Sunsets In Nazareth

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When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law

of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their town

of Nazareth.  The child grew and became strong, filled

with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:39-40

It is evening and I am sitting on the porch of an old mansion-turned-inn.  The sunset turns the historic city beautiful shades of pink and gray while birds fly home for the night and the Muslim call to prayer fills the air.  The reality of where we are begins to sink in as I sip my cup of hot tea.  Nazareth.  The place of Mary’s Annunciation.  The spot Joseph worked as a carpenter.  The village Jesus grew up in.

While I was planning our pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I knew our trip would have two parts: time spent in Jerusalem and time spent in the Galilee.  Finding a place to stay in Jerusalem was relatively easy, but I was conflicted about where to base our time in the Galilee.  Tiberias made the most sense, practically speaking.  It is a tourist town, centrally located with bus or Sherut services to most of the towns I wanted us to visit.  And it is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  But Nazareth tugged at my heart.  I longed to sleep where the Holy Family had slept and eat where they had eaten.

My guidebooks and Tripadvisor told me that this was not such a good idea.  Nazareth was unsafe and inhospitable to tourists.  I hemmed.  I hawed.  I prayed.  A lot. My desire to stay in Nazareth went deep.  But, it seemed impossible.  And then I found it.  A new inn in Nazareth that was getting rave reviews.  It was the answer to my prayers. I sent an e-mail to the inn and within hours, we had booked a room for four nights.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel.  70% of it’s population is Muslim and the remaining 30% are Christian.  It really had been an unsafe place to stay.  But, in March of 2010 the Israeli government approved a 3 million dollar plan to develop Nazareth’s tourism industry.  The city was being cleaned up.  New restaurants were opening and tourists were being openly welcomed.  We were part of a small, but growing trend of people who were deciding to stay here.

There is so much to write about Nazareth that one post will never do it justice.  Suffice it to say for now that I am so very glad that I took the chance and had us stay Nazareth.  I would go back to Israel in a heartbeat if it meant seeing one more sunset in Nazareth.

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