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

August 2012
Sar-El News Scroll



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Shalom from Jerusalem! 
Here we are towards the end of the summer with another informative newsletter about Sar-El, tourism and points of interest in Israel.  We wish you happy reading and would be glad to hear from you!

Kind Regards,
Samuel Smadja

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What's New In Israel
Tel Hazor:
Image: Dr. Sharon Tzukerman
14 large clay jugs containing seeds of 3,400 year old burnt wheat have recently been uncovered in a storage room at Tel Hazor in the Upper Galilee during excavations being conducted under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.  Tel Hazor, a national park, has long been recognized as one of the country's most important archaeological sites. From the 18th to the 9th centuries BCE, it was the largest fortified city in the country and had commercial ties with both Babylon and Syria. The Book of Joshua describes Hazor as the "head" of several kingdoms that united to fight the Israelites. In 2005, Tel Hazor was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Tourists in Figures:
In June alone Israel opened its doors to close to 242,000 tourists from around the world, a 6% increase to comparative figures from 2011.  Of these figures, 12,271 were from the Far East (a 26% increase) and 86,965 were from North and South America, an increase of 8% from last year's figures.  Hotel overnights in Jerusalem also went up 13% in June compared to the same period last year.  In Tiberius, overnights increased by 7%. 


Ministry of Tourism Grants Approved:

In response to the growing amount of tourists visiting and the shortage of hotel rooms throughout the country, the Ministry of Tourism's Investment Administration has approved 225 million Shekels in grants for six projects to establish and expand hotels in Jerusalem and Nazareth.  In total 375 hotel rooms of varying standards will be built.  Grant money will go towards reestablishing the former Dan Pearl Hotel across from Jaffa Gate in the Old City, which will offer 153 top level hotel rooms.  In the Old City of Nazareth a new 100-room hotel will be built atop a hill overlooking the Church of the Annunciation; the hotel will be geared mainly towards Pilgrims. 


Points of Interest

Sar-El's Visit to Acre (Akko): 

Sar-El staff recently had the opportunity to participate in a day-trip to Acre, or Akko, the ancient port city North of Haifa on the Mediterranean coast.  We were introduced to the wonderful sites and attractions this seaside city has to offer.  In addition to the sites listed below, groups may also be interested in visiting the Marina, fishing ports, the Oriental Market, the Promenade along the Akko walls, and a variety of restaurants for every style and taste.  In the near future groups will be able to take a boat ride on the Mediterranean Sea from Haifa to Akko as part of their tour!

The following text was provided by the Old Acre Development Co. Ltd., edited by Sar-El Tours


akko1 Hospitaller Fortress - The Underground City

The spacious Crusader Fortress has been excavated over the years and today measures about 23,000 sq. meters. The visitor walking through the fortress feels history bubbling under his feet in the Knight's Halls, the Crusader Dining Hall, the Prisoner's Hall, the public toilets from the Crusader period, the Crusader Fortress courtyard, a Crusader street and the Escape tunnel.  In the Underground Crusader City we will find ancient streets, shops, a special chapel where mass can be held and walls engraved with graffiti of the Crusader period street artists.  Duration: 1.5 hours


The Okashi Museum

The Museum is named after the late artist Avshalom Okashi, one of the leading artists of the "New Horizons" stream of art. This is a unique museum dedicated to modern art and located in an Ottoman building. The temporary exhibition changes every three months.  Duration: 20 minutes


Or Torah Synagogue

The synagogue is named after the ancient Jewish synagogue in Gerba, Tunisia. The synagogue is four floors high and filled with beautiful mosaics and splendid French glazed windows. The mosaics tell the story of the Jewish people from the time of Abraham's arrival from Ur Kasdim up to the Yom Kippur War.  Duration: 1 hour - 1.5 hours


The Templar's Tunnel
The underground tunnel (which is actually a street) is 300 meters long and it crosses the city from east to west. The visitor entering the tunnel walks on a wooden walkway, underneath which fresh water flows and gurgles.  Through the use of a unique and modern presentation, the visitor will go back in time and have an exciting experience from the period of the Middle Ages.  Duration: about 20 minutes


The Story of the Last Bath Attendant

The Al Basha Hammam - the large simulated Turkish bath is alive and breathing. The Turkish Bath presents the historical experience of "The Story of the Last Bath Attendant" through the eyes of the last bath attendants heritage in Akko. Through the use of a multi-media presentation, we will meet up with the original stories and captivating historical experiences of Akko.  The fascinating audio-visual experience is presented simultaneously in eight languages: Hebrew, Arabic, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian.  Duration: 30 minutes


Museum of the Underground Prisoners

This is a structure from the Ottoman period that served originally as the El-Jazar Paha Palace. During the British Mandate it served as a prison where nine of the Jewish Resistance Movement prisoners were hung from the gallows. Today the Museum reconstructs the prisoners' cells and their attempt to escape from the prison. The Museum displays the activities of the Jewish Resistance Movements (Etzel, the Hagana and Lechi) before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Duration: around 1.5 hours


The Ramchal Synagogue

This ancient 300 year-old synagogue is located in the middle of the Oriental Marketplace in the Old City, named after Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzatto from Italy. The structure of the synagogue resembles the little synagogues in Italy (Livorno). The synagogue is found in the heart of the Old City and has a pulpit below the congregation - "From the depths I called out to you".

Duration: about 15 minutes


Ethnographic Museum

The museum offers a trip to the Galilee of 150 years ago and presents the daily life in Akko and the Galilee area from that period. The museum simulates a Galilean market place from the 18th-19th century, showing laborers, their tools, the products they made and sellers in the marketplace. The Museum is situated within the width of the ancient wall, 60 meters wide, which adds a special touch to the experience.  Duration: about 1 hour


Bahai Gardens

Alongside the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, the Akko Bahai Gardens are well known as the most beautiful in Israel.  The founder of the Bahai religion, Bahá'u'lláh, lived his last years here and is buried in the shrine at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gardens are magnificently designed and beautifully, geometrically exact; we invite you to enjoy the serenity and beauty of these gardens during your visit to Akko.  Duration: 1 hour


Seven routes in the Old City have been restored, mapped and marked for tourists all within a radius of one kilometer.  The duration of each route is between one to three hours, depending on the interest and walking speed of the tour participants:
  1. The Napoleon Route
  2. Khans (caravansaries) and Palaces
  3. Walls and Wars
  4. Crusader and Ottoman Route
  5. Cross Old City of Akko
  6. Jewish Route
  7. In the Footsteps of Saint Paul - including sailing around the Walls 

As you can see Akko has endless attractions for the Christian tourist!  We strongly encourage you to include a visit to this Northern port city as part of your next tour.   


Spiritual Insights

A Renewable Covenant

By: David Bivin, editor of

One thing seems certain, in my opinion: we must renew our covenant with God again and again. Our relationship with God is not a one-time commitment, but an ongoing relationship. In a recent Narkis Street Congregation Bible study, Dr. Randall Buth explained that for a Jew of the first century the recitation of the Shema ("Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is God alone") was perhaps the principle way to accept or acknowledge God's reign in one's life. Confessing the Shema was the acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven.


In Jewish life the Shema was always more than Deuteronomy 6:4; at a minimum it was Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (RSV).


"These words," or "these commandments" (NIV), in verse 6 refers to the Ten Commandments (5:6-21), which in Scripture were recorded just before the Shema.


Rabbi Joshua ben Korha said: "Why is 'Hear, O Israel' [Dt. 6:4-9] recited before 'If, then, you obey the commandments' [Dt. 11:13-21] in the daily prayers? To indicate that one should accept first the Kingdom of Heaven, and only afterwards the yoke of the commandments" (Mishnah, Berachot 2:2). In the rabbis view one must first get one's relationship with God straight before beginning to observe His commandments.


As Dr. Buth said in concluding his Bible study, "The Shema represents a personal relationship with God. It represents loving God and having a covenant relationship with him. Only within that covenant relationship does the Law mean anything. First you have faith, are 'born again,' and then, as a reaction to God's loving you and choosing you and pulling you up out of the miry clay, you respond in good works. The Shema establishes your relationship with God. Don't do anything without having your relationship with God fixed. First, you get 'born again,' then you do good works. You renew your covenant with God in the morning and in the evening. When you go to bed you remember him and your covenant with him. When you wake up, you remember him and your covenant with him.


A Word from Samuel

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun." -Ecclesiastes 3:1


Shalom and greetings from hot Jerusalem!  Though the summer months at Sar-El are always quieter than the rest of the year, we're happy to report that this has been our busiest summer yet with an increase in visitors!  We're in preparations for the arrival of our many groups and look forward to a positive fall season! 


With that in mind, we know that God gives us a time to work and a time to rest, a time to teach and a time to learn.  Let God take you through the seasons that He intended you to go through.  Whether you're debriefing from a recent trip to Israel, or you're on the edge of your seat in anticipation for your upcoming trip to the Holy Land, I encourage us all to tune our hearts and our senses to understand what God wants for us during this particular season in our lives.  He knows what's best for us and I encourage you to find satisfaction in that simple truth.


We look forward to seeing you all with us again soon.  We appreciate every group large and small, and we welcome you to feel at home with us in Israel. 



Many Blessings,
Samuel Smadja
Sar-El Tours & Conferences

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