Passing the Baton

Although I have enjoyed writing this blog for the past year and a half, I am passing the baton to my son, who is, indeed a truly excellent (and popular) writer.  His blog, Israel’s Good Name can be found here >

Between both blogs you should be able to get a feeling of what life is like in Ma’alot and the Galil.

Thank you for coming and enjoy your stay (because there’s a lot of good thing to read about)!

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The 5th Aliyah and the Building of Nahriyah

On Yom HaAtzmaot museums throughout Israel are free.  This year we went to the Lieberman House and learned all about the 5th Aliyah and the building of Nahariyah.

The Lieberman House Museum

The Lieberman House Museum

The 5th Aliyah primarily consisted of “free professionals” who were forbidden by Nazi law to work in their field of expertise.   These highly trained professionals left Germany in the early to mid 1930’s and began a new life as farmers in Nahariyah.   Their wooden shipping containers (lifts) were later used as housing.

Our Doscent

Our Docent and Life-Long Resident of Nahriyah

Our docent went above and beyond our expectations, telling more than we possibly could have expected, and going well past closing time.

Lieberman House

The Lieberman House was built in 1890

The Lieberman house was built in 1890 and was part of the original land purchase of Joseph Levi and partners.  It has been passed down to family and was finally donated to the city of Nahariyah, renovated, and used as a museum to tell the story of  Nahariyah.

Hearing the stories about the work and effort of these families is absolulty profound and it brings a greater appreciation as to how a city is developed.

For more information please visit this link >

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Shabbat Night Walk Home

Walking home on a Friday night is a wonderfully relaxing experience.   Now that spring and summer are here, and the sun sets later, I discovered a local beit knesset that starts earlier, and my walk home is… distinctly Israeli.

Today on my walk, I decided to document this walk home and  share my experience.

The walk home starts at the top of the Ma’alot hill near the “water tower” and winds through a cluster of pine trees, past the aging skateboard park and then across the street.  This is where I start taking pictures.

Path Home

A Fork in the Path

This fork in the path leads to two paths, both in the same direction – to the right.  The one to the right is on the up-hill side and the other is the down-hill side.

Up-Hill Path

The Up-Hill Path

For today, I took the up-hill path, both are equally pleasant.  The oleanders are coming into bloom!

Option 1

Option One

There are many options to go from one path to another.  Benches are available for relaxing.

The High Road

Just enough lighting to make it safe.

Option Thee

Option Three - another option to get home

Stop and breathe!  Smell the pines?  Smell the rosemary?  Smell the fresh clean air?


Almost home - what a view!

We pick up an access road right outside Eli Cohen, the beit knesset in front.  Eli Cohen (the beit knesset) was named after an Israeli spy who worked his way up the Syrian government.

Eli Cohen told Syria to plant trees near the boarder and hide their tanks there.  Eli Cohen told Israel to bomb clusters of trees near the boarder.  Needless to say, Syria took a bad beating in that war.  Unfortunately, Eli Cohen was executed for being a spy.

Access Road

Access Road

This access road leads to bottom of the hill and our street – Keren HaYesod.  At the bottom of the hill, make a right.

Keren HaYesod

Keren HaYesod

Keren HaYesod is one of the oldest streets in Ma’alot.  Our house is just past the peak on the right.

The Stairs

30 Steps Up to Our Door

That’s it.  After 30 steps and through our door, candles will be burning, the table is prepared and there are the sounds of happy family voices.

Shabbat Shalom!


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Yom HaZikaron

Today my oldest son and I went to the Nahariya Beit HaOlamin (cemetery) for the Yom HaZikaron ceremonies.  On the way there, the sirens went off and everybody stopped, got out of their cars and buses and stood.  Nobody moved.  Needless to say, it is an emotional experience.

Here are a few photos of our experience.

Honor Guard

IDF Honor Guard

After the ceremony we looked about at the different keverim.  Svetlana’s below captured my attention with the stone engraving of her giving a snappy salute with a happy smile.

Svetlana died at 20 years old

Below is the kever of Ehud Goldwasser.  He was captured with Eldad Regev by Hezbollah sparking the war in 2006.  Their bodies were returned in 2008.

The kever of kidnapped and killed Ehud Goldwasser

We were privileged to learn about Gedaliah Kuglar (w/ red flowers) from his sister.   He was involved in running a supply convoy from Nahariya to Yehiam, was held up fighting Arab forces in Yehiam for months, and then later was killed with his unit in Tarshiha.  We were left speechless.

These three and others in the area died in Tarshicha

In the kever below, Yisrael was killed at 16.

Yisrael, the young Teimani died at 16!

After seeing all the keverim, parents weeping profusely, and hearing the stories of sacrifice, I ask the question – “How can you not stand for one minute?”

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Apter – Barrier Art Center

Around Rosh HaShannah last year Ma’alot’s Apter-Barrier Art Center was completed.   It had gone from a simple, small building to a dynamic art center with spacious classrooms, rotating exhibitions and exciting plans for the future.

Here are some photos from our tour today:

The new Apter-Barrier Art Center's exhibition hall

The new and improved Apter-Barrier Art Center has probably quadrupled in size, and is enhanced with a spacious courtyard, beautifully suited for some special upcoming events!

Director and Art Teacher

The Director and Art Teacher

Tami, the director gave us the “grand tour” of the new facilities and introduced us to one of their teachers – and everybody spoke in English.

Exhibition Hall

Stone and metal sculptures on display in one part of the exhibition hall

For the opening night of the current exhibition, all of the featured artists attended and the event was broadcast live on the radio.

Children's Art Work

Children's art work on display

Classes for adults and children are available in intuitive drawing/painting, clay sculpting and spinning,  glass fusion and stained glass.  Classes in photography are coming in the future. They also have a two week summer camp for children.

Intuitive Painting Classroom

The Painting Classroom

This is the painting classroom.  There are two more classrooms about the same size – one for clay and the other for glass. There are so many good things to do in Ma’alot!

Here is the website:


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Tea with Tsachi

“How do you translate kum-kum into English?”  Tsachi asked, as he filled up his rapid-boiling electric kettle (kum-kum).

“We don’t really have them in America.”  I responded matter-of-factly.

Astonished, Tsachi probed further, “How do you make tea?”

“We don’t drink much tea in America.”  I replied, knowing that it was going to shock him.

“Whaaa?!”  Tsachi shreked as though I just …..   (Shocking statement worked.)

Tea in Israel is a delightful social experience.   It’s offered to guests within minutes of arrival, shared when doing business, and enjoyed in leisure settings throughout this wonderful land.

There is, however, a tea for each season, and everybody knows what they are (and now you will too).  Nana is for the summer and sheeba is for the winter.

Mint Tea Ready for Guests!

Mint Tea Ready for Guests! (no cup handles needed)

Nana is mint and is used for its cooling properties.   Tea is served very hot, sugar is almost mandatory and the cups, upon occasion, lack handles.   Nana tea makes a most enjoyable and refreshing drink.

The Makings of a Robust Winter Tea

The Makings of a Robust Winter Tea

Sheeba or wormwood, has a bold flavor, and it’s warming properties and are highly medicinal. It makes a very good tea!

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The Marvelous Cohen Family

Occasionally you find people that are more wonderful than you originally knew them to be.  The Cohen family are such people.

Boaz and Yehudit Cohen, long-time fixtures of Ma’alot, have done something above and beyond expectation, they have sponsored two festive events in honor of our recent wave of olim.

Food, Music and Fun!

Moshe and Shem Tov provide festive music with Boaz standing in the back

The Sukkot party was sponsored by Boaz and Yehudit Cohen and hosted by Avi Cohen and his family, more lovers of olim and was great fun!  There was great food, lively music,  friends and D’vrei Torah – what more could you ask for?

More recently, the Cohens sponsored a Tu B’Shavat Party at the Grass Civic Center.

Tu B' Shavat Party

Sim Zacks heads to the front to delivery a D'vrei Torah

Happy People on a Happy Day

Happy People on a Happy Day!

Once again, there was the food of the day – dried and fresh fruits in honor of Tu B’Shevat,  music, more friends,  and of course, D’vrei Torah given by long time oleh Sim Zacks.

Thank you Baoz and Yehudit Cohen for your heartfelt love of olim.  It is people like you who make the world a better place.


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“G” Stands for Golan, Galil and Gourmet (Pt 1)

Over the last month or so, we’ve had a delightful time discovering that the Galil and Golan are filled with great, gourmet foods.   All the places we went to were within an hour of Ma’alot, with most places being only about 30 minutes away.

Rimon Winery :  Starting off on our culinary journey we went to the  Rimon Winery ( in Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra.  The winery is located in the midst of the Nechmias family pomegranate orchard 30 minutes east of Ma’alot, being between Safed and Lebanon.  There we sampled some delicious dry and dessert wines made from pomegranates.  What a treat!

Rimon Winery's Wonderful Dessert Wine

After the wine tasting, there was a brief tour with an explanation of the wine-making process.

Who would have thought you could get great, full-bodied wines from rimonim?

Johncolad :  Chocolatier John Alford ( makes some amazingly rich chocolates and truffles in his little chocolate factory in Manof, just 40 minutes south of Ma’alot.  The process appears simple and the result are amazing!


John hand-rolls a "chocolate snake" before feeding it into the "baller"

Here is the oversimplified version of how John’s chocolates are made:

Step 1 – Making the Chocolate.   In this step John mixes premium chocolate products with natural ingredients to produce a chocolate “dough” with centers the flavors of brandy, caramel, mocha, etc.

Step 2 – The Chocolate Snake.  After all the mixing and blending, John forms chocolate snakes of about 1/2 ” diameter, which then go onto his conveyor belt for further processing.  Half way down the conveyor belt (to the right of John’s hands) the chocolate snake is cut into approximately 8″-10″ pieces, which at the end of the line get dropped into two counter-spinning grooved rollers, slicing the snake into a dozen or so little “balls”.


John explains the process of making chocolate

Step 3 – Coatings.  The flavored chocolate centers are then placed into the spinning drums (pictured above) for repeated application of chocolate coatings, nonpareils or cocoa powder, depending on the desired results.

Johncolad Samples

Samples for the Children

His tour is interesting, informative and takes about 15 minutes, followed with samples for the children.

When you go, make sure you bring plenty of cash or checks (credit cards not accepted) and sample your purchases in the parking lot.  That way you won’t have to go back for more after 10 minutes of driving and eating.

La Bonita : La Bonita ( in Karmiel, about 30 minutes south of Ma’alot, tastefully fills the need for authentic Mexican corn and wheat tortillas.  The tortillas are made on location, and you can buy them fresh off the conveyor belt.

La Bonita

Started by Olim Chadashim David and Betty Kleiman of Mexico

Recently, La Bonita went through some renovations, automating some steps and installing more equipment for higher production.

Tortilla Baking

Special-sized Tortillas being cooked on the conveyor belt

Wheat tortillas are available in a small and large sizes and are amazingly delicious.  Corn tortillas are available in a standard sized 8″ diameter (or so).  Also available are fresh sauces and tortilla chips.

Tortillas being hand packed

Tortillas being hand-packed

The owners and workers are delightfully cheerful and are always happy to see us!

In Part 2 we will explore some profoundly fantastic olive oils of the Golan and some delicacies from Tzippori.

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…sitting in the dust of his feet…

In the book, Pinnacle of Creation, adapted from the talks of Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz ZT”L (Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim), I found something amazing that I would never have thought about had I not made aliyah, or seen pictures of hesder yeshiva students in the IDF.

In parashat Balak, a Midrash Yalkut Shimoni is used to explain the pasuk, “Who can count the dust of Yaakov…?” (Bamidbar 23:10).  It states that Bilaam’s prophetic reference to the “dust of Yaakov” alludes to

  • the young men of Israel,
  • students dressed in their Shabbat finery,
  • who congregate around their teacher,
  • sitting in the dust of his feet,
  • to hear the words of Torah from his lips.

Further on in the drasha, it states, “…they were proud of the dust stains, they wore them like medals and ribbons, their insignia of devotion and love for Torah.”

Learning Torah

...sitting around their teacher, sitting in the dust of his feet, to hear the words of Torah...

After I read this, I couldn’t help but think about a picture my son’s friend posted on Facebook.

In my conversations with a local hesder student / tank driver, I feel convinced that this Yalkut Shimoni is speaking about these young men who live a religious, Torah-life by learning Torah and by serving in the IDF.

Their dust is real dust and their devotion is seen in “ribbons” and “medals”.

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Don’t Put Your Dreams in the Hands of Others

Imagine the following scenes throughout Shmueli’s life in the thriving religious community of Goshen, Indiana, and how he never fulfilled his dream to make aliyah and live in the Holy Land.

Scene 1.

Little Shmeuli is 7 years old and just finished examining a big picture book of Israel and it’s holy sites.

Shmueli:  Mommy, I want to move to Israel.  It looks really fun there!   Can we move mommy?

Mommy:  No, sorry sweetie.  Abba has a good job here in Goshen,  and anyway the Israeli kids are really too rough.  You might get hurt.  Maybe someday, but not now.

Scene 2.

Years later, Shmueli is now 16 and just finished viewing the Goshen Yeshiva senior class trip pictures of Israel on Facebook.

Shmueli:  Abba, looking at all those picture of Israel really makes we want to go there.  The Cohens made aliyah, why don’t we?

Abba:  It’s not a good idea to disrupt your yeshiva learning, Shmueli.  Learning in Israel is a lot different and it might be hard on you.  And anyway,  Mashiach will come some day soon and we will all go there!

Scene 3.

Shmueli is now 21 and in his third year of Goshen Yeshiva Beit Medrash.  After learning the halachot of Sheviit he feels the desire to move to Israel and consults with his Rebbi.

Shmueli:  Learning the halachot of sheviit has stirred up my feelings to make aliyah, and get land of my own so I can fulfill those mitzvot.  What do you think?

Rebbi:  Now is not a good time.  You’re still young, and anyway, your father has got college plans for you starting next year, right?  You have your whole life to make aliyah – don’t get all worked up about it now.  Think of your future.

Scene 4.

Shmueli is now 28 years old, married with four kids and a degree in programming.   After the Shabbat drasha about the meraglim, Shmueli approaches Rabbi Greenberg with a nagging question.

Shmueli:   Rabbi, I have been thinking about making aliyah lately.  The kids are still young, my wife is interested and I can support the family as a programmer.  I think it would work out fine!  What do you think?

Rabbi Greenberg:  Bad idea.  The government is filled with wicked people, Israeli children will be hard on your kids, your standard of living won’t be nearly the same.  Stay here.  You have a nice home, cars, a night seder – what more could you ask for?  Wait a few more years – until your kids are older.

Scene 5.

At age 35 Shmueli has a couple more kids and has advanced in his programming.  His oldest is 14 years old and is doing well in school.  After looking at another Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight arrival on Arutz Sheva he calls the Rosh Yeshiva of Goshen Yeshiva to speak about making aliyah.

Shmueli:  …we would like to make aliyah.  We can support ourselves financially, my kids are doing well in school.  I would like to pursue the idea further.  What does the Rosh Yeshiva think?

Rosh Yeshiva:  Shmueli, I have know you a long time and have seen you grow to be quite a talmid chacham and a baal hesid.  But, you have to know that your son my not “find himself” in Israel.  You may find him doing “other things” – things that you don’t want to think about.  You have to think about your kids, and what is best for them.  Goshen is good for you and you are good for Goshen.  You have plenty of time to make aliyah.

Scene 6.

Ten years later, two kids are married and his other children are in school, some are doing poorly  and some are doing well.   After finding that an old friend on Facebook has moved to Israel, Shmueli turns to Yaakov, his chavruta of 13 years for his opinion.

Shmueli:  I just got an email from an old friend who made aliyah.  He says ‘It’s the best thing he has done and his family loves it there.’ !

Yaakov:  Man, I would put that on the back burner if I were you.   A lot of kids go off the derech.  It’s a big problem.  Maybe you should move when all your kids are grown and on their own.

Scene 7.

At age 61 Shmeuli is making plans for retirement with his friend and accountant, Hillel Ash.

Shmueli:  I think the time has come for me to retire and make aliyah, you are my accountant – what do you think?

Hillel:  You have a lot of people relying upon your support, both financial and personal.  You’ve got grandchildren who love to come visit you.   How can you leave all this behind?  Work for another eight to ten years and then go.  Stick around, your needed here in Goshen!

Scene 8.

Shmueli dies at age 79 leaving behind his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  After the hespedim, Shmueli’s body and his closest family members board the next El Al flight to Israel for his burial place on Har HaZiytim.  As the plane taxis to the runway Shmueli’s wife converses with their oldest son.

Wife:  You know, your father always wanted to live in Israel….


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