A Travellerspoint blog

Through the Looking Glass Again

This was the third straight day over 100 degrees, and it has seriously impacted our ability to enjoy and benefit from the tour. And unlike Jerusalem, which is in a high and arid area, this part of Palestine is humid. Everyone we encounter say they can not remember such heat at this point in the year. So we are weary pilgrims, walking slowly and seeking shade.

But actually, today we stopped at one of the most significant sites on the trip, in my opinion, the Jenin Freedom Theatre. This is a theater that promotes cultural expression for people who have few avenues other than violence for defining their identity. We saw a short film and heard about the work of the theater from a Swedish man who has worked there for some years.

After that it was time to go through the checkpoint. As Yuval and Elisha were with us illegally, they left, hoping to send Elisha off to Tel Aviv via public transportation, after which Yuval hoped to hitchhike, avoid checkpoints, and join us in Israel. The Jenin checkpoint is a particularly stringent one. As happened last time, the bus was boarded by two soldiers, who checked each and every passport. Two of the people had packed their passports and only had the photocopies. "Get them," said the soldier. So they had to get their suitcase out from under the bus and show the passports. Faraj and Mustafa had to go away with the soldiers to be questioned in the station. Even so, Faraj later said that this was the easiest crossing he had ever had at this checkpoint.

Heading back into Israel, we retraced the area I saw two years ago. So with few revisions, here is what I said then:

We stopped at a number of places today where "this is where___happened." Of course, that's not possible to determine. But major sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity that target "the place" are highly subject to debate. But it clearly is the case that Jesus did wander through the Galilee. And thus the regional focus, much more than the site-specific shrines, was to me quite meaningful.

. . . we drove along [the Sea of Galilee] for much of the day. . . [and stopped at] Capernaum, a beautiful, shady spot along the sea, where we saw the dark basalt foundations of houses and synagogues of Jesus's day along with later ruins of a later synagogue built on the first one. There was an attractive modern octagonal church built above the ruins of the early church of the same shape, with a window in the floor for viewing the early church and glass walls all around for viewing the beautiful setting, including the Sea of Galilee. We had lunch at St. Peter's Restaurant, where we ate "St Peter's fish." The food, including the fish, was excellent, but we would have been more excited if our table had been inside in the air conditioning instead of on the terrace overlooking the lake.

From there we drove down to where supposedly the "thou are Peter" conversation took place. Like many of the Gallilean sites, it is green and shady and beautiful by the Sea of Galillee. Unlike two years ago, though, the haze still left by the sandstorm obscured the Golan Heights we saw then. I did manage to get my feet wet.

The bus went on to Tabgha, where a modern church on ancient foundations marks the traditional location of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. As I had seen this two years ago, I elected to remain on the air conditioned bus.

As we neared our guesthouse, we were finally able to pick up Yuval, who had had a lot of trouble making connections either through public transportation or hitchhiking. We all really sympathized with him for his hot and dusty journey.

I was somewhat disappointed in the Mount of Beatitudes Guesthouse this time. Not because of the facility itself but because it was too hot to enjoy its beautiful, serene grounds. Plus our AC was really anemic--only getting the room to 86 degrees after many hours. And we could not hold our Compline service in the church because of the heat. However, holding it in the rather basic chapel in the guesthouse was one of the more moving experiences of the trip. As it was one of the last such services, our chaplains--two travelers with liturgical training--designed a service drawing on the Book of Common Prayer, as all the compline services of the trip have done, with added, highly appropriate music. Yuval was invited to participate, and he did so with sensitivity and a fine voice. He opened the service by chanting Kaddish, and further into the service, he sang the Shemah. Marty chanted one of the designated prayers in Latin, after which I read it in English. And at one point, Marge Wellmann, who has a beautiful, trained voice, sang a hymn by Hildegarde von Bingen. It was all lovely and a moving penultimate evening, given that some of us were leaving early on the 13th.

Jenin Freedom Theatre

Jenin Freedom Theatre


Synagogue at Capernaum

Synagogue at Capernaum


Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee


Church of the Beatitudes

Church of the Beatitudes

Posted by mlld3536 17:00 Archived in Israel

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login