118 Steps To A Pioneer’s House
When Yehoshua Hankin purchased the Jezreel Valley in 1920, he added a codicil that gave him the right to both live and die somewhere in its midst. What made this rider to the contract so strange was the fact that, at the time, there was absolutely nothing in the valley except swamps, mosquitoes and malaria – and beyond the swamps desolate, barren land. Yet somehow Hankin had known that one day this region would be fertile and full of life.
In 1936 the Hankins began building a house on the northern slopes of the Gilboa Mountains, where they would have a breathtaking view of the Jezreel Valley. Unfortunately, although the couple had hoped to spend their golden years there, Olga became ill and they never even got a chance to set up housekeeping.
Olga passed away in 1942. Hankin, who had been impressed with the fabulous Jewish burial caves at Beit Shearim, designed a similar tomb for his wife and buried her inside. Both house and tomb are located today inside Ma’ayan Harod National Park, one of the most beautiful spots in Israel. Its cave and spring were known to the ancients and are well-documented in the Bible; more recently, it was the site of a decisive battle between the Mamelukes who controlled Israel in the 13th century and the invading Mongolian army. And it boasts an exquisite swimming pool fed by fresh spring water.
Ma’ayan Harod is located on Highway 71 between Beit She’an and Afula. Winter visitors can’t swim in the pool – but their entrance fee is cut in half.