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Outside my comfort zone: scuba diving

I am a certified open water diver and have done exactly 29 dives up to today. That makes me a relative newbie, but I know the basics of scuba diving. Nevertheless, scuba diving is and always will be outside my comfort zone. The basic problem is that the whole thing just goes against any idea…

some smaller tombs at Petra

Petra travel advice: 10 tips for visiting Petra

My first awareness of the existence of Petra was seeing it in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When I learned that it was a real place and not just a movie set, I added a trip to Petra to my next Israel trip. (Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means if…

A Dead Sea Day

Floating in the Dead Sea is one of those things people put on their bucket list: something that has to be experienced once in a lifetime. The Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea because its salt and mineral levels are so high that nothing lives in it. It is also the lowest elevation on…

Jordanian taxis and a near-miss

Wadi Musa, August 4, 2014 The only part of this trip that I didn’t book in advance was a rental car from Aqaba to Wadi Musa, the home of the Petra ruins. I got contradictory advice: rent a car and drive there. No, don’t rent a car; you’re better off taking a taxi. At the…

Masada and the Israeli Army

Masada, July 31, 2014  In about 66 C.E. (Christian Era, which is the term Israelis use for A.D.), a Jewish rebel movement captured a great fortress and palace built by King Herod. Called Masada, it stood high above the Dead Sea on a flat-topped mountain, surrounded by desert. After the destruction of the Second Temple…

The sound of the siren

Jerusalem, July 30, 2014 I experienced my first siren last night: the signal warning of an incoming Hamas rocket. Darkness had fallen and I was visiting my cousins at their moshav (a uniquely Israeli planned village) for dinner. We decided that my cousin Tamar would walk us around to see the features of the moshav….

the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock, as seen from the Mount of Olives

The Western Wall Tunnel Tour explores a long-hidden history.

If you visit Jerusalem’s old city, you will surely see the Western Wall. It’s as if the large plaza at the center of this ancient place draws you in like a magnet. All roads don’t lead to Rome; they lead to the Western Wall.[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#jerusalem #westernwall”]All roads don’t lead to Rome; they lead to the…

along the Via Dolorosa (photo courtesy of Anne Hellersmith)

The Via Dolorosa

Jerusalem A 24-hour ceasefire has been agreed, and swiftly failed. Palestinian civilians are suffering terribly – many dead and wounded, houses destroyed, shortage of food – and Israelis, particularly in Ashkelon, are living in fear of the next rocket attack. Only the politicians on each side seem to want this war to continue. Nevertheless, I insist…

The Mundane in Jerusalem

A protest march in the West Bank turned violent last night when it was stopped by riot police at the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Also last night, I had a very pleasant meal with my cousins at an Italian restaurant right outside the Jaffa Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem. The coexistence of…

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