Action hero Van Damme came to pay a visit with Eyal Reiss, director of the Tzfat Kabbalah Center. As part of his five day visit to Israel, Van Damme came to Safed in search of spiritual advice in the wake of the terrorist attacks that rocked Brussels earlier this month. The Belgian born action star spent the day exploring the city, visiting the famous Abuhav synagogue and learning Torah. He has drawn criticism for his outspoken support of Israel.
When we travel to northern Israel, there are many must-see sights and must-do activities. There is so much to do that one could spend many vacations in the north and still not see it all.
But what about the hidden secrets? There are many beautiful spots in the Galilee that are serendipitous. All you need is a car and a sense of adventure.
Last Friday, en route to Tsfat for Shabbat, we took a drive up north. Being early March, the rolling hills were verdant green. Red kalaniot and mauve cyclamen formed bright patches on the hillside.
We drove to Yodfat, a moshav just south of Karmiel that is nestled on the Atzmon Mountain range. Yodfat, also known as Jotapata, was once a village populated by Jews at the end of the 2nd century BCE. During these times, the Hasmonean kings were broadening their territory northward.
It was a large settlement when, in 67 CE, it was destroyed by the Romans. Josephus Flavius describes the siege in detail in his book The Wars of the Jews. Led by Emperor Vespasian plus by three legions, the Romans battled to overthrow Yodfat, yet were met by resistance.
The Jews held out for 47 days until Yodfat was burned to the ground. It was the month of Tammuz. About 40,000 Jews were killed while 1,200 women and children were captured and enslaved.
Now visitors can walk to the top of a hill were the town once stood and wander around the area. Archeological excavations have uncovered ancient cisterns, part of walls and a mass grave with human remains. Yodfat is a tranquil place where the moshav residents grow flowers. They run a flower bulb nursery that exports millions of bulbs worldwide. In fact, Yodfat has developed anenomes that are hand-pollinated, a first in the business of cut flowers.
In English, this farm is called Goats with the Wind. It is tranquil, gentle and a world apart. Go for a visit. If it is not spring (goat birthing season), you can buy some fresh cheeses. And if you would like to eat in the restaurant, you must reserve in advance.