The Best of Israel
Hi. I'm Rick Steves back, with more travels this. Time were venturing beyond. Europe I'm wearing, my yarmulke and I'm, ready to learn this, is the best of Israel, thanks, for joining us. For. A third of humanity Israel, is literally, Holy Land and Jerusalem marks. Its sacred Center for, Christians this is where Jesus was crucified and, resurrected for. Muslims this is from where Muhammad, journeyed to heaven and for, Jews this, is where the Temple of Solomon stood, the, crossroads, of three great religions the holy land has been coveted, and fought, over for centuries. Israel. Is filled with a fascinating. Range of sites, Jerusalem. With its dazzling, dome is alive, with religious, passion, Christian. Muslim and Jewish, and. Cosmopolitan. Tel Aviv enjoys its in-love-with-life, Mediterranean. Beaches. Visitors. Ponder, the fortress of Masada. Pilgrims. Are spiritually, refreshed at, the biblical sites around the Sea of Galilee and. Everybody. Can Bob like corks, in the supersalty Dead. Sea the lowest place, on earth -. With its thriving multicultural cafe. Scene shows promise, as, Israel. Grapples, with ongoing. Challenges, in the. Middle East Israel faces, the Mediterranean, Sea a Jewish, state surrounded by Muslim, and Arab neighbors, today, the Holy Land the region west of the Jordan River is, split between Israel. And the Palestinian, territories of, the West Bank and Gaza, for. Our visit we start in Jerusalem then. Visit Masada, Tel, Aviv and the, Sea of Galilee. We'll. Visit the West Bank also, filled with fascinating history, and culture in another episode and the, contentious, issues, Israelis, and Palestinians, are grappling with it's beyond the scope of this travel show instead. We'll, simply enjoy and explore, Israel. This. Country is small the size of New Jersey with 8 million people while, the State of Israel was founded just after World War 2 the Jewish people have a history here going back 4,000, years within. A two-hour drive of Jerusalem, you can take a sweeping, tour of sights illustrating. Its tumultuous back and forth path. 2,000, years ago the ancient city of Caesarea. Was one of the mightiest seaports, on the Mediterranean. It. Was built by King Herod of biblical, fame and named, after its patron, the Emperor or Caesar.
Imagine. This place back then vessels, loaded, with spices and exotic, Goods setting, sail for Rome. Further. Up the coast is the 12th, century Crusader, town of Akko, its. Walls seem to have been weathered as much by history, as by the sea. The. Crusades, were rampaging, armies of European, Christians, who wrought havoc here, their, goal to defeat, the Muslims and put the holy land back in Christian, hands but. Muslim, dominance, returned, and in, the 16th century the, Ottoman Turks surrounded. Jerusalem with, this mighty wall and, the. 20th century has left reminders, of the determined, Zionist, spirit, that built today's, Jewish, state. Pillboxes. On the Golan Heights recall. Israel's, commitment to holding the high ground, lush. Valleys, farmed, by cooperative, communities, called kibbutz is recalled. Generations. Of patriotic Israelis, who turned the desert into orchards. In. 1947. After the Holocaust at the end of World War two the, United Nations helped found a modern State of Israel and Jews, long dispersed, across the world return to their ancient homeland, in the, process, hundreds, of thousands of Palestinians were, displaced and, to, this day both, people struggle, to find an equitable and peaceful, way to share what, each consider, their rightful homeland this. Process, has been difficult and both, sides have suffered tragically. Around. Here one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. In. The, name of defense, against suicide bombers, Israel. Has built what it calls a security, fence and what. Millions of, Palestinians consider. A degrading. And illegal. Land grab and, Israel. Is further asserting, itself by building communities, for hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers, across, the West Bank border, in what, Palestinians. Consider their, territory. While. There are no easy answers. As a travel, writer I believe, traveling here is important, I connect. With people whenever, and wherever, I can just. Meeting people and talking helps. Build understanding. Jerusalem. Is a sprawling, and modern city of about 800,000. People, exploring. Its shopping boulevards, and malls and, American feels right at home. But, its historic, core the old city home to around, 35,000. Feels, lost in time. Its. Venerable walls Corral, a tangle, of vibrant sights within. A 10-minute walk you can see that Church of the Holy Sepulchre, so, sacred to Christians. The, Dome of the rock treasured. By Muslims, and, at. Temple Mount the holiest place. In Judaism, the. Western wall for. So many people, Jerusalem. Is the closest, place on earth to, heaven. Much. Of Jerusalem's, importance, rests upon a very special, rock which lies under this glittering dome. Muslims. Believe Muhammad, journeyed to heaven from this rock and they worshiped here for 1,300, years.
This. Glittering, shrine, the Dome of the rock is one of Jerusalem's enduring. Landmarks. Intricate. Geometric designs, in stone and tile fit within its pure and simple, lives. Well. Today this plaza functions, as a massive, mosque for Muslims Jews. Call this place, Temple, Mount it. Was the site of their ancient, temple complex only, the foundation, of which survives, it's, here, that they believe Abraham as. A test of his faith was, asked to sacrifice his, son Isaac. Considering. This spot the center of the earth Jews, have worshiped here for 3,000. Years, a. Thousand. Years before Christ King David United the 12 tribes of Israel and captured. Jerusalem, his. Son Solomon. Built the first temple right here, it was later destroyed and, the second temple was built then, came the catastrophic. Year for the Jews 70. AD when, the Romans destroyed their, temple and ushered, in the Diaspora, that's, when the Jews became a people without a land and dispersed, throughout, the world. Here. At that surviving, bid a foundation, called the Western Wall Jews, mourn a horrible past and pray for a better future. The. Square operates, as an open-air, synagogue. The. Faithful, believe prayers left, in cracks between these ancient stones will be answered. It's. A lively scene with intense, yet private worship mixing, with the joyous, commotion of, Jewish families from around the world celebrating. Bar mitzvahs a ritual. Coming-of-age. The. Old city corralled, by its wall and a much less than a square mile is divided, into four quarters Jewish. Muslim. Armenian. And Christian. The. Christian quarter surrounds, the site of Jesus crucifixion a, high. Point for visiting Christians, is the Via Dolorosa the. Route it's believed Jesus walked, as he carried the cross. Pilgrims. From around Christendom. Retrace his, steps the. 14, Stations, of the Cross remind, the faithful of the passion, the, events that, culminated in, the crucifixion. The, pilgrims journey ends. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on Calvary, Hill or Golgotha. Today. The dark sprawling Church is the most sacred site in Christendom. While, Emperor Constantine. Had the first Church built here in the 4th century most, of today's Church is the work of 12th century, Crusaders, built, around the tomb or Sepulchre of, Jesus it's, shared by Orthodox Coptic, and Roman Catholic. Christians each. Sect controls, a part of this commotion of holy chapels, a reminder. Of how any religion, can be divided into factions. Nearby, is, the slab upon which it's believed Jesus dead, body was laid, devotion. And emotion, have been spilled onto this spot for nearly two thousand years a powerful. Experience to witness regardless. Of your faith a. Greek. Orthodox Chapel. Marks the site believed, to be where Christ was crucified. Only. A few steps away under. A grand dome, pilgrims. Line up to enter the Holy Sepulchre. And place. A candle near, the tomb of Jesus.
The. Old city is a labyrinth rich, with sights sounds, and experiences that, reward, the curious, traveler, hello. Like. A pomegranate, juice even, stopping for a drink can, be memorable, and the. Pomegranate, that symbolic, bundle of fertility provides, a welcome, and refreshing break between the rich sightseeing, stops this city offers, is. Healthy, it's good for the heart and good for the, blood. Then. Check out thank you brother. The. Muslim Quarter holds over half of the old city's population. Exploring. It's busy pedestrian, lanes and market stalls you, feel like you could be anywhere, in the Arab world we. Visited just before a holiday the, shops were jammed and the energy, was exhilarating. Experiences. Are often edible, and, tasty. While. Complete Muslim, control of Jerusalem is unrealistic, many, Arabs envision, an independent. Palestinian, state with, this part of Jerusalem East, Jerusalem, as their capital it's, a very contentious, issue and Israel, seems determined to keep Jerusalem, whole and in its control, in fact. While wandering the heart of the Muslim Quarter you may see houses fortified. And festooned with, Israeli. Flags these. Are the homes of Jewish, families staking. Out this bit of the old city for, their community. The. Jewish quarter is more orderly and modern than the other quarters, much, of this area was destroyed during, the fighting in 1948. Or under, the ensuing period of Jordanian, occupation, after. They took control of Jerusalem in 1967, the. Israelis, rebuilt this, quarter. While. It's not convenient, or economical to. Live in this medieval tangle devout, Jews find great joy living, and raising their families, so, close to the Western Wall. The. Damascus, Gate leads from the old city into, modern Jerusalem. Joining. Locals, in an afternoon stroll down Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem's, new city we, appreciate, this cultures fascinating. Mix of east and west, secular. And sacred, modern. And traditional. About. Three-quarters, of all Israelis, are Jewish but. Most of these are secular Jews, non-practicing.
About. 15 percent of Israeli Jews are Orthodox, very. Religious, and living conservative. Lifestyles, that require them to be a part in, many ways. Entire. Districts, of Jerusalem, are known as ultra-orthodox. And about. 20%, of the population is, Arab Israelis. Generally. Muslim Palestinians who, never left after the formation of Israel, Christians. Who are mostly Arabs. Make up a very small and, shrinking minority. The. Diversity, of Israel's, Jewish melting, pot community, shows itself in the way people dress this. Is especially evident at, places of worship and in ultra-orthodox, neighborhoods. With. The help of a local guide like, Abie Bresler simply. People watching comes with fascinating. Cultural insights walking. Down the street there are so many different fashions different, ways people dress well that's because of, they, express. Their belonging, to a certain group and following a certain rabbi, different, rabbis set, standards, of how. Their followers, should be dressed what is the block on the forehead, indicate well. In this scripture it says you should always have the love of God on your mind. So, in that capsule, they have a parchment. With that scripture what's. The significance of, the yarmulke Jews, wear yarmulkes because. They are constantly reminding, themselves that. God is above them so. Everybody who's wearing a yarmulke it's a constant, reminder their. Maker is up above definitely, now. You see a lot of Orthodox even, the little boys with long ear locks regarding, the ear locks the, Torah is very specific. Thou, shalt not shave, the size of your face and these, people take, those words as it, is written you notice women are dressed quite modestly, the, Orthodox. Women are always dressed modestly but. When they get married they take it one step upwards. And they. Cover their hair in public now, most, people wear, black among the men why is that the dominant, color amongst, the men is black, because. They're, still mourning, the destruction of, Jerusalem. Nearly. 2000 years ago regarding, the hats it's part of actually the uniform, defining. Which, movement, you belong to so. By, looking at somebody you couldn't tell if he's, Pashtun. Ozzy and which, movement amongst, the Ashkenazi, or Safari or Nik. Iranian, and so on so forth this man has a striped, robe, that's a declaration that he belongs to a certain movement, which. Is considered. Very extreme. And also. Does not acknowledge the. Legitimacy of, the State of Israel so, there are many different stripes of Orthodoxy, in a Jewish state definitely, in Jerusalem, 19. Amongst. The ultra-orthodox, and. It's like the rabbi's are almost like pop stars they, have been following these are the great features, more than pop stars more than more than pop stars shortly, put it this way their, spiritual. Stars. Without. The pomp. Israel. Is laced by modern freeways. By. Tour bus public bus or rental car getting around is easy. Road. Signs are in three languages and three, scripts. Hebrew. And Arabic for Jews and Arabs and English, for everybody else and, the. Scenery can be dramatic. Driving. Along the Dead Sea the lowest place on earth you, marvel at the timelessness, of the landscape, and the history it's witnessed, our.
Destination. Masada, an ancient fortress dramatically. Capping, a mountain in the, sight of a pivotal, event in Jewish history a. Gondola. Zips us effortlessly, to the summit. Built. Over 2,000. Years ago as one of King Herod's many palaces, Masada, served as a refuge of last resort back, when the Jews were the rebellious, subjects, of Roman, occupation. In. About 70, AD the Roman emperor Titus in an effort to put the Jews down once and for all destroyed, Jerusalem, about. A thousand, Jewish rebels in a desperate last stand fled up to this fortress to defend their family's religion, and way of life a mighty. Army of Romans attacked you. Can still see the rocky remains of their camps, to. Avoid a long starve, amount siege the, Roman army engineered. And built a, massive ramp, up the side of this mountain. Slowly. As the rebels watched with frustration the ramp was completed, the. Jewish rebels realized, they were doomed to a life of slavery or worse so. On the eve of the inevitable, Roman breakthrough, Masada's, rebels, methodically. Took their own lives. Today. That mass suicide, is the symbol, of Israel's staunch, they'll never take us alive commitment. To freedom and, Masada. Shall never fall again as a popular, slogan declaring. Israel's, determination, to remain free. While. Masada is etched into the psyche of Israelis, perhaps. Even more, so is the Holocaust. The. Best place to both remember, and learn about the Holocaust is, Yad Vashem back, in Jerusalem. This. Sprawling and beautifully, landscaped Memorial. And Museum is, dedicated to chronicling, remembering. And learning, from the slaughter of six million Jews by, Nazi Germany. School. Groups visiting. Heads of state and soldiers. Are all brought here to appreciate, what the Holocaust means. To the Jewish people, the. Museum artfully, tells the story, while. Working their way through the thoughtfully, laid out exhibit, visitors, struggle. To comprehend, the madness, and the scope of that. The. Hall of names is designed to give every, Jewish victim the dignity, of simply, being named and recorded. This. Archive aspires, to catalog, and therefore, remember each of the six million, victims. Yad. Vashem also. Celebrates, the creation of modern Israel, it. Shows the spirit of Zionism. That determination. Of those who came both as concentration. Camp survivors, and refugees, from Europe to forge a state for the Jewish people. Photos. Of the first settlers, show early Zionists, returning, to their historic, homeland starting.
As A trickle in the late 19th, century and becoming, a flood, after the Holocaust. Today. Just, a few generations later the, skyscrapers. Of Tel Aviv are like exclamation, points, declaring, we've, come a long way. There. Was a popular, slogan back then a land, without a people for, a people without, a land that. Was inspirational but, it ignored the reality of the Palestinians, who actually lived, here and were displaced, with the creation of Israel still. It's impressive how the true grit of those early Jewish settlers turned, sand dunes and at Tel Aviv and built modern Israel. Tel. Aviv is a young city if, looking, for historic, charm you can stroll the original, main drag Rothschild. Boulevard with, its nostalgic, cafes and venerable buildings. But. Tel Aviv is gleaming, ly modern and growing fast. Its. Infrastructure. Is impressive. And its new buildings, look to the future. Its, beach scene comes with some of the best sand on the Mediterranean, a world. Away from the religiosity of, Jerusalem, the people here seem focused on living for today. In. This culture food is love, and it. Seems to celebrate, the bounty of the land. We. Sat down with our guide Benny and Driver Kobi to get an edible lesson, in this part of Jewish culture hey Cheers, Haim. Lahaie. Very, good so, Benny could you say this is typical. Israeli yeah, you can say this typical Israeli everything. That you see here is grown here locally, you know you could say this, is Israeli, but it's also Arab, because yes every, way we call it now Israeli, food but you can find it in the Arab countries you find in Lebanon you could find it not all, over the Middle East here we have eggplants, with olive oil and tahini here, we have the tahini itself, here. We have another eggplant salad with vegetables, that's. The hummus very, famous almost made from chickpeas this, is something special, this, we call tabbouleh, it's made of Bogle and, parsley, and cucumbers very. Special, very tasty it's, okay, to reach and dip your pita bread into it do you dip it in each, of the salads and that's the way to do it no need of a fork or a knife and Kobe how do you say Bon Appetit inhibit but there alone that. They are one let. They among them thank, you. A. Short. Drive of Israel's, coastline and, then into, the interior, takes us down 700. Feet below sea level to, the Sea of Galilee. Israel's. Primary, source of freshwater it's both fed and drained by the Jordan River this, area has long been popular with Israeli, vacationers and, Christian. Pilgrims. Galilee. Is famous as the place where Jesus did his three years of ministry and, where so many Bible, stories were set in, the Jordan River the faithful believe John the Baptist, baptized, Jesus and, today. Christians, from all over the world come here in droves to affirm their baptism, with a dip into that same fabled. River. This. Busy, North End of Galilee is where the Bible says Jesus walked, on water, come. To the storm and talked. Fishermen, into changing, careers. In. The, Bible Matthew wrote as Jesus, was walking beside the Sea of Galilee he, saw two brothers Peter, and Andrew they were casting, a net into the lake as they were fishermen and, Jesus said come follow me and I'll make fishers, of men. The. Faithful come here to worship be, inspired and walk, in the footsteps of, Jesus. In. This. Church a rock marks Mensa, Christi the. Place where it's believed Christ resurrected. After his crucifixion ate with his disciples, and said specifically. To Peter feed. My sheep, for. Roman Catholics, this is a very, important, site as it established, the importance of Peter the, first pope among. The disciples. Another. Church is built upon the place where according, to the Bible the 5,000, who gathered to hear Jesus preach were, miraculously. Fed by a few fish and loaves of, bread. This. Mosaic is from the original church that, stood here in the 5th century. And. This. Church perched high above the Galilee, on Mount beatitude marks.
The Place where Jesus gave the Sermon, on the Mount. Beatitude, is, Latin for blessing. The. Faithful come from far and wide to remember how jesus said blessed, are the meek for they shall inherit the earth blessed. Are the peacemakers for, they will be called the children of God and blessed. Are the merciful for. They shall receive, mercy. This. Group from Nigeria, is one more spirited. Example, of how so, much of our world embraces. This land as truly. Holy. Having. Sampled the great sights and experiences of, Israel visitors, whether, religious, or not leave, impressed, by the amazing, diversity of the sightseeing, packed into this small country, and it's. Hard not to be impressed by, the richness and complexity. Of the cultures, and traditions that. Have steeped, for so many centuries here, in the, Holy Land. In. This land so treasured, by Jews Muslims, and Christians I'm, reminded that the profits of each of these religions taught, us to love our neighbors and the, lessons learned from traveling here in Israel can inspire us all to strive for that ideal I'm. Rick Steves until. Next time keep, on travelin chello.