Nazareth – 5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth

Often in the UK, some Christians opt to put a fish symbol on their cars to show their faith.  This has been debated about for a long time.

In Nazareth, where there are Christian and Muslim Arabs living together, modern day Nazarenes have some different symbols to show their beliefs on their cars, such as this chain with a cross:  (click to get a bigger image)

This is just a personal choice and there has been big debates in the past if its right or not, especially if you get upset with the actions of another motorist who in turn may say or gesture something that may not be a good representation of a follower of Christ.

Muslims have a variation on this neckless design too.

The chap who has this Citroen van has the chain thing and a fish too 🙂   By the way its going through a highway northward through Ha Meggido, whats commonly known as the place of ‘Armageddon’.

I think it has some good parts, I know Christians I have worked with who were friends and one found out the other they were a believer from the fish on his car.

Its very rare I see Christian symbols on cars in Jerusalem.   Jews don’t really have religious symbols on their cars that often.   I sometimes do see ‘Moshiach Now’ on a sticker though (Hebrew for Messiah now)  and the occasional image of Rebbi Schneerson, a deceased Rabbi who is thought to be the Messiah amongst some of the Ultra Orthodox community.

Also its also interesting that Nazareth has a lot of young men in souped up cars (mostly Honda Civics and Seat Ibizas) with bass laden Arabic pop music driving around the city.

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica


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Nazareth – 4. Where Jesus first preached

In the old city of Nazareth, after going around a maze of streets, I came across this exciting building, here is the synagogue church, the site of where Jesus first started preaching.  Its owned by the Greek Catholic church built by crusaders in 12th century.

Luke 4: 14-19 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.  He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.  He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

I can make out the latter part of this sign in Arabic, Hebrew and French that says no photographs.   Oops. 🙂

Matthew 13 : 53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.  Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked.  “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?  Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offence at him.    But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

Its only when reading this now I can see why Jesus chose to leave Nazareth.

Outside of the iron gates of the Synagogue Church is a labyrinth of narrow alleys mostly without thoroughfare for cars, here there is plenty of tourist souvenirs here of of course!

After some people in the synagogue got upset with Jesus’s teaching they tried to push him off a hill.   I will show this place shortly.

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica


Nazareth – 3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter

Before I came here, I wondered if there were practicing carpenters in this town now like Jesus’s earthly stepfather.

Turns out woodwork is very much part of Nazareth’s businesses today, although it is an Arab city – there are Jews that live in a closeby town called Nazareth Illit (‘Upper’ in Hebrew) which is a modern place only around since the 1950s.

This is one of fourteen carpentry shops, fairly standard sort of methods and tools, with lathes, routers and jigsaws.

Usual kind of woodwork, interior doors, shelves, coffins (!) etc.

The panels on these doors look extremely precisely done.

The wooden nativity sets popular with tourists made of olive wood often seen for sale tend to be made in Bethlehem though.

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica


Nazareth – 2. Staying in the old city

There are three main Youth Hostels in Nazareth, and they are all very close to each other in Nazareth’s old city.

I stayed here for 1st night, this is the ground floor of a local chap’s house, who happens to be the local policeman, and jolly nice gent he is.   The local station is also quite close by too.

Here I only spotted one other traveler, an Italian called Michael who was very friendly and shared with me half his plate of bread, cheese and olives, and spoke little English.   This place provided free tea and coffee and a shared kitchen, and I have started to become quite fond of Arabic style coffee.

When I was about to leave I spotted some interesting pets crawling around the front yard!  Good job I didn’t head out to the loo too early on the morning as I might of trod on them!

The second and third night I stayed in the Al Atabeh guest house.   This had a quite good sized open court yard, with plenty of outside seating.   This was slightly cheaper, with a large dorm room with bunks for about 10 people.   There is a bar where some food can be ordered but no shared kitchen.

As the other picture shows there was a decent bit of rain here, and in this lounge the roof started to leak with water running down the walls, above the coloured drapes the ceiling is only a flimsy corrugated plastic job.   Leaking roofs are quite a bit problem in Israel, as a lot of them are flat and in not so good condition, so this wasn’t too much of a surprise.

I didn’t like that the showers are awful even by middle east standards, water just goes out under the door into the yard, there was nowhere to hang up your clothes whilst inside to keep them dry and clean, and the lights mysteriously turned off halfway through, this meant I had to wrap a towel around me and get it out and press the light switch, but it wasn’t someone playing pranks, it was just broken, probably wet had got inside the electrics.    I also didn’t like overly political stickers inside the bathrooms.

 

The last hostel above and left is the Fauzi Azar is by far the best, unfortunately I could not get a bed here as it was full.   I did however take advantage of breakfast and two hour tour of the city for 35 Shekels which was terrific!   This grand old house is beautiful and well kept.  It has been voted the best youth hostel in Israel, and its not hard to see why.

Check out:-

www.abusaeedhostel.com

www.alatabeh.com

www.fauziazarinn.com

 

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica

Nazareth – 1. Arrival at the city

I have always hoped Michael Palin could do journals around the holy land one day, until this happens I try and blog on the places of the life of Jesus myself.  I am tired by the attitudes of the media and fellow Brits who try to slander Israel and accuse it of being a ‘Apartheid’ state amongst other things.  I set out to the central Galilee city of Nazareth, to see what it was like for Jesus to have grown up there, glimpses of places from the bible, how the Arab people there live in the centre of the Galilee and how different it is from Jerusalem.

Just before getting off the bus which took me from Jerusalem, I asked some people next to me if this was the right place to get off, and there didn’t seem to be a proper bus station, just a stop by the main road.   This Arab couple were really friendly and were happy oblige to walk with me from the street through some narrow streets uphill through the old city towards my hostel.

Jesus frequently went to and fro from here or the greater part of Galilee to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  When you live some distance from your family this must be a lot of effort to travel often.

This provocative message to Christians stands out a junction heading north towards the Synagogue where Jesus first preached.  Behind is the tall turret of the famous huge and grand looking Bisilica Church.   It says “and whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the hereafter he will be one of the losers. – Holy Quran”

I have a better message though: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14 : 6

I have seen this on some guides before, and all the research I did suggested Nazareth is a safe city to visit, and it is too.  I had a number of worries though to do with the busy time of year.  I booked this trip at rather the last minute as its in between Pesach and Easter, and with two different holidays, the buses are not running for some of those days, Easter making it more busy for Christian visitors, and I had hoped to visit Tiberias but both youth hostels were fully booked, so was one of the main hostels in Nazareth, and I got myself one night booked but not for the other days, this needed a lot of prayer of exactly how to figure out where to stay….

Soon!  Different Youth Hostels, the Spice Mill, Thousands of Arab Israelis Christians in the streets at Easter, the church at Cana for weddings, today’s modern Nazarene carpenters and residents finding hidden wells in the back yards by accident!

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica

Easter Sunday – Resurrection day at the tomb

My phone woke me up at 4.45am today on Easter Sunday morning, a silly time indeed, but I needed to leave just after 5 to get to the other end of the city for a special event with people churches all over the city starting at 06.00.

Lots of people are queuing outside….

Looks like people lining up for the sales (sunday is a regular work day in Israel) or going to a concert of some kind….

Aha, its starting to become clear now….

This was a special place to celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at the very place mostly likely to have been buried, but most definitely risen!

Really good service from a speaker I have not heard from before, and some great worship music from my (King of Kings) congregation.

It did mean that that leader speaking, the worship band and the tomb itself were hidden from view as there were bushes and trees in front of where I was sitting thought!   I would have a guess that there was about 2000 people crammed into the garden.  About half of the people I would guess are Christian tourists on a short holiday,with the remainder being Israeli believers and foreign Christians like me volunteering in the land.

Finally a quick glimpse of the tomb itself as people are leaving.

This was a memorable day to spend Easter Sunday.  I missed this service last year as I didn’t wake up in time!!

Funnily enough, two years ago I was working for an Israeli software company in Southampton UK, there we were given a chocolate egg by our bosses as an Easter present!  Also Pesach was mentioned as well as the Jewish holiday is the week before Easter.

Next: My journey to Nazareth and Cana to see Jesus’ childhood

Back to Ramon Crater, camping in the Desert

Camping! I went and spent a weekend with some friends, two from the Netherlands, one South African and one Hispanic Jew who has been Israel for some years now.

Its funny in an age where we try to make our lives more complicated with technology and creature comforts we still want to escape to basics of living under a piece of canvas with just the bare minimum to enjoy being out in the open air.

The Dutch seem to be the most hardcore campers in Europe, and where as I have had a fair bit of experience in camping up in Yorkshire and the New Forest as a child, my friends from this part of Europe seem to be very savvy as using gas cookers and putting up tents.   In addition to that my friend from South Africa was brought in a farm so is very adept at outdoors living also.

I have been to this site before back in about August 2009.    This is inside the Ramon Crater in the middle of the Negev Desert.

Some people opt for a more sophisticated camping experience, needing proper showers.   We opted for a site just rocks and bushes to use the bog.

This site we passed on the way home, just being a bit cheeky using the toilets that were by the road.

Here you can park your tent on the ground or inside the bedouin style huts, which look nicely made.   There is a kids playground in the middle which stands out as a bit odd!

This picture I took out of the window of the car is not that great, but it was a small clip of a large shanty town style village, these are Druze, traveling Arab people who live Bedouin style today often by the side of busy roads.  They may have cars or camels or donkeys and often grow their own groups in their communities.

Rosh HaNikra railway line, caves and border crossing

This view shows facing southwards from the most extreme north coastal point of Israel.

This is Rosh Ha Nikra (meaning Head of the Grottos)  a place of natural beauty, containing not only natural caves, but a museum built on the site of a railway line which goes from Israel through Lebanon through to Turkey built by the British in WWII, not running any more of course!

There is a nearby Kibbutz, the white tent you can see in the distance is a banana plantation, apparently British Jewish comedian who created Borat and Bruno characters Sacha Baron Cohen once lived here.

The left field has all the fruit picked.  The right hand one shows the bunches of bananas has blue plastic bags round them to keep out insects and birds, as well plastic sheeting around the whole field.  Means the fruit doesn’t have any chemicals on them instead.

The entrance to the cable cars and visitor centre.

Amusing looking warning signs in the cable car, the journey down was something like two minutes or so I think.

The tunnels, long since blocked off, as its impossible to cross over to Lebanon through the regular borders, carried trains all the way up through the middle east.  These days in holds a cinema screen and some chairs for a presentation showing the history of this railway route.

Ancient grafitti in Hebrew here, not sure of age, not so easy to see unfortunately from this picture, could be good to bring some crayons and paper and make some rubbings if you plan to come here.   On the right, some modern scribbles.

The caves are beautiful.

Traces of copper and iron in the caves, also some tiny fossils of creatures on the rock outside.

There is a very pleasant walk that winds around inside the caves and along the edges of the cliffs.

The border!  Beyond here is a military base, and a demilitarized zone, before you reach Lebanon.

Only 120Kms to Beirut, Lebanon!

www.rosh-hanikra.com

Meet Teddy from Yerubilee

This week I got to meet up with my friend Teddy Chadwick.

He is a great musician who does Reggae worship songs often a Davidic harp.  I got to meet up with him at a cafe in the Mamila Mall, a district which uses bits of recycled on buildings to create a shopping place mixing old and new parts of Jerusalem together full of cafes, restaurants and clothing retailers.

Teddy goes to my church, and has his own blog on Israel and his music, he gets to travel an awful lot and has been to Singapore and Nigeria in recent times.

Check out his site at: www.yerubilee.com for his band, and also www.jtod.org for his Aramaic bibles he sells.

Also check out his great music (I just bought a signed CD) you can listen to some samples on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWIaJFYHoNc