autumn leaves

Photo credit: Yehoshua HaLevi

For us Olim from the Diaspora, who grew up with four well-defined seasons, autumn here can seem a bit…well understated to say the least. I remember how everyone eagerly awaited the “fall leaves,” piling into our cars to drive along the narrow mountainside roads to see the amazing palette of colors that HaShem uses each year to herald the arrival of autumn. Over there, we had the full array of trees, so the colors were everything from reds, to golds, to purples and more. Of course, there was also the traffic…but that is a different story.

Here in Eretz HaKodesh, we don’t have these distinct seasons, and certainly not the chill in the air as you would find in New England or the Rockies. I live in Tveria, where there are basically two seasons: summer-hot and winter-rain. So, we’re not gifted with quite the same Heavenly artistic display, but if you are longing for the leaves of autumn, then you just need to head to Rosh Pina, in northern Israel. A drive there during our “autumn” months can cure you of any nostalgia you might have for the old country.

Rosh Pina, in the upper Galil, is located on the slopes of Mt. Canaan and overlooks the Hula Valley and Golan. It is one of the oldest moshavim in Israel. Founded in 1878, Rosh Pina’s early pioneers almost starved to death, in addition to suffering  through drought, malaria, and constant harassment from Arab neighbors. Their optimism, audacity and determination, reflected in the name—Rosh Pina—taken from Tehillim 118:22, “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” moved Baron Rothschild to come to the rescue, settling debts and providing the financial foundation to build a strong, stable community. Today, you can still find the remnants of Rosh Pina’s ancient past, primarily along Rehov Harishonim, HaHalutzim and HaBoulevard. Here you can tour the 1885 administration building, known as the House of Officials, a synagogue built in 1889, the first building that Rothschild constructed in the moshav, the House of Dignitaries and the home of Dr. Mer, who conducted extensive research into malaria.  The ancient cemetery holds the keverot of the moshav’s founders.

Modern Rosh Pina is alive with upscale restaurants, cafes, specialty shops and art galleries where you can find artists practicing their craft—sculpting, throwing pots, painting, blowing glass, and an array of other activities.  There is no shortage of places to stay, as Rosh Pina and its surroundings are filled with tzimmers, from simple to luxurious, priced to fit every budget.

But, this was about the leaves…Rosh Pina is one of the most exhilarating places in Israel where you can enjoy the fall display of leaves—luscious palettes of orange-red-brown. Follow in the footsteps of the original pioneers and take the Rosh Pina Stream route which descends from Mt. Canaan into the valley. You will find yourself surrounded by ancient trees and orchards, wild flowers, natural springs and bubbling brooks, and all the colors of fall. You can easily make a trip from Rosh Pina to the Hula Valley, where in addition to the autumn leaves along the way, you can spend hours watching the millions of birds that stop-over in the valley while on the way to their autumn and winter homes.