Gush Etzion (The Etzion Bloc) is a gorgeous region south of Jerusalem. With lush and fertile hills alive with grapevines, fruit and olive trees; 'the Gush' has seen many battles before the State of Israel was born. Now it is home to 18 vibrant towns and villages, as well as wineries, microbreweries, ATV trails and other tourist attractions. Beit Lechem is mentioned numerous times in Tanach relating to our forefathers as well as Megilat Rut (the Book of Ruth) and King David's birthplace. Walking on The Path of the Patriarchs, you are following the footsteps where our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov trod.
Kever Rachel or Rachel's tomb, adjacent to Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) has been a sacred site for thousands of years where people come to pray to the Biblical Rachel.
A visit to Herodion National Park (or Herodium), King Herod's fabulous getaway castle and final resting place, with amazing underground escape tunnels, is an exciting site to visit.
You will be exhilarated when you visit Caliber 3. Here you will experience combat training, including shooting a rifle, practice krav maga (a form of self defense) and other skills that will give you a greater insight into the importance of the Israeli army and its strong values.
Deer Land Park has the longest zip line in the country, as well as an incredible array of activities, including paintball, horseback riding, a petting zoo and lots of relaxing and extreme outdoor activities. The whole family will find something to enjoy at this farm.
Picking cherries, when in season, in the Gush is a favorite for me. With a number of amazing places to eat, spending a day in 'the Gush' should be on your itinerary.
The Workshop Gush-Etzion is a fun place to do a 2.5 hour workshop to work with wood and create lovely pieces of Judaica. This is a great activity for families and groups to create awesome products that each person can take home.
At the Zomet Institute learn how Halacha (Jewish Law) and modern technology mesh to create solutions for using devices required on Shabbat in the home and at the workplace (hospitals, hotels, shuls).
There are other sites in Gush Etzion to visit including the Lone Oak, The new Kfar Etzion Sound and Light Show memorializing the defenders of Gush Etzion in the battles of 1948, Sde Bar goat cheese farm, Teva Neot shoe factory store, Biyar aqueduct, Oz V'Gaon Nature Preserve, Gush Etzion winery and Pina Chama.
Ma'arat Ha'Machpela, Tomb of the Patriarchs, the second holiest site for Jews in the heart of Hebron, is the resting place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives Sarah, Rachel and Leah. You will be in awe of the two thousand year old monumental building built by King Herod over the original cave burial site.
At Susya you will visit in incredible archaeological site with an amazing mosaic synagogue floor, as well as an ancient escape tunnel you can walk through! Located at the edge of the Hebron Hills, Susya was once a rich, thriving Jewish community between the 5th - 8th centuries - with a mystery - no one knows why it was abandoned.