There’s so much to say about Israel I don’t know where to begin. The country is so steeped in a rich culture and religion. It’s literally a part of everything they do. Almost everyone wears some kind of religious garment or at least “regular” clothes that adhere to their religion’s dress code. The city’s hours are regulated by their religious ceremonies. You can hear church bells and songs throughout the day calling people to different services or times of prayer. The streets are absolutely silent on shabot and on Friday afternoon the streets are packed full with Muslims on their way to the mosque. Whatever religion they’re practicing, it is fascinating to see them “doing their thing”.
We were so blessed to see some of the most sacred places we’ve read about in our bibles. The birth place of Jesus, the Sea of Galilee, the tomb (or tombs) of Jesus and the house of Peter. We were able to spend a day walking the stations of the cross and praying prayers of thankfulness to our savior. The thought of walking where Jesus walked or being able to pray at the wailing wall had me constantly tearing up. I was teary so often in fact that it became a joke that I would insist I had smelled raw onion and was not actually crying AGAIN.
We also had the chance to tour Masada. It was absolutely mind blowing to think of the ego of King Herod building a massive palace in the desert which he never even used. The thought of 900 Jewish refugees living there for 7 years is unbelievable. What a strange, and somewhat boring life it must have been for those people.
We all enjoyed a dip in the Dead Sea. I had never thought of all the ways the buoyancy of the water would effect you. We stood straight up in the water without touching the ground, we sat as though on a chair in the water, and when you go to roll over you must roll like a beach ball in order to make it. We even tried coating our bodies in the salty mud…I’m not convinced it actually did much, but “When in Rome”…or Israel as it were.
We learned so much about the history of Israel, from the ever changing borders and the various wars, to the Bedwin people living in the desert. It is not an easy life for many of the Israeli people. The volatile borders make it an island separated from all of its neighbors and for most of the people there they cannot travel more than a few hours from home. That being said, the people we met were all so warm and welcoming. We loved the staff and the food at the restaurant outside our front door and the wonderful man running the health food store. The street market was amazing and the food was to die for. I think the shakshuka in tel Aviv had to be our favorite! I could return to this amazing country many more times and never tired of exploring it!