The inspiring stories of Dubrovin Farm and Yesod HaMa'ala

A very interesting combination is to visit the Dubrovin Farm followed by the nearby village of Yesud HaMa’ala. One can be done without the other, but together they tell the inspiring story of immigrants to the Hula Valley who refused give up, when objectively they had good reason to do so. The farm shows life in the early days of settlement in this area close to the Hula Lake. There is also a moving movie. Consider also a visit to the nearby Hula Nature Reserve to complete the picture.

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Yoav and Rachel Dubrovin were Christian Shabbat observers (termed Sobotnikim) who converted to Judaism and came on aliya in 1904 as part of the First Aliya. They had been farmers in Russia and had therefore considerable experience in agriculture. They were persuaded by Baron Edmond Rothschild’s organization to settle here. They purchased land in 1909 and were helped with construction of their farm. Because of their expertise, theirs became a model farm for other settlers in this area. However, they lost two of their children from malaria. In his old age Yoav moved to Rosh Pina to avoid malaria and he left the management of the farm to his bachelor son Yitzhak. His workers were local Bedouin. Yitzhak eventually donated his estate to the Jewish National Fund, and the farm has been reconstructed to demonstrate farming life at that time and the challenges of living in the Hula Valley.

VISITING THE DUBROVIN FARM

 

Directions: Enter “Dubrovin Farm” into Waze and click on “Dubrovin farm, Ha-Shmura Street, Yesud HaMa’ala.”

Admission: The farm is open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm Sunday to Thursday and from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm Friday and Saturday. Admission is 20 nis for adults and 15 nis for seniors and children. A brochure is provided in English. Their phone number is 04 693-7371. To view their website (in Hebrew) click here. 

Dubrovin farm.jpeg

The current tour of the Dubrovin Farm is in Hebrew, but the guide will be pleased to give the explanations in simple Hebrew, as one learns in ulpan. There is an inspiring 12-minute movie about settlement in this area. There are also reconstructed living quarters and kitchen and a display of farming implements. Outside is a well that the Dubrovins constructed. From the farm you are only 1.3 Km to the Hula Valley Reserve.

Yesud HaMa’ala – a delightful place to live – eventually

 

Yesud HaMa’ala was established in 1883 by Polish Jews who were part of the First Aliya. The name of the village was taken from a sentence in the Book of Ezra (7:9) "the commencement of the ascent (yesud hama’ala)." The settlers lived initially in tents because the Ottomans refused to give them permission to build houses. However, Baron Edmond Rothschild visited the settlement, and in 1887 managed to persuade the Ottomans to reverse this decision. He built houses for them, but life was still very difficult.

 

Yesud HaMa’ala was built next to Lake Hula, and there were many deaths from malaria. In fact, Dr Mer, the malaria expert from Rosh Pina, advised them all to leave. However, they were determined to continue. Their decision was reinforced by their finding of an inscription in Aramaic on a stone from the ruins of an ancient 5th century synagogue located in the village that read “May his memory be for good, all who settle here.” This provided the settlers with the resolve to continue living here despite illness and frequent deaths from malaria.

 

Eventually, the malaria was overcome with pesticides and draining of the lake. The next hardship was shelling from the Syrians from the Golan Heights. This too was overcome during the Six Day War. As you can see, Yesud HaMa’ala is now a delightful place to live in.

TO YESOD HAMA'ALA:

You can obviously drive to Yesud HaMa’a, but if you have the time consider walking. There is a paved sidewalk all the way. The walk takes about 40 minutes each way and is a distance of 2.5 Km. The scenery is not exciting, but you will pass by pleasant orchards. Whether driving or walking, once within the town it is worth walking to the former pier for Lake Hula.

 

Walking instructions: From the farm continue to the T-junction and turn right. At the next T-junction, turn right onto HaShmura St and this will take you to the center of Yesod HaMa’ala. Turn left onto HaMeyasdin St. Further directions are as by car.

 

To visit Yesud HaMa’ala by car, enter “Yesud HaMa’ala” into Waze. This will bring you to a parking area on HaMeyasdin St. by the mo’aza.

 

  • For both walkers and car riders, walk along HaMeyasdin St in the direction away from Route 90. Cross HaShmura St. Note the concrete blocks on the sidewalk that sometimes provide brief histories of the families living here. Continue to the fork at the end of the road.

 

  • To visit the ruins of the synagogue here from the Byzantine period turn left and adjoining the garden you will see the ruins on your left. This is where the stone was found that provided support to the settlers to continue living here. The synagogue faced south to Jerusalem. It was in use until the 7th century, but in the Muslim and Crusader periods functioned as a sugar factory.

 

  • Return to HaMeyasdin St and take the right fork at the end of the road. Then take the first street on the left.  Almost immediately you will see a sign with the words Toto in Hebrew by a path. Follow this path through the park and passing a grove of old eucalyptus trees and this will bring you to a former pier for Lake Hula. It is from here that the villagers went fishing in their fishing boats. There are signs in Hebrew describing the significance of this pier.

 

  • Return the way you came.

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The oven in the Dubrovin Farm

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The old eucalyptus grove on the way to the pier.

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Picture at the pier of the early days of Yesud HaMa'ala.