Golan and Golani

Golan Heights Travel Blog

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Ela, Michal and me before the hike
I have just gotten back to Haifa after quite the interesting past few days. Over the weekend the international school sponsored a little opening outing to the Golan Heights. We drove up early Friday morning and went for a really nice hike in the afternoon. We had this amazing guide who was extremely knowldgeable about the area and the history of it… it’s the first time I have ever heard someone manage to make the history of the reclaiming of the Golan so entertaining.

The hike was really incredible and started at an old arab military point. After hiking into the valley we hiked to a few waterfalls that we got to swim through. Once we finished with the hike, we headed over to an old IDF military post.
Going into the valley
I had been to this same place 2 years ago with Birthright so it was quite the bit of déjà vu to be back again… From this point you can see Syria and Mount Hermon.

Then we headed to the Bedoin camp where we were spending the night. One of my classmates led a really nice outdoor Shabbos service and then we all helped to make the dinner.

The next morning we woke up early and went on a longer hike through a different part of Golan. We also took a stop at the Kinaret which is the Israel gets the majority of its water. It is much lower than it usually is since they are in the midst of a draught but it was still beautiful and extremely windy. I had so much fun going on all these hikes and spending so much time outside.

After a bit of down time at the University everyone headed to various parts of the country to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year).
Swimming in waterfalls
A friend and I ended up spending our holiday with her brother who's Golani in the IDF by his base. It was such an interesting area of the country that we got to see. The place we were in is where Abraham and Sarah and Isaac once walked, and we even got to see the caves that their graves are inside. This place really made you feel like the history was still alive around you because it looked exactly how I would imagine a city to look thousands of years ago-- despite some modernization it still looked extremely ancient... even more so than Jerusalem.

Several different families hosted us for dinner and lunch throughout the holiday. It was so nice to not only have a home cooked meal, but to also be able to share Rosh Hashanah with such interesting people. They made the decision to live and raise their children in a very highly disputed area because they feel it is important that Jews have a presence in this part of the country.
IDF military bunkers
We also spent quite a bit of time on the army base there and talking to many of the soldiers which was also really cool because I think often people forget who makes up the Israeli army. All the soldiers we met are 19, 20 year old kids... it's so weird to think that people my own brothers age are the one's defending this country. It's so easy to forget that the IDF is made of actual people when hearing about them soley through American news channels.

One of the most moving parts of the weekend for me was walking up to the Synagogue for services. This building is thousands of years old and is constructed from the same stones as the Kotel (Western Wall in Jerusalem). The entire city shut down for the holiday and everyone was walking to services together. I really enjoyed the service as well… even though I was lost through most of it, I was impressed with how much I was able to recognize.
Our very own Beduoin tent
But even when I couldn’t participate just being in this environment, with such incredible people was moving enough.

Other highlight of the holiday was my very first marriage proposal. Basically we were eating dinner at Chabad one night so random people tend to just show up here and this old man named Bernie from LA brought this guy Mosche with him. My friend and I spoke to this guy for about 23 seconds because he spoke no English and that is as long a conversation as my Hebrew allow-- essentially all we told him was that we are students in Haifa. But I guess this was enough for him... because when our hosts decided it was time for these guys to head out he was quite insistent that he talk to me because he wanted to have a Jewish house with me in it...
I guess they have seen this guy around before and he's usually a bit nuts but I didn't really expect to be offered marriage from an extremely religious middle aged man. It took the police and several soldiers to finally get this guy to leave us alone... at one point he was even willing to be interested in my friend since I seemed unwilling (clearly he was quite dedicated). Luckily we were escorted back to where we were staying by police so there was no more run-ins with my future husband... hahah...

Well… I don’t think I can really capture the emotions and thoughts I have had these past few days, but I thought I would make an attempt. I hope all is well with everyone… can’t wait to hear back from you.

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Ela, Michal and me before the hike
Ela, Michal and me before the hike
Going into the valley
Going into the valley
Swimming in waterfalls
Swimming in waterfalls
IDF military bunkers
IDF military bunkers
Our very own Beduoin tent
Our very own Beduoin tent
Monkeys
Monkeys
HIking out of the valley
HIking out of the valley
Overview
Overview
The Kinaret
The Kinaret
Where we stayed... quite reminscen…
Where we stayed... quite reminsce…
Old City
Old City
Synagogue
Synagogue
Wall of the synangogue
Wall of the synangogue
Our escort for the weekend
Our escort for the weekend
Golan Heights
photo by: Nomad9889