The news quickly spead about the wedding of Yocheved from the Eizenberg family, from Yesod Hama’ala, and Haim Moshe Fine, a newcomer to town who was becaming known among the town’s farmers. It was 1896. The place was ‘Yesod Hama’ala’. The reason for postponing the wedding was floods in the Hula swamp.
The young couple had to abstain for a whole winter until they could cross the swamp and arrive at their designated home in Metula.
Haim-Moshe Fine arrives in Yesod Hama’ala
In 1894 Haim-Moshe Fine, a new immigrant from Russia arrived in Yesod Hama’ala. The pogroms – riots against Jewish people – that took place in Russia during that period and the Hovevei Zion movement that attracted followers of the Zionist cause in Russia, hod instilled the Zionist spirit in him. So he decided to immigrate to Palestine.
Haim – Moshe’s agricultural skills were discovered in Yesod Hama’ala. He diligently learnt the work of agriculture from the Baron’s clerks and the local residents. And as an industrious farmer whose future lay ahead of him, the clerks of the Baron designated him the lands that were purchased by the Baron Rothchild in Metula.
In the same year Haim-Moshe also fell in love with Yocheved Eizenberg, the most beautiful young woman in the village (and some say in the entire region), daughter of the distinguished Eizenberg family from Yesod Hama’ala. Yocheved responded to his courtship and accepted the marriage proposal. Unfortunately, nature raised obstacles and the two, as mentioned-above, had to wait for the wedding all the winter until they were able to cross the “big swamp”.
The news about the wedding spread to all the villages in the Galilee. This was sensational news, not only because of the highly respected family involved, but also because it was the first couple to settle in Metula, the new farming community. And so farmers from all the villages in the Galilee gathered in a convoy to climb the mountain on the day that it became possible.
The newly – wed couple was accompanied by songs, dances and genuine joy up to the community’s site (a picture of the procession is exhibited in Tel Hai Yard Museum). Yocheved and Haim – Moshe Fine were the first to settle in the community and soon after they were joined by another 33 families who arrived from the Baron’s other communities (Baron de Rothschild).
The First Years in Metula
The political situation was not favorable to the new settlers. Metula was settled on lands that the Baron Rothschild bought from a Christian Effendi from Tyre in Lebanon. Druze tenant farmers refused to leave this place. Although they were generously compensated by the Baron, they continued to disturb the residents after leaving these lands, including thefts, robbery and blackmail for many years. In addition to this and the difficulties in making a living, they also suffered from years of hunger. The road to Metula was not paved and it was possible to arrive to the town only by donkeys. There was no doctor in the place and in time of need a doctor arrived from Marj Ayun, a Lebanese village nearby.
During this period the border between Metula and Lebanon was open. Goods were exchanged among the farmers and strong bonds of friendship were created between the residents. Patients with serious medical conditions were sent from Metula to the Mission Hospital in Beirut.
It was said that the doctor forbad Yocheved from giving birth, because of a heart defect. But the doctor’s instruction was not adhered to. Eleven children were born to the Fine couple: nine boys and two girls (this is what happens when a couple in love does not have electricity at home). Although life in Metula was not easy, the tenth son, Shalom Fine, in whose memory “Beit Shalom” is dedicated, decided to stay for the sheer love of the land and ideology.
The rest of Yocheved and Haim – Moshe’s children spead across the country. Some of them followed the pioneering heritage of their parents and left their mark on the history of Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel. The oldest son, Zvi Fine, founded Nahalal, Yehuda Fine founded the farming community (moshava) Nahalat Yehuda (part of Rishon LeZion today), the fourth son Efraim Fine founded the town Shuni (Binyamina today), Givat Ada and Binyamina, the fifth son Yosef Fine founded the first kibbutz in Israel, Degania Alef. One of his sons was the Air Force Chief of Staff during Six Day War, Major General Moti Hod. Hillel Fine founded Givat Hashlosha Kibbutz.
Shalom Fine married Shura, a gymnast in the second Maccabiah in 1935
It is told that the sparks of love between Shura and Shalom Fine lit quite quickly. However, a story also revolves round their wedding. Shura arrived in the country in 1935 from Basarabia (a region that belonged to Romania after First World War). People in the community quickly performed a fake marriage between her and another man, to circumvent the British regulations that were governing Palestine (“The White Book”), in order to make her stay in the country legal. The couple, Shura and Shalom, wandered for weeks in an attempt to find that fictitious groom to untie the wedding and get married.
Five children were born to Shura and Shalom in Metula: Shalva, David, Shmuel and the twins, Haim and Moshe.
The will that Haim – Moshe left for his son Shalom was short, but it has so much meaning in a few words:
“My son, I give you the farm while I am still alive, so that you know how to maintain it after I am gone. You will encounter many hardships, but you will know how to cope with and overcome them. Do not leave and do not sell the farm. I also did not abandon it in the roughest days. Remember, the farm is the nest of the entire family.”
These words of Haim – Moshe, this honest and simple man, prevailed and became the will of the entire family: “Do not leave the farms! Do not leave the ranks!”
Haim, Shura and Shalom’s son, and his wife, Miriam, established “Beit Shalom”
The yard in which “Beit Shalom” was founded is the original yard of the Fine family, where Yocheved and Haim Moshe raised their 11 children; and this is also the yard in which Shalom Fine and his wife Shura raised their five children.
Haim, Shalom and Shura Fine’s son, third generation in Metula, and his wife Miriam, renovated the house by themselves, while preserving the original structure. Each yard in the farming community was surrounded by a wall for protection and the remains of the wall with the wooden door that led to the patch of land behind it (“Hahakura”) can still be found in the yard.
The couple offers farmer’s meals and breakfast that reconstruct the tastes of the old Metula cuisine in the restaurant on site.
Apart from the tourism business, Haim continues to work on the agricultural farm that he received from his father. This is his main occupation, as part of the will that he inherited from his father, a binding will that his grandfather Haim-Moshe wrote. Alongside his two brothers, David and Moshe, who also built houses and raised families, Haim chose to continue the family agricultural tradition in Metula on his exemplary agricultural farm.
The guests at “Beit Shalom” Estate enjoy the fresh fruits that he brings from the orchards every season, including apples, nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries and pecans.
Welcome to “Beit Shalom” Estate
If you pass through this area please visit us, and enjoy the incredible breakfast and farmers’ delicacies offered by Miriam and Haim Fine – Hod. iYou will learn about the ongoing history, see the stone walls which tell the story of the first settlers and be impressed by the family pictures hanging in the private living room and in the restaurant.
You can learn more about the history of this town in the “Beit Ha’ikar” Museum (the Farmer’s House) which is situated in the home of the town’s first rabbi.
To complete the historical tale of the Fine family and the history of Metula in general, follow the street signs and stroll past the houses on Harishonim Street, and visit the cemetery that is located in the middle of Ayun River Nature Reserve just beyond the waterfall.