A High Point of Israel
by Romi Sussman
On Friday while I was taking a walk around the yishuv, I laughed as I saw the busloads of tourists pouring onto the road towards our water tower. They were headed, as they always are, to our lookout, Mitzpor HaElef.
Little did the producers of the movie “Field of Dreams” realize how true their expression would become for little Neve Daniel. “If you build it, they will come.”
And come they have.
When the project for this lookout was getting underway, we kept wondering what in the world was going on up there. What could they be building? When the lookout was finished, I will admit that I said to Josh, “A lookout? All that money for a lookout? Why in the world do we need that?”
But obviously I’ve never been a tour guide in Israel, and as Josh recently pointed out, tour guides LOVE having somewhere to point....and boy can they point from here.
The site was developed with the Jewish National Fund in conjunction with the Gush Etzion Regional Council and Neve Daniel. It is dedicated to the memory of Sam and Frieda Makovsky of Pueblo, Colorado, family of one of Neve Daniel's founders, Chaim Makovsky.
It’s called Mitzpor HaElef. "Mitzpor" is a lookout and "Elef" is 1000. Our lookout is 1000 meters above sea level; it’s one of the highest points in the country and certainly the highest point from anywhere nearby.
The Mitzpor is the perfect place to start or end a trip to Gush Etzion. Clearly, many agree.
If you look far out to the east you’ll see the mountains of Jordan, Harei Moav. Moshe talked to the people in this spot before he died, pointing to our area and saying that this would be the land that HaShem promised to give to our people.
In the eastern foreground you can see Efrat and just beyond that, Herodian, a fortress built by Herod. You can also catch a glimpse of Derech HaAvot, the Path of the Patriarchs, the road that leads to Hebron from the Mitzpor. Avraham walked on this road on his way to the Akeidah (sacrifice of Yitzach) and Yaakov fled along this road many years later. If you look to the west, you’ll see the coast of the Mediterranean from Gaza to Ashkelon and Ashdod and up to Tel Aviv. Finally, if you look north you’ll see Jerusalem and Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount).
The Mitzpor HaElef is packed all the time with army groups, tourists, Yeshiva students and more. It’s been used for wedding proposals, for family gatherings and for a quick afternoon view of the amazing Land that we get to call home. Just a few days ago, a friend in Neve Daniel told me that her cousin got engaged in front of the Mitzpor HaElef...sort of. See, the couple doesn't live in Israel but she said that she wanted to get engaged in that spot. So, he had a huge picture of the Mitzpor, of our lookout, made, and he put it up in New York and asked her to marry him. Second best is better than nothing.
If you haven’t been here, come and relish the view and breathe in the air of Gush Etzion.
Of our home.
Romi Sussman heads the content writing department for a technology and digital consulting company. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she made Aliyah from Potomac, MD and is raising six boys in the hills of Gush Etzion. She frequently blogs about life in Israel and her experiences over the last decade.