There is something about the Golan Heights that exudes a feeling of expansiveness. The relatively large area of flat volcanic terrain interspersed by magnificent canyons and ridges with vistas opening up to the Sea of Galilee is amplified by the acute topographical diversity of our small country. Whatever it is, each time I make it up to the Golan I am greeted with a sense of cathartic remoteness where time seems to move at a different pace to the rest of the country.
I will let you into a little secret about the Golan, it is an untapped bastion of small-scale organic farmers, homesteaders and wellness product creators. Long before trends like ‘farm-to-table’ produce and ‘conscious consumerism’ became buzzwords amongst the chic cafes of Tel Aviv there has been a heightened awareness of the interplay between people and their surroundings on the Golan led by a core of staunch pioneers over the last few decades.
Once such unassuming pioneer is Shachar Tzalach, a second-generation inhabitant of the Golan who over the last 12 years has been creating hand-made all-natural soaps, body creams, deodorants and essential oil blends. As a trained aromatherapist, Shachar uses her ingrained knowledge of the rich natural habitat of the Golan to seek out and source local leaves, shells, fruits, nuts, seeds and flowers to dry and integrate into her therapeutic range of wellness products.
As recent as only a few years ago Shachar would expend much of her time and resources in educating potential clients regarding the health, social and environmental benefits of her all-natural and locally-sourced and production techniques and ingredients whereas today her products, under the brand Ayelet Hashachar, sell for themselves with word-of-mouth being the only real marketing campaign used to expand her clientele across the country.
Being a small-scale batch producer allows Shachar to also offer her clients a customized bespoke service whereby she creates tailor-made batches for clients upon requests either based on personal preferences or types of skin treatments.
The brand name – Ayelet HaShachar – is both a play on the creator’s name as well as being based on the ancient folklore found in the Jerusalem Talmud relating that two great Tannaic sages were walking in the Arbel Valley (located opposite to the Golan Heights on the other side of the Sea of Gallilee) whereby they saw the ‘Ayelet Hashachar’ (i.e. the Morning Star) upon which one of Sages commented that the sight of the Ayelet Hashachar is akin to the redemption of Israel, at its onset it is gradual (little-by-little) however as it unfolds its momentum increases and its power strengthens. It seems to me that this is a perfect parable describing the momentum that pioneers such as Shachar have been creating, at its inception it was gradual but now the mounting momentum is palpable.