Glimpses of Israel - Haifa

by Joseph Hunting

Some of the most breathtaking views in the Holy Land are to be seen from various vantage points on the slopes of Mount Carmel.

Northward the Mediterranean coastline curves in a gentle arc to Acre. Beyond, on a clear day, one can see the snow-covered crest of Hermon on Israel's northern border with Lebanon and Syria.

Access to the summit of Mount Carmel from down-town Haifa may be along picturesque boulevards that wind their way to the top, or via the 'Carmelit', a rail-car tunnel over a mile in length from Paris Square at the foot of Mount Carmel to the summit.

Whilst Haifa isn't mentioned in either the New or Old Testaments it is first referred to in third century Talmudic literature. On the other hand one of the great miracles recorded in the Bible occurred in the vicinity of Haifa in Old Testament times when Elijah called down fire from Heaven during the great confrontation with Ahab and the four hundred priests of Baal who were slain at the river Kishon that skirts the northern limits of the city.

Like Tel Aviv, Haifa quickens its pace on Saturday evenings when the Sabbath has ended. Hadar HaCarmel (the glory of Carmel) teems with life as the locals jostle past felafel stalls and engage in what seems to be Israel's national pastime -- choose your felafel filling and then settle down for a chat (spirited or otherwise) about any topic ranging from political crises past and present to the current baby boom.