My Tour at Batim MiBifnim This Week

Collage Mt. Zion

The Many Faces of Christian Mount Zion

I’ve written here in the past about the always popular and equally awesome Batim MiBifnim event in Jerusalem. Though the name literally means “Houses from Within” or “Open Houses,” the annual event features so much more than just a peak into private homes. Numerous private institutions and historical buildings also open their doors to the public, and a number of theme-focused walking tours are also included.

At this year’s event, scheduled for later this week on Thursday to Saturday, I am proud to be giving a tour (twice) on Mount Zion, outside the Old City walls. For the second year in a row, the JCJCR – Jerusalem Council for Jewish-Christian Relations is co-hosting “A Window to Mt. Zion” — a series of tours and lectures focusing on the various religious communities who call the area home. My tour will be the only one in English, along with a few of the lectures as well.

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Jerusalem: A Walk Through Christian History

St. Mark's Church

The apse of St. Mark’s Syriac Church, a small and very old church in Jerusalem’s Old City

Recently, I have been preparing my next Jerusalem: Meet Jerusalem walking tour, which will focus on Christian Jerusalem for Non-Christians. In the process I have come to explore and discover many of Jerusalem’s churches. Obviously, Jerusalem is a very holy city to Christianity, and there are innumerable churches here, many of them within the approximately one square kilometer surrounded by the Old City walls.

But as I began to explore more, and uncovered some of the lesser known churches here, I became endlessly fascinated by the variety of Christian sects. There are tens of different denominations, split into a number of larger branches of Christianity, many of which are fairly unknown to most people — Christians and non-Christians alike! And of those many sects, tons of them have churches in Jerusalem, including a number of those less known denominations.

I began to organize them all for myself, grouping them into related branches and placing them in the sequence of their various splits from each other. By looking at them this way, I could see the very development of Christianity itself, reflected in the distinctive churches in my city. I soon realized that walking through Jerusalem’s Old City is like a walk through a living museum of Christian history.

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Why You Should Hire a Tour Guide in Israel – Part 1

Greek Orthodox Viri Galilaei Church, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel

Inside the Viri Galileai Greek Orthodox church on the Mount of Olives.

A lot of people travel all over the world and explore new places on their own, planning their trips with the help of guide books, websites and friends’ advice. So why should you hire a professional licensed tour guide for your trip to Israel? Certainly a tour guide is an expense that could bump your trip into a different budget range, so what is the added value that you will get for your dollar (or Euro, Pound, Shekel, etc.)?

As a licensed guide here in Israel, I believe that the service I provide (and the service provided by my many excellent and talented colleagues) gives my clients an unparalleled experience in Israel, whether they are first-time visitors to Israel, or seasoned tourists here. This post will highlight two of the my top five reasons why you should hire a tour guide for your trip to Israel, and I’ll give you the other three in Part 2 of this post.

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Israel Mystery Photo #9

Mystery Photo Israel tourism tour guide tourguide Fun Joel

Let's hear your guesses on this mystery photo!

Been a busy week for me, so I apologize for the delay on this Mystery Photo, but I hope that won’t ruin the momentum I’ve been building with these: more comments/guesses each week. Keep ’em coming gang! I love seeing your guesses on these!

I liked the responses to last week’s photo. A nice mix of correct answers, and almost correct answers. The picture was in fact from the baptistry of the Northern Church (more on that later) from the ancient Nabatean city of Avdat. Ilana was the first with the correct answer, and Aaron and Steven both got it right as well, with Steven giving the most complete and detailed answer. (By the way, for those who read Steven’s comment, stay tuned for a review post soon on the excellent materials from Biblical Backgrounds, his company.)

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