Baseball in Israel at Kibbutz Gezer!

The ancient city of Gezer has been the attention of the archaeological world these last few weeks since the discovery of apparently three Canaanite bodies among the ruins. Here is a recent blog about it (go HERE).

 

Gezer baseball

Baseball field at Kibbutz Gezer, one of three major fields in Israel. This was the first field in Israel, built in 1979.

However, modern Gezer has also been “in the news” recently as well. But not for the discovery of bodies, walls, and other ruins from the ancient past, but rather for (wait for it…..). baseballYes fans, you heard it correctly.

Gezer baseball

Pitching camp in Gezer

A number of years ago, an intentional effort was made to introduce Israel to the game of baseball. The kibbutz at Gezer was the first to build a baseball field in 1979. Since then, as crazy as it seems, lots of money and planning went into trying to attract modern Israelis to this great American pastime. For the most part, these efforts have failed, for the league that was established essentially fell through. There are approximately 2,000 in Israel who officially play baseball.

Play ball!

Play ball!

However, baseball is still played in limited parts of Israel today. The game is played primarily by a younger generation of Israelis who have immigrated from the States. Personally being an umpire, back here in the States I have actually officiated at International tournaments where every other year there is a team from Israel playing! This means Israel is sending baseball teams. In fact, Israel’s baseball team did surprisingly well in the recent World Tournament.

Below is drone video coverage of a game of baseball being played at Kibbutz Gezer. Located in the Shephelah of Israel (the “lowlands of Judah”), the Gezer field actually looks phenomenal!

I have my doubts, but I personally hope that baseball catches on in Israel. In the meantime, play ball!

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The Old City of Jerusalem

There is something special about the Old City of Jerusalem!  Each of our Israel trips end here (not begin here, as some tours do). It is the highlight in many ways for most people.

Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City and Temple Mount of Jerusalem

While the Old City walls don’t date back to biblical times (they were built in 1537-44 AD by the Ottoman Suleiman the Great), everywhere you walk in Jerusalem you can literally touch the Bible!  This includes many sites within and around the Old City. Whether it is something from the Old Testament or New Testament, Jerusalem provides numerous experiences where the Bible comes alive!

I just produced two videos that capture the best of the Old City. The first video is a short 2.5 minute video taken from the top of the tower of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. The view from the tower provides a 360 degree perspective of the Old City below.

Holy Sepulcher Church Jerusalem

The dome and cross of the Holy Sepulcher Church

The second video provides an opportunity to walk through each of the four “quarters” (or sections) of the Old City with me. It is about a 20 minute video.

To see all our videos, go HERE (our video page) or simply download our “Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours” App on your smart phone or tablet and view them there.

I hope you enjoy both videos.

 

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Israel and the Recent UN Resolution

The ISraeli flagIsrael is a very tiny country surrounded by 22 Arab nations. With the exception of maybe a couple, these surrounding Arab countries wish there wasn’t a country called Israel. Most of these countries hate the Jewish State. As we like to say while on tour, Israel lives in a “very nice house in a very lousy neighborhood.” All Israel wants for herself is peace with her neighbors. Regrettably, because of the bias media against Israel, most of the world simply don’t believe this. But this in itself is quite a daily challenge when your “neighbors” (e.g. Palestinian Authority, Hamas) want nothing less than to see the complete end of a Jewish nation. They want nothing less than Israel to be pushed out into the Mediterranean Sea for good. What makes it even more challenging for Israel is an world organization called the United Nations (UN).

It has now been about a week since what I would personally call the horrendous Anti-Israel UN Resolution 2334 deeming Israeli settlements are illegal and all the land beyond the so-called Green Line as illegal as well. This would even include the Western Wall within the Old City of Jerusalem.

gathering of UN

The United Nations

Given their long-standing animosity towards the Jewish State, the UN’s actions were predictable (more on this below). Regrettably however, so was the action (or should we say non-action) of the U.S. Administration. Abstaining from vetoing this UN Resolution, Obama’s true bias against Israel was revealed loud and clear. Interestingly, according to the US State Department’s definition of “anti-Semitism” (“demonizing Israel, double standard against Israel, and a delegitimizing of Israel” – see HERE), this would make this Administration anti-Semitic!  Yet I am thankful to God for the bi-partisan strong and non-anti-Semitic voice against the actions of our President and against this resolution!

Make no argument about it – this UN Resolution was not about so-called settlement activity of the Israelis. Rather, it was all about delegitimizing Israel’s right to the land and her right and need to protect herself amidst the neighborhood of nations who deny Israel’s right to even exist. This especially includes the Palestinian Authority leadership led by Fatah terrorist Mahmoud Abbas (historically, the two branches of Palestinian terrorism in the region are Hamas and Fatah). According to ex-Palestinian terrorist and now Christian believer Walid Shoebat, Abbas says words of peace in English for all the world to hear. However, but in Arabic he honors and praises terrorists who kill Jews.  Abbas also condones Palestinian education that teaches some Arab children to hate Jews. Additionally, he calls for the total destruction of Israel by driving them into the sea.

Many do not know that Israel’s border with the so-called West Bank or Territories at the heart of the middle of the country (called the Sharon District) is only 9 miles wide. That’s right, that is the distance between the Mediterranean Sea and the Palestinian city of Kalkilya. In between lie the Jewish cities of Kfar Saba, Ra’anana and Herzliya. Looking at a map of the region and the 1967 West Bank line, it becomes quite clear how limited Israel is for growth, especially in the Hill Country of Judah.

Israel map

Israel is surrounded by Muslim Countries.

So how does the UN go about demanding Israel to not build or expand so-called settlements in any area of the West Bank? They simply pass a resolution co-signed by other countries who oppose Israel. A dozen countries consented with the resolution, while the U.S. abstained from the vote.

In the words of Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, explained that there has been a history of the United Nations ganging up on Israel but normally the United States would defend Israel. But this time Obama’s administration was behind the attack. Dermer stated, “What is new is that the United States did not stand up and oppose that gang-up. And what is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind that gang-up.” He further went on to say that Israel has “clear evidence of it and we will present that evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels.” (stay tuned about this!)

Dermer went on to share what this UN Resolution 2334 will do:

  • It gives the Palestinians ammunition to wage a diplomatic war against Israel with the world’s support instead of negotiating peace with Israel. The Palestinians clearly would rather do diplomatic end-runs, thus avoiding the bargaining table and seeking instead to internationalize the conflict.
  • This allows the Palestinians to blame Israel on the lack of peace (even though their Charter calls for the annihilation of Israel).
  • The pre-1967 border lines must now be observed. This means places like the Western Wall, the most holy Jewish site in the world, is on illegal land now. This means biblical places like Hebron, Bethlehem, Shechem (Nablus today) are also outside the so-called border and thus are on illegal land.
  • It will lead to the lack of peace instead of furthering the potential for peace. Why? Because it removes any incentive for the Palestinian Authority towards peace with Israel. This is tragic for both peace-loving Israelis and Palestinians.

And now to see that this current Administration abstained from the vote (and even may have helped propose the resolution, but we’ll have to wait to see if this is true or not) is sickening.

In the aftermath of the resolution, Secretary of State John Kerry took the liberty to share remarks. Once again, he proved himself to be one of the worst person to hold the office. It is important to give careful analysis of what he shared. Mark Levin describes the Kerry speech perfectly,

John Kerry just delivered the most outrageous speech of any top American official in modern times. As if a special pleader for the Palestinians, his speech was an exposition in propaganda. He distorted history, cherry-picked facts, selectively used quotes by other political figures, gave a completely dishonest portrayal of Israeli society and policies, omitted endless examples of Israeli restraint in the face of endless examples of Palestinian terrorism and threats of war by surrounding regimes, and on and on. Not once did he bother to provide the full pre-1967 history of the region, including the Palestinian involvement with the Nazis; moreover, not a word about the PLO, the 1967 war, the 1973 war, etc.

Indeed, Kerry repeatedly positioned the Israeli government as controlled by extremists and their defensive efforts to protect their citizenry as acts of aggression in an attempt to marginalize Benjamin Netanyahu. Of course, Kerry ignored the 5,000-year-old connection the Jews have to the land, which even the League of Nations recognized in its 1922 Mandate for Palestine. 

Kerry and Obama have emboldened Israel’s enemies in unimaginable ways. They lit the match lighting up the Middle East, they facilitated Iran’s nuclear program with billions of dollars, and now they seek Israel’s effective demise — a long-time Obama infatuation well before his ascendency to the presidency. ” (Conservative Review, December 28, 2016)

map of israel

Map of Israel. The green represents the so-called “West Bank” or Judea & Samaria

Andrew McCarthy added these his thoughts about the Kerry speech as well,

“Kerry did not mention that Jordan was never subjected to international pressure to grant the Palestinians their own state during the 19 years that Jordan occupied Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem; nor did he acknowledge that the Palestinians would long ago have had their own state if they had recognized Israel’s right to exist and abandoned jihadist terror. Leaving all that aside, Kerry accused the Israeli government of undermining any hope of a two-state solution.)  (National Review, December, 28, 2016)

As I wrote above, this UN resolution is not about Jewish settlements being built on disputed land, but rather is about the delegitimizing Israel’s right to the land and her right and need to protect herself. Yet if… if this was only about settlements, from an International Law point of view, Daniel Horowitz contends that Israel actually has the right to build. He writes,

“The only binding resolution of international law, a resolution which has never been countermanded to this very day, is the July 1922 Mandate for Palestine. Adopted by the League of Nations, that resolution recognized the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” It called for the creation of a Jewish national homeland anywhere west of the Jordan River.” (Conservative Review, December 27, 2016)

Horowitz continues with a history lesson,

“The legality of the 1922 Mandate was adopted that same year by the U.S. Congress in H.J. Res. 360 and signed by President Warren Harding. The newly created Arab country of Jordan attacked Israel in 1948 seeking to annihilate its inhabitants and illegally occupied Judea and Samaria until 1967. That year, Israel won back the territory originally allocated for a Jewish State as part of the 1922 League of Nations agreement. There is no such thing as “’pre-67 borders.” They were merely 1949 armistice lines between Israel and neighboring countries after they launched an illegal war of extermination. It has nothing to do with the notion of a unique Arab “Palestinian” entity west of the Jordan River. There was never any internationally recognized legal sovereign occupying Judea and Samaria from the time the British Empire fell until 1967. Jordan’s occupation of the area west of the Jordan River was never recognized. To the extent there is an Arab Palestinian state it is the modern state of Jordan, which already sucked up 77% of the original Mandate of Palestine allocated for a Jewish State under the first plan of the Balfour Declaration.”

About the whole concept of the “West Bank” in today’s political discussion within the United Nations and around the world, Horowitz concludes, “In many respects, this is the biggest global fake news story of our time.”  I fully concur!  May I also add that from a Biblical point of view, the land has eternally been given to Israel. And the borders given to Abraham far exceed the present borders given to Israel by the United Nations.

Personally, I have always opposed a “two state” solution. I personally feel the Palestinians already have a State – and it’s called Jordan! About 70% of Palestinians today who live in the West Bank have Jordanian passports. Yet these west-bankers have been left as political pawns by the Arab world for one reason – to use them for political leverage against the legitimacy and rights of Israeli Jews. This really is a shame for true peace-seeking Arabs I know and love, those who want to simply live side-by-side with Israelis in peace and synergistic harmony.

2014 UN bias against israel

A 2014 illustration of the UN’s bias against Israel

Yes, the UN hate for Israel will continue. To the UN, Israel is the only occupying force in the world. The hate and bias against Israel is blatant. As stated by Eugene Kontorovich in a recent Wall Street Journal,

“According to our research, the U.N. uses an entirely different rhetoric and set of legal concepts when dealing with Israel compared with situations of occupation or settlements world-wide. For example, Israel is referred to as the “Occupying Power” 530 times in General Assembly resolutions. Yet in seven major instances of past or present prolonged military occupation—Indonesia in East Timor, Turkey in northern Cyprus, Russia in areas of Georgia, Morocco in Western Sahara, Vietnam in Cambodia, Armenia in areas of Azerbaijan, and Russia in Ukraine’s Crimea—the number is zero. The U.N. has not called any of these countries an “Occupying Power.” Not even once.” (Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2016)

The article continues,

“It gets worse. Since 1967, General Assembly resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as “occupied” 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as “occupied” a mere 16 times combined. The term appears in 90% of resolutions dealing with Israel, and only in 14% of the much smaller number of resolutions dealing with the all the other situations, a difference that vastly surpasses the threshold of statistical significance. Similarly, Security Council resolutions refer to the disputed territories in the Israeli-Arab conflict as “occupied” 31 times, but only a total of five times in reference to all seven other conflicts combined.

General Assembly resolutions employ the term “grave” to describe Israel’s actions 513 times, as opposed to 14 total for all the other conflicts, which involve the full gamut of human-rights abuses, including allegations of ethnic cleansing and torture. Verbs such as “condemn” and “deplore” are sprinkled into Israel-related resolutions tens more times than they are in resolutions about other conflicts, setting a unique tone of disdain.

Israel has been reminded by resolutions against it of the country’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions about 500 times since 1967—as opposed to two times for the other situations.”

Prime Minister of Israel - Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

Prime Minister of Israel – Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu.

Kontorovich concludes,

“Our findings don’t merely quantify the U.N.’s double standard. The evidence shows that the organization’s claim to represent the interest of international justice is hollow, because the U.N. has no interest in battling injustice unless Israel is the country accused.

Not surprisingly, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared his own views on the UN Resolution. He was exact in his language as well,

“Citizens of Israel, I would like to reassure you. The resolution that was adopted yesterday at the United Nations is distorted and shameful but we will overcome it. The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem is ‘occupied territory’. This is delusional. The resolution determines that the Western Wall is ‘occupied territory’. This too is delusional. I would like to tell you that the resolution that was adopted, not only doesn’t bring peace closer, it drives it further away. It hurts justice; it hurts the truth. Think about this absurdity, half a million human beings are being slaughtered in Syria. Tens of thousands are being butchered in Sudan. The entire Middle East is going up in flames and the Obama administration and the Security Council choose to gang up on the only democracy in the Middle East – the State of Israel. What a disgrace.But as it relates to Israel, don’t expect anything different. This is all good reason for the next US Congress & Administration to defund the UN, or simply leave it (I prefer the latter). But in all of this, remember that God and His greatness rises above the UN and all the world nations. It is God who ultimately is sovereign over all the nations.” 

Despite all of these saddening and sickening developments, I invite you to pray for Israel and her citizens … all of them, Jews and Arabs alike (there are 1.5 million Arab Israeli citizens if you didn’t know). Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Also, pray for the Palestinians who want peace, those caught in the middle of the conflict, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ who are unjustly being treated by their own people. Pray for the UN. Pray also that this hate, injustice and anti-Semitism against Israel would end.

But also remember that God is greater than the United Nations!  Remember and rejoice in these words from the Bible:

  • For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations.” (Psalm 22:28)
  • “He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves.” (Psalm 66:7)
  • Who has aroused one from the east Whom He calls in righteousness to His feet? He delivers up nations before him And subdues kings He makes them like dust with his sword, As the wind-driven chaff with his bow.” (Isaiah 41:2)
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O Little Town of Bethlehem

Church of nativity

The Church of Nativity in Bethlehem

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Bethlehem during the Christmas season is a festive place to be! Today, the city has a population o 20,000 or so (with adjoining neighboring cites – Beit Sahour and Beit Jaja adding a few more thousand), of which about 80-85% are Arab Muslims, and 15-20% or Arab Christians. There is a small but very strong evangelical presence in Bethlehem. The Bethlehem Bible College has held its own despite the deceasing Christian population. Be sure to continually pray for our Christian Arab brothers and sisters living in this ancient birth-place of Christ!

In this brief blog today, enjoy a video peek of Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity (one of the oldest churches in the world!). Manger Square will be quite active tonight (Christmas Eve) with choirs all over the world performing and services taking place.

Merry Christmas!

VIDEO:

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Christmas in Israel

Santa in Jerusalem

Santa walking on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem

People ask me, “Do they celebrate Christmas in Israel?”  To be honest, that’s almost like asking “Does it snow in the winter in Minnesota?” Well, I admit that perhaps this is a bit of an exaggerated way of answering the question, but for sure both Jews and Arabs in Israel celebrate Christmas!

Of all my trips to Israel, I was only in Israel over Christmas once!  This was back in 1981-82 when I was a student in Jerusalem. But from the Facebook posts I see from Israel, and updates from my guide and driver who I use on all my trips, Christmas is in full swing in the land of the Bible.

Santa in Jerusalem

Santa on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem

Now this would not be of surprise to you at all when I say that all over the world Christmas has been commercialized. The deeper meaning of Christmas has taken a back-burner to the way Christmas is celebrated around the world. Yet in Israel you see Christmas trees, people dressed as Santa, lights, and decorations. It’s a fun and festive time.

The YouTube video (below) gives you a god picture of how Christmas is celebrated in Jerusalem. Who would ever think that Santa would even make his way up on the Turkish walls of the Old City, walls that date to 1537-44 AD!  Imagine that… Santa hanging out on ancient walls built 480 years ago!

Of course in our Jewish communities of Israel, Hanukkah is celebrated. This year, Christmas and Hanukkah coincide virtually on the same date. The first day of Hanukkah this year actually begins at sunset of December 24th (remember that holidays and Shabbat always begin at sunset of the previous day). Counting 8 days of celebration, Hanukkah ends on January 1.

So enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas in Israel!

 

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Christmas from a Bethlehem Shepherd’s Perspective

shepherd in Bethlehem

A shepherd in Bethlehem

There are many shepherds who live in and around Bethlehem. Located about five miles south of Jerusalem in the Hill Country of Judah, Bethlehem is an historic place. Mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), this was the ancient ton connected with people from the Bible such as Rachel, Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, as well as with David. In the words of the prophet Micah, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times (Micah 5:2).” This ancient 8th century prophet continues (in 5:4) by mentioning the role of the shepherd. In fact, the one to be born in Bethlehem would be one who would “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.”

Today, Bethlehem is inhabited by about 20,000 Arabs (not counting to two neighboring towns of Beit Sahour and Beit Jala). Of this population, only about 10-15% are Arab Christians. At the center of the city of Bethlehem is the Church of Nativity and Manger Square. Originally built by Constantine’s mother in the 4th century and later rebuilt by Emperor Justinian in the 530s, the church represents of the centerpieces of the Christian faith, namely, the location of the birth of Jesus!

Bethlehem and church of nativity

Bethlehem the the Church of Nativity at night

I recently came across this video about one particular Bethlehem shepherd named Mansour. With the help of the wonderful Arab Christian community in Bethlehem (e.g. Bethlehem Bible College, Rev. Danny Awad, and others), this video was produced to bridge the ancient with the present.

In the birth narrative, it were shepherds who were the first to greet the newborn Jesus. Going no doubt to a nearby cave where Jesus as born, these shepherds saw with their own eyes the fulfillment of what Micah the prophet of old mentioned 750 years prior.

In the video you will see modern day Bethlehem. Despite being surrounded with many religious and even political challenges that face them, the Bethlehem Christians you will see and hear in the video still speak of the hope and peace that Christ brings them. Especially powerful are the words spoken by one Arab Christian who says, “I think Jesus is knocking on the doors of the hearts of people. And he ask for anyone open to him to start a new Christmas with him…”

In the words of Mansour the Bethlehem shepherd, “Isa (Jesus) is the Prince of Peace!” This is the message of Christmas!

 

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Christmas in Israel

Santa on the Mt. of Olives

Santa on the Mt. of Olives, Jerusalem

Christmas is celebrated around the world. Of the world’s 195 countries or so (depending on how you count a few of them), citizens in the most of these countries celebrate Christmas. This includes Israel.

Christmas is celebrated in Israel, a country where the presence of three faiths are practiced – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Within the Christian church, there are many denominations represented – Protestant (mainly evangelicals), Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Armenian, and Coptic, to name the majority of them. Within each of these denominations are various customs and traditions.

Christmas Tree in Nazareth

Christmas tree in Nazareth

In Bethlehem, a minority of Arab Christians live. Regrettably, over the last 10 years or so, more and more Christian Arabs have moved out of Bethlehem as well as other adjacent towns like Beit Sahor and Beit Jala). Whereas about 50% of Bethlehem was Christian back in 1995, only about 10% are Christian today. This is due primarily because of the intolerance of the Arab Muslim community, including the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Thankfully, the Palestinian brothers and sisters in Bethlehem have stayed strong during this time of persecution. Remember them in your prayers!

Even in Gaza where 2,000 Christians live, their lives are constantly threatened because of Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization who rule there. Yet despite the persecution and intolerance, the joy of Christmas in Christian communities is still alive and well!

In Israel, Christmas is openly celebrated without persecution. Among the Israeli Arab communities (e.g Nazareth), seeing Christmas trees and lights is common. Also, with the Jewish Messianic community continuing to grow, celebrating Christ as Messiah is attracting more and more Israeli Jews. This is exciting to see!

Of course Santa appears once in a while all around Israel. The tradition of Santa is a world-wide phenomena regardless of country or religion.

The following 2015 video highlights the Christmas celebration in Israel.

May Jesus, the Savior of the world, be celebrated by more and more in Israel this season!

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The Temple Mount & Amazing Flyover

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount of Jerusalem

From a biblical, historical, and even contemporary – political point of view, the Temple Mount is the focal point in all of Jerusalem! The Temple Mount represents the historical location of Mt. Moriah (Abraham & Isaac, Genesis 22, see also 2 Chr. 3) as well as the specific location for the 1st and 2nd Temples (built by Solomon and King Herod, respectively). But more specifically, the Temple Mount represents the very place where God made Himself known! It was where the Shekinah glory of God was experienced! It was where sacrifices were made to God. It was where the Ark of the Covenant resided for 100s of years during the days of the 1st Temple. It was where Jesus (and later the Apostles) spent so much time teaching about the malchut shamyim (“kingdom of heaven”) within the courts of the 2nd Temple.

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount (illustrated by Getty Image)

Today the Muslim Dome of the Rock (completed in 691 AD) stands where the Jewish 1st and 2nd Temples once stood. It’s the “traditional” place where Mohammed supposedly ascended to heaven during his “night flight.’ By the way just as a matter of “fact,” Jerusalem is not even mentioned in the Koran once! And the “tradition” of Mohammed taking his “night flight” from Mecca to some mosque in Jerusalem (that incidentally didn’t even exist yet) didn’t develop until well after the Dome was built. Nevertheless, even though Herod’s Temple stood twice as high in the days of Jesus, the Dome is an impressive building. I’ve been in it a number of times in the 1980s. It has now been “off-limits” to non-Muslims since 2000.

The Temple Mount is so large that it can hold about 11 football fields side by side. This expanded platform is attributed to none other than King Herod the Great. It was in 20 BC that this Temple project began. The Temple would not be complete until long after Herod’s death in 4 BC. (see John 2:20… it took at 46 years to build, with Josephus mentioning that the final details of the Temple were not completed until decades later). The Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount

The Dome of the Rock where the 1st and 2nd Jewish Temples once stood

To visit the Temple Mount today is actually a bit disappointing. This is primarily because of the political tension that exists between Palestinians and Israelis. For the Jew, the Temple Mount represents the most holy place in all of Judaism. For the Palestinian Muslims, while their “tradition” venerates the place as significant in Islamic history for the reason I stated above, it is a place where a political statement can be maintained. In fact, UNESCO regrettably just voted last month to no longer call it “Temple Mount” but rather “The Al Asca,” using the name of the mosque built about 15 years after the Dome of the Rock was built. Specifically, the Al Asca Mosque was built in 705 AD, although the present silver-dome structure dates to 1035 AD. The UN’s anti-Semitic intention is to divorce any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. To be honest, this is quite sad and disturbing!

But indeed the Temple Mount is an important place in Jewish history. In fact, the folks at the Temple Institute in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City have planned and prepared all the elements for the building of the 3rd Temple on the Temple Mount. How this is all going to work with the presence of both the Dome of the Rock and the Al Asca Mosque on the Temple Mount currently is a topic for another blog.:) Sure makes for interesting political and theological dialogue though!

So enjoy this “flyover” produced by our friends at SourceFlix of the beautiful Temple Mount in the holy city of Jerusalem!

Temple Mount Flyover from SourceFlix.com on Vimeo.

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The Olive & Its Harvest

I wish I liked olives, but I don’t. Bummer! Olives are served virtually at every meal in Israel. This means that for those who enjoy eating olives, you can eat as many as you like!  But I’m sorry to say that I just don’t like them. I actually remember a back-packing trip I took in the Sinai Desert. This trip took place in January, 1982 (before the Israelis gave back half of the Sinai to Egypt in June that same year) while I was a student in Jerusalem. This was a trip involving only two of us. Prior to going, Karl (a fellow student) and I pre-packed our food for this week of hiking 100 miles up the coastline of the Sinai. … Continue reading

Sweet Home Jerusalem

Hasidic Jew Menachem Herman playing guitar

Hasidic Jew Menachem Herman

There are just some old “rock and roll” tunes that seem to last forever. One of them is the song called Sweet Home Alabama. The three main chords and the beat of the song are not only recognizable, but they are catchy.

So when an ultra-Orthodox / Hasidic Jew named Menachem Herman took this familiar tune and put his different words to it out of a love for Jerusalem, a brand new song was created. The lyrics were actually written by Rabbi Lazer Brody and Steven Gasner.

In the words of Rabbi Brody, “Menachem himself is a music world maverick – rebellious, ideological, passionate and determined. Not easy to pigeonhole. He’s a devoted Jew, a noble role model and an awesome musician with a gift to stir the very soul of any audience. Having performed with top artists globally, he combines his experience and magic on stage and always delivers a stirring and moving performance. Reaching deep for a soulful expression in a troubled world, Menachem’s music, an authentic mix of old and new school, is big on classic rock drama and power, whilst still making room for blues and ethnic styles to shine through. Sweet Home Jerusalem combines concise values and deceptively understated lyrical insight.

Yes, the tune seems a bit “out of place” within Orthodox Judaism, but I have to admit, Mr. Herman captured his love for the eternal capital of Israel very well!

Lynyrd Skynyrd … eat your heart out! 🙂

While this song has been around for a few years now, please enjoy the song:

 

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