On The Road to Caesarea

Walking through Tel Aviv was like walking through living history. Making our way down the tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard, we saw the city's first kiosk, first streetlight and what was the first home, constructed in 1910, one year after the city was founded. It belonged to Tel Aviv's first Mayor, Meir Dizengoff. 

This building is particularly significant because it was chosen as the venue for the signing of the declaration of independence of the State of Israel on May 14th, 1948.

Eleven minutes after Israel declared its independence, President Harry Truman officially recognized Israel as a Jewish state, against the advice of his administration.

Rabbi Max Weiss holding The New York Times, May 15, 1948. Photo courtesy Sara Janz

As we said our good-byes to Tel Aviv, the next leg of our Israel adventure took us north, away from the shores of the Mediterranean. The scenery changed from residential, to the high tech region of Herzliya, to fields of olives, pomegranates and grapes.  

About 35 miles north of Tel Aviv, we reach our destination - the aqua-ducts of Caesarea, a port city built by Herod the Great in the first century BCE as part of the Roman Empire. 

The tunnels were built to bring water throughout the city. They are still intact - we had an opportunity to walk through a portion of them!

Before entering the ancient city, our tour educator Zvi Levran gave us an interactive, 'Readers Digest' version of Jewish history, to better make the connection with Caesarea.

As we entered the city, we saw displaced ruins; some destroyed from natural forces such as earthquakes, some structures destroyed by enemies.

We entered the magnificent amphitheater, trying to imagine what it would have been like more than two centuries ago.

We waled past more artifacts - and saw a significant historic find! The replica on display is a carved limestone block with an inscription to Pontius Pilate. This is the earliest know evidence showing the historical existence of Pontius Pilate. (The actual stone is in the Israel Museum.)

We move on to see the remains of Herod the Great's palace overlooking the sea, complete with what was a fresh water swimming pool!

As we took in the incredible history among the ruins, including the hippodrome used for chariot races, we got the added bonus of walking along the beach, surrounded by what is left of another world.

As much as we wanted to continue our discoveries at Caesarea, we had to move on for one last stop - a visit with our sister reform congregation Kehillat Kiryat Tivon.  A great way to wrap up this ambitious day. A lot more in store tomorrow at the Sea of Galilee.