Hills of Jerusalem

[Continued from last month’s

Satiated, we drove
on to the town of Nataf, a residential community nestled in the Judean
Hills, where we hiked to a goat farm, an earthy rustic place where home-made
goat cheese is sold to the public on Fridays and Saturdays.

Down the road, we
stopped in for a look at Ramah’s Kitchen, a small open-air restaurant
[non-kosher] open in the spring and summer. With a view of the Judean Hills
in the backdrop, its a pretty spot to dine al fresco.

Tel: 02-5700954

Back in the car, we headed down the mountain
to the Monastery of Latroun, where we walked in the gardens. Since
the monks of Latroun take a vow of silence, the air was peaceful and hushed.
The monks make and sell their own wine [not kosher] which is available at
the gift shop on the premises of the monastery.

The church
is closed during prayer hours so call for ahead or just visit the garden
and the store. Note that the entire monastery is closed to the public
on Christian holidays.

It seemed appropriate
to visit the nearby Arab-Jewish village of Newe Shalom/Wahat al-Salam
(Oasis of Peace).
Newe Shalom/Wahat al-Salam was founded in the 1970s
jointly by Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship. While its success
is debatable, the village welcomes tourists, and of special note is the
silent area to mediate. Littered with cigarette butts, we found Newe Shalom’s meditating area to be the
least compelling of the three silent areas we had visited that day, but it
has a great view overlooking the valley and the Monastery of Latroun.

Tel: 02-9917160

For a refreshing
change of pace, we went shopping! Calling ahead on our cell phone to be sure
it was open, we drove to the glass store at Kibbutz Nachshon. The
kibbutz is named for Nachshon of the story of the Exodus from Egypt – the
Israelite who demonstrated his faith by stepping into the Red Sea before
it parted.

Artisans on
the kibbutz design and produce stained glass windows for churches and synagogues
and homes around the world. The workshop is right off the store and you
can see the work underway. We bought handmade glass bowls and plates and
small trays. Although we were assured that the glass is unbreakable –
demonstrated by a throw of a glass plate — ask for your purchases to be
bubble wrapped. There is a small sculpture garden with figures made of
coiled wire across the road from the glass store. Kibbutz Nachshon
also has its own winery and boutique gift shop. To arrange a tour of the
winery, call ahead. [Note: the wine does not have a kosher certificate.]

To end our
visit to the kibbutz we went to the boutique gift shop – a small and pretty
store selling specialty items like spiced olive oil and lavender scented
olive oil soap bars and flakes, all charmingly packaged. Wine from the
excellent Dalton Winery (located in the north of Israel) is sold here
[kashrut certificate].

We headed back
on the road for a 15 minute drive to Moshav Bitzaron to see
the buffalo being milked.

And then home
to share the stories, cheeses, and wines that we had collected on this very
wonderful day.


Monastery of Latroun has a wine and
gift shop on the premises.

For more information:

Tel: 972-8-9255180

Newe Shalom/Wahat

Tel: (02) 9917160

Kibbutz Nachshon

Tel: 08-9278615 (decorative glass store)

Tel: 052-751751 (winery)

Cheese at Nataf

Tel: (02) 5345660

Ramah’s Kitchen

Tel: (02) 5700954

or pricing

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