The Teperbergs! We could stop right there and that would be the highlight of the day.
We woke the kids up and packed up for the trip up north. We have no idea how we will get the luggage in the Mazda 5 for the trip to Jerusalem next Sunday as we had to put part of the back seat down just to fit in a few backpacks. We are glad we brought the bungee cords and just hope that we don't lose our luggage on the road up to Jerusalem. We have been listening to the seventh Harry Potter book on CD in the car and the kids were so engrossed that they didn't want to stop the car. Our first stop (after stopping for gas for the umpteenth time) was Har Tavor, or Mt. Tabor. Christians believe that the mountain is the sight of Jesus' transfiguration. According to the summary on wikipedia, that is the story where Jesus transfigured into rays of light and spoke to Moses and Elijah. Har Tavor is mentioned in Tanach in Yehoshua as the point where 3 of the tribes' areas met as well as in Shoftim as to the place where Devorah and Barak fought battles. It was also the sight of battles in Roman times (where in this country is that not the case?) and there are the remnants of a wall that Josephus Flavius built. In order to get to the top of the mountain, we drove through a very interesting Druze town and up a very steep and windy street. At the top are a Franciscan monastery and a Greek Orthodox church. Only Eitan and Mike went to visit the Franciscan church, saw a monk dressed in monk's garb and watched as pilgrims took communion as part of a Mass. (When we used the bathroom on the way out, there was a box that asked for 1 shekel for using the WC - we paid.) The hike essentially circled the top of the mountain. The absolute hardest part of the hike was finding where the path started (or ended). We started and stopped several times and even drove the car to look for the trail markings. We found 3 girls who were hiking from Tel Dan (way up north in the Golan) all the way to Jerusalem. The pointed out the path they took up and down the mountain, but we found the black trail that circled the mountain and off we went. The hike was not terribly strenuous, pretty short (an hour in total) and afforded beautiful views in all directions.
After the hike, we went to Kfar Tavor at the base of the mountain to visit a fascinating museum - the Museum of Marzipan. That's right, a whole museum dedicated to almond paste and sugar. We saw amazing sculptures made out of marzipan, watched a short video on the history of marzipan and how to make it, and then Naomi, Eitan and Ilana went to the marzipan workshop to make their own works of art (pizza, flowers, a hot dog and corn on the cob). We each had a taste, and none of us like marzipan. That didn't stop the girls from buying marzipan in the shape of a dog and a chick. It was 2:30 and we still had not had lunch, so off to SuperSol to buy bourekas - pizza, onion, mushroom, cheese and potato - we all snarfed it down in the car and then headed out. The drive took us to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and then along the border with Jordan and up to the Golan Heights. Just as windy and steep a drive, but a lot longer and more trucks coming down. Once on top of the Heights, it was a quick drive to Hispin (or Chispin or Haspin), where the Teperbergs live. After a wonderful greeting by Uria and some of the kids, we settled in like it had not been 3 years since they left St. Louis. All of the kids felt so comfortable with each other (even Noa, who was not yet born when they left) - we did miss Tehilla as she is on a school trip). Noah joined us as Uria took us on a tour of his school. He is the head of school of a high school called Bnai Golan in Ramat Magshimim, the town just next to Hispin. Uria seems to be doing an amazing job helping 70 at risk teenagers become productive members of society. For many of these kids, if not for Uria's school they would be in prison. The school is actually a small village, with dorms, a shul, different buildings for classrooms, administrative offices, a music room in the old air raid bunker, etc. Several of the buildings were built by the Syrians when they controlled the Heights, including Uria's office and part of the shul. If only the Syrian army knew what is going in on in the buildings formerly used by their officers. After the tour of the school, we got a quick tour of Hispin (that is all it takes is a quick tour). Let's put it this way, there are no street names - you just count the number of streets over (there are only 3 or 4). We saw the plot of land where the Teperbergs will be building their house soon. Uria the barbecued for us (on the grill they brought from the US) - the meat was straight from the butcher on the Golan, and was probably the freshsest meat we have ever had.