Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Surprise in the Shadows of Smokestacks
For the first time since we made aliyah 18 months ago, the parents Sussman (that's Romi and Josh for the uninitiated) went away for a brief mini-vacation, thanks to the visit of Grandma and Grandpa Sussman. We spent the night in a nice little hotel in Zichron Yaakov. About 30 km south of Haifa, the picturesque small town sits on top of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean. Zichron is one of the earliest permanent settlements built during the First Aliyah in the late 1880's and 90's and they have done a wonderful job of restoring some of the original homes and creating a nice pedestrian area in the center of town. We had a really nice time shopping, eating in the sidewalk cafes and visiting the very well-done museums in town (one on NILI the WWI spy ring centered in Zichron and the other about the First Aliyah whose members founded Zichron along with numerous other agricultural settlements, many of which were sponsored by Baron de Rothschild). We also took in a really interesting tour of the Zichron (Carmel) Winery, the first in Israel and still the largest in the Middle East (which even the tour guide admitted wasn't the biggest feat on earth given the muslim prohibition against alcohol production and consumption).
The next day we drove a few minutes to see the amazingly intact Roman aqueduct on a public beach in Caesarea (see the picture above), then meandered through the beautiful neighborhoods of Caesarea. On the way out of town, we stopped to pick-up a quick soda at a gas station and were shocked when we saw a sign for a kosher sushi restaurant attached to the gas station. A bit sceptical at first, we went in to investigate a bit more. The inside was very nice and newly re-done in traditional 'sushi restaurant' motif, sushi bar and all. We immediately scrapped our plans for an early dinner on the beach in Netanya for a lunch of delicious sushi. The sushi was fresh, good and quite moderately priced!! We spent the whole meal celebrating our little find and trying to figure out just how cool it is to be able to eat kosher sushi on the side of the road in the shadows of the famous smokestacks of the power plant in Hadera. Our trip was officially topped off by lunch and we then drove around the fancy neighborhoods of Herzilya Pituach and wandered on the boardwalk in Netanya before returning home.
As I wrote to a friend yesterday, this trip reminded us of the majesty that is living in Israel in our homeland. While we enjoyed our travels in America visting New York and Boston, Williamsburg and Philadelphia and all the other wonderful places and sites that America has to offer...it never moved the spirit like travelling through Israel does. In Israel we are visiting our history, the history of the Jews--both ancient and modern. We learn of the heroes of Zionism, who sacrificed more than any of us can contemplate, who built this country by reclaiming the lands from centuries of neglect in conditions beyond terrible. When we travel our land we are touched by the beauty and the history of a land that is ours and that speaks to our souls.
We look forward to sharing our land with anyone who wants to come for a visit (and anyone who wants to come to stay!)