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Travel: Open-Air Sculpture Garden, Neve-Ilan, Hamichlalot Forest, Jerusalem Mountains.Nov 29/2021

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

Two years had already passed, since the COVID-19 virus was launched off China’s shores, migrating and contaminating world’s center stages with its infamous lethal premiers, sawing much panic.

When the engulfing curtains would finally ring down on Corona - the worst global "show" and on its satellite variants, so life as we knew it, get more predictable, is yet

remain a mystery.. without yet an horizon to its finale....

The explosive news on the recent appearance of the African Omicron Covid variant

conquered, the screens and front pages of all the media news outlets,just this last week of Nov. The bubbling hysteria, spread out like a wild fire, without, yet sufficient data confirming or rebuffing if the variant's, actually causes re illness in people who were vaccinated.,

The Israeli MOH and especially Dr, Sharon Elroi-Priesse, - Head of Health Services, have built a career, off dishing out amplified reckless reporters on scary dire danger, to the government and public. Dr Elroi-Oriesse has been using such infamous tactics, which usually lawyers or other educated professionals, adopt when seeking the limelight.


David's own formed conclusions from scanning the relevant data on this B1,1.529, variant, is that this Omicorn is less fatal variant, than the Delta . (Here and Here

The one thing nobody talk about is how important it is to take a booster different than shot 1 and 2. Preferably AdtraZeneca if you had Moderna or Pfizer as the 2 first shots. 

We both got different booster than shot 1 and 2. We tried to get AstraZeneca which is more robust than Pfizer or Moderna, but could not, so compromised on Moderna. 

Israel which barely opened its entry borders to the non-citizen tourists, shut them once again, with the intimidating news on the latest variant.

This restrictive move ignited a domino reaction chain:

Quarantine of 3 days to vaccinated, returning from abroad Israelis was enacted again. Many flights got cancelled, and hotels whose rates got inflated with the anticipation of incoming tourist, prior to the variant spread, had dropped down their rates again, as to attract the trapped in the country, local Israeli tourists.

And to add a blow to an already panicked situation "The Economist" named Tel Aviv world's most expensive city. Tel Aviv has risen five places to replace Paris at the top the Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living rankings.

And yes, it is felt in our accelerated impoverishing pockets, on a daily basis...

Liberation from battles against all the attacks from these viscous foes, was not yet attained this year's Hanukkah season. Nor any wished-for miracles, to redeemed. the existential threats, banished the darkness, and illuminate the future, yet transpired..

To sweeten the situational "bitter porridge" forced down our throats, our escapism this last week in Nov. and prior to taking off to Aqaba -Jordan, consisted of:

+overdosing on Hanukkah yummy donuts (sufgafganyot),

+accompanying the 6 years old grandson to the children's classic Peter Pen play offered during Hanukkah's school break,

+and taking advantage of the last days of a very hot good weather by joining friends on a picnic at the Neve Ilan Michlalaot Forest near Jerusalem.

Neve Ilan Forest

In 1952 a forest in memory of Count Folke Bernadotte was planted at Neve Ilan

The charming Neve Ilan Moshav of about 1000 inhabitants who reside now in architecturally beautiful stone made villas, was previously an army post kibbutz established on JNF land to defend the road to Jerusalem, thus bears a heroic defense history of the 1948 war. It is located west of Jerusalem and close to Abu-Gosh,

This particular forest section is located on the western side of the Neve Ilan Forest, and is dedicated to the Israeli educational seminars and colleges.

The looping trail, as is indicated on the map includes the points of interest to stop by on the hike.

The "Jerusalem Benelux" memorials, dotting this part of the forest commemorates

29,000 Belgium Jews slaughtered by the Germans during 1940-1945.

It is also dedicated to the Belgian, the Flemish and Vollonian people who risked their lives to save Jews.

There is also a part dedicated to and contributed by the Jews of Holland

Open-Air Sculpture Garden

Running into the colorful sculpture garden in the midst of the forest, right by were our small group of 8 of us picnicked, was an unexpected delightful surprise.

The garden consisting of 5 sculptures, was established in 1998, a collaboration between the JNF educational branch and the Teachers Association.

Capra (mountain Goat) by Yael segev יעלים, יצירתה של יעל שגב;

Spirit - by Eli Shiki רוח (Spirit), אלי שוקי;

Chairs - Itzik Adi כיסאות, מחווה לספר משלי, יצירתו של איציק עדי;

Window to the view by Yehuda Eshel חלון לנוף של יהודה אשל

Forest image - by Ayala Friedman דמות ביער מאת איילה פרידמן

The JNF runs in this spot an "Art Day in Nature" geared for high schools students of Art departments from all around the country,

It is defiantly an inspirational spot for artistic creative powers, and so much more befitting then a battleground for military powers. .


Hirbat Matzad - and the connection to Hanukkah

From the picnic area by the sculpture garden there is a trail of about 2 km up a steep hill to the remains of a Byzantine fortified structure, which was probably used to defend a strategic spot Emmaus few km away, on the route from Latrun to Jerusalem.

The spot provides easy access to numerous routes into the Judean hills and a good supply of water, made it an excellent base to project power from.

The fortress dates back to the Hasmonean period (2nd century BC), and is located on this steep hill above the valley of springs. The fortress was constructed by Bacchides, the Seleucid general.

The Battle of Emmaus (the third out of eight )took place around September 165 BC between the Maccabee forces of Judean rebels, led by Judas Maccabeus (Judah Maccabee), and an expedition of Seleucid Empire forces, under generals Gorgias, Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes.

The battle was won by the Maccabees rebels, Few thousands only , outnumbered, marched by night, and surprised the many Seleucid camp, while many soldiers were absent..The Seleucid army consisted of 20,000 soldiers and 7000 chevalier, at the time.

The construction of the fortress Matzad was the beginning of the establishment of the city of Emmaus/Nicopolis,. (video).

More then hiking or exploring this historically fascinating area, the afternoon was spend mainly schmoozing and munching leisurely on picnic potluck tasty food at G-d's shaded heavenly plot, in the midst of tranquil forested surroundings of the Jerusalem mountains. Unfortunately, babysitting duty call, had shorten our stay, so we rushed back to TLV in hope to beat the inflated rush hour traffic. The others stayed till sun-set.

A day after the visit to the enchanting forest, Leo - my grandchild and I were "transported" together to the magic island of "never never-land" , where the family-less boys never grow up to become responsible restrained adults or respectful men, according to the Peter-Pan legend.

Actually, this play's production at the Cameri theater, was very good and more educational, reminding the need in a strong loving family bond, as a condition, (but not a sufficient one.. ) to making boys into disciplined men..

With the latest mass reported increases on Israeli men's violence, sexual harassment and pimping of women, (read here) unless serious and massive educational and punitive measures are put in place, the miraculous land of "milk, honey and money" will be transformed by this scary speedy trend, into a morally sinking "never never-land"...

More then the play itself, I tremendously enjoyed observing Leo's delightful reactions

and enjoyment of watching the play, and joining the full house crowd, in illuminating with flesh-lighters Tinker Bell's efforts to create the fairy "star dust" magic...

On Dec 2nd we will venture for few days to Aqaba - Jordan.

Stay tuned...


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