The Greater Area of Modi’in: Hanukkah Lemonade!
Do you know the expression about ‘turning lemons into lemonade?’. This trip started out all wrong, but turned out to be awesome. I spent two days, one with three children and one with an adult friend so I’ve included recommendations from both. Everyone had a great time so you have both fun family suggestions and a more serious option as well.
Trip Agenda Options:
Kfar Hashmonai, Shilat
Aladdin Olive Farm, Kfar Rut
Hava & Adam (Adam and Eve) Ecological Park, Modi’in
The Maccabee Gravesite, Road 443 Modi’in
Trip Anchors:‘Kfar Hashmonai’, Shilat
An astute geographer, history lover and educator at heart, called Zohar Bar’am built an open-air museum that teaches children about the Hasmonean period through a series of hands-on experiences of their day to day lifestyle. Out visit included handling of an ancient olive press, pottery making, an herb tea activity, demonstration of a Hasmonean-period home, play-acting of the Hanukkah story, writing our names in the ancient Hebrew letters as found in archeological texts and archery tryouts.
That being said, there is much more to the site than that. The open air museum also has a demo-Neolithic village, a demo nomadic lifestyle tour of our forefathers, an independence-war themed activity due to the battles that were held in this region such as ‘Operation Danny’ all with several additional craft making activities.
I went with three 12-year-old girls and to be honest they’re at the upper age limit. It is more suitable for younger children. However, the girls enjoyed it since they were together and I’m glad I managed to take them before it became too late.
Aladdin Olive Farm, Kfar Rut
This is the second place I took the girls to and it was a perfect ending to the day. The olive farm is within 6 minutes from ‘Kfar Hashmonai’ and continued the concept of hands-on experiences. The first thing that hits you when you enter is that it’s pleasant. There are both a large green lawn and a shaded room, both strewn with low tables and benches where you can sit either when waiting for the activity to begin or at the end of the experience to partake of the meal that you end up with.
The visit includes: demonstration of a modern olive-picker machine, olive-oil making using a modern press, olive picking from the grove, a herb-garden tour, olive pickling using a modern olive crusher, feeding chickens and rabbits and viewing the gorgeous peacocks, wheat grinding and pita making. The tour ends with a meal made of your own pita bread with a choice of spreads, herb tea of your own choice and a jar of olives to take home, to be edible in 3 months.
I went home home with some very happy, worn-out, expert olive-maker kids.
Hava & Adam Ecological Park Modi’in
This park is actually suitable for older children, like 12 and up, but you need to reserve activities in advance. Tours are usually opened for groups of 15 more or less and includes education about an environmental friendly lifestyle. The tour includes educational activities with hands-on workshops related to green building, compost making, solar energy, organic agriculture and herb uses and recycling.
I just stopped by with my friend so we only did a self-guided tour of the place, but it looks like a nice option for families with older children.
This is where things started off wrong. My friend and I had registered for a tour that was canceled at the last minute leaving us with our backup plan of visiting ‘Ancient Shiloh’. I didn’t realize it was across the green line till I was on my way and by then it was too late to change plans again. Also, cellphone reception in the area is intermittent at best so if you decide to go, you should probably do so with a guided tour. There were several Israeli families visiting during Hanukkah, but in general it is an area less toured by Israelis so please be warned.
However, once I made it, I really enjoyed the site. It is one of the earlier biblical sites you can visit. Shiloh was the city built by Joshua and the 12 tribes after entering Israel, where the Tabernacle was placed. It served as the central site of worship for 369 years before the first temple was built. It was the city the Israelites visited 3 times a year during Succot, Pesach and Shavuot. The tabernacle is where Hanna prayed for a son and where the Prophet Samuel grew up under the charge of the High Priest Eli. References of Shiloh and the Tabernacle include: Joshua 18, Exodus 27, Deuteronomy 23, Samuel 1 Chapters 3 and 4. The archeological site is big and the movie theater that was built on site is a work of art using the windows to the valley as a screen. You alternately see the movie and then the real-life setting. There are also remains of a Byzantine church within the site grounds.
I have to mention the gift shop because it was really nice. Aside from the choice of local wines and olive oil, it had an assembly kit of a Tabernacle, which you don’t often see at these gift shops and some nice jewelry designed as old coins.
Since Shiloh is out of the way, from the rest of the sites, you may want to visit on a separate day and purchase a combination ticket with the ‘Psagot Winery’ or a visit to the ‘Meshek Achia’ olive grove nearby. You can also visit ‘Shiloh Winery’ separately.The Maccabee Gravesite, Road 443 Modi’in
Apparently, these aren’t where the actual Maccabees were buried, but they were buried nearby. I’m linking an article on the subject. In any case, it is an ancient gravesite and this Hanukkah there was a navigation hunt at the site, so until the actual Maccabee grave site is located, this is the one visited by the public and since it is open for free and the actual graves are probably in the vicinity you may wish to stop there to conclude your day regardless of the theme chosen.
I think someone got away...
The nearest hotel to Ancient Shiloh is ‘Eshel Hashomron Hotel’ in Ariel.
I spent two days. My friend and I visited points A, B and C. The girls and I visited points D and E.
This is what it looks like on the map:
At first, I didn’t know how I was going to fit in ‘Ancient Shiloh’ with a post about Hanukkah and thought I had wasted a precious day, but after thinking about it, the connection is the ‘Menorah’. Shiloh is where the Tabernacle was and where the lighting of the Menorah that was later transferred to the First Temple was upheld. In Hanukkah we celebrate the miracle that allowed the Maccabees to light the Menorah for 8 days out of a single oil jar leading to creation of the Hannukiah. So you see, lemonade!
By the way, if you wish to see additional trip ideas for Hanukkah, you should read my previous post, which was entitled "A Glee Style Hanukkah-Christmas Mashup".
Where did you celebrate Hanukkah this year?
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