What Would Jesus Do?

This blog entry about the events of Friday, June 19, 2009 was originally posted on June 22, 2009.

DAY 6 (PART 2):  It’s a shame that the teachings of Jesus Christ have become so convoluted with the institution of the Roman Catholic Church.  The Vatican, over centuries, has taken a good thing and turned it into a big, stuffy (and candle-extinguishing) machine of imperial faith and worship.  But whether you are religious or not, you can’t argue that Jesus Christ’s optimistic message has inspired people around the globe for millenia — inspired both good and bad things. 

Most of the stories of the life of Jesus took place around the Sea of Galilee, surrounded by the regions known as The Golan and The Galilee, where J.C. spent most of his time preaching his message in a synagogue at Capernaum (picture above) — let us not forget that Jesus, messiah of the Christians, was actually a Jew, arguably in the Top Three Known Jews of all time.  (Steven Spielburg is like No. 4 or something.)

THE SEA OF GALILEE, which feeds into the Jordan River, is both a holy place for Christians and Jews alike; Jews come for a replenishing mikvah (a ceremonial bath), while Christians come for a renewal baptism (also a ceremonial bath).  (If A comes from C, and B comes from C, then A and B come from C.)  The Galilee is a sacred place for Christians, for it was here that Jesus performed many of his miraculous feats — where he walked on water, where he took two fishes and five loaves and mulitplied it to feed 5000 — all of which helped craft the comic stylings in Sarah Silverman’s Jesus Is Magic stand-up movie.

The sites of Jesus’ magic all have churches built on them, but after the incident in Nazareth that morning, I’d had enough of churches.  Besides, I wasn’t driving; Zvi was.  “I will make a tour for you!” he’d say.  He drove Lily and me to sites in The Galilee and The Golan, which would help answer the question:

In this day and age, What Would Jesus Do?

More than being a Jewish retreat and a stop on the Christian pilgrim tour, the shore of the Sea of Galilee is now also a wonderfully tacky lakeside resort area, particularly in the town of Tiberias (of Capt. James Tiberias Kirk fame).  In this day and age, there’s tons of fun activities Jesus could do, like:

  • go jetskiing!
  • go windsurfing!
  • go paragliding!
  • dance on an Arab party cruise!
  • have fun at the water slide park!
  • chill out on the beach!
  • have an Orgazm... at the swanky Papaya bar and lounge!
  • sample wines at a local winery!
  • order from the 24.50 Shekel Value Menu!
  • and go skiing!  (Mt. Hermon (2224m ASL) to the north of the Golan Heights transforms into a snowy ski resort in the winter.  The fact that the region gets cold enough to support Israel’s short ski season, supports the scientific fact that Jesus’ walking-on-water miracle was actually him walking on a frozen over section of the Sea of Galilee, according to a sidebar in my guidebook.)

Jesus could have also gone on the tour at the Golan Brewery, which is where we ended up around lunch time on our road trip.  It was the only thing open in the area, much to Zvi’s disgust; the weekend is two days, and one of them spent doing nothing?  He said things are changing in Israel; more and more places are remaining open on the Sabbath.  Esti, his separated wife who had joined us briefly that morning in Nazareth to say hi to Lily, said there are ways around the Sabbath; on Saturday, when Jewish towns are closed, you shop in the Arab towns, and vice versa.

Anyway, we watched another short film about the Golan region, complete with synchronized wind and mist effects, and dined on sandwiches and a “lazy salad” (as Zvi called it), an American salad where nothing is chopped, and lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes are just thrown into a bowl and served with dressing. 

The microbrewed Golan Brewery beer was good too.  Perhaps it’s because Golan Heights is one of Israel’s main agricultural zones, with kibbutzes upon kibbutzes growing fresh vegetables for the country.  In the spring and fall, the region is a lush greenscape of vegetation (it was THE place to visit for nature buffs, according to Devorah from the El Al flight), but in the summer it was brown, yellow and dry.  Where waterfalls were supposed to be were just rock faces.

No matter, the other thrill of being in the region is that parts of it are right along the border with Lebanon.  The border is a simple electrified fence, topped with barbed wire.  It’s not very tall, and you can see right through the fence wiring.  “See that village?  It’s a Lebanon village,” Zvi told us.  “See that car?  It’s a Lebanon car.”  The car was just on the road in front of us, but behind the fence.  Sometimes you even get Lebanese cellular reception from a Jordanian cell tower, he told us.  At Metula, a resort town, you can clearly see what is going on on the otherside; from Dado’s Point, you can see a cement factory, which Zvi told me was run by Hezbollah, to build their presence at the border.

MORE SIGHTS: Nimrod Castle, Banias Ruins; it all became a blur.  The memorable part was the scenery, some of it being scorched by wildfires.  At one lookout point, the scenery was so vast, you could point to Israel, Lebanon and Syria.  Closer in-boundary encounters included goats, and a Druze woman at a streetside stand selling deliciously sweet Israeli red-striped cherries.

In the end, Zvi dropped us off at Tiberias and bid us farewell; our tour and time with him was over.  “You and you… you take care of yourselves,” he said fatherly.

“Thank you so much!” Lily told him.

“Hope to see you in New York,” I said. 

“Toda!” we said.  Zvi got into his car and drove into the sunset.

LILY AND I WEREN’T DONE with our travels together just yet.  We checked into a room at the Aviv Hotel, then head to the beach and salvaged the rest of the day, putting our feet in the Sea of Galilee for bragging rights.  We wandered around town, passed the cheapo souvenir stores, and walked along the lakeside promenade, full of cafes and souvenir vendors.  At the end of the boardwalk, there were was a big group of people line dancing in sync to the music coming from a DJ — mixing in Arab and Israeli music.  When I asked a local guy what it was, he told me it was a post-Shabbat party thing that the government throws in different cities.  It was great to see Arabs, Christians and Jews all get into it.

Lily and I had our Last Supper, breaking bread at a lakeside restaurant with Maccabee and Goldstar beers, and dining on grilled eggplant and St Peter’s Fish (and chips).  (It actually says that on the menu; it’s mousht fish.)  Meanwhile, restaurant guys were throwing old hard loaves of pita into the water — which were taken under and devoured almost immediately by the fish below.  Fish seemed to come from no where whenever an inkling of a piece of bread surfaced the water.  “Ah, so that’s how [Jesus] multiplied fish!” I joked.

The next morning, Lily and I took an early morning bus to Jerusalem, where we parted ways.  She would stay in Jerusalem and try and discover her inner Jew for a few days before going back to med school in Brooklyn; I would save Jerusalem for last and head to the Red Sea instead.  It was in the bustling Jerusalem central bus station that my travel companion of north Israel and I said goodbye. 

“So, see you in New York,” I suggested.  “Let’s be friends in New York.”

“Yes, right!  It was fun to travel with you in Israel, but we have other lives too,” she told me.  “It was great to travel with you.”

“Likewise.  I really lucked out.” 

She agreed; she speculated that doing three days of road trips one-on-one with her friend’s dad might have gotten tired or weird, and was happy to have me as a welcomed third wheel.

We hugged and kissed our goodbyes.  She hopped on a city bus, while I hopped on the No. 444 for Eilat, Israel’s big resort town on the Red Sea, where I had my sights on a scuba diving trip.  If Jesus was around in this day and age, I’m sure he could have tried that out too.


Next entry: Jewish Mother, American Dad

Previous entry: The Candle

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Comments for “What Would Jesus Do?”

  • Satisfied?  My brain is fried, and I’ve been getting less sleep here than I do when I’m home.  I might go on vacation from this blog for a while.  Don’t worry still taking notes…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/22  at  12:34 AM

  • The Aviv hotel eh? I’m sure it was awesome.

    Great entry, though not enough hummus discussion.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/22  at  01:27 AM

  • Great stuff!  Loved the fish-n-chips.  Keep up the good work, Erik!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/22  at  01:33 AM

  • I fully support a vacay from the blog… only if you go scuba diving and report back.
    How warm was the water in the Sea of Galilee?
    Peas. get some rest.

    Posted by No-L  on  06/22  at  01:42 AM

  • your days are numbered, but if you go to petra, you must do that blog entry, at least for me.

    i think JC would have liked the water slides…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/22  at  03:32 AM

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This blog post is one of sixteen travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Holla! In The Holy Land," which chronicled a two-week journey through Israel, with jaunts into Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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Jewish Mother, American Dad

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