Continuing our tour with Ecclesia Houston led by Breaking Bread Journeys, we started our day in Cana, where, according to John’s Gospel 2:1-11, Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine for a wedding celebration. The married couples of our group took the opportunity to renew their wedding vows in a very moving group ceremony led by Pastor Chris Seay in one of the gardens of the Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana. I find it beautiful that Jesus’ first miracle was performed at the celebration of a marriage.

After Cana, we made our way to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus where we took a short hike to Mt. Precipice for some beautiful panoramic views over the Jezreel Valley. It is believed by many to be the site of the Rejection of Jesus described in Luke 4:14-30. In this passage, Jesus proclaims himself as the one described in Isaiah, saying,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The people of Nazareth, not accepting Jesus as Messiah tried to push him from the mountain, but “he passed through the midst of them and went away.” The mount is situated on the southern edge of the city and provides beautiful views of the valley below and Mt. Tabor (Mount of Transfiguration) seen as an isolated peak to the east.

After that, we were ready for lunch and a wine tasting at Tulip Winery (יקב טוליפ). I love the cause behind Tulip, which our lovely host Lital told us employs 45 special needs adults who live in the village where the winery is located, a former kibbutz. The village’s name, Kfar Tikva, means “Village of Hope.”

At Tulip, they say “Labels are for wine bottles, not for people.” They were founded with the purpose of making great wine while providing special needs adults with employment and the support of community on the former kibbutz where they’re located. Started as a tiny boutique winery in 2003, now they are shipping over 300,000 bottles of wine annually and have won various awards locally and internationally.

Founded by the Itzhaki family, they fulfilled their long-time dream of establishing a winery that combines the production of quality wine with social responsibility. The owner, Roy Itzhaki, came to sit with us at our wine tasting and shared some personal stories of the origins of the business.

Their wonderful vision produced an exciting model of wine entrepreneurialism that employs members of Kfar Tikva and provides them with a business platform from which they can integrate into the labor market like any other person.

Tulip has become an industry leader and the largest boutique winery in Israel.

Our group presented one of the employees we have come to know well over our several visits, Nathan, with some special gifts. Nathan has a rare genetic disorder and is known to be the oldest person in the world with the condition. He was Tulip’s first paid employee. They attribute his remarkable health to the joy and fulfillment he gets from his job.

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