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Giza Pyramids | Where Mummies Come Alive
No one likes pyramid schemes—except for the ruling class in ancient Egypt who some 4,000 years ago constructed colossal pyramids to house their mummified pharaohs in preparation for their journey to the next world. The Egyptian priests were serious about their funeral arrangements—eschewing the “you can’t take it with you” minimalist philosophy by packing a...
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Shavu’ot | The Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits
One of the most sacred holidays on the Jewish calendar, Shavu’ot is a two-day celebration which translates to mean “weeks” in Hebrew, lending credence to one of its more recognizable names, the “Festival of Weeks.” In the Greek, the word translates to Pentecost, which is the name familiar to most Christians. Shavu’ot is celebrated 50...
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Ephesus / A Hotbed of Early Christianity
Anyone into time travel will want to visit the ancient city of Ephesus. Turn back the clock in the present-day Selcuk, a town near Izmir, in western Turkey. This once-cosmopolitan Greco-Roman city is infused with the influence of early Christianity. Ephesus is the site of one of the seven churches to whom the apostle Paul...
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National Holidays in Israel | Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (Independence Day)
After the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, several holidays were added to the Jewish calendar, each commemorating an important aspect of Israel’s history and existence. Two days, forever connected, back-to-back on both the Jewish and Gregorian calendars, from sunset to sunset—Yom HaZikaron,...
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Yom HaShoah | Remembrance of the Holocaust
Yom HaShoah is a national memorial day in Israel. Known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, the full name of the holiday is Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah, translated as the “Day of (remembrance of) the Holocaust and the Heroism.” The day was selected in a resolution passed by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on April 12, 1951. The Observance...
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Pesach
The festival of Pesach, known as Passover, holds multiple layers of meaning, particularly in Israel. Within the Jewish faith, Pesach marks the Israelites’ journey from slavery to freedom, unified, as a sovereign nation, after suffering 400 years of harsh slavery under Egyptian rule. The story of the exodus from Egypt is ultimately a celebration of freedom,...
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Magdala
On the western side of the Sea of Galilee lies Magdala, once a prosperous first century fishing village nestled at the base of Mount Arbel, between Tiberias and Capernaum. Known as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, Magdala is mentioned only one time in the New Testament (Matthew 15:39). In the past decade, significant archaeological discoveries...
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Purim | Celebration of Victory and Joy
One of the most joyous holidays in the Jewish calendar, Purim is celebrated annually throughout Jewish communities around the world. Meaning “lots,”—as in to draw lots or straws—in ancient Persian, Purim commemorates the Jewish liberation from Haman, who was prime minister to King Ahasuerus, ruler of the Persian Empire. This is the story in the...
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The Roman Colosseum | Ancient Rome’s Architectural Wonder
Here’s a riotous Roman riddle: What do actors, gravediggers and retired gladiators all have in common? Answer: at some point in history those specific groups were banned from history’s most famous—and long-standing—amphitheater, the Roman Colosseum, named in 2007 as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Commissioned around AD 70–72 by Emperor Vespasian...
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Gates of Jerusalem
While there are many stories connected to the walls of Jerusalem, it is the story of its gates which holds special significance. Currently, there are seven open gates and four sealed gates. The open gates still serve residents and visitors streaming to Jerusalem’s markets, as well as entry to sacred and historic sites. Map of the...
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