Landau Forest - Ancient Israel & Modern Israel

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Landau Forest lies at the edge of Kiryat Tivon in the Western Galilee, and perpetuates the memory of Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Landau (1882-1928), philosopher, ideologue and leader of the HaPoel HaMizrahi movement.

Landau Forest, which was planted by members of Moshav Sde Yaakov in 1931 on the initiative of KKL-JNF, lies at the edge of Kiryat Tivon and perpetuates the memory of Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Landau (1882-1928), philosopher, ideologue and leader of the HaPoel HaMizrahi movement. Inside the forest, traces of ancient agriculture dating back to historic Beit Shearim can still be seen. The Jewish town reached the height of its prominence in around 170 CE when Rabbi Yehuda Nasi made it the seat of the Sanhedrin. Although he later moved to Tzippori, Yehuda Nasi was buried at Beit Shearim, where a vast Jewish necropolis subsequently developed.

  • How to get there

    To get to Landau Forest, you need to reach the parking lot of the Shomrim (“Guards”) Forest in HaShomrim Street (Rehov HaShomrim), Kiryat Tivon:

    From central Israel: First drive to Yokneam Junction (Route no. 70), and then travel north for around half a kilometer before turning right towards HaShomrim Junction (Route no. 722). Immediately after the entrance to Sde Yaakov turn left and ascend towards Kiryat Tivon’s Ela neighborhood (Shikun Ela), and continue from there to HaShomrim Street.

    From Haifa: Drive to Kiryat Tivon (Route no. 75). HaShomrim Junction lies to the east of Kiryat Tivon. Turn right (Route no. 722) and continue for around a kilometer before turning right again and ascending in the direction of Kiryat Tivon’s Ela neighborhood (Shikun Ela), then continue from there to HaShomrim Street.

    From the north: Drive to Alonim Junction (Route no. 75 from Nazareth, or no. 77 from HaSolelim Junction), and from there continue for around a kilometer until you reach HaShomrim Junction, where you turn left and continue for another kilometer before turning right and ascending towards Kiryat Tivon’s Ela neighborhood (Shikun Ela); continue from there to HaShomrim Street.
  • Geographic location-

    Sea of Galilee - the valleys and lower Galilee,Western Galilee and Mount Carmel
  • Area-

  • Special Sites in the Park-

    The Early Zionist Settlement Footpath.
  • Facilities-

    Lookout, Marked path, Accessible site, Memorial.
  • Other sites in the area-

    Kiryat Tivon, Yokneam, Sde Yaakov, Alonim Junction.
  • Type of parking-

    Picnic parks
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks,Lookouts

Projects and Partners Worldwide

Jordan Park was rehabilitated and developed thanks to a contribution from friends of KKL-JNF worldwide.

About the forest

The hill on which Landau Forest stands retains traces of the ancient agriculture of Beit Shearim, mainly in the form of agricultural appliances for farm production, which have been hewn into the rock. Beit Shearim reached the height of its prominence when Rabbi Yehuda Nasi made it the seat of the Sanhedrin in around 170 CE. Although he later moved to Tzippori, his body was returned to Beit Shearim for burial, inaugurating the creation of a vast Jewish necropolis. After KKL-JNF acquired the Beit Shearim lands the area was settled in 1924 by Yablona, Kozhnitz and other Hasidim who had emigrated from Poland. Although they founded the communities of Nahalat Yaakov and Zikhron Avraham, these settlers were unable to tolerate the local conditions and the recurrent attacks of malaria they entailed, and they eventually moved on to found Kfar Hasidim.
A memorial in Landau Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.

The Religious Settlement Trail

In 2004-5 KKL-JNF created this forest footpath in honor of the pioneers of HaPoel HaMizrahi. The route descends from HaShomrim Forest’s parking lot, and after a downward flight of steps, we turn right on to a path that makes its way among Jerusalem pines and carob trees planted by KKL-JNF and natural Tabor oak woodland native to the area. Also growing here are snowdrop bushes (Styrax officinalis), spiny hawthorn, Palestine pistachio trees and Mediterranean buckthorn (Rhamnus lycioides). Syrian marjoram (Origanum syriacum) and white-leaved savory (Micromeria fruticosa) grow among the rocks, and in winter the slope is covered with flowering anemones and cyclamen. The entire path is bordered by ancient agricultural devices hewn into the rock.

After some 200 meters the footpath reaches a dirt road where we turn right and walk downhill. After another hundred meters or so the path turns right again, leading downhill through a mixture of native woodland and planted forest trees. The path leads to the large oak tree in the Kiryat Tivon cemetery parking lot, and from there it skirts the cemetery and leads us up a flight of steps heading back towards HaShomrim Forest.

Here we recommend continuing straight ahead. KKL-JNF has provided a recreation area at this point, complete with disabled-accessible playground equipment. At the eastern edge of the forest is a delightful scenic lookout dedicated to the memory of Haim Shimon and Pesha Alpert, providing a view of Kiryat Tivon, the Nazareth Hills, Givat HaMoreh, Mount Gilboa and the Jezreel Valley. Below the lookout the houses of Moshav Sde Yaakov can be clearly seen.
A picnic area. Photo: Yaakon Shkolnik
A picnic area. Photo: Yaakon Shkolnik
At this point, it’s worth leaving the forest and going out on to the road. At the junction of HaShomrim Street and Jezreel (Yizrael) Street a monument in a park marks the spot where Alexander Zaid (1886-1938) of HaShomer (“The Watchman,” i.e., the pre-State Jewish defense organization) was murdered while on his way to the temporary settlement of nearby Kibbutz Alonim. A sign near the memorial marks the spot where his murderers lay in wait for him. On the other side of HaShomrim Street is the entrance to the cemetery where members of HaShomer, including Zaid himself, are buried. The grave markers are made from unhewn stone and the place has an atmosphere that is all its own.

In 1926 a group called Kvutzat HaRo‘im (“The Band of Shepherds”) settled here in an attempt to found a herders’ village. This romantic project attracted people from Tel Aviv, including the poet Alexander Penn, who composed some of his finest works here. After a number of failed attempts, however, the shepherds abandoned the Beit Shearim hills and Alexander Zaid remained alone at the site until his murder in 1938.

In 1927 Sde Yaakov, the first HaPoel HaMizrahi moshav, was established in the Jezreel Valley. Its founders, pioneering farmers imbued with a love of the Land and the Torah, had settled initially on Mount Beit Shearim before moving to the Jezreel Valley, just below the site they inhabit today. The moshav is named after Rabbi Yitzhak Yaakov Reines, the founder of HaPoel HaMizrahi.


HaPoel HaMizrahi

HaPoel HaMizrahi founded 8 communities prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, and another 97 communities after the War of Independence, including 18 in Gush Katif. Its values are those of the Torah, combined with cooperative labor, pioneering settlement and educating the young generation in altruism, love of the Land and love of the Torah.
Photo: Tomer Noiberg
Photo: Tomer Noiberg

Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Landau – The ShaHaL

“Torah VaAvoda – both share a common source, spirit and thought,” declared Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Landau, who was born in 1892 to a Hasidic family in Poland and was also known by the Hebrew acronym of his name The ShaHaL (“the Young Lion”). From an early age he combined religious study with public and journalistic activities within the Mizrahi movement, and was editor of two newspapers, HaMizrah and HaKedem.

Between 1922 and 1925 he coordinated management of Tze‘iri HaMizrahi (“The Mizrahi Youngsters”) and established a training farm for those preparing to immigrate to Israel. He regarded HaMizrahi as a national religious renaissance movement inspired by the Jewish prophets, and in this context he coined the expression “holy rebellion,” to refer to revolt against the existing social order of the Diaspora and its replacement with a just and productive society.

When HaPoel HaMizrahi was founded in 1922, Rabbi Landau became the movement’s ideologue and political leader. He immigrated to Israel in 1926, settled in Jerusalem and was highly esteemed even by other Zionist movements whose members’ beliefs had little to do with the Torah or mitzvot. He strove to unite the two factions within HaPoel HaMizrahi into a single movement and to combine the Histadrut health maintenance organization with that of HaPoel HaMizrahi. Although Rabbi Landau died prematurely of illness at the age of thirty-six, he left a legacy of extensive writings and Zionist activism inspired by Jewish tradition.

The Religious Settlement Trail was inaugurated on the 80th anniversary of the death of this prominent religious Zionist leader.