Reformed skinhead spends fortune to erase tattoos of hate

Read this encouraging story today about a man who left a skinhead group, and wanted to rid himself of his facial tattoos, which had a lot of Nazi related symbols at the cost of $35,000.

The article didn’t state exactly why this man decided to come out of this kind of life style, maybe a good impression for his son, but did spot the picture of Jesus in his family’s home and the cross worn by his wife. 🙂

Albert Einstein on Jesus

Albert Einstein was offered the job of being first prime minister of Israel, a lot of people thought he was an atheist although from Jewish background, thought this was a fascinating glimpse of something he said though!

(saw this on a blog called DailyMinyan – hope you don’t mind me quoting it :o)
Interviewer: To what extent are you influenced by [the teachings of Jesus]?
Einstein: As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.
Interviewer: You accept the historical existence of Jesus?
Einstein: Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus.
Interviewer:  Ludwig Lewisohn, in one of his recent books, claims that many of the sayings of Jesus paraphrase the sayings of other prophets.
Einstein: No man can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he.
(From interview with G.S. Viereck)

Double celebrations! Sukkot in Jerusalem and Gilad Schalit’s release

During Sukkot, there is a march through the city each year, usually people from different government organisations like the army, the Magon David ambulance, El-Al airlines etc as well as groups of Christians from all over the world with flags from their respective countries.

The event was just over as I took this stretched picture, but people were sitting on hotel balconies and out in the street with armed guards and buses parked sideways in the roads as make shift barricades.

I heard on the news about the real possibility of abducted soldier Gilad Schalit and thought I would believe it when I see it, knowing that terrorist organisations should be not be trusted with any kind of deal.   It amazes me to think that a swap of 1,000 Palestinian terrorists for one soldier has not been condemned as wrong or immoral by the UN, Red Cross, any moderate Islamic organisations or indeed any nation at all.   A large number of these Palestinians were jailed for suicide bombings and other appalling tragedies.   Nevertheless this shows the people of Israel’s value of human life, I think Yeshua’s story about the lost sheep is quite relevant here: Luke 15 : 3-7

I had to run some errands for some people at work which involved taking a 8 mile or so ride in a car to drop off some food for a staff meeting.  On the way was a helicopter close to a main road that had either just landed or about take off next to a police station. Quite possibly part of the process of releasing the prisoners.

I have been praying for Gilad and written some updates here as I used to pass tents campaigning for his release every day. 

Later on I went to a convenience store to get something for lunch to see a 5 second video of Gilad drinking a bottle of water next to a helicopter and smiling, so this was proof Gilad was coming home and so desperately what the people of this nation wanted to see, although there was understandable anguish from families who had lost loved ones to terrorism.

If you see the tall overhead traffic light in the above picture, if you turn right, this heads down Berlin Street, just a few yards down there is the Gilad Schalit tent which I have visited before.   This place is a kind of protest structure and shrine to this young man locked up for 5 years.

Outside this spot, there isn’t as many people as I thought, but the atmosphere is still buzzing!!

Here, I got to watch the TV on a projector as they showed Gilad in a car been taken to his parents house in the upper Galilee, there is a emotional sense of satisfaction as it shows the front door of his family’s home shut giving him some much needed privacy and he looked clearly pale and disoriented when on the TV.

This was a really good to be in this city when this history making event happened.

I think we need thanks for our loving Father in heaven that has been a happy ending to this ordeal, and I hope everyone in Israel and overseas who has been watching this does too.

Part of the quirky nature of Jerusalem means I often see friends, Christian, Jewish and Arab, natives, immigrants and foreigners accidentally in different parts of the city, I hope to one day see Gilad here and shake his hand when hes in a fit state to get around. 🙂   I expect hes going to want to know what a Facebook is and amazed at the amount of publicity there has been to get him free.

A few days ago, a friend from my church pointed out some interesting scripture about Sukkot and foreign Christians gentiles visiting…  more soon!

Mount of Beatitudes

Towards the end of my trip a quarter of the way around the Galilee, me and my friend stopped at the Beatitudes.

There is a small gift shop and a few picnic tables, visitors seem to come mostly in coaches, there isn’t too many people in terms of individuals here.

There are plenty of these strict looking signs, some of the gardens with the best view of the water front seem to be off limits it seems, not just here but in other places where I wanted to sit to down and admire the water.   Signs suggest these are saved for special occasions it seems.

This is the church itself and very nice it is too.

It was built upon the site where Jesus was teaching as in Matthew 5 : 3-12

Conference room and hotel closeby.

The church is small and very square in its shape, there is no real place for a congregation to sit down, its more of a shrine I suppose with a the outside arched walk way around it, although the Pope visited here in 2000, it is still manned by nuns in their traditional garb.

A day in my work in the GalileeThe Jesus boat in GinosarThe Kinneret LakeTiberias evening light showPreaching and miracles of Jesus in CapernaumTiberias city centre and Muriels and MaimonidiesGreek Orthodox Church of the Holy ApostlesMount of Beatitudes

Shabbat party dream team

Some people keep fantasy football leagues and some people have imaginary dinner parties of interesting or influential people.

Here in Israel, I may sometimes go and attend a Shabbat dinner round friends houses, both Jewish or Christian, mainly because its nice to mark the end of the week and relax with friends and food.

So… I want to put together a list of people I would invite who are Jewish that would make interesting guests.

The purpose of this isn’t so much to change or influence anyone’s religious background, nor would I want to talk politics, more of a way of who would be fun to have at a party, plus I actually haven’t thought about food as I need to get more familiar with cooking good stuff that is kosher, especially I had made a lasagne on early friday afternoon and realised once it has milk in it….

Yeshua Ha Moshiach (Jesus Christ)

‘Well Jon would say that as hes a Christian?’, you are thinking.  Yes and you would be right.   Being here in Israel and learning Jewish culture whilst being immersed here has made me think more about Jesus’s character and Jewishness.   As well as being being the Messiah and a great preacher, teacher, Rabbi, outdoor chap (40 days in the desert) carpenter, (early career) caterer (wine at weddings, fish and bread by the sea) healer, hiker, (180 kms from Nazareth to Jerusalem) story teller and friend to many especially the social outcasts.

Today if people fiddled with their phones during meal or teaching I think he would probably be quite blunt that they were being rude, the same with bad language or slander.  Plus with the many parables he spoke he would have some pretty amazing stories that would keep everyone amused.  Think I would like to ask him a lot of things, I always get stuck on the parable about new wine in old wine skins, mainly as I think people switched to using glass vessels for liquids which I think the Romans introduced just after Jesus’s time.   I can get 30 Agorot for old bottles, I wonder if wine skins were costly and needed a return deposit if you bought wine?

Groucho Marx

Would have to have him for his wit and sarcasm.  Would love to know about his early days as part of a poor Jewish family growing up in New York, especially as him and his brothers (Harpo, Chico, etc) often featured in movies together, but were also successful in their own individual careers.

Gene Symmonds

Born Chaim Weitz in Haifa, Israel and as well as front man for 70s glam rock band KISS, he has only done one gig in Israel recently this year, challenged other bands who bend under the strains of the bigoted BDS movement and other critics of Israel, I also saw a sad story in the news how he regretted not seeing his estranged father who he visited his grave this week.

Slash from Guns N Roses and Lenny Kravitz

A few more rock stars are always be good.  Both are a mixture of Jewish and African parents.

Peter Falk

Sadly passed away this week, but the actor behind Columbo which had two runs, in the 60s & 70 and in the early 90s, was also a talented painter as well as an actor and voice artist for some Disney movies.   Although his screen character is Italian, never gives his first name or ever shows his wife, Falk is of Hungarian Jewish decent.  The famous TV series often had the same ‘guest killers’ several times over, including Star Trek crew members William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy also Jewish, and famous folks like Robert Vaugn, I am sure Peter has had all kinds of interesting friends hes met on set.


I could of chosen any of the apostles and Jesus’s acquaintances from the bible, but instead I thought I would invite the not so popular short bloke who climbed the tree to see Jesus who worked for the tax company.   I would like to ask him if has any ideas to improve PR relations with regular people in first century or today’s Israel, and how today’s Israeli government could get maximum value for money from tax income to improve public services, ie: safer roads and helping new immigrants.

Please note, normally these kind of lists allow for people no longer living and from different eras.  I would pleased to hear from other bloggers with their own choices, wether they be actors, musicians, politicians or other people from history.  

Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles

On the road by the side of Galilee, after visiting Capernaum, we travelled a bit further north to see this eye catching Greek pink domed church over looking the Kinerret.

There are some chickens in the garden by the Greek church, I spotted some more exotic pets too…

At the end of this beautiful walkway there are some picnic tables with Arab families having lunch.

Perfect for barbeque next to the Kinerret.   The symbols on the metal gates is for the Greek church.

The pink domes are eye catching, and the church design looks really attractive on the banks of the Kinerret.

I am not able find much about the history of it, but I understand its meant to be on the site where Jesus recruited his followers.

The interior of this church is beautifully decorated.  Better than anywhere else I have seen I think.


Left; pictures of the saints on the ceiling, Right: there are angels and demons on one side, winged horses and other strange creatures depicted.


A day in my work in the GalileeThe Jesus boat in GinosarThe Kinneret LakeTiberias evening light showPreaching and miracles of Jesus in CapernaumTiberias city centre and Muriels and MaimonidiesGreek Orthodox Church of the Holy ApostlesMount of Beatitudes

Tiberias city centre and Muriels and Maimonidies

Some of the hotel complexes and apartment blocks in Tiberias look concrete and utilitarian, but this one is a bit more interesting; on each floor are circular logos of different species of crops that is popular in Jewish culture.

This painting on the wall is pretty nice too:

It combines a faux set of railings and balconies to match the rest of the block but also images of what the city overlooking the water in ancient times.

Founded in 20AD and named after a Roman emperor of almost exactly the same name, today Tiberias is just a Jewish city but has Arab Israelis living in the outskirts of town and many neighbouring Arab towns close by.

This iron structure doesn’t look like a normal religious shrine, but its a significant place for Orthodox Jews as the grave site of famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides.

Like the Kotel in Jerusalem and Rachel’s Tomb close to Bethlehem, praying is done in separate for men and women.



Lots of Judiaca items in neighbouring gift shop, not just souvenirs for Christians!

This is part of an ancient wall around the city which was destroyed, not by conflict but by an earthquake in the 11th century.

There has been no less than 16 earthquakes affecting the greater Galilee area, including a big one killing 600 in 1837, and also a big flood in 1934.

This mosque is empty and abandoned.   Many Islamic countries where Jews once live, including Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Morocco etc have destroyed old synagogues as after people started to move to Israel in large numbers, here buildings of all types of faiths that are not used are always kept as part of history, as it seems there is a great deal of respect put on history of all (Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Islamic, Crusader Ottoman and Jewish) eras of people dwelling here.

A day in my work in the GalileeThe Jesus boat in GinosarThe Kinneret LakeTiberias evening light showPreaching and miracles of Jesus in CapernaumTiberias city centre and Muriels and Maimonidies

A day in Christian IT work in the Galilee

As I have mentioned before, my job as a volunteer IT support and system administrator for the charity Bridges for Peace means I am normally based in one of two offices in Jerusalem, and on odd occasions I work up in Karmiel, which is a city in the centre of the Galilee.

This means a 180km visit by car or bus when I have to do work up there.  The food bank I work does a huge amount of service in helping the poorest people in this area especially new immigrants to Israel mostly from Russia or some of the other ex-Soviet Union nations.  Every so many months I need to do a trip probably not that different from journeys Jesus did himself.

I have learned since being here this site requires careful planning as its an awful long way if something breaks unexpectedly.

This empty room in the middle of the warehouse seems like a good place to put the server.  This server will replaced later this year as its running Windows 2000 which is very old now and we need a new more reliable system that helps us with our day to day food bank operations up here.   This room is good as it means an easier job of adding some extra wiring here as its close to the network cabinet which is in the cupboard opposite the door.

This rack full of network kit needs a good sort out.   I manage to swap cables around to enable computer network use in some offices that moved around.   We only have 5 staff up here and there will be at least 3 more and there is not enough ports on the 16 port switch here so I have to put in another switch.   The glass door on the cabinet does not shut as the wires are in the way.   I think I can rotate the brackets on the switch at the top 180 degrees so this sits flush better and should make the glass door shut properly.

There is an other switch supplied by Bezeq (Israel’s no.1 telephone company) for several VOIP phones.   Not quite sure how this works as I think they maintain it.

The black things are UPS power back up units to keep equipment running in case of power failure or spikes in the electricity supply, these are a few years old, most of the equipment was set up when this building got running in 2007 and the chances are the batteries are no good as they have a 3 year or so life span.   I want to get a new UPS that has network connectivity so I can see the status of it using my Spiceworks network management software.   These small ‘shoebox’ type UPSes should be able to be refurbished with new batteries and they could be used on regular office PCs in another part of the building.

When I was staying at one of the staff’s place over night, looking out of the balcony, I get to see an Arab bedouin house across the road, and modern (Jewish) flats in the distance.   Here in this city, these two types of communities seem to be get on well it seems.   It does mean you get woken up up by roosters at 5.30am though!

I have to speak to the rest of the IT department to get some more telephones installed, test wiring for network ports and telephones, get 3 more PCs installed and test the spare server.   This trip was mostly about planning to give extra capacity for this site for future expansion as I know the Lord will provide more resources so we can help the most needy people in this area.  I will need to do another visit up here in July I think.

The main thing I was doing, is a careful back up of the main server and applying all the latest updates and patches.   This is always a delicate thing for IT administrators to do, it puts you a big security risk if you don’t bother, and if you do it without carefully planning it can crash the server.    One of the team had their monitor suddenly stop working, so a local computer store (thanks to KSP)  I got a new Samsung 18″ wide screen TFT monitor.

I really like this job as I always have plenty of interesting and varied challenges so work is never boring and I get to know everyone in the organisation.   It also means I can combine this with a weekend seeing some friends who moved from home city of Portsmouth UK to Karmiel Israel, and later visiting the city of Tiberias which is right on the Kinneret, or the Sea of Galilee, and a few significant places of the bible, I will show soon.

A day in my work in the GalileeThe Jesus boat in GinosarThe Kinneret LakeTiberias evening light showPreaching and miracles of Jesus in CapernaumTiberias city centre and Muriels and Maimonidies

Nazareth – 13. Easter service at the Basilica

I didn’t find  anyone from the youth hostel who wanted to head into town that evening, so after an afternoon of looking around shops and reading a book in the lobby, I headed out and saw lots of people flocking towards the Basilica church.

This was the service for Easter Friday.

The outside of church seems very busy…

Inside, the place was packed!  all of the seats were taken, and people were in all of the aisles and blocking the door.
The surprising thing is the vast majority of people appeared to be young Arab Christians under 30 for the service, no foreigners as far as I could see.  I have no idea what was spoken in the service as it was all in Arabic.

A statue of Jesus was brought out of the service at the end.

Outside there were lots of people who couldn’t get in the service, they seem very friendly and most spoke English, a lot of the Arab Christians had non-Arabic sounding names, ie: Simon.Musicians where getting together for a parade outside..  Hang on surely, these aren’t bagpipes??

Whats this?  Its the flag of Christian Arab scouts of Nazareth.

The scouts are getting ready to do their bagpipe playing at the end of the Easter service!   Actually an Arab friend of mine told me that bagpipes are not that uncommon in the Middle East, there are bagpipe players in Jordan who play for the King there.   Maybe the Arabs are wannabe Scots or perhaps during the British Mandate of Palestine period, Scotland influenced people then? 🙂

The statue is taken on a tour around the city.

So was the Easter service a nice yearly social knees-up or the were the mostly young Arab Christians there praising the Lord on the weekend of his resurrection in the very town where Jesus spent his youth?   I am not sure but this was an enjoyable end to my trip to Nazareth, and despite only 15% of the town being Christian it was good that Easter was celebrated (actually there were no chocolate eggs for sale anywhere)  and this didn’t seem like a big show for tourists as there simply weren’t any around the town.

Seems like the modern day people of Nazareth are proud of their 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

Nazareth – 12. The Basilica church of Annunciation

This is the famous Basilica church, it stands a centre point in the city, as one of the biggest buildings in Nazareth.

I didn’t see many Nazarenes on horses, only this one!  You can see the church more or less anywhere in the city, this tall turret is quite distinctive.
Built in 1969, the give away signs of the modern construction of this place is these odd dimples in the concrete structural support beams.   Other than that there are usual pews and decorations you would find in any church here.  I didn’t get to the dome up the top, I think this may be possible with this paid tours that happen on week days here.

Although Catholic, this place also attracts Christian visitors from Orthodox and Anglican backgrounds

On two floors, this place is huge!!   This floor contains the Grotto of annunciation, ie: what’s thought to be the home of Mary.
Underneath one of the walkways in the yard are more signs of ancient history under these support beams.

There’s no doubt the the Basilica is a fertile place for photographers!Here there are muriels dedicated to other countries, there are dozens of them all around the insides of the perimeter outside wall of the church,  like I mentioned a few articles ago, this is a kind of peace initiave I think, although seems to be mostly Catholic (ie: Ireland, France, Poland, Brazil etc) countries.

Lastly, as it was Easter whilst I was in Nazareth I thought I would check out to see all the crowds heading towards the Baslica, and I got several surprises there…

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