You have been asking, you have been patiently waiting and now here it is.
For a behind-the-scenes look at how this episode came to be, read on.
I had been to Israel about 10 times before making aliyah. And I lived here for over a year before making my way to Hebron for the first time in my entire life. For whatever reason it was just never on the itinerary of the synagogue trip, school sponsored semester abroad or mission I was part of.
When Chizuk Now contacted us about sponsoring this 3rd episode of Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller they had only one mission. They tasked us with filming a food and travel show set in Hebron to ensure this sacred city is both top of mind and a destination place for every tourist and resident of Israel.
Well I wasn’t sure what to do. I mean I had never been to the place, didn’t know what to expect. I began my research by taking my family on a tour with the famed Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum. He is known as Mr. Hebron. Literally everyone I called and spoke to said one name Rav Simcha and since all roads led to Rav Simcha I signed up for his weekly tour sponsored by the Hebron Fund.
The Hebron Fund raises money for the improvement of daily life of the approximately 90 families living in Hebron, it is because of the incredible sacrifice and determination of these 90 families that we are able to freely visit this 2nd holiest city in the world.
The Fund’s support extends to funding for all parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, after-school programs, libraries, and summer youth activities; as well as sponsorship of public cultural and educational events in Hebron. In addition the Fund aids the maintenance and development of the synagogues in the Machpela Cave, the ancient Avraham Avinu Synagogue and other religious institutions in the area.
The hope of both the Hebron Fund and our video is to revive and expand the ancient Jewish custom of pilgrimage to this holy site.
Our tour with Rav Simcha was otherworldly. We were moved to tears in prayer and awe as he spoke about the past, present, and future of this small piece of real estate, the first piece of real estate bought by Abraham in Israel.
Hebron is intense and I have experienced my most incredible prayers since moving here at MaArat HaMachpela, The Tomb of the Patriarchs.
So it was clear that the sacred site, the MaArah would be the travel destination of our show, but what of the food? Hebron has a lovely little pizza shop where I enjoyed one of the BIGGEST and best cheese bourekas (my absolute weakness) but it felt like an insult to the holy city to hold a recipe tutorial in the shadow of the MaArah.
So I spent a day with my new and dear friend Eve Harrow a licensed Israeli Tour Guide who took me deep into the Southern Hills of Hebron on a scouting trip.
Listening to Eve was like listening to the most knowledgeable friend. She delivered incredible amounts of information in the most warm and friendly manner and taught me things with the excitement of a school girl experiencing it for the first time yet with the knowledge of an accomplished historian. Eve will show you parts of Israel you never knew existed. She will take you off the beaten path and let you discover the hidden treasures of our home.
After no less than 3 locations and a briefing on many others Eve helped me settle on the culinary guests featured in this episode; Holy Cacao, an artisanal bean to bar chocolate factory situated just 20 minutes south of Hebron and makers of my new sweet obsession.
I now yearn for Hebron on a regular basis and have been back no less than 4 times in the last few months. It’s magical, it’s special, it’s important.
Watch a little behind the scenes clip here:
Thank you Chizuk Now, Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum, Rabbi Dan Rosensetin and The Hebron Fund, Eve Harow and Holy Cacao for sharing your time, knowledge, story and expertise in the making of this episode.
To Book a Tour with Eve Harow email firstname.lastname@example.org