Author: Peter Abelow

On & Off the Beaten Track in … Tel Beit Shemesh

Recently, I mentioned to a friend who lives in the growing city of Beit Shemesh that I would be writing about Tel Beit Shemesh in the coming issue of this magazine. “Where is that?” he asked me, in all seriousness. “You don’t know?” I responded, shocked. “It’s under the main road. You drive over the […]

On and Off the Beaten Track In… Metzudat Koach—the Koach Fortress

Sandwiched between Pesach, the holiday marking our redemption from galut (exile), and Shavuot, the holiday when we celebrate receiving the Torah and our concomitant commitment to building a Torah society, are Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. On the first of these two days, Israel Memorial Day, Israel commemorates the heavy price of our freedom, the […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in…Mitzpor Haelef

The Land of Israel is a “lovely, good and expansive land” (Birkat Hamazon). The new observation deck, Mitzpor HaElef in Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion, is one of the places in Israel where those words resonate the loudest. While Israel is smaller than New Jersey, not to mention forty-three other states in the US, on a clear day, from this amazing viewpoint, you get a sense that the country stretches almost endlessly in every direction.

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . The Gush Katif Musuem

The Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem is relatively small—just five rooms—but it tells a huge story. The events depicted in its exhibits take one back ten years to the trauma of the summer of 2005, when 10,000 Jews were expelled from their homes and their communities. Yet, despite the political overtones and ramifications of the […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . the Biblical Museum of Natural History

Who doesn’t love animals? Which child doesn’t look forward to visiting the zoo? A new museum in Beit Shemesh brings visitors up close to many of the animals mentioned in Tanach and the Talmud. Many of the taxidermy exhibits at the Biblical Museum of Natural History are not behind glass. They are in the open, […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in. . . NEOT KEDUMIM

  “Renew our days as of old” Have you ever imagined what Avraham and Sarah or the generation of Joshua that entered the Land of Israel after forty years in the desert saw here? Was it the barren hills that still characterize so much of Israel today? Or perhaps, based on many references to the […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . Yad Vashem

  Israel’s National Holocaust Memorial I am writing this article while seated on a train in Poland, traveling between Warsaw and Krakow. Watching the Polish countryside zip by from my comfortable first-class seat, my mind keeps drifting back to the millions of Jews who rode on these same tracks over seventy years ago, crammed into […]

On and Off the Beaten Track at…Manara

A View from the Heights Magnificent scenery and spectacular views, fun activities for the entire family and opportunities to focus on history as well as on issues facing contemporary Israel. Manara, located in northern Israel, has it all. Kibbutz Manara, founded in 1943 by young immigrants from Germany and Poland, is perched on the top […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in. . . Hamat Tiberias

  Thermal wonders from the ancient world  According to our tradition, there are four holy cities in Eretz Yisrael. Jerusalem, of course, is one of them. The others are Chevron (Hebron), Tzefat (Safed) and Teveria (Tiberias). Chevron is the site of Ma’arat Hamachpelah, the first piece of land purchased by a Jew in the Land […]

On and Off the Beaten Track at… Independence Hall

  In the following piece, tour guide Peter Abelow describes several tourist sites that are ideal to visit to commemorate Israel’s Independence Day including Independence Hall.  The aspirations of our people to return home and re-establish Jewish independence in the Land of Israel, preserved tenaciously through 2,000 years of galut, came to a dramatic climax […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in…the Har’el Lookout

During Israel’s War of Independence, the construction of the Burma Road, a bypass to Jerusalem through the mountains, was an extraordinary feat that allowed Jewish soldiers to avoid the dangers of the main road. Photo: Israel Government Press Office As I write these lines, Israel is continuing to battle for its very existence, fighting the […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in … Gush Etzion

Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day), two consecutive days in May, dramatize both the pain of sacrifice and the joy of having a Jewish state. These conflicting emotions are encapsulated in the Gush Etzion region.

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu

A religious kibbutz that is a world leader in the technology of organic farming “God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it” (Bereishit 2:15). In Israel, the words of the Bible come alive in many ways. Indeed, to members of Sde Eliyahu, a religious […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . The Golan

A well-preserved and partially reconstructed synagogue in Katzrin Archeological Park, one of the many batei knesset in use when Jewish life thrived in the Golan Heights during Mishnaic times. Photos: Hanan Isachar Many people are under the mistaken impression that the Jewish connection with the Golan Heights began with the Six-Day War in  1967. But […]

On and Off the Beaten Track… The Menorah—Official Symbol of the State of Israel

  The Knesset Menorah stands about fifteen feet high across from the main entrance to the Knesset. Photo: Upon the founding of the State of Israel, the menorah was chosen as its official symbol. Today, the Knesset Menorah, a bronze monument, stands about fifteen feet high, across from the Knesset gates, symbolizing the eternity […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in… the Af-Al-Pi-Chen Museum

The Af-Al-Pi Chen was one of the ships that participated in the struggle to bring Jews to Eretz Yisrael clandestinely during and after WWII. Today, it serves as a museum that dramatically tells the story of the heroic efforts to defy the British blockade. Photos: In the aftermath of the Shoah, hundreds of thousands […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . the Carmel Forest

The Carmel Forest: before and after the devastating fire–the worst in Israel’s history–that claimed the lives of more than forty people. Photos: “And the fire of Hashem descended and consumed the elevation offering and the wood, and the stones, and the earth; and it licked up the water in the trench” (I Kings 18:38). […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . Sataf

Overlooking the terraces at Sataf Photos: Growing up in New York in the 1950s, my connection with the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael) was a little blueand- white tin box with a Star of David in which we placed small change from time to time to help plant trees in Israel. Few people […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . Herodium

Herod, an architectural genius, built the Herodium, a luxurious and magnificent fortress in the Judean Hills. Nowadays, many Jews flock to Herodium on Tisha B’Av eve for the reading of Eichah. Photos: After the fall of Jerusalem on Tishah B’Av in the year 70 CE, three fortresses were still held by the Jews: Masada, […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . Ancient Places

In Be’er Sheva, one can walk in the footsteps of our forefather Avraham.  Photos: Although the Bible can be studied anywhere, only in Israel can we walk in the footsteps of the personalities of the Tanach and stand in the places that figured in the narratives of their lives. Many locations in modern Israel […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in . . . Tel Aviv

On April 11, 1909, sixty families held a historic lottery on the sand dunes along the Mediterranean Sea, just a few hundred yards north of the walls that surrounded the crowded alleyways and substandard living conditions of Old Jaffa (Yaffo). Sixty plots of land in this first neighborhood outside Jaffa were assigned via the lottery to the sixty families of Ahuzat Bayit, an organization (whose name means “homestead”) that had been founded three years earlier by Jewish residents of Jaffa.

Aliyah: Have We Stopped Dreaming?

This year we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the birth of the modern State of Israel. The reappearance of an independent Jewish nation after a 2,000-year-long galut (exile)—one that witnessed the ingathering of more than one-third of the Jewish people, the revival of an ancient language and the ever-growing fulfillment of “Ki miTzion tetzei Torah”—is […]

On and Off the Beaten Track in … The Hula Valley Nature Reserve

Five hundred million arrive annually. They come by air, but do not have to wait in long lines at passport control or watch the baggage carousel make endless circuits until their luggage finally appears. The names of some of these visitors—storks, cranes, egrets, gulls, cormorants and ducks—detail a bit about their travels. And their destination? […]