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Above: Dinner with MK Yoel Hasson (Deputy Speaker of Knesset)

Day 4: Nazareth and Jerusalem


Today was dedicated to discussions around national security and domestic issues facing Israelis.

In the morning we had an opportunity to receive a security briefing from an expert in national defense and retired Lt. Colonel in the IDF (pictured on right). We were unable to make our planned stop in the Golan on the Syrian border because of military efforts in the region. However, we were able to spend substantial time understanding the reality on the ground in Israel.

From there we stopped in Nazareth for a brief break and lunch where we toured the Basilica of the Visitation. Then we were off to Jerusalem where we discussed a number of topics, including the security fence dividing Israel from the West Bank.

We ended the day having dinner with the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Yoel Hasson. Our discussion went on for more than two hours and ranged from domestic issues, like national healthcare and higher education, to national security and the peace process.

View pictures from today here.

Reflections From Jeannette Bernskoetter

Day 4 began with the most beautiful view of the sun rising over the Sea of Galilee.  This place is something that I’ve heard of all my life where Jesus sent the disciples by ship back to the other side of the sea while he remained behind to pray.  A storm came later and as the disciples rowed most of the night, they saw Jesus walk on water.  It is truly so amazing to be able to be in the same place where this happened so long ago.

Our next stop was an incredible eye opening visit to Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Sarit Zehavi.  She is the founder and CEO of Alma Research and Education Center. The information she was able to share with us was another example of how the people of Israel live daily with the fear of attack from their neighboring countries. Her job is so important but even though she has so much to deal with, her first thought in crisis is her children

We then traveled on to the City of Nazareth. We were able to visit the Basilica of Annunciation where it is believed that Mary announced that she would give birth to Jesus. Also we went to the Church of St. Joseph. Travelers who visited here in the 7th Century pointed out that this had been the Carpentry Shop of Joseph.

We had a little side trip after lunch to Mount Precipice. Here Jesus jumped from this mountain when fleeing his pursuers. The view from here was also spectacular!

The day ended with dinner and engaging conversation with Yoel Hasson, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset.

(Pictured is the briefing with Retired Lt. Colonel Sarit Zehavi.)


Reflections From Kenny Ross

The day started off in the Sea of Galilee and from there we headed to a security briefing on the situation in Syria and Lebanon. To say the least the issue is complicated and without a clear solution. The contradictions and pressure the people of Israel live under are awe inspiring.

After the security briefing we headed to Nazareth to see the Basilica of the Enunciation before heading to Jerusalem.

Traveling through Israel I am struck by the beauty of country and amazed how everyone is living in such close quarters. Outside of the major cities it seems as if hardly a mile goes by without another village, often of different religious groups. Yet, despite this and despite all the differences between the groups, people largely go about their daily lives in peaceful coexistence.

Israel is a stunningly beautiful and stunningly complicated place. I have never been in a place quite like it. The people of this place must have an inner strength that is lacking in other parts of the world.

(Pictured is the Church of the Visitation in Nazareth.)