Visit Israel in 2013

NIFI begins the new year 2013 by enticing you to visit Israel in the year ahead!

Iconic images and off the beaten track….

Colin in Jerusalem

Meet our virtual guide: Bangorman Colin Nevin! Hebrew-speaking Colin lived and worked in Israel for over 10 years. He  invites us to share some thoughts and experiences – from his most recent visit back to the Land.

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Sunrise at the sea of Galilee

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee, “taken in the early morning from the camping spot at Capernaum where I was still able to sleep out in the open in late September. Just behind that beautiful sunrise is the troubled land of Syria. Peace and tranquility so close to such brutality and chaos”.

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Colin in Tel Aviv

Everyman under his fig tree: Colin beside a Sycamore Fig Tree in Tel-Aviv, on Ben-Gurion Boulevard, named after Israel’s first Prime Minister. Colin says: “David Ben-Gurion’s former residence is found in the row of buildings just behind . My former residence (not quite so grand!) was just a few doors away. Incidentally, Sycamore Fig Trees are now a protected species in the Tel-Aviv area.”

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Colin at bar mitzvah

Mazal tov (Good luck or Congratulations): Attending a Bar Mitzvah ceremony  in Jaffa. “The young boy and his mother are new immigrants from the former Soviet Union (where Jews were persecuted for centuries under Czars and commissars, and where even the teaching of Hebrew was punnishable by a prison sentence). Here the boy wears a tallit (prayer shawl) over his t-shirt and carries the sacred Torah scroll (which contains the hand-written five books of Moses). Freedom of worship in the land of Israel!”

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Colin at Anglican archive

Out of the sun,  researching the rich Christian heritage of Jerusalem at the Anglican archives in the Old City. “Here I made many discoveries about the work of Irish churchmen and women in the Holy Land which I will definitely write about on my return to Northern Ireland”.

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Colin on Kinneret

A must for every  pilgrim: a boat trip on the Kinneret (the sea of Galilee) – a Biblical scene of storms and miracles, and the lowest fresh water lake on earth.

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Colin's room with a view

Holy city of Jerusalem: View from Colin’s sleeping bag on the roof of the Citadel Hostel in the Old City. “An excellent way to get a feel of life in the Old City and to meet fellow travellers from around the world, and all for £8.00 per night – they will ask for £1 deposit! Super view of sunrise in the mornings.” (little known fact: in 1997 the golden roof of the Dome of the Rock was renovated by engineers from Northern Ireland. The restoration work was undertaken by Mivan International, based in Antrim, at a cost of over $7m).

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Colin at Kotel

A slightly sunburnt traveller visits the Western Wall (the Kotel) just before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). No photographs could be taken during the fast day itself. “It was heartening to see so many Jews now free to worship at this sanctified spot without restrictions that would have been applied by former rulers of the City, including the British (during the period of Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967 Jewish worshippers were not allowed to visit at all). ‘Pray for the peace (‘shalom’- ‘wholeness’) of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love thee.'”

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Colin visits Arab school

Hope for the future: Colin paid a special visit to the Sunshine School in Beit Hanina, a Muslim town between Jerusalem and Ramallah, a pre-school Christian kindergarten which caters to the needs of local and expatriate children from Muslim, Christian and non-religious backgrounds. “This is what you will never see on our news. The school is a good example of practical co-existence as Israeli Jewish teachers work alongside Arab Palestinians to help teach these kids in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding.”
Shalom and le’hitraot – why not visit the Holy Land yourself this year!
Colin Nevin.
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