Glimpses of Israel - Katzrin

by Joseph Hunting

I srael is indeed a land of constant surprises, and the city of Zatzrin on the Golan Heights certainly confirms this. After crossing the fast-flowing River Jordan, from west to east, just to the north of the Sea of Galilee, we climb steadily to the extensive plateau of the Golan Heights. Here we may see miles of former Syrian trench lines and block houses of concrete now largely concealed beneath eucalyptus trees. There are also Israeli war memorials reminding us that this was truly a vast battlefield. Many army establishments there today indicate that this area is still one of the most strategic in the Middle East.

Just near the road to Kuneitra are the remains of an ancient synagogue reminding us that the Golan Heights is indeed part of the Promised Land. It was here in Joshua's day that he declared Golan to be one of the six cities of refuge. Today this area has become a place of refuge of a different kind, with rocket-proof shelters adjoining every home.

On the opposite side of the road from the old synagogue, where there was once a great battlefield, modern Katzrin, a beautifully laid out city now stands in the midst of magnificent gardens. The modern sports centre and the activities of the children and young people indicate that this is now a vibrant part of Israel. Life is here now instead of death and destruction.

A feature of the city is the abundance of flowering trees and rose gardens, specially in spring. Masses of white, yellow and red roses, and trees blossoming in their mauves, pinks and white contrast with brilliant red bottle-brushes -- the result: a magnificent display of colour.

Katzrin is indeed a place of beauty. The view from the pedestrian overpass shows a panorama of colour and the palms and flowers in the median strips seem to be competing with roadside gardens in beauty.

Relics of the ancient synagogue are displayed in the midst of the new cultural centre and its rose gardens -- a reminder that the old and the new hold hands in Israel. God's Word is being fulfilled gloriously: "For the LORD will comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody"