Servas Israel Tour – Part II – Fantastic – Haifa and Nazareth

Our fabulous Tour Israel with Servas continued.

Day 3 – Wednesday 24 December 2014 

Our morning began with a great breakfast with our Servas hosts: Shoshana and Shmuel.

Shoshana and Shmuel

Shoshana and Shmuel: Yes, that’s a Corvette convertible on her t-shirt and the two of them riding in it!

We were lucky to be handed off to Shlomy, Servas Coordinator Claudia’s husband, and while we waited to meet up with others, he gave us an impromptu tour of Haifa, a city he loves.

The Ba'ha'i xxx Temple Sxxx in the front.

The Ba’ha’i Temple –
Shlomy in the front

We started at the Bahá’í Gardens:

 

“The Bahá’í teachings emphasize that each person is in charge of his or her own spiritual development. <http://www.bahai.org/action/response-call-bahaullah/walking-spiritual-path&gt;.

Bahá’í members recognize and celebrate all religious leaders.

Looking up to the Shrine of Báb.

Looking up to the Shrine of Bab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa comprise a staircase of nineteen terraces extending all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel.  At its heart stands the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb,which is the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith.”  From: <http://www.ganbahai.org.il/en/haifa/&gt;

From the Bah'ai steps looking down on the German town orange tiled roofs.

From the Baha’i steps looking down on the German town orange tiled roofs

 

German town in Haifa - established in

German town in Haifa – established in 1869

Haifa church.

A Haifa church

Haifa apartments.

Haifa apartments

Haifa treats.

Haifa sweet treats

Haifa street.

Haifa street

A Haifa hot drink spot.

A Haifa hot drink spot

Falafa's anyone?  Delicious.

Falafa’s anyone? Delicious

Haifa vegetable market.

Haifa vegetable market

Haifa apartment resident.

Haifa apartment resident

In much of the art throughout Haifa is a plea for peace.

“I was born in this city and I have no other homeland but this homeland. I sometimes wonder: ‘When will it be possible to enjoy Haifa’s beauty without fears of wars and bloodshed’.”

In the Museum Without Walls:

Spring, in memory of Kamil Shahade

“Spring,” in memory of Kamil Shehade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The artworks scattered along the Art Route explore the themes of tolerance, an Arab-Jewish and multicultural dialogue, and the local heritage of the neighborhood.  The exhibit was inaugurated in 1993 by the Beit HaGefen Arab-Jewish Culture Center, Haifa Municipality, and the Wadi Nisnas Neighborhood Association as a shared multicultural celebration.

Shlomy xxx in the Wadi Nasui xxx district of Haifa.

Shlomy showing us the Wadi Nisnas district of Haifa

 

Art in the Wadi Nasui xxx neighborhood.

Art in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood

 

A gate; a fence - a choice

A gate: a fence – a choice?

Artists at work in Haifa.

Artists at work in Haifa

Wisdom of Crowds –
This exhibition was in Haifa’s  Beit Hagefen’s Gallery.    “The almost absurd starting point of the exhibition Wisdom of Crowds is . . . to find new platforms for a democratic discourse in the public space. . .It calls to replace the eroded values of political, social and cultural life, for a more just, egalitarian and democratic society, and wishes to serve as a catalyst for radical thought about new, albeit imagined, platforms for realizing this claim, tapping into the potential held in the public local sphere” (<http://beit-hagefen.com/slider_more.php?cat23=136&gt;). 
Wisdom of Crowds - event in Haifa

Wisdom of Crowds – event in Haifa

Dialogue - not arms.

Dialogue – not arms.

We left Haifa to join up with our Servas Tour members in Nazareth.

According to the Nazareth website, “The city of Nazareth was a small and insignificant agricultural village in the time of Jesus. It had no trade routes, was of little economic importance and was never mentioned in the Old Testament or other ancient texts. . . .

During the lifetime of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, it is believed the population did not exceed 500.  Nazareth was a small Jewish village where people knew one another, and like Jesus, lived, prayed and studied in the Jewish tradition. They gathered in the synagogue, meeting for prayer and holidays. . . .The New Testament mentions Nazareth many times, referring to it as the home of Mary and Joseph, the town that inspired Jesus during his childhood and early manhood, the place of the Annunciation . . .

From the 1st to the 4th century AD, the small Christian presence in Nazareth was often persecuted for their beliefs. It was only later towards the 6th century . . . that the town of Nazareth became the Christian pilgrimage site it is to this day. During this time, the Byzantines built one of the first churches on what was believed to be the site of the Annunciation. With the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099, an era of growth began . . .  With the defeat of the Crusaders in 1291 by the Muslim army and during Ottoman Rule (1517 – 1917), Nazareth fell into decline. It was only in 1720, when the Franciscans built a new church, that the site of the Annunciation was again revived. In 1955, the church was demolished to carry out extensive archaeological excavations and was finally rebuilt in 1969” <http://www.nazareth-israel.com/nazarteh-history&gt;.

Nazareth is now a bustling, growing city of about 74,000 and home to the largest Arab community in Israel.  Nazareth has changed from an isolated village of little importance to one of  most important sites for Christians.

Because I was raised Christian (Episcopalian) and now identify as a Quaker, I did expect a spiritual experience especially since we were there for Christmas Eve!

In Nazareth, we walked the cobble-stoned streets of the Old City, visited the famous spring and  Mary’s well, and saw the remains of a cavern believed to be Joseph’s carpentry shop.  And because we were there on Christmas Eve, we got to see what the people living there do to celebrate.

Nazareth Christmas Tree - outside the site of Mary's Well.

Nazareth Christmas Tree – the largest Christmas tree in the Middle East outside the site of Mary’s Well, the Church of St. Gabriel

Mary’s well was the  our first religious site on the Servas tour that afternoon.  The Church of St. Gabriel,  (also known as the Orthodox Church of Annunciation and The Greek-Orthodox Church), is located over an underground spring, which is  believed to be  where the Virgin Mary was drawing water when  the Angel Gabriel said to her,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

Near the site of Mary's Well.

Near the site of Mary’s Well

Entrance to Mary's Well -Barry filled a bottle of the spring water for me :).

Entrance to Mary’s Well -Barry filled a bottle of the spring water for me 🙂

The dark interior of the holy site for Mary's Well.

The dark interior of the holy site for Mary’s Well

Many photos were left for blessings at Mary's Well.

Many photos were left for blessings at Mary’s Well

 

Mary's well.

Mary’s well

Painting of the Annunciation. xx

Painting of the Annunciation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tunnel linking the well to the entrance.

Tunnel linking the well to the entrance

In modern times, Mary’s spring is at the end of the subterranean chamber in the Church of St. Gabriel.

Church of the Annuciation xxx

Church of St. Gabriel – painting of he Annunciation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful painting of the Annunciation.

Beautiful painting of the Annunciation

 

 

 

Church that covers Mary's well.  xx or church of the Annunciation ?

The Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of St. Gabriel,  that covers Mary’s spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nazareth Christmas tree.

Nazareth Christmas tree

 

 

 

 

It was a great spot for people watching.

It was a great spot for people watching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked along the Pilgrim’s Path to the Basilica of Annunciation, the Catholic site that also recognizes and celebrates Gabriel’s visit to Mary.  The Basilica marks the spot for Catholics of the Annunciation.

Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Inside the Church of the Annunciation xxx.

Inside the Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation

 

 

 

Each painting - beautiful and significant!

Each painting – beautiful and significant!

We also saw the White Mosque, built in 1785.  It’s the oldest of the mosques built in Nazareth. According to its website, the White Mosque is now managed and maintained by the al-Fahoum family.  The mosque sends out messages of peace and harmony and seeks good relations especially with the  “different Christian communities in town” <http://www.nazarethinfo.org/OldSite.aspx?levelId=63490&gt;.

The White Mosque - the oldest xxx

The White Mosque

The White Mosque is located in Harat Alghama or the “Mosque Quarter” in the center of Nazareth’s Old Market.

Our Servas guide xxx sharing the history of Nazareth.  Lola from Spain is in front of Adam from Poland.

Iris, our Servas guide, shares the history of Nazareth. Lola from Spain is in front of Adam from Poland.

We ate in the Old Market and got to taste local food and sweets, including baklawa and the Middle-Eastern kenafi or kunafa, a cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup.

At 15:00, we started lining up along the Christmas Parade route, which ran from Paul 6th St to the Annunciation Church (Basilica).

 

Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Adam enjoying the fragrant flowers.

Adam enjoying the fragrant flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another version is that the Palestinians were told to leave by the Arab fighters (so they wouldn't get in the way of the battle).  The history depends on who is telling about the events.

This graffiti on a Nazareth wall says the Palestinians were expelled in 1948 by the Israelis. Another version is that the Palestinians were told to leave by the Arab fighters (so they wouldn’t get in the way of the battle). The history depends on who is telling about the events.

Maria from Poland; Manda from Sweden xxx.

Maria from Poland; Manda from Sweden

 

 

 

 

 

Stepan (the youngest of our group) and his parents,  Irena and Vadimir from Czech Republic.

Stepan (the youngest of our group) and his parents, Irena and Vadimir from the Czech Republic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treats from street vendors.  Adam from Poland, Igor from Russia, xxx our guide, and Olga from St. Petersburg.

Treats from street vendors. Adam from Poland, Igor from Russia, Iris our Israeli guide, and Olga from St. Petersburg

 

 

 

 

Svetlana A. xx found Santa hiding in a van.  :)

Svetlana A.  found Santa hiding in a van  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting ready for the Nazareth Christmas parade.

Getting ready for the Nazareth Christmas parade

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our group outside the Basilica.

Waiting for the Christmas parade – our Servas group outside the Basilica: Svetlana  A. is in front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Released balloons marked the beginning of the parade.

Released balloons mark the beginning of the Christmas Eve parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People lined up along the parade route.

People lined up along the parade route.

Gathering for the Nazareth Christmas Parade.

Gathering for the Nazareth Christmas Parade.

 

17:15 – Near the Basilica of Annunciation, we watched the balloon release and the Christmas parade.    We wandered around looking at the parade and the people coming to celebrate.

 

 

 

This guy was in the Christmas spirit; he threw out candies to the parade participants.

This guy was in the Christmas spirit; he threw out candies to the parade participants.

Christian Arab Scouts - march in the Christmas parade.

Christian Arab Scouts – march in the Christmas parade

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Arab  Scottish bagpipers!!   Who would ever guess this would be part of a Christmas parade in Nazareth!

Christian Arab Scottish bagpipers!! Who would ever guess this would be part of a Christmas parade in Nazareth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his book Green Crescent Over Nazareth: The Displacement of Christians by Muslims, Raphael Israeli notes that in 1918 when the British marched into Nazareth, the city then had a population of about 8,000 – 2/3 Christian and the rest Muslim.  Today, Nazareth, known as “the Arab capital of Israel, has a population made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel,  almost all of whom are either Muslim (69%) or Christian (30.9%).

Because the British ruled Nazareth for 30 years, the  numerous bagpipers in the Christmas parade must be one lingering influence.

What can I say?

What can I say? The bagpipes must be a tradition adapted from the British Mandate period.

 

 

 

 

The inflated Santa in the parade yelled out, "Hey, hey, hey!"

The inflated Santa in the parade yelled out, “Hey, hey, hey!”  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Christmas parade character.

Another Christmas parade character.

 

 

 

 

Arab Christian drummers in the parade.

Arab Christian drummers – girls too – in the parade. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian parade officials.

Christian parade officials.

 

 

 

At the finale of the parade, we got to see the fireworks as part of the Christmas celebration.

Waiting for the mass to begin at the Basilica after the parade.

Waiting for the mass to begin at the Basilica after the parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside the Nazareth Basilica.

Outside the Nazareth Basilica – waiting for the Christmas Eve mass..

For our Servas Tour, we didn’t go to Bethlehem for Christmas Eve since the town is usually overwhelmed with Christian pilgrims.  Nazareth did have its own special sites, and we got to see and do things we hadn’t expected as part of our celebration.  One surprise was that the Christmas carols, which I love to sing, were sung –  in neither Latin nor English – but in Arabic!  It seemed that everyone participated – especially in the parade.  Santa was there in Nazareth for the young children.

As for the spiritual renewal I expected since we were there where Jesus had actually lived and walked, it didn’t happen there for me.

Instead, Nazareth was a great experience in people watching and seeing historical and religious sites.  Being in Nazareth was also a good reminder that when you travel, experiences – especially others than those you expect – are the ones to keep you in the moment and help you appreciate what is really there.

We returned to Servas hosts Deb and xxx home.  Shlomy, xxx, Barry, Tagit, and xxx.

We returned to Servas hosts Debbie and Nathanel’s home. Shlomy, Nathanel, Barry, Tarit, and Sudeshna.

Aloha and Shalom, Renée

 

 

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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