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Telfed Tiyul: Yarkon Springs, Tel Afek and Bar Ilan University

By Peter Bailey

We certainly enjoyed a tiyul with a difference on 27 March, visiting 2 sites which are literally on the doorstep of Raanana residents, who provide the majority of tiyul participants.

The first port of call for the day was the Yarkon Springs, source of the Yarkon River. Situated just off Route 40, opposite Segula Station, the springs held a great surprise for the tiyullers. While this beautiful picnic and camping site has several ancient buildings and archeological sites identifying it as a farm in the distant past, difficult walking conditions and distance made it possible to only visit three selected sites, in close proximity to one another.

Yarkon Source

The first point of interest was an ancient water driven flour mill, which was built during the era of Roman occupation around 2,000 years ago. Next up was a pool known as the Yarkon Bleak pool. This pool is a breeding area for Yarkon Bleak fish, which had all become extinct in Israeli waters, but thanks to the work done by Israel National parks, the future of this indigenous fish is anything but bleak. Young fish that have been produced in the Bleak pool are now being seeded into the Yarkon River, reestablishing the fish population.

The best was left for last, as the group moved on to visit the Yarkon River source, an impressive and fast flowing spring  that feeds the yarkon River.                                                   

Tel Afek

After a pleasant walk through the picnic area, we were back on the bus on our way to Tel Afek, the next point on the itinerary for the day. The Tel is situated on the Via Maris, the ancient highway connecting Heliopolis (now Cairo) with Damascus and beyond. We went directly to the main attraction on Tel Efek, the Ottoman era fort, built about 500 years ago, many aspects of which have been restored  to give the visitor an excellent idea of what the fort must have been  like in  its heyday. The 360 degree view from the ramparts was quite amazing, and woe betide any potential enemy, as his approach would have been  visible to the sentries while still far in the distance. The fort itself was built on top of the much older Antipatris Fort, erected by Herod the Great, 15 or so years BCE, and named after his father Antipater, who had preceded him as king. With a history dating back 4,000 years or more, Tel Afek is a remarkable site for tourists, but even more so for archeologists, with visible evidence of the investigative work still being carried out.

Leaving the fort, we went to the lush Tel Afek Park picnic grounds to enjoy mid morning refreshments,  which all the participants had brought along with them. The proliferation of tables and benches made it very easy for everybody to enjoy their refreshments with ease, while being able to enjoy the beautiful flora and abundant bird life. One of the features was a walk down to the lake, which has a feeding spot for the teeming catfish and other fish species to be found there. The catfish “walk” right out of the water up the little wooden feeding jetty to get to any morsels of food thrown down for them, quite a sight to see. We were then shepherded back onto the bus for the trip to Bar Ilan University. Our next venue for the day.

Bar Ilan University

Our visit to Bar Ilan University was arranged through the kind offices of South African Expatriate,Vera Muravitz, Chairman of the International friends of Bar Ilan University, supported by her wonderful team of assistants, to whom we are extremely grateful. They looked after so well that i think each member of the team must be identified by name each member of the team. The team consisted of Naty Glikin, Roni, Taly Ginsberg. Ittai Malbin, Avita Turel and Anne Herschkowitz. From the moment Anne met us at the gate to show us the way in and where to park, we were the recipients of the most detailed attention and care by this wonderful group of people.

Our destination was what has become known as the South African Campus, boasting two identical buildings appropriately individually named, one as the Solomon Krok Building and the other as the Abraham Krok Building, recognising the contribution made to the university by the Krok twins,  two generous benefactors. We were guided by Vera Muravitz to a magnificent Jacaranda tree which she hastened to inform us was a Pretoria Jacaranda, planted by former President F.W. de Klerk in 1991. The occasion was the conference of an Honorary Doctorate in Law on Klerk by Bar Ilan University and this was celebrated with the planting of a Jacaranda, synonymous with the city of Pretoria, South Africa’s Administrative Capital. Adjacent to plaque commemorating the planting is another plaque commemorating the names of the major South African donors to the university. The plaque has a unique design, reminiscent of the adjoining pages of a book, topped with interlinking maps of Israel and South Africa.

This was followed by the most delicious lunch at the Rosmarin Restaurant which is on the South African Campus, suitably decorated with numerous wooden artifacts reminiscent of African art. We were joined by Vera Muravitz and her husband Rocky for this memorable lunch of delicious soup, followed by even better salads, all of this topped by the most scrumptious grilled salmon as the main course. A very contented and satiated group left the restaurant for the Beck Auditorium, bestowed on the university by South African philanthropist Graham Beck z”l.

Once we were all seated in the auditorium, Vera gave us an animated and very interesting resume of her meetings and interactions with many of the major South Africa donors to the University, after which she introduced our guest speaker for the day, well known political commentator and expert on the Arab world, Dr, Mordechai Kedar. This excellent speaker ran us through an interview he gave in Arabic on Al Jazeera TV, explaining and amplifying much of what he said during the interview. You can watch this fascinating and hard hitting interview on Youtube by clicking on the link, and then draw your own conclusions. In between we also enjoyed listening to a musical interlude during which we were entertained by music students at the university.

Comments from a tiyul participant:

Hi Telfed Tiyul Team,

Well Done on organizing and delivering an excellent Tiyul today.

Great itinerary, interesting venues and WOW event at Bar Ilan.

Keep up the Good Work.






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