This week we celebrated Eid al-Adha in the Middle East. Eid al-Adha is the Muslim holiday that celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, God’s sparing Isaac and providing a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son. Many Jordanian Muslims celebrate the holiday by purchasing a sheep or goat, killing the animal and giving 1/3 of the meat to the poor and needy, 1/3 to friends and family, and retaining 1/3 for themselves. As we drove outside of Amman last Friday, we saw countless pens selling animals along the road like this one:
They reminded us of Christmas tree lots in the west during the month of December. Muslims would purchase their animals and take them home in the back of trucks:
And sometimes in the backs of their cars:
We chose to celebrate Eid by heading to Israel, where ironically, the Israeli Jews were celebrating Yom Kippur. It is very rare when Eid and Yom Kippur are celebrated during the same week. Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday marked as a day of repentance with a 25-hour fast and prayers. We were lucky enough to start the day in Eid-celebrating Jordan and end the day in Yom Kippur-celebrating Israel, with a dicey border crossing serving as the bridge between the two holidays and two countries.
We then spent the next few days playing on the beach in Caesarea:
Visiting a crusader castle in Akko:
Visiting beautiful Baha’i gardens in Haifa:
And visiting the holy sites in Nazareth:
The Mount of the Beatitudes:
The Mount of Transfiguration:
An incredibly sobering experience from our trip came when our guide took us to the Golan Heights and we were able to look down into Syria from a lookout point. Every few minutes we heard loud booming sounds and could see smoke rising in various points on the horizon. The town closest to the Israeli border was a ghost town. UN peacekeeping soldiers from Russia and Estonia stood just feet away from us, watching the border through powerful binoculars.