At Magdala By The Kinneret, Discoveries That Resonate With Jews And Christians


The most significant find to date is an altar stone believed to be a model of the Jerusalem Temple – created by a contemporary artist who saw it first-hand.

Who can ever tell what the future holds? Or where our lives will lead us?

Father Juan Solana has been running the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem for the Legionaries of Christ religious order for the past ten years. But back in 2004, when informed by the Vatican that he was being sent to Israel, the young, Mexican-born Catholic priest found the prospect daunting, and even a bit frightening. For not only was Israel in the middle of a violent intifada, but Father Juan didn’t know the language. Besides, there were problems at Notre Dame that he felt he didn’t have the experience to solve. Simply put – he was afraid that he wasn’t quite up to the task.

Before setting out for the Middle East, Father Juan flew to Rome for a bit of extra spiritual strengthening. Entering a small chapel in the Vatican, he found himself in front of an unfamiliar altar. As he prayed, he raised his eyes and looked up at the mosaic on the wall, a scene on the Sea of Galilee in which Jesus rebukes his disciple Peter. Above it, there was a quote from the Gospels: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

From that moment on, Father Juan knew that he was on the right path. Even so, in his wildest dreams he couldn’t have imagined just how right it would be. For once in the Holy Land, chance led him to a unique and marvelous discovery.

Father Juan spent one of his first nights in Israel on the shores of Lake Kinneret. Walking near the water at dawn, he saw a fisherman netting his nets in front of him. And he began to dream about what he could accomplish in the Holy Land.

Soon Father Juan learned that Christian pilgrims to Israel made two major stops: they explored Jerusalem’s holy sites, and followed in the footsteps of Jesus around Lake Kinneret. Obviously, what was needed was another Notre Dame Center, or something similar, in the Galilee.

In 2005, after learning that a property called “Hawaii Beach Hotel” in the village of Migdal north of Tiberias was being sold, Father Juan began the long and complicated process of purchasing the property. Detailed plans for a worship center complete with guesthouse and restaurant were drawn up, and in 2009 construction began on the foundations.



Read the full article over at The Times of Israel

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Michael, Sean, Jen, Laura and I want to thank you both for making our family trip to Israel this past December an absolutely amazing experience! We are left with wonderful memories to cherish. Your expertise and dedication to planning our trip, combined with Shmuel’s expertise as our tour guide allowed us to have a perfectly organized, fascinating, adventurous and fun family vacation! Shmuel’s energetic nature and enthusiastic personality made him a pleasure to travel with each day! We truly appreciate all that you both did for us, you had each member of our family’s best interests at heart at all times! We treasure your friendship and we can’t wait to see you again! Todah Rabah!!

Ruckenstein family