King Herod of Judea-Builder of Caesarea

King Herod of Judea-Builder of Caesarea

One thing Jerusalem, Israel does not have is a good view of the sea.

An attempt for a beach in Liberty Bell Park was a poor substitute.

So a trip to the coast and the sea was a welcome treat.

Beach front sign in Hebrew Caesarea port

The sign “The Sea” between palm trees greets visitors to Caesarea coastal park.

Caesarea excavations

Here part of the remains of Herod’s Sebastos Harbor has been exposed.

Roman bath house excavation in Caesarea

But other portions are being worked on carefully by archaeologists.

Visitor Center in Caesarea

The trip was to attend the launch of the new Visitor Center.

Visitor center in Caesarea

Josephus wrote of Herod’s tribute to Caesar in the first century BCE.

Herod the Builder. Herod the Great. Ruler of Judea. Builder of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Builder of the fortress, Masada. Builder of Herodion.

Scene of old port of Herod in Caesarea

Herod built Sebastos to honor Caesar Augusta and the goddess Roma.

In this photograph from the video in the new Visitor Center video, we see his vision.

Image of port Herod built today Caesarea

One scene illustrated the hundreds of boats that came through.

Herod’s building project took ten years to complete. Tons open tons of cement went into rafts sunk, along the coast which had no natural harbor.

Herod or Hordus as he is called in Hebrew began globalization in the region.

From video in visitor center in Caesarea

Caesar Augustus attended the gala opening of the one mile long piers and temple.

Screen shot of video in visitor center of Caesarea of Herod's port

However, this massive building project lay in ruins for 2000 years.

Artifacts found in port of Caesarea

Now, located in one of the fourteen vaults Herod built to support the platform of the temple of Augustus and Roma, the new Caesarea Visitor Center is open to the public.

The once-thriving area was rebuilt and hosted many rulers over the centuries – pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Samaritan.

Roman remains from building of Caesarea by Herod

In the museum, artifacts from various periods are on display.

Caesarea Visitor Center menorah

An ancient menorah was placed next to a modern visual box, hard to catch in a photograph.

Layers of history in Caesarea Israel

Visuals of the past help the visitor to see how the 60-acre site would have looked.

King Herod’s gateway to the Mediterranean Sea was constructed in the 1st century BCE.

Pieces of pottery over the years found in harbor

On display are recovered pottery pieces that span the centuries.

Visitor Center in Caesarea at sunset

This was the outside of the vault of the Caesarea Visitor Center at sunset,

Roman baths in port of Caesarea at harbor

and next to it an area where Roman baths greeted weary seafarers.

Bottles of wine at event to launch Caesarea visitor center

The Caesarea project was funded by the Rothschild Foundation and featured family wine at its launch.

Sunset by the beach of Caesarea

As the sun set, this was as close to the beach as I could get.

Because of the tight security, I was afraid if I left I might not get back in.

Lights go on at launch of Visitor center at Caesarea Isale

The lights went on, the program began.

Woman and man dressed as statutes at nigh event in Caesrea to launch new visitor center

Musicians played and the statues turned. Oh my, they turned out to be live performers.

Israel president Rivlin speaking at launch of visitor center in Caesarea

President Reuven Rivlin arrived after a tour of the new museum and spoke.

President Rivlin and Arianna Rothschild cutting ribbon at new visitor center in Caesarea, Israel

Cutting the ribbon with Baroness Ariana de Rothschild before he headed back to Jerusalem.

Then the party and music really got going.

Perhaps that is why the neighbors were invited along with media and dignitaries?

Fancy ladies loo at launch of Caesarea visitor center.

Though I do not usually take selfies, this outdoor portable toilet fit for royalty needed a photo. Sorry, I cannot share the pleasant smell. This was not your usual portaloo.

The Caesarea harbor is to be once again a major stop for visitors.

I took a short clip from the video, which should be the first stop on a visit to the new Caesarea Visitor Center.

King Herod. King of Judea. Hard to describe in a few words in a blog.

Visitors can now experience parts of his story in Caesarea.

 

Lag B’Omer and Meron

Lag B’Omer and Meron

In Jerusalem, Israel, there were people of all ages, who in spite of the heat wave made their medurot, bonfires, on Lag B’Omer.

On Lag B’Omer smoke and fire are a tradition.

bonfire on lag b'Omer

Remember this RJS photo? Medurot are not little fires to roast marshmallows or cook potatoes in the coals. Many are crafted with all types of wood collected and saved for months.

Lag B'Omer bon fire in Jerusalem

In Jerusalem for Lag B’Omer  five years ago, I saw this controlled fire raging. This year there was no authorized huge fire in the area. Fewer individual bonfires as in the past could be spotted. Perhaps the 500 shekel fine controlled them or the official warnings?

But for Lag B’Omer, Jerusalem, Israel, is not the place to be for serious celebrants.

There are those who go year after year to Meron for Lag B’Omer.

Meron trip in July

Estimates vary, it is hard to count, as tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, converge into the mountain location, from all over Israel to these simple roads.

In preparation for Lag B’Omer, I took photos of what Meron looked like on a normal day, without a million people crushing together in the dark around a huge medura.

Building site in Meron

‘Nah Nachman MaUman’ was graffiti written on the wall of future visitor center.

Art seller in Meron

A vendor was selling portraits from a trailer.

Tourist gift shop in Meron

Souvenirs were available for tourists. It was a regular hot summer day. People come to Meron to visit or pray not just on Lag B’Omer. 

Entrances for men and women in Meron

There are separate entrances for men and women.

A large sign warns in bold Hebrew letters to “dress modestly.”

July day at Meron

There is more than one sign concerning dress code. I did not notice any no smoking signs.

Women at Meron

Inside, the tomb of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Shimon Bar Yochai, or Rashbi.

Meron women praying

On this quiet summer afternoon, a few women were deeply into their prayers.

Meron chair outside in sun

Outside, was this special chair. Many three year-old boys come to Meron for their first haircut. Especially on Lag B’Omer day, this would be one busy item for those traditional first snips of fine baby hair.

Meron synagogue inside

There was one small room, the study hall named in memory of Asher. It could provide some relief on a hot day for that hair cut.

Blue dome at Meron in day light

This blue dome over the tomb was easy to photograph in the sunshine. Now imagine it with hundreds of men crowded in it at midnight.

Lighting candles in Meron

This is a sign pointing to a room designated for lighting memorial candles.

People having lunch in Meron in summer

On a regular summer day, you can sit and eat on a covered outdoor patio. The view of the mountain range is spectacular.

Meron new tourist center

This was a sign announcing a project to build a guest center for study of Torah, in honor of Rashbi. 

But on Lag B’Omer night, Meron has medurot at its center. With singing and dancing, well into the early hours. Participants often arrive back home in time for dawn’s light. Hours are spent getting to Meron and then more hours are spent trying to return home.

Meron birds in tree above

I noticed the birds above watching over us that day. In the smoke and confusing of Lag B’Omer night, they would hide away in safety.

As I did this year, I was home with windows shut to keep out the smoke and heat.

Maybe one day I will finally get to Meron for Lag B’Omer.

Meanwhile, this video came up a on search for Rashbi.

Kinneret as seen from bus leaving Meron

A view of the Kinneret, Sea of Galilee, is always worth the trip up the mountain to Meron.

It amazes each year how there are not more serious injuries with the heat, fire, and crowds.

Another Israel miracle?

Southern Israel Red Alerts in Alumim

Southern Israel Red Alerts in Alumim

Sometimes you have to get out of Jerusalem, Israel, to appreciate the view.

View from Highway One Jerusalem Israel

All this rain we have been having may dampen our spirits, but it is fabulous for making the countryside green.

View from Jerusalem Highway 1

From the roads leading out of Jerusalem the valley is at its best.

Israel lines along road

Once on the road south, you see flat land and wires stretched across it.

Southern Israel farm land from highway

Farmers working between the rain storms along the way.

Sign from Red South Israel spring flower Adom Festival

February and March, and southern Israel is famous for its red flower festival.

However, once again southern Israel has red alerts, not flowers.

Kibbutz Alumim sign southern Israel

The sign at Kibbutz Alumim was the same as  on our previous visit in December 2012.

Kibbutz Alumim security fence

The electric security fence was opened carefully for our arrival.

Kibbutz Alumim green fields southern Israel

The green fields of the agricultural kibbutz stretched into the distance.

Kibbutz Alumim fence with warning sign to border of Aza

But it you turned around, another sign warned of the Gaza border ahead.

Kibbutz Alumim view of Gaza southern Israel

From the fields of Kibbutz Alumim, the Gaza border and buildings beyond are clearly in view.

Kibbutz Alumim bomb shelters near factory

Because of missiles and rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel, these bomb shelters are situated next to the factory. Workers have seconds to get inside to safety when a red alert warns of an oncoming projectile.

Kibbutz Alumim Iron Dome southern Israel

Alumim has two Iron Domes positioned for protection from Hamas and its rockets.

Kibbutz Alumim in spring southern Israel green

Why live in southern Israel? It’s beautiful. Israelis have made the desert bloom.

Aluim collection of rockets and missiles fired at southern Israel from Gaza

When Hamas is not firing these missiles, it is a wonderful place.

Long time resident Esther took time to share with us a bit of her story.

Southern Israel Kibbutz Alumim bomb shelter in home, bedroom safe room.

Rafi’s house, and every home, has a bomb shelter bedroom. Sealed rooms have again become a necessity with nightly rockets from Gaza.

Twenty years living under fire from Gaza. Esther and others try to keep a positive attitude, to make music chimes from missiles.

Kibbutz Alumim in southern Israel

Kibbutz Alumim had no red alerts when we were there last week, after a night of terror when a house in Sderot was hit. However, the newest round of red alerts included Alumim. The residents of southern Israel are weary, tired of red alerts, and want to go back to being known for their red flowers.