Israel's Good Name

Chanukah (Part 1)

In Galilee, Golan, Israel on January 1, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Part of this past week and part of the week before it was the holiday of Chanukah, 8 days of joyous celebration over our salvation from the Greeks some 2,300 years ago. This year we did some stuff and took some trips. Here is a brief overview of what happened and where… And what we ate. Here are sufganiot (doughnuts) that my sister Esther made for us to eat the first night of Chanukah:

Doughnuts

The first trip we took, on Thursday – the 2nd day of Chanukah, was to the Golan, in search for something known as dolmens,  an ancient stone structure built as either tombs or landmarks and found from Ireland to Israel to Korea. These dolmens are often huge and in large groups but the ones we saw were kind of isolated from the large group in Gamla National Park. Israel’s dolmens are made out of basalt and are covered in lichen.

Ancient dolmen

But before we found the dolmens we were driving out in the flat plains of the Golan looking for a large circular formation of low stone walls built thousands of years ago. Despite our relentless searches we were unable to locate the circles we wanted but we did find plenty of ancient low stone walls that told us we were in the right area.

Ancient walls that run through the open fields

But to say that we found only the ancient walls and dolmens would not be true, we also stumbled upon new structures, those belonging to the IDF. Here is a recently abandoned army base where dozens of empty, rusted ammunition cases were scattered about:

An army base recently abandoned

And here, on the side of the road, is a military bunker/trench of sorts with small rusted metal storage cabinets inside:

Army bunker and trench

Leaving the flat region of the Golan we found ourselves at the Bet Saida Vista overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and the Jordan River area north of it, including parts of Gamla. Here is a panoramic shot of the view (click to enlarge):

From the Kinneret to Gamla

That was Thursday.

Sunday, the 5th day of Chanukah, was another day full of adventure. We headed slightly south past Karmiel to the Johncolad chocolate factory. This particular chocolatier hails from New Zealand and now lives in the South African-founded Moshav Manof. His name is John Alford and this is a brief look at the chocolatey adventure we had.

Johncolad logo

When we first walked in John looked at us and told us that he recognises us. My father than explained to him that we had once come to buy chocolates and take the tour that is offered. In fact, my father even wrote a blog post that included our previous trip to Johncolad and here it is: http://aliyahlift.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/g-stands-for-golan-galil-and-gourmet-pt-1/

After we all figured out what’s what and where’s where we decided to buy some chocolates. I asked if we were getting a tour but he told us that we have already seen the tour so I decided not to pursue the issue. Here is John lining up the packs of chocolate:

John Alford selling us his chocolates

Even though we were not treated to a tour of the chocolate making I snuck back and snapped some shots of the resting machinery:

Chocolate making machine

Drums for nonpareils and powdered cocoa

As I peered inside the right drum I spotted a stray chocolate ball, all covered in nonpareils and looking down-right delicious:

A chocolate ball hidden on a bed of nonpareils

After we had purchased our chocolates and chatted enough with John we headed out the door. On the way, chest-high on the wall next to the door, I once again caught sight of one of my favourite features in the Johncolad establishment… A plaque from the Israeli Navy thanking John for his tour of the Johncolad factory:

Thank you plaque from the Israeli Navy

And, as a final touch of Manof, as we drove out, this was the view that greeted us. The stretch of land reaching the Haifa Bay, with the historic Mount Carmel as a long backdrop. Doesn’t get much better than this:

Panoramic shot of the land looking south toward Mt Carmel

And that was Sunday day. Sunday night and the rest of Chanukah will be presented in the next post.

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