Making Tekhelet

This is seems to be an unlikely creature significant in Jewish culture, its a type of crustacean from the Mediterranean which of course all shellfish are unkosher.   Actually I don’t think anyone eats this.

Part of social trip I did with my work is to visit this centre by the shore of the Mediterranean that show tourists these creatures.   The reason why these things are prized as if you gather them up and dissolve their insides in a jar, you get a blue dye once mixed with some chemicals.

The Tzitzit, the four strings that dangle from under a religious Jew’s shirt have this blue dye.  You can see blue stripes similar to this on a prayer shawl too.

Well, me and my fellow volunteers got about 30 of them I think.

Blue and purple dyes during the bible were expensive, so this was probably quite a profitable industry to get into.

The man who was giving the talk at the Tekhelet tour reminded us of this passage in the bible.

Zechariah 8:23
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”

Interesting as me and my colleagues who tried holding the man’s garment from US, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Holland, Paraquay, Korea, New Zealand, and Israel and UK – yep, at least 10!

You can see about this interesting educational visit here:-

Quick return to Akko…

On Wednesday after a tricky two days with me and my colleague having to work extra hard to fix IT equipment breaking down in several places, all the staff at Bridges for Peace got to get on a retreat away up north to a Kibbutz converted into a hotel for a relaxing mid week break.

On the way we got to stop off at Akko, an ancient city that I visited only a couple of months ago, there was no obvious toilet block in the main road next to the sea, so it was a case of take a frantic wander round the old walls of city for the loo.

I saw a few new interesting discoveries, last time the sea was fierce and was lashing onto the road.  The time the tide is out, and there is this wonderful mix of ancient ruins and green seaweed or moss out in the harbour.

This adventuorous chap is doing abseiling down the sea walls, and someone else is fishing on the ruins.   I hope they know the tide times!

This may be distressing to animal lovers, but not sure who leaves a box of very new looking tiny kittens on the side of a street?

I found an English speaking young Arab girl, who said they were there just waiting for their mother, but looks to me like they were left for someone to take maybe?  Anyway she put them somewhere a bit more sheltered away from the cold wind coming from the sea.

Next, I get to learn to be a shepherd and see biblical farming techniques!


Akko – arriving at the old city

I took a trip to Akko, as this place is very rich in history, its just a brief train ride from Netanya too.   When leaving the station it looks fairly unremarkable apart from a sign on a hill and some palm trees, to get to the coast required about a mile and half of walking.

There was signs of bad weather in Netanya, here it seems the sea has been pretty fierce indeed.

Only a few miles down the road is Caesarea which part of the ancient Roman city walls are under the sea now, it seems its easy to underestimate the power of the Mediterranean!

Islamic worship places meets a fishing community.

Fishing is a big part of Akko, and the array of fish and shellfish was quite amazing.  I was quite tempted to get some prawns as I have not had any in a long time, they are strictly not kosher, so you won’t find them for sale in a Jewish city.   Take a closer look at what’s on this trader’s table…

Next I will show some interesting discoveries, treasures and sad events I experienced in this city.

Caesarea revisited

On the away trip with the staff of the charity I volunteer for, we first stopped off at Caesarea.

I have blogged on this place before but only very briefly, really only touching on the theatre which hosts live music and TV shows today, this time I got to see this place in a bit more detail.

The museum park is mostly outdoors and is a beautiful place to visit.  It is probably the most important piece of Roman history in the Middle East.

This sign shows how the harbour looked like:

Here you can see only a portion of the harbour is still here, the rest disappeared into the sea, although not so much through war, actually it happened by earthquake.

Today there is some flags out as a sign of countries in battle – this time the world cup football.

By the way the name ‘Palestine’ was invented by the Roman emperor Hadrian long before any Arab people populated this land.  Caearea was built by Herod, but there are signs here showing it was inhabited by Greeks, Crusaders and Muslims.

Outside a cafe at this place I ordered a hot dog with some french fries and sat outside.  The elderly man who ran the cafe had a strong New York accent brought out some pizza to one of my friends at the table and I noticed a small green tattoo on the man’s arm, not a particularly interesting design but when I went up to get some mustard I saw it again, it was about six numbers.   This was the unmistakable sign the Nazis used on Jewish prisoners in the holocaust camps, where as most people were rapidly slaughtered in the gas chambers not long after they had arrived by train, the ones with the tattoos tended to be those that were younger that were deemed suitable for working in the camp in unspeakable conditions.   Still today there are people who try to revise history and say it never happened. I would imagine the man is probably Polish and moved to the US in late 1940s and came to Israel not so long ago.  On one of the other tables he got chatting to one of the other staff, I didn’t hear what was said apart from he said he was from New York.   Its a sobering thought that history has come full circle, as the Nazis closely modeled themselves on the Romans to some degree and now as this small fragment of the Middle East is now owned by Jews again and some of them have reminders of tragedies gone by.

There are two films that can be watched in separate screens that show how Caesarea was restored by archeologists as you can see today.  Some other people on our trip went to scuba diving as there are parts of the ruins that can only be seen underwater.

People fishing, although I think this sign probably says you aren’t supposed to.

It perhaps doesn’t ‘go’, but I really like this wooden Caribbean style bar :o)

Current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lived here in the town and so did Russian-Israeli Billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak who used to own football clubs in Jerusalem and Portsmouth UK, its incredible this location has changed hands through so many people.

This is an absolutely must see for any visitor to the holy land.

I will cover the Kibbutz where I stayed next…