For our annual field trip, Kontera Israel decided to explore Bethlehem of Galilee, a little known community with a very unique history.
Bethlehem of Galilee dates back thousands of years, having been one of the first Jewish towns mentioned in the bible, and a Christian one during the Crusades. Modern Bethlehem of Galilee was created in 1906 by German Templars who revitalized it as a farming settlement. They remained until the outbreak of World War 2, when the British placed local Germans into internment camps, eventually either repopulating them to Australia or sending them back to Germany. In 1948, Bethlehem of Galilee was converted into a Moshav, an Israeli cooperative agricultural community, which it remains to this day.
After a filling falafel lunch at the office, we first set off for Alonei Abba, a sister Moshav that also had beginnings as a Templar commune. Braving the brutal 100 degree heat, we visited an Evangelical Church built by the Templars in 1921, took in the view of the beautiful Jezreel Valley, and even watched as a baby owl stranded on the side of the road was rescued.
Next we arrived at Bethlehem of Galilee for the moment everyone was waiting for. While experiencing a new place on foot is fun, getting to explore it in a 4×4 all terrain vehicles is ten times better. We broke off into groups of three, and taking turns behind the wheel, the caravan departed. Taking the Polaris Rangers on and off the rural roads, we got an amazing panoramic view of the farming community, passing men on horseback, corn fields, grazing cows, and exotic fauna. The group rested at Ein Yivka, also known as the “the horse spring”, and we snacked on watermelon while cooling off our feet in the water.
Driving those ATVs in the blistering heat was an exhausting, not to mention muddy business but judging by all the enthusiastic grins on display, it was well worth it!
There was still the matter of dinner, and while we were given an elaborate buffet everyone was careful to leave a little extra room for our final event, an international beer tasting workshop. Israel is a fairly unsophisticated beer market, with there being essentially three domestic brands and not much else on the radar. Gathering in a circle, our expert, Omer, explained the differences between light and dark beers, alcohol levels, regional preferences, even nutritional information. We sampled a wide variety of beverages both from countries like England and Belgium and he also highlighted some lesser known local breweries. The workshop was a big hit and before we left, Omer promised to e-mail a complete list of everything tried. Don’t let us down!
It was an extremely memorable day and a huge amount of fun for everyone at Kontera Israel. To see even more from the trip, we’ve embedded a video collecting the best photos below. Enjoy!
Categories: Conferences & Events, Inside Kontera