On The Road to Mystical Safed, Tel Dan Nature Reserve and Golan Heights Winery.
Our adventure begins today, footsteps from our hotel! We spent the night at Kibbutz Ginosar on the shore of the sea of Galilee. The Yigal Allon Museum on kibbutz property houses an incredible ancient artifact. The Sea of Galilee Boat, also know as the Jesus Boat, was discovered by 2 fishermen brothers in 1986 along the shores of the Galilee. The remains of this ancient fishing boat date back to the 1st century (the time of Jesus Christ) and had been preserved by a thick covering of mud! After a painstaking excavation process, the boat is now on display to the public. It is still being studied for its archaeological, scientific and traditional significance.
Since the 16th century Safed has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities. It was in the mystical city of Safed where Kabbalah, or Jewish Mysticism was born. We gathered in the centuries old Sephardic synagogue and learned that Kabbalah is so much more than a passing celebrity fad! We saw a 400 year old Torah, that is still used today.
We walked the cobblestone streets of the artist colony and ate falafel until it was time to head to our next stop, Tel Dan Nature Reserve.
Driving through the mountains we were able to see Mt.Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel. At 6000 feet, its summit has snow year round. Tel Dan is a lush, fertile nature reserve, located on the northern tip of Israel in an area we're told is referred to as "the meeting point of Israel, Syria and Lebanon." The Spring Dan and River Dan are the main sources of the River Jordan.
Beyond the river are ancient ruins from the second location of the Tribe of Dan, from biblical times. We are told many judges lived within this community and made the judicial system transparent by holding trials at the city gates, out in the open. Gives pause for thought.
As we continue our tour of the northern part of the state, the entire group is thrilled to visit the Golan Heights Winery for a tour and wine tasting! Because of the range of geography and weather in a small area, they are able to grow 22 varieties of grapes, and produce 40 different wines! Most of the wine is sold locally, but 25% is exported. Somehow, it tastes better drinking it right where it is produced!
One more quick stop at the nearby Capernaum Vista Olive Farm and we're heading back to our hotel for dinner and SLEEP! Off to Jerusalem tomorrow!