Day 1: The Majestic Golan Heights

ramahridehikeNorthern Israel Trip 2022

Wednesday, May 18

The Shoafim bikers began their ride heading east and then south out of the Merom Golan Resort Village, looking into Syrian territory at the Kuneitra Lookout Point and learning about the geopolitics of the location from 1967 to the present. Continuing south, they stopped north of Moshav Alonei Habashan to visit the moving “Andarta of the Fig and the Cedar,” a memorial for eight soldiers from the 134th Reconnaissance Battalion who died during the Yom Kippur War.

The Bogrim and Mumchim bikers began their ride with a loop around the area north of the Merom Golan Resort Village via route 959 past Ha’Emir junction and all the way to Kibbutz El Rom. After riding north on 98, they rode east to visit the battle site of Emek Habacha – the “Valley of Tears.” There they paid tribute to the IDF unit known as “OZ 77,” which fought valiantly against all odds during the Yom Kippur War (October 1973) under the leadership of Avigdor Kahalani.

Both groups then rode to Katzrin, the main urban center of the Golan Heights, where they stopped for lunch. In Katzrin they visited an ancient synagogue and a reconstructed Talmudic village built on the ruins of the town where the synagogue once stood. Riders then transferred by bus or rode back to Merom Golan.

The moderate hiking group began the day climbing to the summit of Har Bental directly from Kibbutz Merom Golan. They didn’t even need to get on a bus to start experiencing the beauty of the trail.

And how beautiful it was. They encountered lovely wildflowers and sweeping views of the Naftali Mountains to the west and the still snow-covered Har Hermon to the north. Once they made it to the top of Har Bental they heard from tour guide Renee about the history of the Yom Kippur War as they took a moment to catch their breath and capture some photos. On their way down on the bus they saw some biker friends making their way up the same steep mountain road.

Their next stop brought them to Ein Keshatot, the site of an ancient Jewish community in the Golan. They toured the meticulously reconstructed synagogue before sharing lunch with the advanced hiking group.

The groups split ways again and the moderate hikers visited Tel Saki, another important site from the Yom Kippur War. They heard powerful stories of soldiers’ bravery, heroism, and sacrifice in that war as well as more recent stories of how Israel provided humanitarian aid to injured civilians of the Syrian Civil War.

The advanced group began the day at Nahal Samach, where they hiked west and then south along the Golan Trail. They visited the Syrian bridge and diversion channel en route to Ein Keshatot (Um el-Kanatir), where an ancient synagogue has been reconstructed through computer simulation. After lunch with the moderate hiking group, they continued east to Nahal El Al, with its views of the White and Black Waterfalls, then hiked south following Ein Kif. They ended their hike near the town of Avnei Eitan, where they met the bus for a transfer back to the hotel.

We can’t wait for the coming days as we continue to explore the beauties of Northern Israel and learn more about the country we love.

Layla Tov from Merom Golan,
Amy Skopp Cooper, National Ramah Director
Rabbi Mitch Cohen, Senior Advisor
Rami Schwartzer, Trip Coordinator

Our Participants Say….

Seeing the reconstructed synagogue at Ein Keshatot with its beautiful artwork, it was like seeing our history come alive. Tel Saki was also very moving. I saw a documentary about Tel Saki a few years ago. It was remarkable to actually see how small the bunker was. Even though all the odds were stacked against the soldiers, because of their ingenuity they were able to save more lives.” – Anne Schneider

I can now say I climbed Har Bental. It feels great. I learned that Avital and Bental are father and son. Everyday you learn something new. It’s a chinuchi hike, perfect for Ramah.” – Susan Salwen

It was a hot, windy day with a lot of climbing, but I’m not complaining. Getting up to the viewpoint was a challenge but it was really good.” – Louis Gonzalez

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