My husband and I left Naharyia Friday morning and were back on Sunday at four watching the sun begin its daily, dazzling dip into the blue and green striped waters of the Mediterranean. That short span of time encompassed 2000 years of history.
We were attending a Nefesh B Nefesh Go North Shabbaton in Peki’in where we met new Israeli citizens from places as far away as Toronto, Australia and the Republic of South Africa. They had recently settled in Tzfat, Katzrin, Yonatan and Carmiel. During these few days we enjoyed Carlebach-style Shabbat services, endless vistas of mountains peppered with olive trees, and dined on meals that looked ready for glossy-magazine photography sessions.
The Peki’in Hostel was comfortable. The room had six beds (four of them folded into the wall).
But let’s backtrack here so I can share the experience of getting there. The road began flat and straight, but soon hair-pined up mountains wending its way through an endless panorama of rocky landscapes. Finding the Village of Peki’in was fairly easy. Locating the hostel seemed an unfathomable mystery.
Ellie was driving with help from his GPS and his wife, Martine. Totally lost, Ellie called Benny to ask how he got there. “Can’t tell you” was his cheery reply. He told us of numerous turns, many wrong, until miraculously he was there. Ellie fearlessly drove over steep, one-lane roads that were not one-way. You could almost touch the sides of the houses on either side of the road from the car windows. Several times a driver coming from the opposite direction had to back down to allow Ellie the polite right-of-way. The bottom of each narrow road turned so sharply, that Ellie would have to back up and angle the car to make the next turn. With lots of shouting for help from rolled down windows, and confusing return answers, we did finally get there.
Upon our arrival, we were invited to watch a film about Druze culture. We did. The film was excellently produced. It drew you into a few hours of the life of a personable, good-looking young man who had served in the IDF. At the ripe old age of 25, (clutch your hearts, we have a TRAGEDY unfolding) he has still not found his bride. It was amusing, interesting, colorful and informative, but the main message was deceptive. It declared that this village of 5,200 people, Druze, Muslims, Jews and Christians all get along very well. The village is approximately 70% Druze, 28% Christian, 2% Muslim with one Jewish family plus Margalite, the remaining descendant of a Jewish family who had lived in Peki’in for centuries. The film failed to mention that when some young Jewish families moved into Peki’in in 2007, they were frightened away by having their homes burned. More recently one Jewish couple, new immigrants of Dutch birth from England proudly who display a Mogen Dovid on their gate and entrance way, have moved there. They live steps away from the cave where Shimon Bar Yochai (the author of the Zohar) and his son hid for 13 years.
Zipping ahead, dinner was served family style. The tables were covered with salads. One of the approximately ten salads served consisted of sweet potato noodles that were crisp and spicy. While I helped myself to a third serving and wondered how I could recreate that salad at home, a woman seated across the table announced that she felt faint. As she was falling over, helping hands eased her to the floor and a cry for “Doctor, doctor,” reverberated in our immediate area. One of the guests at our table turned out to be a doctor and he was already kneeling by her side and another offering his help by the time the woman finished her descent to the floor.
During the hullabaloo the waiters went about their business, bringing out platters of schnitzel, stuffed chicken and sweet potted meat which appeared as if by magic on the table. I couldn’t do anything for the woman on the floor and my gastric juices were percolating from the smell of the food.
We nibbled slowly, not wanting to look callous but the food was in front of us 🙂 and the woman was being attended to. Finally, the doctor declared his verdict. She was declared “okay”. Her blood sugar had temporarily plummeted. We attacked the food with gusto.
After a lecture, we retired early to ready for the next day.