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A Galilean Experience

Entrance to the Dubrovin Farm

Photos: Dennis Kaliser

After ensuring all our fellow travellers were safely aboard we set off for our first destination -Zefat. Travelling via Yokneam, the northern capital of our amazing high-tech industry, we stopped at Alonim for welcome refreshments. As we continued north we were lucky to see flocks of storks whirling above us. The journey was further enhanced by Bess Hoffman, our tour-guide, who gave us an interesting insight into the areas we were passing through.

Making the steep ascent to Zefat, a city of magical charm and mysticism, we enjoyed magnificent views of the valley below. Our first visit was to the Hameiri Dairy—the first dairy to be established in Israel 170 years ago producing handmade gourmet cheeses from sheep and goats milk—the source of "Tsfatit" cheese. On entering the building one's attention was drawn to the many original photos and portraits that tell the story of Jewish settlement in Zefat and especially of the Hameiri family. We heard fascinating stories from Yaniv Hameiri and his father Meir of the generations of the Hameiri family who came to Israel from Iran after the 1837 Zefat earthquake to help rebuild the city. The site sits atop a fresh water spring and is constructed on four levels of archways and narrow corridors. After an audio-visual film showing the making of the cheese, we visited the lower level to see the production area and to sample and purchase cheese and other unique products from the shop. 

Day out . . . at the Hameiri Dairy
A visit to the Adir Winery

From Zefat we travelled further north to the heart of the Upper Galilee region along the slopes of the Admon Mountain to the Adir Winery, a family-owned producer of high quality wines and winners of many prestigious awards. The winery is situated between Dalton and Kerem Ben Zimra facing an intoxicating vineyard landscape. Here, we were treated to a light lunch followed by an explanation of the process of manually harvesting the grapes through to maturity. This was followed by a short audio presentation and then a tasting of some of their finest wines and samples of goat cheese from the Adir dairy. There was also an opportunity to purchase cheese and wine.

We then travelled through the Hula Valley to the Dubrovin Farm at Yesod HaMa'ala. It was one of the first farms in the Hula Valley and was established by Andrey (Yoav) Dubrovin in 1909. Dubrovin and his family, who immigrated from Astrakhan in 1904, were originally Subbotniks—Russian Christians, who kept the seventh-day Sabbath and converted to Judaism. The heritage site under the management of the Association for the Restoration of the Dubrovin

Mansion tells the story of Yesod HaMa'ala, beginning in 1883 through the various aliyahs and the story of the Dubrovin family. Our host Arye Lubovsky, himself a grandson of a founder of Yesod HaMa'ala, explained the history of the farm, its struggles against nature, coping with the difficulties of the time and how, most of the Dubrovin children and many farmers died of malaria due to the proximity of the Hula swamps. The reconstructed buildings house the Dubrovins' living quarters and contain many fascinating old documents from local archives. In the manicured grounds are an orchard with a water wheel, a well, agricultural tools of the era and ruins of a synagogue dating between the 4th and 6th centuries, highlighting the historic Jewish claim to the region. Our tour ended with an interesting audio-visual presentation providing the history of Yesod HaMa'ala.

It was then homeward bound after an extremely exhilarating day. Many thanks to Cecily Hanson for her usual meticulous arrangements, Bess for her explanations, Eliko, our wonderful driver, and fellow ESRA members for their company. 



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Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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