It is always a challenge to find new interesting things to do close to Jerusalem on a Friday and of course every day trip has to include yummy food.
As this week is Yom Hashoah, we decided to head to the Martyrs Forest in the Jerusalem hills. This KKL forest includes six million trees as a memorial to the Jews killed in the Holocaust.
At the heart of the forest is the Scrolls of Fire memorial, created by sculptor Nathan Rapaport, a Holocaust survivor who also designed the monument in the Warsaw Ghetto and several sculptures in Yad Vashem.
The scenery on the drive was beautiful, especially in the spring while everything is still so green. There is a signpost to the Scrolls of Fire from road 395 near Kisalon or here is the link for Waze. You can park directly next to the memorial and the access road is suitable for all vehicles.
The memorial was not only a beautiful piece of art, but it was also thought-provoking and you can walk inside the scrolls which was eerily silent.
Our second stop was the Anne Frank Memorial which is also in the Martyrs Forest but about 15-20 minutes drive from the first stop, this was less well signposted so here is the link for Waze. Again the memorial can be accessed by car but it is also a lovely place to take a walk/hike.
This memorial was a gift from KKL-JNF Holland and is a sculpture created by Dutch Holocaust survivor Piet Cohen. It is in the form of a room made of rusted steel with a stool in one corner, from where the viewer can see an engraved image of the famed chestnut tree which Anne Frank wrote about in her diary. The memorial is also surrounded by quotes from Anne Frank’s diary.
After a morning of remembrance and exploring, it was time for lunch so we headed to Derech Hagefen, a favorite with all the family. For those who don’t know it, Derech Hagefen is a picturesque dairy restaurant in Moshav Beit Zayit, which is about 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem. The restaurant is set in the grounds of a garden nursery and includes tables inside two large conservatories, as well as outside in the gardens.
Luckily they take reservations on a Friday and although the restaurant was busy, it was not overly packed. Breakfast is only served until 12, even on a Friday and we got there later, but the main menu has plenty of delicious options. We all chose different dishes so I was able to try a bit of everything. I was in the mood for fish and had a very well cooked and generous portion of Grilled Sea Bass (NIS 105) served with potato gnocchi, carrots, Portobello mushrooms and green beans in a turmeric and caper butter sauce. I loved the gnocchi and the vegetables but I am not sure turmeric sauce worked so well with the delicate taste of the sea bass.
The rest of my family went for pasta dishes and were all very happy with their choices – particularly the Gnocchi with Asparagus and Chestnuts (NIS 65) and the Tortellini Porcini (NIS 66) which were both beautifully presented.
For dessert, we shared a large slice of Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream, as well as some very rich and creamy Chocolate Truffles (NIS 15).
Derech Hagefen is a great place to go both during the day and at night and the food and service are always very good. They were also pretty helpful with our requests to have certain dishes to accommodate food intolerances.