Bradke ’14 in Awe of Israel’s Holy Sites

Ramsey Bradke ’14 – Today was easily the most fulfilling and engaging day so far on the trip. Before we left the beautiful and quiet city of Haifa we enjoyed yet another delicious and colorful Israeli breakfast. Breakfast in Israel is my favorite meal of the day because of the diversity and color of the food. Green and purple cabbage, freshly squeezed juice, bread spread with hummus and paprika, watermelon, steamed carrots, and beansprouts. Although breakfast entrees are fundamentally different than one would find in America, Israel wakes us up with fresh vegetables and fruits rather than meats and eggs. A different but enjoyable change of pace.

Bradke375Our first stop today was a Greek Orthodox Church where Mary allegedly was informed by the archangel Gabriel of her mission to bear Christ, then a Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the city of Nazareth. The Orthodox Church was a historical spectacle. As we moved closer and closer to locations where Jesus and his mother may have walked and talked the significance of the trip really began to sink in. It became easy to sympathize with the holiness and spirituality that this country projects. The Basilica of Mary was equally as impressive. Outside the church were depictions of Mary and the young Christ from at least 50 different country’s perspectives. The Chinese and Ethiopian depictions, for example, used paintings or mosaics that depicted the Virgin and Christ as native Chinese or native Ethiopian. Although this seemed odd and blasphemic to me at first, Dr. Royalty assured me that this was completely acceptable within Catholic dogma. Catholics, who wished to become a universal faith, saw these different depictions as no different than translating the Bible into different languages such as English and Spanish to relate to peoples all over the world.

Prof. Royalty's colleague Elias Jabbour spent time with Wabash students.

Prof. Royalty’s colleague Elias Jabbour spent time with Wabash students.

My favorite part of the day though was our lunch and conversation with Dr. Royalty’s colleague from the Palestinian House of Hope. This organization, which was based out of a small home, was a run by a Palestinian Christian family and leader, Elias Jabbour, whose aim was to bridge the division between native Palestinians and Israelis who have been unable to come to a territorial or spiritual consensus over the years. This man’s conviction, kindness, and positivity was unnaturally contagious and engaging. His smile and family’s hospitality truly impacted me. We were able to ask him questions about the peace process and he gave us some striking and surprising answers. His main concern was the persecution and diminishing population of Christians in countries like Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran. Although he applauded the Arab Spring’s movement for democracy, he decried the silence from the West with respect to its voice for the Christian minorities being killed and persecuted through the process of revolution. He also was very convicted in the assertion that Christianity had its roots and origin in the land of Palestine, a notion myself and others have seemed to forget or not recognize. His firmness coupled with his positivity and kindness were unbelievable. Not to mention the delicious homemade Palestinian lunch his family made us!

To finish the day we traveled to the shores of the Sea of Galilee where I am writing currently. This is where Jesus is said to have performed miracles and walked on water. Being able to put my feet into the Sea of Galilee and look at the two sides of land where Jews and Gentiles once lived during Jesus’s mission reaffirmed my excitement and awe from this trip. It is impossible to ignore the spirituality and history this land provides. I am anxiously awaiting our journey to Jerusalem tomorrow.

Wabash Men Visit Site Built by Herod

Professor Gilberto Gomez with Wabash students talking to Haifa University students and Professor

Zeno Joyce ’14 in the Market for morning juice.

Shane Hoerbert ’15 – As I lay in my bed around 4:30 in the morning with the second day of our Israel trip about to begin I hear the first Islamic prayer being played over loudspeakers throughout Tel-Aviv. After stepping out on the balcony to listen to the prayer I lace up the shoes for a run with Bradke along the beach. I think about the exciting day ahead and think about the track team (congrats on the fourth NCAC title) and all my fellow Wabash Men back home and on all the other immersion trips.  How lucky we are!

After a quick breakfast we headed north out of Tel-Aviv to Casarea, which was built by Herod the Great, and has continually served as a port city until it was turned into a national park. We relived the religious and cultural history of the amphitheater, hippodrome, palaces, and bathhouses. We took a bunch of awesome pictures including one in which the group was reenacting the usage of the bathrooms located in the hippodrome.

Shane Hoerbert

We then proceeded further north to the old city of Acre in which we visited the White Mosque and witnessed the ritual cleanings and prayer. After stopping for a taste of traditional Israeli cuisine we headed back south to Haifa, and visited the Bahá’í gardens.

After the gardens we proceeded to the University of Haifa and visited with students and the Professor of Jewish studies. We intellectually and socially connected with this people on important sociological and political viewpoints.

After this long and amazing day we have arrived at the Colony Hotel (it is niceeeee). Words cannot express how excited I am for the rest of this trip. The guys are yelling at me to finish this blog so we can eat dinner. Shalom!

Students Exploring on First Day in Israel

David Phillips ’14 – After staying up for over 30 hours I finally got to sleep in a bed. There has never been a more restful sleep than that in my life. I woke to do my morning reading and enjoyed a wonderful sunrise. It was also nice to hear a rooster crow in the morning and look out and see a bustling city. Breakfast was fantastic and bus ride to Caesarea was beautiful and scenic

David Phillips

Today in Caesarea we all go to sit in an outdoor theatre that looked out upon the ocean. It was truly mind blowing how beautiful it was! We then went to see the remains of Herod the Great’s palace which was between the theatre and the amphitheater. We also got to see a public restroom which was literally a few slots on the side of a walk way, outdoors, with no stalls. I am so happy we live in an era with dividers. But anyways moving on from the bathrooms we went to the amphitheater which was massive! This is where chariots and other games would be held. We were told that they used sand on the ground for the amphitheatre to absorb the blood better. Fantastic, I was literally standing on possibly a guys remains a couple thousand years earlier! After we left from Caesarea we went to Acre but on the way there we passed Mount Carmel. This mountain has some significance in the Bible because it hosted the story of Elijah killing a bunch of the pagan prophets.

Joe Jackson, Kalp Juthani, and Scott Hastings at the White Mosque

When we arrived to Acre we go to go into the white Mosque which was built by a Sultan that was nicknamed “the Butcher”. A real nice guy, great with kids I am sure… anyways we got to go see the inside of the mosque and observe a guy praying. The mosque was stunning! After this we ate at a little place that served shwarma. If you have never had shwarma you are missing out! Essentially it is seasoned chicken with vegetables you add contained by pita bread. It is simply delightful. After we ate we passed through a market that was down a few alleyways. The vendors had an assortment of items, from fake toys to spices and fish.

To finish the day we went to Haifa University to talk with the students there. We talked about a song’s lyrics and what it meant to all of us. It was enlightening experience to learn what other cultures think about a topic. Overall this trip has been nothing more than incredible. I am so grateful and blessed to have gotten to go on a trip like this! The place has been amazing but even better is the men I have gotten to share it with.

Morrison ’14 Looks Ahead in Israel Trip

Scott Morrison ’14

Scott Morrison ’14 – Tonight is our first night in Israel. We touched down after a long day and a half of travel with the time change included. But the sights we saw in our first hour walking near the old city of Jaffa near Tel Aviv made all of the travel worth it already.

With our rooms not quite ready for us (because the Sabbath ends at sundown on Saturday and they were yet to be cleaned) we students set out to get our bearings and dip our feet in the Mediterranean Sea.

Jaffa Clock Tower is one of the seven clock towers built during the Ottoman period in Israel.

We quickly learned a lot about the everyday culture here in Israel. For starters, pedestrians have the right of way here, so we had to become brave in how we crossed in front of traffic. Israelis boldly walk in front of moving cars, and the cars stop every time, sure enough. We got the chance to peer into shops and attempt to exchange dollars for shekels. We even saw our first Mcdonald’s. We observed buildings and a minaret in the old city, and saw a clock tower built by a sultan hundreds of years ago.

Once to the sea, we took in the breathtaking views of the Tel Aviv skyline and a few of us dipped our feet into the cold sea and felt the soft sand between our toes. We returned for dinner which was quite different from what we are used to in the United States. There was a wide variety of salads, fruits, and pastries of different types. We did not really know what we were eating, but it was mostly all delicious.
Tonight is a little different from the rest of our trip, because Jaffa and Tel Aviv have a more historical than religious focus. Tonight is a night to see a little night life and catch up on sleep before the real trips begin tomorrow at Caesarea Maritima and the University of Haifa.
The cultural shock is pretty big from the food to the language, but you can kind of feel the power that this place has. The antiquity and religious importance permeate the surroundings, and it will only increase as we move east.
We all look forward to what this week has in store, but before I go, I will leave this post with a common Israeli verse, “Tel  Aviv is for play, Jerusalem is for pray.”
– Photos by Ian Baumgardner ’14

Hastings ’15 Taken By Tel Aviv

Hastings shooting video upon arrival in Tel Aviv

Scott Hastings ’15 – After a long, grueling, trek across the world we arrived in Tel Aviv, the second largest city in the country of Israel. First though, before arriving at our destination, we had a layover in France, which was my first experience in a country in which the native language was not one that I understood and I got my first taste of a language barrier. The language barrier would continue into Israel because even though many in Israel speak English, it is very difficult to tell who can understand you and who cannot.

David Phillips, Scott Morrison gaze at Mediterranean Sea.

The city of Tel Aviv, billed as the city that never sleeps, is very westernized in terms of how people live but very Middle Eastern in its looks. Traffic is absolutely mad! It is every driver for themselves out here but, amazingly, the rules governing how traffic treats pedestrians is much stricter. Traffic must stop if someone wants to cross the street. Kalp Juthani and I were amazed at how well we were treated as pedestrians when we went out to photograph the area.

On our walks we were exposed to several different facets of Israeli culture, the night life, religious customs and even Israeli social life. Mosques are much more common than I once thought, as we walked the one or two miles to the Mediterranean Sea, we passed three mosques. It was quite common for Israeli-Arabs to be gathering at the mosques, meeting with friends and of course to be praying there. Graffiti is very common here and on one of our walks we saw a Palestinian flag painted on a building. I found it ironic that a van bearing the letters “UN” was parked right by the graffiti.

The Mediterranean played host to the gathering of young Israelis with their friends and significant others. The lack of a difference in the behavior of young Israelis and Americans was probably one of the most eye-opening aspects of our visit to the sea. We got beautiful shots of the buildings along the coast and some of us even dipped our toes in the water. The weather of course allowed all this without a jacket or any heavy coverings because it is incredibly beautiful and warm here, a great departure from the frozen tundra that is Indiana.

I already plan on a return to Tel Aviv some time in my future because I have absolutely fallen in love with this beautiful city and Israel itself. I am only one day into this fantastic trip and continue to look forward to everything that is to come.

– Photos by Ian Baumgardner ’14