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June 5, 2012June 5, 2012  0 comments  Geography

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


The area surrounding Mt. Tabor has much to offer and is revered by locals for its many sites, geography, culture, wine and more.

 

The nearby village of Kfar Tabor is a small agricultural moshav (community) just five minutes from Mount Tabor, founded in 1901 by 28 farming families with the support of Baron Rothschild, the great philanthropist who helped found a number of pre-state communities, including Rosh Pina, Zichron Yaacov and others. For years the small village was home to the Hashomer movement and a small museum in the village traces this movement and its early participants. The museum documents the residents realized a dream and created a homeland.

Kfar Tabor Museum - (04) 676-5844

 

The Tabor Winery is situated in Kfar Tabor and offers a story of rebirth. Kfar Tavor's farmers for years grew grapes for the wineries of Israel in the hopes that one day they might have their own production facility. The dream finally came true in 1999 when a few families decided to create their own winery. Their wine became quickly successful and now produces 1.5 million bottles. The winery offers on site visits and wine tasting while the adjacent Marzipan museum includes a film depicting the marzipan - making process. Visitors can enjoy the unique display of marzipan on premises as well as the adjacent store. Marzipan workshops, suitable for all ages are also available.

Kfar Tabor Winery - Open Sunday through Thursday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Tel 04-6760444

Marzipan Museum Visiting hours: Sun - Thu 09:00 - 17:00 Fridays and holiday eves 09:00 - 16:00 Saturday & holidays 10:00 - 17:00 Tel: 04/677-2111;

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Next to Kfar Tabor is the Circassian community of Kfar Cama, which is a worthy stop for travelers. The Circassian Museum is situated in a traditional basalt home and offers insight into their unique culture including their traditions and lifestyle and their contributions to the state of Israel. A village tour can include wonderful lunch hospitality as well as a tour of the historic homes and stories of the original settlers. . Unlike other Moslems, the Circassians serve in Israel's Defense Forces. Originally Christians, they converted to Islam when they encountered the Tatars and Turks along the silk route. Their original name, however, is Adigai, which means noble. The Circassians were exiled to Ottoman Turkish areas after the war against the Russian Empire.

Kfar Cama - For tours of the Circassian Museum, Kfar Kama and special Circassian cultural events

 

At the village of Shibli, located at the base of Mount Tabor, you'll find a very modest but charming Center of Bedouin Heritage (tel. 04/676-7875). It's open Saturday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm; admission is NIS 12 ($3/£1.50).

 

Kibbutz Ein Dor is the site of  the Biblical town of Ein Dor, and consequently a lot of ancient activity occurred there. The kibbutz's archaeology museum displays significant pre-historic findings alongside many changing exhibitions and activities, ancient handicrafts which passed from the world, creation in natural materials, and more. Much of the exhibition is suitable for children as well as adults.

Kibbutz Ein Dor Archaeology Museum - 04-677-0333

 

If the biblical foods grown in Israel are of interest the area of Mt. Tabor is rich in agriculture. Reuven Birgir is one of Israel's foremost experts in growing olive and almond trees, and a key figure in Israels olive oil industry. In his farm in Kfar Kish, adjacent to Kfar Tabor, he grows olives, almonds and wine grapes.

Birger's Farm, Kfar Kish, 050-499-1519, 077-524-0093


Walking along the Gospel Trail to Mt. Tabor


For interested walkers, the Gospel Trail runs 62 kilometers from Mt. of Precipice to Capernaum and travels by Mt. Tabor. Those that wish can take the side trail to the summit reachable by the 4,300 steps that were carved in the 4th century for Christian pilgrims. For more on walking the trail click here.

 

gospel trail map

 

Where to Stay around Mt. Tabor

 

For large groups, Kibbutz Lavi offers an ambiance not found in your typical hotel. Along with comfortable rooms, good food and friendly service, groups will have an opportunity to learn up close about kibbutz life and can tour the community with a kibbutz member. For those seeking a more intimate experience the bed and breakfast owned by Nili Bar, Barbakfar, in Moshav Sharona, lies only 3 kilometers from Mt. Tabor.

 

If you are seeking to create a rich and unique itinerary for yourself, take the time to explore the area around Mt. Tabor. Between the history, culture, and food, it provides an upfront and personal experience that can't help but deepen the connection to Israel and its people.

 

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July 25, 2012July 25, 2012  2 comments  Biblical Archaeology

This season's excavations at Tel Hazor National Park in the Upper Galilee conducted by Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) uncovered 14 large pithoi-style storage jugs filled with 3,300-year-old burnt wheat. The jugs were located inside a storage room in a monumental, palace-like building from the Canaanite period (2,000-3,000 BCE), INPA said on Monday.

 

"Hatzor flourished during the Middle Canaanite period (1,750 BCE) and during the Israelite period, and generated the biggest fortified complex in Israel during this period," said Dr. Zvika Tsuk, chief archeologist of the INPA. Professor Amnon Ben-Tor of Hebrew University said the jugs were destroyed around the 13th century BCE, a period which coincided with the biblical account of Joshua's capture of Hazor. According to Joshua chapter 11, Hazor was the only city in the Land of Israel destroyed by fire during the conquest.


For further information about visiting Tel Hazor:

 

Driving Directions:
From either north or south: exit the Rosh Pina-Kiryat Shmona road (no. 90) toward Ayelet HaShahar. Tel Hazor is located on the east side of the Road 90.

 

April-September 8 A.M-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
Fridays and holiday eves 8 A.M. 3 P.M.
Last entry one hour before above closing hour.

Tel: 04-6937290

 

If you wish to include Tel Hazor in your Holy Land tour, please contact Travelujah.


November 27, 2011November 27, 2011  0 comments  Christian Guesthouses

The Christmas holiday spirit has arrived to the Galilee early this year.

 

Vered Hagalil, a lovely 30 unit upscale guesthouse located five minutes from the Mt. of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, is offering the best holiday present. Stay one night and get one night free including a full, cooked to order breakfast, throughout the month of December, for stays on Saturday through Wednesday nights only, excluding the nights of Hanukah which fall on December 21 through 28, 2011. So, after you've spent Christmas in Bethlehem and/or Jerusalem, plan a trip to the Galilee and include the Vered Hagalil in your stay.

 

vered hagalil

breakfast

 

Within a five minute drive, you can see many of the major Galilee sites including Capernaum, Tabgha, Peters Primacy, Domus Galilee, Korazin and of course, the Mt. of Beatitudes.

 

Vered Hagalil guest room

 

The special applies to new reservations only and those interested should email Vered Hagalil directly and let them know that you were referred by Travelujah.

 

Its possible that this special may also be extended through the first couple weeks of January so make sure you ask when you email tali and tali@veredhagalil.com or call 04-693-5785

 

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June 24, 2013June 24, 2013  0 comments  Food & Drinks

Surrounding by fertile green pastures ripe with vines holding tiny clumps of blossoming grapes showing only the earliest signs of their meaty fruit and skin, it's easy to visualize how the Galilean countryside was the setting for Jesus's miracle of turning water into wine.  While a lot has changed in 2000 years, some things have not.

adir vineyards

 

Wine production is not only alive and well in the Galilee, but the region, with its 68 wineries and hundreds of homemade food products, is fast becoming known as a culinary hotspot. True, most tourists still visit the region primarily for its rich history and renowned holy sites, but for those seeking to add a local flavor to their tour, visiting the Galilee on and off the "eaten path" will definitely spice up your visit to the Holy Land.

 

So where to start? Travelujah has several recommendations for you to include on your next Holy Land tour:

 

As you head north to tour Nazareth  make sure to visit the village of Kfar Tikva, which in English means the village of Hope. Kfar Tikva is home to 200 adults with developmental and emotional disabilities, ranging in age from 20 to 74. 

Tulip winery

A dedicated professional staff as well as 20 full-time volunteers from Israel and abroad serve the needs of the residents of the community. Many of them also work at Tulip, the boutique, family-owned winery located within the village.  They participate in the entire production cycle beginning with the arrival of the harvested grapes until the sale of the finished bottles in the winery shop. In the last few years, the winery has become a popular destination for day-trippers and affords an excellent opportunity for interaction between Kfar Tikva's members and the community at large, including tourists. The Yitzchaki family from Kiryat Tivon owns and manages the winery, which is open to visitors every Friday and by appointment by calling:  04-983-0573.

 

Continue ten minutes down the road and just a few kilometers off the main highway 70 follow the signs to Beit Lechem Hagalilit, known in English as Bethlehem of the Galilee. This small community was founded in the late 1800s by a small group of German Templars who settled in the Holy Land. Local tradition holds that Jesus may not have born in Bethlehem but rather in this small village only about a half day's walk from Nazareth, and just a few kilometers away from Sepphoris, Mary's hometown.

bet lechem haglilit

With its historic templar-style homes constructed from stone, wide streets and lush surroundings, Beit Lechem Haglilit is reminiscent of Tuscany. The fields abutting the village are carpeted by beautiful anemones in the spring as well as sunflowers and other plant life. The area is also renowned for its herbs and spices grown by  local farmers. Derech HaTavlinim,  established by the Zifferspiller family  over 50 years ago is known for its   unique farming methods including  open air outdoor drying which allows for the preservation of minerals as well as a unique smoking process that gives spices additional flavor. The large farm is situated close to the entrance of the community and prides itself on the 20 or so different plants and herbs grown in the fields behind their store. Inside the large facility is a lecture room, mixing hall, a workshop as well as hundreds of colorful and beautifully displayed spices and herbs. Visitors are welcome to participate in one of the many workshops offered, from learning about medicinal herbs to demonstrating healthy cooking techniques.  The farm welcomes tourist groups and offers a host of different workshops.

The spice farm travelujah

 

Time for lunch?

 

About a 45-minute drive north into the lesser visited western mountains of the Galilee is a small vegetarian moshav known as Amirim. Aside from being a popular destination among local Israelis who enjoy the fantastic views from one of the many bed and breakfasts situated within the picturesque village, Amirim offers a host of holistic businesses, workshops and vegetarian restaurants. A small boutique spa hotel strategically situated at the entrance of Amirim, Amirey Hagalil, offers 16 guest units for adults and older children  (must be at least 12 years old to stay there). In addition to its extensive spa facilities and treatment rooms, the property has a small restaurant operated by the celebrated Chef Gili,  who is famous for his unique culinary creations. On the day we visited the chef had us prepare one of his specialties, fish fillet wrapped in grape leaves.

amirey hagalil travelujahamirey hagalil travelujah

amirey hagalil travelujah

 

The locally caught St. Peter's fish was marinated and later wrapped in grape leaves and sautéed tightly in a cast iron skillet. The white fish peeking from inside contrasted nicely with the grape leaves, which retained their bright green color even after 15 minutes of cooking. For more information call 046989815.

 

 

Still fewer tourists ever make their way to one of the most northern communities in the Galilee, Keren Ben Zimra. However, local Israelis have discovered that this little village is a gem of a find. Situated just a few kilometers south of the Lebanese border, the village is a popular starting point for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a thrilling jeep trip. The jagged hilltops offer fantastic viewpoints into southern Lebanon while the rough terrain adds a high excitement factor to the experience. The village's industrial park is home to a number of boutique wineries. Among the most well-known is the Adir winery, which features a two-year-old visitor center. In addition to making a number of prized wines grown from grapes handpicked in the neighboring vineyards, the Rosenberg and Ashkenazi families, owners of the winery, also produce a selection of special cheeses. For those seeking a true "hands-on" experience, make sure to ask for their cheese-making workshop. 

adir vineyards

adir vineyards

Complete with your own gas burner and utensils, you'll transform fresh goat's milk into a perfect circle of warm, fresh goat's cheese and dress it up with an assortment of spices for on the spot consumption. Finish off your day with by tasting some of the fabulous wines and homemade frozen yogurt  produced by Adir (For reservations call 04-6991039).

Adir winery travelujah

Taking  time to get to know the local Galilee will not only please the palate but will provide a cultural and spiritual experience that can only be had not just by walking in the footsteps of Jesus but eating and drinking

in the footsteps as well. The  Galilean landscape has always nurtured the people of the region and with so many home grown establishments ripe for visiting, its a wonderful opportunity to get to know the local people as well.

 

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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

 

 

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August 8, 2012August 8, 2012  0 comments  Nature

A secret pleasure on any Holy Land tour is discovering a place which is largely overlooked by the crowds but offers a unique atmosphere or experience not found anywhere else. Nazareth is certainly significant for any traveler seeking follow in the footsteps of Jesus and, of course, visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a favorite stop for most Christian travelers; but have you ever heard of Nahal Amud? If the answer is, "what the heck is nahal amud," then you are like virtually every other tourist to the Holy Land (and even many native Israelis).  And that's a shame, because Nahal Amud is one of the most beautiful places in the Galilee and in all of Israel.  It is a great a place to meditate in nature and to experience the holy land in much the same way Jesus experienced it.

Part of the Israel Trail

Nahal Amud is actually part of the larger Israel Trail,  a national trail that runs from north to south, beginning in the upper Galilee and ending in the mountains just north of the southern port city of Eilat. The Israel trail is rather long and those who do hike the entire trail typically take more than a month to do so. However, if you just want to "get your feet wet," both literally and figuratively, then Nahal Amud, with its variety of trail options ranging from a couple hours to a couple days is  a great place to start.

So What Is Nahal Amud Anyway?

Nahal Amud is 15 mile long nature trail that runs from the base of Mt. Meron (the second largest mountain in Israel) between the Galilean mountains southeast to the Sea of Galilee. With its flowing streams, waterfalls and natural pools (in the upper part), combined with its ancient flour mill, fig trees and Neanderthal caves, it is a favored hike by  Israelis who have heard of it from friends or family since it usually doesn't make it into the popular guide books. Unlike many other Israel parks, Nahal Amud is not that crowded, and thats only because to visit the nature reserve and enjoy its natural water pools one must be able to walk somewhat of a distance.

 

Experience the History

However, for the Christian tourist, some of the things that will be most exciting are the fact that there are a number of running streams where one can swim or even baptize themselves in waters that Jesus himself may well have traveled through. There are also a number of caves carved into the mountainside which aside from being the ancient home for Neanderthals some 70,000 years ago, may well have been used by ancient Jews or Christians as hiding places when they were running from the Romans.

Come for the Quiet

The thing that I loved the most however was the peaceful quiet of the place. Located less than an hour's drive from Nazareth and about 30 minutes from Tiberias, Nahal Amud is the perfect place to simply get out of the city and away from the tourists. Set in a valley between the mountains the shorter 3 - 4 hour upper hike involves a steep walking path down into the canyon as well as back up at the conclusion or the mostly circular route.

Stay for the Beauty

The area is also alive with wild flowers and tall cliffs which rival some of the great national parks in the United States. While certainly not as big and nowhere near as famous, the beauty of the place truly shows God's greatness in providing a place of unparalleled beauty. The truth is though that words really fail to capture the majesty of the place. You have the streams where you can dip and you have the trees and caves, but put them all together and it defies simple words to describe what the place looks like.

Getting Started

Those who drive to Nahal Amud can take one of two entrances to the trail. It starts out near the mystical city of Safed and ends near the city of Tiberias, about 25KM (about 15 miles) away. You don't have to hike the whole trail though. When I went, we did just a portion of the trail in an afternoon. And the best part is, unlike many other more frequented areas, this place is not the least bit crowded.

There are actually several entrances to Nahal Amud. I entered from Route 8077, which is a small side road on the way to Kibutz Hibikuk. From that entrance, there is no proper parking (we simply parked along the side of the road) and the entrance is merely a small fenced off entryway which is free to enter. Those feeling a bit less adventurous may choose to go in from the other side of the trail, which is an official park of the State of Israel. There is a small entrance fee to get in, however that part of the park may feel a bit more "civilized" for those who want an easier trek. It has a proper washrooms, maps and other necessary supplies for purchase.

What's Nearby

Nahal Amud is located 10 minutes from Safed, the city widely known for its Kabbalistic origins and about 25 minutes from Tiberias and can easily be combined with an afternoon in either city or a visit to the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth or in Haifa, which are popular sites for  tourists as well. Anumber of small kibbutzim (collective farms) in the area which often have boutique shops, wineries and or farmers markets open to purchase locally produced products.

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