ב"ה

Golan Heights

This 38-mile-long, mountainous region is bordered on the west by the Jordan River and on the south by the Yarmuk River. The plateau was once actively volcanic and the northernmost points remain desolate. However, most of the Golan is an area of exquisite beauty filled with magnificent blossoms, waterfalls, glorious streams, and rivers.

This area is not part of the territory promised to Abraham and is considered part of the area described by the Torah as “Eiver HaYarden” — the other side of the Jordan. Jewish possession dates back to Moses (1393– 1273 BCE), who conquered the area then known as Bashan from Kings Sichon and Og and assigned it to the tribe of Menasheh.

Moses established a town here named Golan (Deut. 4) as one of the cities of refuge (arei miklat) for people who killed inadvertently.

During World War I, England conquered the Golan from the Turks. Syria gained control of the area from the time of their independence in 1946 until 1967, during which time they used the Golan as a military stronghold to fire at the Israeli kibbutzim and fishing boats below.

The Israelis suffered greatly during that period and on the fourth day of the Six-Day War (June 1967), Israel captured the Golan Heights and put a stop to the constant shelling. Jewish settlement was renewed in the area and its many beautiful villages specialize in agriculture, raising livestock and operating dairies.

Archeological digs have uncovered Canaanite, Roman, Byzantine, Crusader and Mameluke remains of all sorts. Archeologists have also discovered synagogues in the area dating back thousands of years.

Banias Waterfall

Situated on the Western edge of the Golan Heights overlooking the Hula Valley, this site served as a fortified Syrian military outpost, complete with communication trenches and concrete bunkers, and surrounded by barbed wire and minefields.

Gadot Lookout

Situated on the Western edge of the Golan Heights overlooking the Hula Valley, this site served as a fortified Syrian military outpost complete with communication trenches and concrete bunkers and surrounded by barbed wire and minefields. From this base, the Syrians were able to fire down at the Israeli Kibbutz Gadot and to command the Bnot Yaakov Bridge. At the end of the Six Day War, the Syrians fled from the onslaught of the IDF’s Golani Brigade and the site now serves as a memorial for the soldiers who fell conquering the Golan Heights.

Gamla

Often referred to as the “Masada of the North”, Gamla was the scene of a ferocious battle between the Romans and the Jews during the Great Revolt in 68 CE. According to the historian Josephus, some four thousand of the inhabitants were slaughtered by the Romans, while a further five thousand jumped to their deaths rather than fall into enemy hands. Thereafter the city was destroyed and eventually covered over by sand.

Some 1900 years later, following the Six Day war, the site was excavated by Shmaryahu Gutman. Impressive finds included the ancient synagogue, arrowheads, Roman ballista and numerous buildings and fortifications. Gamla is also home to a unique conservation project for the majestic Griffon Vulture.

Golan Heights Winery

The Golan Heights Winery is one of the great Israeli business success stories, producing wines in the Golan, Yarden and Gamla series. The winery’s skilled staff and state-of-the-art equipment take full advantage of the Golan’s cold winters and cool summer nights, combined with the unusual volcanic soil of the vineyards.

The unique wines produced here compete nicely in the international wine industry.

Katzrin

Katzrin is a Jewish town that has been excavated and partially restored. It dates back to the 4th century and was inhabited until the 7th century.

The site contains an ancient oil press as well as a completely restored house with agricultural tools, millstones, kitchen utensils, and oil lamps, as well as axes, saws, hammers, and planes.

The black lines on the walls differentiate between the original structure and the restoration.

Katzrin has a reconstructed 4th- 5th-century synagogue with large pillars, stone benches, and the remains of a mosaic floor.

It once stood two stories high with the second story supported by twelve to eighteen pillars. The second story was probably a women’s gallery.

Kibbutz Misgav Am

The Kibbutz was founded in 1945 by former members of the Palmach and sits atop the Naphtali Mountain Range on the border with Lebanon. Its members have endured much hardship due to the security situation in the past few years and can well recall Operation Peace of the Galilee, the Security Zone, Israel’s hasty withdrawal, and the second Lebanon War and its aftermath.

Mount Bental Observatory

From the top of this dormant volcano cone (3845 feet high) that was once a military outpost, you can see majestic vistas of snow-capped Mount Hermon to the north and the Syrian side of the Golan to the east. Opposite is the deserted city of Kuneitra in the area known as the “Valley of Tears,” the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Yom Kippur War.

Odem Mountain Winery

Israel’s northernmost winery was founded by the Alfasi family. It lies in the northern Golan Heights in the heart of an enchanting and secluded oak forest at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level.

Tel Dan Nature Reserve

Tel Dan is an attractive nature reserve with four different hiking trails leading through a dense forest. The trails run along several streams and bubbling brooks.

The Book of Judges details how the area, known then as Laish, was discovered by five explorers from the tribe of Dan (approximately 1274 BCE). After 600 soldiers captured the area from the Sidonians, it was renamed Dan and became the northernmost Israelite habitation at that time.

The Bible often refers to the Holy Land’s territory as “from Dan to Be’er Sheva”: Dan is the northernmost point and Be’er Sheva, the southern tip.

Extensive archeological digs in the area have uncovered much of the ancient city of Dan including a pagan altar for idol worship. Many of the finds can be seen in a museum nearby.

Tel Faher

At Tel Faher, the Israelis won a decisive victory but at the loss of many of its finest and bravest soldiers. Their heroism is remembered at the place were they fell among the Syrian bunkers, trenches, barbed wire, and minefields.