After being in Jordan all summer studying Arabic, our study abroad group left in mid-August and headed to Israel (or Palestine, if you prefer) to travel and tour for 8 or 9 days. I was here back in 2000 with my family, and it's been a great experience to re-visit many of the sites I visited then, as well as see some new ones.
The Separation Wall divides Israel from the West Bank and is the canvas on which many choose to express their feelings and politics. The Dome of the Rock is no longer open inside for tourists, but I was lucky enough to have been able to go inside back in 2000, the same year that it closed for non-Muslims.
The Garden of Gethsemane. Some of the larger olive trees in the garden date back to the time of Christ.
The Garden Tomb. There a couple places where Christ supposedly died and was buried. The other major one is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but I prefer this location much more. It doesn't contain the pomp and ostentation of the ancient cathedral, but rather a simplicity and reverence. Whether it's actually the place described doesn't really matter a whole lot.
The Mount of the Beattitudes with the Sea of Galilee in the background.
Saturday on a boat in the Sea of Galilee with some of my colleaques.
Standing at the border with Syria in the Golan Heights. I remember being at this exact location when I was 15 and hearing from my tour guide about how the Israelis have the technology in their communication towers to hear what we're saying. I doubt it, but maybe.
Israel is a beautiful country; and whether the religious places described are indeed the sites of what they purport to be is unknown, but just being in the Holy Land and being able to devote several days to thinking about the life and ministry of the Savior has been a needed break and renewal.