Teri's Travels - Israel...Holy Land - Day 2

by Teri E. Popp, Tastemaker in Residence

Our second day in Israel featured a road trip. While I had asked for a Christian-centered tour of Israel, I had also asked our guide, Ofir Horn, to take us to Masada, an ancient palace fortress built by King Herod before the birth of Christ. Located overlooking the Dead Sea, Masada is located on an isolated plateau on the eastern edge of the Judean desert.

Accessible by cable car, Masada is the site of a mass killing of almost 1,000 Jewish men, women and children known as the Sicarii. They held the rock plateau of Masada-as well as holding the Romans at bay-for 3 years. When the Romans were just about to enter the fortress of Masada by means of the building of a massive, handmade, rock ramp-way up the side of the mountain, the Sicarii chose to kill themselves rather than come under Roman rule.

We chose to visit Masada since it will be featured in our 100th book club meeting for W3 Book Club. The story of Masada is eloquently covered by Alice Hoffman in her ambitious and mesmerizing novel "The Dovekeepers." W3 Book Club plans to read this book for our April 2016 read.

After investigating Masada and learning about its construction and history, we ventured on to the Jordan River to return to our Christian-centered tour for a visit to the location where it is believed that John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ. On the Israeli side of the river, travelers come to the river for baptisms and renewal of their Christian faith through pilgrimage.

The surrounding area around the river is dotted by churches where the faithful have gathered to praise Jesus. The chapels seemed a fitting end to a wonderful day learning about both Christian and Jewish history.