Santorini is a by-product of a volcano. The island is shaped like a croissant, and it was formed from the spoils of an eruption thousands of years ago.
Santorini’s real name is actually Thera. The capital town called Thera also confusingly called Fira. In the north, the town called Oia/Ia (written two ways, but both pronounced “Ear”) is where people normally head to see those spectacular views from balconies from apartments set in the sides of the cliff.
Its one of the most popular worldwide tourist destinations for Honeymooners. People come from all over to come here, but in October 2021 when pandemic was less disruptive, I saw and heard a lot of French, Germans, Spanish and Italians, and a small number of American visitors.
Its probably the most Instagramable holiday place you will recognise. Also in a lot of holiday brochures. The most expensive and desirable rooms and apartments include a hot tub and great views.
Greece has 2,000 islands. This might be the best and most famous though. It does have a small airport (which looks like it has a footprint of 5% of the island) as its medium sized and the smaller ones don’t. You can look out and see Ios and some of the others.
There are a lot of tiny churches. Some in funny places. This one was next to the airport runway.
It is on an earthquake fault and the Greek islands get quite a few of them. One happened whilst I was there.
There were political demonstrations happening. I’m not sure exactly what, nothing too scary. I think they people protesting might of been local teachers. Salaries for Greeks have always been a lot lower than other parts of western Europe.
It might be where the lost City of Atlantis is. There’s a museum here.
It is quite cheap to fly here. My flight with carry on luggage only was about £65 return from London Stansted. I stayed in a youth hostel.
This is in a main road from the airport. Santorini is not that big, no more than 7 miles long I think.
I didn’t get a tax or a bus, as I wanted to stretch my legs and saw lot of piles of abandoned machinery and a few vehicles including this bus.
Scrap cars often litter the Middle East and Africa, which makes me wonder why people don’t go and scrap these and get money for them. I think the supply chains of scrap aren’t as simple here.
In this part of the world, the middle east, north Africa and Southern Europe, people build their own houses, but don’t always finish them. There are several reasons for this. Maybe someone realised their budget would only make half the house, or, some legal quibbles of the planning permission, or, even, realising you don’t pay tax on a house that’s not finished.
Either way, this is something I saw happen a lot in Israel. And Palestinian territories, And Jordan. And Turkey. And Morocco.
The empty shell of the house made a good place for me to watch the sundown. Something I did every evening I was in Santorini and everyone who comes to visit.
I was looking around for a break from work, and not travelled in a long time.
Covid has made any kind of travelling extremely difficult, and my ticket to get back to Israel has been cancelled and rebooked twice already now. It seems easiest when infection numbers are small, like in the autumn of 2021 to book a place for the following month.
Greece is not a country for anti vaxxers. You have to show proof of your certificate you have two (or more) jabs. I was told the best way to present this documentation is to get the official smart phone app from the Greek tourist office and upload the photos of my jabs to this.
I did this, and then got to the counter when I got to Santorini, and got out my phone to show the lady clerk who wanted to see proof. The app wanted my log in details, I entered the password several times and it refused me. So I reset my password. It couldn’t as it thought my account doesn’t exist. So a brief panic kicked in, “the app doesn’t bloody work!” but thankfully the woman just waved me through.
So how much of today’s Greece have similarities to the bible? Well this was one interesting proof. The The airport shows the word “Exodus” being a direct translation of the word exit as above.
Ok so I have found the UK branch of the Neturei Karta, the most strangest off shoot of Judaism I think ever.
These people are extremely hostile to the modern state of Israel.
The problem is this strange movement gives credibility to anti-Semites who say if these people hate Israel, then its ok for us to be as well.
In recent times, Jewish people and governments have produced what’s known as the “International recognised version of antisemitism” to have a clearer definition of statements and behaviour which clearly show Jewish people in a derogatory or threatening way.
I definitely do not think its ok, or you are “off the hook” to say “there are this group of Jews who hate Israel, so therefore so can I”
This group has much credibility to Judaism as The Westboro Church (those folks who hold up offensive signs at events) from Kansas in the US are to Christians.
This is a small building they meet in, so I don’t think there are more than 20 or so of them. I think its best to ignore this group. I’m not going to mention these on my blog again.
Like Westboro, who lost their original leader Fred Phelps who died in 2014, that group has largely faded away, and Moshe Ber Beck who started this group also passed in April of 2021, about the same time I visited Stamford Hill.
Several things have got me down this week. Fairly dreadful weather, one minute pouring hard and then stopping. Weather is funny, as some places are short of rain and get none at all between the months of April and October or so. Like when I was living in the middle east.
Also, I watch with great sadness as Jews and Arabs are at war in Israel, as I spent over four years living there. A ceasefire is in place which is good, but things are tense.
The real enemy of both Israel and Gaza, is HAMAS the radical Islamic group that controls the Gaza strip, that largely leaves its residents struggling whilst spending aid money on weapons against Israel. All too often, the media portrays Israel as the aggressor and bully simply because they have lost less citizens.
On Saturday, I met with a friend in a coffee shop in Palmerston Road, in Southsea, Portsmouth, about 2 miles from my house. Lock down has loosened up and now I can sit inside any catering establishment with still a few limitations, like masks etc.
Whilst waiting outside for my friend, I did notice, two different men, of western descent, wearing a kefyir, a red and white scarf made famous by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. They didn’t have any other items that make it look they were going to a political event, but I suspect that was the intention. I have seen rallies like these before in Portsmouth though.
The rain started to fall quite a bit on and off, so I stood under the canopy which is on either side of this precinct here. Later when I met my friend we could see it raining hard. So maybe ruining any event that might cause people in the west to glorify and join a bandwagon on a cause based on deadly radical Islam! It would be nice for rain to fall on the Holy Land also right now.
Later, today (Sunday 23/05/2021) I’m actually in my new church which is in Chichester, a city 20 miles away. Last summer, when I was planning on leaving London and moving back to my home town, I did get a dream of visiting a church I’ve never seen before in a large industrial factory type building. I’m now going to Grace Church, Chichester regularly now limited number of seats in church are possible again.
When one of the leaders (sorry don’t know his name, still new and masks make it hard to remember people!!) emphasised the need for prayer for our cities and community, some rain suddenly started hammering on the roof of the building (metal roof so its loud) this finished when church finished and we went back to the car park.
2 Chronicles 7 : 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Rain has a lot of significance in scripture, and I think today also.
Israel is going through much troubles at the moment with the war stirring from the Palestinian Hamas group that runs the Gaza strip shooting rockets at Israeli civilians.
If you are a praying person, this needs your prayers a lot at the moment. This is not just a physical battle but one in the news where all too often in the news Israel is seen as the aggressor, as many news channels offer one-side commentary of things, some more than others.
As we passed through Spring, we go through a lot of Jewish holidays, some happy – Passover, Shavuot, Israel Independence day, and some sad like Holocaust memorial day, I just thought of something that happened about 3 years ago, not in Israel but in north west London, where I was working in a Jewish school.
Firstly, I didn’t plan to be there, I spent a number of years in London, doing IT support for schools, and after get tired out and drained from long hours, computer virus/ransomware attacks, seeing a projector fall off a wall mount, and endless vandalism of PCs and laptops, made me want to get out and look at a different type of career. As I was studying in my spare time for some new skills, I got an interview for a school in Hertfordshire, with me needing to be there the day after. I didn’t properly research watch sort of school this was, it was a Jewish school, interesting as I spent many years working with Jewish people in Israel. I was told the day after I had been accepted and I would be starting pretty immediately.
This private school was a bit hidden away from the main road with not much signage and tall fences and trees which made not obvious what the building was used for. Inside, there is an amazing main building with turrets on the rooms and spiral staircases, diagonal roofs over the classes, a really nice canteen with kosher food, anything you want for lunch for flat cost of £2. The schools has a really lovely family atmosphere and liked chatting and getting to all the staff there. All schools are hard work for the teachers and support staff and this place was no exception. I worked here for a bit over a year before my own personal studies paid off and I moved onto some new.
So one of the most interesting times was on Jerusalem day. As one of the three computer technicians in the school, I was asked by the teachers who wanted to book out a trolley with two large speakers, a mixing desk and a laptop, just for a drama and dance event, also an hour later for history lesson at the other side of the school estate. For the first event I sent up the computer and connected up the sound system and made sure the volume was at the right level for the event.
It was a nice sunny day, so this little bug decided to visit on the audio mixing desk. One of the teachers logged into the laptop and did a Youtube searched ‘Jewish celebration music’ and started playing this. They seems happy so I went off to do some of the other jobs I had to do, typically replace printer cartridges, swap out broken computers, do desk moves and other things.
5-10 minutes before the other classroom needed the computer and speakers next, I went to collect the equipment from the first class. Due to the way Youtube works, the music had obviously switched to some similar songs several times during the hour or so.
As I was chatting to one of the teachers, suddenly the speakers blaster out “Yeshua! Yeshua! Yeshua!” so one of other teachers named D and the kids decided to sing and dance along with it.
I stopped and stood open mouthed.
This was a religious Orthodox school, where there was Rabbinic teaching, and not Christian or Jewish people who believed in Yeshua (Hebrew word for Jesus)
D is a British Jewish lady and quite secular, a really lovely chatty person and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know Hebrew who even know what the word meant. Not did the kids I think.
Another teacher came in, who teaches Hebrew, just abruptly stopped the video and told me I could take away the computer as the next class needed shortly. I don’t know what she thought.
I’m just amazed at the timing, that this video (not sure which Youtube channel it was) broadcast just at this exact time and the staff and children decided to worship the Messiah without knowing.
Just a few years ago, I was doing IT work for schools. I did this for a few years for an IT service provider, and finally I ended up employed directly in a Jewish school which was a blessing as a Christian I’ve enjoyed working with the Jewish community before in Israel and here in the UK.
If you are a teacher or worked in schools, you probably know that schools never have enough space. So they bought a Portacabin which is a sort of cheap plastic office which can be put together simply and when space is needed. This was used for my team (3 of us) to maintain the school’s computer systems. The servers, disk storage, switches and routers kit sits in two different closets in different part of the school.
This one looked like this. There was me and my two colleagues in there. I got on well with these chaps as we had our own quiet place to work, but could easily get out to fix a classroom computer, set up an microphone or presentation or put a new toner in a printer.
On what particular day my boss was very stressed, with too many different projects and priorities on the go at the same time. This was taking a toll on his health.
During the late spring, it was warm so we had the windows open. I’m sat in front of my work PC, I decided to pray silently as he seemed like he was not having a great day.
Suddenly a white butterfly comes in the window, flies in a circle around our little office twice, and then goes straight out again.
This made my day seeing this little creature appear to be doing a double lap of our building to maybe symbolise the Lord being in control during a stressful time.
I do miss this school, I left this to pursue a different aspect of IT. There were many opportunities to be an ambassador to Jewish people as a Christian there. I could go into a religious classroom and hear the staff talking about who the Moshiach (Messiah) might be, whilst I am quietly putting a new cartridge in their printer.
So I’ve found the headquarters of Chabad, a popular section of Judaism.
In some ways this group are the Jewish equivalent of the Salvation Army with well organised outreach to the poor.
Founded in 1775 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the name “Chabad” (חב״ד) is an acronym formed from three Hebrew words—Chochmah, Binah, Da’at ( חכמה, בינה, דעת): “Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge”—which represent the intellectual underpinnings of the movement.
One of the most famous people in the Chabad was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Rabbi of his generation (he died with no children) His house is considered the worldwide headquarters of the Chabad movement which is in Brooklyn, New York, known as “770” after the number of the building in street.
Chabad has done excellent programs for the poor and the disadvantaged in the Jewish community, but a lot of its focus is on a man from New York, not someone is from Israel. These camper vans are driven around Jewish areas with the intention to help secular and non observant Jews to get back to religious practice, particularly wrapping Tefillin (prayer straps)
This is quite honourable though to get those off track from faith back into the fold.
Chabad is a large and well organised group that bless a lot of Jewish people, but I’ll explain later why I believe there are better plans for Jewish people, despite Stamford Hill being an intriguing sort of place.