This youth hostel is literally a palace!!
It looks stunning with its high painted ceilings and huge windows, the owner of the place who is the grand-daughter of Mr Fauzi Azar himself seems proud of this place and the fact its been voted the best youth hotel in the country. Its little wonder that earlier this year on my first trip to Nazareth that it was fully booked up and I wasn’t able to stay before. Interesting enough I was in the lobby reading a book when one of the staff of Lonely Planet was there to speak to the manager.
I got chatting to other travelers, which as well as of course finding out the countries we were from, where else we had visited and exchanging stories and inevitably our own personal religious feelings and our perceptions of Nazareth and Israel.
The two girls from Canada and Switzerland who I first spoke to were atheists, there was another girl who was a Christian from the US and was studying Arabic and seemed really fascinated with Arab and Islamic culture and wanted to one day visit Saudi Arabia. I know of British people get well paid tax-free jobs in Saudi, I really do wonder though, if they realise the roles of men and women in the Gulf states are not the same as they are in the west, and some appalling human rights violations, particularly if anyone wishes to exit out of Islam for whatever reason. There was another older British couple, which one of them had a large Pagan looking symbol on a necklace, also a young American guy who was working doing web design for the Fauzi.
There was a couple from Ohio in the US who said they were ministers from something called a Universal Unitarian church, and as I wasn’t familiar with this denomination, as a group of us were in the kitchen just chatting I asked them a few things, and found that they were originally atheists, and I was more and more concerned when they said they didn’t really read the bible very often, and didn’t believe in heaven or hell or even the trinity! Seems that the Universal Unitarianism “church” or something like that, was actually a strange of cult, trying to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ faith combining elements of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and other religions by ‘people-pleasing’, leaving God (the one of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) completely out of the picture.
I think this only causes confusion (no not Confucianism – haha!) amongst the other guests who didn’t believe in God giving a very mixed up picture.
I didn’t want any theological debate, but I did let it slip amongst conversation of 5 or 6 of us in the kitchen there that I thought it was worth a mention that the previous week I got back ache from lifting boxes whilst helping out at the food bank which , and was completely healed two days later which I in no doubt give credit to Jesus. Was kind of sad that there wasn’t more Christians visiting with a curiosity for famous home city of Christ though.
The family that own that house were Arab Christians, but I didn’t spot any kind of pictures on the wall or bibles or anything. I did spot a strange “special offer” poster in the reception which gave travelers a free extra night if they had stamps in their passport from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon!!! I really can’t get my head around why they would want to do that?!? Normal circumstances means you can’t enter Israel after visiting one of those nations, so I am a bit baffled. Seems more of a case of thinking it is ‘clever’ to be rebellious over Israel’s strict but sensible policies on visas and entries I think??
I noticed actually only 3/4s of the Fauzi’s beautiful house is restored, there is one corner of a wing of the house that has no roof at all and you can see the sky through the missing window. I think maintaining old buildings like this must be quite a challenge and monumentally
Later on in the afternoon, I met three chaps from New Zealand, an older gent in his 70s and his two sons, they were doing some travelling around Israel, so I got a chance to hook up with them and head out on the town in the evening. This was great I could finally meet real believers who had a curiosity for the streets of Jesus’s upbringing also. I got to learn the father was a cancer survivor and had always wanted to visit Israel and his two sons had helped him achieve visiting here, so I was really pleased for them to come to the holyland for the first time, it was nice to sit in a nearby Falafel place and have a natter.
I spent a bit of time in the mornings out in the pleasant court yard taking advantage of the unlimited coffee and tea (especially with jars of mint and anise you can add to you drinks) and doing some reading of this book called ‘Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures which is written by a leader of a Messianic Jewish congregation and had some eye opening account into how Christ was not only predicted in Isaiah but also glimpses of him are seen in the Old testament too. This book isn’t available from Amazon or from common distribution channels so I can’t really tell you where you can get it apart from doing a Google search. I only got part way through it but have enjoyed what I have seen so far.
Anyway I can’t recommend the Fauzi high enough as a place to stay when visiting Nazareth, for its grand appearance with breakfast included and a free tour around Nazareth’s old city in the morning.
Did I find some spirit filled Arab believers in Jesus in Nazareth? yes!! – I will explain soon!!
1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes