In this week's episode of No Place Like Home Bob Kelly travels to a kibbutz in Israel in order to trace the roots of another recently arrived immigrant to Ireland. Throughout the journey Bob explores the nature of homeland in one of the most fraught territories in the world.
Gil Berkovich is a 33 year old Israeli who has settled in Dublin with his South African born girlfriend. Gil's greatest passion is football and Bob meets Gil refereeing in a SARI (Sports Again Racism) league.
Bob first visits the historic city of Jerusalem and then heads for the kibbutz, close to the Sea of Galilee where he meets Gil's mother, step dad, family and friends.
In soaring temperatures, Bob also visits some of Israel's best known sights, including the Dead Sea and Masada - a historic site of huge significance to Israel's Jewish people.
338,000 sq km
21,000 sq. km
Hebrew, Arabic (official). English and Russian widely spoken
Israel is bordered by Lebanon in the north, Syria and Jordan in the east, and Egypt in the south-west. It has coastlines on the Mediterranean in the west and the Gulf of Eilat (also known as the Gulf of Aqaba) in the south.
Judaism, Islam and Christianity
Jerusalem, has a population of 719,900
The climate of the coastal areas can be very different from that of the mountainous areas, particularly during the winter months. The northern mountains can get cold, wet and often snowy and even Jerusalem experiences snow every couple of years. The coastal regions, where Tel Aviv and Haifa are located, have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
Despite the turbulent history between Palestinians and Israelis and the recent troubles with Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israeli military, Israel has a vibrant cultural life, and a technologically and industrially advanced economy. In 2006, it ranked 23rd out of 177 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index, the highest ranking in the Middle East and third highest in Asia.
Gershom Scholem; founder of the scholarly study of Kabbalah