Re­joice in Yatir For­est

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - TOUR ISRAEL - • MEITAL SHARABI Trans­lated by Han­nah Hochner.

One of the lesser-known jewels in the Is­raeli hik­ing scene is Yatir For­est, Is­rael’s largest planted for­est, which is lo­cated in the north­west­ern Negev, with more than four mil­lion trees spread out over 4,000 hectares. It’s won­der­ful to hear the wind blow­ing through the leaves of the oak, cy­press and aca­cia trees of the Yatir For­est, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of deer, elk and rab­bits that live there.

There are also vine­yards, fields of veg­eta­bles and even an­cient ru­ins. In short, there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one to en­joy.

HERBS OF KE­DEM

When you hear the word “Carmel,” you prob­a­bly think straight­away of the moun­tains over­look­ing the Haifa Bay.

Well, there’s an­other Carmel in Is­rael – a moshav south­east of He­bron, which is lo­cated on the same spot as the bi­b­li­cal Carmel that is men­tioned in the Book of Sa­muel as be­ing the home of Naval, a rich, mean Carmelite who was killed for threat­en­ing King David.

At the en­trance of the moshav, you’ll find Herbs of Ke­dem, which pro­duces nat­u­ral healthcare prod­ucts.

We were met there by Dr. Amir Ka­trun, who has a PhD in chem­istry and runs the herb fac­tory. Ka­trun ex­cit­edly told us about all the herbs that nat­u­rally grow in the re­gion, the unique prop­er­ties of each one, and how they were used in an­cient times.

Our visit be­gan with an offer to sniff all of the rare herbs that he grows in the botan­i­cal garden. Next, we toured the pro­cess­ing floor of the fac­tory, where we learned how the healthcare prod­ucts were made from the herbs, which can be used to keep skin healthy, re­lieve joint pain, lower choles­terol, and treat di­a­betes. Free tours last 75 min­utes.

Lo­ca­tion: Herbs of Ke­dem, Moshav Carmel. Hours: Sun­day-Thurs­day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Fri­day and holiday eves.

De­tails: www.ke­dem.bio, (02) 960-5040, 052-444-3110.

HAR-SI­NAI FARM

Dalia Har-Si­nai’s life story could fill an en­tire book. From a very young age, she was in charge of col­lect­ing the fresh eggs from the chicken coop ev­ery morn­ing on her par­ents’ farm on Moshav Ometz.

Af­ter she mar­ried Yair, the cou­ple moved to Carmel and be­gan build­ing up their own or­ganic farm and herd­ing sheep.

Un­for­tu­nately, when her hus­band was mur­dered in 2001 by ter­ror­ists, she was left alone to raise their nine chil­dren. De­spite her tragic story, Dalia is able to put a big smile on her face as she con­tin­ues to ex­pand the farm she and Yair dreamed about creat­ing to­gether.

We were treated to a tour of the or­ganic dairy, the wa­ter reser­voir, the sheep pen and fi­nally the ex­pan­sive fields full of or­ganic wheat that is grown with­out any chem­i­cals or sprays. The Har-Si­nai Farm pro­duces a high-qual­ity line of flour called Shi­rat Hada­gan, and Dalia holds pop­u­lar bak­ing work­shops on the premises. She teaches par­tic­i­pants how to gen­er­ate sour­dough for bread, bake pitot on a saj and make cous­cous made from whole wheat.

De­tails: har-si­nai.co.il, 054-980-5265.

NAF NAF

On the edge of Moshav Ma’on, over­look­ing the Judean Hills, Sarah and Elyashiv Fried­berg opened a meat restau­rant called Naf Naf, whose desert at­mos­phere is felt both in­side and out­side in the restau­rant’s huge Be­douin tent, where guests can en­joy their meal sit­ting at low ta­bles.

A wood stove keeps din­ers warm as they par­take in the smoked meats and sip the bou­tique wines made from lo­cally grown grapes. Naf Naf also hosts per­for­mances by new and vet­eran artists.

Elyashiv and Sarah love be­ing able to help guests con­nect with na­ture and the desert. Sarah, an art and dance teacher, also of­fers Mid­dle Eastern dance work­shops for women.

For now, Naf Naf is open to the pub­lic only on Thurs­day nights; the rest of the week the restau­rant is open for pri­vate events with a min­i­mum of 15 people. The menu fea­tures a meat plat­ter in­clud­ing smoked mut­ton, en­trecôte, asado, roasted pota­toes, french fries, sour­dough bread and an ar­ray of desserts.

De­tails: 052-300-3108.

DRIMIA WIN­ERY

Elad Movshovitz, the owner of Drimia Win­ery who is fol­low­ing in his fa­ther’s and grand­fa­ther’s foot­steps, spent his child­hood in and around vine­yards. So, it was only nat­u­ral that he, too, would study wine­mak­ing and open his own bou­tique win­ery.

Drimia, or “hatzav” in He­brew, is the name of a flow­er­ing plant that is com­monly found all over Is­rael.

Dur­ing a guided tour of the win­ery, which pro­duces 15,000 bot­tles a year, it be­comes clear that Movshovitz truly loves mak­ing wine, work­ing the land and liv­ing in the desert. With shin­ing eyes, he talks about how lucky he is to spend so much time out in na­ture.

Af­ter the tour, guests are treated to a tast­ing of Drimia wines, in­clud­ing Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, Sau­vi­gnon Blanc, Shiraz and some in­ter­est­ing blends.

De­tails: 055-882-4369; 054-227-1153.

YATIR AL­MOND TREE FES­TI­VAL

Now that Tu Bish­vat has come and gone, all the al­mond trees around Is­rael are in full bloom. The height of the sea­son will fall on February 21, and to cel­e­brate Is­rael’s bloom­ing al­mond trees, the pub­lic is in­vited to take part in the an­nual Yatir Al­mond Tree Fes­ti­val.

There will be cam­eras set up to take pic­tures of you and your fam­ily with al­mond trees that are burst­ing with blos­soms in the back­ground. Your pic­tures, printed on mag­nets, will be avail­able for pur­chase, and there will also be flower work­shops, tours of the for­est and a farmer’s mar­ket with lots of lo­cally grown fruits and veg­eta­bles, as well as a crafts fair.

Date: Fri­day, February 21, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ad­vance pur­chase price: Chil­dren, NIS 30; adults, NIS 25 (chil­dren un­der 3 free), at: www.goy­atir.co.il.

De­tails: (08) 625-4802.

(Uri Tamir)

(Sarah Freed­berg)

(El­hanan Ami­tai)

(Cour­tesy Har-Si­nai Farm)

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