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One month in the Jewish Holy Land

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Middle East : One month in the Jewish Holy Land
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This article is an itinerary.


This article gives you ideas on how to spend a month in the Jewish Holy Land (Hebrew: ארץ ישראל "Eretz Yisrael"), the area in which the Jewish religion was formed, to the Temple in Jerusalem.

For many Jews a journey to the Holy Land is a chance to rediscover the religion of their ancestors and to understand themselves through meeting other Jews. For Gentiles as well, traveling through the Holy Land may give a very interesting look on what Judaism means, and on how Judaism is practiced nowadays by the residents of Israel. This article aims to provide both Jews and Gentiles with valuable information, ideas and contacts.

Get in[edit]

In Judaism, the Holy Land is strictly defined as the area inside the parameters lined out in the Torah. It is known as "Eretz Yisrael," meaning "Land of Israel." This area is not identical to the area occupied by the current state of Israel. For example, the southern Israeli city Eilat on the Red Sea lies outside of the Land of Israel, whereas much of what is today known as Lebanon lies within it.

However, those parts of the Land of Israel which are within the states of Lebanon and Syria are not accessible to Jews in general, because of the political situation. Lebanon and Syria refuse access to their countries to anyone with Israeli passport stamps, and anyone who at the (very intensive) border check is discovered to be carrying anything Jewish such as a siddur (prayer book), tallit (prayer shawl) or tefillin (phylacteries) will be facing a hard time at the border of any Arab country. For this reason, this article is only about those locations which are currently accessible to Jews, all of which lie in the current state of Israel and/or the Occupied Territories.

Understand[edit]

Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, is where the Torah was given by G-D. According to the Midrash (Rabinical Literature), the world was created from Eretz Yisrael; to be precise, from the Foundation Stone ("Even HaShtiyah") which lay on the Temple Mount and on top of which the temples were built.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Western Wall
  • Meah Shearim and Geulah, and greater chareidi (ultra-Orthodox) Jerusalem
  • Ma'arat HaMachpelah, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Chevron (Hebron)
  • Tzfat (Safed)

Do[edit][add listing]

How to spend Shabbat / Shabbos:

  • Daven (pray) at the Kotel / Kosel on Friday night.
  • Spend a shabbos in Jerusalem; a shabbos in Tzfat (Safed).

Respect[edit]

Dress[edit]

When visiting chareidi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish neighborhoods, most notably Meah Shearim, strict dress rules apply. These guidelines apply mainly to women, but men are also expected to dress modestly. The rules for women are:

  • A skirt which is not too wide and covers at least a few hand breadths below the knees. Preferably it should reach your ankles.
  • No uncovered legs or feet. If you wear a skirt that does not reach your ankles, wear stockings. If you wear sandals, wear socks.
  • Upper clothing which:
    • closes to the neck;
    • does not show any part of your chest or stomach.
    • does not show your shoulders and covers your arms until your elbows.

Conduct[edit]

  • To blend in, married women may want to wear a head covering.
  • Couples should not touch each other (ie, do not touch each others hands).
  • Men are not expected to enter women's clothing stores and vice versa.
  • Do not try to photograph people.
  • Tourist groups are forbidden from entering the area.
  • Do not visibly wear any Christian symbols (such as crosses).
  • Do not visibly wear Zionist symbols (such as "I love Israel" shirts). Most residents are the descendants of those who came to live in Jerusalem hundreds of years ago, long before the state of Israel was founded, and a very large portion of them are extremely anti-Zionist.

These rules are not intended to offend anyone. The reason is that the residents feel that they are living in the holiest city in the world, and they want to keep their neighborhood a holy place. Also, these are real people with real lives; they are not zoo animals.



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