By Miriam Lottner
If you are a local, one of the must do things each spring is to climb a fairly standard looking hill near the center of the country and gaze in wonder at the field of flowers at the top and down the sides.
Filled with breathtaking flowers of the brightest blue, and the most dazzling yellow. It seems almost impossible they should even be there -when the hills around it look like every other scrubby brush. And yet, each year, after the end of the winter rains, these beautiful blossoms take over the Elah Valley and turn it into something magical.
The Elah Valley isn’t just known for beautiful flowers, it is also the sight of the biblical battle between David and Goliath. The hilltop is dotted with ancient caves, used to hide from armies and enemies.
And surrounded by Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hey and other small settlements. Netiv HaLamed Hey is especially meaningful as, it stands as a memorial to the Lamed Hey soldiers -the 35 brave Haganah soldiers sent to try to save the original settlers of Gush Etzion before they were slaughtered in 1947.
Sadly, the soldiers were betrayed along the way, by a roving force of Arabs and executed. There bodies were not found for days. In their memory and honor, the community of Netiv HaLamed Hey was built. Sometimes I go there to sit on the grass and listen to the wind and remind myself of the sacrifices made by so many so my family can live here in relative peace.
Although people mostly relate to the story of David and Goliath and think of it as the proof that the “little” guy always wins -thousands of years later, the little band of Jews, sent to save the women and children of Gush Etzion did not at first. They community of Gush Etzion was massacred and it wasn’t until 1967 -during the 6 day war, the few remaining children of the previous Gush Etzion community were able to go back to Gush Etzion and reclaim the homes of their parents.
The famous tree of Alon Shvut stands in testament to their faith. They watched the tree from afar for many years, praying that one day they would be able to return.
But hiking to the top of the hill, one is caught by the absolute splendor of the wildflowers, the caves and you can imagine yourself during the time of the real David and Goliath.
This year, in order to finish the very last photos I needed for the deck, I hiked it alone one late afternoon. I decided to take a shortcut down a particularly slippery slope and promptly fell and hurt my wrist and ankle. In true clumsy style, I was more concerned about my camera and managed to drop my phone at the same time. By the time I limped back to my car and realized my phone was missing, darkness was falling and I didn’t think I could find it on my own in the dark. (Phone flashlight is only useful if you have your phone!)
Amazingly, by the time I got home that night, my mom in the US was calling me on FB. “This lady is calling me telling me she found your phone on a mountain…”
Miraculously, someone had found my phone, and called my parents in the US (Good plan to have Mom and Dad Home as a number in your phone). I don’t think my phone finder realized she was calling America. She knew someone who travels to my community regularly, and by the next morning, my phone was happily returned to me. My wrist hurt for weeks -the ankle less, but the pictures were worth it. Weren’t they?
Reveal Mom Travel Tips:
- Check social media to make sure there is maximum bloomage.
- Late afternoon during the week results in the best pictures with beautiful “golden” light.
- Bring a picnic -glorious spot for an afternoon adventure.
- Season : typically Feb/March but depends on rains
- Cost: Free
- Parking: Roadside. Free and available
- No water or facilities available. Bring water, hat etc. and for facilities, there is a gas station with bathrooms approximately 1 kilometer up the road.
Miriam Lottner is the proud mother of twin girls, and the creator and founder of Reveal Cards. After making Aliyah from Los Angeles, Miriam spent the next 20 years working in senior roles in Israel's hi-tech sector. She is now a frequent public speaker, mentor, business consultant and advocate for women in technology. An avid photographer, Miriam loves to explore and makes sure to schedule travel adventures somewhere in Israel at least once a week.
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel