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Israel - Interesting Facts!
Visiting Israel with a New Perspective
Facts you probably never knew about Israel
Israel is more than the Rock of the Dome photo you always see. Did you know they have more trees than any other nation on earth and this nation is part of four different geographical zones at the same time? Additionally, they have over 2000 different plants and over 500 million birds!
Israel is a tiny countryÂÂ. It is a place of amazing variety, with globally unique contrasts. Central Israel is the most populated place on earth yet they have planted over 240 million trees. It is the only country that ended the 20th century with more trees than it started with!
Israel borders Africa, Asia and Europe, and is blessed with four geographical zones--Mediterranean, steppe, desert and African - making it unique with its combination and variety of climate, flora and fauna. Israel has 2,600 species of wild plants. Great Britain is 10 times the size of Israel, yet has a "mere" 1,756 different plants. Israel has a whopping 500 million birds that fill Israel's skies on their spectacular semi-annual intercontinental migration. We don't think of Israel as having cranes but they are a popular bird in the holy land.
Jerusalem - The Capital City
Jerusalem is one of those cities where young and old meet face to face. It is also a city of much contention as the the world battles for possession of its whole parts. It's considered the Center of the World. Everything that could be said about Jerusalem has already been said. It is a place of holy wonder with over 70 names of love and desire.
King David first established his reigning kingdom there because it was centrally located and for lots of other good reasons which would take a book to explain. He brought the ark of the covenant there and established God's holy temple by King Solomon, his son. He provided lots of building material before his death. The temple was destroyed twice and has been the debate of hot contention since the Israeli people took possession of their nation in 1948. That's about 4000 years of history in a paragraph.
Alongside Jerusalem's fascinating historic and archeological sites, there are amazingly modern tourist attractions for all lovers of culture, the arts, theater and music, architecture and gastronomic delights.
Museum lovers will be delighted to discover that Jerusalem is dotted with dozens of museums full of rich exhibits, such as the Israel Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Bloomfield Science Museum, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Rockefeller Museum, the Bible Lands Museum, the Islamic Art Museum, the Old Yishuv Court Museum, the Armenian Museum and the Museum of Italian Jewish Art.
Holy Sepulchre Church
The Story Behind the Church of The Holy Sepulchre
Easily the most celebrated, yet most contentious church in Christendom, the Holy Sepulchre contains the traditional sites of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus under one roof.
The site was rediscovered in the corner of the western forum of the Hadrianic city Aelia Capitolina by Queen Helena, Constantine's mother, who knocked the temple down and built a huge basilica, which was dedicated on Easter day in the year 326.
The church was partially rebuilt in the next century by Justinian, and remained untouched until 1009, when the mad caliph Hakim destroyed virtually all of it. It was patched up by a Monk called Robert, but when the Crusaders came across the city, around the year 1099, the church was rebuilt to only half of its original size, and thus it stands today.
Mark Chapter 15
22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour, when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!" 31 So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Elo-i, Elo-i, lama sabach-thani?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "Behold, he is calling Elijah." 36 And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
John Chapter 19
38 After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight. 40 They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
The Revised Standard Version, (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.) 1973, 1977.
Tallit Prayer Shawls - Beautiful Handmade Prayer Shawls
An exceptional gift! Handmade, handpainted, Silk!
Many Old and New Testament Scriptures speak of the tallit, or prayer shawl. In Jewish culture, a threadbare prayer shawl is treated with great respect, as a mantle of holiness, acquired from years of use. Traditionally, a tallit is likely to be given as a special gift, from father to son or teacher to student. It may also be given to mark a special occasion, such as a wedding, a b'nai mitzvah, or a trip to Israel.
King David's Tomb
People streamed here for centuries to recite the Psalms which were written by David, whose life teaches many lessons about human nature.
The tomb is covered with a velvet cloth embroidered with the words David Melech Israel Hai Vekayam, the first song many Jewish children learn, which evokes the sense that David's spirit is still with us.
Prayers at the tomb are also made for Jerusalem, which David made the united capital of the tribes of Israel.
The anniversary of David's death coincides with the eve of Shavuot, when it is customary to pray and study all night at the tomb.
The Western Wall
The Western Wall was part of the most magnificent building Jerusalem had ever seen. It was one of four walls Herod the Great built to support the 1,555,000-square-foot plaza on which the Temple stood. It was almost 1,500 feet long - the rest can still be seen inside the Western Wall Tunnel . Originally it was some 90 feet high and reached some 60 feet into the ground.
But it is not because of its grand architecture that the Western Wall became an inseparable part of the Jewish People. Solomon, who built the First Temple, said it best with these words: "May Your eyes be open day and night toward this House, toward the place of which You have said, 'My name shall abide there;' may You heed the prayers which Your servant will offer toward this place. And when You hear the supplications which Your servant and Your people Israel offer toward this place, give heed in Your heavenly abode..." (1 Kings 8:17).
The Shofar - Rams Horn
The modern use of the Shofar is in religious ceremonies that takes place on Rosh Hashana. It is sounded in the synagogue to call the Jewish people to a religious spiritual reawakening as the New Year begins on Rosh Hashana (Tishri 1.) The shofar is sounded on the Day of Atonement, (Yom Kippur) as a call for repentance and sacrifice and for love of the Torah as well.
The Menorah is used at the Feast of Lights. This event commemorates the miracle of the oil when miracluously one day's supply lasted eight days. Modern Menorahs are used with candles. A total of nine candles are needed. The ninth candle is set apart as the Shamash (master light). it is the one used to ignite the eight candles.
It is customary to allow candles to burn for 30 minutes once lit at sundown and always in the presence of the entire household. The exception is that the Menorah must be lit before sundown on Friday afternoon.
The first candle on the right side is inserted into the Menorah and lit with the Shamash (ninth candle.) Once the Shamash candle is lit two blessings are recited before the lighting of the first Hanukkah candle. There is a third blessing which is only recited on the first night.
Swirling Leaf Menorah in Brass, Copper and Iron
Rainbow Menorah and Dreidel, Handcrafted in Brass
Hand-Forged Iron Menorah