Tour of Israel and Jordan

Mike and Judy Henderson
November 14-27, 2017

I'm going to leave this map up so that you can see where we are.


11/17/2017 (Friday)  We're heading inland today to the Sea of Galilee.  We woke up to a dramatic sunrise over Haifa.

We were on the bus about 9am, on our way to the Sea of Galilee.  We drove through agricultural lands.  Almost all the crops have to be irrigated because of the lack or rain.


We arrived at the Yigal Allon Centre on the Sea of Galilee.  The Sea of Galilee is shrinking.  At one time, Israel got almost all it's water from the Sea of Galilee but now they have desalination plants that produce almost all the water used in Israel.  Although Israel had greatly reduced the amount of water they take from the sea, it continues to shrink, mostly because there is less rain and snow in the drainage area that flows into the sea.

One exhibit they have on display is the remains of a fishing boat from about 2,000 years ago - about the time of Jesus.  We watched a video of how they had discovered it, and how they conserved it for display.

Here's a view of the Sea of Galilee.  The sea once covered all the grassy area in the foreground of this picture.

Difficult to see in the background of this picture is the Golan Heights.  Prior to the Six Day War (1967), Syria would occasionally shell the settlements around the Sea of Galilee so one important strategic objective during the war was to capture the Golan.  This was accomplished.  In 1981, Israel "annexed" the Golan but this annexation has not been recognized internationally.

We boarded a boat at the end of the pier.  I didn't get a picture of the boat we were on but here's another that was similar to the one we're on.

And here we are on the boat sailing the Sea of Galilee.

Zivit gave a commentary during the trip, mostly focusing on the biblical stories of Jesus, and pointing out sites that people believe are associated with the stories.  Of course, after 2,000 years, it's impossible to know - Zivit used the term "according to tradition" to qualify the descriptions she offered. 

As we were heading back to dock, the crew organized a Hora, with (of course) the music of Hava Nagila (Let Us Rejoice).  Here are members of the tour organized in a circle, holding hands.  Mark gave lessons for the traditional steps of the hora.

Here's Judy and Joyce doing the hora.  I don't know what the steps were, but notice that they have opposite legs raised:-)

After we left the Sea of Galilee, we went to the Kibbutz Degania Alef.  At the entrance to the kibbutz is this French Renault R35 tank which was one of five tanks (plus some number of armored vehicles) involved in the Syrian attack on the kibbutz during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (also known as the Israeli War of Independance). The defenders knocked out four (some reports say three) of the tanks and four armored vehicles.  The lone remaining tank(s) retreated.  This tank was stopped with a PIAT.  You can read about the attack here

Here's a view of the tank from the other side, the front quarter (picture taken from the web).

They raise dates, bananas and have a dairy operation.  Here's the palm trees for the dates.

And banana plants.  Banana plants take a lot of water.  We drove by the dairy barns but I didn't get any pictures. 

Moshe joined us and gave us a talk about the history and organization of the kibbutz.  It started in 1910 as a socialists organization where all of the property was owned by the kibbutz and the income was shared equally by all.  In the 1960's many of the kibbutz members were no longer content to have this equal sharing because they felt it was not fair, so the kibbutz now pays workers a salary, but the land and equipment is still held in common.  There's a lot more to the kibbutz story but it's too much to go to here.

The kibbutz has converted one of their original buildings to a museum and we toured the museum after Moshe's talk.

When we left the kibbutz we headed to Nazareth where we had lunch at a nice hotel restaurant.   Nazareth is predominately Arab but does a good business from Christian tourists who come to see where Jesus lived.

Here we are at lunch.

And some of the other people on the tour.

Our tour guides.

After lunch we went to the Basilica of the Annunciation.  The Annunciation is the story of how an angel appeared to Mary (mother of Jesus) and announced that she was pregnant with Jesus.  In the story, Mary and Joseph (Jesus' earthly father) had not had sexual intercourse prior to Mary becoming pregnant. 

The Catholic church also has the concept of the immaculate conception of Mary which some people mistakenly believe refers to the conception of Jesus without sexual intercourse.  However, it actually refers to the concept that Mary was without Original Sin and, therefore, her soul was "immaculate" at the time of Jesus' conception.

The place where this annunciation occurred is lost to time but a location was chosen and a succession of churches were built on this site.  This church was built in the 1960's.  There are very few Christians in Nazareth so this church was not built to serve the local people - it was built to serve the pilgrims who come to Nazareth.


Here's a view from the front.

And a closer view.

The church is built on two levels.  The first level has a structure that is, by tradition, believed to be the place where Mary lived and received the annunciation.  The second level is where services are normally held.

This is a view of the lower level showing the structure that is reputed to be where Mary received the annunciation.

We went up to the main floor where the everyday alter is.  This is a view looking down the aisle to the alter.

Catholics of many countries have sent artwork depicting Mary, and the artwork is displayed in many places around and inside the church.  Here's some on the walls of the church.

And on the other side of the church.

This one is from the United States.

Here's Jacki and Joyce at the statue of Mary.

After this visit, we headed back to the hotel in Haifa.  Our friends had made reservations at the Hanamal 24 Restaurant for dinner but Judy and I were too tired to go.

And just a note:  The Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) started today a sundown.


Our adventure continues here