Herodian Fortress

The Lone Oak:  Perhaps the most cherished tree in Israel 

   

To my perpetual amazement, the majority of tourists are "in the dark" about the historically and Zionistically resplendent Gush Etzion.  This region, commonly referred to as the West Bank, is a drop south of Jerusalem.  Either a half or full day can include several of the following sites, which are ---incredibly----within just 5 square miles of each other:

  • An audio-visual show about how a few dozen isolated kibbutzniks and Hagana defenders faced the onslaught of thousands of Jordanian Legionnaires and local Arabs on the eve of Israel's birth in the 1948 War of Independence; You will also find out why that oak tree is so important.
  • Herodion:  A 2000-year old mountain fortress, one of King Herod's most spectacular building projects;
  • a young couple living in their large homemade Mongolian tent;
  • a many-chambered cave in a majestic canyon;
  • a small factory where a man invented how to compress mounds of brown, gushy olive oil press waste into "charcoal", rather than destructive coal-mining;
  • a family who dug under their house to make a small winery and found a vertical 2000 year old Roman pillar supporting the house.
  • An organic grape vineyard, grown by a Chabadnik from Boston, who produces wine in his home cellar.
  • Trails to small springs.
  • Israel's longest omega line, stretching over a pine-forest valley;
  • Calibre 3:  where bodyguards are trained, and where tourists can take a 2-hour course in counter-terrorism;
  • A shack where volunteers daily give free snacks to hundreds of soldiers on guard duty in the area, founded by 2 widows whose husbands were terror victims;
  • The Lone Tree Beer Brewery;
  • A water tunnel to wade through which was part of an ancient Roman aqueduct;
  • A dirt road that follows the ancient route of the Patriarchs, passing ancient mikvahs, farming terraces, and a field where a famous Maccabee battle took place.
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