Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Day of Reflection: Looking Inward

March 29, 2016 text  by Barbara Krupp, photos by Gary Krupp

 We arrived at night at Ein Gev Holiday Resort on the banks of Lake Kinneret.  In the darkness we could see the twinkling lights of Tiberius across a broad expanse of  blackness; it wasn't until we awoke in the morning that we became aware of the vast sacred waters of the Sea of Galilee.

This day was one of reflection, of connecting to the Land of Israel by connecting to our bodies, our souls, our senses.  We drove from Ein Gev through fertile orchards, tree farms, cattle grazing in the fields strewn with volcanic boulders up into the Golan Heights.  Nathan, our Israeli guide, talked to us about the border issues associated with this area from 1948 through the present.  We were driving in the area that was Syria before the 1967 war.  Ein Gev was the Northern most kibbutz in Israel before 1967 and suffered many attacks.  In 1973, there was fierce fighting again in this area and Nathan fought in battles near Ein Gev where many of his comrades lost their lives.

Our first stop was the Artist village of Aniam where we were welcomed by our guide and teacher Yaron Ronen.  He led us to his studio where he teaches Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Shiatsu and Jewish Meditation and where we were blessed to spend two hours of learning with him.  Yaron embodies calm and grace.  He led us through Tai Chi exercises, taught us how to perform a shiatsu massage on our partner, and guided us through a form of Jewish meditation.  It was really the first opportunity (besides our lovely Shabbat) that we were able to move into stillness and truly reflect on our togetherness as a group and our journey through Israel.

After our time with him, Yaron took us on a tour of the artist village.  He told us that the village was built ten years ago by a few artists who lived in the Moshav nearby. Right now it has seventeen galleries including jewelry, ceramics, ballet, and textiles.  

We met Joel, a jeweler from New York, who demonstrated how to melt sliver and met Osna, a ceramicist from Israel, who employs women from the Moshav to help make her many ceramic pieces.  After visiting the galleries and doing a bit of shopping, we had a delicious lunch at Yaeli Cafe.

Not far from Aniam, is the city of Katzrin, an industrial area in the Golan that houses a winery, a brewery and an olive oil factory.  We toured the Golan Heights Winery, led by a delightful guide named Shalom.  He told us that this area of Israel has had vineyards for the past 1500 years - he showed us a relief decorated with grape vines from the Byzantine period (4th - 7th C.E.).  The Golan Heights Winery was started in 1983 and is a cooperative owned by eight vineyards in the area.  The winery produces 50,000 bottles of wine daily.  It is Kosher wine so all the workers there are Orthodox men.  Our tour ended with a lively wine tasting of three wines.  Rabbi Davis led us in blessings over the first glass, and a special blessing over the second glass as well!

photo by Josh Awend

We ended the day by gathering on the beach of Lake Kinneret at sunset to read poetry.  With the sounds of the wind blowing and the waves churning competing with us, we read poems by Israeli poets.  We shared our reflections on the poems while watching the sun set over Tiberius across the lake.  It was a truly sacred moment, and we were led in a prayer by Rabbi Davis that is recited upon seeing a beautiful sight in Nature:  Blessed are you, Adonai our G-D, Ruler of the Universe, who makes the wonders of Creation.

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