Our first stop after leaving the Golan Heights and our "basketed" breakfast was to go down, down, down to the Sea of Galilee. This morning was a mini pilgrimage to three holy sites. All were crowded with real pilgrimages of people from all over the world, and a Babel Tower of languages.
The Church of the Beatitudes, built near the site of Jesus’s Sermon of the Mount was beautiful, and grounds were well planted as well. The religious tour groups were gathered in several spots singing and praying.
Capernaum is an ancient 2000 year old Roman fishing village was where Jesus spent much of his adult life and gained a following. It is also the site of St. Peter’s home. On top of it is built a beautiful modern church. There is also the ruins of an ancient synagogue from the 4th century built on top on an older one. We also enjoyed views of the Sea of Galilee which lapped the nearby shores.
Our last stop was in the ancient town of Tiberius, the second most important city in Judaism as it is the place where the Jews went after being banished from Jerusalem by the Romans. An ancient boat, nicknamed "the Jesus boat' was discovered on the shores of Galilee and we watched a fascinating video of how it was discovered in the 1980s, and, more importantly, transported to its present sight and maintained. The wood is so old that if not kept constantly moist and infused with preservatives it will disintegrate.
Nearby are the only beaches on the Sea of Galilee open for recreation. And overlooking that area was the outdoor restaurant where we had St. Peter’s fish,a form of tilapia. The tens of feral cats enjoyed the remainders, despite the warning to not feed them.
After a very bumpy long ride, we reached our hotel in Jerusalem, the Leonardo Boutique. It is located close to both the old city and the Machane Yehuda, the huge market nearby. As everything was closing due to Shabbat, Ibrahim took us on a walking tour of the nearby area to get our bearings and for our fellow travelers to choose their dinner plans from limited offerings.
We didn’t have that problem as tonight was our special Shabbat dinner at the home of Joe Federman and his lovely family. He is the son of friends of ours from Massachusetts and many many thanks to our good friend Rabbi Debby Hachen for arranging this!
Joe gave us a running commentary from the time he picked us up at our hotel to the time he dropped us off. He has lived in Israel for over twenty years, has an Israeli wife and three children, two of whom live at home and shared a delicious dinner with us. He is the bureau chief of the Associated Press in the Mideast and shared many facets of his fascinating job. His wife Carmit is a social worker at the nearby Hadassah hospital. They were so very kind to open their home to us and share a delicious Shabbat dinner. We learned a lot!