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Israel’s main desert is truly an amazing place, and it was so wonderful to be led and informed by someone as knowledgeable as Noam, as well as our Israeli guide, Eyal – a super friendly, hospitable and fun guy – and our Bedouin Arab friend, Moussa. The time that we spent with Moussa’s family – living the traditional lifestyle, in tents, surrounded by goat herds and camels – was wonderful. Great Turkish (or was it Arab?) coffee, great flat bread and olive oil, and great company.
The panoramic desert views that we were treated to are beyond breathtaking, and it was especially exciting to be able to check out some Byzantine-era “monasteries”, small rock dwellings built into canyon walls by second- and third-century Christian monks. The most interesting one for me was the one inhabited once by Saint Jerome, who later penned the Latin Vulgate inside the Church of the Nativity, which I’d just visited the day before.
A wonderful day came to a wonderful end with a panoramic view of the Dead Sea that most people never get to see, from high atop a cliff on the western edge of the Judean Desert… followed by a “home-cooked” lunch by Eyal, under an acacia tree – so rare in the desert that it’s actually marked on the map! – and some nice, strong Turkish coffee…
Truly a great day, all the way around! I recommend a day with the Jerusalem-Discovery team to anyone who wants to experience Israel!
One thing that impressed and surprised me is how peaceful the region really is. The people are wonderful, and, again, my friend and I – who are Christian – were guided by two Israeli Jews and a Bedouin Arab, and the day ended with all of us great friends. More success toward peace in one day than the United Nations has achieved in years! I also believe more strongly than ever that the Judean Desert is a fundamental part of the nation of Israel. True peace in the region is only possible as long as the Israelis are able to hold onto their rightful claim to this beautiful part of Israel.
In my opinion, ‘Jerusalem Discovery’ is a much-needed initiative. It promotes so much: the idea of peace and friendship among all who live in the Judean Desert; peace and friendship with visitors to Israel, such as myself; an appreciation for Israel’s natural environment; and a deeper understanding of the importance of the Israelis being able to maintain their rightful claim to this region. As an American Christian pastor, author and teacher, I wholeheartedly support this endeavor, and I encourage anyone who visits Israel to take part in this experience.