Stops on the Way to Jerusalem (October 27, 2019)

The questions for the day are a) why didn’t I pay more attention in Sunday School and b) how can I know so little about Middle Eastern history? My brain is bursting from information overload while my digestive track deals with deliciousness overload. 

Sunday is the first day of the work week here, so we definitely noticed more traffic. We were headed out of town during morning rush, so we were not effected much thankfully, because today was jam packed with spectacular stops!

Our first stop was in Nazareth, Jesus’ boyhood home. We were there to visit the spectacular Basilica of the Annunciation, a stunning Catholic Church built over what is believed to have been the remains of Mary’s home at the time she was told by the angle Gabriel that she had been selected to bear the son of God. Everything about the church, built in 1969, caught my eye: the huge outdoor courtyard; elaborate metal doors recalling biblical events; the flat marble floors that were designed to look like steps leading the eye down to the grotto below; the ceiling and walls made of concrete and wood; and large mosaics of Mary made and donated by Christian communities all over the world. Mass was being conducted in Arabic when we visited, which was not a huge surprise since is was Sunday morning after all and the church is located in a predominately Arab city.

Off we went to the Sea of Galilee, which by the way, is not a sea at all but a lake. Stop pretending you knew that. Besides a lovely lunch (our best hummus so far and our first taste of baklava) on the shores of the Sea, we visited the Yigal Alon Museum which has as its centerpiece a small 2,000-year-old fishing boat that was reclaimed from clay in the Sea during a period of drought. It was used during the time of Jesus.

The two brothers who discovered the small boat in 1986 lived in the Kibbutz Ginosar which we had the opportunity to visit. We walked around the community and saw new and old homes, the community center, common outside areas, and visited the daycare center. The kibbutz supports itself in part by growing mangos, lychee, and persimmons plus they raise dairy cows. 

The first kibbutz, a collective community based on agriculture, started in Israel in 1910. All members were expected to work and contribute to the running of the kibbutz. In return they shared a strong sense of community and their basic needs (food, daycare, housing) were provided free. If members chose to have jobs outside the kibbutz they surrendered all of their wages in exchange for life in the community. Homes were very small since the community ate together in a dining hall and children were cared for in the nursery where they also slept. There are 270 active communities today. Many have privatized allowing members to keep a portion of their wages. Children no longer sleep away from home; new houses have full kitchens where families prepare their own food and eat together; and many have money making enterprises like hotels and shops. They remain popular and are not easy to join. Gabi was raised in a kibbutz (key-boo-tz), married and raised her sons there, but chose to leave in her 40s to try another way of life. Her sister still lives in a traditional one. 

When all of our kibbutz questions were answered, we headed to the Church of the Beatitudes. A peaceful walk in the direction of the church took us through a garden with eight stones, each a reminder of one of the eight beatitudes. The garden also has a stone mosaic with two fish and five round loaves of bread and a small fountain reminding those who thirst to come to Jesus to drink. This beautiful church overlooking the Sea, built in the 1930s, is run by Catholic nuns. The alter is built over the place Jesus was believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

Our last stop, also on the Sea of Galilee, was in Capernaum, home of Peter and other disciples. The excavated ruins of a synagogue and village dating back to the 6th century are situated in a garden setting with impressive statues of Sleeping Jesus, Saint Francis, and Saint Peter. Everything is designed to highlight the simple, small, beautiful church built over the home of Peter, the patron saint of popes and of Rome. A plexiglass floor in the center of the church allows a clear view of the ruins below.

After a long, wonderful day, we rolled into Jerusalem after dark and went straight to dinner. The starters were wonderful, as usual, desserts great, and we had our choice of main course. I chose a pumpkin and ancient grains dish, and Dan went with schnitzel. We got to the hotel …the Waldorf Astoria no less!… after 9:00 o’clock tired but satisfied with every aspect of the day.

… Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera … 

Kibbutzim is the plural of kibbutz.

Dairy cows live their whole lives in cow sheds which are huge
open-air, covered structures. They do not graze.

Mussolini paid for the Church of the Beatitudes.

Today we drove passed the exit for Jericho, the oldest
continuously inhabited city in the world.

At one time the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean were connected!


4 thoughts on “Stops on the Way to Jerusalem (October 27, 2019)

  1. I am so jealous!! Nazareth is on my bucket list!!

    Matt Mongeon, PMP, Technical Project Manager II
    Engineering Management Office
    PMP,ITIL Foundation, RCV, OSA, SOA, PPO
    5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
    • 619.266.5675 (ex. 55675) |( 619.822.4661 | •


    1. Some day! When you come, a great guide is the key. Gaby is sooooooo knowledgeable! And makes it come alive…….for the moment at least. Then I return to being confused AGAIN. 😃


  2. No other word than “amazing” to describe the history that comes alive with your photos and blog. it has to be quite time consuming to write up your wonderful accounts of each day.
    Thank you!



    1. Thank you Leni. Writing about each day is actually the easiest part. Making sense of a ton of information I can’t seem to get/keep straight in my own head even after spending all day wresting with it is the real challenge.


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