On the bus bright and early for a trip to Caesarea, a coastal area between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It is a national park on the coast that features ancient ruins including the old palace, an amphitheatre still used for concerts today, and an old chariot racing area. It was all built by King Herod . Just outside the park is Adquaduct Beach, where you can enjoy not only an amazing beach but the marvel of the aqueduct. It was warm and there was a total lack of shade, but I love a good wander through history. Rafi has a way of telling you things like they are a story rather than just listing off facts, but the number of annoying questions asked by one of the men in the group caused me to disengage a bit and just soak up the sunshine on my own.
From there we travelled north to the city of Haifa, often called the ‘Capital of the North’. We stopped at the Bahai Gardens, which are considered one of the holiest places for the Bahai faith.
Before we arrived at the gardens, I’d never heard of the Bahai religion. It has been a while since the tour, and I did not write everything down as it happened, so I went to good old Wikipedia to help me out. According to them, Bahai:
The Baháʼí Faith is a religion founded in the 19th century that teaches the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. Established by Baháʼu’lláh, it initially developed in Iran and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. The religion is estimated to have 5–8 million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world’s countries and territories.
The Baháʼí Faith has three central figures: the Báb (1819–1850), considered a herald who taught his followers that God would soon send a prophet who would be similar to Jesus or Muhammad and was executed by the Iranian authorities in 1850; Baháʼu’lláh (1817–1892), who claimed to be that prophet in 1863 and faced exile and imprisonment for most of his life; and his son, ʻAbdu’l-Bahá (1844–1921), who was released from confinement in 1908 and made teaching trips to Europe and the United States. After ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s death in 1921, the leadership of the religion fell to his grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Baháʼís annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the religion’s affairs, and every five years an election is held for the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member supreme governing institution of the worldwide Baháʼí community that is located in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb.
According to Baháʼí teachings, religion is revealed in an orderly and progressive way by a single God through Manifestations of God, who are the founders of major world religions throughout human history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad are noted as the most recent of these before the Báb and Baháʼu’lláh. Baháʼís regard the world’s major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, but diverging in terms of social practices and interpretations. The Baháʼí Faith stresses the unity of all people as its core teaching and explicitly rejects notions of racism, sexism, and nationalism. At the heart of Baháʼí teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%CA%BC%C3%AD_Faith
After some time to see the garden, we headed southeast to Nazareth. Now those of you who are familiar with the Bible will be really familiar with Nazareth. It is the centre of Christian pilgrimages and the birthplace of Mary. It is the home of the Church of Annunciation.
The Church of Annunciation is a really interesting church. It is said to be built on the spot where the Angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would give birth to Yeshua. The church was built over the site that is said to be the house of Mary (the photo of the altar) and what is said to be Joseph’s workshop. I made friends with the local cats and tried my best to get a kitten into my bag, but he was not quite ready to give up his life hustling tourists for snacks.
The last stop of the day was in the city of Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I had a room with a view….but broke the balcony door when I tried to open it, and had two slightly disgruntled men spend 30 minutes in my room trying to fix it. Luckily my room was connected to my parent’s room, so I just opened the connecting door and hung out in their room while I waited. I swear it was not my fault.
Since we were there for Shabbos, we had a traditional Shabbat dinner, complete with prayers. Now, I’m not super religious by any means, but I do respect the tradition, and I was on a cultural holiday, so more than willing to embrace everything.
….and this is where the problems started. My mom and I were the only Jewish people on the tour, so we had to endure a lot of cultural ignorance. Because it was Saturday, the lifts were in shabbos mode, which means they stop on every floor so that people do not have to push the buttons and ‘do work’ which is prohibited on Saturdays. There were Hasidic and Conservative Jews staying at the hotel, and they take their customs seriously. I ended up sitting next to a woman from Kentucky who was travelling alone. She started the dinner by complaining about the lift being in Shabbos mode and dragging the tradition. She then complained about the rooms, having asked to change rooms three times. She complained about the bar not having bartenders who spoke English (everyone I encountered on the entire trip spoke enough English to help with whatever we needed) and then complained that she couldn’t get a gin and tonic. I tried to explain that Jewish people aren’t really spirit drinkers and that for Shabbos we drink wine, but since it wasn’t expensive white wine, she wasn’t having it. I tried my best to educate her on Judaism and remind her that just because she found aspects of the religion inconvenient, didn’t mean that they weren’t worth respecting. I left the dinner early because I spent all day being respectful of Christian sites of worship, and this woman couldn’t spend half an hour learning about my religion. Sometimes it is exhausting being Jewish and constantly having to deal with ignorance, antisemitism (not that what she was doing was antisemitism), and stereotypes that get hurled at you. Living in Scotland, I constantly hear that I am the first Jewish person that someone has met, and I am nothing like they thought a Jewish person would look or act like.
The best part of the hotel was that the places in the area fed the local feral cats, so there were plenty of little gatitos to pet. I found yet another that I wanted to bring home with me….at least until he bit me when I tried to pet him instead of feed him.
The article describes a trip to Caesarea, a national park on the coast of Israel, featuring ancient ruins built by King Herod, including an old palace, an amphitheatre still used for concerts, and an old chariot racing area. The author also visited Aqueduct Beach, located just outside the park, where they enjoyed the beach and the marvel of the aqueduct. The tour guide, Rafi, had a way of telling stories rather than just listing off facts, but the author found themselves disengaging due to the number of annoying questions asked by one of the men in the group. The group then travelled north to the city of Haifa, but the article does not provide any further details about this part of the trip. Overall, the author enjoyed wandering through history and soaking up the sunshine on their own.
Thanks – TheDogGod – http://pomeranianpuppies.lovestoblog.com