Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April A to Z Challenge: U is for Unseen, Upper Room, Ultra Religious

Continuing on with April A to Z Challenge - sorry in advance for the photo overload!

U is for Unseen

Have you ever been somewhere and felt totally unnoticed or totally unseen? I actually noted an event in my little travel journal that was quite bizarre. I was in the restaurant of the hotel in Jerusalem one morning and I was totally ignored by the wait staff. They were all men and I watched them bustle around serving other tables but not a single one approached my table. Breakfast is served buffet style so I had food but no one ever asked if I needed coffee (which I didn’t) or any other thing. Not one of them even looked at me. It was the weirdest thing! Has anyone else ever experienced something like that?
Since I was unseen . . .I have no photos :-)

U is for Upper Room

I’ve told y’all a million times about things that were my favorite but this one was NOT. It was fine and interesting but for some reason it was a tad disappointing to me. When I read I have a tendency to make pictures in my head of what something should look like. On both trips, I tried to go with no expectations – no preconceived notions but I couldn’t shake them for this space. I know that this space has been rebuilt on top of whatever used to be there so I wasn't expecting "original" - it just wasn't what I thought it would be. One cool thing is that they told us the tomb of King David is underneath the building!
statue of king david who is
missing his nose
someone did this to him!

people praying in King David's tomb

The Last Supper was taken, according to old belief, in the big room below. One Byzantine column still stands from the Crusader reconstruction. There is a pillar in one of the corners which has a pelican motif. What does a pelican have to do with the upper room? An old story says that the pelicans bill has a crimson tip, and the contrast of this red tip against the white breast probably gave rise to the tradition that the bird tore her own breast to feed her young with the blood. Since we celebrate the Lord’s Supper using grape juice or wine which represents the blood of Christ, I guess this is the stretch between the two.

above and below - shots of the pelicans on the pillar

U is for Ultra Religious

Our tour guide used this reference often – Ultra Religious Jews.  I read on one website that these gentleman do not like to be called Ultra Religious or Ultra Orthodox. If this is so, someone please tell me. I certainly would never want to offend anyone.
This is from the Jewish Center for Public Affairs:

Israel's Jews are not divided into two groups but into four: ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionists, traditional Jews, and secular. Some 8 percent are ultra-Orthodox. These are the strangely (to Western eyes) garbed, black hatted Jews who are featured in all the pictures, despite the fact that they represent only 8 percent of Israel's Jewish population. Both years of travel, our flight from Newark to Tel Aviv and back, was populated with many Ultra Orthodox or Ultra Religious Jews. These are the men in the big black hats and big black coats with “boxes” on their arms. These “boxes” are Tefillin. They are actually two small black boxes with black straps attached to them. Jewish men are required to place one box on their head and tie the other one on their arm each weekday morning. This practice comes from the scripture, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a frontlet between your eyes. (translation from Jewish Virtual Library . . .which has been a great resource).
The flight from Newark to Tel Aviv is about 12 hours and these gentlemen are up and down several times during the night praying.

Monday, April 23, 2018

April A to Z Challenge: T is for Toda, Tel Dan, Tabgha, Tiberias, Teaching Steps

T is for Toda

Our guides were kind enough to teach us a couple of phrases/words in Hebrew and one of those words is “toda” which means thank you!

T is for Tel Dan

Here I go again telling you that this is a favorite thing we did/place we went but I guess that is what happens when you enjoy a place so much. We didn’t go to Tel Dan in 2016. This was an additional trip that Rafi, our guide, and Brian, our pastor/leader came up with and I am so glad we did it.

Dan was one of the 12 tribes of Israel and this location was discovered in 1849. (date is according to Wikipedia). To the west is the southern part of Mount Lebanon; to the east and north are the Hermon mountains. Melting snow from the Hermon mountains is one of the sources of water for the Jordan River. This water passes through Dan and so the surrounding area is highly fertile. When we were there, it had rained the entire week before and the water was swift moving. It is a gorgeous place plunked right into the middle of an otherwise arid region.

T is for Tabgha

Today must be a day for favorites! T is a good letter. Tabgha is located on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee and is best known for Christ’s miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish – the feeding of the multitudes.
Tabgha is at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes. Tabgha means “seven springs.” The beach here was familiar to Jesus and his disciples.

The church of the Primacy of St. Peter is built in 1934 of black basalt and is where Jesus made his 3rd appearance to the disciples.

Do you remember the story of how the disciples were fishing and had caught nothing and the man on the shore (Jesus) told them to cast on the other side of the boat and they caught 153 fish?  This was at Tabgha.

Jesus cooked breakfast on that beach for the disciples on a charcoal fire and he asked Peter three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Many scholars think that Jesus asked three times to cancel out Peter’s denials (3X) and Peter responded correctly with, “Yes, Lord I love you.” Our pastor tells us that even the charcoal fire is an important detail given – Peter denied Jesus around a charcoal fire and here was that same smell – and Jesus offered such grace to Peter.

In the beautiful garden overlooking the beach is a statue of Jesus symbolically commissioning Peter with his shepherd’s crook.

a peak inside the church

statue of Peter and Jesus
in the garden

Lisa on the beach picking
up rocks

standing on the beach looking back
at the church

Peter, do you  love me?
Stones shaped like hearts on the beach
at Tabgha

T is for Tiberias

After arriving in Tel Aviv, first stop is Tiberias, a city located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The city was established around 20 CE and it was named in honor of the second emperor of the Roman Empire.

In the gospel of John, you can read: “Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

This trip, I was more adventurous. In 2016, I ventured across the parking lot to some small shops to purchase Coke Zero (no diet pepsi-my fav and no diet coke – BUT yes to Coke Zero to this cold caffeine addicted person). On this trip, some of friends even realized that they could purchase a bottle of wine MUCH cheaper at the store than in the hotel.

There is a board walk beside and behind the hotel that I had no idea existed but I wandered up and down it several times on this trip.

We stayed at the Caeser hotel and it is quite nice with good food and teeny tiny balconies off the rooms (where I watched the fireworks).

The funny thing is that both years, it was WARM when we were in Tiberias and you can’t turn on the air conditioners in the room because it is actually winter and they only have heat available (believe me, I asked at the front desk). We left our door open pretty much 24/7 and had the breeze from the Sea of Galilee.

my tiny store in Tiberias

View of Tiberias from our teeny tiny

our group in the hotel lobby at the
hotel in Tiberias
T is for Teaching Steps

Here is another favorite. I should be embarrassed that I keep saying that but for some reason, I’m not!

The teaching steps are at the southern end of the Temple Mount and are believed to be where Jesus would often teach when he was in Jerusalem. These steps led to the gate that was the primary entrance to the Temple Mount in the time of Mary and Joseph and Jesus. SOME of the steps are original. Y’all – that means Mary and Joseph’s feet walked on those steps. Not only Mary and Joseph’s feet BUT THE FEET of Jesus walked there. Sitting on those steps is very powerful.
our group in 2018 on the
teaching steps

posing for a selfie
with my roommate, Kit, on the
teaching steps

my hand looks old but it
is not as old as the step
where it rests . . .where Mary
and Joseph and Jesus walked

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April A to Z Challenge: S is for Shekels, Shawarma, Church of St. Anne, Sea of Galilee

S is for Shekels

On our trip in 2016, we all changed some of our money in the Newark airport before departing for Israel. This time, I didn’t change any money and had no problems. Most of the actual stores take credit cards and most everyone else takes US dollars. There are some places, like a food kiosk in the Tel Aviv airport, only give change in shekels.

.99 Israeli Shekel = 0.28 US dollar

The price is often listed in shekels and we divided by 3 to get a general idea of cost in US dollars. I think it was closer to 0.33 when we were there earlier this year.

Our tour guide cautioned us against using credit cards in the Old City booths. She (we also had Tamar, Rafi’s wife) told us to ask her before using our credit card and she could tell us if it was safe or not. I just paid cash for things in the marketplace.
sorry for the poor photography --
I think this is the only]
coin I have from the

S is for Shawarma

This is a meat preparation where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit and may be grilled for as long as a day.  Have you every purchased a gyro in the US and watched them slice the big piece of meat?

S is for the Church of St. Anne

According to seetheholyland.net, “The Church of St Anne is the best-preserved Crusader church in Jerusalem. It marks the traditional site of the home of Jesus’ maternal grandparents, Anne and Joachim, and the birthplace of the Virgin Mary.

Located just north of the Temple Mount, about 50 metres inside St Stephen’s or Lions’ Gate, the church stands in a courtyard with trees, shrubs and flowers. Its tranquility contrasts with the bustling streets and alleys of the Muslim Quarter.

Next to the church is the large excavation area of the Pools of Bethesda, where Christ healed a sick man (John 5:2-9).

The New Testament says nothing about the birthplace of Mary. However, an ancient tradition, recorded in the apocryphal Gospel of James which dates from around AD 150, places the house of her parents, Anne and Joachim, close to the Temple area.

A church built around 450 on the site of St Anne’s was dedicated to “Mary where she was born”.

Strong lines and thick walls give St Anne’s a fortress-like appearance. Its simple dignity offers a space for prayer and contemplation without distraction. It is also unusually asymmetrical in the detail of its design: Opposite columns do not match, windows are all different sizes, and buttresses differ in thickness and height.

The Church of St Anne is renowned for its remarkable acoustics and reverberating echoes. The voices of even a small choral group can sound like a large congregation in a vast cathedral.

When we were there in 2016, we actually took a picture of all of the grandparents, or grandparents to be – ME, too, at that time.  p.s. I thought it was Ann but this article says "anne" so I'm going with it.

S is for the Sea of Galilee

I just love these two pictures and had to include them. We stayed on the Sea of Galilee at our first hotel and I walked down the boardwalk one evening and was able to catch these great photographs (as I'm typing this, I'm wondering if it was sunrise or sunset??) I walked down there several times and it was beautiful!