Award-winning writer and lecturer Barbara Sofer grew up
in a small town in Connecticut, and moved to Israel in 1971. She is a
graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. Her articles -taking on a wide range of subjects from ethnic
cooking to terrorism--have appeared in The New
York Times, The Boston Globe, Parents, Readers' Digest, Woman's Day,
Hadassah Magazine and Inside Magazine
among many others. She writes a bi-weekly column for the Friday Jerusalem
Barbara has written five books and contributed to
EXCERPT FROM CURRENT ARTICLE
In the Jerusalem Hills
By Barbara Sofer
Although the cliché says that a nice part of vacation is getting there, spending hours on the road before or after a weekend away can also erase the relaxing benefits. Yearim, an extensively renovated and rebranded hotel in the Judean Hills, is only 21 kilometers from my Jerusalem apartment. That means seeking a country weekend away from the city in well-appointed lodgings doesn't require the usual long ride north or south.
Yearim, which means "forests" in Hebrew, is the hotel at Kibbutz Ma'aleh Hahamisha.
Not to be confused with Cramim, the Isrotel high-end spa a few minutes away, Yearim includes many of the features of the expensive spa hotels while maintaining some of the charming features of its long history as a modest guest house.
And history it has. Kibbutz Ma'aleh Hahamisha (Ascent of the Five) was founded in 1938 after five young men from the earlier established Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim were murdered while paving a path to the nearby Hill of the Wind. Fifty thousand mourners turned out for their Jerusalem funeral. In response, members of the Gordonia Movement (named for Polish-born A.D. Gordon, who believed in building the state with manual labor) founded Ma'aleh Hahamisha on the border with Jordan. There was a dairy and chicken coop and field crops, but already in 1940 the kibbutzniks took advantage of their pastoral location and view and fresh 800-meter-high mountain air to build a guest house that was associated with the health funds as a low-frills health farm.
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