Exploring Biblical Israel in Neot Kedumim
After 6 hours in the airport, including a plane delay of about an hour of so, 12+ hours on the plane, all I wanted to do was change out of my clothes. (Into new clothes of course.)
Besides the fact that I had been wearing the same top and leggings for these 20 or so hours, I was stuck in my teeny tiny something of a seat on the plane, only stretching my legs every few hours or so. I hadn’t brushed my teeth in what felt like a few days (gross, I know), feeling this way due to dozing in and out of sleep throughout the duration of the flight. This was my longest flight to date, and I was unaware of it’s effects on my body.
We sat on a bus for what seemed like hours. [I later learned that these so-called “hours” I’m complaining about were only 10 minutes…] We were all utterly exhausted, and at this point, after being awake for over 24 hours, not including the time difference, it was completely understandable that we all felt [and looked] like walking zombies. I shouldn’t complain that much, as I was accepted into Birthright and given this amazing opportunity free of charge.
A little more bus time, and then we were surprisingly greeted with this:
We had arrived at Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, the only nature preserve attempting to re-create the physical setting of the Bible in the world.
625 acres of this. 625 acres! Now that is a lot of land! Thanks to Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who allocated [a lot of] land for the project.
A Little History About Neot Kedumim
This idea to set up a place so magical dates back to the 1920’s, first conjured by Russian immigrants. After 40+ years of hard work and determination, the project finally took off in 1964.
In order for this idea to come to life, thousands of tons of soil had to be trucked in and spread upon the land. Reservoirs had to be dug. Terraces were restored. Wine presses and ritual baths were reconstructed. And plants of great variety were planted around.
Basically, a lifetime of work to make this dream a reality.
Our Day 3,000 Years Ago
We passed by olive trees, pomegranates, and other fauna. Which, to be honest, I cannot remember. Most likely from my lack of sleep.
We were able to watch the remarkably skilled scribe demonstrate the ancient art of writing scrolls. We learned how the ink and parchment are prepared before each and every writing takes place. We also had the privilege of hearing him read from a 200-year-old Torah, while he gave explanations about sacred relics. The scribe was super friendly and made sure our experience was not only beneficial but fun.
Want to learn how to operate an authentic olives press? Learn to write on parchment like a Torah scribe with a quill pen? Herd some sheep? Go on the Wedding Trail? You can do it all here.
This picturesque landscape really takes the visitor out of the present day and transports them to biblical times, the closest thing possible to time travel.
How to Get There: Neot Kedumim is located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, only a 10 minute drive from the Ben Gurion International Airport. This makes it a great spot to go upon arrival or right before take off.
Neot Kedumim is open Sunday-Thursday 8:30am -4pm.Friday 8:30am-1pm. Closed Saturday.
Prices: Entrance for the self guided tour, including the map and an explanation leaflet is 25 NIS per person (students, soldiers and elderly: 20 NIS). Guided tours must be arranged in advance and can be done in Hebrew, English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Russian. The price is 700-800 NIS for groups of up to 20 and the tours run approximately three hours.
What a unique landscape. If you are going to Israel and want to experience life as it was lived 3,000 years ago, this is the place to go.
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