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JEWISH Nazareth

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Every Christian in the world has heard tales of the city of Nazareth since they were first taken to a church service. This was the city of Jesus’ comeuppance as a teacher, religious leader, and eventual Christian messiah. There are monuments, basilicas, and even ancient synagogues that reflect where it all began for the world’s number one practiced religion. If you happen to be visiting the city during the Christmas season, this is the best time to see all these sites in action. Today, however, the city hosts the largest Arab population in the lower Galilee. The History of Nazareth At the time of its establishment, Nazareth was a predominantly Jewish city, but is never mentioned in the Old Testament or any Rabbinic sources. During Jesus’ ascent as the voice of a new religious movement, his actions and words contested heavily the established order of the Judeo-Roman world. When the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE the Jewish population of the city declined significantly. Jesus’ life and teachings prevailed in starting a new life and definition for the city of Nazareth. Centuries later, it invited a whole movement of religious warriors, the Crusaders, whose presence is still being excavated from the land today. When the city was captured by the Ottoman Turks in the early 16th century, they expelled all the Christians from the city. Eventually, those who had been forced to leave were allowed to return. Today, the city hosts the largest population of Christian Arabs anywhere in the Levant. Nazareth is also visited by scores of Catholic Christians and those belonging to Eastern Orthodoxy.  Tradition runs deep in more than just the Christian history of Nazareth. The city is home to some of the best Arab food in the Middle East with restaurants being passed down through the generations. There is also an esteemed school of music, Polyphony Nazareth whose mission is to bring together Jewish and Arab musicians in a shared fusion of two distinct music cultures. This is a great representation of the new flourished life of the Jewish community in an otherwise intensely Christian city.       The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel Historic Sites in Nazareth Interestingly enough, many of the Christian historic sites in Nazareth have more to do with the life of Jesus’ mother Mary than they do her son. The first is the Church of Annunciation, the most visited Church in the Galilee. This is where it is said the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and informed her of her divine insemination by God. This was the monumental event that started it all and as a result, the Church enjoys the status of a minor basilica, a title bestowed by the Vatican according to Canon law. If the Pope happened to reside in the Holy Land it is likely this would be Christianity’s number one basilica.  The Church of the Annunciation interior in Nazareth, Israel Inside the church is the site where the angel was said to have appeared to the mother of Jesus, known as Mary’s Well. The source of the well’s water is a cave spring located a few kilometers north of the church. In recent years, the church has constructed a new well site where visitors are allowed to gather en masse. The waters from inside the church are filtered down to this new site. For centuries the wells' waters were said to harbor healing properties and farmers used to water their fields with the holy substance. The site is even considered to be holy amongst Muslims that inhabit Nazareth.  Mary's Well in Nazareth, Israel One of the major sites that was supposedly utilized by Jesus in his lifetime is the Synagogue Church. Little is known about the life of Jesus within Nazareth, making the synagogue one of the main staples of Jesus' presence and teachings. The structure that stands today is thought to have been built on top of the ruins of the original synagogue, hence the contradictory title. The Synagogue Church in Nazareth, Israel There are even more sites and tours to be embarked upon designed to lead you down the path of Christianity’s beginnings. In addition to its history, Nazareth is also home to some of the finest Arab cuisine in the north. Family restaurants and recipes passed down from generation to generation, an ode to the modern history and culture of Nazareth. Be sure to include this incredible city on your trip to Israel.   

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Christmas Market in Nazareth 2022

<p class="p1">Celebrating Christmas in Nazareth is an amazing experience as the city is believed to be the town where Jesus grew up. The city comes to life during the holiday as the residents throw street festivals, have Christmas church services, and decorate their Christmas trees.</p> <p class="p1">Dates for Christmas Events:</p> <p class="p1">December 6: Lighting of the Christmas tree</p> <p class="p1">December 11: Christmas Market at Mary's Well Square</p> <p class="p1">December 24: The Christmas Parade at Mary's Well Square (15:00)</p> <p class="p1">December 24: Fireworks (17:30)</p> <p class="p1">December 24: Christmas Eve Mass at Basilica of the Annunciation (19:00)</p> <p class="p1">For more information about Christmas events in Israel, read <a href="https://worldjewishtravel.org/listing/christmas-in-bethlehem-2021/"><span style="color: #00c2d8;">Christmas in Bethlehem 2021</span></a>, <a href="https://worldjewishtravel.org/listing/christmas-in-tel-aviv-jaffa-2021/"><span style="color: #00c2d8;">Christmas in Tel Aviv-Jaffa 2021</span></a>, and <a href="https://worldjewishtravel.org/listing/christmas-in-jerusalem/"><span style="color: #00c2d8;">Christmas in Jerusalem 2021</span></a>.</p> <p class="p1">For more information about Christmas in Israel, read our blog: <a href="https://worldjewishtravel.org/listing/christmas-in-israel"><span style="color: #00c2d8;">Christmas in Israel: Decking the Halls of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa, and Nazareth</span></a>.</p>

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SITES TO SEE

Sites

Synagogue Church

The Synagogue Church is a small Christian church in the heart of Nazareth known by this name due to a tradition claiming that this is the location where the village synagogue stood in Jesus' time. Above its doorway is an embedded sign in Arabic and English: "Synagogue." The structure is administered by the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. In 570, an Italian visitor described Nazareth's synagogue, and reported that the original Bible was still there, including the bench where Jesus used to sit. The floor of the Synagogue Church is sunken about 1.5 meters underground, possibly built atop a Crusader church dating from the 12th century. The church was under the control of the Franciscans until the 18th century, when the ruler Zahir al-Umar passed it to the Greek Catholics. In 1887, the Melkite Greek Catholic parish church of the Annunciation was built adjacent to the Synagogue Church. According to Christian tradition, the church is built on the ruins of the ancient Nazareth synagogue where Jesus studied and prayed. In addition, it is where one Sabbath day Jesus went to preach. In two Gospels (Matthew 13:54-58, Mark 6:1-6), his fellow townspeople became angry with him. Because he was one of them, they did not trust him to have the authority to preach in that way and to perform miracles. He was amazed at their lack of faith and concluded that a prophet is not honoured in his own home town. In Luke 4:14-30, the account differs: there, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1,2 and the worshippers are pleased. But he tells them that prophets are called to do their work in foreign places rather than at home, because they are not accepted in their own home town. In doing this, he also implicitly declares himself as the Messiah. This sermon infuriates the listeners, who drag him to a cliff to throw him over, but he simply walks through the crowd and leaves. Little is known of the years Jesus spent in Nazareth, leading scholars to describe this time as "the hidden life" or "the silent years". It is thus all the more significant for Christian visitors to find a lone place where such silence is broken – the Synagogue Church. Image attribution: Ori~, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

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TOURS OF Nazareth

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Jewish Style Restaurants

Restaurants

Diana Restaurant

Nazareth has been home to the Diana Restaurant for more than 44 years. The well-known and beloved restaurant was established in the beginning by Abu Duhol, who brought the seafood gospel to the Arab sector as early as the 1970s. In 1993, the management of the restaurant passed to his children, the most famous of whom is Chef Duhol Spadi, whom you probably know as one of the leading contenders in the second season of Master Chef. Today the second generation continues to strengthen Diana, which has risen to new heights culinaryly and has become a brand just like its owner. Homemade and fresh food, with Syrian, Lebanese and Turkish influences, has amassed a large fan base over the years - and today it can be said with certainty that it is a pilgrimage hotspot for locals and tourists alike. The open kitchen allows you to see in real time how the magic takes place - the work of the Spadi family and the cooks. The chef of the restaurant today is Wasim Spadi who took his father's dishes and added new, quality and fresh ingredients to them, which have become Diana's hallmark. What has not changed, and probably will never change, is the family passion for home-cooked food, on which both Abu Duhol and his sons grew up. The flavors from mom and grandma continue to be the main thing, so it's no wonder you can feel the love in every bite. The meats at Diana are the highlight and some of the flagship dishes are actually meat dishes, with excellent flavors and aromas of charcoal grill (rare in our districts). Try for example fresh circle shawarma, ground lamb kebab, fine lamb chops and also lamb saddle skewers, for which it is only worth booking a place. The meats are served alongside a rich selection of salads and starters like Abu Duhol’s special hummus. There are also fresh grilled fish, which come every morning from the Sea of ​​Galilee, the Mediterranean and the breeding ponds; Seafood-based entrees like shrimp and calamari; Traditional Arab dishes such as Cuban, adsorption and coffee; And for dessert, knafa, orchid, baklava in a variety of flavors and more. Groups from abroad who come to tour the exciting Nazareth, are invited to experience the city through the plate. After visiting the religious and tourist centers, it is worth staying at Diana and connecting to Nazareth on a culinary level as well. Diana for a restaurant is a must on every visit to Israel. A cylindrical stone surrounds the outer walls of the restaurant, in order to preserve the charm and authenticity that characterizes Nazareth. A shaded terrace and a variety of flowers welcome diners, who can relax in it and enjoy the pleasant and cool atmosphere at all hours of the day. The interior of the restaurant has been given a design that combines modern with oriental and immediately evokes a relaxed feeling.

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CITY GUIDES

Guides

Arik H

My name is Arik. At the end of 2008, I had every intention of becoming a teacher at a typical Israeli high school. It was just after finishing my Bachelor’s Degree, given to me by the Hebrew-U in Jerusalem there I lived for beautiful eight years. There is no city that can compare to Jerusalem with all its complexities. In 2009, While I was already working as a guide in the Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem) in Jerusalem, I was looking for a local school where I could do my training as a starting teacher and officially get licensed by the Ministry of Education in Israel. In one of those days, after I’ve just finished guiding a brilliant group of American students from Brown University my co-worker, that was teaching in an high school told me I should become a staff member as well and give it a try. Honestly I felt a little like Michelle Pfeiffer in her role ‘Dangerous Minds’. In other words that I am going to make a real change in their worldview entirely and transform them to love Literature just as I do. I was working for hours and hours on end, perfecting my lesson plans at home; thinking about each and every word I am gonna tell them; showing them the conflicts the protagonists had experienced in the novels just like they do in their reality. I needed something more suitable to my character which is a free spirit. I wanted something more uplifting and engaging. But still in the same field of education and passing knowledge. So I went for dream and completed the official tour guide course by the Ministry of Tourism at the end of 2011. Yea! Since then this is what I do! Being a guide for more than 10 years made me the happiest man ever. I get to know super interesting people, I have the chance to work with people that are keen on listening, without the formalities of a classroom. As someone that likes to travel, I know how stressful traveling could be! All those questions such as, did I pick the right hotel? Or if it’s your once-in-a-lifetime B’nai mitzvot event for your children. Or did I pick the right rabbi or that skilled photographer for the ultimate pictures? Are all those recommendations online are they really that good? So my friends! This is what I’m here for! Apart from being your top-notch expert private tour guide that will reveal the beauties of this amazing piece of land. I’ll also narrate beautifully all these amazing stories that would come to life. I’ll be your chauffeur, concierge, photographer, and more.

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READ MORE BLOGS AND EBOOKS

World Jewish Travel Official May 23, 2022

Nazareth, Israel: The City Where Christianity Was Conceived

Every Christian in the world has heard tales of the city of Nazareth since they were first taken to a church service. This was the city of Jesus’ comeuppance as a teacher, religious leader, and eventual Christian messiah. There are monuments, basilicas, and even ancient synagogues that reflect where it all began for the world’s number one practiced religion. If you happen to be visiting the city during the Christmas season, this is the best time to see all these sites in action. Today, however, the city hosts the largest Arab population in the lower Galilee. The History of Nazareth At the time of its establishment, Nazareth was a predominantly Jewish city, but is never mentioned in the Old Testament or any Rabbinic sources. During Jesus’ ascent as the voice of a new religious movement, his actions and words contested heavily the established order of the Judeo-Roman world. When the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE the Jewish population of the city declined significantly. Jesus’ life and teachings prevailed in starting a new life and definition for the city of Nazareth. Centuries later, it invited a whole movement of religious warriors, the Crusaders, whose presence is still being excavated from the land today. When the city was captured by the Ottoman Turks in the early 16th century, they expelled all the Christians from the city. Eventually, those who had been forced to leave were allowed to return. Today, the city hosts the largest population of Christian Arabs anywhere in the Levant. Nazareth is also visited by scores of Catholic Christians and those belonging to Eastern Orthodoxy.  Tradition runs deep in more than just the Christian history of Nazareth. The city is home to some of the best Arab food in the Middle East with restaurants being passed down through the generations. There is also an esteemed school of music, Polyphony Nazareth whose mission is to bring together Jewish and Arab musicians in a shared fusion of two distinct music cultures. This is a great representation of the new flourished life of the Jewish community in an otherwise intensely Christian city.       [caption id="attachment_36708" align="alignnone" width="1200"] The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel[/caption] Historic Sites in Nazareth Interestingly enough, many of the Christian historic sites in Nazareth have more to do with the life of Jesus’ mother Mary than they do her son. The first is the Church of Annunciation, the most visited Church in the Galilee. This is where it is said the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and informed her of her divine insemination by God. This was the monumental event that started it all and as a result, the Church enjoys the status of a minor basilica, a title bestowed by the Vatican according to Canon law. If the Pope happened to reside in the Holy Land it is likely this would be Christianity’s number one basilica.  [caption id="attachment_36707" align="alignnone" width="1200"] The Church of the Annunciation interior in Nazareth, Israel[/caption] Inside the church is the site where the angel was said to have appeared to the mother of Jesus, known as Mary’s Well. The source of the well’s water is a cave spring located a few kilometers north of the church. In recent years, the church has constructed a new well site where visitors are allowed to gather en masse. The waters from inside the church are filtered down to this new site. For centuries the wells' waters were said to harbor healing properties and farmers used to water their fields with the holy substance. The site is even considered to be holy amongst Muslims that inhabit Nazareth.  [caption id="attachment_36709" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Mary's Well in Nazareth, Israel[/caption] One of the major sites that was supposedly utilized by Jesus in his lifetime is the Synagogue Church. Little is known about the life of Jesus within Nazareth, making the synagogue one of the main staples of Jesus' presence and teachings. The structure that stands today is thought to have been built on top of the ruins of the original synagogue, hence the contradictory title. [caption id="attachment_36713" align="alignnone" width="1200"] The Synagogue Church in Nazareth, Israel[/caption] There are even more sites and tours to be embarked upon designed to lead you down the path of Christianity’s beginnings. In addition to its history, Nazareth is also home to some of the finest Arab cuisine in the north. Family restaurants and recipes passed down from generation to generation, an ode to the modern history and culture of Nazareth. Be sure to include this incredible city on your trip to Israel.   

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World Jewish Travel Official July 31, 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, with the lighting of the Christmas tree taking place on December 4th. 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 that starts around 15:00 but we recommend getting there early to claim your spot. All this and more wraps up with a special midnight Christmas mass held at the Church of the Annunciation starting at 19:00.      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 on December 27th with Santa leading the charge starting promptly at 17:30. One additional festivity that seems to be a singular sensation of Jaffa is the Winter Festival on the 22nd and 23rd. 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 December 2-4, complete with crafts made by local East Jerusalem artisans all culminating with the YMCA Christmas Eve Orchestra performance on the 24th. The orchestra is giving its first live performance after two years away! 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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HOTELS IN Nazareth

Hotels

Al Hakim Boutique Hotel

A 200-year-old building located in the heart of Nazareth steps away from the main attractions, old market, churches, and restaurants. ​ The family-run premises started as Al-Hakim Carpentry workshop in the 1930s by the grandfather Mr. Tawfiq Hakim, well-known carpentry and furniture shop, and the home for 8 Different households. Tawfiq was a very smart businessman with friends all over the area, he was very hospitable and frank, after his death they decided to remodel in 2015 to become a charming boutique hotel preserving the tradition and heritage of Nazareth by offering Authentic Cooking Workshops, Cultural Culinary Tours and 10 rooms for guest accommodation. ​ ​Every morning, they serve their traditional Nazarene Cardamom infused coffee accompanied with homemade breakfast full of authentic flavors native to the region and the area, seasonal ingredients that are chosen carefully to give the guest a newer experience to our great Arabic cuisine. Abir & Rayek Hakim, are the owners of this beautiful hotel. Abir is the mother, retired Junior High School principal, the first woman to be Junior High principal in Nazareth, and the first Arab Principal to win National Excellence Award, Rayek, is the father, and he is a licensed tour guide with over 10 years experience specializing in the history of the Holy Land. Their son, Bassam Hakim, over 12 years experience in the Hospitality Industry, felt that the industry is too mainstream, there is nothing unique in the hotels in the area. Therefore, he wanted to create a hotel with culture and experience.

Hotels

Fauzi Azar

Fauzi Azar by Abraham Hostels (formerly known as Fauzi Azar Inn) is a guesthouse located in the old city of Nazareth, Israel. Its location is on the popular path of the Jesus Trail. In recent years, the Fauzi Azar has played a role in working with the Christian Arab community of Nazareth through various projects. The Fauzi Azar was once the home of the Azars, a wealthy family residing in the city of Nazareth. It was built in 1830 by Habib Azar, while the Inn itself was named after one of his great-grandsons, Fauzi. The family remained in the area until the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, when they relocated to Syria. The house was converted into a guesthouse in May 2005 by Israeli entrepreneur Maoz Inon, having decided to build a hostel in the city of Nazareth to serve as a way-point for hikers, travelers, and tourists. Palestinian residents of Nazareth view Inon's project as a larger attempt to disenfranchise the locals and to Judaize the Galilee further pushing Palestinians out.[citation needed] The 19th-century building built from stone has been preserved and restored over the years. The three-story building has original hand painted ceilings, Turkish marble floors, and limestone arches. The Fauzi Azar has sponsored community-based projects with the hopes of reinvigorating the old city in Nazareth. They also host a volunteer program in which international volunteers come to Israel to live in the old city while working there. In November 2011, they received the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award for "Best Accommodation for Local Communities." In June 2011, Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom visited the Fauzi Azar during a tour of Israel’s Nativity Route. He visited the Fauzi Azar while in Nazareth following the first section of the Jesus Trail. In December 2011, Tony Wheeler, founder of the Lonely Planet travel guide stayed at the Inn as a guest, and hiked the Jesus Trail with Inon.

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