My name is Shem Tov Sasson (translated from Hebrew to Good Name Happiness – hence the blog’s name). I am 21 years of age now and was born in Seattle. I grew up in both Detroit and Miami before moving to the Holy Land in 2009.
Currently I reside in Northern Israel in a small city by the name of Ma’alot, awaiting my upcoming army service. These are the voyages and experiences of myself in this great land. I do hope you enjoy!
Yesterday, I went, for my very first time, to the Upper Golan. I accompanied Boruch Len, a master of photography, and we set forth to explore (and document) some of the Golan’s grandeur.
The first place on our list was the huge Nimrod Fortress, an old castle built over a 46-year span in the mid 13th century by the local ruling Arabs (construction was started by the nephew of Saladin – the arch-enemy of the Crusaders).
The Nimrod Fortress happens to be the largest Crusade-era fortress/castle in Israel and was used in the filming of the Academy award-nominated film Beaufort, replacing the actual Beaufort castle which is in Lebanon, out of reach for Israeli filmmakers.
Just to point out, this was a trip heavily influenced by photography – however, the weather made consistent photography tricky.
The clouds and sun played their games throughout the day and so the following pictures will appear as if taken on separate days but have really been simply subjected to finicky weather.
We started the tour just minutes after a large group of school-children so we decided to circle the fortress in reverse. That decision ended up reaping rewards as each place we went to was even more fascinating than the last.
In the first hour or so, we walked up from the West side (where parking is) to the East side – the higher but less intricate section of the castle.
The East side was the part first built and gave us a great view of the high mountains surrounding, and obscuring, Mount Hermon. Here we saw a glimpse of Hermon, the snow already melting.
Descending to the “dip” of the fortress, we found a few interesting rooms, each one better than the next. The old, thick stone outside walls had tons of “archery ports” – with those slits for shooting down on invaders.
We spent many minutes snapping pictures of the various angles, trying to capture the best photo possible – each with our respective cameras (Boruch Len – fancy SLR with multiple lenses / me – run-of-the-mill-but-kinda-heavy-on-the-features Fujifilm digital camera).
The ceremonial hall was not the only thing interesting on the West side. Soon we came across the Large Reservoir, alive in a flurry of chirping and cooing birds.
And before I end this post, the first of three that will cover this exciting day, here is a picture of me posing in a beautiful stone doorway – a proof that I was there:
Article and Photography by Shem Tov Sasson
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