Fifty-Two Frames: Tell a Story

Did you know? Romeo & Juliet are frozen in time, trapped in a cave on the Israeli hillside.

There’s an inside joke in my family: got visitors coming from abroad? Take ’em to the stalactite cave. Ok, it’s not funny. But we find ourselves at this fascinating, nerdy, science-ridden cave of wonders once a year or two.

Soreq Cave, Avshalom Cave, מערת הנטיפים or just plain old stalactite cave (poor stalagmites always being put down) is a natural wonder hundreds of thousands of years in the making. It was discovered accidentally while workers were blowing up hill sides for quarry.

Week 4: Tell a Story

So close, yet frozen in time…

[From the Soreq stalactite cave, considered the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ of stalactite/stalagmite pairs, formed over thousands of years as water dripped down but eventually dried up, alas, causing the star-crossed pair never to meet…]

 

If you’ve never been, definitely check it out. It offers a trippy hour or so of entertainment. It’s located between Nes Harim and Bet Shemesh, off road 3866. I’d hazard a guess that most kids under three won’t enjoy/appreciate it much. FYI, the floor inside the cave is slippery, it’s obviously quite dark, and also humid/cool. Good for a hot day.

 

פיצונקה would like your attention.

Since moving to this area, we’ve watched local restaurants come and go. They usually aren’t kosher or attention-grabbing enough to get us interested. And the latter is probably mostly why they don’t survive.

To service (and survive) the Matte Yehuda area, I suppose you have to be pretty damn good, considering you’re competing with an evening out in Jerusalem – the big city with lots of choices – as opposed to a little local eatery with nothing else around it.

There are a few that thrive though, or evolve enough to thrive. I’m hoping the following is one of them.

In the last month or so, we’ve seen signs crop up along the country roads and yishuv entrances advertising פיצונקה (Pichonka), a kosher meat restaurant in nearby Nes Harim prepared to serve pareve brunches on Fridays,  parties of 300, deliveries in the immediate area, and a complete and robust menu. They are even daring enough to lure Jerusalemites outside their paradigms.

Intrigued, we decided to check it out last night; surely it takes beitzim to open a higher-end restaurant in this economic climate in the backwoods of Jerusalem.

The place was already on the way to getting an A+ before we walked in. Location is great for us country folk and close/far away enough to make it intriguing for Gushniks, Beit Shemeshites and Jerusalemites. The venue is nice on the outside, and very classy on the inside. Spacious with two outdoor areas. And you don’t have to worry about parking.

The food was really excellent, but more than that, the menu choices were intriguing and well thought-out. The kind of thing where you choose what you want but you know you’ll be back again to try the other things you didn’t order. I’m not a food critic, so I won’t go into depth, but my husband is qualified and we can say we’d go back there (food-wise) before other places in Jerusalem (especially Emek Refaim). Check out theirrecommendations (more importantly, the photos of the recommendations).

Perhaps the most impressive thing, so rare in Israeli restaurants: a good, appropriate soundtrack. Seriously. The sound system was set up properly, small speakers in different locations instead of blasting a couple huge ones in one corner. The music was light and the level was right. Never underestimate how your venue’s music could turn off your customers.

I’m talking to you, Israeli bar owners.

Prices were decent, or as expected. See them on the menu. In my opinion, it’s worth not eating out for a while so you can save for a real quality meal and pleasurable experience in the hills instead of wondering why you fork out your cash for mediocrity in Jerusalem.

Here’s hoping it actually survives its first year and sticks around a while.

Playing in our new backyard.

In an effort to clear the mind and explore new territory, we ventured into one of the 726548724 hiking trails around Tzur Hadassah in the Judean Hills this afternoon. It was a small park leading into the ‘backyard’ of a tiny yishuv called Nes Harim, which itself offers a cafe, horse back riding, a winery and more.

Judaen Hills

For two hours of activity, it was an absolutely incredible time. I just cannot get over the breathtaking land surrounding us here. These nature hikes are literally our backyard, and while we were there we were completely alone, wondering through avenues of peace and quiet.

We found caves along the trail; caves always make me think of ancestry and timelessness and life:

Nes Harim caves
Nes Harim

I know with time we’ll really come to explore a lot of these places in the area and fall in love again and again. It’s so completely not where I would have told you I saw myself at this point, but, even a month after relocating, I can’t imagine how I used to live.

Ein Karem Hills