Well, first the bad news. It doesn't look like we'll be visiting the ancient site of Sukkot this year. Archaeologists suspect that the location known as Deir Alla, east of the Jordan River, is in fact the location of Biblical Sukkot. This is where Yaakov Avinu on his return from Padan-aram after his meeting with Esav, built a house for himself and made sukkot (booths) for his cattle A series of excavations made its most dramatic discovery there in 1967 when an ink wall inscription relating a hitherto-unknown prophecy of Balaam was discovered.
And so I figured instead of visiting Sukkot, I'd visit the area of Kadesh Barnea down in the Negev. It was from Kadesh that the 12 spies were sent to survey the Land of Canaan. Forty years later, the tribes of Israel were a second time gathered together at Kadesh. At that time, Miriam died and was buried. Following Miriam's death, the Israelites complained to Moshe Rabeinu about the lack of water.
Moshe subsequently sent envoys to the King of Edom from Kadesh, asking for permission to let the Israelites pass through his terrain. The Edomite king denied this request.
The modern day settlement of Kadesh Barnea, also known as Nitzanei Sinai, was founded in 1980. It is located near Nitzana on the border with Egypt.
In Kadesh Barnea itself there's a wonderful family attraction; The House of Honey. You can learn all about the process of making honey and enjoy some tastings as well. Phone ahead: 08 655-8992, 052 899-1807, 052 392-7085.
In addition, be sure to visit the Kadesh Barnea Winery, a Negev Desert winery established in 1999. 052 267-2552.
Nearby is Tomato-picking in Kemehin. In the hothouse, you can hear an explanation about tomato-growing and pick some for home or for a picnic. 08 655-1524, 052 8450201.
In Nitzana, be sure to visit the solar park. The giant exhibits at the solar park protrude from the desert like colorful amusement-park rides. Here you'll find a classroom covered with wing-like panels that convert the solar energy into electricity; nets that collect the night dew; an enormous installation that focuses the intensity of the sun's rays; and other structures that demonstrate to children and adults the ecological and economical use of the main resource with which this area is blessed in abundance: sunlight. The visit also includes a guided tour of a garbage-collection center for recycling, and a small archaeological museum. Nitzana Youth Village, 08-656 1468/35, www.nitzana.org.il
For a more detailed listing of events in the Negev, visit www.negev-tour.co.il
Jewish Book Review » You Come for One Reason But Stay for Another: Making the Odyssey to Israel could be subtitled “It takes an Optimist”
Book Tour for Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen
3 days ago