– This day is dedicated to world peace and was first celebrated in 1982.
– This day is respected by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples.
– This year has a theme, which is “Rights of People to Peace.” This theme is in honor of the 30th year of the UN Declaration’s Rights of People to Peace.
While being on a Holy Land tour, there are always conversations about why there is not peace in the Holy Land. Participating on a Breaking Bread Journeys tour is incredible because in addition to experiencing the Holy Land, you can intimately learn the perspective of an Israeli and a Palestinian. Additionally, Breaking Bread Journeys actively supports peace and sustainability efforts.
By clicking here, you can read about actions you can take to participate in this global Day of Peace. These ideas include include individual as well as global actions. One I found interesting is Peace Breathing. Also, there is an organization called Peace One Day, which is dedicated to spreading awareness of this global day of peace, as well as reducing violence on this day.
What will you do this year to celebrate International Day of Peace?
A few years ago I was on a plane in the U.S. and started small talking with the woman sitting next to me. Religion came up and when I told her I identified as a Jew, she laughed and told me that when she tells people which religion she identifies with, people often think she is saying “Jew.”
She told me that she was “Druze” and asked if I had heard of it. I nodded my head excitedly and told her that I had visited a Druze village while on an organized tour to Israel!
I remember them welcoming us with open arms and superfluous amounts of food. While we were being served lunch, a few Druze taught us about their religion and cultural values. Although their religion is secretive, they were open about teaching us the basics. Additionally, they were happy to answer any question we had.
While you are on a Holy Land tour, it is an amazing opportunity to meet Israeli Druze to learn about the fascinating Druze lifestyle.
Fact #1: Druze is a monotheistic religion and are often referred to as “People of Monotheism.”
Fact #2: Druze originated in Egypt at the end of the 10th century.
Fact #3: Druze is a blend of Islam, Hindu, and Greek philosophy.
Fact #4: In addition to not having Druze clergy, there are no ceremonies or rituals. This is because they believe ceremonies and rituals are distract one’s connection with God.
Fact #5: They do have a sacred text called Kitab Al Hikma (Epistles of Wisdom), which is only available to religious Druze.
Fact #6: Instead of following the Five Pillars of Islam, they: (1) Speak the truth, (2) Support their community, (3) Abandon the old creeds, (4) Purify from heresy, (5) Accept the unity of God, and (6) Submit to the will of God.
Fact #7: Like Muslims, Druze are forbidden from eating pork, smoking, and drinking alcohol.
Fact #8: Druze do not have nationalistic ideals and therefore, support the country they live in. However, they do have a flag and a five-pointed star symbol. Both contain five colors, each representing a limit which shows the difference between humans and animals.
Fact #9: There are religious Druze women and they are preferred over men because they are perceived as better “spiritually prepared.”
Fact #10: There is a population of over 100,000 Israeli Druze. Most Druze communities are in the North. There are also large populations of Druze living in Syria and Lebanon.
With a new school year around the corner…pop quiz! Which one of these statements about King Herod is FALSE?
A) King Herod was known for being extremely friendly.
B) King Herod was King of Judea from 37-4 BCE.
C) King Herod attempted to kill Jesus as a baby.
D) King Herod had astonishing architectural achievements in the Holy Land.
E) King Herod died in Jericho.
If you thought A) was false, then you are correct!
King Herod was not known for his friendliness. He suffered from immense paranoia which led him to killing many he felt threatened by, including a wife and two sons. In the New Testament, it mentions King Herod killing the male babies in Jerusalem so there would not be anyone to heir the throne after him. Although his personal life and kingship were ugly, his architectural achievements were the complete opposite. Here are a few of his major accomplishments you will see on a Holy Land tour.
The Second Temple (Jerusalem): The Second Temple construction began in 20 BCE, and was destroyed in 70 CE. The remainings of this Temple are the outter walls, which includes the Western Wall–the holiest site for Jews today. It is holy because it is the closest remaining wall to where the Temple used to stand. The Dome of the Rock is situated where the Temple itself was located.
Fun fact: This is a place for prayer, and often people write their prayers on pieces of paper and stick them into the cracks of the wall. Everyone is welcome to participate!
Masada Fortress (Judaean Desert): Masada was built between 37 and 31 BCE and was the first fortress King Herod built while in power. Besides the magnificant view overlooking the Dead Sea, Masada is most known for the Siege of Masada from 73- 74 CE. Years after the death of King Herod and soon after the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews hid in the abandoned Masada Fortress. They fought and prevented the Romans from entering the Fortress for some time. Eventually, the Romans got up to fhe Fortress, however, everyone there was dead–the Jews committed mass suicide to prevent becoming prisoners of the Romans.
Fun fact: The Siege of Masada symbolizes Jewish heroism and is used for Nationalistic purposes. Therefore, this site is used for tourism as well as ceremonies for the Israeli army.
Caesarea Maritima (Caesarea): This port city was built between 25-13 BCE and its ruins include the city walls, castle, theatre, and aqueduct. The city was continuously used, and after King Herod, was ruled by Arabs and Crusaders. This city is a must-see sight for Christian tours to Israel. It is located where the Pilate Stone was found. This stone mentions the name “Pontius Pilatus,” who, according to the New Testament, was the one who ordered Jesus to be crucified. Historians think that Pilatus lived in this city. Additionally, this was where Peter baptized the first gentile convert.
Fun fact: This is a fun place for all groups, including for children. Since the theatre is still in tact, it is a fun opportunity to show off your acting skills 😉
“Breaking Bread Journeys” – a new Palestinian and Israeli tourism concept
Jerusalem — “Breaking Bread Journeys” is a new Palestinian and Israeli experiential tourism concept that will be introduced to the US travel industry and media at the New York Times Travel Show in February in New York. The concept was recently created by two tour operators, Christina Samara, a Palestinian and owner of Samara Tourist and Travel Agency, and Elisa Moed, founder of Israel-based Travelujah. Both women were introduced by Tony Blair’s Quartet Initiative and are launching this new tourism concept with the support of the United States Agency for International Development under the Compete Project in the West Bank, which emphasizes economic development, including tourism, as a path to peace and stability.
“We realized that travel brings people together in many positive ways and helps in the pursuit of stability, prosperity and peace in the entire Holy Land,” said Christina Samara. “So we designed a set of very special Palestinian and Israeli cultural and historic tours that include many of the classical sites that both of our companies have long been offering.”
“However, we believed that what tourists really want is to experience the land in a personal way and we knew that by working together we could provide authentic experiences that would otherwise be virtually impossible,” explained Elisa Moed. “Each of our experiences provides opportunities for small groups to engage directly with local communities. These include experiences for faith-based clientele, as well as other market segments that are keen to learn and enjoy local traditional cuisine, art, and music and, of course, break bread with the people of the land.”
Tourism to the Holy Land is important for both Israelis and Palestinians. In 2012, the Israeli tourism industry received 3.5 million visitors, and the Palestinian tourism industry received over 1.8 million visitors. In fact, visitors to the Palestinian Territories increased over 40% from 2007 to 2013– a positive sign that the region can safely receive increasing numbers of visitors.
“We intend to visit the United States during the period of 28th February – 2nd March 2014 where we will be meeting tour industry professionals in the United States and we look forward to meeting tour operators, media and organizations interested in offering our rich, comprehensive cultural experiences in the Holy Land,” said Samara.
Samara Tourist and Travel Agency is being supported in the development of this initiative by the United States Agency for International Development through their COMPETE project in the West Bank as part of the Agency’s strategy to develop the Palestinian tourism sector and to make a significant impact in job creation and increased investment.
To view a brief Breaking Bread Journey tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY5RbCrMu70
For more information, contact Christina Samara at +972-54-237-5288 or Elisa Moed at +972-52-744-4033. They can also be reached via email at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Their website is at: www.breakingbreadjourneys.com