Blogs from West Bank, Israel, Middle East

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Middle East » Israel » West Bank June 19th 2019

Visit to the River Jordan and swimming in the Dead Sea. The River Jordan is mighty small, connecting the Dead Sea, over 1000 ft below sea level, and the Sea of Galilee. We renewed our Baptismal vows standing in the river, with the country of Jordan only 10 ft away, across the river.. John the Baptist stood in the same river to baptize Jesus and others. In our liturgy we sang a wonderful hymn (I think 297 in the hymnal) to the tune of Morning has Broken.. The last verse is "Baptized in water, sealed by the Spirit, marked with the sign of Christ our King; born of the Father, we are his children, joyfully now God's praise we sing." . After renewing our vows from the Book of Common Prayer liturgy, we sang "Down to ... read more
dead sea kip
dead sea

Middle East » Israel » West Bank June 18th 2019

a highlight of our visit on Sunday. we visited the the basilica (a Catholic church with particular significance), of the Annunciation built over the well and possible house where the Virgin Mary lived as a girl. Parts of that actual building and a later 4th century church on the same site are incorporated into the present church built in 1960. It is a wonderful vision of preserving old with new. The lower church preserves the 1st century remains and has a feeling of a womb. The upper church includes and entire wall from the 4th century church and has a brilliant feeling of light and space, and includes artwork commissioned from around the world of the Virgin Mary - fabulously creative pieces. Here is a picture that tries to incorporate a bit of both spaces. A ... read more

Middle East » Israel » West Bank June 14th 2019

We visited places related to Jesus birth today. the home town of Elizabeth, the place where Mary and Eiizabeth probably had their discussion about being pregnant with John and Jesus that is shared in Luke. These places - Mary's spring and The Church of the Visitation, are so old. The well from the 4th century church remains. Then we saw the Church of the Nativity built over the site of Jesus' presumed birth place by Constantine in 339 AD. The building standing today remains from 659 AD when Justinian revised the building with an altar area - same columns and mosaic floor Constantine had built and same wooden beamed roof - 1500 years old. The oldest church in the world where worship has continued ever since then, and 4 congregations share the holy space, even worshiping ... read more
Church of the Nativity

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Hebron December 23rd 2018

Da un po di tempo non esistono fine settimana per il popolo palestinese, eterno perdente nella lotta contro Israele e piu' in generale contro tutta l'opinione pubblica mondiale; troppo complessi i problemi e troppo stratificate le conseguenze per poterne trarre un giudizio saggio ed equilibrato, inutile chiedere ai rispettivi protagonisti un'opinione imparziale e distaccata dai propri interessi, e non saro' di certo io qui ad ipotizzarne una soluzione: troppo superiori gli israeliani e troppo grande il cuore dei palestinesi per affrontare quest' impresa. Inutile anche fare una breve introduzione alla questione perche', come qualcuno mi ha fatto notare in questi giorni (sta a voi capire se israeliano o palestinese...), la storia non puo' essere raccontata a partire da una certa data ma deve sempre essere narrata dall'inizio e quindi, trattandosi nello specifico di una storia particolarmen ... read more
Hebron /Al Khalil
Il muro a Betlemme
Tomba dei patriarchi / Moschea di Ibrahim

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem April 23rd 2018

Started off today at 7.45am for our day trip to Bethlehem which is situated in the West Bank. This is the area that DFAT on their Smart Traveler website has listed as "Reconsider your need to travel". I understand the reasons for this but we are so glad we went because we actually felt good that we were contributing in some small way to the Palestinians who live here under some difficult circumstances. Before that however we had a couple of stops. First was a viewpoint overlooking the Mount of Olives where we had a marvelous view of Jerusalem and then a short drive to the Garden of Gethesame, where the Bible says Jesus and his disciples spent the night before the crucifixion. Next to the garden is the Church of All Nations, which is also ... read more
Garden of Gethesame
Church of Mary Magdalene
Church of Mary Magdalene

Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Nablus February 18th 2018

Today was a moving day - that is moving from one hotel to another. On those days we pack up our suitcases, put them out in the hall on our way to breakfast, identify our luggage before we board the bus to make sure it gets loaded. This was a long day of travel from one part of Israel to another, so we spent a lot of time on the bus. We started the day at nearby Yardenit, a baptismal site on the upper Jordan River. Several people wanted to reaffirm their baptism, some by immersion and others by pouring. It was a bit cold in the water but it was a wonderful way to start the day and to celebrate the reaffirmation of baptism. We then took a long bus ride to Jacob's Well in ... read more
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Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Jericho February 14th 2018

Our wake up call at 5:00 AM this morning (at least in our room) was an overly persistent rooster and the Muslim Call to Prayer over the loudspeaker in town. A buffet breakfast was available at 7:00 am so we had plenty of time to get ready. Following breakfast we boarded the bus for our daily first full day of touring. On our way to our first stop, Herodium, we drove from Bethlehem through Bethany and on to just outside Jerusalem. We learned that Bethany was a place Jesus visited often to get away and relax. According to our guide Bethany stood for the house of the poor. Herodium is that mountain fortress that was created by Herod so he could tower above the rest of Israel, specifically Jerusalem. It was quite a climb to the ... read more
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Middle East » Israel » West Bank » Bethlehem October 28th 2017

Today did not go as planned. We were going to the West Bank. The old man wussed out of independent travel so we booked a tour which departed at 7.30 am. I set my iPhone alarm for 6.30 am, giving us ample time to get up and make it to the meeting point, although it meant leaving the hotel before breakfast. Physically, East Jerusalem has been part of Israel since The Six-Day War of 1967, although this was declared illegal by the UN. A fact: Israel and Palestine both put their clocks back an hour in October, Palestinians on Satuday and Israelis on Sunday. So for one day, there is a time difference of an hour. It was that day. When we walked through the hotel lobby, breakfast was in full swing. It was 8 am. ... read more
Baptisms
Lowest place in the world (2)
Dead Sea

Middle East » Israel » West Bank October 4th 2017

this morning we had breakfast at tiberius coffee and bakery and headed for the valley of the way of the sun, Wadi Fara which is where abraham came into the promised land to shechem and later jacob came this way after leaving Esau and the children of Israel after taking Jericho and Ai went to shechem this way it is the main route from the jordan valley to shechem. we drove up this Valley almost to shechem (Nablus) and saw mt Kabir where we had climbed to see this valley Wadi Fara from shechem. Wadi Fara is a beautiful wide fertile valley fed from springs at shechem all year we are at the end of the dry now. the wadi Fara comes into the jordan valley at Adam (when the Israelites crossed the river further down ... read more
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Middle East » Israel » West Bank September 26th 2017

got going this morning at 8am after a great breakfast at Yad-Hashmona (by the way this is a great place to stay yad hashmona country hotel) first thing we went to find the place where Jonathan and his armour-bearer fought against the philistines we had planned to walk down to the gully from geba of benjamin a jewish settlement but they said we could not, the whole village is fenced in, although we later found out that you can get a key to a gate and a track that leads down to the gully however we didnt know that at the time so we went to an induustrial area to try to get down from there but the same problem it was fenced in. we did get a good view from the industrial area and could ... read more
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