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April 18th, 2013
Religious Tours to Israel: Bringing People to the Cradles of Faith

Untitled Religious Tours to Israel: Bringing People to the Cradles of FaithJerusalem, Nazareth, Caesarea—all these names figure into both Christianity and Judaism and exist as places of faith. While some tourists visit Israel for the beaches and Dead Sea therapy, others go to these places to trace the roots of their beliefs. This is probably one of the reasons why religious tours to Israel continue to rise.

Judaism and Christianity co-exist in Israel, together with other religions. Statistics show, however, that the former has a stronger following. The country’s 2013 demographic profile reveals that three-quarters of residents are of Jewish ethnicity, though not all are born in Israel. Some are from Africa, Europe, and Asia. Christians, on the other hand, make up only two percent of the population, despite Israel being the birthplace of Jesus and Christianity.

These two faiths are linked but distinct from each other. The Christian bible’s important forefathers, Abraham and Moses, were among the pioneers of Judaism, which means the religion is as old as the Old Testament (about 1300 B.C.). Christianity didn’t start until 30 A.D., around the time after Jesus was crucified. It was one of his apostles, Peter, who established the foundation upon which the Christian Church would stand. In the Nostra Aetate, Pope Paul VI recognized the ancestral relation of the Christian Church to non-Christian religions, including Judaism. Blessed Pope John Paul II described the Jews as “the beloved elder brothers of the Church.”

Their beliefs differ in many aspects. In Jerusalem, for instance, you won’t see any statues or pictures within the temple grounds, especially in temples built during the early years of Judaism. This is because idolatry is strictly prohibited among the Jews. The rule is not quite as strict with Christianity, where statues aren’t worshipped but are seen as symbols that can aid in prayer.

Tour companies, such as Gama Tours, develop package trips that highlight events and beliefs specific to these religions. Jewish tours take guests to heritage locations, sacred grounds, Holocaust monuments, and landmarks of heroism during the early part of Israel’s post-WWII independence. For Christian tours, visitors can walk the same streets that Jesus walked on and be in the places where he preached, dined, and prayed.

Exciting Jewish tours to Israel are like homecomings. They provide today’s believers with an opportunity to return to where Christianity and Judaism began, as well as visit the places that bore witness to the evolution of their faith.

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