Save Emek Ha’lavan the Beautiful White valley
Emek Ha’lavan (the White Valley) is one of the most fascinating natural beautiful sites in Jerusalem. It is called the White Valley because of the many beautiful wild almond trees that grow here that make it appear white when the almonds are in full bloom. The almond tree usually blooms around TuB’Shvat the New Year for Trees when spring begins in Israel. This is usually in January or February according to the Hebrew calendar and is the time when sap begins to flow in the trees. Emek halavan is also home to a natural freshwater spring and pool mayan lavan, archeological ruins from both the First and Second Temple periods, a JNF Forest and a plethora of wild plants and wildlife. Emek halavan is a popular venue for horseback riders and hikers. It is located in southwest Jerusalem and borders on Moshav Ora, Kiryat Menachem and Givat Masua.
Terraces over 3000 Years Old
On the slopes of Emek Halavan are terraces that are over 3000 years old that date back to the time of the First Temple period. These ancient terraced slopes are graced with grapevines, almond, fig, sumac, olive trees and countless numbers of wildflowers and herbs like marjoram za’atar, thyme, chamomile, hollyhocks and more. In the spring there are all kinds of bulb flowers like the tiny muscari hyacinth, narkis daffodils, orchids, cyclamens and anemones. Before the new road was built, walking down the slopes of Emek halavan took you into a world of total silence far away from the noise of traffic.
Ancient Winery from time of King Hezekiah
In fact, a rare kind of sage plant salvia indica is found here near the ruins of an ancient winery. The winery is believed to be where the wine for the First Temple was made during the time of King Hezekiah Hizkiyahu hamelech. Archeologists have found handles of jars stamped with the royal seal of King Hezekiah. Ancient burial caves from the time of the First Temple period have also been found here.
King Hezekiah’s Book of Remedies for every Disease
King Hezekiah is believed to have had a book of remedies to cure every disease. Some believe King Hezekiah hid it away because he wanted people to believe in the LORD G-D alone for curing illnesses. However, King Hezekiah was saved from death by G-D and cured of a fatal infection with figs. As King Hezekiah lay dying of a very bad infection, he wept to G-D and G-D took pity on him. G-D spoke to King Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah who told the king that he would not die, but would live for another 15 years. Then God instructed Isaiah to have a cake of figs laid on Hezekiah’s boils and the king was healed.
Go back, and say to Hezekiah the
Ruler of My people: Thus saith the
LORD, the God of David thy father: I
have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy
tears; behold, I will heal thee; on the
third day thou shalt go up unto the
house of the LORD.
And I will add
unto thy days fifteen years; and I will
deliver thee and this city out of the
hand of the king of Assyria; and I will
defend this city for Mine own sake,
and for My servant David’s sake.’
And Isaiah said: ‘Take a cake of figs.’
And they took and laid it on the boil,
and he recovered (2 Kings 20:5-7).
Figs and dried figs have many healthful properties. Scientific studies have even shown anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties of fig leaves. However, some propose that the greenish blue penicillin mold that grows on oranges, melons and other fruits also grows on figs and King Hezekiah may have been cured by penicillin.
King Hezekiah’s book of healing remedies has been lost to us and most believe that it was destroyed or carried off by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezer, who razed the Temple in Jerusalem and carried the Jewish people off to exile in Babylon. If only we could find it!
Developers want to Build New Neighborhoods on the Lavan Ridge
Unfortunately, Emek halavan has always been a place coveted by developers who want to build new neighborhoods there around the Lavan Ridge. However, until now environmentalists, nature lovers and residents of surrounding neighborhoods have succeeded in stopping this. In fact, urban renewal projects in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood that borders on Emek Halavan call for many old buildings to be torn down and replaced by new high rise buildings (not higher than 30 floors). The idea being that instead of new neighborhoods carved out of one of the last remaining natural and pristine sites in Jerusalem, room can be found instead for new residents in existing neighborhoods by building upwards rather than outwards.
Plan to Build Apartments on the Reches Lavan Ridge
However, a plan has been approved that will build 5,250 new apartments in buildings from five to 12 stories high on the Reches Lavan Ridge that surrounds Emek Halavan. If this is not enough there are also plans to build 300 hotel rooms and a new 4-lane highway that will cut through this area. Demonstrations have been held in spite of the coronavirus lockdown. In order to do these things 11,000 trees will be cut down. This will greatly destroy the relatively clean fresh air that is now found in these adjoining neighborhoods. There will be an enormous increase in traffic and without all of these blessed trees, air will become polluted and this will no longer be a healthy place to live. Demonstrations have been held and there is growing opposition to this plan to build unnecessary housing on the Lavan Ridge. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) is asking for this area to be a national park for the springs and hills of Jerusalem and are accepting donations towards funding the legal expenses for this cause. The Sustainable Jerusalem Lobby is also taking a major role in opposing the destruction of the Lavan Ridge and you can volunteer, join, intern or donate by contacting the Jerusalem Green Fund.
The main thing is to preserve Jerusalem’s mountains and forests. If Emek Halavan is destroyed, air pollution and warming will increase. As it is, the air in the Jerusalem mountains and hills is wonderful thanks to the forests. Also, who knows what other archeological wonders may be found here? Last, but not least, some of the rare plants found only here that may have healing properties may become extinct.