Are you looking for something different to do for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration in Israel? Look no further than Tsfat. Meir Glaser from Path Of The Heart will take care of all of the details and create for you an meaningful event that you will remember forever.
This may not be Emerald City, but there’s magic in the Gilboa Mountains. Imagine watching colorful hot air balloons take off at sunrise and float across blue skies above the Jezreel Valleys’ verdant green fields. Looking up, Mount Gilboa soars, creating a spectacular backdrop.
Tens of thousands will gather for the annual International Hot Air Balloon Festival from August 2nd to 3rd, 2018. The festival will be held in Ma’ayan Harod Park which is located in the lower Galilee. The park is a beautiful one-hour drive from Villa Tiferet in Tsfat.
Balloonists will come from all over the world with their exciting playful, colorful balloons that delight adults and children alike. In previous years, the festival has attracted participants from the US, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
Try to be a part of this unique and exciting aviation show. Performances include a balloon flyover, skydiving, paragliding and hair-raising high altitude acrobatics.
At night, enjoy fireworks, a balloon night glow show, concerts and food stands. Many attendees enjoy camping at the park so they can be there for the whole event.
We may be far from Emerald City, but who knows…maybe this year the Wizard of Oz will fly by! For more information, contact the Gilboa Regional Council website.
Driving time from Villa Tiferet in Tsfat: 45 minutes
Be sure to bring lots of water, sport shoes and a hat.
Recommended Tour Operator - Israel Extreme
The large kitchen at Villa Tiferet has now come unto its own. Recently, a young, masterful chef and her best friend/assistant brought culinary artistry to Villa Tiferet, transforming the Shabbat experience.
The gourmet adventure began with Shira and Polina selecting fresh herbs and vegetables plus an array of spices at Tel Aviv’s Nachalat Binyamin market. We then all headed up to Tsfat to prepare a feast.
As soon as Shira arrived, she set to work arranging the foods and utensils in special areas of the kitchen. Aromas wafted from the stove where pots simmered and pans sizzled. The windows were soon bathed in steam, transporting us all into a world of fine food made with loving care.
Polina made the challot while Shira continued to cook and create. We were mesmerized by the dedication being invested into the ingredients and could barely keep track of the spices being tossed into the various creations.
They worked right into the night and Shira woke up several times to check on dishes that were simmering all night long.
Walking slowly and mindfully, she introduced us to delicious pickings including mustard sprouts, sorrel, mint and thistle. She showed us how to strip a stalk of nettle and eat it. We nibbled on mallow and crunched away on fennel stalks. My son Shaya picked, nibbled and grazed, uncovering his inner cow.
Lilach explained that she never picks twice in the same area but frequents different parts of the forest and riverbanks so as not to impact the plant life. She advises against pulling plants from the roots unless they are found in abundance, such as white mustard greens.
We sat at a table laid out with a cheese plate and wine glasses and were poured a wonderful selection of Dalton’s signature wines. Feeling a little light headed, we returned to Villa Tiferet where Shira once again took up her helm in her apron. Smells of freshly challah soon filled the house, while songs from their pre-Shabbat playlist echoed up to domed ceiling.
We felt humbled by what was being created here and set to preparing the Shabbat table. The Shira-Polina team was so professional, there was little for us to do but be amazed.
After lighting Shabbat candles, we headed to the roof to view a crimson sun setting behind the Meiron Mountains, then retreated to the living room where huge logs burned in the fireplace. Flames threw shadows across the stone walls, bathing the room in warmth.
At first we were silent, taking in the splendor of Shabbat, feeling its tranquility, its dreaminess. By the fireside, we sang Kabbalat Shabbat then sat down for a festive, delicious meal.
After the food was plated, it looked so beautiful, we did not want to eat, simply staring in awe. As it was Shabbat we could not take pictures so tried to appreciate this edible artisanry.
A Friday night dinner to remember
These dishes graced our table:
Delicious home made challah drizzled with maple syrup
Marrow soup with cannelloni beans, Swiss chard and parsnips
Braised lamb shank au jus served on a pistachio tapenade with Kaboocha squash and beet leaves
Acorn squash served with stewed red onions, lime segments, honey and chili
Spinach with avocados, pumpkin seeds tossed in a cashew dressing
Braised chicken thighs marinated with dates, thyme, prunes, capers served atop a sweet potato puree
The ancient wheat grain faro tossed with mushroom ragu, kale, miso, kombu, lemon rind and nori
With these incredible tastes, the echoes of our nigumin reaching up to the stone domes, and the warm feeling of being in Shabbat, we all felt as if we had entered another realm.
And then it was Saturday. Shira prepared a delicious Shabbat lunch, again, each dish lovingly assembled and beautifully presented. Even mustard sprouts from our foraging found their way into the spectacular salads.
Shabbat lunch at Villa Tiferet
For lunch, we were spoiled with the following incredible dishes:
Red leaf lettuce salad with baby beet greens, raw beets, watercress, radicchio, fennel, hazlenuts tossed in reduced pomegranate juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar
Raw Tuscan kale salad served with pomegranates and drizzled in a pistachio lemon dressing
Orecchiette pasta served with heirloom tomatoes, walnuts, lemon, charred scallions, parsley leaves tossed in a pea pesto
Roasted chicken thighs served atop a sunchoke herb puree with garlic confit, roasted pine nuts, figs and braised artichokes
Can I call food breathtaking? It was. Is it sacrilegious to call food divine? Maybe on Shabbat we can as it heightens our Shabbat experience.After the sun set, we sang Havdalah, watching the candle flame dance across the stones. We were sad to see Shabbat depart, yet we took so much away from this experience. A special essence was created in this house over Shabbat. It was magical, sensory, maybe even extra-sensory.
On one level, the villa’s professional-style kitchen experienced the hands of a true chef. And if we search deeper, our senses were tantalized, voices harmonized and the stone walls echoed with beautiful song. Friendships were forged.
Shira and Polina took us along for a test drive of their vision to bring people together for an unforgettable, exalted Shabbat. I hope they continue to bring this magic into many people’s lives.
We look forward to seeing them back at Villa Tiferet, where they take the Shabbat experience to the next level. And we hope you can be there too!
You can look up Shira on Instagram
Workshops plus concerts of chamber music, jam sessions and orchestras will take place from August 16 to 22 in three locations. Drop in on a concert. They’re free but be sure to get there early.
Klezmer 2017 Schedule and Artists
Check out the lineup of musicians for Klezmer 2017. The full schedule can be accessed here
Remember that the roads close at 5pm. There will be large parking lots at Ein Zeitim and Nof Kinneret. Busses will shuttle visitors to and from these lots.
A group of friends recently completed walking the Israel National Trail, a 1,000-kilometre-long trail that stretches from the beaches of the Red Sea to the foot of Mount Hermon.
It all started when four people from Ra’anana hit the trail near Latrun. After three years of intermittent hiking, this has blossomed into a committed group of obsessive walkers complete with a WhatsApp group of over 250 people and a website.
As I completed this last section of the trail, I felt conflicted - I wanted to finish the hike, yet did not want it to ever end. I find that the farther I walk, the harder it is to exit the trail. It's that same feeling one gets when Shabbat is almost over and you just want it to keep going.
And this is how I felt as I trudged out of the desert last week below Mitzpe Ramon; I dreaded the flashing lights, the hard asphalt and the quickened pace of city life.
With each step, I reflected on our three-year adventure. More than a walking path, our Shvil Israel experience has morphed into a meaningful journey and here’s how:
In the middle of a desert wadi or lunching on a mountaintop, we ran into other hikers – some foreigners clutching their Shvil guide books, others seniors rekindling camaraderie on the trail. We ran into singing school children on field trips and saw animated Masa Israel guides inspire high school kids with a love of their land.
And as our steps progressed, the geography slowly transformed. We walked through space and time, seeing caves dating back to prehistoric man, Roman aqueducts, Nabatean fortresses, and remains of towns dating to the times when Pharaohs ruled. The Tanach was alive as we walked past the place where David fought Goliath. We passed the remains of Lakish, the second largest city in Judea, destroyed by Nebuchanezzer in 586 BCE. He then set his sights on Jerusalem and we all know what happened next.
Walking. Watching. Listening. Touching history. We developed a profound appreciation for the exquisite yet troubled land that is Israel.
We learned how to map read, navigate trails and deal with getting lost in the wilderness. We also adjusted to the fiercer elements of the shvil, enduring incredible heat without shade, pounding rain and windy days where sand pummelled our faces and crunched between our teeth.
We pushed our personal limits by facing phobias such as fear of heights. After grappling with tenuous-looking bars carved into cliff sides, searching for footholds that simply were not there and ascending long dangling ladders, we felt like adventurers. And at the end of the day, we loved every piece of the challenge. Mid life, how many of us really push the envelope?
What started as one hike and four people bloomed into friendships with others from different towns and countries.Three years later, our Shvil Whats App group comprises over 250 people. As a result, the dynamics are constantly changing and every hike has its own flavour.
Laughing non-stop like little kids after falling knee deep into mud; singing around a campfire; dining under the stars; getting hopelessly lost then finding our way while working as a team. This is shvil friendship.
This question was posted in FaceBook on the Tzfat Chevre group. In no time at all, these gems were posted...
...when someone new moves into the old city and they tell you what house they're renting and you either know the names of the previous residents or have lived there yourself.
...strolling down the midrachov fulfills all your socializing needs for the day.
…you call the city to report a danger on the street and they tell you that it's the water department's problem. So you call the water department and they refer you back to the city. You call the city again and they tell you that it's absolutely the water department's problem. Back to the water department and....guess what? Chelm looks normal
..the directions you give don't include the names of any streets. And neither does the destination, since it could be considered to be on two or three different ones.
...people coming to visit you ask you for your address and you laugh and quickly dispel them of the notion that global positioning tech will help them here.
…if I am in my bedroom my smart phone shows the location as Tzahal street but if I am in my salon in my recliner then it shows I live on David Elazer
…you walk into your bank dressed as a clown and nobody bats an eye, because they assume you're just another "local"
…you or your neighbors talk to stray dogs and cats assuming they are reincarnations of people who came to do a tikkun and tell them that they are forgiven and should move on to another life form
…you regularly go out in your slippers and think nothing of it.
...you can tell someone that you will go and daven at a Kever in your lunchbreak and can't understand why they think it is a big deal
…you learn the laws of trumot and maasarot for how to maaser your ganja
...people ask where your children are and you don't know...and thats ok.
...a mysterious chasid knocks on your gate late at night to tell you his rebbe is out of coffee and you reply by asking him how many teaspoons of sugar does the rebbe take.
…when there are hallucinogenic plants growing out of the cracks of old buildings.
…when you fall asleep on Friday night to the sounds of Carlebach, sephardi, Chabd, Ashenazi, and Chassidish niggunim,
…when you know you are telepathic and thats no big deal.
…when a mother calls NACHMAN in the park and 30 kids come running
…when you meet someone and they are trying to suss you out and they say "Soooo, where does your husband learn?" and you tell them your husband has a job and they stare at you for a couple seconds. And then they dont know what else to ask...
…when you just happen to drop into a magical doorway and meet an old soul who you know from a past life,and the best part is..they remember you..
…people tell you they think they are a gilgul of so and so, and you're like, oh yeah, I can see that
…you think your house is new cause its only 100 years old instead of 200.
…you can tell the difference in "booms" between a falling missle, a sonic boom as our army flies over,fireworks over the Old city, or our"cousins" having a wedding.
…where you get honked at by a driver for walking on the sidewalk
…where leaks in the walls have mystical significance..
…where EVERYTHING is a "tikkun"
…and everybody you know is gluten free
…you have like over 100 photos on your phone of sunsets over Meron
…when you order a pizza for delivery and for your address you just have to tell them who your neighbor is
…when your mechanic gives you homemade olives and you know his life's story.
…when number of houses on your street are (in this order): 1, 7, 5, 45, 9, 9, 9, 47, 1, 3,3, 8
…when people walk in your house thinking its an art gallery. Oops!
so...you sell them something....and invite them for Shabbat meals
…when you tell guests it's not an address it's a location --get ready to take notes!
…when you're in the bank minding your own business and a woman tries to sell you a CD with her husband's music and then she becomes your first drum teacher.
…you know you're a Tzfati when ... the guy in line at the post office who just took a number is jumping up and down yelling "Keter! I got Keter!" and everyone understands he's number 620.
…where Judas Priest is heard in the nursing home
…when your sister city is Berkeley
…when you have ADHD and you feel normal here. Or as my friend said Safed is a place where unmedicated ADD is the norm. That and a cross between a lingering Grateful Dead concert. I do not take credit for either of those brilliant quotes.
...when it takes you less time to walk a complete stranger where he needs to go than to give him directions.
…where you're psychic, psycho, or both
Tzfat... We Love You !!
“Let’s offer something special to our winter guests at Villa Tiferet. How about S’mores?” I suggested.
Coming from Canada, a haven for camping and campfires, I thought everyone knew what S’mores were. But after I left out my first fancy package of S’more ingredients out for our guests, I got a WhatsApp picture from our cleaner in Tsfat with the message, “What do I do with this?”
This was a clear indication that Israelis are not acquainted with this delicacy. They prefer to gather around their campfires eating smoked tuna from the can. (And if you want that recipe, ask any Israeli teenager.)
No one has claimed to be the first S’mores chef. However, one of the first published recipes was by Loretta Scott Crew in the 1927 Tramping and Trailing Girl Scouts magazine. Seems like these campfire treats were already well known among scouts across America.
S’mores are so popular, there is actually a National S’mores Day. No kidding - this is serious culinary stuff in the US and some think this day should become a federal holiday. Americans take out the marshmallows for National S’mores Day on August 10 around campfires everywhere. And to celebrate last year’s S’Mores Day, the Girl Scouts released a new S’mores flavored cookie (to be released in America in 2017).
Don’t get me wrong. Tsfat is not London, England. There are some foggy, wet, damp days from December through February, and then there are many glorious crisp days with sapphire blue skies.
Our guests who come in December, January and February have use of the fireplace. There are warm blankets, slippers, lots of firewood that is stacked and ready to use, and, of course, our S’mores Galore kit.
If you need some cozifying and want a real winter treat in the midst of the Middle East, escape to Villa Tiferet this winter. You’ll feel as if you’re in another continent - or another century. There’s just nothing as sweet as this in Israel.
Having heard so much about the bird migration in the Hula Valley, we always wanted to go see it. This November, we did!
It is one thing to read the statistics about the 500 million birds that fly across Israel each year – and the 100,000 cranes that visit the Hula. It is something else to see, hear and experience this natural phenomenon close up.
No words can capture the majesty and awe at sunset as thousands of cranes fly overhead, sweeping in and nestling on the water.
This video captures a few seconds of this not-to-be-missed spectacle. The migration south continues right through November. Just be sure to get there about a half hour before sunset.
Land of Oil
November marks the height of olive picking in Israel. Unlike many other industries in this new, tech-savvy country, olive harvesting is the oldest. The whole country produces 19,500 tons of olive oil annually in an industry that is literally thousands of years old.
Olives have been a huge part of Israel’s tradition, diet and livelihood for thousands of years. The Torah speaks of olives often, describing the country as “a land of oil producing olives and honey.” (Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 8)
So if you love virgin olive oil in your salad, think Galilee. Israeli olive oil is so delicious, it has been recognized internationally, earning Israel prizes in many competitions.
And some of the best olive oil in the country comes from ancient groves nestled nearby Tsfat. There are 250 dunams of olive groves in the Galilee, with many trees being hundreds and some thousands of years old.
Many of these olive trees rely on rainwater alone, with farmers harvesting 50 kg of olive oil for each dunam. If we do the math, that means 12,500 kg of olive oil hails from the north.
Olive Branch Festival
As October and November are the prime times for harvesting olives, of course there is a festival. (As Israelis just love to celebrate, there is a festival for almost everything!)
During the Olive Branch Festival, visitors can tour local olive presses in the Galilee and Golan, where there are 120 presses alone. Watch the olive pressings, hike through the groves, try picking your own and enjoy spending time with Druze communities in the north, sampling their tasty food.
Here you can meet the people behind the olive oil, including wonderful Druze families whose livelihood is based on olives. And, of course, you can buy olive oil fresh off the press, plus a variety of cosmetics made from olive oil.
Jeeping in 1,000-year-old groves
Take a jeep drive to some of the groves where you can view ancient, gnarled trees that are 2,000 years old. Imagine. These trees were around in biblical times and have been through it all!
On your ride, you may see Arab families picking olives. It’s a family affair with everyone gathered around. They spread out a blanket and beat the branches, letting down a hail shower of olives tumbling across the mat. They then patiently sift through every olive, picking out the best of the crop.
As the Arab proverb goes, “The olive should go from the tree to the stone.” The olives are then gathered and for best results, quickly sent to the mill for pressing. The first pressing produces virgin olive oil.
Places to visit during olive season:
Deir Hanna – community of 10,000 Muslims and Christians where you can make your own marinated olives. Here you can see 2,000-year-old olive trees.
Kfar Kedem – recreated ancient Galilee village. Make goat’s milk cheese
Ein Camonim – see pressing with 250-year-old millstones (as well as more modern machines) This farm is between Rosh Pina and Karmiel and features olive groves and a boutique dairy with some 30 cheeses
Do you live outside of Israel?
Order olive oil directly from Israel by way of Galilee Green
Directory of quality olive oil presses in the north (Hebrew)
Olive press directory (English)