Last week, my department at
Usually these fun days take the form of an outing to places around the country. In years past, my department spent a day touring different neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and another hiking up and down the hills outside
This year, our department went somewhere a bit different. We started the day in Moshav Bnei Atarot. A moshav, for those who don’t know, is – historically – an agricultural village, whose members own their own fields, earn their own living (as opposed to a kibbutz, where everything is communally owned, and the kibbutz pays ‘salaries’), but have communal buildings and equipment.
Moshav Bnei Atarot was founded in the summer of 1948 during the War of Independence and was originally made up of survivors Moshav Atarot outside
The Templars were a German Christian group who came in the 1800s to settle the
Suffice to say, there were about five different settlements of Templars, including Acco, Haifa, the Sharona neighborhood in Tel Aviv (which today is the command headquarters of the IDF) and the ‘German Colony’ neighborhood in Jerusalem (complete with a little-known Templar cemetery).
The Templars, being German and card-carrying members of the Nazi party, were evacuated by the English from ‘
But their settlements remained in the
Young members of the Moshav, dressed as 19th century German farmers, gave us a tour of the preserved buildings of the Templars. All two-storied (the families lived in the top floor where it was cooler, and the animals lived on the ground floor), the buildings are made of wood and mud. Many of the then-communal buildings have been preserved and are used today as Moshav communal buildings. The Templar school is used as administration buildings, the congregational building (the Templars didn’t have churches) is used as a community center and the post office and clinic still retain their original uses. There is even a hotel (called the Wilhelma), which is a redone visitors home.
We spent a very pleasant couple of hours wandering around the Moshav, listening to our young guides put on a German accent and speak bad Hebrew and explain the various buildings. We also spent a fair amount of time watching planes land, as Bnei Atarot is only a mile or so from
I was aware of the Templar history in the
After a pleasant lunch in Kibbutz Be’erot Yitzchak , which took me back to my own Kibbutz days, we continued on our way to the Ariel Sharon Park, just outside Tel Aviv, about a 20 minute drive.
The heart of the Ariel Sharon Park, which has not actually been built yet, is the Hiriya Waste Dump. This massive mountain of garbage is located southeast of Tel Aviv. After accumulating 25 million tons of waste, the facility was shut down in August 1998 after the birds that fed there became a menace to the planes taking off from adjacent Ben-Gurion Airport. Today, it is a flat-topped mountain. Since 1998, the dump has been covered with earth, trees have been planted, and it has become a center for recycling and ‘green’ building. The Park itself, planned to cover 2000 acres (!) is set to be twice as big as Central Park in New York, and filled with cycling paths, a lake, zoo, and whatnot. From the top of the mountain of trash one can see into Tel Aviv. It’s scheduled to be completed by 2020, but will be opened in stages over the next eight years.
The place is very impressive because an unsightly, hazardous area and has been changed into an educational and positive site, where many school children come to learn how to recycle and how to conserve our Land. The Hiriya center is one of the largest of its kind in the world, recycling plastics, glass, and building rubble. And in 10 years or so, one of the largest urban parks in the world will be filled with cyclists, picnickers, and zoo visitors.
CNN doesn’t tell you about that.
 A history of the moshav and kibbutz movements are fascinating and worthy of an article of their own. What’s written above is a nutshell definition.
 Be’erot Yitzchak is a religious kibbutz situated five minutes from Bnei Atarot and founded by survivors of Be’erot Yitzchak outside
, which had been badly damaged by the Egyptian army during the War of Independence. Some of the survivors of the Kibbutz originally went to Bnei Atarot, but moved, shortly after the war to their present location. The original Be’erot Yitzchak has been rebuilt as Kibbutz Alumim. Gaza