Thursday, 20 October 2016

Lohamei Hagetaot

It's time to write the last blog post about our mini-break in the Galilee area during the summer. I have already blogged about the Ein Afek Nature Reserve and the Yehi'am Fortress. We were lucky enough to visit a few more interesting places, starting with the Kfar Yehoshua Railway Station site next to Moshav Kfar Yehoshua in the western part of the Jezreel Valley.
Surrounded by a grove of tall eucalyptus trees, the old train station of Kfar Yehoshua has been recently restored and turned into a museum. Kfar Yehoshua (Tel El Shamam) was the largest station between Haifa and Afula on the Valley Train line and operated for nearly 50 years. The Valley Train, which ran along the length of the Jezreel Valley, was built in the early 20th century by the Turks, under German supervision, to provide supplies to the construction of the larger Hejaz Railway, which connected Istanbul with Mecca, via Jordan. The railway’s branch in Israel was called the Valley Train and as a by product served to help develop the area of the Lower Galilee.
Seven Templar style stone buildings, including a water tower and a well, can be seen at the site, as well as three freight cars – two dating from the time of the British Mandate and an authentic one from the time of construction of the Valley Train. The visitor centre, in one of the single storey stone buildings, houses an interesting display that recreates the story of the Valley Train and its main stations. Work is now complete on a new railway in the area, although it does not follow exactly the same route.
We stayed at the Bait V'Kait guesthouse at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. The kibbutz was founded in 1949 on the coastal highway between Acre and Nahariya. Its founding members include surviving fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, as well as former Jewish partisans and other Holocaust survivors. Its name commemorates the Jews who fought the Nazis.
At the entrance to the kibbutz are the extensive remains of an aqueduct which supplied water to Acre some 6km away, until 1948. The aqueduct was originally built at the end of the 18th century by Jezzar Pasha, the Ottoman ruler of Acre, but was completely rebuilt by his son, Suleiman, in 1814. It was the most important engineering project undertaken by the Turks during their rule in this country. This beautiful aqueduct was built with stone arches and in some places rests on pillars 10 metres high.
Other sites we visited included the Bahá’í Gardens in Acre. These circular gardens, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surround the historic mansion where Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, spent the final years of his life and the shrine where his remains were placed. This is one of the two holiest sites associated with the founders of the Bahá’í religion. The other holy site is the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa, which contains the Holy Shrine of the Bab.
We were unable to visit the inner garden surrounding the historic building and shrine, yet enjoyed the extensive outer gardens and perimeter path which were truly a sight to behold. Formal, precise and sculpted to perfection, the gardens are immaculate and are very much worth a visit.
The Bahá’í Faith began in 1844 in Siraz, Iran. Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the prophet Bab, attempted to spread his beliefs but was faced with opposition from the Shia clergy. Despite gaining thousands of followers, he was executed after just six years. Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri, Baha’u’llah, continued his efforts. Baha’u’llah was expelled to a prison belonging to the Ottoman Empire in Acre. When he was released, he spent nine years living under house arrest, including the home that is a centrepiece in Acre’s Bahá’í Gardens.
Today, there are about five million people around the world who are followers of the Bahá’í faith.
Back at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot we visited the studio of the artist Moshe Kupferman, one of the founding members of the kibbutz. During his early years in the kibbutz Kupferman worked in construction but in 1967 he began to devote himself solely to work at his studio - "the atelier". Today the halls which he used as a combined space for work and for storage of paintings, works on paper, and prints, are used for a permanent display of his selected works and also for group exhibitions.
Kupferman was most well known for his abstract paintings in monochromatic tones. In spite of the abstract character of his works they do however show a political-historical connection. In 1984, following the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre, he published an album of drawings called "With Beirut after Beirut with Beirut." 
Throughout the years, Kupferman exhibited in important galleries and museums, in Israel and all over the world, and won many prizes and acclaims. He died in June 2003.
Near to Kupferman's House is the studio of Koby Sibony - Metal Wire Designer. Koby graduated from the Industrial Design department at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and in 2011 opened his studio on the kibbutz. Sculpting with wire, his work borders on the edge between art and design. His series of sculptures "Ocean Parts" is created from a combination of plastic pieces collected from the beach and metal wire. I was thrilled to be able to buy a small piece of his work from his taxidermy series. Koby's creations are being exhibited in art and design exhibitions both in Israel and abroad.
Finally, we kept the hardest place to visit till the last day of our trip. The Ghetto Fighters' House was the first Holocaust museum in the world but also the first of its kind to be founded by Holocaust survivors. It was established in the spring of 1949 by members of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. The museum tells the story of the Holocaust during World War II, emphasising the bravery, spiritual triumph and the incredible ability of the survivors to rebuild their lives in a new country of which they had dreamed – the State of Israel.
The museum is well divided into specific exhibits and each deals with different events of the Holocaust as well as the resistance during that time. The displays and commentaries were incredibly moving. Among the permanent exhibitions are the Treblinka Hall that has on display a scale model of the Treblinka Death Camp, a large exhibition about the Warsaw Ghetto, one on the Jewish Resistance, and another about the Righteous among the Nations.
In 1995 the Yad Layeled Children’s Memorial Museum was established at the Ghetto Fighters’ House. Serving as both a children's educational museum and memorial, Yad Layeled has two main goals: to commemorate the million and a half children who perished during the Holocaust and to continuously tell the story of the children who survived. The museum exhibitions are based on authentic stories taken from diaries and testimonies of children who lived during the Holocaust.
We spent several hours at both museums and, though we were overwhelmed by their sad historic content, we found the exhibits to be extremely well done. They were thoughtfully and sensitively presented and reminded us just how much we should truly appreciate modern Israel, our homeland.

* This post has been shared on The Wednesday Blog Hop, Wednesday Around the World, Our World Tuesday, Life Thru the Lens, The Good.The Random.The Fun and Seasons.


Miss Val's Creations said...

The ruins are amazing. I am always intrigued with structures that can last like these. I would want to spend all day in those gardens. They are lovely!

TexWisGirl said...

beautiful gardens! love all that stonework, too. the holocaust memorial items would have been overwhelming...

VeggieMummy said...

What a fascinating place to visit - I love the gardens and the artist's studio and the metal 'taxidermy' is amazing. xx

Sara - My Woodland Garden said...

Fascinating and beautiful. And it's not surprising; your country is certainly the one with the greatest number (per area) of important historical and cultural sites.
I strongly prefer old buildings to modern art. :)

Marja said...

I love the aqueducts, so clever and beautiful. I love how the hedge underneath is cut in a similar shape. The gardens are beautiful. There is a big Bahai community over here as well. Interesting to learn more about it. The holocaust is absolutely unbelievable. I have visited a camp in czech republic and it is heart wrenching

bettyl-NZ said...

It sounds like a lovely tour you had! The photos you share are just wonderful to see. The aqueduct is a piece of art, itself. I like the sculptures a lot. Your inclusion of the photos and information about the Baha'i' faith makes me thing of a song by England Dan and John Ford Coley called 'The Prisoner.' It makes sense now!

Denise inVA said...

Fantastic photos of an amazing place. So beautiful! I also thank you for its history.

Villrose said...

Interesting history!

Anonymous said...

thank you for the historic info. all so interesting! and love the aqueducts. of course, Kupferman's work as an artist is most interesting to me:) It's amazing how much you are able to squeeze into one post:):) Many thanks for sharing all of these details with All seasons! sorry for being a little late because of family events. wishing you a a great week!

Buckeroomama said...

I'd love to visit Israel one day --so interesting and so full of history. Thanks for sharing your photos and allowing us a virtual tour of the places you visited!

Ida said...

You certainly saw a lot of wonderful things on this trip. The Aqua Duct was cool, the gardens beautiful. Lots of historical stuff that was interesting to read about. I enjoyed your post a lot.

Jedidja said...

Very nice photos. I like it your are sharing your (old/ancient) buildings. The aquaduct is so special. In the Netherlands, we have no aqueducts from Roman times, because at that time there werent many cities here.

Jim said...

What an amazing place.

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