Yesterday was such a great day here. I thought it would be hard to top but we came pretty close today.
As we were driving away from the hotel in Tiberias this morning, we drove by the cemetery where Maimonides was buried. There is a large monument at his grave. It reminded me of Brooklyn, where I live.
In Brooklyn, there's a hospital named after him. Although I'd been aware of it ever since I've been in Brooklyn, I never gave much thought to why it had that unusual name. It turns out he was a great man. Not only was he the preeminent scholar of Jewish history, law and ethics, he was a philosopher, a rabbi and a physician.
Yesterday was such a great day here. I thought it would be hard to top but we came pretty close today. First we went to visit the ruins of the Roman-built Sepphoris—a city that dates to at least the 1st century. It is the birthplace of the Virgin Mary.
(Citadel, built at the site of Sepphoris)
Sepphoris was a pretty cosmopolitan city for its time, the capital of Galilee. The stunning detail in the remains of mosaics depict everything from Dionysian extravaganzas, Eqyptian motifs and an exquisite face of a woman. Archeologists believe there to be at least 20 layers of civilizations there.
(Mosaic floor at Sepphoris)
Our guide told us we were going to have a special lunch at the home of an Israeli. Other than that I didn’t know what to expect. We pulled into what seemed like an Israeli version of a gated community, complete with one of those arms that lifts up to let you drive through. It was interesting to see modern homes where children were riding bicycles on the sidewalks and chasing after balls after visiting all of the ancient sites.
About a mile or so in we parked and as I got out I immediately realized this was not going to be an ordinary meal. We virtually walked into an ancient Galilean village. The owner, Menachem, and his family live a life that is very much as it would have been 2,000 years ago.
(Menachem grinding flour at Kfar Kedem)
We had to put on robes like the ancient Jews would have worn and wrapped our heads in the traditional way. At one point Menachem made us take off our sunglasses, but after pressure from the group he let us put them back on. We milked goats, spun goat hair into wool, made cheese from the goats' milk, made our own pita bread, watched olives being pressed into oil, picked herbs and road around on donkeys—none of which was very easy for most of the group. Then we ate a lunch that would have been a typical meal 2,000 years ago—olives, pitas, chicken and lamb. What a hoot.
(Ann Work and me at Kfar Kedem)
It was really interesting to see the way these people live off their land. They really live life very “traditionally.” They don’t own a single TV. But they do have cell phones.
Cell phones—better check in with my Mom and Ed.