Around the Sea of Galilee

Our first adventure this morning was to take a ride on a Jesus style boat on the Sea of Galilee. As we boarded the boat I just happened to notice it was named Noah.

I remember Shira, our guide, telling us the boat was captained and crewed by Israelis, Arabs, and Palestinians all working together. How thoughtful of the captain to have a US Flag to fly as we sailed the Sea of Galilee.

Just before the boat departed the dock, the captain played the Star Spangled Banner and rose the American flag along side the Israeli flag. I had my hand over my heart as the flag was raised so I did not get a picture of it. However I did find this pic of me and William with the flag behind us.

And then William sent me this pic of the flags flying together!

As we sat sail, our guide taught us the Hora, an Israeli folk dance. We had so much fun dancing and singing on the boat and sharing this journey through Israel with our new friends. Here are just a few snap shots I caught while navigating the Sea of Galilee.

These pictures of our new friends will remain in our memories as much if not more than all the sites we saw while in Israel. Their friendship means the world to us as it is the people we meet that makes our travels memorable!

Our next stop was at the Mount of the Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. This church was built in the 1930’s by a Roman Architect. The alter actually faces the Sea of Galilee which is the direction that Jesus faced when he gave His sermon. 

The Beatitudes were engraved on stones along the walk way to the top of the Mount. And to help us remember all eight of them I borrowed these pictures from my first trip to Israel to share with you here.

It felt very peaceful on The Mount of Beatitudes as it was beautifully landscaped .

Next we walked down to the Sea of Galilee to the church that was built over the rock where Jesus fed his disciples.

The rock where Jesus fed his Disciples

One of the entrees at the restaurant where we had lunch was the Peter fish. Naturally I had to try it. Although I did not snap a picture of my plate there at the restaurant I did have the Peter fish at our hotel again that evening where William did take the picture. Yep, head on and all; it was a tasty mild white fish caught right out of the Sea of Galilee.

Bircat Ram Restaurant near Kibbutz Ginosar where we had lunch

This morning as we had walked to the Boat I recognized something. I saw the Beit Yoga Alon Museum which I had visited the last time William and I were here in Israel.

Me and Sylvia chatting away as we walked to the boat.
Beit Yoga Alon Museum

I wondered why we were not going to visit this museum. It had been a favorite of mine from that first trip as it housed a very special find. In 2000 a special wing was built to house this magnificent artifact.

These two brothers, Yuvi and Moshe Lufan, two second generation fishermen with an interest in archaeology, grew up on the banks of Lake Kinneret in Kibbutz Ginosar. In 1986 the Lufan brothers discovered buried under the muddy shore of the Sea of Galilee an ancient boat dating back to the time of Jesus. The picture below is of the actual boat housed in the museum that the two brothers along with archaeologist and volunteers recovered from the muddy bottom of the Sea which I actually saw when I was here in 2018.

Tears are welling up in my eyes as I attempt to share my joy in what happened after we finished lunch there near Kibbutz Ginosar. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever believed that our guide Shira would actually take us to meet one of these brothers.

me and Yuvi – meeting him was my greatest surprise on this journey in Israel

Our group met Yuvi under a tent at his shop and he told us the whole story of how he and his brother found the boat. “Excitement filled the air, the skies opened and poured with rain, then suddenly, the rain stopped, the sun shined and a rare double rainbow appeared in the skies above us. It was a symbol…a sign..somebody from above was giving us his blessing to uncover the ancient boat.”

Look closely at the mosaic below and you will see his whole story. I think I actually see on the right the somebody from above giving his blessing. You can also see the excitement of the two brothers as they jumped with joy above the rainbow.

Perhaps this was not as exciting to our group as it was to me but I will tell you that it was the biggest surprise of my entire journey in Israel this time. It’s the people that we meet during our travels that has the biggest impact and that we will remember long after we have returned home.

Yuvi’s art piece above represents reaching through the unknown to grasp hold of your dreams. It spoke volumes to me,

From here we went to Capharnaum, the city where much of Jesus’ adult ministry took place. It was here that Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, healed the Centurion’s servant, and healed the paralytic. It was also here that Jesus called Matthew saying “Follow Me.”

the Fab Four

Capharnaum was the center of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. Here, there are ruins of a 4th Century Synagogue in white stone built on top of the original one of black stone where Jesus taught.

Shira, our most knowledgeable tour guide telling us about this 4th Century Synagogue
The black stones wee the original synagogue where Jesus taught
Here Sylvia is standing on the stones that Jesus’ feet would have also touched

The scribes and Pharisees would sit in Moses’ seat in the Synagogue and teach from the books of Moses. Jesus warned that the Pharisees professed full loyalty to the Scriptures but failed to act on its principles.

Don in the Moses seat

Dr. Reichman drew our attention to some carvings in the stones on the floor of the synagogue. He said it was a children’s game during the 4th century. He told us he would show us another drawing of this game but one not played by children, but by the soldiers that tortured Jesus before his crucifixion.

Just opposite the synagogue were the ruins of the Ancient City of Capharnaum and a mega church built in 1990 over the ruins of Peter’s Mother-in-laws house.

Under the huge church you can see the ruins of Peter’s house. It is believed that Jesus would have lived here during his ministry in Galilee.

The rails of the modern church were quite interesting. the words Peter and Alpha and Omega can be found in the railing design.

I was able to snap a photo of Sylvia as she stopped in front of the Statue of Peter. The Sea of Galilee is in the background. Capharnaum sits right on the Sea but it was also crossed by the Imperial Highway leading to Damascus making this city a very busy hub.

Sylvia with St. Peter

After leaving Capharnaum, we went to Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. In 2009 remains of this ancient city were uncovered. Three interconnected ritual baths were discovered, which for purification purposes was considered “living water” — rather than rainwater.

Stephanie ran down to describe to us just how deep these ritual baths were.

Stephanie pointing out exactly where the baths were located.

In the remains of one building excavators found a stone block engraved with motifs including a seven-branched menorah, the type used in the Temple.  The Magdala Stone is believed to be a piece of ceremonial furniture on which the Torah and other sacred scrolls were placed. Also notice the mosaic floor found here in this synagogue.

Below is a close up of the Magdala Stone and the menorah.

The Magdala Stone with the Menorah

In 2014 a new church was built on the site which was simple in design but also rich in mosaics and murals. Below are a few pieces of the art from the new church which caught my eye.

It had been a long hot day and we all were ready to board the Big Red Bus and have Moshe drive us back to our hotel for our last night in Tiberias. Little did we know that we had one more stop for the day.

How many of you knew that today Israel is one of the world’s largest exporters of polished and rough diamonds? Caprise Diamonds is Dr. Reichman’s favorite store to purchase diamonds in Israel so he took us there. They gave us a brief overview of the diamond industry and then allowed us to shop.

National Diamond Center Caprice Showroom

Let’s just end by saying that some of us went back to the hotel very happy. Right Kit?

As I have said before, our days are packed full and the hotel at the end of the day is ever so inviting. Tomorrow many of us will be baptized in the Jordon River and then we will move south through Israel all the way to the Dead Sea.

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