Jerusalem, like other cities, was built surrounded by high walls created in order to ensure the safety of the inhabitants from outsiders. The city has always been the center of faith and spirituality beginning from the early days of King Solomon stretching even through modern times, and during the many centuries it has attracted traders and pilgrims who have ventured to the city for many a miracle. No doubt that the walls of the city helped to protect against enemies, but this practice also exacerbated the spread of disease. A small but quite interesting exhibit on the history of medicine and the connection between faith and health in Jerusalem is now on display thru April 2015 at the Tower of David museum.
The bible makes many references to herbs and other natural products as key treatments for a variety of ailments in ancient times and even today many of these natural products are still used for medicinal purposes. Cardamon for instance was used for the treatment of bad breath and as protection for the teeth. During the Middle ages, lead was used for the treatment of hemorrhoids and skin ailments. On display one will find a variety of unique items, from seedlings of herbs, to early measuring tools and other instruments as well as fascinating photos of early 20th century Jerusalem’s residents and the city’s early hospitals, a couple which still stand today.
Clearly religion has always played a factor in the rules of cleanliness as well as the treatment of illness. Within the Jewish religion, the Talmud actually presents 10 items that are required to be built in any public facility including a lavatory and sink for washing. The Franciscans, who settled in the city in the 17th century, were the ones who opened the city’s first pharmacy which still can be seen today. By narrating the wars of faith and missionary activity in the 19th century and early 20th century the exhibition leads the visitor through the establishment of hospitals and clinics many of which are well showcased in the exhibits many vintage photographs: a sanatorium established by the London Society for promoting Christianity Among the Jews, Marienstift Children’s Hospital, Meyer Rothschild Hospital – first Jewish hospital outside the Old City and new known as Shaare Tzedek Hospital, Bikur Holim, English Mission Hospital and the Italian Hospital. The positive outcome was the establishment of hospitals that made Jerusalem a center of advanced medicine. Interestingly, Jerusalem’s first pharmacy was established by the Franciscans in the 19th century and the shop can still be seen today.
Many of the photos are from the Rothchild Archives. One of the more telling photos, entitled “Black Canopy Wedding” depicts an a late 19th century wedding that took place outside the old city in the Mt. of Olives. In the background there is a black chuppah which was used in the event that both the bride and the groom are orphans, which was often the case in the late 1800’s when a horrible cholera epidemic ripped through the Old City. In fact, it was because of this epidemic that Jerusalem expanded for the first time outside the city walls and new neighborhoods were constructed.
The design of the exhibit is in the shape of a serpent; reminiscent of the bronze serpent that Moses held on his staff , (Numbers 21) which is also how the serpent came to be the universal sign of medicine.
Other areas worth visiting at the Tower of David include the newly opened moat from the Herodian period, which housed the huge pools that Herod used to store water. In the courtyard there is a special exhibit of traditional remedies and spices brought from the Old City markets. An array of traditional herbs can be found in the Herb Garden.
Of course, the ‘high’ point, so to speak, is the breathtaking lookout point on the top of Phasael Tower, where the old city meets the new, and provides a wonderful panoramic view of both East and West Jerusalem.
If you go:
Tower of David Museum opening hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 09:00 – 16:00 Friday and Saturday: 09:00 – 14:00
For more information and reservations: / 02-6265333 / *2884
The countdown until Christmas Day has already begun. Decorations are up; for both Christmas and the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. In Bethlehem, the Christmas tree in front of Church of Nativity has been lit. If you will be on a Holy Land tour in these next few weeks, here are some events you will want to check out:
Bethlehem: The city where Jesus was born
> Breaking Bread Journeys Christmas Market tour (Dec. 19): Join us
to experience Bethlehem like a local and enjoy the special Christmas festivities. Our expert guide will take you behind the scenes, through the market alleyways and into the city’s many important sites as well as into the home of a local Palestinian Christian family where you will break bread and enjoy a traditional home cooked lunch and warm hospitality. Click HERE for more information!
> Christmas Festival (Nov. 23- Jan 9): Located in different locations throughout Bethlehem, artists will be singing at different places in Bethlehem. Below is the schedule, click on the schedule to enlarge it [I apologize for the blurriness, the original on the website is also blurry].
> Midnight Mass (Dec. 24): Since entering the Church of Nativity is impossible without tickets, thousands of people gather together in Manger Square, which is in front of the Church. There will be performances in addition to the Midnight Mass being shown on big screens.
According to Christian locals, Bethlehem is the best place to visit.
Nazareth: The city where Jesus spent his childhood
> Christmas Festival (Dec. 17- 21): Every year Nazareth has a festival where its main market is filled with decorations, lights, and street performances.
Jerusalem: The city where Jesus was crucified
> YMCA Christmas celebrations: The Jerusalem International YMCA will be having a few events prior to Christmas. Below is the schedule and since some require tickets, you can contact the YMCA at 02-5692684.
There will also be celebrations in the centers of both Jaffa and Haifa. There are large Christian populations in both of these cities.
If you are in a city in Israel that do not have a large Christian population, you will notice that there are many decorations in preperation for the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. Street lamps have festive blue and gold lights and many cafes sell elaborate jelly-filled dougnuts.
No matter which holiday you celebrate (or even if you do not celebrate a holiday), the Holy Land is place filled with holiday spirit! To those celebrating, happy holidays!
The annual Olive Harvest Festival was a perfect time to visit Canaan Fair Trade and learn about the origins of this very unique cooperative that while only beginning its operation in 2005, has now become the world’s largest fair trade olive oil supplier, according to company founder Nasser Abufarha.
With over 2,149 Palestinian farmers under its umbrella, Canaan Fair Trade, located in Burqin, within the heart of the northern Samarian region of the Palestinian Territories, generated revenues of $4.1 million and over 300 tons of olive oil in 2013. The company’s founder, a Palestinian-American businessman Nasser Abufarha, conceived of the idea of creating an organic fair trade cooperative after returning from the US, where he received his Ph.D at the University of Wisconsin. Having been exposed to fair trade in the US, he thought about bringing the concept to the regions many Palestinian olive farmers, who lacked real organization and certainly certification as organic producers. He returned to his home in Palestine and establish Canaan, basing it on certain guidelines including both social and financial profitability, as well as being environmentally sustainable.
Canaan Fair Trade produces a number of products under their own brand name as well as others that are white labeled under such famous and renowned brands as William Sonoma, Dr. Bronners and others and their products are sold in many natural markets around the world including Whole Foods and others.
This small Holy Land is filled with cultural events! In one week I attended a film festival in Ramallah and a jazz music festival in Jersualem; and next week there is a film festival in Jerusalem. No matter when you come to tour the Holy Land, there will be numerous cultural events simultanously happening.
“Ramallah Animated,” the film festival I recently attended, had five days of screenings of Animation films from Palestine, Arab and International films. The film I saw, for 15 NIS (less than $5), was called “The Wanted 18” and was award winning for the best Arabic documentary in AbuDhabi International Film Festival 2014. This film was a creative way for me to learn about a specific story that took place during the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising).
It’s 1987, and the first Palestinian popular movement in the West Bank is rising. Residents want local alternatives to Israeli goods, including milk, which they’ve been buying from an Israeli company. And so begins the strange story of the 18 cows.
The plot is hatched by pacifist intellectuals and professionals. Not your typical dairy farmers. These “lactivists” forge ahead anyway, buying 18 cows and smuggling them into the West Bank town of Beit Sahour.
But who knows anything about cows? These newly min ted farmers have to learn the most basic skills—even how to milk their charges, which isn’t as easy as it looks.
Eventually, the cows come to the attention of Israeli authorities, and the chase is on—a cat-and-mouse (or soldier-and-cow) game writ large, as the cows shuttle from barn to barn, with their pursuers determined to find them. The cows became legendary and the “intifada milk” (sometimes distributed under cover of darkness) becomes a part of daily life.
Click HERE to learn more about this film.
To find out about these culture events prior to your journey to the Holy Land, simply ask locals! This can be done in different online forums.
To learn more about these forums, check out THIS previous post.
One of the most remarkable landmarks in Jerusalem is the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, and in Hebrew, Ha Kotel. This structure is one of the remaining outer walls from the First and Second Temples. This wall is significant compared to the other walls because it is closest to the room where the 10 Commandments were kept. This room is often referred to as “Holy of Holies.” Regardless of your religious background, this spiritual experience of the Western Wall, is one you will remember.
Visitors and locals alike approach the wall in prayer where they can stuff notes into the cracks of the walls in hopes that their prayers will be answered. Once you are near the Wall you will notice that there are dividers to separate males and females.
Not only can the wall’s beauty be seen above ground, but also below ground where there is a tunnel you can explore the ancient remains. The infamous Western wall actually continues underground where you will be able to see even more of the grandiose wall. In this tunnel, you will get a picture of how long and tall the Western Wall originally was. For example, the portion of the Western Wall above ground is about 200 ft long. When you go through the tunnel, you are able to see the additional 1,591 ft of the wall.
It is politically significant to mention the location of this tunnel because it is built underneath the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. This caused discomfort to the residents during the construction and after its completion, not only because of the noise, but also because of the religious affiliations. In addition, the residents residing over the tunnel allegedly did not have a choice in the matter, as this project politically trumped their voices.
To expand on the tensions relating to the Western Wall and its tunnel, there are more political disputes amongst Jews. A popular dispute is a collective called “Women of the Wall” who strive to achieve the right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud. The Western Wall is currently controlled by an orthodox sect of Judaism that believes it is forbidden for women to partake in the above actions.
While you are on a Holy Land tour, you will experience something unique. The Western Wall is an example of one of the countless sites where you can feel full of spiritual energy, and be shocked to learn that the same site provokes tension between people of the same and different faith.
While you are on a Holy Land tour, you will have the opportunity to taste, and possibly make, the delicious Arab dessert called Kanafeh.
This dessert is easily recognizable from its neon orange appearance. Kanafeh essentially is cheese soaked in a sugary, sweet syrup. The base is shredded noodles, usually kadaif noodles. Then the cheese is made by combining milk, cream, sugar and cornstarch. It is poured over the noodles, then drenched with syrup. The syrup is made from a combination of lemon juice, sugar, and orange flower water. After the Knafeh bakes in an open fire, it is flipped, drenched in more syrup, and often sprinkled with crushed pistachios.
Prior to my first time eating Kanafeh, I was a bit hesitant to try it. Although I grew up eating foods with artificial colors, the neon orange top of Kanafeh had taken me aback. My friend encouraged me to taste it, and I’m happy she did. After I had eaten my slice, I went after her leftovers!
Note: After some research, the bright orange color is most likely just from the noodles being drenched in syrup. Nothing to fear!
Kanafeh is usually made during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan throughout Arab countries, but here in the Holy Land, it is a year-round dessert. It is argued that Nablus has the best Kanafeh. However, I recently went with a friend to Damascus Gate (the popular entrance to the Muslim Quarter of the Old City), and “Ja’Far’s Sweets” had delicious Kanafeh. However, I must mention that I do not have a matured Kanafeh taste buds…yet!
This is not the kind of dessert that you quickly eat. Therefore, I recommend eating this dessert after a full-day of touring. While eating and then fighting a food coma, it is a great opportunity for you to bond with other participants in your group and reflect on the past day’s adventures.
Sah Tayn, Bon Appetit!
On Tuesday, Oct. 28, thousands of Israelis will be coming together at 8:00pm. Not for a political event, or a concert. It is for the non-stop city of Tel Aviv’s Night Run. The urban 10K course goes through the main streets and attractions of the city. The course includes:
Rabin Square: This is named after Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, who was assassinated in this square in 1995. It is the location for numerous political rallies, parades, and other public events, including the Tel Aviv Night Run!
IMPORTANT NOTE: No, Rabin did not ironically get assassinated at a Square named for him. Prior to his assassination, it was known as the Kings of Israel Square.
Ibn Gabirol Street: This is a popular street filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is named after a medieval Hebrew poet and Jewish philosopher. His writings are included in versions of today’s Jewish prayer book.
Rothschild Boulevard: This street is easily identifiable because of the wide, tree-lined pedestrian and bike lanes placed in the center of the road. Independence Hall (where Israel’s Declaration of Independence was signed) is located here.
The Orchestra Plaza: This plaza is where several cultural institutions are located including a theatre and pavilion for contemporary art. The idea to have this central location for culture was proposed in the 1920s and was complete in 1945. This is also known as Habima Square.
Dizengoff: This street is named after the first mayor of Tel Aviv, Meir Dizengoff. Located on this street is the popular Dizengoff Center mall.
Hayarkon Park: This urban park is the central place for outdoor concerts and includes spacious lawns, sports facilities, gardens, and a water park! It has been recorded that annually, this park has on average 16 million visitors.
Information about registration for the Night Run Tel Aviv can be found HERE.
Additionally, there are runners who want to participate in a running event that is not commercialized. Therefore, on Thursday, Oct. 30, there will be an open night run event. Below is the background for why this event is happening and more information can be found HERE.
Note: Most of the information on the websites are in Hebrew. No worries, though, just copy and paste the text you want translated into translate.google.com
Planning to take a Holy Land tour over Christmas? This year why not take our Bethlehem Christmas market tour on December 19. Experience Bethlehem like a local and enjoy the special Christmas festivities found in the city known worldwide as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. This year visit Bethlehem, peruse the city’s unique Christmas market, visit the Church of Nativity in all its holiday glory. Our expert guide will take you behind the scenes, through the market alleyways and into the city’s many important sites as well as into the home of a local Palestinian Christian family where you will break bread and enjoy a traditional home cooked lunch and warm hospitality.
Cost is $120 per person and space is limited so reserve today.
The Price (excluding tips) includes:
– Roundtrip bus transportation from and to Herzliya and Jerusalem
– Traditional Lunch and Hospitality
– Professional Tour Guide
– Visit Shepherd’s Fields
– Visit the Nativity Museum in Old City of Bethlehem
– Visit Church of Nativity, the Milk Grotto, the Cave of St. Jerome
– Free Time inside the Christmas Market at Manger Square
Space is limited so reserve today. All participants must be non-Israelis and must bring a valid international passport with them.
08:00 AM Departure from Herzliya
17:00 PM Return to Herzliya
Olive picking season is just days away and to celebrate the harvest we are planning two day tours to Battir, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape situated adjacent to Bethlehem.
Tour dates – October 26 and November 2, 2014. Space is limited so sign up now. Registration closes on October 23, 2014
• Meet with an expert on ancient landscape conservation who prepared the UNESCO application on Battir
• Explore the Old City of Battir including the Seven Widow’s Quarter , the main Water Spring ( Ein el Balad), and the Roman Aqueduct System
• See the irrigated terraces and enjoy a lovely walk through this extraordinary reserve
• Participate with a local family and join in olive picking
• Learn about the manufacturing and olive pressing process by visiting the local plant
• Enjoy a traditional Palestinian home-cooked lunch
• Opportunity to purchase locally produced Battir olive oil (payable in cash)
Cost of Tour: 385.- NIS per adult, 300.- NIS per child under 10 years (or $105 pp for adult – $75 per child under 8)
Participants must be foreign (non-Israeli) residents. Please bring your passports, good hiking shoes, hats, modest dress, sunscreen and your water bottles. Space is limited so reserve today.
07:00 AM Departure from Jerusalem
17:00 PM Return to Jerusalem
comfortable walking shoes
You might be wondering what Sukkot is and how can it possibly make sense to say “Celebrating Sukkot in Sukkot.” This post will clear up that confusion.
Currently throughout the Holy Land and world, Jews are celebrating the holiday of Sukkot. Sukkot is an easily identifiable holiday because it is the holiday when Jews are commanded to live in temporary outdoor booths. A single booth is called a sukkah, and multiple booths are called sukkot, hence the name of the holiday. [Note: for the rest of this post “sukkot” refers to booths and “Sukkot” refers to the name of the holiday.]
This holiday lasts for a week and is one of the three pilgrimage festivals. During a pilgrimage festival, biblical Israelites would make their pilgrimage with their fresh crops to sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem.
The purpose of building and essentially living in a sukkah for the week is to remember that biblical Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years after the exodus from Egypt. While they wandered they, too, lived in temporary booths. Additionally, since a sukkah is a basic structure, this holiday is an opportunity to reflect on what in your life is superficial. It is a time to differentiate between your “wants” and “needs.”It is amazing to be on a Holy Land tour during Sukkot. Specifically in Jerusalem you will see sukkot wherever you go. Some are on balconies and others are on the sidewalk. Most restaurants build sukkot for their customers to eat in. It is a social holiday where neighbors and even strangers interact with each other.
There are many Jewish Laws regarding the structure of a sukkah. A fun, interactive way to learn about these laws is at the life-size sukkah exhibit Neot Kedumim park. This exhibit is great for adults and children and is located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Throughout the Neot Kedumim park there are dozens of examples of correct and incorrect sukkot accompanied with a sign containing the Jewish Law.
Additionally, there are many events and festivals happening throughout the Holy Land during Sukkot. Click HERE to see a compiled list.