"We just finished preparing the house for Passover, and now we’re taking a vacation."

Tsvi Yehuda

Location: Tel Dan Nature Reserve

Residence: Kfar Haro’eh, near Hadera

Age: 38

The encounter: I visited the Tel Dan nature park with my family just before the Passover holiday. We wanted to see the archeological remains of the biblical city of Dan, one of the oldest human settlements in the area. The park is a lush botanical garden, fed by the waters of the Dan River, which also supplied the ancient city of Dan. When I talked to Tsvi, I was surprised that someone who describes himself as an ultra-orthodox Zionist, aideological movement in Israel that combines the fervor of Religious Zionism with the conservatism of ultra-orthodoxy, showed no interest in the biblical significance of the place. He and his family were enjoying the fresh-water streams in the park, but hadn’t bothered to walk to the archeological site, a few hundred meters away.

What are you doing here right now?
We just finished preparing the house for Passover, and now we’re taking a vacation. We came to Tel Dan to enjoy the water.

What is your occupation?
I teach at a yeshiva.

Can you tell me a bit about your family?
My wife and I have four children, so far....

Where is your family from?
My parents were born in Israel, but my grandparents are from Europe. I don’t know exactly where they came from... Maybe Romania? Or Poland? They moved around because of the Holocaust. I grew up without grandparents, so I never asked. I don’t think my parents know either.

How do you describe your religious or national identity?
I’m an ultra-orthodox Zionist [Chardali]. We are a relatively new movement. What happened was that some rabbis in the Religious Zionist movement decided they wanted to promote stricter observance: more conservative standards of modesty, not watching television – things like that. We are basically returning to the original values of Rabbi Kook, the founder of the Religious Zionist movement. Many people are not aware of it, but Rabbi Kook himself was ultra-orthodox. Just look at the pictures of him! You'll see he is dressed as an ultra-orthodox Jew.

What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I hope everyone will love each other and that there will be no more hatred and disagreement among Jews. I expect salvation: soon the messiah will come to rebuild the temple. It can happen any time now! Until then, we’ll have to work hard.