Category Archives: Culture
Jaffa might be best known for the story of Jonah but this ancient seaside city possesses a striking backdrop for the modern story of how Jews and Arabs live together.
On this special two and a half hour walking tour participants weave through the ancient and modern city beginning with Jaffa’s connection to the mythical story of Andromeda as well as the story of Jonah.
Guided by both a Jewish and Muslim guide specialists participants enjoy two different perspectives on modern life in this very ancient of cities. Our Moslem guide, Ehab, led us on the first half of the tour, providing his personal insight on Jaffa’s large Moslem population which has had a presence in Jaffa for hundreds of years. We learned a bit about life under Ottoman rule as well as Ottoman architecture which remains quite prevalent today. The most fascinating aspect of the tour was the visit to one Jaffa’s most prominent mosques situated off a small alleyway near the ancient walls to the Old City. We entered through a huge door into an extraordinary landscaped compound surrounding a beautiful courtyard designed with archways and stone excavated from a quarry near Jerusalem.
After removing our shoes we entered the large prayer room constructed with an ornate domed ceiling containing handpainted designs with beautiful detail. Each corner of the room portrays various colorful motifs symbolic of many of Islam’s prophets, several of whom are Old Testament figures of importance to Judaism and Christianity.
Our guide educated us as to some of the traditions and beliefs related to prayer and the Koran. He also provided an insightful overview of Moslem culture in Jaffa and the different mosques in Jaffa (there are a total of eight – fiver of which are moderate, dialogue seeking and focused on co-existence while three are more extreme.) He explained how every Iman is free to preach as he wishes as opposed to in Saudi Arabia where the government tells the clergy what they must preach.
After a 20 minute question and answer session the tour continued with a Jewish guide who led us to the new deck overlooking the sea and Tel Aviv then back through the alleys with a quick stop at the famed family owned Abulafiya bakery (recently opened in England) to taste this famous family’s renowned ‘bagela’.
We later toured the artists colony and its unique hanging orange pit and tree and continued through the old city past the archaeological site over to the lookout point over the old City. Throughtout this part of the tour we learn about the evolution of the new city – both Tel Aviv and Jaffa and we also saw remains from the numerous civilizations that lived in Jaffa before. The program concluded with a visit to the Church of St. Peter, one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Christians.
The tour is substantial in its content and depth and allows participants ample opportunity to learn about the different cultures and provides them a vision of Jaffa through a much wider lens. What’s very unique is the fact that you see and feel the diversity of people and the extraordinary beauty that this diversity brings to such a historical and densely populated area. People walk away awed by the beauty, and appreciation of the people and the city.
Masterchef Tom Franz hosts "Taste of Israel" with Breaking Bread Journeys
Israel’s ‘Masterchef’ winner, Tom Franz, recently hosted a television series entitled “A Taste of Israel” which was shown on German and French public television. The series takes viewers on a culinary journey through parts of Israel and features a segment where Breaking Bread Journeys takes Tom into the Palestinian Territories. The series can be viewed at this link.
An Afternoon in Wadi A'ra
For those interested in learning more about the Israeli Arab narrative and afternoon in Wadi Ar’a is a must. Our most recent delicious home hospitality visit at the home of Amna in Kfar Qara offered a very engaging opportunity to learn about the the life and role of tradition Arab Moslem women in society.
Amna was introduced to us through the Wadi Ara’sa “Marvad Yarok” initiative, a non-profit organization established in 2007. The project is a joint venture of Arabs and Jews, volunteers and local tours entrepreneurs that joined together to promote local tourism to build trust and dialogue between cultures.
On this particular tour, we traveled to the home in of Amna in Kfar Ka’raa. Amna is the head of an AMUTA called “lmanech l’moda’ot” – which seeks to empower Arab women in the Wadi Ara area by teaching them how to enhance their economic livelihood by utilizing their domestic skills and hosting tourist groups.
An extraordinary story teller, Amna talked about her upbringing in a traditional Moslem household as the only daughter in a household of boys. She discussed in detail how she was expected to focus on the home and the associated duties and traditions that are typical of a traditional Moslem family including an appropriate home arranged marriage. Amna, however, is an extremely independent thinker and ultimately found herself drawn outside her village where she would eventually engage with similarly independent Israeli Jewish women and ultimately become involved in coexistence work. She became active in a non profit association focused on peacebuilding. The Knesset named her one of the top 10 most influential women in the country.
What is Challah?
Challah, as you may already know is the traditional Jewish bread eaten on Jewish holidays. Did you know, though, that there is religious significance, and it isn’t merely a cultural practice? In this post you will learn about the importance of Challah in Jewish tradition, how Challah is different from other breads, and at the end there are two recipes.
According to the Torah, while the Israelites wandered in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt, God provided a special kind of food,called manna.
The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey. ~ Exodus 16:31
The Torah continues to explain that the Israelites were commanded to take only what they needed, except on the Sabbath (and other holidays?), where they should collect double portion.
Therefore, the Challah is a symbol to remember that God took us out of Egypt and provided us with food. Jews traditionally have double portions of Challah on the Sabbath and other holidays to further remember that Israelites collected double portions in preparation.
What makes it different than other bread?
– traditionally it does not include butter or milk
– there is a mitzvah (commandment?) of taking a portion of dough before braiding. This portion of dough is set aside as a tithe for the Kohen.
– shapes: braided–what’s its significance?; rosh hashanah (link to post about what rosh hashanah is) challah is traditionally round.
According to Jewish law and practice, salting challah is a critical component of HaMotzi, the blessing over bread. Salt has always played an indispensable role in Jewish life and ritual dating back to the biblical period of ancient Israel. With high quantities located in the Dead Sea region of the historical land of the Jewish people, salt was considered the most essential and common of all elements.
In the Torah, salt symbolizes the eternal covenant with God. As a preservative, the mineral never spoils or decays, signifying the immortality of this bond. Moreover, adding taste to food, salt represents a covenant with God that has meaning and flavor.
The religious significance of salt is discernible in the Temple Period as portrayed in Jewish liturgy. The importance of salt in ritual is symbolized in the ceremony of the covenant, or the Temple sacrifice to God. Since according to Jewish tradition it is the most important necessity of life, salt is a requisite for the ‘food of God,’ or the Temple sacrifice. As commanded by God in Leviticus 2:13, “with all thy sacrifices, thou shalt offer salt.” It seems in this verse that salt is required for meal-offerings only; however, rabbis later concluded that just as no sacrifices can be offered without the presence of priests, no sacrifices can be offered without salt.
Following the destruction of the Temple, Jewish ritual was redefined to exist in a diaspora. Rabbinic literature constructed a concept suggesting that a table set for a meal was to symbolize the Temple altar. Salt should be placed on the table and the blessing over food should not be recited without it.
Traditional Challah: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/154903/shabbat-meals-honey-challah/
Funkier Challah: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/09/fig-olive-oil-and-sea-salt-challah-book-tour/
Challah – how do you make it, traditions behind it, the different shapes and varieties, why you burn one piece, etc. then – best challah bakeries
Summer to sizzle at the Jerusalem Season of Culture
For five years, the Jerusalem Season of culture has been ushering in an assortment of creative events emanating straight from Jerusalem.
This summers program is expected to build on the very complex, and uniquely artistic and cultural backdrop of Jerusalem in all its complexity ad color. A number of fantastic events are schedule throughout the summer and Breaking Bread Journeys highly recommends that if you want to truly taste Jerusalem in all its glory, make sure to participate in one of these upcoming events.
In-House Festival: July 27-31
The In-House Festival will explore the meaning of “home” in public spaces. In the project HaKol Galui, for example, we will invite participants (in collaboration with the architectural department of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design) to a fascinating sound work among the abandoned homes of the Lifta village where Palestinians lived before being replaced by immigrants from Yemen and Kurdistan. Today the area is mainly frequented by ultra-orthodox men who come to swim in the natural springs, homeless people who are looking for a broken roof over their heads, and property sharks. Renana Raz will re-examine the hearing concerning a complaint against the teacher Adam Verete that was posted on Facebook by one of his students. This pivotal event, which raised questions about the limits of democracy, the status of the educator and whether or not freedom of speech really exists, is treated to some fascinating and extraordinary artistic therapy which will take place in The Israeli Democracy Institute.
Contact Point: August 6 (We love this!)
A magical night of art and people at the Israel Museum will bring dozens of artists together to present a number of contact points produced especially for the 50th jubilee year, including the “The Exhibition of Exhibitions that Never Were” in which we will reveal the exhibitions that were not staged for a variety of different reasons, and “Catalogues,” in which the catalogues that have been issued by the museum over the last 50 years will be used to make new works.
Knock Knock: August 9-13
Night. A standard hotel room in the center of Jerusalem. You approach the reception desk, check in and receive your key. This is the first step in a unique theatrical experience that will bring the audience together with actors, musicians, chefs, chambermaids, dancers, broadcasters and directors who will create intimate, surprising and very special experiences. Feel free to let go, lose yourself, go wild, hide away, or immerse yourself in thought.
Frontline: August 16-20
Back for the third time Frontline presents Jerusalem’s independent music scene. Among other things, there will be an abstract concert by brilliant electronic artist, Gilbert, playing a vintage keyboard or Marki Funk’s psychedelic groove project
Under the Mountain: August 23-28
The Under the Mountain Festival of New Public Art will focus on history’s biggest and most important stage—the Temple Mount. No doubt this artistic expression with some 20 artists will be newsworthy.
The Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival August 30-September 4
In its 4 th year, the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival will brings together musicians from all religions from around the world for collaborative and engaging performances
The extended, week-long festival will unfold in five locations and include 25 performances by a long and exciting list of musicians and artists from 16 countries: Jonny Greenwood (UK) and Shye Ben Tzur in an international debut that combines East and West in Rajasthan, Shuli Rand will perform songs recorded by the guru of secularity, Meir Ariel, Mark and Piris Eliyahu will lead the Maqam Ensemble, pianist Omri Mor will play with legendary Algerian drummer, Karim Ziad, Mohammad Reza Mortazavi (Iran) and Zohar Fresco (Israel) will drum together on the same stage, Itamar Doari will appear in an exclusive performance with the best of Spain’s Flamenco, and Max Romeo, one of the founding fathers of reggae, will light up Zion.
For additional information:
Tamar Gur: 052-3024949 email@example.com
Kim Weiss: 054-5377130 firstname.lastname@example.org
To purchase tickets:
Ramadan, is the name of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar year and in that month Muslims around the world practice the fourth pillar of Islam which is the “Sawm” of the Fast of Ramadan.
As Muslims keep the lunar calendar, the Ramadan month travels through the secular calendar, coming ten or eleven days earlier each year. This means that when Ramadan falls during the winter months the fast is fairly easy, however, in the summer months the fast is quite strenuous due to the long hot days.
Ramadan is a very special time for Muslims as it was during Ramadan that Allah chose to call Mohamad (pbuh) to be a Prophet and sent the first revelations of the Qur’an. That’s why Ramadan is considered a time of spiritual and physical discipline and for making extra effort to spread love, peace and reconciliation.
The Ramadan Fast involves giving up all food, liquid, smoke and sexual intercourse during the hours of daylight for the entire month along with the peaceful and prayerful attitude of mind, however all these things are allowed after sunset, until the first light of the next day’s dawn.
Although fasting makes people feel very tired and weak, food is prepared very carefully during Ramadan, a difficult task for those preparing the food as they have to resist the temptation of eating or tasting the food, if this is done it will not be counted as breaking the fast as long as it wasn’t deliberate. As the time of breaking the fast called “Iftar” (also known as breakfast) draws near, people feel excited, hungry and proud of their achievement. They wait for the call to end the fast that comes from the minaret which is broadcast on TV and radio. As soon as the sun sets, the fast is broken with a sweet drink such as apricot juice and some fruit, often dates because this was the habit of the Prophet. The main meal will be served after the evening Maghrib prayer is said. This can be an elaborate feast as friends and relatives are often invited.
Most Muslims read the entire Qur’an during this month, and many men go to the mosque each night for prayers known as “Tarawih” during which the whole text is read through often by special “huffaz” (people who know the Qur’an by heart) to lead these special prayers.
People who would undergo real suffering by a fast are excused from the fast, this applies to people who need to be nourished, such as small children and old people, and expectant and nursing mothers. People whose condition would be made worse by fasting are also excused, such as menstruating women, soldiers in battles, people travelling on long trips, and the mentally ill. All these people should however make up for the fasts they have missed any possible other time throughout the year or if not possible then they should donate the cost of two meals to the poor for each missed fast-day.
Some Muslims go into retreat for the last ten days of Ramadan, this is called “I’tikaf”. They withdraw altogether from ordinary life and devote their entire time to prayer and reading the Qu’ran.
Traditionally, the night of the Descent of the Qu’ran is celebrated on the 27th day of the month of Ramadan, this is called “Laylat al-Qadr”. Many Muslims spend this entire night in the mosque, reading the Qur’an and praying together with the belief that if they spend the whole night in prayer and meditation, they will be granted the blessings as if the had prayed for a thousand nights.
Ramadan is a time of joy and Muslims look forward to it as a time of great joy, family celebrations, entertaining of guests and reconciliation. It is normal during this month to stay up very late at night and get up early for the “Suhur” or the pre-dawn meal in preparation for another long day of fasting. Traditionally, a drummer called the “Musaharati” still roams the streets drumming and waking people up for prayer and this early morning snack, in some cities this call is still made by a cannon being fired.
One can feel this beautiful and celebratory atmosphere as the street, shops and homes are all decorated with colorful lights that come into effect at sunset when the fast is broken. Special meals and sweets can only be seen and bought during this month. A time of joy that will peak with the “Eid el-Fitr” or the feast celebrating the end of Ramadan and end of the Ramadan fast.
Wishing our Muslim friends and colleagues a blessed fast and Ramadan Kareem!!
If you go:
Should you be in Jerusalem during Ramadan you can get a sense of the holiday by visiting East Jerusalem. A few favorite spots include:
1.Jerusalem’s Nablus Road, which is filled with vendors sellling all types of gifts, household, crafts, specialty foods and other items,
2. The Damascus Gate in Jerusaelm is bustling with people of all ages and there are many vendors selling grilled food items, teas and other food and drink items
3. The Muslim quarter within the Old City of Jerusalem is decorated with festive lights that have been strung along the walls and across the alleyways.
Meet with Bedouins
Bedouins, an Arab ethnic group, with the name translating to “nomad” is a minority population in Israel of over 114,000 people. Bedouins are historically from the Middle East and Africa. Traditionally, they live in clans and majority of Bedouins that live in Israel are located in Israel’s Southern region, in the Negev Desert. Meeting with Bedouins and experiencing their hospitable culture is definitely an opportunity you cannot miss while touring the Holy Land.
Visiting with Bedouins can be a couple of hours up to a few days, depending on what you want. Typical Bedouin hospitality involves receiving food and tea/coffee in a large tent, along with a tour of where they live and getting a camel ride in the desert. You will also hear about Bedouin traditions and culture.
A great resource with different Bedouin communities to visit can be found HERE. Below are a few of the communities from the wesbite I want to highlight:
1. Kfar Hanokdim is used to hosting both large and intimate groups. It offers various meals, activities (such as making Bedouin coffee), camel and donkey treks, and has tents, lodges, and cabins for overnight stays. Although the interactions with Bedouins are genuine, it is important to know that this destination is geared for national and international tourists.
Click HERE to go to Kfar Hanokdim’s direct website.
2. Desert Ship (Sfinat Hamidbar), close to the main desert city of Be’er Sheva, is also a wonderful experience including Bedouin meals, camel rides, jeep tours and safaris into the desert. Additionally, this destination offers drum circles, Bedouin music, and overnight accommodations in both tents and bungalows.
3. The Hidden Village definitely is a genuine, authentic experience. The host, named Salman, is the head of the village and will share with you his experiences as a Bedouin for the past 30 years. He will also speak about the tough decisions Bedouins today have to make in Israel, such as which type of education he wants for his children.
For more details of the experience, check out THIS post.
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To learn about another minority population in Israel, check out “10 Facts about Druze“!
Since Israel is located in the Northern Hemisphere, it experiences winter from December until March. Winter is a beautiful season in the Holy Land, especially because of its flowers. Below is a list of the top 10 hikes throughout the Holy Land that highlight the beautiful winter flowers.
1. Scarlet South Festival, Southern Israel (Negev) Region
Every weekend (Friday and Saturday) in February, you have the opportunity to attend this festival where you will see the desert blooming. Not only will you see green in the desert, you will see beautiful red anemones. At this festival there will be free tours, information stations, and a walk through the anemones.
Click HERE for more information!
2. Lupine Hill, Central/Jerusalem Region
Lupine Hill is located near the city of Beit Shemesh, and is where the biblical story of the battle between David and Goliath took place. Based on its name, this hill is covered with purple lupines.
Click HERE for directions and additional details!
3. Sataf, Jerusalem Region
Sataf has impressive agricultural remains from the Copper Age and Byzantine Period. It also was a Palestinian/Arab village that was depopulated in the war of 1948. This land is now has a marked trail with reconstruction of the ancient terraces with olives, grapevines and fruit trees. Towards the end of winter, flowers bloom from the fruit trees.
Click HERE for more information!
4. The Valley of Narcissus’, Tel Aviv Region
North of Tel Aviv, in an area called Gililot, there is a beautiful valley filled with….take a guess…narcissuses! Daffodils also make an appearance in this valley.
Click HERE for more information!
5. Carmel Scenic Route, Northern Region
In Hebrew, this route is called “Derech Nof Carmel,” and can be hiked, biked, or driven. This route will take you through valleys, orchards, and pine trees and is around 15.5 miles (25 kilometers).
Click HERE for directions and more information!
6. Mount Gilboa, Northern Region
In addition to historical sites and viewpoints, while hiking the trails on Mount Gilboa, you will notice the ground covered in wild flowers, including the purple Gilboa iris.
Click HERE for more information!
7. Meitar & Yatir Forests, Southern Region
These forests are located near the Dead Sea, and are situated between Hebron and Be’er Sheva. They were strategically placed close to the political border of Israel and Palestinian territories. In these forests you can see special eucalyptus trees, such as Coral Gum, which has big red flowers. Additionally, at certain viewpoints, you can see the beautiful hills of Hebron.
Click HERE for more information!
8. Cyclamen Hills, Central & Northern Regions
Cyclamen, “rakefet” in Hebrew are one of the popular winter flowers in Israel. The variety of color can be located in multiple areas in Israel including: Tal Shahar, Gilad, Alonei Yitzhak, and Karmei Yosef.
Click HERE to read a recent article about these areas!
9. Adullam-France Park, Jerusalem Region
Throughout this park’s trails, there are open meadows filled with beautiful wildflowers. In this region you will notice that from all the terraces, this land is perfect for agricultural cultivation. It is important to note that this park is now located where the Palestinian villages of both ‘Ajjur and Kudna once were located.
Click HERE for more information!
10. Nahal Prat/Wadi Kelt, Jericho Region
This trail is located in the desert between Jericho and Jerusalem. It has breathtaking views of the open hills.
Click HERE for more information (and about other great hikes in the West Bank)!
Know of other great places to hike in the region during the winter? Let us know in the comments below! Happy hiking!
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
Christmas 2014 in the Holy Land
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!