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A Lookout of Hope

View from the Lookout

In the Upper Galilee, on the lower eastern slopes of Mt. Kna'an (Canaan), nestles Rosh Pina This picturesque, small town founded in 1882, stands as a testament to the foresight, enterprise and tenacity of the early pioneers who helped lay the foundations of the modern State of Israel.

Steeped in history, the town is dotted with interesting historical sites. Walking up the steep hill from the main road, you encounter the Baron's Park that marks the beginning of the old, original neighborhood and named in honor of Baron Rothschild the settlement's early benefactor. Continuing upwards along the walking path, you can visit the home of Professor Mer who searched for a solution to the problem of malaria that plagued the early settlers in the swampy Hula valley. Still higher up is the synagogue, Rosh Pina's first public building, now restored and in use.

Ascending further, you enter the first street of the settlement, the cobbled Hanadiv Street that leads up to the highest point in the town: the Nimrod Lookout: a magnificent observation terrace that stands at an elevation of 500 meters, overlooking the town and commanding a clear view of the Hula valley, the Golan Heights to the east and Mount Hermon to the north. 

Nimrod’s portrait on the path leading to the terrace’s entrance 

Named after Nimrod Segev, this gem of tranquility and beauty tells a story of selflessness, sacrifice, loss, grief, love and affirmation.

Nimrod, a fourth generation born and raised in Rosh Pina was imbued with a deep love of nature and the landscape. Growing up, wandering freely in the village and surrounding countryside he developed an intimate knowledge of and attachment to them both. At the age of 25, he married Iris, the love of his life, who had brought with her little Vicky from a previous marriage. Nimrod adopted and loved her as his own and soon she was joined by a baby brother Omer.

After matriculating and after completing army service, he left the small town to study at and graduate with a degree in computer engineering at the Microsoft College in Herzliya. The small family then moved to the city of Ramat Gan from where he commuted to and worked as a valued employee at the corporation's center in Raanana and where his charm and warmth endeared him to all. At weekends they would return to visit his parents and reconnect with the countryside of his birthplace. His father Hezi recalls how Nimrod would stop the car to listen to the trickling of the stream that ran near their house, shake off the dust of the city and inhale the special atmosphere of the Galilee.

In March 1996, Nimrod was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces and served in the armored corps. In the Second Lebanon War whilst serving in the reserves, he was called up. On the 9th August 2006, while protecting his village, his parents' home and the countryside he loved so much, his tank that was providing cover for bulldozers paving a route near the Lebanese village of Eitah ah-Shaab struck a roadside bomb and seconds later was hit by an anti-tank missile. Nimrod and his tank crew of Gilad Shtukelman, Nir Cohen and Noam Goldman were all killed. Nimrod was 28 years old.

The loss of a child is inconsolable and there is no salve for the wounds of grief and pain that do not heal with the passing of years. Hezi was determined to commemorate Nimrod's name, to create a memorial to perpetuate his son's legacy and pass it on for future generations. An especially beloved place for Nimrod was a high vantage point above the town where, in his youth, he would come with his horse, sit in the shade of the trees, lookout over the valley and enjoy the solitude and the silence. It was there that Hezi decided to create the memorial.

The project was challenging. Being a private one, it would demand funding and the investment of much time and labor. Hezi was undeterred and set to work. With the help of volunteers and the generosity of donors, especially one from Canada who wished to remain anonymous, the site was completed in 2010.

Today, Nimrod Lookout is a jewel in the crown of Rosh Pina. It boasts a magnificent observation terrace complete with a telescope, lighting, a computerized voice telling stories of and explanations of the landscape and plaques giving information on the topography and telling Nimrod's story. Behind, in the cool shade of the trees, visitors can avail themselves of a drinking fountain, benches and tables. There is also Wi-Fi and the security of 24 hour surveillance cameras. The site is spotless, and surrounded with carefully planted and lovingly cultivated trees, shrubbery and flowers. Crowning it all is a magnificent fig tree that Nimrod used to sit under.

A section of the terrace devoted to Nimrod

Hezi was in attendance daily, keeping a watchful eye on the place and giving talks to groups of visitors. He told them about Nimrod, perpetuating the memory of his life, his cherished values and his legacy: of love for humanity and nature, the special love for the Upper Galilee countryside, its flora and fauna, the love of his country and in so doing, hoping to instill these same virtues in his listeners.

We were there one morning and joined a large group of teenagers from Venezuela who had come to hear the Outlook's story. Hezi spoke softly and from the heart with an unpretentiousness and sincerity that kept his listeners in rapt attention. When he had finished, he said "You can ask any question you wish. I can only cry!" Quite a few hands shot up and everyone was answered with patience and dignity. It was a moving experience.

When the group had departed, we stayed behind to chat to him and learned that his caring for and maintaining the lookout is not only a labor of love; it is a constant process that also involves great expense. Being a private venture freely open to the public, it has monthly bills for water, horticulture and electricity to be met plus the many other attendant expenses that the municipality also does not cover.

According to the Hebrew calendar, Nimrod had died on the 15th of the month of Av; the Hebrew Valentine's Day. Every year, on the evening of the anniversary of his passing, at the terrace, open to all, there is a short ceremony and then a show put on by a band for the enjoyment of everyone – remembering and celebrating Nimrod's joy and love of life.

Getting to Nimrod Outlook presents no problem: you simply enter the town, turn into and go straight up the Main Road. If you do not wish to or are unable to walk uphill, you can arrive by car. There is ample parking and only the last 20 meters or so must be done on foot. The observation terrace is inspiring, the view is uplifting and meeting and listening to Hezi is an enriching experience. Highly recommended! 

Hezi and behind him a sculpture by Noam Goldman’s mother

POSTSCRIPT

Sadly, in November 2023, Hezi Segev, Nimrod's father passed away suddenly at the age of seventy-two. Owing to the Israel-Gaza War 2023 and the security situation in the north of Israel, people stopped travelling and many others were called-up to the army, leaving the Nimrod Lookout without any visitors. Hezi and his wife Iris took the opportunity to travel to their son Ehud in New York. During their visit, one morning Hezi died from a heart attack. Ehud said that his father had always been in contact and worked with many bereaved families. He added that the enormity of the losses, the pain, grief and suffering of so many in the Israel-Gaza War affected him deeply and had simply broken his heart. May his memory be blessed. 

 

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Friday, 19 July 2024

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