A Journal, with Pictures

The Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights

by on Apr.05, 2022, under Happenings

Our hotel bal­cony over­looked the Sea of Galilee (actu­al­ly a lake) and beyond to the Golan Heights. The lake is approx­i­mate­ly 13 miles long and 8 miles wide and is the sec­ond-low­est lake on earth, 686 feet below sea lev­el. It is fed by the Jor­dan Riv­er from the south as well as under­ground springs. The area around the Sea of Galilee is where, accord­ing to the bible, Jesus did much of his min­is­ter­ing. Strate­gi­cal­ly, it is obvi­ous that when Israel was divid­ed the Lebanese and Syr­i­ans held the mil­i­tary advan­tage of the high ground. After numer­ous attacks, Israel decid­ed to take the Golan heights to elim­i­nate the strate­gi­cal­ly unten­able sit­u­a­tion. Our first vis­it was to an Israeli self-pro­pelled artillery unit in the Golan Heights near the scene of the major bat­tle. We first vis­it­ed a memo­r­i­al to Israelis who lost their lives and view tank defens­es and bunkers. At the army base, a 23-year-old tank unit com­man­der explains the unit’s mis­sion and its con­stant preparation.

On our way to vis­it a Kub­itz, we stop at what’s left of the Syr­i­an Army head­quar­ters destroyed dur­ing the war.

We then vis­it and have lunch at a Kubutz. Our host explains the con­cept and work­ings of these small social­ist units, that are scat­tered around Israel. Ear­ly in the his­to­ry of the new nation, there were more of these set­tle­ments pri­mai­ly in the agri­cul­ture seg­ment. Today less than 3% lives and work in these set­tle­ments. They engage in a vari­ety of enter­pris­es includ­ing tourism, man­u­fac­tur­ing as well as agri­cul­ture. As 0ur guide said, it’s not for every­one, but very interesting.

We then take a step back in his­to­ry to vis­it the ancient ruin of a syn­a­gogue and spring used in dying cloth. This site has been par­tial­ly recon­struct­ed using com­put­er pro­grams that deter­mined the place­ment of each stone. Umm el-Kanatir is one of the world’s old­est syn­a­gogues, and Jere­my explained that the basic lay­out is a design that con­tin­ues today. We end­ed the day with a stop at where the Jor­dan Riv­er enters the lake.  Our view is north where we will tour tomorrow.

We start our last day at the Sea of Galilee with a vis­it to the Mount of Beat­i­tudes and Tabgha. The Church of the Beat­i­tudes is built on a hill, near the site of a Byzan­tine ruin thought to be where Jesus deliv­ered the Ser­mon on the Mount. It is anoth­er Anto­nio Baruzzi design and is shaped as an octa­gon to sig­ni­fy the Eight Beat­i­tudes from the Bible. It is thought that it was in a near­by cave that Jesus first spoke the Beat­i­tudes. The Tabgha is the Church of the Loaves and Fish com­mem­o­rat­ing the bib­li­cal mir­a­cle that is thought to have occurred at this location.

Next, we explored a mod­ern-day art colony, and view some con­tem­po­rary art. Jere­my took us to a cur­rent-day syn­a­gogue and explains the nature of the reli­gious practices.

Our final stop in Galilee was at the Syn­a­gogue of Caper­naum, a very sig­nif­i­cant reli­gious loca­tion. The syn­a­gogue is adja­cent to an ancient vil­lage thought to be the site of Jesus heal­ing the crip­pled man. Saint Peter­s’s house is thought to be in the vil­lage. The syn­a­gogue and vil­lage are men­tioned repeat­ed­ly in the bible and arti­facts tie to the nar­ra­tive. A saucer-shaped church is built over the vil­lage cen­tered on Saint Peter­s’s home. We then are picked up by our heli­copter pilot “Speedy” who flies us back to the coast and south past Tel Aviv, with great views of Caper­naum as we leave, Cae­sarea, and past Tel Aviv to a vil­lage near Jerusalem.





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