A Melting Pot: Exploring The Cultures And Cuisines Of Israel

Margot Kravette

A Melting Pot

May 29, 2013

The Judean Hills are exactly that – hills! And hills are great for goats. As compared with sheep and cows whose bodies are short and full and graze on level ground, goats are slender and have long legs, making them perfect for grazing in hilly and mountainous regions. Also, the changing seasons in the mountains changes the foliage, resulting in changes in the taste and smell of the cheeses.

The 40 year old goat and cheese farm of Shai Seltzer sits high on these beautiful hills. These days, Omer, Shai’s 37 year old son, is the primary cheese maker. He has several helpers, who help him take care of the land and the goats.

Omer left Israel to go to college at Cal Tech in the US and got a degree in dairy science, but he always knew he’d return to the farm and to cheese making. He sees a lot of similarities between his degree and his father’s knowledge and interest of botany in terms of feeding the forest and feeding the goats, both required to make delicious cheese.

Omer told me that week days at the farm were work days and that visitors came to the farm for the cheese only on weekends. This was Sunday – the first day of the week in Israel – so it was a work day. I felt very lucky that Omer was willing to have me come on a Sunday and to pick me up at the bus.