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Having just recently returned from Israel (as of 1:00AM EDT last Friday morning) I wanted to get my thoughts about the last hike I did while there – the Jilaboun River in the Golan. This was an amazing hike that I did with my younger daughter in the early afternoon last Wednesday. We drove from where we were staying near Rosh Pina up to the Golan and followed Waze until we got to the trailhead. When I read about the Jilaboun trail here I figured that we would be following the trail as they presented it – not quite. While that write-up notes that you park near the remains of a Syrian village (which we did) – we did not find the markings quite the way that article describes it and so we ended up getting on the trail near the Devorah waterfall. Ok – no biggie. As for the description that this trail is of medium difficulty – that’s accurate. It’s much rockier that I had anticipated and required a lot more scrambling than I expected. However, the trail is absolutely gorgeous and waterfalls are just incredible. As you can see from the pictures below the landscape is awesome. If you want a reasonable length hike that challenges you somewhat and rewards you greatly with beautiful views, the Jilaboun is definitely one to try. What I found somewhat amusing (albeit it’s not really *that* funny) is that the board at the entrance to the trail warns you (4th bullet down) to stay on the trail because of the danger of landmines. That’s not something you normally see when you’re hiking the Billy Goat Trail or Old Rag.

I’m wrapping up another trip home to Israel. I have spent the past two weeks in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and now up in the Galilee at Vered HaGalil – a wonderful slice of heaven that can be considered a “guest ranch” – not from from Tiberias and Rosh Pina.

I was born in Israel and have come home to the this wonderful place many times – and I look forward to the day that I come home on a more permanent basis in the near future. I was amazed as Tel-Aviv is such a vegan-friendly city (which is good for me since I am vegan myself) and even Jerusalem seems a little more vegan friendly then it was three years ago. Israel has made a lot of progress – yes, I am well aware that it has its warts but no society is perfect. As much as the BDS crowd and the Palestinians wish to portray Israel as the worst possible country in the world it is most certainly nowhere near that. All countries have their problems – Israel is not immune to that for sure but Israel has people who are working to improve their society and their country. And like all other countries Israelis are people who yearn for peace with their neighbors – be they Lebanese, Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Palestinian.

As I sit here on the day before I leave back to the United States (where we also have our fair share of problems which I will not detail here) I marvel at what a jewel Israel has become over the past 71 years. There is still much work to be done but, as always, I am optimistic about Israel and her future.

I am reminded of the joke about the guy who dies and goes to be judged. It is determined that he go to Hell but he’s given options by an angel – he can go to Soviet Hell, Nazi Hell or Israeli Hell. He thinks for a moment and considers: “Hmmm…Soviet Hell – no way that is too oppressive; Nazi Hell? No…that would be like Auschwitz forever.” So he tells the angel “I’ll go to Israel Hell”. Immediately he’s transported to Israeli Hell. He opens his eyes and he’s standing on the side of the road on top of a hill and everywhere he looks there are orchards and fields of crops and beauty all around and thinks “Huh? Is this right?” A few seconds later an IDF Jeep drives up and the driver asks the man if he needs a ride to which he enthusiastically replies, “Yes”. He gets in and he says to the driver “I thought this is Israeli Hell – but it’s so beautiful.” The driver replies “You should have seen what a hellhole this place was 71 years ago!”

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