At the end of August through early September, we spent 1 week in Israel, coinciding with the U.S. threat to strike in response to Syrian administration use of chemical weapons. Nevertheless, we continued our planned tour various religious sites of the region and became intimately familiar with the debate and tension that has riddled the Middle East. Experience an incredible blend of the holiest spots in the world’s monotheistic religions.
08/28/13: Starting out in Tel Aviv and drove northward to the Roman town of Caesarea built by Herod the Great in 1st century BCE. Enjoyed a falafel pita lunch in the port city of Haifa after viewing the extensive 19-layered terraced Bahia Gardens. Drove along the Sea of Galilea aka Lake Kinneret. Stopped at Nazareth to visit the church marking the grotto where the Virgin Mary lived.
08/29/13: Spent the night in Kfar Blum kibbutz in Upper Galilee in northern Israel. Surveyed the Golan Heights region, former Syrian territory. Visited the border of Syria and Lebanon. Ended the day rafting on the Jordan River.
08/30/13: Headed towards Capernaum to visit the octagonal church commemorating the Sermon of the Mount where Jesus delivered the Beatitudes and performed the miracle feeding the crowd of thousands with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Kids took a quick dip in the Sea of Galilee, drove along the West Bank of the Jordan River to Jerusalem.
08/31/13: It’s a quiet day in Jerusalem as the Jewish community observe Chabad. Starting at the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of Old Town Jerusalem. Visited the church at Garden of Gethsemane to commemorate the night scene as Jesus prayed while the disciples slept. We took a walking tour from the Jaffa Gate through the old Armenian and Christian quarters, newly excavated then constructed Jewish quarter and colorful bazaars of the Muslim quarters. Took a quick detour out the Zion Gate to visit the room of the Last Supper and the tomb of King David. Followed the stations of the cross along Via Dolorosa to the Church of Holy Sepulchre which includes Golgatha where Jesus was crucified and the cave where his body was buried before the resurrection.
09/01/13: Continued tour of Jerusalem at the Dome of the Rock where Abraham was supposed to sacrifice Isaac at Mt Moriah, location of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, now a mosque. The Western Wall aka Wailing Wall, adjacent to the Dome of the Rock is a synagogue. We also toured the archeological excavation of the City of David and the drier portion of the Hezekiah Water Tunnel. The day ended at the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and Herod’s Tomb exhibits.
09/02/13: Spent the day in the region around the Dead Sea. Drove past the Qumram Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls where found. Toured the impressive Masada fortress built by King Herod the Great and later used by Jewish resistance against the Romans. Ended the day floating in the mineral rich Dead Sea.
09/03/13: Lazy morning enjoying our amazing suite at the historic King David Hotel while hubby visited the Holocaust Museum. After checkout, we took a ride to Bethleham in the Palestinian area of the West Bank to visit the Church of the Nativity to see Jesus’ birth site and location of manger followed by a stop to the fields where the shepherds were greet by angels. Spent the night back in Tel Aviv in preparation for the Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year.