Wednesday, April 29, 2009
While in Israel the Omrit excavations team stays at the Kibbutz Kfar Szold which is only a few kilometers from the site. The kibbutz was founded in 1942 at the base of the Golan Heights. It was named after Henrietta Szold (1860 -1945) who was born in Baltimore but dedicated her life to Zionism. She helped found Hadasseh in 1912 and helped rescue 22,000 Jewish children from Nazi Germany (One of the "illegal" immigrant ships was named after her). Israeli mother's day is celebrated on her birthday and a public school in Manhattan bears her name.
Kfar Szold was one of a series of kibbutzim settled in northern Palestine in anticipation of defense needs for the war that would come in 1948. It was attacked (and defended) in 1948 and in 1967 and recently has suffered rocket attacks from Lebanon. 185 members live now in the community with 65 children. Some non-member families and 100 students who study in Tel-Hai College also live in the kibbutz.
The kibbutz produces many agricultural products and has a heat-exchanger and air-conditioning coil factory. It also has a number of accomodations for holiday visitors that the Omrit staff and volunteers use. They house us, feed us, let us use the olympic-sized swimming pool and generally take good care of us, for which we thank Greta and all the staff!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
One of the first things apparent at the Omrit site is the wild emmer wheat that surrounds and engulfs it. Wild emmer wheat is the ancient progenitor of our 2 major domesticated varieties: durum wheat and bread wheat, wheat that provides 20% of the world's total calories. (In Roman times that percentage was, of course, higher.)
At Omrit it's a weed but in world history (and the history of civilization) it's a major player. Wild and domesticated emmer wheat originated in the Fertile Cresent, perhaps even in northern Israel, and I'll have more about this in future blog posts. For now I'll leave you with a caption (from Genesis 3) for the above photo taken at Omrit:
"Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread."