Gal explains the secrets of the rose garden at Floroz Nursery and (below) blooming roses grown there

Story and photos by Suzanne Naimer

On a beautiful October morning, a group eager to learn more about the environs of Modiin set off for a tour to Kfar Hashmonai at Moshav Shilat, a re-creation of a typical village from Hasmonean times built and operated by Zohar Bar-Am. Zohar is a guide, geographer, historian and raconteur par excellence. He welcomed us with a big smile and light refreshments and treated us to a detailed personal history from which his great love of Israel and, in particular the Modiin area, was evident. 

Zohar, who many years ago also discovered the Graves of the Maccabees, not far from Shilat, has researched the Modiin area in depth and recreated the village to ensure that historic sites are preserved and the heritage and culture not forgotten.

Kfar Hashmonai has four main sections which house the many artifacts and ancient agricultural tools that Zohar has collected over the years from neighboring countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and even Italy. All are displayed in an environment reflective of the historical period to which they belong. With reconstructed residential buildings including a permanent exhibition, an ancient synagogue, a mikveh ritual bath, olive and grape presses and a collection of antique chanukiahs, there wasn’t time to see all of the delights of the Hasmonean Village.


A demonstration workshop of authentic Hasmonean coin-making was a fun addition to the tour and everyone left with a small souvenir coin. Kfar Hashmonai is definitely worth a visit, and is a special delight around Chanukah time when the village comes alive, propelling visitors back to ancient times.

The tour continued on to the Floroz Nursery and Florist, located at the main Shilat junction. This family-run business was a pure joy to behold, from the beautiful rose nursery to the packing house to the stunning displays available for purchase in the shop. We were met by Gal, whose parents founded the nursery many decades ago and who regaled us with facts and figures about the promulgation of roses, their export, sales, flower arrangements and international training program.

An experienced professional from every standpoint – even though he is relatively young, informal and easy-going - Gal taught us about the delicacy of growing and pruning roses, the various species, the importance of their length (the longer, the more expensive), how to keep them fresh (cut stems at an angle every two days), and why roses no longer smell like roses (genetically engineered so as not to attract insects and disease).

He proceeded to delve into what makes a good bouquet or flower arrangement, how they train Thai flower workers in the craft and their ongoing relationship with flower-growers in Holland - Floroz has an internationally recognized student exchange program. After his fascinating presentation which provided us with a huge amount of helpful information, Gal patiently answered all of our questions.

Modiin Co-Chair Cynthia Barmor (front) and Zohar Bar-Am (left) with ESRA group at Kfar Hashmonai

Floroz proved to be a very colorful contrast to Kfar Hashmonai, and both contributed to making the half-day tour a very enjoyable experience for everyone. Funds raised will benefit Neve ESRA, Modiin’s afternoon care center for children at risk.

ESRA Modiin is planning more local tours in the future. The next one is in December, and will include a visit to the Ramon Air Force Base and Mitzpe Ramon Visitors Center.



This is how heroes of the Hanukah story lived. Left: Reconstructed desert dwellings and right: Reconstructed Hashmonean dwelling.



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