Category Archives: Bahai

Israel at a Glance

This article is about Israel at a glance. Many tourists asked me where they suppose to go! Well, here is your oversight depending on your intentions and preferences. Some people love historical sights, others religious, cultures, hiking, family, cities, beaches, deserts and much more. If that is so, Israel is your excellent destination.


Click here for the maps of Israel! Click here for the ancient Christian maps of Israel. Click here for the Biblical maps of Israel.


Jerusalem

Jerusalem by Night
Jerusalem by Night
Jerusalem area
Jerusalem area

Old City – Explore the Old City’s Christian, Armenian, Jewish and Muslim quarters, including the Citadel (Tower of David) and the Via Dolorosa.

Sacred Sites – The Western Wall, Jesus’s tomb, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock: Jerusalem’s many more religious sites could keep you busy for weeks, if not months. Take a look at the 52 churches in Jerusalem to have a vague idea.

Diversity – Ultra-Orthodox Jews wearing shtreimels (fur hats), secular Jews in short shorts and tank tops, Palestinian Muslims on their way to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Christian clergy in long robes, feminist Orthodox Jews, gay-rights activists, free-spirited artists – you’ll run into them all on Jerusalem’s wonderfully diverse streets.

As a tour guide, I led and created many tours in Jerusalem. If they were religious tours, pilgrim tours, Israeli or gem tours, the city is huge and the number of sights are staggering. And Jerusalem hides so much history and excitement from us normal tourists, like secret half hidden caves, ‘cursed sites’, haunted houses, curious neighborhoods, hidden churches, tunnels and caves and grottoes and so much more. And it’s Jerusalem, this city with a history not normal (destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times) and its age is 6,500 years! The Jewish people (King David) sacked Jerusalem from the Canaanite inhabitants in c. 1000 BCE. For sure that there are many stories to tell about this city (source).

Tel Aviv-Jaffa (Yafo)

Allenby street, Tel Aviv
Allenby street, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv area
Tel Aviv area

Fine Dining – Yes, Tel Aviv has fantastic beaches, but the city’s real passion is food. From felafel stalls and hummus joints to gelato parlours, European-style cafes, sushi bars and restaurants run by celebrity chefs, you won’t go hungry here.

Entertainment – Tel Aviv is the White City, which never sleeps. That’s certainly true, whenever you are awake, Tel Aviv too but never sleeps itself. The entertainment there goes from the restaurants, bars, nightclubs and dancings to the dynamic street life, enough to entertain anyone in this city. If you are looking for free entertainment, or the most fanciest opera or ballet, or rock concert to techno music, it’s there. And we are talking about entertainment for the teenagers, for the elders and everyone between and not to forget the children with their Luna parks, theme- and water-parks and much more.

Boutiques – Tel Aviv has Israel’s best shopping. Shop till your credit card groans in bazaars, modern malls and designer boutiques on Sheinken, Dizengoff and Shabazi streets. And then we have the markets, from the middle eastern styled markets like the Carmel market in the center of Tel Aviv, to the specialized markets like flea-, second hand-, vegetables-, meat- and food-markets.

Exhibitions – Head to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art for Israeli, Middle-Eastern and European art, Beit Hatfutsot and the Eretz Israel Museum for history and culture, and Design Museum Holon for contemporary exhibits and many other museums.

Beaches – Many people are dreaming about white beaches and Tel Aviv has loads of white beaches in an excellent state and they are full each summer day when the tourists are waking up and fill the white burning sand near the cooling water of the sea.

Tel Aviv is not an ancient city, but relative young. But it’s combined with Jaffa, and that’s an old, ancient city with a huge often bloody history.

Haifa & the North Coast

Louis Promenade, Haifa
Louis Promenade, Haifa
Haifa and the North coast
Haifa and the North coast

Ancient PortsCaesarea was one of the great ports of antiquity and, 1000 years later, a walled Crusader stronghold. Akko (Acre), visited by Marco Polo on his way to China, is brimming with medieval and Ottoman history.

Spiritual Gardens – Haifa’s incredible Baha’i Gardens are a spiritual highlight for people of all faiths. Elijah’s Cave in Haifa is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.  The area was once witness of the titan battles between the Jewish and the foreign gods with fire and brimstone and all.

Sea Grottoes – The sea grottoes of Rosh HaNikra feature hues of blue you never knew existed. For stunning panoramas of the Mediterranean, head to Haifa’s eagle’s-eye promenade, high atop Mt Carmel.

Lower Galilee & Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
Lower Galilee and Sea of Galilee
Lower Galilee and Sea of Galilee

Jesus’s Ministry – Mary is said to have experienced the Annunciation in Nazareth, later Jesus’s childhood home. It is believed that the Transfiguration took place at Mt Tabor, and Jesus spent much of his ministry around the Sea of Galilee. Here you can truly follow the footsteps of Jesus.

Roman Sites – Top excavations include the Roman and Byzantine city of Beit She’an, ancient synagogues at Hamat Tverya, Korazim, Capernaum and Tzipori, and the Belvoir Crusader castle.

World FoodNazareth is known for its East–West fusion cuisine; in Kfar Kisch you can dine the French way or sample delicious cheeses; in Kfar Kama you can try Circassian dishes from the Caucasus.

Upper Galilee & Golan

Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve
Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve
Upper Galilee and the Golan
Upper Galilee and the Golan

Wild Trails – Trails for all fitness levels abound, from the alpine summit of Mt Hermon (elevation more than 2000m) to the banks of the Jordan River (elevation less than 200m), and through the cliff-lined canyons of the Banias and Yehudiya Nature Reserves.

Migrations – Half a billion birds migrate through the Hula Valley – you can spot local and migrating species in the wetlands of the Hula Nature Reserve and Agamon HaHula, especially in spring and autumn.

Winery Visits – Many of Israel’s finest wineries, some of them boutique, can be visited at Katzrin, Ein Zivan and Odem on the Golan and on the Dalton Plateau northwest of Tsfat (Safed). But honestly, wineries you can find also in and around Jerusalem, even in the Negev, right in the middle of the desert.

And don’t think that the Golan is some dump nature area, because you are very wrong. The Golan has its own history and can also be called ancient, it knew Israelite settlements before many other cities in Israel (and the world). Ancient civilizations existed here already before the Canaan!

West Bank

Bethlehem
Bethlehem
West Bank
West Bank

Bazaars – West Bank cities revolve around their lively bazaars. Shop for fresh fruit, taste sweets and haggle over handicrafts in the colorful markets of Hebron, Nablus and Bethlehem.

Local Food – Don’t pass up any invitation for a home-cooked meal in the West Bank, where the dinner table overflows with spicy, tangy Middle Eastern delicacies. The best restaurants are in Ramallah.

Holy Sites – For Jews and Muslims the Cave of Machpelah is an important pilgrimage site. Christian sites include the Church of Nativity and the Mount of Temptation. No spiritual exploration of the West Bank is complete without a trip to the Samaritans of Mt Gerizim.

The what is now called West Bank is an area, with a many cultural influences from the Christians to the Israelites. Later it was conquered by the Muslims and since then they stamped their presence all in the area.

 

The Dead Sea

Palace-fortress at Masada
Palace-fortress at Masada
Dead Sea
Dead Sea

Dead Sea – Float on your back while reading the newspaper – a cliché but eminently doable in the hyper saline waters of the Dead Sea, which will relax your nerves and soothe your skin.

Masada – The Romans had already destroyed Jerusalem, but high atop Masada, 1000 Jews resisted the besieging might of Legion X, in the end preferring death to slavery.

Desert Oases -Year-round springs feed the dramatic desert oases of Ein Gedi and  Ein Bokek, where hikers encounter cool streams, luxuriant vegetation, Edenic waterfalls and rare wildlife such as majestic Nubian ibexes.

But that is not all, of course. There are important caves, there are mountains, deserts, wilderness, which is hardly touched by humans or civilizations.

It’s history is long, far before the Israelites, Romans, even the Canaan were populated the Middle East. Many traces of lost civilizations are still visible, but others are gone, hidden under the sand and waiting to be discovered over the coming years. Now the wilderness is traveled by Bedouins, trekkers, hikers and some tourists, with here and there some islands of wineries and other settlements, which manage to turn desert into grasslands or agriculture.

The Negev

Red Canyon
Red Canyon
Negev
Negev

Desert Trails – The Negev desert is filled with life. Hike through the wilderness of Makhtesh Ramon, Sde Boker or Ein Avdat and you’ll likely spot camels, ibexes and soaring birds of prey.

Coral Reefs – Keen to explore coral reefs and swim with schools of tropical fish? Then come to the Red Sea to snorkel or dive. Just dip your head underwater and enjoy the show.

Nabataean Sites – Home to biblical ruins such as Tel Be’er Sheva and Tel Arad, plus the ancient Nabataean cities of Avdat, Shivta and Mamshit, the desert is slowly revealing its secrets.

And of course, it’s also the place of beauty, mountains, deserts, canyons, plains, craters and oasis and here and there some ancient cities half buried under the sand.

Lydda or Lod

Lydda, on the Plain of Sharon where Peter healed Aeneas, was home to one of the earliest Christian communities in the Holy Land (Acts 9:32).  The name is derived from the Biblical city of Lod, and it was a significant Judean town from the Maccabean Period to the early Christian period. Map.

Lod church of saint george and mosque
Lod church of saint george and mosque

The initial settlement of the city is at 5600–5250 BC, and was a Canaan city.  In 43 BC, Cassius, the Roman governor of Syria, sold the inhabitants of Lod into slavery, but they were set free two years later by Mark Antony. During the First Jewish–Roman War, the Roman proconsul of Syria, Cestius Gallus, razed the town on his way to Jerusalem in 66 CE. It was occupied by Emperor Vespasian in 68 CE.

In 200 CE, emperor Septimius Severus elevated the town to the status of a city, calling it Colonia Lucia Septimia Severa Diospolis. The name Diospolis (“City of Zeus”) may have been bestowed earlier, possibly by Hadrian. At that point, most of its inhabitants were Christian. The earliest known bishop is Aëtius, a friend of Arius. In December 415, the Council of Diospolis was held here to try Pelagius; he was acquitted.

Tomb of Saint George
Tomb of Saint George

In the sixth century, the city was renamed Georgiopolis after St. George, a soldier in the guard of the emperor Diocletian, who was born there between 256 and 285 CE. The Church of St. George is named for him.

Madaba Map, 6th century CE., showing Lod(at left)
Madaba Map, 6th century CE., showing Lod(at left)

The Madaba map shows Lydda as an unwalled city under a black inscription with a cluster of buildings. An isolated building with a columnated plaza in front of it might represent the St. George shrine.

In 1869 (during the Ottoman era) , the population of Lydda (or Ludd as it was called then) was given as: 55 Catholics, 1,940 “Greeks”, 5 Protestants and 4,850 Muslims. In 1870, the Church of Saint George was rebuilt. In 1892, the first railway station in the entire region was established in the city. In the second half of the 19th century, Jewish merchants migrated to the city, but left after the 1921 Jaffa riots.

Lydda, 1903
Lydda, 1903

At the time of the 1922 census of Palestine, Lydda had a population of 8,103; 7,166 Muslims, 11 Jews and 926 Christians, the Christians were 921 Orthodox, 4 Roman Catholics and 1 Melkite. This had increased by the 1931 census to 11,250; 10,002 Muslims, 28 Jews, 1,210 Christians and 10 Bahai, in a total of 2,475 houses.

Lydda, 1948
Lydda, 1948

During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War most of the city’s Arab inhabitants were expelled in the 1948 Palestinian exodus from Lydda and Ramle. The town was resettled by Jewish immigrants, most of them from Arab countries, alongside 1,056 Arabs who remained.

Israel’s main international airport, Ben Gurion International Airport (previously known as Lydda Airport, RAF Lydda, and Lod Airport) is located on the outskirts of the city.

Saint Georges de Lydda en Turc
Saint Georges de Lydda en Turc

Lydda is now a modern city between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but it still bears the ancient Hebrew name of Lod. It was founded by a Benjaminite family (1 Chron. 8:12) and later reestablished by Jews returning from Babylonian captivity (Ezra 2:33). St. George the dragon-slayer, a Roman soldier who became a Christian, and a symbol of Christianity’s victory over paganism, is said to have been born here.

Tomb of St. George in Lydda
Tomb of St. George in Lydda

The beautiful St. George’s church in Lydda’s Old City, rebuilt in 1871 on medieval ruins, is an interesting place to visit. Tradition has it that St. George was chained here by captors who tried unsuccessfully to dissuade him from his faith.

Phone St. George’s church: +972-8-922-2023

Bahai Gardens and Shrine

Beauty, grandeur, and inspired design combined with the painstaking gardening of generations create the unique atmosphere of the Bahai shrine and gardens in Haifa. This is the site where members of the Bahai faith have established their shrine and world center because of its significance to the Bahai faith. Map.

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Universal House of Justice (Bahai)

Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice

The Universal House of Justice is the supreme governing institution of the Bahá’í Faith. It is a legislative institution with the authority to supplement and apply the laws of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, and exercises a judicial function as the highest appellate institution in the Bahá’í administration.

Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice

The institution was defined in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh’s successor, and was officially established in 1963 as the culmination of the Ten Year Crusade, an international Bahá’í teaching plan.

Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice

Its nine members are elected every five years from the male membership in good standing of the world community by an electoral college consisting of all the members of each Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly throughout the world.

Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice

The Seat of the Universal House of Justice and its members reside in Haifa, Israel, on the slope of Mount Carmel. While empowered to legislate on matters that are not explicitly stated in the Baha’i holy writings, the Universal House of Justice has, since its inception, limited its exercise of this function. Instead it has generally provided guidance to Bahá’ís around the world through letters and messages.

Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice

The books and documents published by the Universal House of Justice are considered authoritative and its legislative decisions are considered infallible by Bahá’ís. The institution has also collected and published extracts from the writings of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá.

Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice