JEWISH Jerusalem

Jewish city story of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is an Israeli city in the Middle East sitting on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and is considered holy according to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, a place where Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions, while the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power. However, neither claim is widely internationally recognized.

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Old City Christian Quarter

The Christian Quarter is one of the four quarters of the walled Old City of Jerusalem, the other three being the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. The Christian Quarter is situated in the northwestern corner of the Old City, extending from the New Gate in the north, along the western wall of the Old City as far as the Jaffa Gate, along the Jaffa Gate - Western Wall route in the south, bordering on the Jewish and Armenian Quarters, as far as the Damascus Gate in the east, where it borders on the Muslim Quarter. The Christian quarter contains about 40 Christian holy places. First among them is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Christianity's holiest place. Most of its residents are Palestinian Christians, despite their dwindling numbers. The Christian Quarter was built around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the heart of the quarter. There is a cluster of churches and monasteries surrounding it. The quarter contains few residential houses, which are mostly concentrated in its southern-eastern part. Most buildings are religious, touristic, and educational in character, such as the Terra Sancta High School, the Lutheran School, the St. Pierre School, and the Collège des Frères at the New Gate. The quarter contains souvenir shops, coffee houses, restaurants and hotels. The shops are concentrated in the west–east market street, the David Street, and along the north-south Christian Quarter Road, or simply Christian Road. Some of the hotels, such as the Casa Nova Hotel and the Greek Catholic hotel, were built by the churches as places for visitors to stay. Others are private hotels. The quarter contains some small museums, such as the museum of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. In the southwestern part of the quarter there is a pool called Hezekiah's Pool or Patriarch's Pool that was used to store water for the area.


Israel Museum

The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. In nearly seventy years, thanks to a legacy of gifts and generous support from its circle of patrons worldwide, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing the full scope of world material culture. In November 2017, Prof. Ido Bruno took up his role as Director of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. To Prof. Bruno's Welcome Address In the summer of 2010, the Israel Museum completed the most comprehensive upgrade of its 20-acre campus in its history, featuring new galleries, entrance facilities, and public spaces. The three-year expansion and renewal project was designed to enhance visitor experience of the Museum’s collections, architecture, and surrounding landscape, complementing its original design by Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad. Led by James Carpenter Design Associates of New York and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects of Tel Aviv, the project also included the complete renewal and reconfiguration of the Museum’s Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing, Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, and Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life. Among the highlights of the Museum’s original campus is the Shrine of the Book, designed by Armand Bartos and Frederick Kiesler, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world, as well as rare early medieval biblical manuscripts. Adjacent to the Shrine is the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, which reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the city as it was prior to its destruction by the Romans in 66 CE, and provides historical context to the Shrine’s presentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Museum’s celebrated Billy Rose Art Garden, designed for the original campus by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, is counted among the finest outdoor sculpture settings of the 20th century. An Oriental landscape combined with an ancient Jerusalem hillside, the garden serves as the backdrop for the Israel Museum’s display of the evolution of the modern western sculptural tradition. On view are works by modern masters including Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and David Smith, together with more recent site-specific commissions by such artists as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mark Dion, James Turrell, and Micha Ullman. The Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education, unique in its size and scope of activities, presents a wide range of programming to more than 100,000 schoolchildren each year, and features exhibition galleries, art studios, classrooms, a library of illustrated children’s books, and a recycling room. Special programs foster intercultural understanding between Arab and Jewish students and reach out to the wide spectrum of Israel’s communities. In addition to the extensive programming offered on its main campus, the Israel Museum also operates two off-site locations: the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, an architectural gem built in 1938 for the display of archaeology from ancient Israel; and Ticho House, which offers an ongoing program of exhibitions by younger Israeli artists in a historic house and garden setting.


Western Wall

The Western Wall, otherwise known as the Wailing Wall, often shortened to The Kotel, and known in Islam as the Buraq Wall, is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small segment of an ancient retaining wall, originally erected to expand the Second Jewish Temple. Herod the Great initiated this construction, resulting in the enclosed, natural, steep hill that today, Jews and Christians refer to as the Temple Mount. It is a large rectangular structure topped by a flat platform, creating additional space for the Temple itself, auxiliary buildings, worshippers, and visitors. The Western Wall's holiness in Judaism is a result of its proximity to the Temple Mount. Because of the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though the Foundation Stone, the most sacred site in the Jewish faith, lies behind it. The original, natural, and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for an ever-larger Temple compound to be built at its top. This process was finalized by Herod, who enclosed the Mount with an almost rectangular set of retaining walls, made to support the Temple platform and using extensive substructures and earth fills to give the natural hill a geometrically regular shape. On top of this box-like structure, Herod built a vast paved platform that surrounded the Temple. Of the four retaining walls, the western one is considered closest to the former Holy of Holies, which makes it the most sacred site recognized by Judaism outside the previous Temple Mount platform. Just over half the wall's total height, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, and is commonly believed to have been built by Herod the Great starting in 19 BCE, although recent excavations indicate that the work was not finished by the time Herod died in 4 BCE. The very large stone blocks of the lower courses are Herodian, the courses of medium-sized stones above them were added during the Umayyad period, while the small stones of the uppermost courses are of more recent date, especially from the Ottoman period. The term Western Wall and its variations are mostly used in a narrow sense for the section traditionally used by Jews for prayer; it has also been called the "Wailing Wall", referring to the practice of Jews weeping at the site over the destruction of the Temples. During the period of Christian Roman rule over Jerusalem (ca. 324–638), Jews were completely barred from Jerusalem except to attend Tisha B'Av, the day of national mourning for the Temples, and on this day the Jews would weep at their holy places. The term "Wailing Wall" was thus almost exclusively used by Christians, and was revived in the period of non-Jewish control between the establishment of British Rule in 1920 and the Six-Day War in 1967. The term "Wailing Wall" is not used by religious Jews, and increasingly not by many others who consider it derogatory.[5] In a broader sense, "Western Wall" can refer to the entire 488-metre-long (1,601 ft) retaining wall on the western side of the Temple Mount. The classic portion now faces a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter, near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, while the rest of the wall is concealed behind structures in the Muslim Quarter, with the small exception of an 8-metre (26 ft) section, the so-called Little Western Wall. The segment of the western retaining wall traditionally used for Jewish liturgy, known as the "Western Wall" or "Wailing Wall", derives its particular importance to it having never been fully obscured by medieval buildings, and displaying much more of the original Herodian stonework than the "Little Western Wall". In religious terms, the "Little Western Wall" is presumed to be even closer to the Holy of Holies and thus to the "presence of God" (Shechina), and the underground Warren's Gate, which has been out of reach for Jews from the 12th century till its partial excavation in the 20th century, even more so. Whilst the wall was considered Muslim property as an integral part of the Haram esh-Sharif and waqf property of the Moroccan Quarter, a right of Jewish prayer and pilgrimage existed as part of the Status Quo.[6][7][8] This position was confirmed in a 1930 international commission during the British Mandate period. The earliest source mentioning this specific site as a place of Jewish worship is from the 17th century.[9][10] The previous sites used by Jews for mourning the destruction of the Temple, during periods when access to the city was prohibited to them, lay to the east, on the Mount of Olives[5] and in the Kidron Valley below it. From the mid-19th century onwards, attempts to purchase rights to the wall and its immediate area were made by various Jews, but none was successful. With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish and Muslim communities, the latter being worried that the wall could be used to further Jewish claims to the Temple Mount and thus Jerusalem. During this period outbreaks of violence at the foot of the wall became commonplace, with a particularly deadly riot in 1929 in which 133 Jews were killed and 339 injured. After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War the eastern portion of Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan. Under Jordanian control Jews were completely expelled from the Old City including the Jewish Quarter, and Jews were barred from entering the Old City for 19 years, effectively banning Jewish prayer at the site of the Western Wall. This period ended on June 10, 1967, when Israel gained control of the site following the Six-Day War. Three days after establishing control over the Western Wall site, the Moroccan Quarter was bulldozed by Israeli authorities to create space for what is now the Western Wall plaza.[11]

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David Ha'ivri March 12, 2023

Turmus: Israel's Beautiful Lupine Flowers

Israel is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, and tourists from around the world flock to this country to experience the stunning landscapes, historical landmarks, and diverse cultural attractions. One of the very popular activities for domestic and international tourists alike is exploring Israel's many nature preserves and national parks, which are home to a wide variety of beautiful flowers and plants. Among the many stunning blooms that can be found in Israel, the lupine flower, known locally as Turmus, is a particular favorite, thanks to its striking unique beauty. Lupines are a type of flowering plant that is native to the Mediterranean region, and they are widely cultivated for their colorful and fragrant blooms. In Israel, lupines can be found in many different settings, from the wildflower meadows that dot the countryside to the carefully tended gardens and parks that are scattered throughout the country. Visitors to Israel can expect to see lupines in a range of colors, from deep shades of blue and purple. One of the best places that I have experienced Israel's lupine flowers over the years is in the Shomron region, which is located in the country's center mountain area. Here, visitors can explore the scenic hiking trails that wind through the region's rolling hills and valleys, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the vibrant lupine blooms that carpet the hillsides. Other popular destinations for lupine spotting include the Carmel Mountains and the upper Galilee region in the north which are home to a wide range of native plant species. But don't miss the remarkable density of this flower that exists in Jerusalem's Armon HaNatziv Mitzpeh Tal hilltop lookout points that also provides an incredible panoramic view of Gush Etzion in the with the iconic centerpiece Herodium, and an amazing view of the mountains of Moab in Jordan to the east and to the north a breathtaking of you of all of Jerusalem with the old city in its Center surrounded by the Mount of Olives and the modern city to the west. Of course, with great natural beauty comes great responsibility, and Israel is committed to protecting its unique and valuable ecosystem. As a result, the country has implemented a range of laws and regulations aimed at protecting endangered and threatened plant species, including many of the flowers and plants that are popular with tourists. These laws cover everything from picking wildflowers to hiking in unmarked trails and hurting the wildlife, and they are administered by Israel's National Park and Nature Authority. One of the most important laws protecting Israel's flora is the Wildflowers Protection Law, which was first enacted in 1985. This law prohibits the picking or uprooting of wildflowers from their natural habitats, as well as the sale or transport of these flowers without a permit. Violators of this law can face fines, imprisonment, or both, depending on the severity of the offense. In addition to the Wildflowers Protection Law, Israel also has a number of regulations in place to protect specific species of plants and flowers. For example, the country's Red Book of Plants is a comprehensive list of all the threatened and endangered plant species found in Israel, and it provides guidance on how to protect and preserve these species for future generations. Similarly, the Israel Plant Gene Bank is a national repository of seeds and genetic material from native plant species, which is used to ensure the long-term survival of these species in the face of environmental threats. Overall, Israel's commitment to protecting its natural heritage is admirable, and it is a testament to the country's deep connection to its land and its people. By protecting its beautiful flowers and other natural treasures, Israel is ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy these wonders for years to come. Whether you're a seasoned botanist or simply a lover of natural beauty, a visit to Israel's lupine-filled gardens, parks or open spaces is an experience you won't soon forget. ---- David Ha'ivri is a professional tour guide based in Jerusalem, Israel. He has been guiding visitors to Israel for over 20 years, providing unique and informative tours of the country's beautiful nature trails, its historical and religious sites. David is known for his passionate and engaging tours, which provide visitors with a deeper understanding of Israel's rich history and complex political landscape.

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David Ha'ivri February 27, 2023

Machane Yehuda Market Tour: Israel Travel Tried and Tested

History of the Shuk The ever changing evolution of a place we once knew Bigger than life graffiti Street Art gallery A taste of many cultures; multinational culinary experience Many visitors and even locals are surprised to learn that what is commonly known today as the Machane Yehuda Shuk was once known as the Beit Yaakov market and before that known as Vilaro's yard.  We start out our tour with an historical overview of how this central market came about being at this location. Taking a closer look at Jaffa road that was the main artery from the Old City of Jerusalem to farming villages in the west that were providing the fresh produce. Taking a look at some of the first building complexes that were built here towards the very end of the 19th century. And trying to imagine the challenges of those pioneers who came to live here and what was then the middle of nowhere.  Getting to know some of the historical leaders of the Jewish community at that time Haim Vilaro a Jewish banker who had purchased many of the lands around us and Yosef Rivlin a crazed building developer who encouraged so many families to make the move from the old town out here to the new. Taking a closer look at the market itself we notice that the makeup of the type of stores that was the core of the market 20 years ago is in the process of change. We can still see the traditional fruits and vegetables and fresh produce housewares and basic textiles. But in between and all around we see many more eateries, coffee shops and bars that represent the transformation into a popular nightlife destination. Around us we might notice groups of Israeli internal tourism with a guide speaking with them in Hebrew and telling the stories of the market and it's evolution. Some years ago a young British Jewish street artist named Solomon Souza chose the shutter doors of the shops in the market as canvas for an open air gallery of murals that he painted here. And over 150 storefronts Souza and others painted portraits of historical figures from the Jewish community and internationals along with other works of art showing biblical events, scenery and animals. Although many of the murals are hidden during the day when the shops are open, typically we can still see some of them and speak about the historical figures that they represent and learn more about the artist who painted them. This Market is a platform for the in-gathering of the diaspora, we can find here Jews who are descendants of those who came from many places around the world. The unique cultural mix that is available here also provides a taste of home cooking of many different menus. Iced coffee, rugelach cake, halava and kanafe along side, borekas cheese and wine tasting, schnezel in challah bread, aris in pita, shawarma in lafa, kubeh soup and majadera. The combinations are endless.

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David Ha'ivri February 27, 2023

Hebron Day Tour: Tried and Tested

Tried and tested Hebron tour with Mount of Olives, Gush Etzion and Rachel's Tomb An ideal experience for a multi generational family from Israel and abroad gather the Jerusalem to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. We started out the day with the older folks who wanted to take the opportunity to visit family graves on the Mount of Olives. Best to prepare in advance by collecting as much information as possible to pin point the location of the graves and access path before the visit. The Mount of Olives is considered to be one of the most important Jewish cemeteries because of its proximity to the Temple Mount and traditions regarding scenarios at the end of days. This cemetery has been in use from Biblical times and is active to this day as a premiere burial site. Enjoy the amazing panoramic view of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and see many parts of the city from the south east, south, west and north east. View the City of David archeological park and Silwan neighborhood below in the valley and Armon haNatziv in the south, Mount Zion and even the King David hotel and so much more. To briefly touch on the complex geopolitical situation here. The Mount of Olives and the surrounding neighborhoods including all of the walled Old City are part of the areas also known as East Jerusalem, referring to parts of the city that were controlled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Typically most of these neighborhoods have a substantially larger Arab population and smaller Jewish enclaves. Following the very special visit to family graves on the Mount of Olives, we picked up the younger generation of the group and proceeded to Hebron to visit Maarat HaMachpela. The bible tells the story of Avraham the father of the Hebrew nation who purchased the plot of land and the burial cave for his wife Sara. According to tradition this is the burial site of three sets of patriarchs of Israel, Abraham and Sara, Itzhak and Rivka, Yakkov and Leah. Hebron is a city divided between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with most parts unwelcoming Israelis and Jews. The Cave of the Machpelah and all of the Jewish neighborhoods and sites are in areas under Israeli control with security provided by the Israeli army and police. From Hebron we headed back north on road 60 the Path of the Patriarchs for a wonderful dairy and fish lunch and wine tasting at the Gush Etzion winery. We met with Asaf, the son of the founder of the winery and manager of the winery, who shared with us the story of the vineyards and the wines of Gush Etzion. After lunch our bus took us to Deer-Land Ranch where we met another Asaf who is the owner and operator of the Gush Educational ATV ride, an hour and a half tour on ATVs through the forest, the vineyards and the ancient Roman road and milestone number 10 that lead to Jerusalem. On the way we saw a Mikva ritual bath carved in the bedrock dating back two thousand years to the second Temple period when pilgrims used this road to access Jerusalem during the festivals. Not done yet, on the way back to Jerusalem we stopped to pray at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. The site was once on the main road south from Jerusalem to Hebron just north of Efrat. Now the road ends here in the massive secured area surrounded by the high cement walls of the security barrier between the Israeli side and the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority in Bethlehem. The tour ended with dropping off the family happy and tired at their hotel in Jerusalem.   David Ha'ivri is a licenced Israel Tour Guide. Read more about his tours here

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World Jewish Travel Official July 31, 2022

5 Virtual Tours That Will Connect you to Israel

Virtual Tour in Israel = A Stress-Free Travel Experience Can I travel to Israel? The answer is unfortunately no for many. However, you will be able to scratch that Israel travel itch with an Israel Virtual Tour. For the last two years, there has been a lot of back and forth when it comes to the subject of international travel and Covid-19. As if the regular pattern of air travel weren’t already stressful and exhausting enough. These countless questions have turned international traveling into a cesspool of nerves. The interaction between Israel and the rest of the world is still halted even after two years. You might still be wondering: Birthright Interactive Tour The best part of the Birthright interactive tour is that the trip suggestions are optional. Unlike an actual Birthright trip which is scheduled down to the second. Tour guide Navee Cohen takes you through all of the iconic Birthright sites letting you choose your own adventure. The tour also calls on the expertise of local and specialized guides. These guides explain everything Israeli from tech innovations to historical sites and then some.   Not only do they take you to some of the most iconic Jewish heritage and historic sites but the tour also gives you food options. Every sort of food experience from the fine dining of Tel Aviv to the Arab cuisine is to be found in Nazareth. You can taste the homemade hummus through the screen. Delicious Israel Virtual Tour Speaking of delicious cuisine there is plenty to be had in a country that can be covered by car in nine hours. The famed abundance of Israeli Shuk restaurants as well as the history of food assimilation and acceptance in the larger narrative of Israel. The name of the game here is diversity. It is one of the main themes of the tour filtered through the lens of the Israeli breakfast table. Incorporating some staple Israeli breakfast dishes but also staying true to specific cultural Jewish roots.  The Delicious Israel Virtual Tour also sought after the guided advice of local food and wine experts. If there is a specific area of food interest that you would like to know more about, reach out. Let the guides know and they will do their best to give you a customized food experience. This tour is ideal for families looking to connect. Perhaps even parents looking for a fun out-of-the-box activity to do with their kids or as a couples date night. Kibbutz Sde Boker: BTS with David and Pola Ben-Gurion David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s mythic first prime minister, model Zionist, and all-around mensch was obsessed with the desert. He believed the desert to be the intellectual birthing ground for the Jewish people. On a trip to the south in 1952, Mr. and Mrs. Ben-Gurion passed by Kibbutz Sde Boker. They were so enthralled with the small community they asked their driver to pull over for a quick tour. Ben-Gurion adored the hopeful mission of the kibbutz. He requested to become a part of the community and made Sde Boker his home. Today you can take a virtual tour of the Ben-Gurion hut and surrounding gardens. This tour allows you to experience what first enchanted the Prime Minister. A humble yet rich community. The tour is 45 mins and answers any and all sorts of questions one might have about the life of one of Israel’s greatest leaders. Are you curious to see what Pola Ben-Gurion kept in her kitchen drawers? How did they organize the bathroom? What did Ben Gurion keep on his desk?  Masada: A Virtual Hollywood Story If you do not know the story of Masada, get ready for a movie to come to life. In the Second Temple Era, around 70 CE, there was a community of Jewish rebels taking refuge at the great palace-fortress of Masada. King Herod had originally constructed for himself the most elaborate summer palace on top of a mountain in the desert. The entire complex is 1.6 million square feet. It includes storage facilities, a palace complex, and elaborately frescoed Roman baths. The Romans overtook the fortress and all the rebels committed suicide but still, this 2,000-year-old ruin remains. Now you can take a virtual tour of Masada so that you do not have to miss one bit of this amazing history. It’s like the google maps of tours, taking you through a 3D model of the entire complex.  Jerusalem: City of Gold Stone   The jewel in the crown of Israel tourism is without a doubt the city of gold herself, Jerusalem. In the last few months, however, the city has been lonely. Jerusalem is so used to being toured and admired by people from around the world. Now you and Jerusalem can reunite through virtual tours offered at Jerusalem.com on all the significant monotheistic sites. Although you will not be able to touch the stones of the Kotel or walk in the plaza of the Dome of the Rock, there are benefits to taking a virtual tour. One benefit is that the tour is on your schedule. You don’t have to worry about what hours of the day non-Muslims can visit the Temple Mount. Not even getting your clothes wet and dirty when visiting the tunnels under the Kotel. Virtual Connection  These virtual tours can provide a point of connection for Olim and their family overseas who can’t partake in the experience together. Israel is once again shutting its doors to more and more nations. However, people are generating new and diverse solutions to close that gap. World Jewish Travel has curated these virtual Israel tours to help keep the connection between Israel and the world. 

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World Jewish Travel Official December 7, 2022

Christmas in Israel: Decking the Halls of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa, and Nazareth

Experience the Story of Christmas in the Holy Land Christmas in Israel is a far less commercialized event than in most other countries. Don’t get it twisted there is still plenty of Christmas festivity to be had during the entire month of December. From Bethlehem to Jaffa and everything in between. However, Christmas in Israel is unlike anywhere else in the world. The history and miracles of Jesus that are celebrated by millions all went down right here. A history that you can see, touch, and celebrate all in one.    Bethlehem: Beginning with the Birth  Although Bethlehem holds a special place in the heart of all three major religions, its worldwide fame has undoubtedly grown from the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, the city does not disappoint when it comes to its yuletide festivities. Most ceremonies are set to take place right next to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, including the lighting of the Christmas tree. However, this is just one event in a series of December long parades, masses, and the ever-important Christmas Market.   Even heading into the first week of January there is a litany of events in Bethlehem that cater to a wide diversity of Christians. The Christkindlmarkt Christmas Market at Lehigh Valley is open again this year. Most Christmas services are offered in both Latin and Arabic culminating in a Christmas Eve Mass. There are also other holy ceremonies held at other sites of significance such as the tomb of the matriarch Rachel. Every year his eminence, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal, is greeted by the Latin Parish Priest of Bethlehem. A symbolic rejoining of the two major Christian cultures in the birthplace of Jesus.    Nazareth: All About the Merriment Christianity is a religion that enjoys its landmarks. Housing the femur of a saint within a space makes that space holy. Life events and places that have experienced great feats of faith are always of high relevance to Christians throughout the world. So naturally, the next stop on our Christmas tour of Israel is in the city of Jesus' upbringing, Nazareth.  The Christmas vibes in Nazareth are far more relaxed compared to Bethlehem. They often edge more towards a cultural bent, although there is still that historic component. There is a wonderful Christmas Market with all sorts of classic and locally made bits and bobs perfect for those last-minute present needs. Also, save some room for the endless array of freshly made baked goods and other tasty eats. Another important celebratory date to mark on your calendar is the Christmas Eve parade, which wraps up with a special midnight Christmas mass held at the Church of the Annunciation.      Jaffa: Santa Makes a Trip to the Old Port Jaffa is the underdog city in the history of Jesus. It does not receive the same worldwide recognition for its historic link to Christianity, but bible studying Christians will know that Peter, Jesus’ disciple did perform miracles in Jaffa. One of these miracles, known as the healing of Tabitha, took place during the days that Peter stayed in the ancient city with Simon the Tanner. The miracle was commemorated by the Franciscan order with the consecration of the Church of St. Peter in the 17th century.  Jaffa also turns up the gas on its Christmas decorations with a stunning and large tree right in the center circle opposite the clock tower. Just like every other city, there is a huge weekend Christmas Market the whole month of December with the best funky Jaffa fair you can find. The Christmas Parade rolls down Yefet street with Santa leading the charge. One additional festivity that seems to be a singular sensation of Jaffa is the Winter Festival. Be sure to also check out what other Christmas events are going on in the general Tel Aviv area. Oftentimes bars and restaurants will be open and serving on Christmas and they will for sure be in theme.   Jerusalem: The Rock of the Christian World Finishing our Christmas in Israel list is the big kahuna herself, Jerusalem of gold. God’s kingdom here on earth and one of the most talked-about and visited cities in the world. Christmas in Jerusalem takes place almost exclusively within the ancient Ottoman walls of the Old City. For the entire month of December, both the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter are lit up and decorated with literally hundreds of lights and several different trees all of equal grandeur and opulence. Also don’t forget to head down to the Via Dolorosa to catch a glimpse of the Christian pilgrims who come every year to rewalk the steps of Jesus’ passion.  Also be sure to check out the Christmas Market, complete with crafts made by local East Jerusalem artisans.  Christmas services are held the entire month of December at the Church of the Nativity, so be sure to head down that way to experience the more faith-based side of Christmas in Jerusalem.    Experiencing Faith First Hand Here in Israel, at the epicenter of monotheistic faith, Christians of all denominations gather in these cities to celebrate the birth of the new king. The history and belief in Jesus Christ's origin tale celebrated and told by Christians around the world began right here in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem. If you are able to make it into the country or live close by, we highly recommend stopping off at more than one location.  

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