Israel Stories from the Holy Lands
In the capitol city of Tel Aviv, we''ll be visiting the tourist Mecca of Dizengoff Street with its outdoor eating places, and stop by Joppa, one of the world''s oldest seaports, where Jonah set sail.
In Nablos, the largest city on the West Bank, we pass by wheat harvesting, a stone cutter''s shop, and visit Jacobs Well.
We meet, at Mt. Gerizim, the holy mountain said by the Samaritans to be the site of Abraham''s near-sacrifice of Isaac, some of the 250 Samaritans who live in a village nearby. These people, ancient religious offshoots from the Israelites, allow us to see them at worship.
Caesaria, the Roman and Crusader ruins built by Phoenicians, again by Herod the Great, and again by the Crusaders, is the site of many famous battles.
Through the Sharon Plain is Carmel National Park, Israel''s largest national forest preserve. We pass through the hilly vistas of this mountain range on our way to Daliyat el-Carmel, a Druze village and its market of Druzewares.
In Haifa, Israel''s 3rd largest city, we visit a modern shopping mall, see the gold-domed Baha''i Shrine that overlooks the harbor and visit the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum. Acco (Acre), another ancient seaport, was a major seaport at time of the Phoenicians, but Romans, Crusaders and Turks have all left their mark. We tour the town, visit the Mosque of El-Jazzar and the Crusader''s subterranean city.
Not far from Acco, we visit a modern day kibbutz to experience this unique Israeli lifestyle and see how it works today.
At Israel ''s northernmost point on the Mediterranean border, we find sea-carved caves, grottoes and chalk cliffs at Rosh Hanikra. Heading into the lush, fertile Galilee region is the Crusader castle of Montfort and the city of Metulla with its "Good Fence" on the border between Israel and Lebanon.
On the southern slope of Mt. Hermon, is Banias Springs, one of the three sources of the Jordan River. We see a temple built to Pan, join an archeological dig and roam through the wilds of this ancient site.
Our tour down the Jordan River valley takes us past the ruins of Gamla, an ancient city, where like Masada, the Jewish inhabitants committed mass suicide when trapped by the Romans in A.D. 66. Now it is the home of Griffin Vultures with 7-foot wingspans.
We continue down the Jordan River to the Sea of Galilee with its Christian sites and Roman era cities;Capernaum, where Jesus preached, the Church of the Beatitudes, site of the sermon on the mount, Tabga and the Church of the Multiplication with its mosaic floor depicting the miracle of fishes and loaves and Tiberius, founded by Herod Antipas.
Also in the Galilee, we meet a modern-day shepherd who lives with his family in a packing crate and view the farming and fauna of this productive region with its miles of olive groves.
West of the Sea of Galilee lies Nazareth where Jesus grew to manhood. The Basilica of the Annunciation, one of the most revered shrines of the Christian world, marks the traditional site of the Annunciation to the blessed Virgin Mary. North of the Basilica is the Church of St. Joseph, built above the traditional site of Joseph''s carpentry shop.
In Cana, we visit a church commemorating the first miracle of Jesus, turning water into wine at a wedding.
Close by is Mt. Tabor, the traditional site of the transfiguration of Jesus.
Continuing down the Jordan River Valley, is Belvior, a Crusader fortress, built by Knights Hospitallie of St. John - and the last Crusader stronghold in Israel.
We also see the archeological digs at Bet Shean, one of the oldest cities of the ancient near-east, destroyed by an earthquake in 749 A.D.
Our drive down the West Bank brings us to Jericho to view its foundations, over 10,000 years old. Jericho is considered the oldest-known city on earth, but we also see Jericho today.
Nearby stands the Mt. of Temptation where Jesus was tempted by the devil.
Our trip through the Judean Desert recalls scenes of some of Joshua''s toughest battles during conquest of Canaan. On our way is Wadi Kelt and the Monastery of St. George, built on a rock ravine by Greek Orthodox priests in the 5th Century.
Further south, lies Qumran with its ruins of an Essene Monastery, 2,000 years old, and the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947.
We stop at the Dead Sea, 1,300 feet below sea level (the world''s lowest point), view some of its salt formations and watch as people attempt to swim.