A Travel Agent’s Trip to Israel with Ya’lla Tours, Part 1

Following is the first installment of a travel diary by Kelly Hyatt, who traveled to Israel in February of 2018 with a group of American travel agents. Thank you Kelly!



This year is the 70th anniversary of the modern “state of Israel” a place that has existed my entire life, I was born in 1960, and forever in time biblically.

ISRAEL – THE #1 “bucket list” destination for me. As a travel agent I had been fortunate to have already visited other “bucket list” destinations such as Egypt, Greece, Corinth, Patmos and Ephesus. These have all tied in with my quest to walk where the ancient walked, especially where the biblical people walked.

Israel is a place that is like no other on earth, NONE.

This past February I was fortunate, thanks be to God (and Ya’lla Tours), to be able to fulfill a lifelong dream, a dream many other people also share. I finally was able to put my feet on the same ground that JESUS walked upon, and not just HIM but also the many thousands of other people throughout the centuries. What an extraordinary feeling.

I arrived in Tel Aviv on 6 February. It was the beginning of the most incredible journey of my life, one that I have not had enough of, a journey I must do again and again.
For, you see, this was an amazing travel agent educational Christian fam tour with Ya’lla Tours. Ya’lla packed so many things into a short 10-day time period. Even though we saw the most incredibly inspiring and amazing places, we did not see even a fraction of the places and things that are in the land of Israel. And as time constraints were a factor, we most certainly did not get to spend the time that I, as well as my traveling companions, and surely you, when you go, will inevitably long for once your feet are there. You find it difficult to leave the place where you are standing at that moment, as your desire to just stay still and take it all in will overwhelm you and you will know at that moment you will have to go back.

Upon arrival, I took a taxi to my hotel, Herods Tel Aviv, the windows of the lobby facing directly to the beach. I got settled into my room and simply could not believe that I was there, HERE , in the Holy land; I had no idea what I had expected. It was a beautiful night in a beautiful city. I ordered room service, tried to figure out my WIFI and went to bed.

The next morning, I awoke to a beautiful sunrise. From my balcony I could see that the beach seemed to stretch down for miles. At 6 am there were many people riding cycles, people on paddle boards and people swimming in wet suites. This is the Mediterranean Sea! Did you hear that? The Mediterranean Sea!!! All I could think about was how in the heck did all those people from the Bible and ancient times have the guts to go out in that sea and go to places like Greece and Egypt and beyond and here, now, I was watching OLD men in wet suites (I had binoculars) swimming in the sea in February! I was amazed at the resilience of the people who lived here, and at that moment I had no idea the significance of the beaches I was admiring.

Tel Aviv beachside promenade

Tel Aviv beachside promenade

After breakfast at the hotel, I took off walking down the really tremendous beach boardwalk, complete with many places to dine beach-side, and little places to sit and rest. There were workout gyms around, and many beach chairs (not set up as I was out very early) and even life guard stands. It was obvious that there was ongoing construction on both the beach side and the hotels and buildings on the other side of the road.

As I walked down I admired the art on the beach and started to notice that the beaches were where many thousands of Jewish people returned to their homeland after the holocaust in ships that became stranded or blocked at those beaches. It was quite moving and very beautifully molded into the, I think, 8 miles long beach that ends in the old city of Jaffa, or Yafo.

I walked along for a long while and then went back to my room and slept, dreaming of all the places that I had heard about in the Bible and would start seeing tomorrow. Jaffa, Caesarea, Mt Carmel, Acre, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, the ruins of the Canaanite city of DAN, Mt of Beatitudes and Nazareth just to name a few! The river Jordan, the ancient place called Megiddo, AKA Armageddon!!! And of course, Bethlehem! Jerusalem! Hello did you hear me JERUSALEM!! The Dead Sea and Masada!!!! MASADA, are you kidding me!!!! I did not even know there was a movie!!! And so so much more…

Check in next week for Part 2 of Kelly’s Israel adventure.


These city walls, built by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century, are only the latest fortifications to protect our mystery city. The city and its walls were destroyed in 587BCE during the Babylonian siege and much of the population was deported to Babylon. When the Persians took control of the region some 50 years later, the exiled citizens were allowed to return and the walls were rebuilt. The walls were extended in the 2nd century BCE by the Hasmonean dynasty and by Herod the Great and his son Agrippa in the following century or so. The city and its walls were destroyed again in 70CE, this time by the Romans, who occupied the city and renamed it Aelia Capitolina. The Roman walls built over the following four centuries were destroyed in an earthquake in the 11th century. The walls went up and down again several times more, with invasions and occupations by the Islamic Fatimid and Ayyubid dynasties and Christian crusaders. The existing walls have stood, more or less as they are today, for 400 years.

Can you name that city? 
See below for answers.


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Ariel Sharon Park, Tel Aviv

Built on and around a 60 meter high mountain of trash known as Mt. Hiriya, Ariel Sharon Park in Tel Aviv, Israel is a unique project of environmental rehabilitation, community education and engagement, and recreational greenspace.

The park uses cutting-edge technology to clean up land, air and water polluted by decades of accumulated garbage. At the base of Mt. Hiriya, three recycling plants respectively convert construction materials into gravel, dry organic materials into mulch, & sewage waste into energy. Through anaerobic digestion, microorganisms break down organic materials. The process creates methane and carbon dioxide, more than enough biogas to power the recycling plants. This renewable energy source is also carbon neutral. ArrowBio recycling technology harnesses the natural forces of gravity, flowing water and wind to sort all kinds of solid waste materials. 80% of materials that pass through these plants are recycled.

The public park is opening in stages and is set to be fully open in 2020. At around 2000 acres, it will be more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park. As of early 2018, visitors can enjoy walking and cycling trails, thriving wetland areas, long views of Tel Aviv and the surrounding area and guided tours.



Foto Friday – Holy Fire

In Orthodox Christian tradition, on the day before Easter, a flame emanates from the tomb of Jesus in the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem. Crowds of worshippers gather to partake of the miraculous fire.

photo by Dafna Tal, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

photo by Dafna Tal, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

photo by Noam Chen, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

photo by Noam Chen, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism

Poetry Corner: the Song of Moses & Miriam

The Crossing of the Red Sea, Nicolas Poussin, 1634

The Crossing of the Red Sea, Nicolas Poussin, 1634

In honor of Passover, a song of praise from Exodus 15:1-19 ~

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
    the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
    he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
    are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters have covered them;
    they sank to the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, Lord,
    was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
    shattered the enemy.

“In the greatness of your majesty
    you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
    it consumed them like stubble.
By the blast of your nostrils
    the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
    the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy boasted,
    ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
    I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
    and my hand will destroy them.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
    and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
    in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
    is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
    majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
    working wonders?

12 “You stretch out your right hand,
    and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
    the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
    to your holy dwelling.
14 The nations will hear and tremble;
    anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
    the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people of Canaan will melt away;
16  terror and dread will fall on them.
By the power of your arm
    they will be as still as a stone —
until your people pass by, Lord,
    until the people you bought pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them
    on the mountain of your inheritance —
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,
    the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

18 “The Lord reigns
    for ever and ever.”

19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.

Exodus 15:1-19
New International Version