One of the things I have been blessed with is having a job that has allowed me to travel to some pretty cool international destinations. Unfortunately due to COVID, my overseas travel especially during the summer months did not happen. One of the international spots I want to highlight is Israel. If you have not read my bio, I am a military professor in Cyber at the US Naval Academy, and up until this summer I was fortunate to take a few of my students to Israel. If you are a techie or into Cyber/IT, I highly recommend the Tel Aviv University Cyber conference. This is a conference I typically take my students who are majoring in Cyber, but honestly the biggest highlight is our one day tour to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea which typically culminates our trip.
Regardless of your religion, Jerusalem is a must see. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and is a mosaic of cultures and religions to include Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. All three monotheistic religions consider Jerusalem a Holy City. I toured the Old City part of Jerusalem which is culturally divided into four Quarters: the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Muslim Quarter. The architecture was breathtaking, and for me it was amazing to walk where Jesus walked. On the tour, we were taken to the “Stations of Crucifixion” or via Dolorosa where it is believed to be the path Jesus took to his crucifixion on Mount Calvary or Golgotha. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre the church which contains Jesus's empty tomb, where he was buried and resurrected. This was the most crowded place and the most beautiful thing was the freedom of people to just have their experience as they choose whether just to tour, bless their holy oil, or just be kneeling in uninhibited prayer. It is a wonder to see even if you do not associate with a formalized religion.
Another attraction I loved in Old City Jerusalem was the Wailing wall or also known as the Western Wall. It was built in 20 BC as a part of a second worship temple during the rule of King Herod. The temple was later destroyed, but the wailing wall remains. The wall is where many come to pray. The wall has a side for men and a side for women. Many will bring written prayers and insert the pieces of paper cracks of the wall, and I took part in that tradition on my second visit where I wrote a prayer and placed it at the wall. Another thing I learned is that when you are leaving the wall, you are to walk backwards and not turn your back to the wall. I am very big on respecting and embracing others customs and cultures, so below is a video of me walking backwards when leaving the wall.
After Jerusalem, we then take a trip to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is in the Jordan Rift Valley on the Israel-Jordan border.33.7% salinity Salinity, so you cannot drown even if you wanted to. The Dead sea is a natural wonder one must see, but it also attracts many for its healing properties. The Dead sea water contains magnesium, bromide, and sodium which it thought to be very therapeutic for conditions such as arthritis and also skin conditions like psoriasis. However, I loved the mud the most! The mud also contains the minerals mentioned above, but in a clay. After covering my body from head to toe in the clay, my skin felt amazing to include acne problems on my face.
This summer, I actually miss traveling internationally and being able to take my students on these unique experiences. I encourage you to add Israel to your bucket list of countries for you will not be disappointed. Tel Aviv has great beaches too!