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True religious pilgrimage has historically been a spiritual journey brought people from near and far to visit what are considered by many to be authentic holy sites connected to the life and times of Jesus.
"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" Matthew 3:13
For most, the religious pilgrimage has now become synonymous with motorized boats sailing across Israel's primary water sources, big hotels with puffy towels, restaurant chains preparing imported foods from all over the world to meet the needs of savvy travelers, fleets of gas guzzling jeeps to serve tourists seeking to explore the beautifully rugged Galilean landscape, Golan heights, desert and more.
But there are ways to travel and enjoy the landscape that need not be so negatively impactful on the environment. Friends of the Earth Middle East, also known as EcoPeace, is extremely focused on improving the environmental issues impacting the Jordan River and are urging tourists to be more environmentally sensitive in their travels. (The organization brings together Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians over their shared interest to rehabilitate the Jordan River and preserve its water supply which has sustained residents in all three areas for thousands of years.)
With snow predicted to fall in Jerusalem on Wednesday, it may very well be a white Christmas for Orthodox Christians. Much of the world might be enjoying after Christmas sales but in the Holy Land, two more Christmas holidays are yet to come. The Holy Land is surely unique and celebrating Christmas three times Dec. 25 (Catholics and Protestants), Jan. 6 (Orthodox) and Jan. 19 (Armenian Orthodox only in Jerusalem and Bethlehem) -more than in any other place in the world.
Two calendars - Three holidays
Due to calendar differences most Orthodox Churches including the Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, Russian Orthodox, Coptic and Syrian celebrate nativity on January 6 and 7, which is the date known as Old Christmas Day because this is the date that the first Christian emper
Imagine spending Christmas where it all began, in the city renowned worldwide as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, Bethlehem. Imagine still, celebrating mass in the one of the oldest churches in the world, the Church of the Nativity, situated in the heart of the ancient city of Bethlehem, on Manger Square.
Now is your chance.
The highly coveted
While Christians and other ethnic minorities face brutal persecution and even death across the Middle East at the hands of Islamic terrorists, Israel is the safest country in the region for followers of Jesus.
And despite a war that ravaged Israel all summer, a record number of Christian tourists came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles this past week during the weeklong Sukkot holiday.
The ICEJ's Feast gathering drew nearly 5,000 Christians from more than 80 countries this year, making it the largest Feast attendance in seven years. Prominent leaders of Jewish and Christian organizations took the occasion to call for action on behalf of the region's persecuted people.
Dignitaries including World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder and Co-chairman of the Empowered21 Global Council and President of Oral Roberts University William M. Wilson joined ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler in signing a letter addressed to 120 world leaders.
"This letter gives an important voice to Christians who are being persecuted and even killed for their faith around the world, especially in the Middle East," Wilson said. "Most Christ followers in these difficult situations will not respond with violence and therefore need global governmental authorities to stand with them against these injustices."
Lauder has been outspoken about Jews needing to lend their support to persecuted Christians.
You've been planning your Holy Land tour for a long time and you'll making your long awaited summer pilgrimage to Israel. You've packed your sunscreen, walking sandals and hat as well as all the appropriately cool clothing - after all the last thing you want is to be dressed too warmly when you are outside hiking around.
But what most people under pack - is water! And a bout of dehydration can truly ruin a trip.
What is dehydration? Dehydration occurs when the body looses so much salt and sugar it can no longer retain water causing a potentially dangerous physical condition that, in its most serious state, can be deadly. Symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, quick heart beat, vomiting, hea
Purim, a popular and lively Jewish festival is celebrated around the world beginning March 15 at sunset continuing through March 16 with the exception of Jerusalem where Purim will be celebrated from sunset on Sunday, 16 March, until sunset on Monday, 17 March.
Background to Purim
The Book of Esther describes the events leading up to Purim. Haman, Grand Vizier of the Persian Empire, tells Persian King Ahasuerus that, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among all the peoples... in your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every people, neither do they keep the king's laws. Therefore, it does the king no profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed..."
As a result Haman issued a decree to massacre all the Jews in the Persian. But, as the Book of Esther subsequently describes, Haman's plot was foiled and, "The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor...a feast and a good day." (8:16-17)
Purim, a joyous celebration that recounts the miraculous salvation of the Jews has symbolized the victory of the Jewish people over anti-Semitic tyranny.
Dressing up in costume for Purim is a tradition. Photo
Spending Christmas in Bethlehem and not sure what to do?
To help you plan your visit Travelujah has prepared a top 10 list of activities for Christmas in of Bethlehem to. And if you might only be coming next year - hold onto this list!
1. Visit the holy sites and walk the ancient trails
Begin on Star Street and walk to the Nativity Grotto and <
It finally looks as though the Dead Sea may spring back to life. Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories signed a historic agreement today in Washington D.C. to lay a water pipeline from the Red Sea north 180 kilometers to the Dead Sea. The additional 100 million cubic meters of water that will flow northward as a result are expected to slow the drying up of the Dead Sea as well as the related negative effects.
Approximately 200 million cubic meters of water will be drawn per annum. Around 80 million cubic meters will be desalinated at a facility to be built in Aqaba facility with Israel receiving 30-50 million cubic meters of water for the Arava region and Eilat, and with Jordan receiving 30 million cubic meters of water for use in the south. Israel will also sell Jordan another 50 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret for use in the north.
Silvan Shalom, Israel's Minister of Regional Cooperation said, "This is a historic agreement that realizes a dream of many years and the dream of Herzl. The agreement is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance." He added, "I am pleased that an investment of years has reached its hoped-for conclusion and will benefit Israel and the residents of the region as a whole. The other goals of this project are the generation of electricity by utilizing the difference in elevation between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and the development of tourism infrastr
Very soon Nazareth will have its first major university, Texas A & M has agreed to open a branch of their university in Nazareth, making it the first American University to have a branch in Nazareth. The university plans to take over the operations of the Nazareth Academic Institute. The official signing ceremony will be held later this week and President Shimon Peres will be presiding along with Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp who will be in attendance.
Many Arab Israelis currently attend college abroad and by having a campus in Nazareth, the university hopes to drive more students to study abroad at this campus. Texas A&M will take over the city's existing college, the Nazareth Academic Institute, which was established in 2010 as an independent institution in order to serve the Arab population but has not had state funding since its inception. As a result, it was impossible to remain independent without funding and the according to the NAI's dean of students, Soher Bsharat, they realized that by cooperation with Texas they would be able to have a future.
According to the agreement, a $70 million campus will be built in Nazareth, to be known as Texas A & M Peace University, and the curriculum will incude many English courses as well.
Having a prestigious university will no doubt have extremely positive impact on Nazareth,
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