About Us Holy Land Sites Holy Land Tours Christian Photos Community Travel Tips

Tags - jerusalem

March 18, 2010March 18, 2010  3 comments  Uncategorized

In the West, Easter is usually a simple one-day affair. The different denominations in Israel, however, each celebrate Easter in their own special way and, particularly in Jerusalem, where a high concentration of Christians gathers, a variety of different ceremonies unfolds.

armenian, easter, jerusalem

So how does the oldest Christian community in Jerusalem celebrate Easter? With their own Quarter in the Old City, the Armenians boast a history in Jerusalem dating back to the 4th century. In 301, Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as the nation's religion. Since then, there has been a continual Armenian presence in the Holy Land, where Mount Zion served as a base for Armenian pilgrims to Jerusalem.


The traditions of the Armenians are as enduring as the people themselves. From Palm Sunday until the day after Easter Sunday, the days are filled with services, many unique to the Armenian church in Jerusalem.


"The holy places require a different approach and schedule for the celebrations," Archbishop Aris Shirvanian told Travelujah. "When you are abroad, you have one church, no other community. It is pretty simple abroad."

Not all the rituals are religious. Some are simply an extension of the celebratory atmosphere and an effort to involve the entire community. The two Armenian social clubs each have marching bands with bagpipes and drums that proceed with the Patriarch and priests to the Holy Sepulchre on Holy Saturday. Anybody in the Old City near Jaffa Gate can view the parade, listen to festive music and watch the scouts go by in their uniforms.


On Palm Sunday, the Armenians, Copts and Syrians join together for a processional three times around the rotunda in the Holy Sepulchre, each chanting or singing in their own language. An elaborate foot washing ceremony takes place on Holy Thursday in St. James as the Armenian Patriarch washes the feet of twelve of the priests, imitating Jesus washing the disciples' feet.


One of the services unique to the Armenians is the Holy Thursday processional from the Holy Archangels Church, which is the site of an olive tree believed to be the one to which Jesus was tied while he awaited an audience with Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas the High Priest (John 18:19-24). According to church tradition, Jesus was brought here to Annas' house after his arrest in Gethsemane to await trial with the high priest. The church is also known as Deir al Zeytune, the Convent of the Olive Tree.


The Franciscans have their own processional as well from this church that usually occurs on a different day. However, this year the dates for Orthodox and Catholic and Protestant Easter coincide and the processional will be on the same day.


For Lent, Armenians fast all animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. The fast is traditionally broken on Easter eve, after the Holy Fire ceremony at the Holy Sepulchre.


Another service unique to the Armenians in Jerusalem occurs on the Monday following Easter. The priests hold a processional in the courtyard of St. James with the parish's relics. This morning ceremony is held particularly for the pilgrims from Armenia to appreciate the Armenian heritage in jerusalem.


"Pilgrims coming (to Jerusalem) strengthens their faith and is a moral boost for us as Christians," Shirvanian said.


Shirvanian knows that from experience. He himself was raised in Haifa, but moved to Jerusalem to attend the Armenian seminary and study to be a priest.


"My life was completely changed living in this atmosphere among the holy places," he said.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

April 1, 2010April 1, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

armenian, easter, foot washing, st. jamesWhether attending a special mass, a foot washing ceremony or joining a procession to the Upper Room, thousands of Christians continued their observances of Holy Week.

Also on Thursday morning, thousands of Jewish worshipers went to Western Wall to take part in the Priestly Blessing, which usually occurs on the second intermediate days of the feasts of Tabernacles and Passover.

The convergence of Jewish and Christian holidays this year has made for an especially crowded Old City with locals and foreigners alike thronging the holy sites to pray and reflect. But that is exactly what Mike Toller of London returned to Jerusalem to see.

“I was here once before and I thought it was an amazing place,” he told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on learning about and traveling to the Holy Land. “I wanted to come back at the most crazy time of the year.”
easter, jerusalem, last supper

Toller figured with both Orthodox and Catholic/Evangelical Easters coinciding with each other plus Passover this year, it would be the perfect opportunity to see Jerusalem at its “maddest time.” And Jerusalem did not disappoint as the city swelled with visitors this week.

Toller and Cass Harwood, also from London, were taking in the fast-paced days attending services and processionals, some even by accident. They happened upon the Armenian observance of Jesus’ time in chains before meeting Caiaphas, the high priest. They didn’t understand a word of the service, conducted entirely in Armenian, but said it was fascinating to see a ceremony so different from English services. The two caught up quickly on the tradition with their guidebook at the Holy Archangels Church.

The annual service begins at the Holy Archangels Church, known to some as the house of Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas (John 18:19-24). They believe Jesus was brought here aftearmenian, jerusalem, easter, olive treer his arrest in Gethsamane to await trial with the high priest. Church tradition says that Jesus was tied to an olive tree on the premises and that olive tree still exists today.

From there, the Armenian Patriarch leads a procession to St. Saveur Cemetery for more prayers.

An Armenian contingent from the United States, with many first-timers in Jerusalem, was also at the ceremony. Lena Altebarmakian from Fresno, Calif. said she couldn’t wait to communicate with her family and friends the experience of being in Jerusalem for Easter.

“Today when I visited the Mount of Olives it was as if the pages of the Bible were opening in front of my eyes,” she told Travelujah. “It’s real, it’s here, and it’s fascinating.”


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

March 24, 2010March 24, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Whereas the Jerusalem Easter service for Catholics and Orthodox Christians takes place at the Holy Sepulchre church, Easter services for Protestants are held at the place revered by them as the site where Jesus died and rose again, the Garden Tomb.

The layout of the Garden Tomb is designed for people to be able to sit and pray quietly while viewing what is believed to be Skull Hill, Golgotha, and the tomb where Jesus may have been laid.

Easter is no different. In fact, the services on Easter Sunday morning are outdoors and take into account the natural setting. Beginning with a sunrise service, the Garden Tomb hosts services in English, French and Scandinavian languages.

golgotha, garden tomb, jerusalem, easterWhile guides at the Garden do not claim that this is definitively the site of the resurrection, they point to the possibility that it could have been the garden of Joseph of Arimathea, who offered his tomb for Jesus’ burial. On one side, the garden faces a hill that has been identified possibly as Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. The jagged rocks of the hill make seem to take the appearance of a skull, but years of erosion have mitigated its image.

But the focus here is not on proving whether this was the actual crucifixion and burial site of Jesus, rather on providing an experience where Christians can reflect on what Jesus did.

“The place is not particularly a shrine to us,” Richard Meryon, CEO of the Garden Tomb, told Travelujah. “It is the person who is important to us here, not the place. We open the Bible and talk through the Gospel accounts and the good news of the weekend that changed the world.”

The Garden Tomb creates “an experience for visitors that engages them in the reality of the risen Lord Jesus.”

Celebrating Easter as “sun comes up in a place that looks like the place where the resurrection took place, to do that in Jerusalem in front of an empty tomb is a phenomenal experience,” Meryon describes.

However, he notes that the power of the resurrection is not limited geographically.

The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, a Charitable Trust based in the United Kingdom, manages the site which was purchased in 1894.

For those who run the Garden Tomb, the focus is not on the sites themselves but on the sacrifice that occurred here when Jesus willingly died for the sins of the world. Guides explain  facts about the tomb and how it fits with details given in the Gospels.

But ultimately they point out the tomb is empty, the greatest miracle and basis of the Christian faith. As the angel asked Mary in Luke 24:5, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Easter services: A service in English is held at the Garden Tomb on Good Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. and then the Garden Tomb is open for private prayers until 5: 50 p.m. On Saturday, the Garden Tomb hosts a service in Arabic at 4 p.m. The on Sunday April 4, the order of services includes a 6:30 a.m. English sunrise service and another English service at 9:30 a.m., both led by Richard Meryon with the King of Kings Worship Team and a message by Andrew Jack. At 11 a.m. is a Scandinavian service and lastly, at 12:30 p.m. a French service is held. The Garden is closed for the remainder of the day, as it normally is on Sunday, after the services.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

March 28, 2010March 28, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

As is customary throughout the world, feasting is as much a part of Easter as the services and ceremonies. It is no different in Jerusalem where dining out or having a big family meal at home will be on the menu for local and foreign Christians alike.

After Palm Sunday, bakeries in the Christian Quarter will become abundant with Easter treats, however, anything baked or eaten up until Easter adheres to the Lenten fast. Lenten fasting is taken very seriously in this part of the world: The baked products are exclusive of animal products so no eggs are used. Also, Christians don’t eat meat.

easter, jerusalem, christian, cookiesEaster treats made prior to the feast are made without eggs. Some of the popular ones are flat-pressed cookies made with sesame seeds and honey. Others include dates or walnuts, popular fillings for holiday cookies.   

Shawar’s Bakery, a Christian-owned bakery on 54 Christian Quarter Road, is one of the few places where you can purchase these festive holiday treats. In time for Easter, Shawar’s and others will sell the traditional sweet bread laced with painted Easter eggs.

Since meat is also fasted during Lent, Easter dinner includes a traditional lamb dinner to break the fast. While many area restaurants will be open on Easter Sunday, one in particular is hosting a special dinner.

Shababeek has a prix-fixe Easter menu on Sunday, April 4 from noon to 3 p.m. The menu includes Arabic salads and appetizers, a choice of stuffed lamb necks, stuffed French chicken, grilled denis and knafeh, a sweet cheese dessert. Plus coffee, special Easter cookies and eggs. The price is 120 shekels for adults and 90 shekels for children under 12.

Shababeek is located in Sheikh Jarrah on 7 Shimon Ha Sidik. For reservations, call 02.532.2626.

March 31, 2010March 31, 2010  6 comments  Uncategorized

The Orthodox Easter-date is fixed according to the Julian Calendar, and not the usual Western European Gregorian calendar, which means that their Easter normally falls on a different date than the Protestant and Catholic Easter.

Holy Fire

There is one day a year when Jerusalem’s Old City is teeming with so many people that anyone happening upon the city unawares would wonder what is happening.

Saturday of Light, or Sapt il-Noor, is the celebration of the holy fire. The event occurs the day before Easter Sunday and continues a centuries old tradition beckoning pilgrims from all around the world to the city, the very sight where the first Jesus rose again.

sepulchre, jerusalem, orthodoxhe ceremony takes place at the Holy Sepulchre and is always the first Saturday after Passover begins. It is observed only by the Eastern Orthodox churches, Syrian, Armenian, Russian and Greek Orthodox as well as Copts. Catholics and Protestants do not participate.

“The Holy Fire is the beginning of Easter Eve, a symbol of the resurrection,” Armenian Archbishop Aris Shirvanian told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on learning about and traveling to the Holy Land. “I have witnessed people get excited during these ceremonies in the Holy Sepulchre when they see the holy fire coming out of the holy tomb.”

According to The Holy Fire website, the event is the most renowned and regularly occurring miracles in the Eastern Orthodoxy religion. It has taken place at the same time, in the same manner, in the same place every year for centuries, the website maintains.

Pilgrims, primarily from Greece, Russia, Armenia and Eastern Europe, begin lining up from the day before. Local Christians also join the throngs in an attempt to get into the Holy Sepulchre for the celebration.

In the late morning, Christian Arabs proceed to the church loudly chanting traditional hymns. These chants date back to the Muslim occupation of Jerusalem in the 13th century. At the time, Christians were only allowed to chant in churches, but in modern times they declare publicly, “We are Christians, we have been Christians for centuries, and we shall be forever and ever. Amen!”

All of the denominations have a procession through the narrow Old City streets to the church. Many of the processions involve marching bands with bagpipes and drums. The Syrian Christians comprise perhaps the loudest of the processions. Drummers sit on the shoulders of others who dance vigorously around the tomb when they enter the church.

The last denomination to enter is the Greek Orthodox processional. The Greek Patriarch is ushered into the church, and with pomp and circumstance, he circles the tomb three times. He is then stripped of his ornate liturgical robes and he enters the tomb in his white frock at approximately 1:45 p.m.

Silence finally overtakes the church as celebrants await the miracle of the Holy Light. A delegation of Israelis enters the tomb to check for any hidden source of fire and then seals the door.

The Greek Patriarch and an Armenian priest are sealed into the tomb where they pray and await the fire. What happens then, according to Eastern Orthodoxy, is that a flame leaps from the tomb of Jesus. The Greek Patriarch catches the flame with him candle and passes it to the Armenian priest. Then the two spread the flame to the candles of celebrants throughout the church.

The effect of the lit candles throughout the church and even to pilgrims waiting outside is stunning. Church bells ring in jubilation and resound throughout the Old City marking the end of the ceremony.


The first written account of the Holy Fire dates from the fourth century. Accounts by the Russian abbot Daniel in the years 1106-07 also describe a similar ceremony.

The Orthodox believe the fire’s emergence is based on Matthew 28:3, which says that at Jesus’ tomb, an angel  of the Lord appeared whose appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

Travelujah Tips

To enter the Holy Sepulchre or get anywhere close to it, be sure to secure passes from one of the Orthodox churches. Be prepared to wait at crowded checkpoints in the Old City and be faced with the possibility of not getting in at all despite having a pass.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.


April 4, 2010April 4, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Jerusalem's Old City was awash with thousands of Christians on Easter Sunday on hand to cap off a week of ceremonies marking the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, his last supper, trial, death and resurrection.


easter, good friday, holy sepulchre, jerusalemMost of the pilgrims converged at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for services there. Another highlight on Sunday was the sunrise service at the Garden Tomb geared toward Evangelical Christians. The sunrise service was followed by services in different languages all morning.


This year, the Orthodox date for Easter, on the Julian calendar, and the Catholic and Protestant Easter, on the Gregorian calendar, coincided along with the Jewish Passover making for a busier than usual holiday season in Jerusalem.


On Saturday afternoon, bells peeled across the Old City marking the Holy Fire ceremony, an annual Orthodox observance of a flame emanating from Jesus' tomb in the Holy Sepulchre. Thousands of Christian pilgrims from Russia, Armenia, Greece, Egypt and America were on hand for the ceremony, each lighting their own candle from the flame in the tomb.


Later on Saturday, the Ethiopian church held its own holy fire ceremony. Dressed in white linen, Ethiopian local Christians and pilgrims participated in festive African praise songs accompanied by drums.


easter, jerusalem, ethioppiansThe Ethiopians celebrate on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre and the annual event draws many non-Ethiopian locals and foreigners to observe the joyous occasion.


It was Kornelius Heering's first time at the ceremony.


"It was very different from Europe and not what I expected to see here in Jerusalem," the German theology student told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on traveling to the Holy Land. "It was more reminiscent of Africa."


The Ethiopian archbishop of Jerusalem walks around the dome on the roof three times under an elaborately decorated umbrella. He is led and followed by priests, drummers and other worshippers.


Connie Saeger-Proctor, an American from Vermont, was there to see the ceremony, and it was her first trip to the Holy Land. She saw the candle from the holy fire ceremony in Jerusalem being brought to Ramallah for the churches there.


"There's such a connection here with the light of Christ coming into our midst after the Lenten season," she told Travelujah.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

April 12, 2010April 12, 2010  5 comments  Uncategorized

Since he was elected to office, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has been intent on promoting the city’s image in a positive light as a tourist destination where he hopes to see 10 million visitors annually within the next couple of years.

Now the mayor is aiming to bring in a new set of tourists -- runners. At Jerusalem’s 18th annual half marathon in March, the mayor took the opportunity to announce that next year’s race will double. Yes, a Holy City marathon.

“Participants will experience Jerusalem and the Old City in the most magnificent way. I invite people of all faiths to come and run with me,” Barkat told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.

Jerusalem is referred to in scripture as “a city on a hill.” Runners in the Israeli capital know that to be true and no doubt a marathon in Jerusalem will be memorable for its hilly challenge as well as the historic sites that will mark the route.

“The Jerusalem International Marathon in March 2011 will be a spectacular event for the entire family,” the mayor said.

Barkat has run a few marathons himself including the New York Marathon last year in a time of 4:42:26. Jerusalem has hosted an annual half-marathon for 18 years. Now, it will join other Israeli cities such as Tiberias, which has held full marathons for 33 years, and Tel Aviv, which reinstituted its marathon last year after a 15-year hiatus in order to celebrate the city’s centennial.

The municipality is working with race production experts abroad to ensure that Jerusalem’s marathon, set for March 25, 2011, will meet international standards.

Races in Israel usually attract anywhere between 1,000 to 10,000 runners, mostly Israelis. 

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.

May 17, 2010May 17, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

Wedged on a narrow alley about halfway between New Gate and Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City is a quaint and historic Catholic guest house called Casa Nova.

From the entrance, the guest house appears as just another storefront on a winding road. You would never know from the outside, but the guest house unfolds into an expansive building with 88 guest rooms, conference rooms, a chapel and a beautiful Old City courtyard at its center.

The guest house is an excellent jumping off point for pilgrims in the Old City. Snugly set in the heart of the Christian Quarter, most sites are within walking distance from the Casa Nova. Immediately upon stepping outside, guests find themselves on a stone path in the Old City. Just minutes away from the Holy Sepulchre, the Via Dolorosa and churches on Mount Zion, the guest house is an ideally location for travelers interested in Old City holy sites.

Staying at Casa Nova thrusts you into your part of more than 500 years of history. The guest house was built in the 16th century to accommodate pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. Father Raffaele Caputo, the friar responsible for the site, said that the place was built to offload Italian pilgrims who had been staying at the Convent of St. Savior.

“It was small at first because there was not a lot of people coming,” Caputo  told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focusing on travel to the Holy Land.

The guest house expanded with the increase of pilgrims to the Holy Land once in the 1780s and then again in 1870. In the 1980s, it was renovated again to what you see today. Caputo said that the name Casa Nova (meaning new house in English) was given at the establishment of the guest house.

casa nova, pilgrim, hostel, jerusalem, old city, christian quarterCasa Nova has a small chapel and holds mass daily at 6:30 a.m. Three conference rooms are available for group meetings. A cafeteria and a bar that serves coffee all day is also available.

The property is Franciscan run. Rooms are austere and spartan, but are equipped with bathrooms, air-conditioning and wireless internet. Handicap accessible rooms are available, but there are three steps up to the front door. Connected to the Jerusalem Casa Nova are guest houses in Bethlehem, Tiberias, Nazareth and Mount Tabor.

The majority of Casa Nova’s guests are Catholic pilgrims from Italy, Spain and Argentina. Rarely do you find individual pilgrims staying here as Casa Nova is better equipped to house large groups, according to reservations manager Maral Shemmessian. Group rates range from $40 to $55 per person, depending on meals requested and $60 perperson for individuals, bed and breakfast only.

For Group Reservations for 10 or more people at Casa Nova, click here.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting to the land.

June 1, 2010June 1, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

You can see Jerusalem in a whole new light very soon. Literally. The second annual Festival of Light will take place from June 9 to 16 with light and sound shows bringing the magic of the Old City to life from 8 p.m. to midnight each evening.

The displays illuminate architecture and statues that are otherwise unseen in the night hours. Last year some 200,000 people roamed the Old City streets to take in the awe inspiring light displays. The festival promotes tourism in the Old City, which usually tapers off each day when the sun sets.

Lighting artists will present their work integrating light, sound, dance, drama and architecture for the eight nights (the display will be closed on Friday and will only reopen one hour after the Sabbath on Saturday night). Traditional locations like the Cardo and intricate alleyways in the heart of the Old City will take on a whole new look bathed in dramatic lighting.

The opening performance that will take place in Sultan’s pool featuring a concert by the Symphony Orchestra and lighting design designer Avi-Yonah Bueno. Tickets must be purchased in advance. A special performance will take place every night at the Habonim Gardens integrating dance and acrobatics with lighting and pyrotechnic effects.

Admission is free for the main exhibits in the Old City, street events among the light creations, and the Lighting Fair at the Byzantine Cardo. There are shuttles for easy transport to festival locations.

Other light shows include:

The History of Light - Nocturnal Light Show, which will take place at Gan Habonim combining spectacular lights and movements.

The Night Spectacular at the Tower of David, an event at the Tower of David that, with 3D images and music, tells the history of the ancient city through modern times. The fee is 40 NIS for adults and 35 NIS for students, senior citizens, and children.

Generation Link, which tells of the history of the Jewish people through exile and redemption, presenting fascinating archaeology with lights and effects. Make reservations at http://english.thekotel.org/. The cost is 25 shekels for adults and 15 for students, children, senior citizens and the handicapped.

The Burnt House Museum, which shows the history of a wealthy family and their story in the time of the Roman occupation in Israel.

For a map of the locations that will be lit up, click here. http://en.lightinjerusalem.org.il/2010/map

June 29, 2010June 29, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

A new audacious project being planned in the Galilee combining accommodations and archaeology will serve more than just the practical needs of travelers, but will be a link between religions, cultures and time, according to the visionary behind the idea.

The Magdala Center, which began with the idea of offering hospitality to travelers in the Galilee, is situated on an archaeological site dating back to the time of Jesus - a find that will be integrated into the location’s expanded blueprint.

“The beginning of Christianity happened there, the first disciples of Jesus became the Church and that happened in that area,” said Father Juan Solana, Charge of the Holy See at Notre Dame in Jerusalem. “It is an important link between Judaism and Christianity. I hope, as it was at that time, it could be now.”

When Solana came to manage Notre Dame, a Catholic center and guesthouse, in 2004, he quickly ascertained the situation: “Pilgrimages have two different stops - the Galilee and Jerusalem.”

“We’re all set in Jerusalem,” he noted in an interview with Travelujah (http://www.travelujah.com), the only Christian social networking site focusing on travel to the Holy Land. “We need something in the Galilee.”

migdal, magdala, notre dame, jerusalem, galileeSo Solana set to work looking for land in the Galilee to accommodate pilgrims. The land he chose happened to contain a treasure: Buried under years of civilization was an ancient city with a synagogue, possibly a marketplace, homes and clues to a town that existed during the time of Jesus.

“God helped us as we found the proper place in Migdal for Christians and Jews as well.”

For Christians, the setting of Migdal, or Magdala, is important as central to Jesus’ ministry and the region from which Mary Magdalene hailed . For Jews, the discovery of a synagogue and the location there of the revolt during the Roman period are crucial bits of history.

Solana had always wanted the Galilee site to expand upon the goal of Notre Dame, to encourage dialogue and understanding between Christians and Jews.

“The discovery of the synagogue was further confirmation of that and we hope that it will foster our goals in that sense,” he said. “We were lucky enough to find this place, the archaeological findings confirmed the mission.”

When it is completed, the Magdala Center will host a Christian guesthouse, called Notre Dame of the Galilee, with 130 rooms, a multimedia center and an archaeological site open to the public that will be of interest to Christians, Jews and all students of history.

The archaeological site was discovered during construction on the site in August. The synagogue will take about another year to uncover completely and the rest of the city will take around three years. Solana hopes to inaugurate the hotel on July 22, 2012, the Celebration of Mary Magdalene.

The site is located between the city of Tiberias and Kibbutz Ginossar and is lakefront property of 84 dunams.

In the meantime, Notre Dame is looking for volunteers to help excavate the site. The Israel Antiquities Authority, in conjunction with two Mexican universities, is overseeing the dig and this is the first time Mexican universities received a license to manage a dig in the Holy Land.

The synagogue on the site, Solana said, appeared to have been constructed by wealthy patrons between 50 BC to 100 AD. It contains mosaics, a carved stone menorah and frescoes. It is one of only seven in the world unearthed from the same period, according to the IAA.

Solana said he is also working with biblical scholars to see if there is a link between Magdala and the events in Jesus’ life. For example, Jesus’ encounter with Jarius, a synagogue ruler, and with the woman with the issue of blood, is traditionally believed to have happened in Capernaum. Solana asks, what if this happened in Magdala or if Mary Magdalene herself was the woman with the issue of blood?

Although it is barely mentioned in the Bible, Magdala was one of the larger of the cities in the Galilee at the time of Jesus. According to Jewish historian Josephus Flavius it had a population of 40,000 at the time of the first Jewish revolt (66-70 AD).

The find is appealing for locals and tourists alike. Solana said pilgrimage to the Holy Land uncovers biblical treasures such as Magdala that help believers grow in their faith. The Holy Land, he said, is the fifth gospel. It adds the setting, light, weather and natural environment to the other four gospels.

“We know usually by listening, but when you come you see things in their place, its like going from a black and white TV to a 3D plasma screen,” he described.

“There are many things special in Israel as far as religion is concerned,” he said. “There are strong deep traditions, different religions and a long story as ar as religion and culture is concerned.” And of course the sournce of Christianity is here. The more I know about Judaism, the more I know Christianity. And vice versa, I think.”

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

July 8, 2010July 8, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Conservation work on Jerusalem’s Old City walls turned up an intriguing find this week when a 100-year-old grenade was discovered in the wall near the Damascus Gate.

The Ottoman-era weapon was discovered on Monday by a conservation team of the Israel Antiquities Authority under the direction of conservator Fuad Abu Taa. The team was dismantling fragments of a crushed stone that needed replacement when they discovered a chunk of metal in the core of the wall.

“The stone was partially crushed and someone probably chose it as a place to hide the hand grenade,” said Yoram Saad, head of the Implementation Branch of the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department.

The Ottoman Empire extended to what is now modern-day Israel from 1516 until the British Mandate took over in 1918.

Of course, in Israel, the discovery of a weapon, no matter how old, involves police and security experts. Police sappers summoned to the site deemed the grenade to contain up to 300 grams of explosives and carried out a controlled detonation of the weapon.

A section of the city wall near Damascus Gate is being treated as part of the Jerusalem Walls Conservation Project being carried out by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality in order to restore the neglected and weathered Old City walls.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

July 15, 2010July 15, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

Though the Shroud of Turin has long been the subject of debate and controversy among theologians, scientists and historians, an exhibit of the shroud in Jerusalem enables believers and non-believers alike to connect with Jesus in a deeper way.

While the exhibit at Notre Dame doesn’t claim conclusively that the shroud, a linen cloth revered by some as the one that covered Jesus after his death on the cross, belonged to Jesus, it shows the suffering of a man tortured and crucified in the same manner as Christ, according to Gospel accounts.

The 14- by 4-foot cloth carries evidence of a man tortured and killed by methods similar to those used by the Romans during Jesus’ time. Scientific and historical evidence suggests that it could be Jesus whose image appears to be recorded on the cloth, but no conclusive explanations.

“What matters for the believer, is that the shroud is a mirror of the Gospel,” the late Pope John Paul II said in 1998. “The image it presents has such a profound relationship with what the Gospels tell of Jesus’ passion and death that every sensitive person feels inwardly touched and moved at beholding it.”

In a tour, Father Eamon Kelly of Notre Dame enthusiastically points out the details that lend credence to the shroud’s origins in Jerusalem and its possible journey to Turin (Torino) in Italy. Jerusalem is on the map because of the images of coins and flowers found claimed to be found imprinted on the cloth, remnants of which have been scientifically and historically analyzed. For example, the coins were minted by Pilate. The flowers intersect only in the Jerusalem region as Professor Avinoam Danin has concluded from his botanical research (http://flora.huji.ac.il).

“One of the reasons why even atheists and agnostics are intrigued is the encounter between scientific and historical investigation and themes of faith, which meet so rarely well as at the Shroud of Turin,” Kelly told Travelujah, the only Christian social network about travel to the Holy Land. “It is truly a challenge for our intelligence, as Pope John Paul put it.”

The cloth that originated in Jerusalem has been lost and hidden over the centuries, but was it the same one rediscovered as the Shroud of Turin? Is it the same cloth whisked from Jerusalem to Armenia that is now in Turin? Evidence exits that can connect the shroud, but the exhibit raises  questions and lets the viewers decide.

“The Shroud is for everybody, of course it is particularly meaningful for all Christians, but Mormons are also interested. In fact it is intriguing for all people and particularly Jewish people, especially secular Jews show great interest in it and we often have groups here on Shabbat,” Kelly said. “I have taken all kinds of believers and non-believers through the Shroud Museum and never have I noticed anyone who felt it was less than rewarding experience and time well spent.“

The exhibit contains an actual-size copy of the shroud plus vast information on it history and the scientific research done on the material and the sufferings evidenced on it. Two holograms show a three-dimensional image of the body seen on the shroud, bringing to life the markings that are visible in one dimension.

Other forms of Roman torture including the crown of thorns, nails of crucifixion and whips are on display, and regardless of how viewers feel about the Shroud, they can become better acquainted with the suffering Jesus went through in this very city. A knowledgeable guide explains the history of crucifixions in Roman times.

With displays like this, the exhibit is engaging for all Christians.

“We’re not Catholic, but we still believe in Jesus Christ,” Faith Quick of Georgia said during a visit to the exhibit. “It is similar to a lot of things in Jerusalem: There’s not always proof, but that is where faith comes in.”

The Shroud of Turin exhibit is free and open to the public  all day Monday through Saturday. Groups may also visit at various hours, even evening, by appointment and guided tours can be prearranged by calling +972.2.627.9111. For more information, go to www.notredamecenter.org.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

August 2, 2010August 2, 2010  0 comments  Uncategorized

The Israel Museum has gotten a facelift and has reopened with double the exhibition space, longer hours and a new feel from the entrance on in.

A re-opening ceremony was held last week with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in attendance. Beginning this week, hours were extended till 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and all the way till 1 a.m. on Thursday.

“Forty-five years after the Israel Museum first opened its magnificent campus, we have completed a renewal project that allows us to serve our public as never before,” said James S. Snyder, director of the Israel Museum. “The most ambitious undertaking in our history, this project has yielded a truly transformational change across our site. We look forward to welcoming our visitors to the museum’s stunning new public spaces and galleries, planned to provide a richer and more enjoyable experience of our unparalleled collections and of our powerful Jerusalem hilltop setting.”  

The redesign took three years and cost $100 million, much of which went to renovate the Museum’s three collection wings – for archaeology, the fine arts, and Jewish art and life – and the reinstallation of its encyclopedic collections.

The renewed galleries highlight new acquisitions and long-held masterpieces across its collections. The renewed campus also features two new monumental commissions.

Netanyahu called the museum an “exceptional combination of the values of our heritage and world culture, which is essentially the bridge connecting the past with the future.”

Barkat said the redesign of the museum was in keeping with the vision of the city as it return to the center of Israeli culture and “another stage in the realization of [former mayor] Teddy Kollek’s vision.”


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

October 26, 2010October 26, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

Israeli hotels will add some 3,500 new rooms in the next few months to meet the demands of record level tourism to the Holy Land.

The nation’s existing 44,000 rooms are insufficient to meet the current demand, according to Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who spoke at the OECD tourism conference held in Jerusalem.


Israel’s Tourism Ministry is allocating grants to dozens of hotel projects in order to build more rooms to match the expected 30 percent increase in tourists this year -- half a million more than in 2009. If the ministry’s goal of 5 million tourists in 2015 is met, an additional 18,000 hotel rooms, especially in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Sea of Galilee area, would be needed.
“Steps must immediately be taken in order to prevent irreversible damage to incoming tourism – firstly transferring the authority for marketing land for tourism to the Tourism Ministry, differentiation in grants to entrepreneurs, renewing the track for attractions and updating the map of the national priority areas for tourism,” said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.


Misezhnikov has warned that the shortage in hotel rooms will negatively impact tourism and Israel’s image as a modern, attractive and quality tourist destination.


Fischer also called for regional cooperation with Egypt and Jordan in tourism, to strengthen the industry by integrating sites in all three countries so that tourists would visit three countries in one trip, spending a few days in each.

While an insufficient number of hotels in Israel may negatively impact Israel’s ability to effectively handle the existing demand, it is a sign that the industry is booming and highlights Israel’s evolving status as an attractive tourism location and certainly may heighten investor interest in Israel and the region.


“More and more tourists are discovering the gems in Israel and that is obvious by the demand for hotel rooms in the country,” said Elisa Moed, CEO of Travelujah. “The fact that tourism has set record levels this year shows that Israel is considered a safe and worthy destination by millions around the world.”

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


December 19, 2010December 19, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

During the Christmas season, there is no shortage of services to attend. Here is a list by Travelujah of just some of the plethora of churches significant to the Christmas story and Christianity in the Holy Land.

Church of the Annunciation
Essentially where Christmas began, this is considered the site where it is believed the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was chosen to carry the Messiah. From there, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. Nazareth was central in the life of Jesus. It was his home town, where he was raised as a carpenter before starting his ministry. The church was built in the 1960s, but stands on the foundations of an ancient Byzantine church and a Crusader church from the Middle Ages. A grotto below the church is believed to be the place where Gabriel visited Mary.

Church of the Visitation
Ein Karem, Jerusalem
Following the original Christmas story, after Mary found out about her immaculate conception she went to the Judean village of Ein Karem to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant. Now the Church of the Visitation, built in 1679, marks that site.

manger square, church of the nativity, grottoChurch of the Nativity
Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, the city from where Joseph’s family came, in order to register as part of a nationwide census. Jesus is believed to have been born in the Grotto where the Church of the Nativity now stands. The church was built in 325 AD and is one of the oldest churches in the world. It is the most popular stop on Christmas Eve and day.

Mar Theodosius
Beit Sahour
After Jesus was born, wise men from the east visited Jesus in Bethlehem. Tradition has it that Theodosius was led by God to seek out a cave where the wise men rested after paying homage to Jesus and after having been warned by an angel to return to their country via another road to avoid Herod. St. Theodosius Monastery, founded in 476, stands upon that site.

St. Joseph’s Chapel
The traditional midnight mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve in St. Catherine’s, the Roman Catholic church next door to the Church of the Nativity. This is also the site of several chapels with their own historic and religious significance. The Chapel of St. Joseph is where an angel appeared to Joseph and commanded him to flee to Egypt, Matthew 2:13.

The Milk Grotto
This smaller and more peaceful chapel is located close to the Nativity Church in Manger Square. Legend says that while Mary was feeding Jesus when a few drops of milk spilled to the ground turning the rocks white. This chapel has long been a devotional site for women. The church is believed to be where Joseph, Mary and Jesus took refuge before their escape to Egypt.

Garden Tomb
garden tomb, golgothaJerusalem
The Garden Tomb is not part of the Christmas story, but it is a significant site in the life of Jesus. Not a church per se, the site is a place of reflection and where Protestants believe Jesus crucifixion and burial took place. The site is popular for Easter, but also has a Christmas Day service.

Church of the Redeemer
Jerusalem, Old City
Not central to the original Christmas story, the German church makes up for lost time by celebrating the holiday in style. The Church of the Redeemer was commissioned by Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm in 1869. Decorated for Christmas, the church also hosts classical concerts, midnight mass on Christmas Eve and a Christmas day service.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Users can learn, plan and share their travel experiences on Travelujah. Travelujah offers customized group and individual tour experiences to ministries, parishes, Bible study groups, universities, organizations, families and others seeking an unforgettable journey to the Holy Land.

December 17, 2010December 17, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

Israel is expecting 90,000 tourists this month who will be visiting the Holy Land for the Christmas season -  the only place in the world to experience Christmas in its original setting.

With several religious services, festive concerts and ornate decorations, Israel’s and the Palestinian Authority’s small  Christian communities muster up Christmas cheer during the holiday season for locals and for visiting pilgrims.
“The Christian community, in its various denominations with hundreds of millions of believers, represents one of the central anchors for incoming tourism to Israel,” Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said. Of 3.18 million tourists to visit the Holy Land this year, 2.4 million were Christian.

Free shuttle transport for pilgrims, provided by the Ministry of Tourism, will be available from Jerusalem to Bethlehem from the Mar Elias Monastery to the Church of the Nativity every hour from Christmas Eve at noon for the next 24 hours.

You will fine plenty to enjoy in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve as there are multiple services and processions, including Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, Armenian and more. There is an international Christmas Eve mass in Arabic, English and German at the Church of the Nativity. at 5 p.m. and of course, there is the midnight mass.

Saturday, Dec. 18
The Church of the Redeemer in the Old City has a Christmas concert with the Kfar Saba Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. The Program is a “Ceremony of Carols\" including Bach’s Cantata no. 4 and Vivaldi’s Gloria.

Christmas Eve
The Church of the Redeemer has a service at 10:30 p.m. Call for tickets in advance: 02.626.6800

Christmas Day
The Garden Tomb has a Christmas service in English at 10 a.m.
The Church of the Redeemer has a service at 10:30 p.m. Call for tickets in advance. 02.626.6800

The public is invited to see the decorations at the YMCA on King David Street.

Thursday, Dec. 23
Annual reception hosted by the Tourism Ministry and the Mayor of Nazareth with the leaders of the Christian churches ambassadors and other public dignitaries in the Salesian Church including a special Christmas concert conducted by Imad Abu Sinai with guest singer Georgit Nofi at 6 p.m.
Christmas Eve
Traditional youth parade of scouts from the Christian communities, down Paul XI Street, Nazareth’s main street. 3 p.m.

Firework display, sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, to announce the opening of the festive Christmas celebrations 5 p.m.

The Christmas Mass at the Church of the Annunciation, in the presence of Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, the Patriarchal Vicar for Israel. 7:30 p.m.
Christmas Day
Mass in all the Catholic Churches. The first mass in the Church of the Annunciation will take place at 7 a.m. then another at 10 a.m.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan, book and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

January 23, 2011January 23, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

As Christians around the world participate in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, believers in Jerusalem are also gathering for the eight days of prayer in both a spiritual and symbolic role.

(In photo, Bishop Younan and Nora Arsenian Carmi)

The worldwide prayer journey, as prepared by the church leaders in the Holy City, is themed: Jerusalem, yesterday, today, tomorrow. Church leaders in Jerusalem will conduct a series of prayer meetings from from Jan. 23 to 31 that will take place at eight different churches around the city, churches that are central to the Christian community in Jerusalem, many in the Old City.

“If there is ecumenicalism in Jerusalem there can be ecumenicalism in the whole world,” Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan told Travelujah, the only Christian social networking site about travel to the Holy Land.

The churches at which the prayers take place represent the mosaic of diversity of Jerusalem’s Christian community.From the ancient Holy Sepulchre to the austere Lutheran Church of the Redeemer the churches range in architectural styles to liturgy.

The prayers are a call to remember the history and example of the first church, its birth as told in the book of Acts, and to focus on the Christians in Jerusalem today. The organizers, the World Council of Churches, say today’s church and Christians in the Holy City mirror “that of the church in Jerusalem today.”

“The current community experiences many of the joys and sorrows of the early church; its injustice and inequality, and its divisions, but also its faithful perseverance, and recognition of a wider unity among Christians,” according to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Indeed, the situation Christians face in Jerusalem today parallels the early church as a minority group struggling to get by and living under a government that doesn’t share their religion, Rev. Fred Strickert of the Lutheran Redeemer Church noted.

Christians comprise less than 2 percent of the city’s 700,000 residents. From Greek Orthodox and Catholics to Ethiopian Orthodox and Coptics, Armenian Catholics and Orthodox and Protestants of al ethnic backgrounds, Jerusalem’s small Christian population makes up for its size with its vast diversity.

“Unity does not mean uniformity,” Nora Arsenian Carmi of the Armenian Orthodox church told Travelujah. “The call is to bring back the universal message of Christianity. The universal message of Christianity is love and love means you can accept and respect the other. We are all human beings created in the image of God.”

In the rest of the world, the week of prayer began on Jan. 18. Since that date coincides with the Armenian Christmas in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem church put off the week of prayer until after the holiday.

Younan said the church worldwide can pray that the Jerusalem Christians would remain steadfast in their faith and stem the tide of emigration. “We need to be a living witness so that the Gospel can from forth from Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the world,” he said.


Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Users can learn, plan and share their travel experiences on Travelujah.


Jerusalem, January 23 to 31

Theme: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
Saturday, Jan. 22
Holy Sepulchre, Old City
5:30 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 23
Anglican Cathedral of St George, Nablus Road
5 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 24
Latin Patriarchate's Church Old City,
5 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 25
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Old City
5 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 26
Armenian Cathedral of St James, Old City,
5 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 27
Upper Room, Cenacle, Mount Zion
4 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 28
St Anthony's Church, Coptic Orthodox Old City
5 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 29
Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Prophets′ Street
5 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 30     
Greek Catholic Church of Annunciation, Old City
5 p.m.

Each day focuses on a different aspect of that theme:
Day 1: The first church, in Jerusalem, was the origin of today’s worldwide body of believers.
Day 2: The first believers were diverse, but unified.
Day 3: The foundational teachings of the early church was the first step of unity.
Day 4: Sharing was the second expression of unity in the early church.
Day 5: The Breaking of the Bread was the third expression of unity.
Day 6: Prayer was the fourth mark of unity with the Jerusalem church.
Day 7: The resurrection of Jesus, the seventh day’s theme, is proclaimed by Christians in Jerusalem.
Day 8: Reconciliation between Christians and with others is necessary for the church to move forward.

February 24, 2011February 24, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

On their first full day in the Holy Land, the rescued Chilean miners and their wives found a tranquil respite from their hectic schedule and the media frenzy surrounding them when they spent time in quiet reflection in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.

After a tour of the gardens where many believe Jesus was buried and rose again, the Chilean miners who made the trip to Israel along with their wives, rested and took communion together.

“This was like a souvenir, a gift,” Jose Henriquez told Travelujah. “The prayer here today was like a new commitment with God, a spiritual renewal.”

When the miners arrived on Wednesday night, Henriquez said at a news conference that it was a privilege for them to be in the Holy Land and be able to thank those who prayed for their safe return.

“We are here in awe, it is honor to be here and we hope we can comprehend fully what every place means and that we take this experience home with us,” he said. “It is a blessing to be here, in the place of the origin of God, to whom we prayed so much while being inside the mine.”
In fact, the men prayed twice daily as a group every day that they were trapped. During that time, Henriquez became a spiritual leader, holding two daily prayer meetings and encouraging the men. Now, 25 of the 33 rescued miners are visiting Israel as part of an eight-day trip sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism. The miners spent 69 harrowing days in the bowels of the earth last fall, trapped in a collapsed mine. Many have not returned to work since then.

Another miner, Mario Gomez, told Travelujah that this opportunity to be in the Holy Land was the ultimate experience of all of the miners’ honorary trips including one to Disney World in Florida.

“This is more important because this is spiritual,” he said. “The other trips were fun, but this is about spiritual enrichment and becoming closer to God.”

The time in the peaceful oasis of the Garden Tomb was in stark contrast to the media frenzy that followed the men and their spouses in the Old City. The Chilean entourage was greeted in the Old City by church leaders at the Holy Sepulchre and later by Western Wall Chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch who invited the miners to place a note of prayer between the stones of the Western Wall.

Henriquez said that coming to Israel is a natural extension of being a Christian.

“From the moment you accept Jesus as your Lord, going to Israel is part of the process. As a spiritual person, you are always ready to come and be a part of this and pray here,” he said.

Richard Meryon, director of the Garden Tomb, said he hoped the miners would find peace and healing while reflecting at the East Jerusalem holy site. 

“We have something to put back into their lives,” Meryon said. “Whilst many have had healing in their physical bodies, they may need spiritual and emotional healing. Only the Spirit of God can heal the spiritual damage done in their lives. We hope that by them coming today that we will be part of that healing process.”

After communion, members of the Israel Bible Society distributed Spanish Bibles with olive wood covers and DVDs to each family.

In the coming days the miners will also visit Nazareth, Tiberias, the holy sites around the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and Masada and will be invited to participate in a baptism ceremony at the  Jordan River. They will also travel to Bethlehem and visit the Church of the Nativity.

“For you this may be in part an opportunity to express a kind of thanksgiving,” said Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov. “For us it is a unique opportunity for a close encounter with a truly unique group of people with a spirit of endurance. The Holy Land with all its sacred sites provides visitors with a moving, spiritual and religious experience, for believers of all faiths."

Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Users can learn, plan and share their travel experiences on Travelujah.

March 26, 2011March 26, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

As we rounded the bend around the perimeter of Hebrew University somewhere between kilometers 33 and 34, we came smack into a view that panned east over the Judean desert with clear skies that revealed a rolling landscape all the way to the mountains of Jordan.

“This is my Gu!” (energy gel)

Yelling and pointing to the stunning vista, my newly found friend and running partner, Anna Yevzelman, referred to the energy gels that had gotten us to this point in a grueling, but breathtaking marathon course.

It was scenes like this, so frequently appearing along our route, that renewed our vigor and determination as we took part in the first ever Jerusalem Marathon on March 25, 2011.

Anna, from New York, was - along with me - running her first marathon. This was her second time in Israel, her first in more than a decade. I live here and see many of these views every day (the course even went by my apartment!), but Anna’s unfettered enthusiasm helped me to see these dazzling landscapes as if for the first time. The streets were swept clear of the traffic that marks modern Israel and laid bare the ancient stones that are always there, but easy to miss in the daily bustle of the city.

The setting of Jerusalem distinguished this race apart from every other in the world. While Jerusalem is arguably the most difficult city marathons worldwide, it is also probably one of the most beautiful courses and definitely the most unique.

We spanned 5,000 years of history over this 42-kilometer course. From the Knesset, the seat of Israel’s modern government, to Mount Zion, the seat of Israel’s ancient government, to the United Nations headquarters, and promenades from both southern and northern vantage points, we had an unparalleled tour of the city, its mountains, valleys and the residents that came out to cheer us along.

During the course we heard snippets of several languages - Italian, French, German, Portuguese and Polish, to name a few. A South African team ran together. Elite runners, most of them from Kenya and Ethiopia, led the pack. Long-time Jerusalem runners likened the city’s first marathon to going to their daughter’s wedding - the excitement was that high and the preparations that intense leading up to the big day.

Many multi-marathon runners ascended to the city for this race (there were 10,000 participants total in three races: the full 42 kilometers, the half marathon and a 10-km race), and many of them were shocked at how difficult the course proved to be.

Two Italian runners circling Hebrew University with Anna and me told us that this was by far the most difficult city marathon they had run due to Jerusalem’s hills, but the stunning views made it worth it, they said.

Another pair of runners, brothers from the U.S. who have run the New York City Marathon multiple times, agreed that the Jerusalem race was an emotional and spiritual experience, virtually connecting them to the land.

“Running in the Old City? You just can’t beat this,” Marc Dwek told Travelujah. “This was my best marathon ever, not time wise, but the whole experience, the whole package.”

The Dwek brothers (along with Anna and I and about 70 others) were running to raise money for Shalva, an organization in Israel that helps children with special needs. Another Shalva runner, Jerusalem resident Efrat Benn, ran the 10K and expressed my sentiments exactly:

“It was an opportunity to fall in love with Jerusalem all over again, a way to see the landmarks and scenery through new eyes,” she said. “It is Jerusalem at its finest.”

Besides training, I had prepared for this course by finding some inspirational quotes to spur me along. And naturally the most apt words were from the Bible, written in this very land.

“With my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:29 - to help me deal with the infamous “wall” that plagues marathon runners usually at the 20th mile.

Then there was this gem (my paraphrase): “Who do you think you are O mighty mountain? Before (me) you shall become flat ground!” Zechariah 4:7 - my retort to the hundreds of inclines, hills and outright mountains we encountered.

Of course two from Isaiah, ever so fitting for this international event:

Isaiah 2:3 “Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”
And lastly, Hebrews 12:1 - “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Despite a bombing in Jerusalem that killed one woman just two days before the race and right across from the city’s sports festival, the race took place as scheduled. Mayor Nir Barkat told reporters that his goal is to “put Jerusalem on the international marathon map.”

He may have succeeded. The race was a hit among many of the runners with whom I spoke. Barkat, a multi-marathoner himself, ran the half marathon this year, but hopes to run the full next year, already on the calendar for March 16, 2012.

Anna and I didn’t run to set any records, but we were running soul mates from the outset with the same pace and same goals: to survive, to beat five hours and to thoroughly enjoy ourselves while doing so.

And in the end, 42 kilometers later, all goals achieved, we finished the race with huge smiles on our faces, smiles that miraculously never waned during (and despite) 42 kilometers. The city never let us down.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.

Tags: jerusalem marathon 

June 21, 2011June 21, 2011  1 comments  Uncategorized

A new archaeological site revealing remnants of a city dating back to the time of King Solomon right outside the walls of the Old City was officially opened to the public on Tuesday.
Portions of this site could have been mentioned in scripture, dating back to the first temple period, according to archaeologists. The site includes an exhibit in the Archaeological Garden of the Davidson Center of the oldest known written document from Jerusalem found at the site.


ophel, old city, jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority and Mayor Nir Barkat opened the Ophel City Walls Site to the public revealing a complex of buildings dating back to between the 10th to 6th centuries BC, including what is believed to have been a gate house, a royal edifice, a section of a tower and the city wall itself. Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar suggested that the buildings could have been part of the fortifications that King Solomon built in Jerusalem.

“Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem.” 1 Kings 3:1

Visitors will be able to touch the stones and walls at the site. Signs elaborate on the history and significance of the finds.


ophel, old city, jerusalem

Sections of a Byzantine city wall and two of its towers were and two rooms from the second temple period were also found.

The oldest known written document from Jerusalem is a 2 cm. fragment discovered in the area by archaeologists. It dates from the late Bronze Age and is written in Akkadian and appears to be a copy of a letter sent to an Egyptian King when Jerusalem was still called Salem.

The gate house is comprised of four rooms on both sides of a broad corridor and is characteristic of the first temple period similar to gates revealed at Megiddo, Beer Sheva and Ashdod.

ophel, old city, jerusalem

(Photos courtesy of IAA)

Mazar said the gate house could be the Water Gate mentioned in the Nehemiah 3:26: “…and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower.”

The structure could have been destroyed by the Babylonian conquest of the city in 586 BC, Mazar said. Also discovered on site were 12 large, clay jars, which probably contained wine or oil, one with a Hebrew inscription indicating that it belonged to one of the kingdom’s ministers.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

July 10, 2011July 10, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized


A new guesthouse, an archaeological site and a uniquely written Catholic mass booklet will bring to life New Testament times in the Galilee.

The Magdala Center will be on the shores of the Galilee and hosts a peek into the time of Jesus. Even though the Gospels barely mention the city, Magdala (or Migdal) played a historic role in the 1st century as revealed in the ongoing archaeological dig on the site.

migdal, magdala, notre dame, jerusalem, galileeFather Juan Maria Solana, Charge of the Holy See for the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, is the visionary behind this ambitious project and much needed accommodations. Solana spoke with Travelujah about plans to continue uncovering the ancient city on the grounds while building the 130-room guesthouse, called Notre Dame du Lac.

"I want to believe that there are a couple of gospel miracles that happened in Magdala,” Solana said.

The entire archaeological area uncovered is exclusively 1st century, which is rare. Most sites, even those nearby, usually show an overlap of periods. This one so far is purely Roman era. It has also revealed a community that was likely very wealthy.

In this synagogue they had a great leader – not common, very rich,” he said.

Solana listed some of the impressive findings in the excavations including a synagogue, a marketplace, a villa, a perfectly preserved mosaic, rooms paved with well-cut stones and three arches, one of which is still standing. The synagogue contains mosaics, a carved stone menorah and frescoes.

Another key find is the port of Magdala, some 50 meters from the current shoreline and near the marketplace. On one side of the port is all the remnants of the lake that had lapped against the wall.

With a villa, a marketplace and a port, Magdala could possibly have been more of a leading town than Capernaum, previously thought of as the “capital” of the Galilee. And the excavations continue.

We still have a lot of space to dig, dunams and dunams,” Solana said. “We will find many other things, but what we have found until now shows a very leading and active town.”

For people, especially Christian pilgrims, looking to understand the time of Jesus, we have the time of Jesus seen here, very pure.”

Solana has been consulting with biblical scholars to see if there is a link between Magdala and Jarius, the synagogue ruler whose daughter Jesus raised from the dead. Magdala was one of the larger of the cities in the Galilee at the time of Jesus. According to Jewish historian Josephus Flavius it had a population of 40,000 at the time of the first Jewish revolt (66-70 AD).

Perhaps the most special prospect though is the wooden altar, built in the shape of a first century boat, that Solana designed especially for the site. Located on the shoreline itself, the altar will used for open-air masses which can be said with a special missal written by Solana specifically for Magdala.

Solana spent two years in his spare time composing a mass booklet, a missal, for the site, drawing from gospel passages regarding Magdala, Jesus, the Galilee, Mary Magdalene, the calling of the first disciples who were on the lake's shores when Jesus called them.

The missal has been approved by the Latin patriarch.

Solana noted the need for accommodations in the Galilee when he first arrived in Israel in 2004. While Jerusalem is already rife with Christian guesthouses, the Galilee is not.

Solana hopes to inaugurate the hotel in December 2012, but will only know next year whether that will be possible. The site is located between the city of Tiberias and Kibbutz Ginossar and is lakefront property of 84 dunams.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


July 20, 2011July 20, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

Notre Dame is no longer just a destination for its guests, but now a stop for wine and cheese enthusiasts thanks to a new rooftop restaurant that serves up a tasty panorama of the city as well.

Since the Notre Dame Center Roof Top Wine & Cheese Restaurant opened a few months ago, news has spread through word of mouth attracting Israelis from all over the country, city residents, volunteers in Israel in addition to the hotel's guests.

notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)

“It has been very successful so far, and the view is awesome,” Father Juan Maria Solana told Travelujah. “It is one of the best in town.”

The wine bar, with sweeping, awe-inspiring views to the East and South of Jerusalem, opened in March. Outdoor dining is perfect after a hot Jerusalem summer day. Indoor seating is replete with modern furniture and a swank atmosphere.


notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)

The wine list has a selection of imports and Israeli vintages. Cheeses run the gamut from French gruyere to British cheddar, plus goat cheeses and fresh butter. Even if you don't like wine or cheese, a trip to the bar is worthwhile. Other drinks and a selection of light foods and meals are on the menu in addition to the exclusive wine and cheese lists.

notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)


The Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is a diverse location. The impressive building, across from the Old City's New Gate, is home to a guesthouse, an exhibition for the Shroud of Turin, a cafe, an elegant restaurant and a church, Our Lady of Peace Chapel, in addition to other outlets.

“Notre Dame has always been looking to be a peaceful place for everyone,” Solana said.

notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


August 9, 2011August 9, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

Israeli archaeologists made two important discoveries during excavations of a drainage channel in the ancient City of David including a Roman sword from the time of the destruction of the second Jewish temple in 70 AD and an engraving of a Menorah on a piece of stone dating from 66 AD.

The finds, which were announced on Monday by the Israel Antiquities Authority, show that the drainage channel in the City of David served as a hiding place for the residents of Jerusalem during the Roman siege of the second temple, the IAA said in a statement.


archaeology, jerusalem, old city, city of david





(photos: Israel Antiquities Authority)


Excavation directors Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa noted that the sword likely belonged to a Roman infantryman.

"The sword’s fine state of preservation is surprising: not only its length (23.6 inches, 60 cm.), but also the preservation of the leather scabbard (a material that generally disintegrates quickly over time) and some of its decoration,” the IAA statement said.

The second temple, built by King Herod, was destroyed in 70 AD by the Roman.

A stone object engraved with a picture of a menorah was found next to the channel. Researchers believe that the etching of the golden seven-branched candelabrum may been carved by a visitor to the nearby temple, but later tossed aside. The carving confirms the original design of the menorah's base: a tripod shape, Shukron and Reich said.

The sword is the third Roman one found in Jerusalem.

The ancient drainage channel begins in the Siloam Pool and runs from the City of David to the archaeological garden near the Western Wall. The excavations are being conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by the City of David Foundation.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


September 16, 2011September 16, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

Jerusalem has been a destination for many spiritual and historic journeys, but on Thursday night it became the magnet for women of all faiths and ages who are interested in fitness.

Hundreds of women gathered at the Jaffa Gate plaza for exercise followed by a 5-kilometer walk in the Athena Women's Walk in honor of a happy, healthy new year and in encouragement of an active, healthy lifestyle. The Jewish new year, Rosh HaShana, begins on Sept. 28.


The event, usually held on the Tel Aviv beachfront, took the capital by storm with road closures and thousands of extra visitors that day. Having it in Jerusalem opened up the event to diverse participants from religious to secular Jews to Arab women from East Jerusalem.

Ancient met modern at Jaffa Gate where the area was cleared for spinning machines, a kickboxing zone, Zumba and Latino dance stage, and sport and active lifestyle retail tents. Women and young girls took part in the live dance sessions and availed themselves of the exercise equipment set up for the day.

Mayor Nir Barkat unveiled a 300-meter sign greeting visitors with the new year greeting, Shana Tova on the Old City walls.

jaffa gate, jerusalemThe walk is one for the tour books: Taking walkers through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and out Zion Gate, visitors pass Sultan’s Pool, climb up past the Cinemateque to the new trail along the old train tracks in Baka, up Emek Refaim Street in the trendy German Colony area, through the quaint neighborhood of Yemin Moshe, past the historic King David hotel and back to Jaffa Gate Square.

“We are excited to be holding this event in Jerusalem at this time in history,” said Ilan Green, Manager of Public Sports at the Sports Department of the Jerusalem Municipality. “The event has potential to unite this varied group of women as they come together to have fun in a positive, healthy way.”

The purpose of the "Athena Women's Walk" was to empower and inspire women to choose an active and healthy lifestyle.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.


November 20, 2011November 20, 2011  2 comments  Uncategorized

Archaeologists and researchers from Hebrew University have deciphered an inscription bearing the name of Frederick II written in Arabic, declaring him king of Jerusalem, right before he peacefully conquered the city through a treaty rather than a battle.

The discovery is unique because it is the only Crusader inscription in the Arabic language found in the Middle East. Frederick II was the Holy Roman Emperor. The inscription reads: “Frederick II, 1229 of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.” Professor Moshe Sharon and Ami Shrager of Hebrew University deciphered the inscription.



Researchers did not expect that a Christian king would have written his title in Arabic, the language of the Muslims who were the main combatants of the crusaders at the time. The Crusades, which stretched frmo 1095 to 1291, were religious wars designed to restore Christianity to the holy places in and near Jerusalem.

Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade – and won Jerusalem through diplomacy, not war.

“Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade of 1228 to 1229 and succeeded, without resorting to arms, in achieving major territorial gains for the Crusader kingdom,” Sharon said. “His most important feat was the handing over of Jerusalem to the Crusaders by the Egyptian sultan al-Malik al-Kamil as a result of an armistice agreement the two rulers signed in 1229.”

Before signing the agreement, Frederick fortified the castle of Jaffa, and apparently left in its walls two inscriptions, one in Latin and the other in Arabic. The small bit of the Latin inscription that remains was previously attributed to Frederick II, Sharon said.

Frederick had a colorful reign in Jerusale. Sharon said he opened a zoo and a university plus had a harem that included a Muslim woman.

The Latin portion of the inscription was partially preserved, enough to ascribe it since the end of the nineteenth century, to Frederick II. But the Arabic portion of the inscription baffled researchers for some time.

“It’s not so easy to read Arabic inscriptions, and particularly this one, which was written in an unusual script, and it is on stone and it is 800 years old,” Sharon told LiveScience. “It was written by an artist and this artist decided to create a special script for this royal inscription and it took us a very long time until we were able to find out that, in fact, we were reading a Christian inscription.”

The unique Arabic inscription is almost completely intact. It lists all of the titles of Frederick II. Even in Sicily, where Frederick’s main royal palace was located, no Arabic inscription has been found regarding his title.



Apparently, Frederick II, despite having been excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX, crowned himself king of Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. He knew Arabic and maintained a close relationship with the Egyptian royal family.

Sharon said that it was unheard of to find a Christian ruler in Jerusalem who knew Arabic, was interested in Islam and had Muslim scientists and ambassadors in his court.


By Nicole Jansezian

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


November 23, 2011November 23, 2011  1 comments  Uncategorized

Despite centuries of assumption that King Herod built the Western Wall of the temple in Jerusalem, recent archaeological findings could throw this accepted conventional premise on its head.



Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a news conference on Wednesday that a ritual bath exposed beneath the Western Wall of the Temple Mount contains proof that the construction of that wall was not completed during Herod’s lifetime but at least 20 years after his death around 4 BC.

israel, archaeolgy, jerusalem, western wall

















"The find changes the way we see the construction, and shows it lasted for longer than we originally thought,” Shukron said.

This confirm accounts by Josephus, the Jewish historian, who wrote that the work was only finished during the reign of King Agrippa II (Herod's great-grandson), not before that during Herod's time.

During recent excavations, archaeologists uncovered three clay oil lamps from the 1st century AD and 17 bronze coins, some dating to around 17 or 18 AD, approximately 20 years after Herod's death, the archaeologists said.


Donald Ariel, curator of the numismatic collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority, determined that the bronze coins were stamped by a Roman proconsul, Valerius Gratus, 20 years after Herod’s death, around 17 AD. That indicates that Herod did not build the wall and that construction was not close to being complete when he died. Valerius Gratus was the predecessor of Pontius Pilate, Reich said.

israel, archaeolgy, jerusalem, western wall

The coins were found inside the ritual bath. The find is the first archaeological evidence that supports Josephus' account.

"This bit of archaeological information illustrates the fact that the construction of the Temple Mount walls and Robinson's Arch was an enormous project that lasted decades and was not completed during Herod's lifetime," the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Photos: Vladimir Naykhin

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


December 1, 2011December 1, 2011  3 comments  Uncategorized

It isn't always easy to be a Christian in Jerusalem as the minority community must navigate complicated relations and sometimes persecution to get around the Holy City.

But with understanding, friendship and advocates, Christians have managed to remain strong and confident in the Jewish state. One such friend and advocate, Daniel Rossing, was a bridge builder between the religions who brought to light the facets of Jerusalem life for Christians, Jews and Muslim.


Rossing was remembered in a recent symposium, "Jerusalem, the City of the Between," for his tireless efforts regarding interfaith relations in the Holy Land for 35 years before his death due to cancer in November 2010. A panel of Christians and Jews from around Jerusalem spoke at the symposium in his honor, hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Jewish Christian Relations founded by Rossing, on the anniversary month of his death.

israel, interfaith relations, christianity

Particpants in the symposium "Jerusalem, City of the Between." Photo: Travelujah

Daniel's mission was to get to know the others,” said Armenian Archbishop Aris Shrivanian. “We need many more architects of bridges in this city to close the gaps and bring all these diverse people together. We need love and we need to know our next door neighbors.”

A task that is not always as simple as it sounds.

israel, interfaith relations, christianityThis city is a cosmopolitan one. It is the capital of the three main religions. It has many components as its inhabitants: a Jewish majority, Palestinian Arabs who are Muslim and then all the Christian denominations that are considered to be minorities,” Shrivanian noted. “The total number of Christians in the Holy Land is 160,000. With this kind of picture which is a mosaic of the holy land we can envision the relations that have emerged.”

All of the panelists, which included Shrivanian, Archbishop Aristarchos Peristaris, patriarchate of Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, and Father David Neuhaus, vicariate for the Hebrew-Speaking Catholics, the Latin Patriarchate, lauded Rossing's efforts to get to know them, their communities and their beliefs and to help them get along with the other religions.



Rossing in the Armenian Quarter

Neuhaus said Rossing was always familiar with “the pain and suffering of the Jews, the pain and suffering of the Palestinians and the pain and suffering of Armenians. Daniel never forgot the suffering of all these.”

Plus, he got to know the living stones of the church – the actual congregants who make up the community. He showed that it is possible for all of us to live here together, Neuhaus said.

Rossing challenged believers to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem, an important aspect for Christians.

No city in the world has as many prayers prayed in it than Jerusalem does,” Aristarchos said.

Aristarchos said Rossing consistently brought tour groups to visit the Greek Christians, came to their help as a mediator in political matters with the Israeli government and without fail wished them happy holidays on Christian occasions.

Rossing helped Christians understand why they encounter antagonism from some religious Jews and even get spat upon by the ultra-Orthodox walking through the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. He explained to them that centuries of persecution against Jews in Europe in the name of Christ has been passed on to the generations and still is a fear among certain Jewish communities.

Rossing was an expert on the Christian communities in the Holy Land and wrote extensively on them, on interfaith relations in Israel, and on Jerusalem. Daniel held an undergraduate degree in history and Semitic studies and a Masters degree in theological studies.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


June 14, 2010June 14, 2010  0 comments  Holy Land

Petite and pretty with animated brown eyes, Tali Friedman isn't your typical character at the brusque Jerusalem shuk, but she carries as much weight as any of the burly shop keepers as she promotes the 100-year-old market.


A chef with a gift for drawing out the merits of local cuisine, Friedman has the same passion for Jerusalem cooking as Julia Child did for French dishes. Friedman has been instrumental in ferreting out the culinary treasures of the market and turning them into a touring business as well as an upcoming TV show.



Her unique Jerusalem food tour of the shuk, Mahane Yehuda, incorporates a hands-on approach:  With a deep respect for its traditions and her keen culinary eye, Friedman describes the unique items and shops in the market, then the tour is capped off with a meal cooked by the guests from fresh produce in the market. On a recent tour, a group of Israelis and Canadians marveled at the selection of fish, cheeses and exotic spices as Friedman whisked them to different shops, including a shop that boasts the world's fifth largest selection of cheeses.


Friedman discovered the benefits of being located in the shuk while a culinary teacher. She took her class on a field trip to the market one day for a hands-on lesson in fish and spices. 


"I realized that what I taught in 24 classes I covered in five and a half hours in the shuk," Friedman told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.


Once the bastion of down home Israeli food and culture, the outdoor market in Jerusalem has expanded its taste buds to include an international repertoire with imported delicacies and a new air of modernity. That aspect combined with the shuk's 100-year-history has made the market more than just a shopping trip but a draw for foreign and Israeli tourists. It is now a destination for tourists both from overseas and around Israel. It is not uncommon to see Israelis from Tel Aviv on a guidedculinary tour of the market, just an hour from their own homes, but worlds away from the cosmopolitan coastal city. 


Friedman's tours, given in Hebrew or English, are open to chefs from the novice to expert to simply those interested in Israeli cuisine. She recommends the tour even to foreigners "to enjoy the market the colors the smells, all the lovely products that we have here in our area in Jerusalem." 


The wonders of the market will be the subject of a television cooking show being filmed now for Israeli TV. Friedman and a co-host will tell the tales of stores in the shuk and bring fresh ingredients back to her studio to cook some three courses per episode.


On a typical Jerusalem food tour, Friedman  describes the unique foods, most unavailable in regular supermarkets, from different types of eggplants and cucumbers, green chick peas, miniature apricots, grape leaves, okra and a vast selection of spices. She begins with her recommended stop for the best burekas in town, Hohmat Burekas min Haifa (The Wisdom of Burekas from Haifa) She tells the story of its owner who learned the trade of burekas making in Haifa when he was 15 and brought the treat to Jeruaslem. A phyllo dough pastry filled with cheese and or spinach, potatoes and mushrooms, burekas are a Middle Eastern staple. The flaky pastries are best eaten when warmed and are breakfast or snack food. 


Friedman then leads the culinary tour to a stand called Mizrachi, where you can buy homemade granola, salad and rice spices and baking goods. At David Dagim (David's Fish) Friedman points out different varieties from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern waters. She chooses a cut for ceviche, which the group will make later. 


Then, for a taste of the most diverse selection of cheeses in Jerusalem if not Israel, Friedman leads the group to Basher, the King of Cheese where between 800 to 1,000 cheeses from around the world are imported, some by the ton. This gives them the distinction of having the fifth largest selection of cheeses in the world, falling in line after France, Germany, Italy and New York.


"It's not just your typical cheese store," Dudi Basher told Travelujah. His brother, Eli, actually judges cheese competitions in Europe.


At the shop, one worker is always doling out tastings and explaining the various cheeses.


"We understand how to conduct a tasting. It depends on the first taste  what should follow. We know what to follow up with," Dudi said.


The store has been in the family for three generations, but the brothers developed it into a gourmet shop over the last decade.


On Friedman's tour, a worker at Basher's takes her guests through the same process, describing the types of cheeses as he shaves off several varieties for tastings from English cheddar to aged gouda from Holland to French brie. 


At MeZetim (From Olives), tour guests sample olives imported from Greece. This is followed by a visit to Pereg where everything from ordinary to rare spies are sold including the exclusive saffron. 


Back at her studio, Friedman dons a chef's coat and allots tasks to her tour guests: julienning fresh vegetables for the salad; slicing apricots for the apricot strudel they will have after the meal; reserving tomato seeds for the sauce. Then she sends the guests to her studio roof with a bottle of wine so they can relax and enjoy an aerial view of the market while she cooks up the meal for them.


The re-gentrification of the Jerusalem shuk coincides with general improvements in the city. Once known for its loud heckling, surly shopkeepers, harried shoppers and bargains, the shuk has been invaded by swank cafes and gourmet food shops. Stores selling designer clothing, imported cheese, eclectic wine collections, cozy cafes and haute cuisine restaurants are interspersed among the old-time fare. Even the famous Israeli coffee chain, Aroma, has set up shop in the shuk. 


Friedman has capitalized on the shuk's recent changes. A Jerusalem resident for 20 years, Friedman points to the shuk as one of the traditional reflections of the ancient city. Foreigners find a new side of Jerusalem at the shuk, enthralled with the colorful arrays of fruits and vegetables, selections of meat and fish, stacks of pita and other breads, pastries, dried fruits and nuts, olives of all colors, and of course shwarma (meat roasted on a spit) and falafel shops, among many other items.


Despite its recent renaissance and inundation with classy cafes, designer shops and Friedman's upmarket tours, the shuk is still uniquely Jerusalem. Religious Jews shop right alongside secular. Arab and Jewish shop keepers work side by side. Old, young and foreigners make their way through the narrow alleys and scour the stands for the best deals. And, notwithstanding the introduction of these new trendy shops, bargains can still be found. To reserve a Jerusalem Food Tour, please contact Travelujah at info@travelujah.com . 


Book Now



*    *    *     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah,(http://www.travelujah.com)  the leading Christian social network for people interested in learning about or traveling to the Holy Land. Travelujah provides over 500 pages of expert and user content and arranges high quality tours tailor made to suit the needs and interests of different denominations.


February 23, 2010February 23, 2010  1 comments  archaeology

Eilat Mazar, Old City, Jerusalem, ArchaeologyA section of ancient walls recently uncovered in Jerusalem dates back to the time of King Solomon and supports the existence of the first temple, according to Israeli archaeologists, who call it "the most significant" find from the era of the first temple.

"This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon's building in Jerusalem," said Eilat Mazar, director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem excavation team. "The Bible tells us that Solomon built - with the assistance of the Phoenicians, who were outstanding builders - the temple and his new palace and surrounded them with a city, most probably connected to the more ancient wall of the City of David."

Mazar cited 1 Kings 3. The walls date back to the 10th century BC.

The section of the city wall that has been revealed is 70 meters long and 6 meters high and is located between the City of David and the southern wall of the Temple Mount. Within the city wall complex is an inner gatehouse for access into the royal quarter of the city, a royal structure adjacent to the gatehouse and a corner tower that overlooks a substantial section of the adjacent Kidron valley.

"The city wall that has been uncovered testifies to a ruling presence. Its strength and form of construction indicate a high level of engineering," Mazar said. "A comparison of this latest finding with city walls and gates from the period of the first temple, as well as pottery found at the site, enable us to postulate with a great degree of assurance that the wall that has been revealed is that which was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem in the latter part of the tenth century B.C."

Old City, Solomon, Temple, Jerusalem, ArchaeolgyThe first temple temple was destroyed by Babylonians. King Herod built another temple 2,000 years ago, and that was subsequently destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The compound became a pagan shrine and then eventually home to the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The dig also turned up pottery shards, which helped to date the wall, and jars, one with a Hebrew inscription.

"The inscription that was found on one of them shows that it belonged to a government official, apparently the person responsible for overseeing the provision of baked goods to the royal court," Mazar said.

Between the large tower at the city gate and the royal building the archaeologists uncovered a section of the corner tower that is eight meters in length and six meters high. The tower was built of carved stones. East of the royal building, another section of the city wall that extends for some 35 meters also was revealed. This section is five meters high, and is part of the wall that continues to the northeast and once enclosed the Ophel area.

Search The Site.

Share This Page

Bookmark and Share


Posts: 95
Comments: 58
Nicoolness Blogs



34 holy land (34)
30 jerusalem (30)
23 israel (23)
19 tourism (19)
10 easter (10)
7 old city (7)
7 christmas (7)
6 galilee (6)
6 pilgrimage (6)
6 bethlehem (6)
5 nazareth (5)
5 christian (5)
4 christians (4)
3 notre dame (3)
3 mary (3)
3 marathon (3)
Search The Bible

Produced by KCS interactive boutique
Copyright © 2011 Travelujah.com