In 1959, Moshav Amirim was established in the Gallilee by a group of people who wanted a vegetarian lifestyle. Many were Holocaust survivors, and there were even some Seventh Day Adventists in the group. At that time, a vegetarian life style was "shunned" by mainstream Israelis, so that is why they wanted their own community. Before then, 3 different times since independence, a group of Moroccan Jews tried to settle the area, but it was too cold and isolated for them.
It is on a hill on the way to Sfat, with an amazing view of the Kineret and the hills beyond to the Golan Heights.
|View along part of road|
The following is from http://web.archive.org/web/20070126104141/http://www.partner.org.il/kavimut/places-amirim-0107.html
Originally there were about 10 plots of land allocated - about half of them were bachelors, the others families. There were difficult times to start with - such as with poor communication links. Despite being highly idealistic vegetarians, however, the majority of the first inhabitants didn't even know how to grow an onion!
Over the years, there were a lot of visitors to the Moshav - particularly to one of the residents called Gidon. Guests would frequently catch one of the two buses a day to visit him - and then spend so long chatting that they would miss their bus home! This lead to them staying overnight in Amirim and eventually saw (with the support of the Jewish Agency) the building of guest houses. The Jewish Agency was particularly keen to support such activity because there were very few hotels in Israel.
Amirim was in fact the start of the first 'holiday village' in Israel - something which has particularly taken off today with the general expansion of rural bed and breakfasts. Today around 25 families have bed and breakfasts in Amirim with about 120 beds for visitors. Most guest houses are full up every weekend.
Amirim has many holistic and alternative health treatments including Biofeedback therapy, reflexology, shiatsu, different types of massage treatments, aromatherapy, Feldenkries method, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Tarot card reading, reiky, and even beauty saloon and natural cosmetics. Such activities are organised on an individual basis. Amirim itself now has no more new plots for houses - now anyone else who wishes to move there will have to pay exuberant sums of money to buy land or houses. The last plot sold went for something like $1/2 million dollars - a sum unheard of in Israel.
There still, however, remains a committee which vets new residents (as do the Jewish Agency). All new residents have to be vegetarians, non smokers and if married they have to be couples under 35.
There is very little communal activity on the Moshav - they do things like grow their vegetables together! The Moshav does, however, have several communal institutions ranging from a kindergarten to a mikvah (ritual bath - nearly completed) and from a synagogue to a town hall.
We were hungry, so we ate in the first restaurant (Stubbs) as we entered town. It had gotten a good rating in the latest Lonely Planet Israel. The restaurant was Glatt Kosher. The server was a woman about our age. When Howard asked about the level of kashrut, she first asked if we were Jewish before explaining! Then she started to explain that it is harder to be vegetarian kasher in some ways. Everything has to be meticulously checked for insects--lettuce, rice, etc. So the lettuce she buys is 9 shekels a kilo versus 1/3 the price elsewhere--or something like that. So that may explain the higher prices. I had a good quiche. Howard had corn bread and something else. We then drove through town and he got a great latte elsewhere....with a bit more pleasant atmosphere. We did have to hike up a short way to get into the shop, however!
It was a nice place to stop on our drive to Kiryat Shmona for Shabbat with our relatives. It was not that easy to get around...few signs and few people to ask. We saw a few kids on bikes, but as I mentioned earlier, it is not an easy place to walk around.