Pictures from Day 6: The Kinneret and Capernaum

And what happened to day 5, you may ask. Shabbat happened :-). It was glorious to slow down, rest, and fellowship. I do love that part of my week!

But we keep going, and we are at the mid-point of the tour. We left Jerusalem and headed to the Galilee region, or the Kinneret, as I explained in the Galilee post here. I have pictures of the explanation of an ancient boat that was dated more than 2,000 years ago, you can walk with me on that journey (right-click on the image and open in a new tab to see the full size – you’ll be able to read the story).

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We got to sail on the Kinneret – that was special, as you will see. We started the journey with the Hatikvah, the Jewish national anthem. It means the hope, and it’s a very moving song, even if you don’t understand the words. Here you go.

Being on the water was incredible. Pictures can only barely touch the amazing experience.

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I relayed in the post mentioned above that Hillsong United recorded the song Oceans there. The boat owner played it for us, and I was undone. I can’t upload my recording due to copyright restrictions, but here’s the Hillsong version again. The boat that you see is the boat that we were on.

After that was Capernaum and seeing the Galil valley from up high. What a wonderful close to our day, seeing the Kinneret from our hotel room!

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Pictures from day 1

Yes, I am finally getting to the pictures! Jet lag was a bug a bear, and then, you know, Thanksgiving. But going through the pictures and sorting them out has been great (still doing it, which is why I’m posting it day by day). It’s tasting the experience just a bit more and remembering the high points, of which there are many!

So, here are the pictures from our day in Judea and Samaria (See post here).

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We were at Ha Yovel, and one of the leaders played for us a song about where we stand – it’s the only song he’s written, and it’s fantastic!

 

Israel last days

The last of the summaries – further posts will be more in-depth processing. But you should really check out this testimony video; it’s just a few stories of what the Connect to Israel tour meant to us. Totally worth watching the whole thing, but if you want to skip ahead, I’m at 37:30 (ish), and there is a really good analogy used at 41 minutes, there abouts.

So I began the next adventure by taking the light rail (with all my luggage) to the central bus station, to catch the bus to Furadis Junction, near Caesarea on the way to Haifa. I am soooo glad that everyone I met spoke enough English to get me where I needed to be!! My friends Ephraim and Rimona picked me up at the tiny little stop, took me for lunch, and settled me in. Near sunset, Ephraim took me to the next community over, Binyamina,  on a hilltop to watch the supermoon come up. It was quite cloudy, so the sunset was absolutely spectacular, but we only got to see about 5 minutes of the moon before the clouds hid it. It was a bummer that we both forgot our cameras!

The next day was a visit to Zichron Ya’acov to the first Aliyah museum. It was very interesting, tracking a family from Poland, I think, before the war, and their hardships and trials. We took a brief stroll through the town, where the main street was pretty much the way it was then. Walking and touching history is amazing. We made our way to Jerusalem, where I joined my host in several meetings, then returned late and conked out.

We spent a leisurely morning eating breakfast on their back patio. I could easily stay there a long time; there was so much peace, and I felt so restored there, it was absolutely amazing. They then took me to Mt. Carmel, one of my (many) favorite stories – Elijah and the Ba’al prophet showdown. There is a small little church there, and we went up on the roof, and you could see much of the country from there. I have an amazing picture of the Jezreel valley (I’m working on pictures, I should have them up in a couple of days). We worked our way around to Haifa, where we visited with Ephraim and Rimona’s daughter and had lunch. There we saw the Baha’i Gardens. Even though it wasn’t in full bloom, it still was rather breathtaking. Home we came, and then I began my chore of packing up.

As I said, more thoughts will come; right now as I am back in the States and recovering from jet lag, it seems all so surreal. It was a  wonderful time, and awe-inspiring time, and it’s one that I know has affected me deeply, and changed me in ways I can’t begin to catalog, or even recognize at the moment.

And evening came, and then it was morning. And it was all very, very good.

Back to Jersualem

I’m back in the States, trying to catch up, get over jet lag, and process. There will be A LOT of processing, and you get to join me in that journey as well. Lucky you. But in the mean time, I will finish up initial thoughts of the rest of my time in Israel. As always, you can check out pictures and videos at the Joined to HaShem site.

Jerusalem – Last Tour Day

The last day of the tour took us to the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. As our tour guides say, it is not a museum, but a place to remember the atrocities and those who suffered. I sit here, and I have no idea how to put into words the horror and sadness that comes over me. The English term is Holocaust; I prefer the Hebrew term “Shoah”, which means catastrophe, as opposed to a word that means “burnt offering”. After time at the memorial, including a personal teaching at the tree of Corrie Ten Boom just outside the building, we were released once again into the Old City to wander around, make last purchases, and imprint the city in our spirit. After a couple of hours,we gathered together, and those who had a flight to catch went on their way to Tel-Aviv for the airport, and the remaining few of us went our individual ways. And though evening had just peeked through, and morning had not come yet, that was day 10, the last day of the tour. And it was very good. 😉

Jerusalem – My Wanderings

I stayed at a hostel, along with a few other people from the tour who were staying over. After getting settled in, we headed out to Ben Yehuda street to take it in some more and have dinner. It was Thursday night, the night before Shabbat, and it was very active. As one of our tour guides had mentioned, it was kind of like “date night” and hangout time before the weekend, so there was a lot to see. It was rather fun to stroll and people watch. The next day, I walked the streets of the corner of Jerusalem I was in, just watching and observing, taking time not to think, but just be. I picked up a couple of things again at Ben Yehuda street, dashed into a market to buy some lunch before everything closed at 4 or 5 for Shabbat. I loved the custom of shutting everything down for the day of rest. Not everyone does it anymore, even in Jerusalem, but most people and shops do. The hostel had a Erev Shabbat (Shabbat evening) dinner, mostly a cultural experience to teach those staying there. I got picked to read the blessing that traditionally is said by the woman of the house. That was a fun little experience. On Shabbat afternoon, I made my way to the Old City to meet some folk, and we sat and read the Torah portion for the week, and talked about the scripture – a wonderful study of the Bible overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple Mount! What also was fun was that a portion of the study was Genesis 12, the place where we began our tour. Reading it and having been there brought the scripture to life in a very tangible way. Dinner happened at a rooftop restaurant, where we could again watch the sunset over the city. Sunday was visiting day; I spent time chatting with one of the tour guides who was still in the city, and then had tea with a young lady who had just moved to the city from the States via New Zealand. It was great to share our stories and experiences. After that, I had dinner with a couple from the tour who were also seeing Jerusalem at their own pace. It was a precious, precious time. As the day drew to a close, I packed up my bags and got ready to travel northward to stay with some friends in the Carmel region. But that is a story for another blog…

The Golan Heights

Sunrise over the Kinneret; view from our room

Sunrise over the Kinneret; view from our room

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a very long day, and we had to get up stupid early in the morning, but with a view like this, I wasn’t in too bad of a humour. We headed up to the Golan Heights to do our touring today. From one of the points, we were surrounded by the Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Imagine living in an area where all of your neighbors want to kill you and take your land… Anyway, though we didn’t go to Mount Hermon, the highest point in the Golan Heights, we did go up pretty high on windy roads though the mountains. Again, you can see pictures at the Joined to Hashem site until I’m able to post my own photos.

There was a lot, and I’m suffering the syndrome of drinking from a fire hydrant. Our first stop at the Peace Vista, we looked down on the 1967 border. We could look at the Decapolis cities (think the demoniac from the Gadarenes), and where many of the accounts of Yeshua happened. From there, we could could really see, really get a sense of how small Israel is. If you remember, Israel is in a drought – 3 rivers converge into the Kinneret, and they happen to lead the world in waste water reclamation.

We went on from there to Gamla. We stopped at a nature preserve, and are where they are bringing back almost extinct vultures, and sat and heard about what we were looking at. Gamla means camel, but also large rope (look at Matthew 19:24 with that in mind). The Jewish historian talked about Gamla, but didn’t know if it really existed. After 1967 when Israel reclaimed the land, they began to map out the land, a surveyor happened to look over from where we were and saw a mountain that looked like a camel, and realized he found Gamla, and they began to dig. Now, I didn’t know the story of Gamla, so I will add a brief summary that you should inspire you to look further. For those who know about Massada, this was before that, and it was more intense.

In 66 C.E. Gamla turned rebellious under the influence of refugees from other locations. It was one of only five cities in the Galilee and Golan who stood against Vespasian’s legions, reflecting the cooperation between the local population and the rebels. At the time of the revolt, the town minted its own coins. Bearing the inscription “For the redemption of Jerusalem the H(oly)” in a mixture of paleo-Hebrew (biblical) and Aramaic, only 6 of these coins have ever been found.

Josephus also provides a detailed description of the Roman siege and conquest of Gamla in 67 CE by components of legions X Fretensis, XV Apollinaris and V Macedonica. The Romans first attempted to take the city by means of a siege ramp, but were repulsed by the defenders. Only on the second attempt did the Romans succeed in breaching the walls at three different locations and invading the city. They then engaged the Jewish defenders in hand-to-hand combat up the steep hill. Fighting in the cramped streets from an inferior position, the Roman soldiers attempted to defend themselves from the roofs. These subsequently collapsed under the heavy weight, killing many soldiers and forcing a Roman retreat. The legionnaires re-entered the town a few days later, eventually beating Jewish resistance and completing the capture of Gamla.

According to Josephus, some 4,000 inhabitants were slaughtered, while 5,000 threw themselves down a ravine to escape capture.

We went on to Mount Bental, which looks over Syria, where we heard of the miracles of the 1967 and 1973 wars. 1967, the Golan Heights were liberated by Israel, and immediately began preparing for the next war. Unfortunately, Israel was resting on their laurels and ignored the signs of attack until either hours before or the day before, depending on sources. So the Egyptians and Syrians attacked on Yom Kippur, and there were 1600 Arab tanks against 160 total in the Israeli army. During one section of time, there were only about Israeli tanks holding back 600 Arab ones. They were cruising and advancing, and the Syrian army suddenly stopped. When they were captured, they asked why they didn’t go on, and the said they saw and army of soldiers of light, angels, and they had to stop.

While we were there, you could here shots in the distance, and it was explained that there were constant fighting – within Syria – and no one ever says anything. It’s when things happen in Israel that it turns into an international incident.

We went on to Tel Dan, which was the first tribe that was lost. We saw the old city gates, and talked once again about when the kingdoms split; this was the other site where the idol alters were set up to draw the house of Israel away from the true worship at Jerusalem. We headed back to the hotel, then took a stroll off the boardwalk before preparing to head to the south. It’s been an exciting and full day. And it was evening and then it was morning, day 7!

Jerusalem Day 2, and Shabbat

So, our second day in Jerusalem started out with a wonderful surprise: Yehudah Glick, an active proponent of getting all people to be able to pray on the Temple Mount, as well as a member of the Knesset, can to speak to and with us. It was humbling and encouraging; as a peaceful demonstrator of peace, he was shot point blank in the chest 4 times. It was a miracle that he survived, and as he recovered, the refrain we heard over and over again was apparent – they tear down, we rebuild. He continued to spread the message of echad, oneness, and out of very great odds, was appointed to a place on the Knesset, the religious ruling body. The stories and experiences I get to share with you are absolutely incredible! Check out the full video on the Joined to HaShem site. After that, we went back to the Old City and wandered through the Kotel Tunnels. The tunnels were built by the Romans after they destroyed the temple to build a city over the valley that was next to the wall. So as we were walking the tunnels, city life was happening above us. There were very awesome and just… awe inspiring moments. We came to the end of a finished road, and one of our guides explained exactly where we were. Now, we can say Yeshua could have walked here, or there, but at this point, there was no doubt – to go to and from the city, everyone passed this place. Just sit and reflect on that. We were let loose in the Old City once again to roam around, eat lunch, and do retail therapy. We came back to the hotel early because we had to prepare for shabbat; lunch wasn’t served the next day, and we had to do the mad rush to the grocery store, as most people do before everything closes about 3 pm. We had Erev Shabbat (shabbat evening) dinner, and I went to bed with a cold. And it was evening and it was day, the 4th day.

Shabbat began with Torah reading and exposition from Genesis 6-11. Do you know how special it was to study scriptures together in the land? We read and talked and shared for about two hours, broke for lunch and ate at the benches outside enjoying the weather. We then gathered together once again and shared what was our highlight to that point. Many special stories, and I shared about Shiloh. It was a great enjoyable time to draw closer to one another. We had dinner once again, then went wandering down Ben Yehudah street, peeking into stores and enjoying the end of Shabbat. It was a wonderful way to spend the day. And there was evening, and there was day, and the 5th day. 🙂

Judea and Samaria, Shiloh, and the Old City

Hey guys! It’s been extremely busy the last several days, and due to internet problems, we are now embarking on day 6 of the official tour and I hope to post this. I’ve already actually written this, but it was completely erased, so I will begin again – oi vey.

One of our tour guide said to experience the Land for ourselves, and not through the eyes of a camera. As stated, pictures are not my strength, I have some, but not nearly as much as the mental pictures in my head. I have a link to pictures from the tour leaders (Joinedtohashem.org), and I would have pictures and videos below, but the internet connection will not allow me to upload, so I shall now try to develop the pictures in my head. Visual pictures will follow when I get home.

Judea and Samaria

We began in Itamar, which means heart, and was in the heart of the land of Joseph, in what the rest of the world calls the West bank. The tour guides call is Judah and Samaria. The people who have settled there in towns and villages (not settlements, as people are insistent on calling it) call it Judah and Samaria, and after hearing the stories and walking the land, to me, it is Judea and Samaria. As we looked around at a place that media tells us is overcrowded, seeing the countryside and wide open spaces, we gleaned, just a little, of what the people are walking through. Many of the Jews come home with a practical vision to plow, till, and invest in the land. They come in tents, living for months or years with no electricity and no running water because they know it’s home. This tour has taken us to places that  most tourist groups never get to. On Itamar, you can see three seas on a clear day (it wasn’t quite clear when we were there); The see of Galilee, The Dead Sea, and the Mediterranean. This is where the valley of Abraham is, and you look in one direction, you can see Mount Ebal, the mountain of curses, and in the other direction, Mount Gerazim, the mountain of blessings. This area specializes in organic farms, and we went to one where the did goat farming, and a stubborn goat followed us around. I ended up trying to lead the goat away from some of the flowers – a new profession? We’ll see. You can see that picture on the Joined to Hashem site link I posted at the top. They told us it was the last press of the olive, last of the harvest season before the rainy season. It happened to rain, and everywhere we went, they told us what a blessing it was that we were here for the first day of the rains, because even in the rainy season, it doesn’t rain much. We even caught a full rainbow! As we descended from Itamar, we saw the fences around the lower part – they were there to try to keep the terrorist out. We visited the house of the Fogel’s, a family who was massacred by a terrorist. They stabbed an elementary aged girl, the mother, the father, came back, and stabbed the 3 month old baby. Only one daughter and two sons were spared. The community’s response? Keep building what the muslims want to break down. What a resilient people. As we came down from there towards Har Braka through Shechem, our guide read the promise to Abraham, and it was very… special to be in the same place he was, and here the same words he did. We went to a wine tasting in Har Braka, and heard their story; how they came with nothing, not even the ability to farm, but just knowing they had to come. Here and many other places we heard the same thing, the produce of the land, the fruits and vegetables, we are not just eating fruits, we are eating prophecy. Very powerful stuff. We went next to Ha Yovel, the largest recognized Christian Community in Israel. Their mission is to come along side to help and strengthen the farmers of the land. It is an incredible ministry, and people who want to do a service project in Israel should definitely check it out.I will post a video of one of the leaders singing the only song he ever wrote about committing to the land. It’s beautiful. And then there was evening and then there was day, the first day 😉

Shiloh

Before we left Judea and Samaria, we visited another winery, tasting their fruits (or rather, the prophecy) and hearing their stories. The buildings were rather oddly designed. When the owners first came they lived in tents, waiting for permits to be granted to build permanent structures. Well, while they were waiting, they built buildings underneath their tents. When the permits were granted, they were already well on their was to being established. Very, very clever, I say. We headed from there to Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was for 369 years before the Philistines took it. David Rubin, former mayor to the new city, talked about the verse in scripture “until Shiloh comes”, Shiloh meaning Messiah. Something to think about. He showed us around the Shiloh Israel Center for therapeutic and recreation center, a place created for victims of terrorism. There are three such places, and there are over 3,000 boys and girls who come. 3,000 little ones who have lost a parent, a family member, a neighbor, or have been themselves been affected by terror attacks.They have a petting zoo, as well as a horse farm to help with the therapy. We came there on Rosh Chodesh, the new moon, so the men of our group joined in with the boys on their side in the dancing celebration, and later as we walked through the girls’ side we took pictures and chattered with them. It was pretty cool. After that, we went up (again) to the Tel, or tabernacle ruins. There were excavation sites everywhere, as this is ancient Shiloh being unearthed, both the town and the tabernacle. An awesome thing to see and understand was that the Israelites came up to the tabenacle at least three times a year for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread, for Savu’ot, or Pentecost, and for Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. They came up and ate their offerings before the Lord in clay pots and vessels, but once they ate, they became holy, and couldn’t be used for common use, so the finished and shattered their vessels, not to be used again. The hillside is covered in pottery shards, and as we picked up these shards, it’s something to contemplate handling the vessels that they used to worship Elohim thousands of years ago. We had time to sit and reflect, and as I sat on what I later figured out to be approximately where the Holy of holies may have been, I was filled with a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding, and a feeling that settled in my heart that I was home. For one moment in time, I was really home. It was quite overwhelming. After lunch, we went to the home of Nati, a leader of several “settlements” who built them from nothing, over and over again. After he left the IDF, he and four of their friends wanted to do something more, so they started this project, Lev HaOlam, which takes products from the people of the area, puts them in a box and is sent to people who want to support Israeli products in response to the boycott. They have wine, jewelry, chocolate (It’s called Holy Cacao), skin care products, along with stories of the families who produce them. You really need to check out the site and sign up for the box. It’s so worth it! On the way to Jerusalem, we passed Beit El, where Jacob had his dream, also where Jeroboam built one of the false alters to lead the northern tribes of Israel away from true worship. And then there was evening and then there was morning, day two!

The Old City

So, our first stop in Jerusalem was the temple Mount. It was an ordeal. For all that they say that anyone can come up, we had a lot of warning. We had to be covered from neck to ankles, we couldn’t carry any religious items up whatsoever (bibles, christian shirts, etc), and we weren’t allowed to give any indication that we were praying or worshipping, not even moving our lips in silent prayer. It was totally arbitrary what they would allow from one day to the next. Three married couples where strongly admonished not to hold hands or touch, and one couple had to delete a photo of them with their arms around each other. This is the freedom they promise up there. We went down to the city in the Jewish quarter, and was introduced to the owner of a paint gallery, who was also a painter in his own right. What wonderful stories he had to tell. He spoke of being the first Jewish boy back in the old city, and running around the Kotel tunnels as his playground. One of the pictures that struck me is a picture of four Israeli soldiers at the Western Wall praying; you may have seen around. Udi, the owner, painted it as a sign of brotherhood and a freedom to worship. What a difference from the first part of our day. We walked around and had lunch, and then went to Shosherim, a shop in which everything testified of God. Every picture, every piece of Jewelry, every piece of clothing, to show God’s glory, and how we can spread His glory from there to wherever we go. Such amazing men who own the shop, and you could feel the love he had for anyone who would receive it. We came back to the hotel, had dinner, and had wonderful fellowship with the group. And evening came, and then there was morning, day three! More to come tomorrow!