With our guide, Amikam Yechezkely, we drove around the Sea of Galilee and explored areas of interest both on our way to and from Mizpe Hayamim where we spent 2 nights. This is a beautiful and restful place to stay with wonderful organically grown food and a dairy that produces cheeses and yogurts, all of which are served in their restaurant every day. You are completely surrounded by nature and wildlife. You can take a sauna, and get a massage. And if you have a luxury room, you can relax in your own jacuzzi.
We toured on the way there, on the way back to Tel Aviv, and during the day between the two nights we stayed at Mizpe Hayamim.
Yardenit Baptismal Site
We watched Christian tourists receive baptism at the Yardenit Baptismal Site, which is on the Jordan River in the Galilee region of North Israel. However, this is not the accepted site where Jesus himself is believed to be baptized. Nevertheless, pilgrims come from all over the world for a dunking in the Jordan River to wash away their sins.
On the other side of the river is Jordan and an army soldier. The soldier is there in case anybody decides to swim across. You can only cross into Jordan at official crossings, and I assume they expect you to be dry too.
After our stay at Mizpe Hayamim and on our way back to Tel Aviv to catch our plane home the next day, we visited the nearby city of Tsfat (Safed). It is one of Judaism‘s Four Holy Cities, and also known as Israel’s art capital.
You can stroll along Tsfat’s main street, Rechov Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Street) and surrounding streets to enjoy the small to medium-sized shops.
The two HaAri Synagogues are both named for Rabbi Yitzhak Luria who was an important Kabb
alist because his students and colleagues referred to him as the Ari (lion).
- Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue was established in the16th century by Greek Sephardic Jewish immigrants. It was built where the Ari prayed on after walking with his disciples to a nearby field to welcome Shabbat.
- Ari Sephardic Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Tsfat. It was built three hundred years before the Ari came to Tsfat.
Beit Alfa has a beautiful synagogue mosaic floor that dates from the early sixth century CE. It is located on the Kibbutz Heftziba in the eastern Jezreel Valley. A note in Aramaic reveals the date and that the funding for the mosaic floor came from donations. The panel near the Torah Shrine has a Holy Ark, menorahs, shofars, etrogs, lulavs, and incense pans. The center panel has the zodiac labeled in Hebrew. The lower panel presents the biblical story of the offering of Isaac.
Points of Interest
Golan Heights borders Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. It used to be part of Syria, but Israel captured it in the 1967 Six-Day war. The area has more than 20 Jewish settlements on the heights (estimated 20,000 settlers) and around 20,000 Syrians, most of whom are members of the Druze sect.
Upper Jordan Valley is approximately 14 miles long and varies in width from 4 to 6 miles. Until the 1950s it contained marsh land and a small lake, created by a dam of natural rock that impeded the flow of the Jordan River. Today, after being drained, the valley is rich in agriculture and very important to the economy of Israel.
Hula Valley is a nature reserve that is best known for bird watching. We piled into an open truck to tour the area and see indigenous animals and migrating birds. Twice a year, about 500 million birds Migrate through the skies of Israel on their way to Africa in the fall and then on their way to Europe to mate and reproduce in the spring.