Some 200 meters from the entrance, the route turns to the right and leads us through an area of natural woodland. Israeli oaks, carob trees, terebinths and other native varieties are interspersed with the Jerusalem pines, cypresses and eucalypti planted by KKL-JNF. In springtime beautiful wildflowers spring up out of the stony ground among the chalk rocks.
After 1.7 kilometers our route leads us to a recreation area on the left. If we are looking for a place to take a break amidst natural surroundings, this is the spot we recommend. It is intimate, and one of its tables - there are eight or so - is accessible to people with limited mobility. But after you have enjoyed the site’s hospitality, please take your rubbish away with you. It’s very hard to clear garbage from here.
Opposite the recreation area, on the other side of the road, is the beginning of a footpath that leads us, after some 300 meters, to the Forester’s House. This stone building, which was recently renovated by KKL-JNF, was used by both those who planted the forest and those who guarded it.
After visiting the Forester’s House we continue our drive. At kilometer 2.3, the forest gives way to open ground, and on the right we can see Tzfat, with Biriya Forest - the largest woodland in Galilee - to the north of it. From here we can get an excellent impression of its size. On our left are the widely spaced buildings of Kadita.
The tomb of Elkana
The road turns right, then immediately left. A short dirt road ascends to a concrete building topped with a blue dome (2.8 kilometers). This structure incongruously planted among the rocks is surrounded by a concrete fence whose stone-faced façade exhibits five arches. In the shade of the dome, unsurprisingly, are prayer books, a plastic chair and soot from candles. The building was constructed over the site identified as that of the tombs of Elkana, the father of the Biblical Prophet Samuel, and Rabbi Bana’a.
Rabbi Bana’a was a scholar (amora) whose life spanned the end of the second century CE and the start of the third. Some say his name derives from his habit of indicating burial caves and building (bana) a marker on them so that people would recognize them and avoid ritual pollution. Why was Rabbi Bana’a buried at the same site as Elkana, the father of Samuel? We are not the first to raise this query. Rabbi Shmuel Vital (1598-1677), son the great Rabbi Chaim Vital, posed the same question and contended that Elkana was buried with his son Samuel at Rama (Nebi Samuel).