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Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Stunning View of Nachal Soreq©

About half an hour from Jerusalem a most delightful partway overlooking the scenic view of Nachal Soreq is found in Judean hills. This promenade overlooking the Nachal Soreq was created especially for those people who want a scenic view of the Judean Hills and its vegetation without going on a strenuous hike. It starts out at the Bar Giora Junction from behind the lovely little Bar Ba-Har coffee shop and the JNF information center where pamphlets, both in Hebrew and English, are given out for free. The pamphlets have information about the different attractions in the area.

The paved pathway is 750 meters long and adapted for the physically challenged. In fact, special sweet smelling herbs have been planted along the path to enhance the visit of people with visual disabilities.

The meandering Nachal Soreq or Soreq Valley (Wadi Surar in Arabic ) is mentioned in Shoftim, Chapter 16 as the place were Shimshon first met Delilah and where she enticed him to tell her the secret of his strength. The Philistines eventually captured him here. Soreq is a "fruitless tree" (the Hebrew word rek means "empty"), and the Midrash suggests that the name is a metaphor for a moral lesson that  Shimshon should have heeded-- that his involvement with  Delilah would be "fruitless" and eventually lead to his downfall.

Others say that Nachal Soreq is named for the best quality red grapes from which wine is made, called soreq. When the Jewish nation lived in Eretz Yisroel in Biblical and Second Temple times, they grew grapes in terraces on the slopes of the hills along the course of Nachal Soreq. Nowadays we see scrub on the  Soreq's slopes, but  in those great days the hillsides were covered in grapevines. Hundreds of winepresses and barrels have been found in the Judean hills.

Nachal Soreq is a nachal achzav (dry river bed) into which the raw domestic sewage of Jerusalem is discharged. Here it passes a purification process and the now almost clean water moves on to Sovah where it is completely cleansed. This water is then recycled to irrigate the fields.

The flora that surrounds one on all sides, is abundant and typical  Haray Yehudah Choresh (woodland). Here you find many types of trees, including pines, conifers, and terebinth. Most notable is the ktalav (strawberry tree or arbutus), an evergreen with a red smooth tree trunk and branches. It is a spring bloomer, but carries red berries all year round which the birds love to eat. The wildlife is also rich and varied with foxes, hyenas, porcupines, deer, and many songbirds and birds of prey. 

At the end of the walkway is a wooden balcony vantage point which features picnic tables and a playground for children.

To reach Derech Nof Nachal Soreq, travel south on Sderot Herzel and make a right turn onto Route 386. Then continue driving on the main road and pass through the village of Ein Karem. At the bottom of the road after approximately two km, turn left and you will immediately see a roundabout (Kerem Junction). Take the second exit on Road 386 and drive some 14 km on one of the most beautiful roads in Eretz Yisrael. At The end of the road is the Bar Giora Junction..

For public transportation, take Super Bus #184 to Bar Giora from the Central Bus Station. For the timetable, call Super Bus at 1700700181. 

Don't forget to bring plenty of water and a hat.

Published in 'The English Update' 6 January 1011

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