Guest Blog by Susan Eisenstein
I first fell in love with the country Israel. Then I fell in love with the trail, "Shvil Yisrael".
The man responsible for my love of that trail is Aryeh Green. I first met him at a talk he was giving in Chappaqua, New York, and again when he Zoomed with one of my classes. He is my Shvil Yisrael inspiration. Aryeh is the author of "My Israel Trail: Finding Peace In The Promised Land" and he signed my copy of his book "See you on the trail." Yes, hopefully, one day.
In the image above you can see a box that is being used as a trail marker but it serves another purpose as well - as the Israel Trail Library! A free library that allows books to be borrowed and returned at several points along the Israel Trail. Only in Israel will you find a library in the middle of nowhere!
The Israel National Trail (the Shvil) is about 683 miles, opened officially in 1995. The Shvil crosses Israel between the southern and northern borders and takes you through a wide range of landscapes, flora, fauna, and diverse populations, through Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze, and Jewish communities. It does not go into the West Bank or the Golan Heights. This trail is a bond with our land, with our history, with our people, with Zionism.
On the Shvil, you are walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. This makes the Shvil different from any other hike or walks in the world. As I learned from my Zoom, you can stumble upon archeological remains that are often unmarked, like castles or wine presses from hundreds or thousands of years ago. You can also come across significant historical sites, like the tomb of Eliyahu HaNavi, or walk through or near where David fled King Saul, or where Devorah battled with Sisera.
On the Shvil, something else unique, are Trail Angels, people opening their homes to perfect strangers. Also unique to the Shvil, is encouragement yelled from balconies in Arab Muslim Israeli villages on the Trail; Shabbat on the beach north of Herzliya, absorbing the full breadth of Israeli culture; the 'wilderness' right in/near Tel Aviv on the Yarkon.
If you have fallen in love with the Israel National Trail as much as I have, then I hope to one day see you on the trail. A most amazing and transformative adventure awaits you!
Susan Eisenstein is a long-time Jewish educator, passionate about creating special innovative activities for her students. Susan has two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate in Education from Columbia University. Her passion is in Judaic studies and the Hebrew language.