31 December 2011

Outside Tel Aviv: Jaffa

Jaffa is situated next to the Mediterranean Sea and is believed to be one of the oldest port cities in history. And this is where, if you are familiar with the Bible, the story of Jonah and his being swallowed by the whale took place. Jaffa was also the place where our 400+ group ventured out on our first official day. I'd never traveled with so many people (nor will I probably ever do so again, unless I go back to Israel!), but it was awesome! To be with so many people who you could consider family and to meet so many who are inspiring, passionate and who may become life-long friends. If you are part of a church, this is the best way to see Israel; you get the history in, but you get perspective and meaning and fellowship as well.

The city of Tel Aviv seen from Jaffa

                                                                                      Our bus pastor, Sam, leading us in worship

This was our first taste of how the next week and a half of our lives would be. A "herding" of 400+ people to one location, some glorious music and an insightful and wonderful lesson on the history and significance of the location from our pastor. I applaud our tour providers, Sar-El Tours for putting together such an awesome experience...it can't have been easy with as many of us as there were!

After our morning in Jaffa, we had lunch in a lovely wooded area where we learned about the fascinating culture and customs of orthodox Jews, how the Torah is made, etc. Did you know that the ink used in the Torah is made from sap? Learning these details and seeing the Torah up close was amazing and a great start to the Israel leg of our tour.

Nearly all of us at lunch

The case that holds the Torah

The Torah itself

Sap that the ink for the Torah is made out of

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