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The Sea of Galilee: A Vital Resource for Israel
by Tzivia MacLeod | August 11, 2020 | Israel
Situated on the land of the Biblical tribe of Naphtali, the Sea of Galilee, has had a huge impact on Israel's history and ecology. And in April 2020, Israeli media went wild, reporting that the Sea of Galilee was full for the first time since the 1990s after an exceptionally wet winter.

Technically, it's not a sea at all. but rather, a freshwater lake. Locally, it's known as the "Kinneret," a name first mentioned in the book of Numbers and possibly a reference to "kinor," meaning a harp, because of its shape. Since the Bible uses the same word for "lake" and "sea," it came to be known as a sea.

Heavily dependent on rainfall, the Sea of Galilee is a vital resource for Israel and its neighbors, despite its tiny size. At only 64 square miles, the size of Washington, D.C., it was once Israel's only fresh water source.

Today, Israel gets most of its drinking water through desalination and other water reclamation projects. But the fate of the Sea of Galilee still matters, and the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection is working closely with other organizations to preserve the Sea of Galilee for future generations.
Surrounded by rolling green hills and fertile fields of grapes, bananas, dates, and olives, the Sea of Galilee draws thousands yearly to Tiberias, considered one of Israel's four holy cities. Following the Roman exile, this area was once the center of Jewish life in Israel, and it enjoyed a mystical revival in the 1700s.

Visitors to the Sea of Galilee can explore nearby sites like Kfar Nahum (ancient Capernaum), home to one of Israel's most beautiful ancient synagogues. Among many high-profile visitors to the area was President George W. Bush, who called his 2008 pilgrimage "an amazing experience."

Unfortunately, despite the great media coverage, COVID-19 has stopped tourists from flocking to the Sea of Galilee to visit these sites and see the record high water levels, threatening the economy of the entire region.

Still, the Sea of Galilee filling for the first time in years is certainly great news. Further south, the Jordan River carries its water all the way down through Judea and Samaria to the Dead Sea. This makes it a lifeline for many of Lev Haolam's producers, whether they're creating small batches of olive oil, honey from local crops, or any one of a number of other high-quality products.

To learn more about Lev Haolam's producers in the Judea and Samaria regions and what you can do to help revitalize Israel's economy, click here.