By Hadassah Levy
The small picturesque city of Zichron Yaakov was one of the first Jewish settlements founded by modern pioneers. The town was first settled in 1882, but did not thrive at first. Only after it came under the patronage of Baron Edmond de Rothschild and the Carmel Winery was founded, did the town become economically sustainable.
A quaint town with stunning photo ops at every turn, Zichron Yaakov provides a peek into the lives of these early pioneers and their struggle for independence.
First Aliyah Museum
The First Aliyah Museum does an excellent job of telling the story of the settlement and early years of immigration to Ottoman-controlled Palestine. Housed in a historic building which was once the administrative center of Zichron, the museum makes extensive use of video and images to present the conflicts, failures and successes of the fledgling town. The exhibit is occasionally critical of the Baron and his methods and is honest about what worked and what didn’t.
The film shown at the beautiful gardens which surround the Baron’s tomb paint a much rosier picture of the Baron’s involvement in philanthropy in Palestine and in Zichron in particular than the museum does. Most fascinating are the biographical details which led the Baron to become involved in this work. According to the film, as the youngest son in the family, Edmund was not given formal training in any profession and he turned to philanthropy as a way to stay busy.
After watching the film, you’ll want to spend some time exploring the gardens which have different sections, from a formal rose garden to a wildlife park. Follow the trails and enjoy the surprises which await you around the bend.
Nili Museum – Beit Aaronsohn
Zichron Yaakov was home to the first Jewish underground which was dedicated to helping the British conquer Palestine from the Ottomans. The Aaronsohn family was heavily involved in this organization (called Nili) and most of its members met gruesome ends as a result. Their work lived on longer than they did, however, and ultimately led to the British conquest.
One of the family members lived in the family home for many years and made almost no changes to it, preferring to preserve it for historical purposes. In the Nili Museum, you can see the very bathroom where Sarah Aaronsohn shot herself, the bed in which she died and the entry into the home’s secret passageway. The preservation is so accurate that it is a bit grisly, so this museum is not recommended for small or sensitive children.
After many unsuccessful attempts to bring industry to Zichron Yaakov, Baron de Rothschild hit on the idea of a winery. Since grapes are a local product, the winery took off and became a huge success. The winery has been operating for 120 years and is fully modernized. A tour of the winery takes you through the modern parts as well as the historical vats and barrels. The tour focuses more on the wine-making process than the history of the business, but you will also learn about the centrality of the winery in the economy of the town.
Strolling through the town
Zichron Yaakov is a beautiful city with an old-style pedestrian mall at its center. Once you have seen all the historical sites, take advantage of the boutique shops and outdoor cafes to soak in the special atmosphere. You’ll come away refreshed and inspired by the town and the pioneers who risked their lives and their livelihoods to make the Zionist dream come true.
Photos by Deena Levenstein, Hadassah Levy & WikiCommons
Subscribe to our newsletter
you may also like
The story of Magdala in the Galilee
One cold winter morning I drove over to Magdala Center by the Sea of Galilee, to finally learn about the exciting findings that were excavated in this place I’d been hearing about for years. This is what I learned…August 21, 2015
Israeli chefs bring Sabra flavor to the table, and into your kitchen
It’s finally the period known in Israel as ‘acharei hachagim,’ or, after the holidays, offering the return to routine that everyone…October 15, 2017
Beautiful photos of pre-Sukkot in Me’ah She’arim Jerusalem
So much beauty to behold in Jerusalem’s famous ultra Orthodox neighborhood…September 25, 2015
The Land of Wildflowers
By Touring Israel CEO – Joe Yudin Most tourists who have never been to Israel before think of this land as…February 26, 2017
A meteor-gazing Negev adventure
By Deena Levenstein This week I went down to the Negev, Israel’s largest desert in the south which is sort of in…August 14, 2015
Outside The Box – Touring Israel featured in OutThere Magazine
We invite you to read this fantastic article (below) written by journalist Uwern Jong and featured in the current issue of…January 10, 2018
Yom Hazikaron – For Those We Mourn & Celebrate
This juxtaposition of one of the saddest days in the year to one of the most joyous days is difficult for many and yet makes sense since the way to truly appreciate the amazing fact that we have a state is by looking back at those who made it possible, like Akiva Levy, the Holocaust survivor, and thousands of others.April 22, 2015
A Message From Joe Yudin – CEO
Travel to Israel has changed dramatically. When I first got into this business about 20 years ago people wanted to see…February 4, 2016
6 of Israel’s Coolest Travel Innovations
The travel industry is becoming progressively more hi tech. Here are a few of Israel’s coolest travel innovations that open up new options, giving you smooth sailing while abroad.April 30, 2015