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Travelujah_ / Geography - Posts
While Roman Catholics and Protestants in Israel and across the world celebrated Easter Sunday on March 31 this year, for hundreds of millions of Eastern Orthodox in Russia, Ukraine, Greece, the Holy Land and elsewhere the highlight of Easter 2013 came on Saturday, May 4 when tens of thousands of the faithful packed Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher to witness the Holy Fire ceremony marking the resurrection of the Christian messiah.
The pageant, observed according to the Julian calendar which the Orthodox cling to, was already established in the ninth century when Bernard the Wise was told that an angel lit the fire on Easter night, explained Armenian historian George Hintlian. By Crusader times it had become a famous miracle. In Ottoman times horsemen stationed in the church courtyard carried the flame to Bethlehem and Nazareth. By the 19th century the fire was transported by steamer from Jaffa to the Greek Orthodox churches of the eastern Mediterranean.
Like the Olympic Torch, today the flame is taken by chartered jet to the monasteries on Mount Athos near Thessaloniki, and to Russia. As well, the colorful ceremony is broadcast live in countries like Serbia and Bulgaria, and throughout much of the former Soviet Union.
During the annual ritual carried out in the presence of many thousands of Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Coptic and Assyrian faithf
When following in the footsteps of Jesus most Christian pilgrims will, at some point during their Holy Land tour, find their away onto a Holy Land Sailing boat going across the Sea of Galilee, taking in the numerous holy and historical sites that are situated along waters edge. And some groups may make their way to the Yigal Alon museum to view the historic first centery "Jesus Boat" that was exposed several years ago in very shallow waters of Lake Galilee.
But what most people don't know and what marine archaeologists have yet to understand is that lying 8 or 9 meters underneath the surface in the southwest corner of the Sea of Galilee lies an impressive rock structure weighing close to 60000 tons, in the shape of a perfect circle.
Shmulik Marco, a senior researcher in the Geophysics Department of Tel Aviv University, made the discovery in 2003 using a sonar. The discovery was recently published in the "|International Journal of Nautical Archaeology" It is believed that the structure was put together on dry land and later submerged in rising waters. The stones are about a meter long and the overall size is close to 60 meters in diameter and 10 meters high.
So far there has not been a dig carried out at the site, however, archaeologists believe it is an early Bronze Age structure and that it may be connected to the nearby ancient city of Beit Yerah
A newly renovated visitor's center at Mitzpe Ramon opened its doors a couple weeks ago, in memory of Ilan Ramon, whose shuttle exploded during the Columbia disaster, 10 years ago this month. Ramon was the first Israeli astronaut and the center tells Ramon's story alongside the story of the unique geological crater known as Mitzpe Ramon. In planning the center, the project designers and architects trThe ideological concept guiding the projects designers focused on making a connection between the heavens and Israel and between land and space.
Ilan Ramon's story begins with his service in the Air Force, through his training with NASA and ending with the tragic crash of the Columbia shuttle on Saturday, February 1, 2003, as she made her way back to Earth after the 16 day travel through space. Ilan Ramon's son, Captain Assaf Ramon, who followed in his fathers footsteps and graduated the Air Force flying course with honors, is also commemorated within the center. He lost his life as well during a training flight. His plane crashed on Mount Hebron.
The center's location rests at the edge of the Crater right outside the Mitzpe Ramon community. The visitor center over looks the beautiful desert landscape and attracts travelers passing through the area on their way to Eilat and back or who may be visiting the city as part of rest and relaxation at one of the hotels in the area. The Crater offers many outdoor adventures including
"Every Christian should visit these holy places at least once in their lives and, if possible, more often", said the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Bishop of Podolsk, during the Patriarch's recent visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Archbishop Hilarion recalled the quote during his recent meeting with Tourism Minister Stas Mizeshnikov. The was visiting Israel as part of an official delegation accompanying Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and of Russia.
In his briefing to Israel's tourism Minister, Stez Misechnikov, the Archbishop stressed that he expected that the Patriarch's declaration in Bethlehem would prompt a significant increase in pilgrimages to the Holy Land among the Russian Orthodox and perhaps even other Orthodox Christians.
Since Israel's elimination of the visa requirements for tourists from Russia and Ukraine tourism from these countries has risen considerably over the last two years. The Russian Orthodox Church has about 145 million faithful around the world.
If you want to experience Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, in all its glory and biblical meaning, go no farther than to Neot Kedumim, Israel's very special biblical landscape reserve, located 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem, close to Mod'in, in the Judean Hills.
" In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me... streams of living water will flow from within him" (John 7: 37-38)
Neot kedumim is a picturesque reconstructed biblical landscape reserve at the foothills of Jerusalem with breathtaking views over the Samarian hills on one side and the skyline of Tel Aviv on the other side. Visitors can explore the natural setting of the land, the plants and trees, the water facilities and the agricultural installations as they were at the time of the bible.
During the four species tour at Neot-Kedumim we meet the etrogim (Citrons), both small and large varieties, growing on their trees, with their wonderful citrus-y fragranced leaves We once had an etrog the size of a small watermelon that was in the Israel edition of the Guiness Book of World Records! The etrog, it turns out, is an oleh, an immigrant to Israel, possibly originating in India or Persia, but a veteran oleh that appears in the Mishna. The etrog is quite happy here,
A bilateral tourism agreement between Israel and India was signed today between Minister Stas Miseshnikov and his counterpart from India, Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai.
The goal of the agreement is to double the number of tourists traveling between the two countries within the next three years. The agreement should increase overall lift with additional flights between India and Israel and private airlines from both countries are anticipated to increase their flights.
India, which currently has 200,000 hotel rooms, needs to build another 200,000, noted Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai, adding that India has adopted the G-20 declaration that the tourism industry is a primary engine for economic growth. Tourism increases the rate of employment among the working classes, women and people living in the periphery.
A joint working forum comprised of representatives from both ministries, is to be established in order to swiftly implement decisions in the agreement. India is particularly interested in developing a rural tourism industry and seeks to learn how Israel has successfully developed this sector. Israel is seeking greater lift from India to Tel Aviv.
Currently, tourism from the Far East, and particularly India, has grown exponentially over the last few years doubling of the number of tourists from 20,000 tourists in 2010 to 40,000 tourists in 2011. This represents an injection of about $40 million annually into Israel's economy. India
Many Christians traveling on a Holy Land tour are so busy being shuttled on and off buses they often miss the unique experiences and special sites revered by locals and seasoned travelers alike.
The area around Mt. Tabor is a perfect example.
With its fantastic views and important Franciscan and Greek Orthodox shrines situated at its summit over 500 meters above sea level, Mt. Tabor is considered a ‘must see' site for Christians coming on a Holy Land pilgrimage seeking to visit the site where many believe Jesus was transfigured as he spoke to Moses and Elijah in the presence of three of his disciples (Luke 9:28-36).
However, what first time tour leaders and many travelers don't often know is that the brief visit to the shrines at the top of Mount Tabor can eat up at least 2 hours or more. Why? Because tour buses are not allowed to travel up the narrow road to the peak and passengers must disembark at the bottom and be shuttled up by eager taxi drivers waiting for the next fare. Should you be there when it is busy, this procedure can take a significant amount of time. Factor in the obligatory shopping experience on site (you'll get a taxi faster if you buy more) the visit can extend to a few hours.
So, perhaps you are interested in an alternative?
What to see around Mt. Tabor
A group of eight Hollywood TV and film stars completed a week-long tour of Israel Sunday as guests of Israel's Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs.
The star-studded group included Anna Lynne McCord ("90210" , "Nip & Tuck"), Omar Epps ("House"), Paul Johansson ("One Tree Hill"), Holly Robinson Peete ("21 Jump St.", "Hanging With Mr. Cooper"), Mekhi Phifer ("ER", "Tuskegee Airmen"), Holt McCallany ( "Lights Out"), Zach Roerig ("Vampire Diaries") and Paget Brewster ("Criminal Minds").
The group of actors was led by Rabbi Irwin Katsof, the director of America's Voices in Israel (AVI), which is part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Katsof described the celebrity mission as part of an "on-going initiative to expose the Hollywood community to a wide-range of thought-provoking cultural, historical, religious and personal encounters throughout the Holy Land."
In the last few days the most senior Christian delegation ever to visit Israel from India has been traveling the Holy land. The delegation members include cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests from India, including his Eminence Oswald Gracias Cardinal Archbishop of Mumbai and Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, the head of the Syro -Malabor Catholic Church in India.
Indian Christian delegation meeting with Custos Pierbattista at St. Saviors Monastery; photo courtesy Dafna Tal
Israel's Ministry of Tourism invited the delegation to visit the Holy Land in an effort to attract addtitional tourists from India. The country has a growing Christian community and is home to 18 million Catholics. Last year, approximately 16,000 tourists visited Israel from India, and these figures only represent what is considered to be a market with tremendous tourism potential.
Yesterday, the delegation met with Noaz Bar Nir, Deputy Director General of Israel's M
One of the central themes of Jesus' ministry on earth was unity. Prior to his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus prayed that those who followed him "may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17:20). But unity has often proved elusive, especially for the many Christian denominations represented in the small, but holy city of Jerusalem.
While all Christians may be united in faith, they are typically divided by doctrine. So fierce are those doctrinal divisions at times that they erupt into physical confrontations, such as the annual inter-denominational scuffle during the ceremony marking the Miracle of the Holy Fire on Easter Eve at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. Opponents of the Church like to point to such conflagrations and the divisions that spawn them in order to criticize our faith.
Holy Fire Ceremony in Jerusalem; photo cou