A marvelous day in the Galilee. We took an early bus north to Tiberius–a 2 1/2 hour ride through the agricultural heart of Israel. Our main goal was to see the newly excavated site at Magdala, the ancient home of Mary Magdalene, about a 15 minute bus ride north of Tiberius on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They have excavated a first century synagogue, the only one in the Galilee discovered so far and only one of seven in Israel to date. There is also a new Catholic Church with a boat for an altar and an infinity pool outside behind it, all with a glass front overlooking a very much lower Sea of Galilee than when Magdala was a port town! There is also a chapel underneath with the floor being the street from the first century town and a magnificent painting of the story of the woman with the 12 year hemorrhage. Very powerful. Jesus was in that town and that synagogue as was Mary Magdalene and many of the other disciples. I found it very moving.
We have observed this area since 1993 but it has only recently been excavated and developed by the Catholic Church.
We then went to Tiberius and walked along the lake front. A lot of litter, as with so many places here, but we love the views. It really is a “beach” town in so many ways. Think: Santa Cruz.
While standing at the lake, we heard “booms” as we looked across to the Golan. Fighting with Syria?
Another 2 1/2 hour bus ride brought us home to an unseasonably cold, windy Jerusalem. The Damascus Gate was nuts! The Muslims are celebrating the night ride of Mohammed from Mecca to Jerusalem. That started on Saturday with drum and bugle or bagpipe groups marching through the Damascus Gate to the Dome of the Rock. Seeing young people in keffiyehs and playing bagpipes was a new experience, to say the least. Apparently though, bagpipes have an ancient tradition in the Middle East! Who knew?
Today, the Jews have Holocaust Memorial Day. At 10 AM, a siren sounded and many people stopped, including the bus driver, to stand at attention for one minute. Even on the highway, people pulled to the side of the road and got out of their cars to stand at attention. Not everyone and especially, we noticed that the Orthodox Jews, of which there were a number on the bus, didn’t participate but it was a moving moment. And if that isn’t enough, today the tiny Armenian community remembers their genocide at the hands of the Turks and have had a couple of days of prayers and marches to the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv or the consulate here in Jerusalem. Did I ever mention that this can be an intense, passionate place to live?
Shalom and good night.