israel/palestineyour journey to the land of abraham
(May 13, 2021 – I have many friends and acquaintances in the region; Jewish Israelis, Palestinian Citizens of Israel, and Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and a few in Gaza. I have visited their homes. I have met their families. I have listened to their dreams and their aspirations. When you know people first as human beings, then labels and categories and stereotypes diminish in significance. My heart hurts and my soul cries for all of my friends who are suffering now. I pray that all involved can somehow find a new and better way forward. RR)
For lovers of history and culture, this trip should be on everyone’s “must visit” list. As a holy site for all three Abrahamic faiths, there are endless places to visit and things to see. As many places as one can visit, there are an equal number of opinions on the political and humanitarian issues in the region. We strongly encourage journeyers to spend time interacting with Jewish Israelis, with Palestinians who live in Israel, and with Palestinians living in the West Bank/Palestine to listen to and learn about the warm and rich cultures.
At the heart of every visit is Jerusalem’s Old City. To be able to walk centuries-old streets as you visit the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross), and the Al Aqsa complex is something truly special.
One of our favorite visits in Jerusalem is the vista from the Mount of Olives. Overlooking the Old City, you can see centuries of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim development before your eyes. A walk down the Mount of Olives itself allows you to see a massive Jewish cemetery with more than 150,000 graves, several churches, and the Garden of Gethsemane.
Nearby, a visit to Bethlehem (West Bank/Palestine) allows you to visit the Church of the Nativity and other holy sites. Elsewhere in the southern West Bank, a visit to Hebron will bring the long term conflict between Israelis and Palestinians into sharpest focus. Visits to Ramallah and Nablus in the northern West Bank offer additional amazing insights into Palestinian culture and life.
For Christian heritage outside of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, key sites include Nazareth in the north and the Galilee region in the east.
For beach lovers, the sun-drenched Mediterranean coastline in Tel Aviv/Jaffa offer a welcome break with a wide range of hotels and seaside dining options. And in the north along the coast, Haifa provides a low-key base of operations for the coast and highlands.
There are many options for gentle adventures including hiking, rafting, and – if you time your visit right – skiing. And of course, a float in the Dead Sea should be considered for every itinerary.
More Journey Softly destinations like this: Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey
Photos: Old City, Jerusalem from Mount of Olives; Grotto, Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem; Coastline, Tel Aviv; Cable Car, Masada