As the holiday of Pesach (Passover) approaches the following article has special relevance. In ancient times when Jews lived in Israel and the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was standing in Jerusalem, Jews were commanded to make their way to the city three times a year, on Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. Of course there weren’t major highways but there were defined paths that people making pilgrimage took, year after year.
Around seven months ago, two Israelis, Golan Rice and Yael Tarasiuk-Nevo set out to map a 400 km route, what they are calling The Way to Jerusalem, that begins in Jaffa and ends in Jerusalem. Their route is based on ancient Holy Land Pilgrimages that people took to get to Jerusalem and in their terms is not only a physical journey but a spiritual one as well. Golan explained: “this is a journey which exposes you to the tremendous power that comes from a long, physical walk through history, characters and symbols and always ends in a significant place. In addition to this physical path, and no less important, is the inner path pilgrims undertake.”
Golan credits his twice completing the very challenging route of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Santiago) in Portugal and Spain. for inspiring him to seek out an authentic pilgrims route in Israel that could provide a powerful physical/spiritual journey for all those who complete it, especially as its end point is Jerusalem, a home to the world’s three monotheistic faiths. His hope is that the route will be used by members of all faiths, just as it was historically. In his mind when people make a pilgrimage, they are all equal, regardless of religion or language.
In order to plan and map out the route, Golan and Yael met with multiple academics and researchers in Israel who were experts in the development of national holy places and medieval history. The 400 km route followed by The Way to Jerusalem was actually used by Jewish Pilgrims in the time of the second Beit Hamikdash and by Christians in the 4th century. Muslims also began to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem after the Ottoman Turks captured Arab lands.
Two pilot hikes that took place lasted around six days from the Jaffa Port to the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, stopping over in various communities along the way, including Be’er Yaakov, Yad Rambam, Neve Shalom, Abu Ghosh and Ein Kerem as well as the archeological site at Tel Gezer.
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