Zichron Ya’akov in Israel

This item appears on page 18 of the January 2012 issue.
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In Israel for only one week (Sept. 1-7, 2011) for a family wedding, I hadn’t planned on any sightseeing. However, a friend who had moved to the town of Zichron Ya’akov, a place I had not toured before, invited me to spend the day.

The sign for a restaurant across the street from the museum. It reads “NILI — Beit yayin Mesadah,” literally, “NILI — House of Wine Restaurant,” with the phone number at the bottom.

Zichron Ya’akov, an hour north of Tel Aviv and a half-hour south of Haifa, is situated on the foothills of the Carmel mountain range, overlooking a fertile valley and the Mediterranean Sea. This picturesque town, with houses dating back to the 1880s, saw its first wave of Romanian Jewish settlers in 1882. They established the first moshava (semicooperative farming community) in Israel.

Today, the main part of town, Hameyasdim Street, is a cobblestone pedestrian mall with shops and restaurants in the original settlers’ homes. One particularly interesting shop is Tut Neyar (39 Hameyasdim St.), a handmade-paper workshop.

Many of the original settlers’ houses have been restored, and the law protects the façades. I found two buildings of special interest.

The First Aliyah Museum (2 Hanadiv St.; phone 04/629 4777) tells the story of the first immigrants — their hardships and successes. It takes about 45 minutes to tour and is open 9-2 Mon., Wed., Thurs. and Fri. and 9-3 Tues. Entry costs NIS15 (near $5) adult and NIS8 senior.

The Aaronsohn House (40 Hameyasdim St.; phone 04/639 0120) was especially interesting, to me, because it was the headquarters of NILI, a World War I spy organization that worked for the British against the Turks, and I was named for it.

NILI was organized by Sarah Aaronsohn and her brother, Aaron. Its members spied on Turkish Army movements and sent coded data to the British. Unfortunately, the Turks decoded one of the messages and caught some members of the group, including Sarah.

Though tortured, no members gave information. Sarah was tortured for four days and was going to be transported to a Damascus prison. She asked to return home to change clothes, and there she took a hidden gun and killed herself.

After a video presentation, visitors can take a guided tour of the house and Aaron’s house next door. The museum is open 9-4 Sun.-Thurs. and 9-12 Fri. About $3. English tours are available; call for when.

Carmel Winery, started by Baron Rothschild in the 1880s, is part of the original settlement, and there is an adjoining dairy restaurant in the former residence of the overseer. We didn’t have time for a visit, but tours for groups of 10 or more can be booked in advance.

A trip to Zichron can be done as a day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa or combined with a tour of the wonderful ruins of Caesarea. I will be happy to answer any questions about Zichron, Tel Aviv or Caesarea; e-mail me c/o ITN.

NILI OLAY
New York, NY

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In Israel for only one week (Sept. 1-7, 2011) for a family wedding, I hadn’t planned on any sightseeing. However, a friend who had moved to the town of Zichron Ya’akov, a place I had not toured before, invited me to spend the day.

The sign for a restaurant across the street from the museum. It reads “NILI — Beit yayin Mesadah,” literally, “NILI — House of Wine Restaurant,” with the phone number at the bottom.

Zichron Ya’akov, an hour north of Tel Aviv and a half-hour south of Haifa, is situated on the foothills of the Carmel mountain range, overlooking a fertile valley and the Mediterranean Sea. This picturesque town, with houses dating back to the 1880s, saw its first wave of Romanian Jewish settlers in 1882. They established the first moshava (semicooperative farming community) in Israel.

Today, the main part of town, Hameyasdim Street, is a cobblestone pedestrian mall with shops and restaurants in the original settlers’ homes. One particularly interesting shop is Tut Neyar (39 Hameyasdim St.), a handmade-paper workshop.

Many of the original settlers’ houses have been restored, and the law protects the façades. I found two buildings of special interest.

The First Aliyah Museum (2 Hanadiv St.; phone 04/629 4777) tells the story of the first immigrants — their hardships and successes. It takes about 45 minutes to tour and is open 9-2 Mon., Wed., Thurs. and Fri. and 9-3 Tues. Entry costs NIS15 (near $5) adult and NIS8 senior.

The Aaronsohn House (40 Hameyasdim St.; phone 04/639 0120) was especially interesting, to me, because it was the headquarters of NILI, a World War I spy organization that worked for the British against the Turks, and I was named for it.

NILI was organized by Sarah Aaronsohn and her brother, Aaron. Its members spied on Turkish Army movements and sent coded data to the British. Unfortunately, the Turks decoded one of the messages and caught some members of the group, including Sarah.

Though tortured, no members gave information. Sarah was tortured for four days and was going to be transported to a Damascus prison. She asked to return home to change clothes, and there she took a hidden gun and killed herself.

After a video presentation, visitors can take a guided tour of the house and Aaron’s house next door. The museum is open 9-4 Sun.-Thurs. and 9-12 Fri. About $3. English tours are available; call for when.

Carmel Winery, started by Baron Rothschild in the 1880s, is part of the original settlement, and there is an adjoining dairy restaurant in the former residence of the overseer. We didn’t have time for a visit, but tours for groups of 10 or more can be booked in advance.

A trip to Zichron can be done as a day trip from Tel Aviv or Haifa or combined with a tour of the wonderful ruins of Caesarea. I will be happy to answer any questions about Zichron, Tel Aviv or Caesarea; e-mail me c/o ITN.

NILI OLAY
New York, NY