From Tiberias, named after a Roman overlord from times long past, you can see across the Sea of Galilee to the Golan Heights. I can remember, as a child hearing about the Six-Day War, where, due to the threat to Israeli people from the Golan highlands and existential threats from Arab forces mobilizing around its borders, it became expedient for Israel to flex its muscle and create a buffer of protection. This changed national boundaries in ways still remembered by Israel and all its neighbors.
But even more so, I remember the Bible stories about Jesus and his fishermen disciples casting nets here and there with miraculous results. While the tour group went to the Golan heights and a winery, Ann and I had a day on our own, touring the city of Tiberias and the surrounding hills.
This beautiful city has an interesting mix of very modern buildings and roads, ancient fortress ruins and buildings that mix both modern and ancient design. The first time I came to Israel on a business trip in 1998, when I saw fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee, boats whose design appeared to be as ancient as the fortress ruins, I had a visceral reaction, and felt deeply in my heart that those fishermen were real people trying to eke out a life in difficult times. I almost felt like I knew them.
I have gone fishing before, but never with nets. Seeing the fishermen repairing their nets on the rocky shores beside their boats touched me profoundly when I came here before, and I had to give Ann the opportunity to experience the same things. She did, and there were a couple times when I could sense the emotion welling up in her, and I was glad that her experience here was impactful like mine.
I can imagine them looking north to the heights and seeing Mount Herman in the distance. This photo shows Herman shrouded in mist. There was a time during the Old Testament Israeli conquest of the Holy Land when Mount Herman was largely or entirely in Israeli hands. The ownership of territory in the history of this strategic crossroad in the near east has been so fluid over the years that it is easy to understand why so many different groups claim it as their own. Abraham was, indeed, the father of many nations.
It is also interesting to watch the interplay of different interest groups within Israeli politics and society, some advocating a hard line and some softer positions toward the Palestinians and Arabs who live among and around them. The existential threat to Israel seems to never go away entirely. But I can see how a love of this land is felt by different peoples. This photo shows the Great El Omri Mosque, just a few steps from our hotel, shuttered and in decline. The construction is beautiful, and even the slow burning of decay evokes a sad sense of majesty.
An overarching feeling I felt as I traveled in Israel is that the land bears the imprint of the different complexions of its owners over the centuries and millenia. Even today, as the lines of sovereignty shift before our eyes (I’m following news of the progress of Britain’s exit from the European Union) I can understand some of the turbulence felt in this place over time. Well, now I’m waxing a little too philosophical – let’s get back to the trip.
Besides an amazing history, Tiberias is a wonderful place to vacation. While I wasn’t enthralled by the Diamond cutting and setting operations, some in our group found that exciting, and came away with very good deals on elegant jewelery. Our hotel on Ron Beach was like a tropical paradise. And even though the water was too cold for any but the heartiest of swimmers, we enjoyed basking in the warmth, and I even got in a little sunbathing.
|January 2017 Israel Trip|
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This is the day Ann and I chose to get our spa treatments. Ann got a hot stone therapy with restorative massage, and I got deep tissue therapy. The place was another hotel near ours, the Scots Hotel St. Andrew, and the service was fantastic. The Russian woman, Yelena, who beat the pulp out of me (I have bruises to prove it) was very thorough, and although I didn’t scream in pain at any time during the treatment, I was really close several times.
We had to walk in the water of the Sea of Galilee, and, fortunately, there were steps from our hotel to the shore where we could wade into the tide. We didn’t go in very far, but there is something thrilling and memorable in the touch of the water.
We walked to the edge of the city and picked up a couple stones for one of Ann’s classmates. She’s back in school at Brigham Young University of Idaho, and, while most of the work is online, the students in our area meet together every Thursday evening. I used a geo-caching app on my cell phone to get the exact coordinates of the place where we picked up the stones. Then I did a circle video of the place so you could see 360 degrees from the spot. Here is the video, and the coordinates are North 32 Degrees, 46.613 Feet Latitude, and East 35 Degrees 32.662 Feet longitude.
On our way back to town I saw this cemetery. It is so well maintained, and the stones so beautifully marked that I had to take a picture. This blog is primarily focused on genealogy, and gravestones are a primary source of information about our ancestors. In this trip, neither Ann nor I did any family history work, nor do we know of any of our own ancestors who came from this area. But there were a few people in our tour group who did meet relatives, and this was thrilling for them.
The Mediterranean and the countries surrounding it are characterized by tropical foliage and lovely warm temperatures. Tiberias has some of the markings of paradise, even in its modernity. We had a lovely time visiting this historical city on Lake Kinneret, and had time to rest in preparation for a very busy upcoming day.