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April 28, 2009April 28, 2009  0 comments  Geography

A biblical landscape reserve nestled amidst the Judean Hills, Neot Kedumim offers an extensive array of exciting programs geared to the entire family. Our group contained contained visitors of every age group  from the United States, and it was therefore, critical that the afternoon outing meet both the physical and educational needs of all the age groups. At Neot Kedumim we had  a private, 2.5 hour tour that began with an explanation of  the history of this vast 600 acre reserve and the abundant plant life that is represented throughtout this landscape. Our guide directed us onto an easy trail to different stops along the reserve where we learned about the lives of biblical women, the chosen topic for that day. One child cleverly dissappeared from the group while we were busy admiring the trees and moments later  when asked about how Miriam hid her brother, Moses, amongst the reeds, we all began "looking" for Miriam in the similar landscape.


We learned about ancient olive manufacturiing and had the opportunity to push the olive press in order to understand the process of extracting the tasty and useful oil. At another stop we learned about ancient caligraphy by using reeds to create our personal works of art. Our day concluded with planting our own trees, in this case we planted  locally found Carob trees. In the past, during the  push towards the reforestation of Israel, there was an emphasis on planting of certain non-local trees and over time it was demonstrated that varieties not native to the region were actually a detriment. Therefore here, as in many areas of the country, the emphasis now is on the planting of only species that are native to the region.


Neot Kedumim uses the local surrounding and incorporates it into the learning process together with practical experiences of the ancient way of life. they offer tours that relate to periods of the year, holidays, biblical charactiers, etc for various types of groups as well as in several languages. Neot Kedumim gives wonderful insight into the Biblical way of life and the parables of Jesus through experience. Visitors are introduced to the deep connection between the land of Israel and the Biblical messages and teachings through biology, zoology, botany, Biblical time's water management and even hands-on Biblical cooking, among other things. The aim of Neot Kedumim is to create the setting for learning and understanding the ancient, local way of life, to be able to relate to the Biblical stories and thereby Israel's history. My tips: Dress for outdoor experiences. with comfortable walking shoes. Handicap accessible.

October 4, 2012October 4, 2012  0 comments  Geography

If you want to experience Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, in all its glory and biblical meaning, go no farther than to Neot Kedumim, Israel's very special biblical landscape reserve, located 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem, close to Mod'in, in the Judean Hills.


" In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me... streams of living water will flow from within him" (John 7: 37-38)

Neot kedumim is a picturesque reconstructed biblical landscape reserve at the foothills of Jerusalem with breathtaking views over the Samarian hills on one side and the skyline of Tel Aviv on the other side. Visitors can explore the natural setting of the land, the plants and trees, the water facilities and the agricultural installations as they were at the time of the bible.


During the four species tour at Neot-Kedumim we meet the etrogim (Citrons), both small and large varieties, growing on their trees, with their wonderful citrus-y fragranced leaves We once had an etrog the size of a small watermelon that was in the Israel edition of the Guiness Book of World Records! The etrog, it turns out, is an oleh, an immigrant to Israel, possibly originating in India or Persia, but a veteran oleh that appears in the Mishna. The etrog is quite happy here, but only if we provide it with large quantities of water.


Next, we meet the hadas-myrtle. Unlike its neighbor the etrog, hadas is a hardy plant that can survive the long, dry summer without irrigation. Its leaves are green and shiny and fragrant even before the first rains. It may be this ability to withstand drought that gave rise to the myrtle's many folkloric associations: long life, prosperity, success. The Talmud (Brachot 57a) even says that if you dream about myrtle, your property will prosper, and, if you don't have property, you will inherit property.


Further down the trail is the arava-willow. Here are both the familiar red-stemmed, long-leafed variety, and a curious tree that has both long and round leaves on the same branch. This is also a kind of arava that is called "khilfa-gila" in the Talmud (Sukka 33b-34a)-khilfa (knife)-gila (round) indicating the two shapes of the leaves. Like the etrog, the willow is an extremely thirsty plant that wilts quickly in the absence of water.


Finally, we meet the lulav, the inner, unopened frond of the date palm, nestling in the center (lev) of the tree. The date palm is indigenous to Israel's desert areas, but only where there is water underground-oases. Whether you're a modern Bedouin or an ancient Israelite wanderer, the place to camp in the desert is under the date palms. One of the Israelites' first encampments, in fact, was an oasis called "Elim," where according to the bible there were "twelve springs of water and seventy date palms" (Numbers 33:9).


You may have noticed that water has been a subtext of this very brief Four Species tour. Three of the four-etrog (Citron), willow, and date palm-are highly dependent on a constant supply of water. One, the myrtle, can survive long periods of drought. Water is in fact an important theme of Sukkot, the time when we begin praying for the first winter rains without which there is no life here in Israel. According to the Mishna (Rosh Hashana 1, 2), "On the hag [Sukkot], judgment is passed in respect to rain." And the Four Species themselves are living representatives of our pleas for water-for life. Like the etrog, willow, and date palm, we need water to survive. But, if the rains don't come, we would like to survive anyway, like the myrtle. Indeed, the Talmud (Ta'anit 2b) designates the Four Species as "advocates" for water.


And in this context the words of Jesus when he visited the Temple at Sukkot- the Feast of Tabernacles, are becoming even more meaningful.


Visiting Neot Kedumim

Neot Kedumim is located off of Route 443, approximately 20 minutes from Jerusalem, 5 minutes south of Mod'in, in the Judean Hills. Visitors that wish can also arrange, in advance, to plant a tree.

Telephone: + 972 (0)8 -9770782

Website: www.n-k.org.il

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December 14, 2009December 14, 2009  0 comments  Nature

Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of light over darkness in nature as well as in history. In the second century BCE, a small but devoted group of Jews, led by the Maccabees, defeated the much larger and more powerful Syrian-Greek army. Jewish tradition was thus kept from disappearing into the sea of the surrounding pagan culture.


In nature, Hanukkah comes at the darkest time of the year. Hanukkah always falls close to December 21, the winter solstice, when daylight hours are at their least. And Hanukkah begins on the 25th of the lunar month of Kislev, when the moon is approaching the end of its waning and its light is dim. It is at this time of the shortest days and the darkest nights that we celebrate the holiday of light, increasing light by adding a new candle in the Hanukkah menorah on each of the eight nights of the holiday. We light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.


In ancient Israel, the source of light was not the wax candles most of us use today, but burning olive oil. Interestingly, the olive harvest and oil-producing season always comes very close to Hanukkah.


At Neot Kedumim, the festival of light is celebrated by picking olives, producing oil in reconstructed ancient presses, making the clay oil lamps that were the "light bulbs" of ancient Israel, and much more. In addition, Neot Kedumim is located in the hilly landscape of the Modi'in region where the story of Hanukkah took place. Walking the paths of Neot Kedumim, we can learn how the Maccabees used their knowledge of the terrain to triumph over the powerful Syrian Greeks.


For information on the Hanukkah program at Neot Kedumim, see www.n-k.org.il, call 08-977-0782, or e-mail tourism@neot-kedumim.org.il. You can reserve a tour for your group (in English) with your own private guide, or walk the open trails and join the activities with no reservations required: 13-17 December, 9:00-15:00, last entrance at 13:30.


A joyful, light-filled Hanukkah and winter season for all!


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