By Simon Fischler
Israel is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. For such a small nation it has such a diverse network of environments.
From Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv, to the beautiful beaches of the coast, the coral reefs of Eilat, the Negev and Judaea deserts and the forests and mountains of the North, Israel is a remarkable panorama of beauty.
But for me, the most beautiful spot in Israel is Kibbutz El-Rom on the northeastern Golan heights.
My wife Lilach and I decide to move our family to El-Rom a year ago.
We previously lived in the city of Rehovot in the center of Israel.
We made the decision to leave the center mainly for the future of our children. We dreamed and hoped for a quieter life for them, a way to pass down our Zionist beliefs and to give them a life more in touch with nature.
We came here and immediately fell in love with the kibbutz lifestyle, and with El Rom specifically.
Lined with trees ranging from Lebanese Cedars, pines, cherries, chestnuts, apples and plums, the kibbutz is a green paradise.
Sitting above us is Mt. Hermon, the eyes and ears of Israel, reaching an altitude of more than 10,000 feet. Snowcapped during the winter, the mountain makes for stark but beautiful views.
Unlike almost all of Israel, here in El-Rom we have four true seasons, with a real WINTER -- snow and all.
El-Rom is special for myriad other reasons, though.
El-Rom is special because in 1971 a small group of Israeli youth decided to make a paradise out of one of the harshest climates in Israel.
El Rom is also special because In a few short months my family and I have met the nicest, most friendly group of people.
We have been taken in as if we were family by people who barely know us. Here our friends are actively concerned about their neighbors and what is going on in their community.
El Rom is also moments away from three Druse villages and virtually in sight of the border with Syria.
Rather than feel the fear and tension one might expect, we enjoy friendly relationships with our Druse neighbors. The family’s primary care doctor is a Druse physician two villages away, and several of our favorite restaurants are in Druse towns.
What makes El-Rom great is what made Israel great (capable of surviving years of Arab racism/anti-semitism and persecution): working together for a common cause, a common good.
But El-Rom doesn’t exist in a vacuum of the past: it has several thriving businesses totally involved in the modern, high-tech world and, thankfully, some of the best schools and pre-schools in the country.
We have been blessed to discover a world that retains the values and goals of an Israel that once was – an Israel that hopefully will be again – all in a place of great beauty.