Our Israel Tours will leave you spiritually refreshed.
Shalom! Baruch haba. Yom Tov.
Israel is a land and a people. The history of the Jewish people, and its roots in the Land of Israel, spans some 35 centuries. In this land, its cultural, national and religious identity was formed; here, its physical presence has been maintained unbroken throughout the centuries. Israel is the meeting place of three continents and two seas. It is a wonderful combination of cultures, customs and traditions, a country that was home to many people, cultures and changing religions.
Discover Israel with this interactive video that offers 33 viewing options and 72 touring itineraries in Israel.The video invites you to choose from three characters who will lead you through those places in Israel that best suit their personalities. These include a tour guide who specializes in religion, history and culture; a young woman whose interest is lifestyle and a young man interested in adventure. Each one takes you on a tour of Israel, during which you can select preferred destinations to visit. This video is provided by the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
REGIONS AND DESTINATIONS
THE DEAD SEA
The lowest spot on the face of the earth, and a natural health spa – the Dead Sea is one site you don’t want to miss!
How far does one have to descend to reach the Dead Sea? About 400 meters below sea level. How deep is this salty lake? Almost the same (in the northern section). Fascinating? Absolutely! Every detail about the Dead Sea is fascinating.
Here are a few more facts: The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth in any land mass (417 meters below sea level, to be exact). The quantity of water that evaporates from it is greater than that which flows into it, such that this body of water has the highest concentration of salt in the world (340 grams per liter of water).
It is called the Dead Sea because its salinity prevents the existence of any life forms in the lake. That same salt, on the other hand, provides tremendous relief to the many ailing visitors who come here on a regular basis to benefit from its healing properties. All these and more make the Dead Sea so fascinating, so different and so interesting.
GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
Visitors to of the Garden of Gethsemane are amazed when they learn that the gnarled olive trees they see could have been young saplings when Jesus came here with the disciples on that fateful night after the Last Supper (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32; John 18:1). Today the ancient trees rise from manicured flower beds; in Jesus’ time this would have been an olive grove where an olive-oil press – gethsemane in Greek – was located.
The impressive Church of All Nations, built in the 1920s over earlier churches, relates the events of this place in brilliantly detailed floor-to ceiling mosaics: Jesus praying alone (Mark 14:35-36); Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 26:48); the cutting off of the ear of the High Priest’s servant (Mark 14:47).
Across the lane is a less-frequented grove, where arrangements can be made for visitors to spend a more private time of worship and contemplation.
SEA OF GALILEE
The Kineret, or Sea of Galilee, is Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir, and is also the country’s largest and most important source of drinking water.
All winter long, the most important part of the news report for Israelis is not the dollar-shekel exchange rate or the level of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange index, but rather the water level in Lake Kineret, which often reflects the national spirit. The Kineret, or Sea of Galilee, is Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir, and is also the country’s largest and most important source and reservoir of drinking water. For this and other reasons, the Kineret has become an important national symbol and is also a first class tourism center.
The beaches that surround the entire lake are similar but different. The width of the beaches varies in keeping with the local geography, creating different landscapes in every location. Above the eastern and western shores, for example, rise the Galilee mountains and the foothills of the Golan, while to the north there is the Beit Tsida valley, a wide area with plentiful water that drains from the Jordan River and the Golan streams, and to the south is the Jordan estuary, which flows south toward the desert regions.
For this reason, some of the Kineret’s beaches have soft sand, while others are rocky; some beaches are narrow while others are very wide. Either way, the beaches are fun and offer many tourist attractions for every age group. Most of the beaches allow nature-loving visitors to sleep in camping areas on the sand, and there are also hostels, guest houses and beachfront hotels. Most of the beaches also offer various types of water sports and water activities, such as boating in inflatable rubber dinghies, canoes, etc.; children can enjoy the giant slides at the water parks (Luna Gal, Tsemakh or Gai Beach). There are plenty of restaurants and grocery stores along the way, and most of all one can enjoy the calm and tranquility.
The beaches surrounding the Kineret are also a perfect starting point for wonderful nature tours of the area. Some of the most popular and beautiful nature sites are the Jordan Park, the Beit Tsida Nature Reserve, Khamat Gader, Naharayim. There is also the lower Golan Heights region, which borders on the Kineret and is full of swift flowing streams, historic sites and nature reserves.
The Kineret played an important role in the early years of Christianity and has now become a pilgrimage site for many Christians. According to Christian tradition, Jesus lived, preached and performed miracles in the Kineret and the surrounding region. It was here that he walked on the water and the miracle of the loaves and the fishes happened in nearby Kfar Nakhum (Capernaum). There are many Christian holy sites around the Kineret, including the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Loaves and the Fishes, Kfar Nakhum, Kursi, “Yardenit” Baptismal Site, and the wooden boat discovered in the lake and now on display at Kibbutz Ginosar. Other nearby historic sites include Migdal, Tel Hadar, Ubeidiya (Israel’s most important prehistoric site), Beit Tsida, Kibbutz Dganya Alef, Moshavat Kineret and the city of Tiberias.
Jerusalem is like no other city, people often say. But what makes it so? Could it be your feeling, as you walk these ancient streets, that you are walking a tightrope between heaven and earth?
Jerusalem had two natures, it has long been said: the “heavenly” and the “earthly.” Sometimes it may seem to visitors that its “earthly” elements are just like those of any other city – perhaps even more so; as you navigate the Old City streets, and even at its holy places, seeking the spiritual moments you imagined you’d always have, you might occasionally find yourself jostled by the crowds, who seem to have not the slightest bit of respect for your space!
Yet Jerusalem may be where “respect for space” was invented. After all, God said of it: “My Name shall be there” (I Kings 8:29). And you want to come here because you want be on that spot – where tradition says Abraham stood a moment before the angel stopped him from sacrificing his son Isaac. You want to come to Jerusalem because at the Mount of Olives you can behold the city spread out before you, floating like a vision of all time. You want to be here to walk down the Mount of Olives and hear the echoes of crowds shouting “Hosannah!” You want to be able to sense the strengthening of your faith as you pray under the ancient olive trees at the Garden of Gethsemane. You want to stand at Golgotha, and behold an empty tomb. You want to walk up the steps leading to the Temple that Jesus also must have climbed, and where Peter healed a beggar. You want to restore your vision, like the beggar of old at the Pool of Siloam, where every day, under the skilled hands of the archaeologists, the earth yields up the stones that Jesus knew. You want to celebrate here with the Jewish people on the biblical holidays of ascent to the Holy City – Tabernacles, Passover and Pentecost.
You will come because you want to learn what true “sacred space” is. It is here that you can relive like nowhere else the moments when Jesus walked through streets like these, carrying the cross. It dawns on you here how 2,000 years later the crowds still jostle for space, still ignore the needs of others – or offer to help out a stranger with overflowing compassion; the vendors still vie for your attention, and the air is filled with the aromas of cinnamon and myrrh, coriander, cumin and sage. And that is when you realize what “sacred space” is all about.
Because this is what you seek, this is what leads you to Jerusalem, you’ll find when you are here that you can move easily between the realms of the earthly and the heavenly, and make the Holy City your own..
DOME OF THE ROCK
This magnificent octagon that dominates the Old City is a shrine for Isam’s third most holy site. The piece of black stone it covers is the mountain where Abraham tried to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac as Jews and Christians believe), the site of the temple of Solomon, and the place from whence Mohammed departed skywards for his famous encounter with the heavenly—”The Night Journey”.
The building took three years to complete, from 688 to 691, and was erected as a deliberate snub to Christians and Jews, whose faith Islam was supposed to supersede. The location had borrowed Judaism’s heritage and most holy sight—the Temple Mount— the building was constructed to have a larger dome than that of the Holy Sepulchre’s, and Syrian Christians were forced to Lay mosaics inside containing verses taken from the Koran about Christian misguided belief in the Trinity.
The Dome of the Rock has survived all earthquakes thus far, being built firmly on rock, and has never been destroyed, merely renovated. The new external tiling was put on in 1963 and the dome was re-gilded in 1993-94.
THE JESUS BOAT
For Christians, the Jesus Boat is one of the most precious and meaningful archaeological treasures in the world.
For Christians, the Jesus Boat is one of the most precious and meaningful archaeological treasures in the world.
On a drought-dried shore of the Sea of Galilee in January 1986, two brothers who were fishermen from Ginosar—called Gennesaret in Jesus’ day (Matt. 14:34, Mark 6:53)—spied a mysterious object poking up out of the mud. Twelve days later, an ancient vessel saw the light of day for the first time since it sank nearly 2,000 years ago.
Scholars say it was a combined ferry and fishing boat, and might have even served in a sea battle against the Romans, but for more than a million Christians who have seen it over the years, and for those looking forward to doing so, it will always be “the Jesus boat.” While no one knows exactly who rode in the boat or what its purpose was, it serves as a powerful visual reminder of the Gospel stories of Jesus and his disciples, many of whom were fishermen themselves.
After complex restoration, the Galilee Boat now sits above a calm blue-green sea at the Yigal Alon Center at Kibbutz Ginosar. At this superb indoor display, visitors learn that this mainly oak-and-cedar craft was patched repeatedly and lovingly with 12 different kinds of wood, and that these very trees still grow along the walk to the museum.
Sculptor and kibbutz gardener Yuvi Lufan, who along with his brother Moshe discovered the boat, is now part of the living history of the Galilee Boat. “Our parents taught us to love the Sea of Galilee,” Lufan says, “and I always knew it would give us a gift. And it did—a legacy that brought something special to the whole world.”
For more information, please go to www.jesusboatmuseum.com.
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