Situated along the banks of the Jordan River, in the Beit Shean Valley south of the Sea of Galilee, lays old Kibbutz Gesher. Yet, embedded below the surface of these banks also lies a history of a nation and a story of a people. The River Jordan officially serves as the border between Israel and Jordan in this area, so at the time of the establishment of the state of Israel the kibbutz constituted a “gateway” into the country from Jordan. The Kibbutz was held under siege in the 1948 War of Independence and was almost completely destroyed by the onslaught from the Jordanian Arab Legion. Kibbutz Gesher survived however, and remains a thriving community of 500 people.
Visiting Kibbutz Gesher
Today the original bunkers where Jewish fighters fought to defend their settlement and new country during the 1948 War of Independence, have been renovated into a visitor center. Inside contains information and documentaries about the original pioneers’ struggle for their home.
Yet, Gesher will interest more than simply the avid historian. This is the only place on the 200 kilometer length, from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, with access across the border onto the banks of the Jordan River. In addition, a short walk down to the river will lead you pass the 14th century Mamluk Inn and three impressive bridges – the Mamluk bridge, the Roman Bridge and the British Bridge. At the water’s edge is an observation point with a view of Jordan’s distant hills and a chance to absorb the serenity of the place.
Still intact on the site of old Gesher is the kibbutz’s original brick oven which has been intact since 1924. Having explored the region’s history and geography partaking in the ‘Legend of the Bread’ workshop will provide an enjoyable end to a visit here. It is especially recommended for families and large groups. Having put on an apron and chef’s hat participants are able to bake and taste their very own fresh focaccia bread served with local produce including a variety of roasted vegetables, pesto and tapenade.
Sundays – Thursday: 10:00 – 16:00; Fridays, Saturdays & eve of Holidays: 09:00 – 14:00.
‘Legend of the Bread’ workshop is open Sundays – Thursdays.
Tour of the underground bunker and the Jordan River costs 30 NIS (adults)
‘Legend of the Bread’ workshop costs 30 NIS per participant.