Blogs from North District, Israel, Middle East

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Middle East » Israel » North District » Acre April 26th 2018

Started today at 8am, first destination being Akko (Acre), site of a Crusader castle occupied by the Knights of St John (Knights Hospitaller). Much of this castle is still intact and houses a museum about the Crusaders. We had a good amount of time looking through the castle and then stopped for a coffee break. Before we went through a tunnel which connected originally to the castle of the Knights Templar. Mahdi had said in the bus earlier that he understood how all the middle eastern food like shawarma, falafel and hummus was exotic and different when you first arrive but after 2-3 weeks you’ve had enough and he promised to take us somewhere for lunch that didn’t have falafel and he kept his word and took us to a café in a shopping centre where ... read more
Akko Crusader Castle
Akko Crusader Castle
Akko Crusader Castle

Middle East » Israel » North District » Nazareth April 25th 2018

Departing from Jerusalem today so met at 7:20am this morning to get bags into the bus and we got away at 7:35am. This is the first day we got some proper rain and the sky was quite an unusual colour. Took about one hour to get to Jericho where we visited Hisham’s Palace. This is an Islamic archaeological site from the 8th Century. It was destroyed by an earthquake. It is famous for it’s intact mosaic “The Tree of Life” but we were not able to see it. In fact all the floors were covered by cloth and dirt so we couldn’t see any mosaics at all. However it was still very interesting and one of the rooms had multiple columns reminding me of Luxor temple but on a much smaller scale. We then had a ... read more
Hisham's Palace
Hisham's Palace
Hisham's Palace

Middle East » Israel » North District April 17th 2018

Still another thing we did on our lovely Sunday in Akko and Rosh Hanikra was to have dinner at an olive farm somewhere north of Haifa. As we walked into this green, peaceful grove we were met by a vivacious black-haired woman called Shoshi who told us (with a smile) that we would work for our supper. Sitting on benches at long wooden tables we each had to prepare a pita to bake in her Bedouin oven. I used to make all kinds of wonderful breads throughout the years when the kids were growing up: making black bread, potato bread with caraway seeds, pumpernickel, Anadama, walnut bread, all were a part of my children's childhoods. Even before they turned two years old each of my children knew how to help mix the batter, knead the dough, ... read more

Middle East » Israel » North District » Golan April 5th 2018

Thursday afternoon we got ready for the closing day of the Passover festival. This specifically celebrates the splitting of the sea when the Israelites were freed from Egypt. Led by the musical Rabbi Shlomo Katz, we sang the 'Song of the Sea' while looking down across the Kinneret. Although the Sea of Galilee is in the north of Israel, and the original crossing was far south of the holy land, the scene and emotion were still inspiring. . We finished our holiday with the seventh day of Passover on Friday, followed immediately by the sabbath day. Then on Sunday we drove home after a spiritual and restful week in this beautiful area. Amazingly we encountered even less traffic than our way up, and made it home in under two hours.... read more

Middle East » Israel » North District » Golan April 4th 2018

Wednesday we went on an another outing led by the local guide Shouka. Again about 5 families drove their own cars, following the guide's car with flags clipped to windows. Our objective was to visit the sites of two ancient synagogues, or as they are called 'bet knesset' which means 'meeting house' in Hebrew. First we went to Dir Aziz. The entry to this synagogue has a large stone arch. This leads to a portico with pillars. Much of the base structure has been preserved or reconstructed by archaeologists. The second bet knesset was at Ein Kashtot. In this case the pillared portico leads to an arched doorway into the synagogue proper. Most of these external pillars have tumbled. Inside it is clear that the front part is largely preserved or reconstructed. Likewise the interior pillars ... read more
Synagogue interior at Ein Kashtot
Pool of natural spring in Ein Kashtot
guide Shouka showing Ein Kashtot spring structure

Middle East » Israel » North District » Golan April 2nd 2018

Monday we went on an outing led by a guide. Families drove their own cars in convoy, following the guide's car. We had flags from the resort clipped to our rear windows so they were visible above the cars and we could stay together. There were about 5 cars in the tour group. Our guide Shouka was one of the original members of the Ramot moshav. He showed us their avocado orchard with its delicious looking fruit. The moshav also built the Ramot Resort where we are staying this week. Shouka continues to be a member of the moshav community and a part owner of the resort. The first stop was at a spot with with four tanks of different kinds: an Israeli, an American, a Soviet, and a British. As it was a family-friendly exhibit ... read more
Well from abandoned Circassian village

Middle East » Israel » North District » Golan March 30th 2018

We were in the Golan at Ramot Resort for the Passover holiday week. We drove up from home through the green hills and valleys of the southern Galilee. Traffic was lighter than expected, probably because we managed to leave about 10am. This despite a bit of drizzle or light rain which diminished as we proceeded on our way. We drove around the northern shore of the Kinneret - the Sea of Galilee - and reached our hotel on the rise above the northeastern shore. after checking in and having a light lunch, we went out to look over the sea. The weather continued to clear. Before our final preparations preceding the Passover seder, we took a picture of the sun about to set over the western shore. For the seder Rabbi Stewart Weiss and his wife ... read more

Middle East » Israel » North District » Tiberias February 17th 2018

Today was a rainy day. Many of us were awakened in the night by a storm and rain beating on the windows. We are all grateful for the rain though because or friends in Israel have about 320 dry days and they need rain. We headed out to our first stop which was a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. It is one of my favorite things to do here. We go out into the boat and read scripture and hear stories about Jesus, his teachings and his miracles. About 70% of Jesus teaching and miracles were performed around the Sea of Galilee. Some of the ones we might quickly remember are: The calming of the storm (Mark 4:35-41), the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-12), the feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44), and Jesus ... read more
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Middle East » Israel » North District » Nazareth February 16th 2018

This morning was a little different as this is the day we move from our hotel in Bethlehem to our hotel in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. We not only had to get ready but pack our suitcases and put them outside our door before we went to breakfast. We are very fortunate that at each hotel we have young men who carry our luggage from our rooms to the bus and vice versa. All we have to do is double check and make sure our luggage is ready to be put on the bus. Our bus ride today took a little time as we were going to Caesarera Maritima on the Mediterranean. It is beautiful there with the ancient ruins on a backdrop of the blue seas of the Mediterranean. This site is important ... read more
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Middle East » Israel » North District » Tiberias November 1st 2017

Today is our last Jesus-themed day with a drive along the west shore of The Sea of Galilee, which is in fact a lake. The place names are familiar from stories told at Sunday School, but I don’t recall anybody mentioning how utterly beautiful the scenery was. No wonder Jesus wandered around preaching love, harmony and sharing your picnic. Our first stop, is indeed the site of the Feeding of the 5000; Tabgha and the German Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fish. Here as if the labour the point, the church is fronted with a pond full of fish. Next, the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount. Here there is the octagonal church, each side containing a stained glass panel indicating whom Jesus said should be Blessed. The ... read more
Galilee (2)
Fish at Church of the Loaves and Fish
Mount of the Beatitudes




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