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Wednesday, 21 May 2014 08:55

Christoph Jungen Swiss Group, 30th March – 12th April 2014

The Christoph Jungen Swiss Group arrived on Sunday, March 30th, and had their first tour and meeting in Neve Shalom.  The following morning, the Group were driven along the Mediterranean coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa, where they had the opportunity to visit the ancient port city Caesarea Maritima, which was built by Herod the Great, and today is a national park.  In the afternoon, the Group had the chance to visit the lookout at Muhraka, which is located on the southern end of the Mount Carmel range.  The views of the Mediterranean Sea captivated the visitors.  Overnight was in Nazareth. 

 The morning of April 1st, there was a short visit to the Nazareth Church.  Following, the participants visited Sephoria’s archeological site, located in the central Galilee, 6 kilometers north-northwest of Nazareth.  The site holds a rich and diverse historical and architectural legacy that includes Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and Islamic influences. It is believed to be the birthplace of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  For dinner and overnight, the participants stayed at the Mt. of Beatitudes, where it is said that Jesus gave his important Sermon on the mountain.  

The next day, 2nd of April, took the Group to the edge of the Sea of Galilee, to Capernaum, the town where Jesus made his home during the years of his ministry: "Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum" (Matt 4:13).  In the afternoon, a boat ride on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee from Ein Gev to Ginnosar was offered to our visitors. 

 On Thursday, 3rd of April, the participants enjoyed a walk in the forest area around the Jordan Springs, and later visited Tel Dan and Golan, where they met with the Druze community in Magdal Shams, in the northern part of the Golan Heights.  The final highlight of the day was the lookout to the Syrian border and to the city of Quneitra, which can be seen in total ruins, as it was left in 1974.  Today, it is a demilitarized buffer zone under the control of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

 

 On Friday morning, the Group passes through the Al Jalameh checkpoint, and visits the Jenin refugee camp.  The participants meet with the Samaritan community in Nablus, have lunch in the Old City, and later visit the Greek Orthodox Church of Jacob’s Well. 

 

 The following morning, the Group had the chance to hike down into Wadi Qelt close to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George, and then walk into Jericho.  They had a fun ride on the cable car, which took them to the Mount of Temptation, where they enjoyed lunch and beautiful panoramic views of Jericho.  Later that day, they were able to relax at  the Dead Sea – the lowest point on Earth. 

 

 On Sunday morning, the Group traveled to Herodion, and at 10:00am, took part in the Lutheran Church service in Beit Jala.  After lunch, there was a short visit to Battir.  The Nativity Church in Bethlehem was the next stop.  Dinner and Dabka, traditional Palestinian folk dancing, were offered in Beit Jala. 

 

 On April 7th, Day 9, the participants visited the Tent of Nations, and later were transferred to Hebron, where they had the chance to see Abraham’s Mosque, and have a tour in the Old City, where they visited a traditional glass factory.  Later in the day, they were driven to Arad to spend the night.

 

 Day 10 offered another day of exciting visits.  An early walking tour of Masada, and then visit the famous Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. 

 

 The following morning, on 9th of April, the Group was transferred to the Mt. of Olives, where they walked down the mountain to Gethsemane, and later to the Old City of Jerusalem…on foot!

 

 Of course they had the chance to visit St. Anna Church, the Bethesda Pools, the Holy Sepulcher Church and the way of Via Dolorosa. 

 

 On Thursday, the participants visited Al Haram Al Sharif  and Al Aqsa mosques.  They walked beneath the ground in the Hezeqia Tunnel in Salwan.  Later they found themselves in Mt. Zion and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. 

 

 On their final day, the participants visited the Museum of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.  Finally, they had free time to explore Jerusalem.