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Israel Ministry of Tourism Tourist Information Centers

Ben Gurion Airport
Entrance Hall
Telephone: 03-9754260
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Opening hours: All the time (24/7)

Jerusalem
Address: Jaffa Gate, Omar Ibn Katab Square in the Old City
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Opening hours: Sat-Thu : 8:30am-5:00pm; Fri: 8:30am-1:00pm

Nazareth
Address: 58 Casanova st.
Telephone: 04-6750555
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Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5:00pm ; Sat. 9:00am-1:00pm

Eilat
Address: 8 Beit Hagesher st.
Telephone: 08-6309111
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Opening hours: Sun-Thu : 8:30am-5:00pm ; Sat. 8:00am-1:00pm

Upper Galilee

Address: 70 Tel Hai Blvd. Kiryat Shemona
Telephone: 04-6817152
Internet site: www.galiland.co.il
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 9:00am-4:00pm
Closed Friday Saturday.


Tiberias
Address: Habanim st. Archaeological Park
Telephone: 04-6725666
Fax: 04-6724489
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Internet site: http://www.tiberias.muni.il/
Opening hours: Sun-Thu : 8:00 -15:45


Nazareth
Address: Han Al Basha Building
Telephone: 04-6106611
Internet site: www.nazarethinfo.org
Opening hours: Mon-Thu: 8:30-17:00
Fri : 8:30-17:00 Sat: 8:30-14:00 Sun: Closed


Jordan Valley
Jordan Valley Regional Council
Address: Comercial Center, Zemah Junction
Telephone: 04-6752727
Fax: 04-6709454
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Internet site: www.ekinneret.co.il
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 8:00am-4:00pm : Fri: 10:00- 12:00 Sat & Holidays: 10:00am-3:00pm


Haifa
Haifa Tourist Association
Address: 48 Ben Gurion st., The German Colony
Telephone: 1-800-305090, 04-8535606
Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Internet site: http://tour-haifa.co.il/
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 9:00am-5:00pm : Fri: 09:00am-1:00pm ; Sat: 10:00am-3:00pm


Carmelim
Carmel Beach Regional Council
Kibbutz Ein Carmel
Tel. 04-8136239
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Internet site: www.carmelim.org.il
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 9:00am-4:00pm
Closed Friday Saturday



Carmelim
Address: The Cave Strean Nature Reserve
Telephone: 04-9841750/ *3639
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Internet site: www.parks.org.il
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 8:00am-3:00pm : Fri: 08:00am-3:00pm ; Sat: 8:00am-2:00pm



Netanya
Address: 12 Ha'atzmaut Square, Netanya
Telephone: 1-700-709292 ; 09-8827286
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Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 8:00am-4:00pm


Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv Tourism Association
Address: Tel Aviv Promanade, 46 Herbert Samuel st.
Telephone: 03-5166188
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Internet site: www.visit-tlv.co.il
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 10:00am-5:30pm Fri: 10:00am-2:00pm


Beer Sheva
Address: Abraham Well, 1 Hevron Rd. Beer Sheva
Telephone: 08-6464900
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Internet site: www.beer-sheva.muni.il
Opening hours: Sun-Thu: 8:00am-4:00pm
Fri - Sat: 10:00am-2:00pm


Dead Sea
Tamar Regional Council
Address: Public Solarium, Ein Bokek
Telephone: 08-9975010
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Internet site: www.deadsea.co.il
Opening hours: Sun- Thu: 9:00am-4:00pm Fri: 9:00am- 3:00pm
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Arad
Address: "Paz" gas station, Industrial erea, Arad
Telephone: 08-9954160
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Internet site: www.deadsea.co.il
Opening hours: Thursday-Saturday, 09:00am-04:00pm


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Israel News - PM Netanyahu Met with Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox Priest from Nazareth

Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, met with Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth and spiritual leader of a forum for the enlistment of Christian youth in the IDF, Naji Abid, leader of the Orthodox council in Yafia and Lt. (ret.) Shadi Khaloul, head of the forum.

Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed that a joint Government-community forum be established within two weeks to promote the enlistment of Christian community youth in the IDF and national service and their integration into the life of the state. The forum will work to integrate members of the Christian community in the law on equality in sharing the burden and deal with the necessary administrative and legal aspects, protect those who support enlistment and enlistees from violence and threats, and step up law enforcement against those who disturb the peace and incite to violence.

There has been a significant increase in the number of Christian enlistees in the IDF, from 35 a year ago to approximately 100 this year; an additional 500 young people from the community are doing national service.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "Members of the Christian community must be allowed to enlist in the IDF. You are loyal citizens who want to defend the state and I salute you and support you. We will not tolerate threats against you and we will act to enforce the law with a heavy hand against those who persecute you. I will not tolerate attempts to crumble the state from within. The State of Israel and the Prime Minister stand alongside you."

Father Nadaf said, "Our goal is to guard the Holy Land and the State of Israel. We have broken the barrier of fear – the state deserves that we do our part in defending it. Those who oppose the integration of the Christian community in the institutions of state do not walk in the path of Christianity."
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A pilgrim’s hotel reinvents Nazareth

  • Published in Travel

It took the vision of a Jewish Israeli to turn the abandoned mansion of an Arab Christian into a popular hostel in the town where Jesus walked

 

By Rivka Borochov
Until a few years ago, Christian pilgrims to Nazareth might not have been able to find a hotel room in town. The largest Arab city in Israel, with 85,000 people, wasn’t really set up for the busloads of Christian tourists who would stop by the famous Basilica of the Annunciation, do a quick walk around and then leave. There wasn’t much in the way of accommodation for the Westerner, despite the famous Arab hospitality.
But a young Jewish entrepreneur named Maoz Inon had big plans for Nazareth, where Christians believe the young Jew named Jesus spent his childhood under Roman occupation. As an Israeli, Inon loves the land, and has hiked its trails from north to south. While on his travels he stumbled through the Old City of Nazareth. Finding it in great ruin and neglect, he became enchanted by the potential he saw.
Inon looked into small business development for the city and showed up for a meeting, where he made the acquaintance of a young Christian Arab woman, Suraida Shomar-Nasser, who had just finished hotel management studies. Shomar-Nasser thought Inon had come to the wrong office, because it was a meeting for developing small Arab businesses. But Inon assured her that he did want to develop a business in the Arab city of Nazareth.
As they chatted, the woman happened to mention that her late grandfather Fauzi Azar had owned a large estate in the Old City. It had been in the family for generations, but left crumbling under lock and key after her grandmother died in 1989. Fauzi Azar had succumbed to a house fire in the mansion nine years earlier.
“I grew up in that house,” says Shomar-Nasser, and she remembers big family dinners with her siblings there on weekends. The house was in the center of the Old City, an undesirable location at the time since the streets were considered unsafe, and it was a long trek by foot to go into town. “I have small kids, and with the stairs and the walk, it would have been hard to live here,” says Shomar-Nasser, whose mother was left in charge of the estate.
A legacy in his name
Inon’s ears pricked up when he heard about the old estate. He was sure this was just the right place to set up his own hotel. He asked Shomar-Nasser for her mom’s number and, a few days later, Odette Azar-Shomar took Inon to see the property.
Shomar-Nasser recalls her mother’s stories about how the Arab neighbors and shopkeepers looked at them as she walked down the street with a young Jew, an uncommon scene in a city where no Jewish Israelis live.
But after their meeting, Inon and Azar-Shomar worked out a deal. He had no money so, in exchange for a short-term lease, he would renovate the house into a hostel along with assistance from the Nazareth Cultural and Tourism Association.
Since Fauzi Azar had five daughters and no sons to carry on his name, his house was his lifeline to the future. For this reason, it was decided that Inon’s inn would be named in Azar’s memory, with his portrait hanging on the wall. It opened in 2005, and today it’s known as the hotel that pioneered tourism in the Old City of Nazareth.
The Fauzi Azar Inn gives travelers a real taste of life in the modern Galilean city. Its charming facilities, preserved in such a way that undoubtedly would have made Grandfather Azar proud, include three impeccably preserved frescoed ceilings from the late 1800s and original arches, tiles and wooden fixtures. The inn offers dormitory-style accommodations and also private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Large Arabian seating areas are punctuated by arches and stone walls.
And the inn’s day manager is Shomar-Nasser. Her suspicions about the Jewish stranger who wanted to do business in the Old City have long since dissipated.
In the steps of Jesus
An important aspect of the inn is its location on the Jesus Trail, a 40-mile route that retraces the possible steps young Jesus took when he lived in the region. Inon’s initiative, together with Christian hiking specialist David Landis in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, the trail meanders right through the Old City up to the inn and through small Galilean villages.
Inon also started a free weekday tour for his guests to “secret” spots in Nazareth, guided by a former American, Linda Hallel. She takes visitors to old, famous spice markets (one has a 150-year-old spice mill that still works), and shows them where to sample the best coffee and lemonade in town and where to find, when in season, handpicked produce and wild herbs and plants. Or how about an alarm clock that calls worshipers to prayer, Muslim style?
No doubt these tours, ongoing for the past two or three years, have boosted business in Nazareth, as tourists and journalists from newspapers including the New York Times have come to see the hidden gems of the Old City.
Before the tour, Shomar-Nasser gives guests a lecture about the history of the home and the story of her partnership with Inon. There are tears in her eyes despite the fact that she gives this same talk every day. “If it doesn’t come from my heart, I will ask someone else to do it,” she says.
When her family agreed to let a Jewish man start a hotel in her grandfather’s house, she had a bittersweet feeling about it. Bitter because she didn’t think of the idea herself, and that it came from the perceived “other;” and sweet because the grandfather who had no sons to carry his name now lives on in the best budget hotel in Nazareth -- a hotel full of life, great local food and people who get to know the story of Nazareth without a political or religious agenda.

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Nazareth: Ancient city, modern appeal

  • Published in Travel

The Galilee home of Jesus is a hub for Christian tourism, eco-tourism, hiking paths, new hotels and attractions.

Nazareth4268 

By Avigayil Kadesh
A parade of 120 classic cars down the main street of Nazareth in mid-September was not the usual sort of event in this Israeli Christian tourism hot spot. But the two-day show and festival - sponsored by the municipality, the Five Club and the Nazareth Cultural and Tourism Association (NCTA) - highlights how Nazareth is growing as a general destination for Israelis and foreigners alike.

The Galilean childhood home of Jesus is one of the largest Arab cities in Israel with about 72,000 Christian and Muslim Arab residents. In addition to the classic car event, it hosts a yearly Ramadan festival, a Sacra Music Festival at Easter and Christmas, and a Christmas marketplace in December, when the city is lit up with decorations.
"Nazareth has been doing well in the past few years, and there are many entrepreneurs wanting to open businesses in the tourism industry," Sigal Ben-Oz of the Tourism Ministry told Ynet News last summer.
The website of the municipality is in Arabic. However, Niveen Aburass of the NCTA is typical in her facility with Hebrew and English as well. She explains that although the organization gives a variety of guided tours of churches and mosques, the old marketplace, magnificent private houses and archeological sites, "three hours is never enough" to explore everything Nazareth has to offer.
Neither are there enough hotel rooms to accommodate all the visitors. "We have 20 hotels in Nazareth, including guest houses and a convent where many Christian pilgrims stay," she says. "But all the hotels are overbooked, so people stay in [nearby] Tiberias or even Jerusalem or Tel Aviv when they visit here, and it's a loss for us."
Three new hotels are under construction in the center of Nazareth and others are being enlarged, thanks to Tourism Ministry incentives totaling about $114.5 million. Others await permits to begin building and a few have opened in recent years, including the 120-room Gardenia Hotel, which caters to Jewish tourists as it has a kosher kitchen.
Eco-tourism has taken hold in Nazareth, too. The six-year-old Fauzi Azar Inn, named after the original owner of the 200-year-old Arab mansion in which it's situated, serves as the base for participants in a popular six-week program to work alongside local residents in restoration and community projects in the Old City of Nazareth.
The ecologically oriented visitors also lend a hand to keep the grounds clean along Israel's 40-mile Jesus Trail that runs from the Mount of the Precipice in Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee. At trail's end at Capernaum, many pilgrims cross the sea to Tiberias in a wooden replica of a boat from Jesus' days. Another Christian hiking route in this area, called the Gospel Trail, opened recently and is attracting tourists as well.
Nazareth's Christian sites
About two-thirds of the 3.45 million tourists in Israel last year were Christian, and 2,000-year-old Nazareth, the cradle of the faith, is a must-see on the Christian itinerary. It has about 30 churches and monasteries in addition to ancient synagogues and newer mosques.
The official symbol of Nazareth is Mary's Well, the centerpiece of Spring Plaza along with a more recently discovered elaborate Roman bathhouse. According to Christian tradition, this is where Mary used to bathe Jesus and wash his clothes, and where Jesus fetched water. Muslims and Christians consider the well and its water to contain unusual healing properties.
When the entire plaza area was renovated as part of millennium celebrations in 2000, archeologists discovered the remains of tunnels and pools from different periods, which are now described in an exhibition at City Hall. The well's current shape is based on pictures taken by 19th century pilgrims.
The Mary of Nazareth International Center was opened in 2010 by the Chemin Neuf Community, offering an audiovisual journey (in several different languages) into the life of the Virgin Mary and the Marian roots of Christianity. Complete with meeting rooms, prayer spaces, a cafeteria and gift shop, "Mary's Center is an awesome place," says Aburass.
About 100 feet south of Spring Plaza, above the actual spring supplying the well, is St. Gabriel Church of the Annunciation. Greek Orthodox tradition maintains that this is where the angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.
The nearby Basilica of the Annunciation sits above the grotto where Roman Catholics believe Joseph and Mary lived and where Mary received the angel's announcement.
The present building was constructed on the ruins of churches dating back to Byzantine (324-634 CE) and Crusader (1095-1291) times, some of which are still visible. A $24 million commercial complex under construction is planned to include a 186-room hotel with a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Basilica.
Nazareth Sisters Convent next door offers subterranean tours of ancient tombs, columns and houses possibly dating back to the Roman period in the Holy Land, which started around 37 BCE and continued until the Byzantine conquest. There's a small museum exhibiting old coins and pottery, and an enclosed courtyard and guest rooms.


Other sites of Christian interest are the Church of St. Joseph, built on the ruins of agricultural buildings where Joseph's carpentry shop is believed to have been located, and the Crusader-era Synagogue Church, next to the Greek Catholic Church in the middle of the old market. The odd name of this house of worship comes from a tradition that this was once the synagogue where Jesus prayed and preached.
The Mount of the Precipice (officially Mount Kedumim), at the entrance to the city from the direction of Afula, is traditionally where Nazareth's citizens took Jesus after he declared himself the Messiah. You can still see the remains of a Byzantine convent later established there. It's easier to explore the rocky terrain since the Jewish National Fund built a parking lot at the top and a wheelchair-accessible paved lane leading to an observation point overlooking the Jezreel Valley, Carmel Mountains, Gilad Mountains and Mount Tabor.
The Old City
Over the past decade, the historical Old City section of Nazareth has been extensively renovated, preserving and restoring the architecture amid its narrow lanes and alleys. Lots of new restaurants serve a variety of cuisines. Here you'll find Ottoman-era (1299-1923) buildings including the Saraya, or Government House, built by the governor of the Galilee in the 18th century. You can tour private homes from this period, whose wealthy owners commissioned intricately painted frescoes on the ceilings.
The 17th century marketplace boasts colorful stalls and merchandise ranging from fabrics and spices to artwork. Aburass says it's a popular shopping destination for residents of all the surrounding towns in the Lower Galilee because it offers so much in one place. In the middle of all this is the 19th century White Mosque, a house of prayer and an education and culture center with a museum documenting Nazareth's history.
At the edge of the Old City, near Mary's Well, the Galilee Mill, (el-Babour) combines history with an active store selling more than 1,000 varieties of spices and herbs. The mill was built by German Templars at the end of the 19th century to provide grinding and storage services for Nazareth's farmers. A great view of the Old City is available from the top of St. Gabriel's Bell Tower, part of a former monastery that was remade into a 60-room boutique hotel in 1993.
Hands-on Nazareth
Kids and adults can watch experienced potters turning marl clay into useful and beautiful items at the Ceramics Workshop beneath the Nazareth courthouse. This factory was founded by a local resident sent to study pottery making in Syria in the early 1900s, and his descendants run the place, helping visitors try their hand at the craft.
Nazareth Village, also located in the southern section of the city, was opened several years ago to provide a glimpse of everyday life as it was in the early days of the Roman era contemporary with Jesus. There are demonstrations of ancient agricultural and building methods, olive pressing and authentic dishes cooked on site by "villagers" in period costume. At night, guides give tours by oil lamp, and at holiday times the site hosts special shows.
"We have so much to offer in Nazareth," says Aburass

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