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Dates, The Galilee’s Golden Wonder: History, Zionism & Health

Sweet and energizing, this fruit is inherently part of Israel’s DNA

During Biblical times, seven food species nourished the people of Israel - staple foods that injected sweetness, sustenance and holiness into G-d’s chosen people. As such, the Land of Israel is described in the book of Deuteronomy (8:8) as “A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey.” Date honey, that is. Sweet date syrup or molasses, known today as Silan. But aside from its soft, syrupy flavor, what makes the date so special? Why has this particular fruit gone on, throughout the ages, to become a Galilee region specialty, and a symbol of the Zionist dream?

Fun fact

Did you know that there are over 3,000 varieties of dates around the world? It’s true. Most of the world’s date production takes place in the Middle East, with Israel’s Galilee region being a particular sweet spot.

A symbol of the Jewish people

Dates grow on palm trees, a plant that gives no waste. Its fronds and fibers can be used to create shelters, its hearts form the “lulav,” used in prayer during the festival of Sukkot, and its fruit, the date, is eaten, instantly energizing those who place it in their mouth. As such, it is quite apt that scholars compare the people of Israel to the humble date - Jews historically “have no waste,” combining religious practice with worldly endeavors, sustaining themselves physically and spiritually, as the Bible commands (Genesis Rabbah, 41). And just like the date, which can transform into a variety of forms - date molasses, date honey, date syrup, etc., while retaining their identity and integrity the Jewish people has historically integrated within societies around the world, without fully assimilating and losing their true sense of Yiddishkeit.

A compass that always points to home

According to the proprietors of Kinneret Dates, the humble date historically served as an “amulet” by pioneers like Ben-Zion Israeli, who traveled via Beirut, Damascus, and Iran, making their way between the historic Tigris and Euphrates rivers into Iraq, with the sole goal of locating coveted date palm offshoots. Their dream: bringing this special species back to the Land of Israel, after years of it being exiled from the Holy Land during the Babylonian exile, just like the Jewish people. No danger or winding route through hostile territory was too daunting for these brave souls, who smuggled the dates back into Israel after crossing multiple enemy borders and risking their lives many a time. Upon their return, the pioneers headed straight for the garden of Rachel the Poetess, where they planted the date plant offshoots, and watched as they took root and began spread into the valley along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where the plant and its fruit continues to thrive to this day.

True Zionist legend, determination and resilience that led to sweet, syrupy success.

#3 - Galilee Green

Galilee Green is on a mission to “build a warm relationship between those who love and support Israel and the people of the Galilee who have returned to the Biblical Land of Israel” by producing and distributing Galilee-pressed olive oil and exclusive content about the Land of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Bounty of Israel to customers across the country. Their signature oil is a blend of Barnea, Coratina and Koroneiki olives, creating a smooth and mild oil that leaves the palate with a slight peppery tang and fills the nose with delicate, fruity aroma. For more information, contact Galilee Green by filling out a form on their website: https://galileegreen.com/contact/.

#4 - Sindyanna of Galilee

Sindyanna of Galilee is a female-led non-profit organization that brings together local Arab and Jewish women who, together, produce boutique olive oils and other gourmet food products from their Galilee-region center in Kana, located near Nazareth. Established in 1996, Sindyanna of Galilee is Israel’s only certified fair-trade olive oil producer that fosters peaceful co-existence as an operational goal, actively achieving a “business for peace” goal. What’s more, their products have won international and local awards for quality, flavor and excellence. For more information, contact Sindyanna of Galilee by phone: 04-6516784, or via e-mail: sindyanna@sindyan.org.il.

4 dates a day keep the doctor away

Dates have been known and beloved to mankind for centuries - since ancient times. They are chock-full of nutrients; so much so, that it is thought that eating 4 to 6 dates a day provides the human body with enough essential amino acids, protein, and other necessary nutrients to keep you going for the day. How so? Dates contain 23 types of amino acids that simply cannot be found in other fruits. That being said, dried dates also contain 60% sugar, which is extremely high and concentrated when taking into account how small each fruit is. In fact, dates contain the highest percentage of sugar per fruit unit, than any other fruit you’ll find in the market. That being said, the high sugar content mostly comes from natural fructose and glucose, which, is a safer, healthier sugar source than, say sucrose and provides an instant energy boost.

Dates are also known to help to strengthen various organs and functions within the human body, aid the body in its fight against anemia, hypertension and different infections, including viruses. They contain significant amounts of dietary fiber and potassium and can help pregnant and nursing women with their birthing and lactation processes.

Bottom line

Medjool, Barhi and Dayri. Halawy, Deglet Noor, and more. The date is a splendid fruit rich in varieties, Zionist history, religious significance and health benefits. It’s no wonder this tiny fruit is considered a “golden wonder” in the Middle East.

Want to discover how you can enhance your diet with dates grown in the Galilee? Click here to discover the succulent Galilee’s Delicacy silan (date syrup) products, today!

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