Wednesday, 17 October 2012


We are now acharei haChagim (after the holidays), after a very busy period celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, then Chol Hamoed and finally Simchat Torah, the holiday which marks the completion of the yearly cycle of weekly of Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle. During this time we found the opportunity to go on several family outings together, starting with a short hike at Sataf, in the hills just beyond Hadassah Hospital and Ein Kerem village near Jerusalem.
Sataf, on the terraced slopes of the Judean Hills, has several hiking trails and two springs, Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura, which flow into the Sorek riverbed below. The remains of a 4,000 BCE Chalcolithic village, as well as the remains of a pre-1948 Arab village, are clearly visible at the site.
We parked in the upper parking area and enjoyed the panoramic view of the surrounding hills, pointing out Hadassah Hospital where my boys were born (top photo), before walking slowly downhill towards the two springs. At Ein Sataf the boys and I entered the cave from which the spring emerges and crawled through a narrow passageway to the outside world, where the hubby was waiting with our shoes and socks.
The 250-acre site of Sataf is maintained by the Jewish National Fund, a charitable organisation specialising in the development of Israeli land and infrastructure. The land is farmed using ancient methods of terrace farming, as it was by the Israelites thousands of years ago, and uses water from the springs. All the work is done by hand, or with the help of farm animals, without any machinery or use of pesticides.
The primary crops in the Judean Hills in ancient times included vineyards, olives, figs and pomegranates. Now, by involving themselves in a project called the 'Bustanof' (a little like the UK's allotments) residents of Jerusalem and its neighbouring areas can also work plots of the land and grow vegetables, flowers and more, using modern technology including irrigation systems with timers if they so choose!
It took a little over an hour to walk down the hill to the springs. We picnicked at the bottom then hiked back up to the top (it was a little strenuous on the way back up!). All in all it was a really nice afternoon out and a great way to start the holidays. I think we'll go back when the weather is cooler and the almond trees start to blossom. I'm told it's beautiful.


Robin said...

How fun, Sataf is a favorite of mine too (especially when it's a bit cooler - and with a stop along the way to buy goat cheese).

Miss Val's Creations said...

Such gorgeous scenery. I love the old fashioned way of farming with no pesticides! Fruits and vegetables are so loaded with chemicals these days if they are not organic!!!