Sar-El Tours & Conferences - 'For the Lord your God brings you into a good land.' (Deut 8:7)
April 2012
Sar-El News Scroll



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Shalom from the Land of the Bible! 

As we prepare in Israel for the Passover holiday, we invite you to have a look at our April News Scroll.  We've even featured an article about the Messiah in the Passover for those of you interested in the holiday (in the 'Spiritual Insights' section).

If you have any questions or would like more information on topics featured here, please don't hesitate to contact our office.

Kind Regards,
Samuel Smadja

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What's New In Israel
JLM Marathon
Photo: Kobi Gideon / FLASH90
Despite challenging weather conditions, some 15,000 runners showed up on March 15th to participate in the 2nd annual Jerusalem Marathon. Around 1,500 runners came from countries abroad, while the rest were local avid runners. The course led runners through the streets of the Old City, past the Knesset, Sultan's Pool, Mount Zion, the German Colony and the Haas Promenade. Hotel reservations in the city increased as a result of the race and Jerusalem residents had to adjust to the temporary street closures in addition to the rerouting and altogether halt of public transportation. The oldest runner in the race this year was Holocaust Survivor Hanoch Shahar, 77, who completed the 10K race in 01:04:00.  

Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90
Oil in Israel: They've done it again! In shallow water just 15 miles northwest of Tel Aviv, Israel's Modiin Energy and Adira Energy discovered an estimated 232 million barrels of oil and 1.8 trillion cubic feet of gas. The substantial amount found is high quality and can be sold for commercial use. Drilling will begin by the end of the year and a well will be in place producing oil in about five years. This is good news for Israel as it will create new jobs and has the potential to increase the value of the shekel.   
Site News & New Sites


Come Gather at Beit Al Liqa': 

 Beit Al Liqa', which in Arabic means 'House of Meeting', is a Christian Training and Community Center in Beit Jala, a village adjacent to Bethlehem. The center was founded by Johnny and Marlene Shahwan, employees of the German Missionary Fellowship, DMG. Beit Al Liqa' has become a gathering place for many in the area and includes different services and activities for the whole family.



From nursery school the children are taught to live in peace and harmony. The staff guide and walk along side the youth and teenagers, and they assist women in their daily problems and challenges. For many people in the Bethlehem area Beit Al Liqa' is a second home. It's a place where they can get to know Jesus personally and grow in deep and meaningful relationships with others in the community. 



We at Sar-El Tours invite you to visit and see the work God is doing in and through our friends at Beit Al Liqa'! Tourists can visit the facilities for a tour, hear the special story of the founders and its participants, and experience the different work areas of the facilities. After a tour, groups can enjoy a delicious meal in the on-site restaurant and have a stroll around the gift shop offering a range of olive wood crafts made by local craftsmen.


If you are interested to know more about Beit Al Liqa' and the work they do, please feel free to visit their website or let your travel agent know you are interested to include a visit to the facilities on your next Israel tour.


Hiking The Jesus Trail:  

The Jesus Trail, a 60-kilometer pilgrimage hiking trail in the Galilee region of Israel, aims to provide an alternative way of experiencing the Biblical sites by foot.  The Jesus Trail connects sites from the life of Jesus, as well as beautiful landscapes and other points of historical interest. Groups looking for something off the beaten path can consider including all or part of the trail in their next tour.

jesustrail2The Jesus Trail begins in Nazareth, Jesus' childhood home and now the largest Arab city in Israel.  Hikers can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Old City market, learn about the first century village life at the open air museum Nazareth Village, sample delicious local sweets, and even spend the night in a restored Ottoman mansion at the Fauzi Azar Inn.  The first day, hikers walk from Nazareth to Zippori, an impressive archeological site that was an important administrative city at the time of Jesus.  From Zippori, the trail continues through the village of Meshhed to Kfar Cana, the traditional site of Jesus' first miracle of turning water to wine.   A small family-run guesthouse has started in  

Cana where hikers can enjoy hospitality with a local family.

The next day, the trail continues through tranquil forests to the small village of Ilaniya, where an organic goat farm offers charming rustic cabins and fresh goat cheese. The third day is the most scenic, as the trail winds over the Horns of Hattin with its magnificent view of the entire trail, and continues to Nebi Shu'eib, the holiest site in the Druze religion and a peaceful place to stop for lunch and refill water bottles. From there, hikers continue through ancient olive groves in the Arbel Valley to arrive at the peaceful Arbel Village for an overnight stay.

jesustrailThe final day, the trail continues down the dramatic Arbel Cliffs, which provide an amazing view of the entire Sea of Galilee.  Through the plain of Ginosar, hikers then arrive to the northern Sea of Galilee to visit sites such as Tabgha, the site of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, St. Peter's Primacy church on the peaceful shoreline, and finally Capernaum, the base of Jesus' ministry.   

The Jesus Trail philosophy is that hiking trails are a way to bring people together and build bridges between different communities.  The Jesus Trail aims to provide excellent resources for hikers, to connect diverse communities, to encourage economic development in rural areas and to encourage environmental awareness and protection.  For further information, please ask your local travel agent or visit the trail's website.

Sar-El News
At the Sea of Galilee 

Indigenous Tour:

In February we hosted the Indigenous Tour of Israel organized by Roger Armbruster of Canada Awakening. The delegation convened in Israel from all corners of the earth: Alaska, Greenland, Canada and the South Pacific.   Amongst notable guests was Grand Chief David Harper of Canada's First Nations. He and the delegation were featured in the Jerusalem Post as Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara, and Christian Allies Caucus director Josh Reinstein welcomed them during their visit at the Knesset.


Mike Huckabee:

Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee joined us for the third year in a row on his annual tour, The Israel Experience.  Governor Huckabee shared with the 160 tour passengers about the nation's heritage from a Biblical and historical perspective. The group visited all the main sites as well as met with top Israeli officials to hear about the important tie between America and Israel.    


IFL Caesaria
Photo: Owen Wildman & Eric Baesel 
Insight For Living:

In cooperation with Inspiration Cruises & Tours we were honored to serve yet again Dr. Charles Swindoll of Insight for Living on his most recent Holy Land tour! It was one of our larger groups this time of year, with 13 buses in total. The tour went very smoothly thanks to every tour guide, bus captain and shepherd. Pastor Swindoll shared with the whole group at several sites throughout Israel, such as at the ancient Roman Amphitheatre in Caesaria, pictured left.   

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa: 

Though we're sorry Pastor Chuck Smith was not able to join the tour this year, we were happy to have our friends from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, in partnership with Inspired Travel, join us in the beginning of March. The group of more than two hundred passengers was "blessed" with many days of rain and handled the inclement weather with a wonderful attitude. As Pastor Smith says, "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken!" Our appreciation for Pastor Smith runs deep and we wish him the best of health.


Spiritual Insights

Why Is This Night Different? The Passover Story Unfolds

by Efraim Goldstein, D Min of CJFM


Mah Nistanah haliliah hazeh me kol halilioth? - ?מה נשתנא הלילה הז מכל הלילות

Why is this night different from all other nights? This is one of the opening prayers read by the youngest child present. The designated child will anxiously spend days preparing to sing this pivotal prayer. For many Jewish children over the centuries this is one of the first questions they learn and remember. This was certainly the case for me growing up in a traditional Jewish home in New York City. For a number of years I was the youngest child in the family until my younger brother could learn to read. Each year it was with great anticipation that I recited this prayer under the watchful scrutiny of my grandfather and the proud smiles of my mother and aunts.


This simple prayer has the youngest child asking a series of four questions:

Why is this night different?

Why do we eat unleavened bread?

Why do we eat bitter herbs?

Why do we recline when we eat?


The elders are responsible to spend the rest of the evening answering these foundational questions. Passover is one of the few holidays that were to be celebrated and observed in the homes of the Israelites and it has the explicit biblical command to "teach the children."

So, why is this night different from all other nights? The first night of Passover begins a seven day festival, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt. The night the Lord God brought the Israelites out from slavery in bondage to Pharaoh with a "might hand and an outstretched arm."


Passover is about the freedom of the Israelites, the love of God and the hope for the future. These three key elements are remembered in the story in the Book of Exodus as told by Moses. But at the Passover Seder as it is held each year in the homes of the faithful Jewish people is also an object lesson that is found in the food and even how we recline around the table.


The second question about the unleavened bread is a reminder of the haste by which the Israelites left Egypt. The bread that they prepared didn't have the chance to rise because it was baked before the leaven could cause the bread to rise. Yet the emphasis on removing all leaven from the house was a crucial element in preparation for the festival. The cleansing of the home and the essential bedikat chamez serves as a reminder that this is not just about bread crumbs or leftover bagels. There is a spiritual component in cleansing your home and heart before the festival. Leaven was certainly a symbol of spiritual impurity since there is nothing basically wrong with a good bagel or pita.


A lot of people like a good spicy hot pepper or a hefty sprinkling of Tabasco on their food and there is nothing wrong with this. However, at Passover even the faint of heart must dip into the spicy hot horseradish and taste the bitterness. This serves as a reminder that the slavery of the Israelites and their deliverance was a painful event for all involved: for the Israelites who suffered under Egyptian bondage and for the Egyptians who suffered under the mighty hand of God's judgment.


The fourth and final question was about reclining at dinner. This speaks for the future hope of Israel; the fact that after that first Passover and for every year since we can eat the meal in peace. Reclining comfortably is how a free man eats a meal. The Seder meal is not a fast food affair and is eaten slowly while enjoying God's bountiful provision for the Israelites and Jewish people every year since the Exodus from Egypt.


Passover is a time to remember and to rejoice in all God has done for His people Israel. However, for those of us who know Yeshua as the Messiah and Savior, we too remember that this was a special time in the life of Yeshua. It was the season, the holiday when he completed His mission here on earth. Yeshua led his people and all who would believe in him from bondage into redemption. We must never forget that it was no coincidence that his last supper was the Passover meal. The fact that his death and resurrection took place during the Passover sealed the fact that our Passover is complete in the Messiah Yeshua. So let's remember the words of the Apostle Paul:


"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."  

(1 Corinthian 5:7-8)


Enjoy Passover, come and enjoy Israel with us this holiday and give thanks unto the Lord.

A Word from Samuel

Shalom partners and friends! What a busy start to the year! In February alone Israel welcomed 232,000 travelers, a 6% increase compared to the same period last year. We at Sar-El have experienced the rush of tourists first-hand, seeing groups come and go through our doors one after the other. We've also had the chance to see many of our agents stop in the office for a visit, which we're always happy to see and talk to in person! Although we barely find time to catch a breath, we are thankful for every group that we get the chance to work with.


As we come to the end of one of the busiest seasons of the year, and at the same time prepare our hearts and homes for the Passover holiday, we want to thank our agents again for their continued support and cooperation. Whether you celebrate Passover or Easter, we remind you to take time to reflect on the importance of these holidays. For us, this time of year reminds us of the freedom we have from slavery in our Messiah through His sacrificial life and resurrection. We wish you a pleasant spring and look forward to seeing you with us again soon!



Many Blessings,
Samuel Smadja
Sar-El Tours & Conferences

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