Galilee Visit, part 2

Galilee Visit, part 2

Last May, we visited Magdala, a very special place on the western coastline of the Kinneret. Magdala is the hometown of Mary Magdalene and now home to a beautiful new project initiated by Father Juan Solana of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

His vision for Magdala is to highlight the ministry of Yeshua and the lives transformed by Him. Father Juan’s vision is to also honor women of faith. As well as a retreat center for bible study, worship, prayer, meditation and spiritual growth.

Growth Plans

As construction continues, a guesthouse and restaurant will be added. The restaurant will be modeled after the Notre Dame Culinary Center in Jerusalem. If you missed my post about me teaching a culinary workshop there, you can read about it here. 


Father Juan’s vision was met with a surprise. Here’s a snippet about that surprise from Magdala’s site:

“When construction began in 2009, no one could have imagined what God had in store. As workers began to dig the foundation for the guesthouse, they discovered a First Century Synagogue where it is certain that Jesus taught. Inside the synagogue they also found The Magdala Stone, a discovery many archaeologists call the most significant archaeological find in the past 50 years.

As archaeologists continued to dig, they discovered an entire first century Jewish town lying just below the surface. With only 10% of the archaeology uncovered, the hometown of Mary Magdalene already provides pilgrims an authentic location to walk where Jesus taught and to connect with the first century life of Jesus’ followers.

Magdala is a unique Holy Land site with a first century city where the Jewish residents gathered in a synagogue where Jesus visited and taught. It is home to the beautiful Duc In Altum, which provides a place for worship, mass, and prayer.

Because of its unique nature, Magdala will actively contribute to building positive relationships with the diverse community of Christian believers and between Christians and Jews. In the coming days, Magdala will feature excellent accommodations and an outstanding restaurant, in addition to an expanded archaeological park.

Magdala is truly the crossroads of Jewish and Christian history.”

Bigger plans

Seems like God has a bigger vision which includes having us dig for the answers. Kind of like digging past the surface of the holy scriptures for the depth of understanding. In Jewish thought, this is called Sod (sode) which means secret or mystery. You have to dig to reveal it. It’s the deepest level of the PaRDes method of studying the bible. When we gloss over the surface, we often miss the greater treasure lying beneath. 

This reminds me of the recent mega-discovery of the complete, 350 meter long pilgrimage path from the City of David up to the Temple in Jerusalem. What’s so funny about it, is it was discovered because of a plumbing leak just below the surface of the parking lot that was covering this incredible find. Click here for that amazing story.

There are so many mind-blowing things in Israel, especially with ongoing archaeological work that seems to unearth incredible evidence of the bible with each passing day. Who knows, pretty soon, they may dig up the Garden of Eden! 

Enjoy the pics from Magdala and please visit there when you go to Israel.

they were actively digging while we were there…incredible!
the mosaics are absolutely gorgeous
here is Yeshua with Mary Magdalene…a beautiful story of a person’s life transformed
the hem of his garment…my personal favorite mosaic
Sunset over the Kinneret

Next week, I’ll share some Texas love from the Galilee. 

A Visit To The Galilee

Soul Satisfying

Ahhhh, the Galilee Region.  Quiet, slowed pace, pastoral views. 

A stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The perfect place to retreat to.

8am, my first view of the Sea of Galilee

Home to what is known by the locals as the Kinneret (Key-nair-et), the Sea of Galilee is really not a sea at all. It’s a fresh water lake fed from it’s main source, the Jordan River. In fact, it’s the lowest fresh water lake in the world. 

Kinneret means harp. When you look at an aerial view, the Kinneret resembles the shape of a harp, like the kind King David played. 

Miracle after miracle, significant for Christians, the Galilee region was the home base of Yeshua’s ministry. From feeding thousands from a few fish and loaves of bread to walking on water, the Galilee region has a lifetime of historical events from this tiny area of Israel.

a synagogue where Yeshua taught.
layers of civilizations

Yeshua’s Town

My first trip to the Kinneret was with my pastor, Mark Biltz. The morning of our boat ride, the weather was perfect with calm water and serenity as far as you could see. The boat captain began playing worship songs that filled the air with praise and thanksgiving.

with Pastor Mark Biltz, 2014

I’m not one who easily cries, but in that moment, I was so touched at the natural beauty while being fully surrounded by a deep peace, I actually became teary eyed. It was a most beautiful experience…one I think of often. 

A picture of peace: the calm waters of the Kinneret.


One of the many things I have learned about Israel is how much food they grow. Not just for their nation but for others. Did you know they export 30% of what they grow to other countries? Little tiny Israel is feeding the world. It’s like Tikkun Olam mixed with a little Chutzpah! 

Bananas, citrus, berries, papaya, mango, melons, apricots, olives, figs, dates, grapes, pomegranates, vegetables galore and so much more! Every inch of land is utilized…even the fields at the airport are planted with citrus trees. 

Below is a picture of a banana farm and pomegranate farm situated on one of the banks of the Kinneret.  

Israel has always been an agricultural people from the beginning of time. Same goes for today. Even in today’s modern times, the Jewish Israeli’s observe the Shemittah cycle just like 2000+ years ago. Fascinating!!

This is only a glimpse of this special region of Israel…stay tuned for more!

A Visit To Haifa

Love at first sight.

From the very first moment I saw Haifa, I instantly knew I could easily live there.

Haifa, 2014

Situated on the slopes of Mount Carmel along the coast just north of Caesarea, Haifa is Israel’s 3rd largest city after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israel’s port city, Haifa is where the export/import worlds meet.

Home to the magnificent Baha’i Gardens, the lookout from the top is absolutely stunning.

Looking over the Haifa port


University of Haifa and the ever impressive Technion, Israel’s leading tech university is located in this gorgeous city. Rumor has it that Technion has developed a type of “smellavision”. Can you imagine how this is going to change cooking shows? Woohoo!

Just down the road

Just down the road from Haifa is a place that was hard to visit yet so very important. It serves as a reminder of the fight the Jewish people have endured just for the right to exist and live in their God-given homeland.

As WWII was winding down, the British government who controlled Israel at the time, decided to allow some Jews to immigrate to Israel. At the time, Israel was called Palestine…a name given to the Jewish Holy Land by the Romans in an attempt to wipe out the name of Israel.

Can you imagine the relief and renewed life-giving hope the Jews felt as they were finally headed to freedom?


Only it didn’t quite go that way.

What actually happened is a complete stain of disgrace on the British government. Caving into pressure from the Arabs to limit the number of Jews allowed to immigrate to their native land, Israel, the British government refused the Jewish refugees freedom.

Instead of immigrating to freedom, the Jews were shipped to, Atlit, an Illegal Immigrant Detention Camp. Complete with barbed wire, armed guards and degrading living conditions. From one hell to another.

In October of 1945, the Jews detained at Atlit were liberated by a young Israeli special forces unit called the Palmach through a clandestine operation.

A glimmer of truth can be found on the placard given by a group of Christians from the UK acknowledging this atrocity and asking forgiveness.

A Life lesson

Distraught over seeing this, I struggled to come to grips with yet another attempt to suppress God’s people from living as free people in their land.

Walking back to our tour bus, I couldn’t help but apologize to our Jewish Israeli guide for all the horrors that have been done to his people. His reply?

“Thank you, but we look forward, not backward.”

The Jews…this is why they are a beacon of hope. They never give up. If anyone has the right to “give up”, it is the Jews. But they don’t.

To live is in their DNA.

Life. This is what they do. They create, they work, they build, they L-I-V-E!

For those who have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I say it over and over… there is no other people group who inspires me more than the Jewish people.

It is so very important to not forget the past. To learn from history so that it doesn’t repeat itself. But it is life giving to look and move towards the future. This is the secret to living.

And the Jewish people lead the world in living.


The Breads of Israel

I always tell my nieces, nephew and students that homemade or artisan made bread is the good life. Adding butter makes it a divine life, ha!

Seriously though

Bread goes far beyond physical sustenance. It has a level of spirituality that other foods don’t. Along with wine, bread is one of the key elements of religious ceremonies like the weekly Sabbath and communion. It is first mentioned in the bible in Genesis when King Melchizedek offered it to Abraham.

“Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen of El ‘Elyon (God Most High), so he blessed him with these words: “Blessed be Abraham by El ‘Elyon,
maker of heaven of earth
and blessed be El ‘Elyon,
who handed your enemies over to you.’ ”       

Genesis 14: 18-20

This specific act of giving bread and wine to Abraham from King Malki-Tzedek is a messianic picture of The Messiah- The Bread of Life whose Blood is The Atonement symbolized by wine and a gift to the seed of Abraham, the Father of people too numerous to count just as the stars in the heavens. 

Spirituality of Bread?

If that isn’t enough proof of the spirituality of bread, consider the Tabernacle God told the Israelites to build in Shiloh in the book of Exodus.

Giving very specific instructions and mind bending detail on the construction and prescribed use, bread played a very important role in the house of God on earth.

Specifically, the bread used in the first Tabernacle (and then in the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem), was called the show bread or…

“On the table you are to place the bread of the presence in my presence always”- Exodus 25: 30. 


I thought it was quite striking that last week’s Bible reading was Exodus 25-27 at the same exact time an article came out about a very unique baker in Israel, Les Saidel of Saidel’s Bakery.

Les is working to recreate the bread that was once used in the Tabernacle in hopes to be ready for the upcoming rebuilding of The Temple in Jerusalem. Fascinating! Click here to read about it.

Click here for a very cool behind the scenes look at Saidel’s Bakery…it’s a virtual Foodie Field Trip! 

Even more cool is that I bring my groups to this bakery on my Biblical Food & Wine Tours. So much fun! 

God uses bread to symbolize His presence.  Something to think about next time you eat bread. 

May you have a good week in His presence.

The Wines of Israel

Wine has always played an important role in the history of mankind; religious elements, celebrations and even enjoyed for health benefits.  But have you ever considered wine to have spiritual elements or even more…a necessary element to a biblical lifestyle? 

Read this short article I wrote about it for United with Israel.

Then there’s always the foodie perspective, religious or not. For the culinary traveler,  if you’ve not considered Israel as a top culinary destination, you are completely missing out.

Israel is home to incredible wines and avant-garde dishes that will have you swooning with delight. And I’m not the only who knows this.

In October 2016, this little secret graced the cover of Wine Spectator magazine. “The Wines of Israel, Surprising Quality From An Emerging Region” was the tagline.  

In 2015, Conde Naste’ Traveler magazine voted Israel as a top wine destination. Saveur Magazine, Forbes Business Traveler and others have also deemed Israel as a “must-visit” place for culinary travel.

Fact Check

Since the days of Noah, Israel has been producing wine longer than any other country. While there has been a hiatus for over 2000 years, the Jews are back in the vineyards of Eretz Israel, growing and producing global award winning wines.

That is THE miracle: The vines have come alive again after 2000+ years because the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland, just as God promised. We are living in miraculous days!

“Once again, you will plant vineyards on the hills of Shomron,
and those doing the planting will have the use of its fruit.” Jeremiah 31:4


One of the highlights of my travels to Israel is meeting people from all over the world, many who become lifelong friends, such as my dear friends Thomas and Judy from Australia who are huge Israel lovers and wine lovers.

The picture below is our time together enjoying a glass of goodness in the upper Galilee from a few years ago “researching” wineries in Israel. What a fun adventure!

There’s more to Israel’s wine scene : Innovation

With Israel being the inventor of the cell phone, Intel computer processing chip, flashdrive and a gazillion other technological innovations that have made the world a better place.

They’ve also invented the computerized drip irrigation system and solar panel energy that increases efficiency in use of water, sunlight and soil conditions to produce award winning wines.

From October 2016 to forever, when it comes to Israeli wines, the best is yet to come.

Israel is the most incredible ancient-modern hip place to experience.

On my tours, we visit vineyards and touch the vines and drink the wine which means we are touching and drinking prophecy.

“I will restore the fortunes of my people Isra’el;
they will rebuild and inhabit the ruined cities;
they will plant vineyards and drink their wine,
cultivate gardens and eat their fruit.”  Amos 9:14

From sipping prophetic wine to spiritual highs, Israel is a must visit country.

Join me on the trip of a lifetime, L’Chaim!

The Sabbath Table

The Sabbath Table changed my life.

Actually it was waking up to the Sabbath itself that changed my life.

Waking up.

The short version is almost 10 years ago, while doing a women’s bible study, one of the topics was on the Sabbath. Honestly, my first thought when I read about the upcoming topic was, “does this mean I have to take a nap on Sundays?” I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, I don’t have time to take naps, I’m a small business owner and I have to work 7 days a week, every single spare minute.”

Over the next few days, I had an encounter with God that literally changed the course of my life. I know that is big talk but it’s true to the very core of the words.

Out Of Time & Money

You see, the days following that bible study, my business took a nosedive. Out of time, money and options, I literally got on my hands and knees and begged God to help, to show me what’s going on.

In that moment of intense crying out, I happen to glance out onto my patio and saw three birds perched on my balcony. Instantly, Matthew 6:26 came to mind and I heard in my mind, “Be still and know that I am God”.

“Look at the birds flying about! They neither plant nor harvest, nor do they gather food into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they are?” Matthew 6:26.

From That Moment

It was from that moment that I began to learn about the beautiful gift of The Sabbath.  As a Christian for over 30 years, I thought I knew the bible well. Turns out, I had been missing out on God’s appointed times that He established long ago…like starting in Genesis 1. On the 7th day He rested.

Not to mention it’s one of the Ten Commandments and that it’s a dress rehearsal for the future Great Sabbath (Eternity).


As a Christian, the only thing I knew about the Sabbath was as child, we had the Blue Law which prohibited retail stores from opening on Sunday. Other than that, I was clueless on how to observe the Sabbath, so I looked to my Jewish friends and resources, the blueprint, to learn from the people who have kept the Sabbath from the beginning of time.

There’s a Jewish saying that it’s not that the Jews have kept the Sabbath but the Sabbath has kept the Jews. Talk about inspiration and spiritual enrichment!


To my point of candles, bread and wine. These are the primary elements, the markers, of the Friday evening meal that ushers in the Sabbath.

Candles represent the Light of God that chases away the darkness and separation from the mundane to the Holy time of Sabbath, bread that reminds us of the life sustaining Manna that fell from heaven and the red wine symbolizes life-giving redemption.

Christians who observe the Sabbath see these elements as symbolizing Yeshua, the Light of the World, the Bread of Life and the Redeemer.

The dining table plays a central role in the Sabbath meals. The best dishes and a festive meal accompany Sabbath keepers. It’s like a mini-Thanksgiving meal every week!

A Sabbath Table ready for the Friday Erev of Shabbat Meal, Jerusalem

Friday Evening

The Friday evening meal begins with lighting the candles while saying a special prayer. Then songs to welcome the angels followed by breaking bread and a toast to life with special prayers over the bread and wine. After that, the father puts his hands on his children and blesses them and then turns to his wife and blesses her as the Proverbs 31 woman. The meal continues for hours over delicious food, singing and interesting, stimulating conversation.

The next day brings 2 more meals, a festive Sabbath Day lunch and a smaller meal towards the end of the day. Food is the hub of it all…a Foodie’s delight! Speaking of foodies, click here to learn about my Foodie Tours in Israel.

The Sabbath Meal

The Sabbath meal is such an important part of a biblical lifestyle, that it is considered unacceptable for people to eat alone during The Sabbath. Thankfully, when I’m in Israel, I always have a seat at the table of my dear Jewish friends for The Sabbath meal.

The Blueprint

Observing the Sabbath has truly given my life a richness and rhythm that was missing before. It’s a learning process, kind of like peeling back the layers of an onion.  

I’m not alone, there are thousands and thousands of Christians who keep the Sabbath and God’s other appointed times, looking to the Jewish roots of our faith, the blueprint.  

As I continue on this journey of faith, I keep finding out that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. In other words, it would be an understatement to say how much I had been missing out on about God’s appointed times by not looking to the Jews and the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

Even more interesting is a recent article from a prominent Jewish Rabbi based in Jerusalem who put out a call for non-Jews to start keeping the Sabbath. In the article he discusses how the implication of this will impact the coming of the Messiah. FASCINATING!!!! Read about it by clicking here.   

Sabbaths in Texas vs Israel

So far, I’ve shared with you my personal awakening to the Sabbath which happened in Texas. Then I went to Israel where they observe it as a country. Everything is timed and scheduled around the Sabbath. From the moment the candles are lit at sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, the atmosphere in Israel literally changes.

Like a warm blanket, the pace slows and calm and shalom begin to cover the land. No cars running around, no businesses open, no loud noises. Only the sound of people talking, singing, forks & dinner plates, laughter, cheers to life.

Soul Nourishment

There is nothing quite like it and it completely restores and nourishes the soul. It is truly life giving and the way Israel observes the Sabbath is the one thing I miss most when I’m not there.  

I am thankful to have the Jewish people to learn from. After all, the Bible does say, “the Word will go forth from Zion.” Isaiah 2:3

Foodie Tour of Israel

One of my absolute favorite experiences that I’ve recently started doing is bringing my travelers on a Foodie Tasting Tour of Jerusalem’s famous Shuk, Mahane Yehuda. It’s Israel’s version of a farmer’s market but with more depth and soul.

With our friendly local guide, we taste and learn our way through this famous market and the different cultures represented there.

And spices. Oh my goodness, the spices and flavors are incredible and some are only found in Israel. Za’atar…ever heard of it? What about hyssop that’s mentioned in the bible? That’s another name for za’atar.

See?, even the food points us to some level or notion of spirituality.

A tour of the Shuk is a unique experience that most tours don’t offer. Actually no tours that I know of.  I once read that a Rabbi in Israel said, when you eat food grown by Jews in Israel, you are eating proof of God’s promise to bring His people back to their ancestral homeland in preparation for the Final Redemption for all of mankind.“But you, mountains of Isra’el, you will sprout your branches and bear your fruit
for my people Isra’el, who will soon return.” Ezekiel 36:8

We are living in the day of the words of Ezekiel coming to pass, just as promised.  

How’s that for soul food?

Join me for an unforgettable life experience in Israel!

My First Meal In Israel

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I love trying the local favorites when I visit new places. So when I took my first trip to Israel, I was really looking forward to learning about their breakfast dishes. You know, eggs, toast, fruit, coffee.

So Funny!

Hahahahaha, I’m laughing at me because I was so naive to think the Israeli breakfast would be that plain. No my friend, the Israeli Breakfast is way more than eggs, toast, fruit and coffee.  The sheer amount and variety of the Israeli breakfast will knock you over.  Breakfast is the meal they are famous for! 

Eggs, Fish, Cheeses, Peppers, Israeli Salad, Veggies, Hummus, Bread, Muffins, Toast, Pita, Croissants, Yogurt, Fruit, Jam, Nuts, Olives, Juice, Coffee, Tea, on and on…it’s like drinking from a fire hose. Which is how I typically describe everything about Israel and I just can’t get enough of it.

Israel’s Famous Dish

Now that you have an idea of breakfast in Israel, let me share with you THE most popular Israeli breakfast dish: SHAKSHUKA! pronounced, [Shahck-SHOO-Kuh].

The most comforting and delicious dish I’ve ever eaten for breakfast. Peppers and tomatoes stewed down to a thick sauce topped with sunnyside eggs that adds a delectable layer of richness once the yolk breaks and oozes into the peppers and tomatoes. Add to that, your favorite toppings and served with a side of the famous Israeli Salad and warm bread.

From home cooked versions to fancy hotels, this dish is cooked all across the country, each putting their signature twist on the toppings. 

I was blessed to be able to take my first bite of the famous Shakshuka (topped with feta and chives) at a hotel on the beach overlooking the breathtaking Mediterranean one gorgeous sunny morning in May 2014. The location, the view, the weather, the meal itself…everything about it was more than I imagined…it was absolute perfection. 

The famous Israeli Shakshuka was my very first meal on my very first trip to Israel, another captivating moment that I will never forget. Click here for a 4 minute video about that trip.

Recipe Sharing!

Please enjoy the Shakshuka recipe below. Or better yet, join me on my next trip to Israel in May because the only thing better than cooking Shakshuka is eating Shakshuka in Israel: it is food for your body and soul.

Welcome To Israel

Inspiring. Bright, uplifting, life-giving inspiration. That’s what Israel is.

Can you imaging landing at your local airport, welcomed by something like this?

This happened at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on May 24, 2018. What’s so unique and uplifting about this is the reason they are celebrating. 18 years of bringing young Jewish people to the land of their forefathers on birthright trips…for free!  

I say it over and over, I feel most alive when I’m in Israel. They just seem to express life differently and it is so contagious! They’re passionate about everything in life, especially they’re children. To inhabit the land given to their forefathers, to build a strong modern nation. Everything they do is for their children and grandchildren.

Get your passport ready and join me in Israel for your personal experience like none other. I can’t wait to host you in the most inspiring place on earth!

May the new year of 2019 bring us more inspiration to live in a way that inspires others.

Abundant Blessings, 

Blessed Buy Israel

It was such a joy to share about Jerusalem with you last week. If you missed it, you can click here to read about what happened to me in the Old City.

For those who watch my cooking videos, you know that I use ingredients from Israel in some of the recipes like this Honey Apple cake with a secret ingredient and this refreshing Gazpacho.

I get those ingredients from some very special friends who I met 2 years ago at a Christian Pro-Israel event.  Last week, my friends, who recently returned from Israel, stopped by for a visit. If you like miracles, watch this video to meet these special people who have made it their life mission to give everyone the opportunity to be part of what God is doing. So very exciting!

Click here to subscribe to my Youtube channel and click the bell icon in the upper right corner to be notified of upcoming videos. And share with a friend you think may be interested.

I hope you are inspired by what I am doing with A Taste of Israel, let me know if you are!

Blessings to you,