Israel's Good Name

Chanukah (Part 2)

In Galilee, Israel on January 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Continuing with Chanukah…

On Sunday night one of the local kollels was hosting an event at the Heichal HaOsher and I attended, along with my father (and we nabbed reserved seats). The celebration was being thrown to honour the several members of the kollel who recently took a huge test of Halacha (Jewish law) to become Rabbis. The test was administered by the Rav of Ma’alot, HaRav Yitzhak Vaknin shlita and I believe the son of the Rishon Lizion HaRav Ovadia Yosef shlita was involved as well. Local dignitaries were present and seated at the dias. The event was opened with the lighting of the chanukiah (menorah):

Getting ready to light the menorah on the dias

A short video was shown of the kollel and the various activities within including the work with the local youth and the local synagogues. After the video several speakers had their turn with the mic; the mayor, the rav of the Ma’alot Rabanut, a local synagogue rabbi who also serves as a judge on the Rabbinic Court in Haifa, and others.

HaRav Meir Sayag, head of the Maalot Rabanut

HaRav HaDayan Yagoda getting ready to speak

City official Arkady Pomeranets speaking

Of course, as with all events at the Heichal HaOsher, there was live music. This time a local singer by the last name of Peretz sang for us. I have seen and heard him before in an Andulusian concert also held in Ma’alot sometime in 2010.

A local singer

After the speeches the diplomas were given out. Many of those who bought the honour of delivering the diploma were family members of the particular avreich (young married man in kollel), as seen here, the Rosh Kollel, the avreich, his father and the Rav of the Ma’alot Rabanut:

A kollel member receiving his diploma from a sponsor

After the due honour was doled out and the hugs and handshakes were completed there was a bit of a fundraiser. Just a bit. I did not take many pictures of the fundraising and actually left early but here is a shot I took of the seated crowd, well, part of the crowd:

Partial view of the men's section

And that sums up Sunday.

Tuesday, the 7th day of Chanukah, we went to explore the vineyards of the Naftali area on the border of Lebanon. There we found a place called Adir Winery and Dairy. A clean-cut white building alongside several factory installments beckoned to us. Naturally, we went inside.

The winery side

There we found some wine. Lots of bottles of award-winning wine. A man behind the counter by the name of Yossi Rosenberg, who happens to be the managing director, explained to us what we needed and wanted to know. In the earlier years of Israel Yossi’s family from Europe and the Ashekenazi family from Turkey settled in Kerem Ben Zimra and raised their families there. In the 1980s and 1990s the families built up the Adir vineyards, a joint project. They also decided to raise goats and thereby led them to creating the Adir Dairy.

The dairy side

Here is Yossi Rosenberg talking to us about his and his family’s history with the vineyards and the various wines they produce:

Talking with Yossi Rosenberg

As with many visitor centres, this one had a short film about the production and founding of the winery and dairy. We went into the room that divides the winery and dairy sides and sat down, ready to watch the English version. This particular video, voiced over in English by Paul Gluck, is available on YouTube so that you can watch it as well in the comfort of your own home:

Getting ready to watch a short film about the wine and dairy productions

After the film we snuck over to the dairy side and sampled from the several goat cheeses on the counter.

Snacking on the goat cheeses

And here was my particular favourite, the Tzefatit cheese, the style originating from Tzfat (Safed) just a few miles away.

Tzefatit cheese

Even though I liked the Tzefatit cheese the most, we didn’t buy it. We got two hard cheeses and a feta. From the freezer of the dairy we selected two pints of goat milk ice cream, one chocolate and one cherry. The chocolate one was better but there was a goaty taste to the ice cream despite the chocolate additive. Before we left we bought a bottle of port, which we have yet to open.

While in the area we explored both the small village of Kerem Ben Zimra and the nearby historical areas. Here we drove by an old watchtower looking over the hill to Lebanon:

Old watch tower

Also found throughout the Galilee are graves, ancient tombs erected for important historical figures. Prophets from the Bible and Rabbis from the Roman times can be found buried side-by-side on the side of the road, in some village or perhaps in small caves, always distinguishable by bright blue “kabbalistic” paint. On this particular Tuesday we found 3 kevers (graves) in one small patch of land. Here is the grave of Rabbi Elazar ben Arach who lived in this area nearly 2,000 years ago:

The grave of R' Elazar ben Arach

And here, the grave of Rabbi Yossi HaKohen:

The grave of R' Yossi HaKohen

And the third of the trio, the grave of Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, who in his days was rather wealthy. Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria may sound familiar because he is, in fact, mentioned in the Pesach Hagada. He was sitting with Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon in Bnei Brak…:

The grave of R' Elazar ben Azaria

Of course, while in the area with my camera I could not help but take yet another panoramic picture. Here it is, the rolling hills of Northern Israel (click to enlarge):

Panoramic shot of the rolling hills

There it is, the eight days of Chanukah told in a tale of words and pictures. Next Chanukah is just 12 months away!

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