A Dairy Holiday, or Moo Cheesecake Please

June 4, 2008

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Before there can be cheesecake, an ice cream cone or even a large latte, there has got to be milk. Israeli dairies are modern, high-tech, and world renowned for their accomplishments. In addition to being the largest industry of its kind in the Middle East, the Israeli dairy industry produces the world’s widest selection of soft, spreadable cheeses.

This photo essay features a visit to the dairy at Kibbutz Migdal Oz, located in Gush Etzion, about 10 miles south of Jerusalem in the Judean Mountains. A midsize dairy with 220 cows, the kibbutz operates around the clock, performing an age-old process of collecting milk from cows.

Milk from the kibbutz’s dairy may end up in a liter-size plastic bag or any number of a variety of cheeses, yoghurts, drinks, and, more recently, gourmet milk products. Beloved by all Israelis year round and not just for Shavuot, dairy products are ubiquitous at supermarkets, hotel and restaurant buffets and sidewalk cafes. And why not? After all, this is the Land of Milk and Honey!

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Yehoshua Halevi is a photojournalist, event photographer, teacher, trekking guide and writer who lives in the Judean Mountains south of Jerusalem. A self-taught photographer, his work has appeared in National Geographic publications and major Jewish publications around the world. He is also the creator of a weekly photo blog entitled Israel the Beautiful, which can be viewed at You can view more of his work at