Israel Travel

The past year of 2010 (Hebrew year 5770), according the Jerusalem Post Christian Edition, was the best year ever for incoming tourism to Israel. This was announced last month by the Tourism Ministry. Approximately 3.1 million tourists visited Israel last year, compared to 2.6 million last year and 2.8 million the year before.

If you have never been to Israel, you must go! Whether you are a Christian, Jew or other, your life will be changed. It is such a ‘magical’ place, the apple of God’s eye and full of beauty, joyful people, even those living in poverty, and its very existence is a miracle. Did you know that after 2000 years, on May 14, 1948, Israel was reborn as a nation, an impossible feat? – “Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” (Isaiah 66:5-6)

Right now in our lifetime God is regathering His people back to the land He had given them for an everlasting inheritance! “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,”says the LORD your God.” (Amos 9:15)

“In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations  and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12).

“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:24-28)

The Hebrew language has been restored as the national tongue – also impossible –   For then will I return to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. (Zephaniah 3:9). A land which had been left desolate and referred to as a ‘barren wasteland’ by Mark Twain in the late 1800s, is now once again the land of milk and honey“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom. . ;” (Isaiah 35:1-2). Due to the sacrifices, hard work and the superior intelligence of returning Jews, Israel has an exceptional irrigation system which wastes not a drop of the scant rainfall of the land. Everywhere you go desert is being transformed to lovely forests, farmland, floral landscapes and beautiful hills. In the north you can ski on Mt. Hermon, yet in the south you can go to the beaches all year long. It is a tiny country yet at one time it was acknowledged as the center of the world – the maps even showed it that way with Jerusalem at the center and the three petals the major continents. (click once or twice on any photo to enlarge, back arrow to return)

Map of the World 1581

Map of the World 1581

I have been to Israel twice – once with Pilgrim Tours (http://www.pilgrimtours.com/mideast/israel/Retail/israel10.htm) and once as a study tour with Bridges For Peace. My heart is in Israel and I would love to go again and stay for a time, possibly volunteering for one of the many organizations which bless and support new immigrants, holocaust survivors, the poor.

Here are some of the photos from both trips:

Tel Aviv from the air

Tel Aviv from the air

Descending over Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport was a most thrilling experience both times.

This tree was here when Jesus prayed the night before His crucifixion

Ancient Olive Tree -Garden of Gethsemane

This is in the Garden where Jesus prayed the night before His crucifixion. This tree was surely there when He was! The olive tree lives for centuries. This one is over 2000 years old.

One of the saltiest seas in the world - you cannot sink!

Floating on the Dead Sea

This is one of the saltiest seas in the world – you cannot sink! It is full of valuable minerals which are used in cosmetics and health care products worldwide.

This is where in 1947 a young Bedouin shepherd discovered one of the caves where the oldest manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures were found – the Dead Sea Scrolls. All but the book of Esther have been found and preserved in the ‘Shrine of the Book‘ museum.

Bet She'an Archeological dig

Bet She'an archeological dig

This is an amazing excavation which is only partially complete. It is uncovering an ancient Roman city complete with shopping malls, theater, religious buildings. Israel contains many ‘tels’ which are hills consisting of layers upon layers of rubble from past eras. Bet She’an is a tel. There is a law in Israel stating that any modern construction which results in finding ancient artifacts must stop digging and allow archeologists to go in and investigate.

Camel - Mount of Olives

Camel - Mount of Olives

We walked from the top to the bottom of the Mount of Olives and saw many sights including resting camels, beggars, Arabs, rabbis, other tourists.

Jerusalem!

Jerusalem!

This was our first view of the holy city – the city of gold, city of light. There are the Old City and the new more modern city. We visited both and it was all wonderful.

The Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb

http://www.gardentomb.com/gardentour.php

Excavated only within the last 100 years, this is believed to be the actual tomb where Jesus was laid, which belonged to a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimethea. There are many reasons this is believed to be the actual site: it is next to a rock wall which shockingly contains natural gouges that look like a skull! I will post a photo of the skull also. In the bible account of the crucifixion, Golgotha is mentioned, which means ‘place of a skull’ – Jews in that day easily would have named the amazing likeness a skull; also, it is outside the gates of Jerusalem, not inside, which is also biblical; also it is not roughly hewn out of the rock, but chiseled in a perfect rectangle, suggesting it was owned by a rich man, which Joseph was – he allowed Jesus’ body to be buried in the tomb he had had built for himself and his wife – there are 2 ‘beds’ in the tomb as opposed to the usual 1. Also, most tombs had the ‘beds’ to the left, but these are to the right and the bible also states Jesus’ body was placed to the right. One more clue is this: the bible states Jesus’ tomb was in a garden, yet originally there was no water source to be found in the area; however, with recent digging, a huge water cistern has been found on the site, as well as an ancient wine press! After we had our turns entering the tomb, which was an awesome experience, our group had a private communion service in the small, humble chapel there.

The society which maintains this site is funded solely by donations. There are guides who teach you the story of the tomb before you walk down to it. Everyone should experience this!

Golgotha - Place of the Skull

Golgotha - Place of the Skull

Here is a modern bus station built under the biblical ‘place of the skull’. Just around the corner is the Garden Tomb!

 
Garden Tomb view fom above

Garden Tomb view fom above

Here is another view of the tomb of Jesus!

Wine press at Garden Tomb

Wine press at Garden Tomb

Here is the wine press I mentioned.

Boat Trip on Sea of Galilee

Boat Trip on Sea of Galilee

We enjoyed a boat ride on the ‘Sea’ of Galilee – it’s really Lake Kinnaret but the Jews had called it a sea before there was a word for ‘lake’. It is the place where Jesus walked on water and led the fishermen to full nets of fish. The boat, named ‘Faith’ is designed like the boats of Jesus’ day and is captained by a messianic Jew named Michael Carmiel. He led us in worship songs as we sailed on the loveliest of days. As each flag was raised we sang both the Jewish national anthem Ha Tikvah (the Hope) which always brings tears to my eyes (click this link to listen) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Hatikvah_instrumental.ogg, and the U.S. national anthem. Very moving experience all around!

Praise & Worship on Sea of Galilee

Praise & Worship on Sea of Galilee

Such a rich experience to worship with believers from all over in the land of Israel (ha eretz)

Raising Flags on the Sea of Gallilee

Raising Flags on the Sea of Gallilee

We sang the Israeli and U.S. national anthems as these were raised.

Old City Cafe

Old City Cafe

This is a cafe in the Old City of Jerusalem where we had falafels for lunch one day.

Peddler - Old City

Peddler - Old City

This was taken just outside the Jaffa Gate.

Ethiopian PreSchool

Ethiopian PreSchool

We visited 2 schools in Israel, Bet Shemesh elementary school and this Ethiopian preschool. Bridges For Peace supports these schools and people can  ‘adopt’ an Israeli immigrant child for $60 per month, 1 year commitment. On our trip, a fellow tourist, who sponsors a little boy in the elementary school, got to meet his child and presented him with a soccer ball and other gifts while we all watched tearfully!

Bet Shemesh School Children

Bet Shemesh School Children

Here are some children at recess. They were so happy to greet us.

Jewish Cemetary

Jewish Cemetary

These are tombs on the Mount of Olives. Rich people have their tombs here, which is close to the Temple Mount where they expect the Messiah to appear. They hope to be the first to be resurrected! Indeed the Messiah will return here.

Shopping - OldCity

Shopping - OldCity

We had some free time to shop in the many Old City shops – we visited the Jewish quarter, the Arab quarter, the Christian quarter and the Armenian quarter. I bought tallits (prayer shawls) for myself and my son. I bought several other things as well!

Roman Aqueduct Caesarea

Roman Aqueduct Caesarea

This is the famous aqueduct built by King Herod near his summer palace on the Mediterranean Sea in Caesarea.

Western Wall

Western Wall

Formerly called the Wailing Wall (prior to 1967 when Israel reclaimed Jerusalem), this is where rabbis, residents, tourists from all over the world pray and place papers with prayer requests into the cracks of the ancient wall. To the left of the divider is the men’s section and the women’s is to the right. This is one of the original walls of the Temple Mount where the Jewish temple was built by Solomon, destroyed by the Babylonians, rebuilt by Cyrus and destroyed again by the Romans. Prophecy states that there will be a 3rd temple built which will not be destroyed. I visited the Temple Institute where many articles from the original temples and newly crafted ones are waiting for the rebuilding. Priests are being trained in the Levitical sacrificial system and the Sanhedrin has been re-established as well.

Praying at the Wall

Praying at the Wall

People from all over the world pray at this holy site.

Temple Model

This is a model of the 2nd Jewish temple, destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans.

1st Century Jerusalem Model

1st Century Jerusalem Model

This is a scaled model of Jerusalem as it was in Jesus’ day. We walked all around it.

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

This mosque is currently on the Temple Mount and heavily guarded by Arab Muslims.

A carpenter in Nazareth (costumed)

We visited Nazareth and walked through a mock setting of the way it was in Jesus’ day.

Click on this link to read a wonderful description of the second tour by a friend I met on the 2009 tour, a writer named Lenore Eidse:

Study Tour of Israel – Lenore Eidse

Responses

  1. I DROVE ALONG THE LEBANON BORDER THE DAY AFTER THE LAST LEBANON WAR AND PICKED UP HITCHHICKING SOLDIERS LEAVING LEBANON, TAKING THEM TO THE BUS STATION IN ZEFAT. I STAYED A MONTH IN ZEFAT AND A WEEK IN THE OLD CITY. I WENT TO THE WALL EVERY EVENING TO PRAY. WHILE VISITING THE TEMPLE MOUNT I WAS TOLD BY THE DOME OF THE ROCK DOORKEEPER ISRAEL WOULD BE NO MORE BY THE END OF THE YEAR AS PREDICTED BY PRES AHMADINEJAD OF IRAN. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN AND NEVER WILL.

  2. Thanks, Elena
    Beautiful pictures. I just came back from my 8th trip to Israel and it is never the same. There is so much to see and feel and touch and love, especially the people. We went to a military base on the Lebanon border and into Samaria where we planted pomegranate and fig trees. There are never any words to describe Israel, the apple of God’s eye.

    Shalom, Marge

  3. Thanks Elena these are beautiful. The camel, dead sea and the Olive tree are great as well as the others but the picture of you in the doorway of the tomb is my favorite. I think someday I’ld like to visit there.
    All the best, Jean

  4. Shalom Elena,
    Beautiful story-beautiful pictures-wonderful blog-all glory to God!
    Margaret

  5. Elena – I loved seeing your travel photos ! brings back wonderful memories I will always cherish ! Thank you for making the trip possible ! Love, Nancy

  6. Thank YOU for going with me Nancy

  7. Nice shots, http://www.sareltours.com is another travel company that will arrange a custom tour schedule for you. Tour sites are very expensive, average about 300 dollars per day, we booked our own through a land agent and went for 15 days for about 200 dollars a day including air fare. You can book lodging through the kibbutz hotel chain, save a ton of money. None of these tours interact with the soldiers, my wife’s family live in Israel and I served with the
    army reserves there so I like to see people acknowledge the efforts of the military to keep the country together. We hosted a small group a few years back and they brought little notes on greeting cards and handed them out to the soldiers they saw that just had a happy message and offered some encouragement. They bought a memorial wreath and gave it to the soldiers up on Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, a thoughtful gesture. Unfortunately, my personal travels to Israel include a visit to the cemetary to visit some of my friends, the reality of what it costs to preserve and protect Israel today. Many tourists come and go and never interact much with the Israelis they pass in the street, but their visits would be enriched if they did. The next time you go, stop and bring some coca colas over to a group of soldiers and make some
    friends. BC

  8. I read this paragraph completely regarding the comparison of most up-to-date and earlier technologies, it’s amazing article.

  9. Wonderful pictures, it brings my memories back. I will go again this year to see with expert Israel trips.

  10. Great article!
    We invite you to amazing guided tour with our great travel guide.
    We are visting the most amazing places in Israel – Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and much more.

    check out our website:

    http://www.hallelujah-tours.com/

  11. Thanks for posting your photos from our Bridges for Peace Study Tour (I found myself in one of the photos!). It certainly brings back wonderful memories. Finally, this year I got my PHOTOBOOK finished from our trip!! I’m thrilled to relive our experiences time and time again!! Your updates on Israel are enlightening, and we continue to marvel at God’s working in His people’s lives.
    —Janet Dempsey


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