The pastoral settlement of Shavei Zion dwells on the sea-shore between Acre and Nahariya. The settlement was established in 1938 by a group of new immigrants from Germany, under the Homa Umigdal (Stockade and Tower) settlement project.
A tour at Shavei Zion takes visitors on a time-tunnel journey to the early settlement days of the year 1938; combines a battle heritage story: a visit to the monument commemorating the navy commando disaster (11 navy commandos killed in an ambush); as well as recreational activity that includes a walk along the coastline from Shavei Zion to Nahariya or some leisure time on the settlement’s beautiful, authorized beach. Visitors may travel alone or join an organized tour, free of charge, guided by Judy, the settlement’s archive director, who incorporates in the tour fascinating stories about the early settlers and their life-style.
The tour begins at the entrance to Shavei Zion where a house with a watchtower stands. This house was the first to be built in Shavei Zion. It served as a Hagana headquarters and a guards’ station, and is presently used as the settlement’s archive. Facing it, in a place that currently houses a restaurant and a pub, stood in the past the carpentry shop, the bakery and the milk distribution point.
The next stop on the tour is the founders’ shed. This shed was the first one used by the settlers for residence. Inside the shed visitors can see a model recreating the settlement during the days of Homa Umigdal, photographs from the Homa Umigdal establishment days, a photograph of Shavei Zion fishermen, when fishing was one of the settlement’s businesses, pictures of the first children at Lilly’s kindergarten, the first pupils with the teachers Ze’ev and Margalit, photographs of the founders as well as photographs of the flute band and the choir.
From the Founders’ Shed, the tour continues to the near-by synagogue; an exact replica of the synagogue that stood in the town of Rexingen, near Stuttgart, from whence the founders immigrated to Israel. The Rexingen synagogue was burnt to the ground on the Krystalnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) and the only surviving brand plucked from the fire is a Scroll of the Torah placed in the “Rexingen Room” at the local community center serving as a commemoration site for the town, whose entire Jewish community, excluding those who immigrated to Israel and established Shavei Zion, died in the holocaust.
After visiting the Rexingen Room and the wall commemorating those who died in the holocaust, the tour returns to the synagogue and the adjacent building of the first school and the kindergarten, currently used as the settlement’s offices.
The next stop is Beit (House of) Yehoshua and the archeological garden. The garden comprises milestones from the Roman period, a relic of an oil press from Beit-Ha’emek Stream, agricultural tools, a byzantine church grille and an oil-press drainage basin. At the house, named after Yehoshua Marks who was born in Shavei Zion and killed during the war of independence, an exhibition of photographs from the founders’ days is held.
A few minutes away from Beit Yehoshua, dwells the local cemetery where seven of the fighters killed during the Acre Prison Break are buried. Shavei Zion was the only community that agreed to bury them on their premises, after other communities refused to do so. From the cemetery the tour continues towards the seashore. There, on a high mound above the sea, stand the remains of a Byzantine church; these consist of pillars overlooking the sea and a beautiful mosaic floor.
Visitors may end the trip here in two independent ways; those who wish to continue touring, are invited for a walk from Shavei Zion to Nahariya. A sandstone pathway rising above the sea passes along the Beit Ha’emek Stream and joins the Nahariya promenade. It is a lovely route alongside the sea. We recommend stopping at Beit Ha’emek Stream, a habitat for several types of animals and birds; ichneumons and turtles. The tour may also end with recreation on the beautiful, embayed, authorized coast of Shavei Zion. The beach premises offer rescue services, chairs, sunshades and a bar.