The rains have come, with wind and cooler temperatures – but we are ready for this! We know that Israel desperately needs the rains, so we don’t mind – well maybe just a little. On came the ponchos and rain gear – plus a few extra layers of sweaters – and off we went to Rehovot – a little south of Tel Aviv. Some of you may know this city as the site of the Weizman Institute, but it was the citrus capital of Israel, in the early years! We visited the Rehovot’s first citrus orchard, Minkov Orchard, from 1904, which has now been preserved by the Society for Preservation of Israel’s Heritage Sites (SPIHS) and JNF. Our wonderful guide, Assaf, explained the history of the site as we toured the harvesting and packing rooms and the original external combustion engine that still pumps water from 100 feet below ground. The highlight was picking our own fruit to make citrus juice – nothing as good as fresh squeezed juice with freshly picked fruit.
Our next destination, another SPIHS site, Ayalon Institute located at Kibbutz Hill, just across the valley from the Minkov Orchard. But – don’t tell anyone. This was a secret ammunitions factory during the years 1946-1948. It wasn’t until 1975 that it became well known that this was the location of the Haganah’s clandestine factory. It is located underground with openings that were covered by a 10 ton oven and a large washing machine that camouflaged the noise of manufacturing bullets. We climbed down the steps, and toured the factory which produced over 2,500,000 9mm bullets mostly for Sten guns during its two years of operation.
Hats off to SPIHS and JNF to preserving Israel’s history.
Time for lunch – not a outside picnic lunch, but inside! We also visited the newly dedicated Missions House, donated by JNF New York. This will be available for groups for conferences, meetings, etc.
By the time we got back to the hotel – the skies had cleared! Tomorrow morning we have free time after our community service! What will we do???
Warm regards from us.