Naharayim at Gesher – a Place to Remember

November 18, 2018

Gesher = Bridge in English

At the end of a winding road, passing through fields, date plantations and fish ponds, and facing the Gilead Mountains, lies a hidden gem.

This is a strategic point by the banks of the Jordan River, with three impressive ancient bridges left to us by 3 empires that ruled the Holy Land in the past: a Roman bridge, a Turkish bridge and a British bridge.

 

 

Here, we can witness two main historical stories of visionaries and determination

The first is the story of the pioneers who decided to settle here and build a Kibbutz in 1939, before the establishment of the State of Israel. Determined to conquer the wilderness, to set up a kibbutz, a fertile farm and a future generation, they did not allow the distance and isolation or the heavy heat to bend their spirits. Kibbutz Gesher was established. Almost ten years later, the kibbutz was at the center of the threat of invasion by the Jordanian Legion and the Iraqi army in their attempt to break into the heart of the country. Large forces of infantry, armor and artillery surrounded the small kibbutz. But the strength of those who created “nothing out of nothing” was inexhaustible and thanks to their courage and strength, the enemy retreated after a difficult battle. After the war, the Kibbutz moved to another area and it still exist today.

Today we can visit the houses of the Old Gesher Kibbutz, including the old children house, the underground bunker and the old bakery where you can still bake bread (there are baking workshops available for groups).

 

The second is a story about a man named Pinchas Rutenberg that established a hydroelectric plant on the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers in 1930. Here you can see an amazing and moving film about the man, the legend, the vision and its fulfillment, and the ‘death’ of an outstanding project.

Pinhas Rutenberg, a Russian-born Zionist and engineer immigrated to Palestine in 1919. After submitting a plan to the Zionist movement for the establishment of 13 hydroelectric power stations and securing financing for the plan, he was awarded a concession from the British Mandatory government to generate electricity, first from the Yarkon River near Tel Aviv, and shortly thereafter, utilizing all the running water in western Palestine.

Naharayim is part of 6,000 dunams sold to the Palestine Electric Corporation (PEC) run by Pinhas Rutenberg. The Naharayim site was chosen for the strong water flow and the possibility of regulating the flow through storage in the Sea of Galilee during the winter rainy season and release of the water reserves in the summer. Construction began in 1927 and continued for five years, providing employment for 3,000 workers. The site was named Naharayim, Hebrew for “Two Rivers.”

 

Another option for groups here is crossing the border fence (in coordination with the IDF) and arrive at the border that crosses the Jordan River. Enter the Mamluk Inn (dated from the 14th century) and observe the 3 ancient bridges.