Eilat Experience with the Starks

Our time in Eilat by Anice and Arnold Stark – Toronto, Canada
As we come to the end of our time in Eilat we look back on the program with fond memories. Some of the places were new to us and some we seen before. About 5 years ago, we visited Kibbutz Lotan. They are very ecological minded and I believe one of the first kibbutzim to be ecological. Today we can see the results of their efforts and see that what they had planned is now happening. This is also due to the support of JNF-KKL. We can see that they recycle and use what is available and what nature provides. Once again we toured with Mike Nitzan and learned about the new developments to the Kibbutz.

They served us tea with boiled water from a solar stove with their own home grown herbs. It is truly inspiring to see the efforts of this group of people who not only care about the environment, but are doing something about it!
That same evening had our Red Sea Dinner Cruise on the ship, Oriania. It was a delightful evening – did I tell you that we have had great weather – summer like – in Eilat. The setting was magnificent, blue sky and calm waters – temperature in the high 70’s. As time went by it did get cooler, but we managed to keep warm was by dancing and singing on deck. We were also served a lovely dinner cooked and served by the crew. During the cruise we got see how close some of the countries are – imagine sailing in Israeli waters and looking at Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
During the week we have had several interesting hikes this year – some were easier than others and some challenged us. Our hikes take us through the wadis (dry river beds), we see the amazing rock formations, various types of rocks – reds, beige, black – all kinds of colors that are granite, sandstone and clay– such magnificent colors especially against the blue sky. We also saw all kinds of flora and fauna…amazing what grows in this dry climate!
We visited a the site of Avrona where early inhabitants were able to farm because of an underground spring. It is hard to believe that there is actually farming in this area and that they grew crops. Today it is just sand! We saw how they captured the water- how the wells and irrigation systems worked. These same principles that they used hundreds of years ago are still in use today!!
On Thursday, we visited the Mariculture Institute and learned what they are doing to help the fishery industry survive. This is also a JNF project. Actually, you can’t go anywhere in Israel without seeing the “footprint” of JNF!
We also learned interesting facts about fish…did you know that the grouper starts out as a females and becomes a male…and the sea bream fish is the opposite. Talk about the learning about the birds and the bees.
The professor was fascinating and while we couldn’t retain all the information we did learn a lot. A few of us even had a day or two to visit the amazing sites in Petra, Jordan! All had a great time and were in ‘awe’ with what they saw!

Sunday – on to the Dead Sea for some R&R and massages, floating in the salt pools and just “vegging” out. We will visit Masada…and perhaps hike Eid Gedi.

A visit to Grofit by Arnold and Anice Stark – Toronto, Canada
One of the most impressive sites we visited was the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center – one of our favorite JNF projects! We visit each time CAARI is in Eilat – we’ve gotten to know the staff and even some of the riders.
Horse back riding is used as therapy for disabled and handicapped children. These children have limiting physical and mental disabilities such as autistism and cerebral palsy.
When we arrived, there was a bus load of handicapped children from a school in Eilat – which I had worked in several years ago on the CAARI program. To see these children with all their problems riding is quite a sight. The smiles on their faces and the delight in their eyes were something to see. They all just loved coming to the riding school. They loved sitting on the horses and being taller than the others.
Grofit had a special ceremony for Nettie Steinman, one of our long time CAARI participants. Nettie and Joni, her daughter, have been coming on the CAARI program for 5 + years – who’s counting! Joni is active in JNF and President in San Diego and a member of the JNF Sapphire Society. Joni’s gift to JNFmade was in honor of the Mother. To commemorate the event a kumquat tree was planted by Nettie. The Steinman family has been JNF donors in Canada and the USA for many years…as Nettie’s father was one of the founders of Amazia, a new Negev community back in the early 1950’s. And…so from generation to generation the link to Israel and JNF continues in this wonderful family. It was quite an emotional moment for all of us. And…as Nettie said “it was a gripping experience for me – one that I enjoyed sharing with my CAARI family.”

The Canadian American Active Retirees in Israel, CAARI, offers active seniors a unique opportunity to experience Israel. The program is designed to explore the biblical landscapes, follow the footsteps of the early pioneers, and envision the future of our Homeland. The CAARI Program includes community service, toursa speakers forum and the camaraderie of the CAARI Family. The Program is designed for to feel, touch, hear and see Israel from the mountains to the desert, from sea to sea, and from ancient to modern.

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Links: Jewish National Fund USA : https://www.jnf.org/