands, ice-cream vans, or ex­plana­tory signs. The only sound comes from what ap­pears to be a farm­yard from the set of Fid­dler on the Roof. Hens are wan­der­ing around, dogs are bark­ing and a cat purrs on a chair. And for a vis­i­tor be­liev­ing that he has ac­ci­den­tally stepped back in time, the farmer, Ziv Schwartz­man, ap­proaches to con­firm that, ac­tu­ally, he has.

“Have some cheese,” he says, in the man­ner of Tevye in Fid­dler. He makes it known that he milked the cows and made the cheese by hand, ex­actly like his Ro­ma­nian grand­fa­ther who bought the house in 1889.

He leads you to a room that dis­plays pic­tures of his fam­ily and their doc­u­ments from the Bri­tish and Turk­ish eras, as well as “arte­facts” from his fam­ily’s past — the tools for farm­ing, the uten­sils for mak­ing their cheese.

Bat Shlomo has long been con­sid­ered an anachro­nism by those liv­ing nearby, who in the past pre­ferred to shop for cheese at the su­per­mar­ket.

But that is all chang­ing. Is­raeli house­hold­ers, like con­sumers else­where, want to buy or­ganic, a la­bel that the Schwartz­mans can claim sim­ply be­cause they never got round to be­ing any­thing else. There are al­ways a good num­ber of trendies — some from as far away as Jerusalem — sip­ping home-brewed cider and car­ry­ing away kilo­grams of cheese, an­tic­i­pat­ing the im­pressed oohs and aahs it will so­licit from their friends. “You know what you are get­ting is pure,” says Ye­huda Blauman from Tel Aviv. “And yes, it does im­press the guests.”

In­deed, Mr Schwartz­man con­fides that he is “sell­ing as much as I can make. Peo­ple told my fa­ther he had it wrong and he should sell through big shops, but now look at us”.

He has no hes­i­ta­tion about cap­i­tal­is­ing on the nos­tal­gia mar­ket. “The Schwartz­man farm­yard does not be­lieve in progress and in­no­va­tions,” says his pub­lic­ity flyer, be­fore ad­vis­ing that peo­ple are wel­come to ar­range a visit — via email.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.