Right near the entrance to Kibbutz Netzer Sireni. Past the sign, at the right edge of the second parking lot stand two big wooden toy locomotives. One is a replica of Thomas the Tank Engine while the other is a big green train with a large bench and a small wheel at the helm. Both are very old and clearly haven’t been played with for quite some time.
Behind them stands the entrance to a small bomb shelter housing the Israeli Model Railway Club, home to the country’s biggest model train enthusiasts. Its members meet every Friday and range from retired German electricians to young art students. It’s a place for everyone who has ever loved a model toy train. Most of the members got their first trains from their parents. Some bought the miniature locomotive for their kids to use but ended up playing with it more than their offspring. The club is basically a place for people to meet. They eat cookies, drink coffee, fix a broken wheel on a tiny cart or paint another part of the mountains for the décor in which the trains are set.
The models they have built are awe inspiring. Stretching all over the bomb shelter, crossing bridges made from matchsticks and navigating through several crossroads, their trains are not to be trifled with. Each member has a different specialty such as electronics, art, model building, and sketching and together they get to put their gifts to use.
They are the only model railway club in the Middle East and the only one in the world that upkeeps three model trains in children’s hospital in Israel on a voluntary basis. They are funny, talented people but above it all, they want to share their passionate for trains with each other and visitors. For more information visit www.imrc.org.il