(53) has a special attraction for pilgrimages.
Less than a year and a half ago he decided to leave his job as regional security director in El Al and do the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route alone.
The foot march of hundreds of kilometers on foot from France to Spain became a significant inner journey that influenced the course of his life ever since.
He wrote a book about the journey ("On the Way to Santiago" soon to be published by Niv), and to finish it he went to Santiago again, this time from Cadiz.
His writing partner and best friend,
Yael Tersiuk Nebo
(41), also a former El Al security worker and currently accompanying parents of at-risk children and facilitating groups, had already started planning his next journey with him on the Via Francigana, via St. Francis in Rome, when the obvious question came up.
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A special attraction for pilgrimages.
Yael Tersiuk Nevo and Golan Reiss (photo: courtesy of those photographed, Golan Reis and Yael Tersiuk Nevo)
The length of the Pilgrim's Way is 450 kilometers (photo: courtesy of the photographers, Golan Reis and Yael Tersiuk Nebo)
The road passes through historical sites and holy places and is divided into four parts (photo: courtesy of the photographers, Golan Reis and Yael Tersiuk Nebo)
"The goal is for it to be a community project"
"We were sitting in a cafe and talking about the paths of these pilgrims, about the meaning of this long walk as an inner journey, the tremendous power of a journey on foot to a significant place through history, characters and symbols, and suddenly we asked ourselves how it could actually be that there is a pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, which brings There are hundreds of thousands of pilgrims there, and there is a popular pilgrimage route to Rome, but the city of Jerusalem does not have the Holy City," says Golan.
From there things started to run fast.
Golan devoted all his time to this project, with Yael a full partner in the process.
More staff members have recently been added.
Everyone does this completely voluntarily and without formal connection to official bodies.
"This is not a commercial business. We are building it from the bottom up. The goal is for it to be a community project," says Golan.
With the help of historians, archaeologists and people who specialize in the knowledge of the land, the entrepreneurs began to trace the pilgrimage routes of the Jews, Christians and Muslims, and about six months ago they established a Facebook group called The way to Jerusalem, which aims to allow anyone who wants to participate in the project so that it becomes social and multicultural.
The book "On the Road to Santiago" (Photo: Courtesy of those photographed, Golan Reiss)
The pilgrims also sign a "passport" for the journey at various points along the way (photo: courtesy of the photographers, Golan Reis and Yael Tersiuk Nebo)
Everyone does this completely voluntarily and with no formal connection to official bodies (photo: courtesy of those photographed, Golan Reis and Yael Tarsiuk Nevo)
Do you want to walk the "notebook road" or maybe the "silence road"?
The length of the planned pilgrim route is 450 kilometers, and it combines ancient routes that were used by pedestrians in the past, and new routes that take into account security and safety issues and the reality today.
"Unlike a normal nature trail, this trail does not run away from the cities or villages, but enters them. The sections start and end at places in the settlement, not at the campsite," says Golan.
According to Yael, the views and the experience of nature, as amazing as they are, are not the goal here.
"It's a way that enters the cities and kibbutzim. When you pass through Ramla, you have to talk. You pass through the hearts of the communities, through stories, perceptions and opinions, through discourse. This creates a dimension of tolerance."
The road passes through historical sites and holy places and is divided into four parts, given names that describe both the physical dimension of the road and the inner journey that the pilgrim goes through in each of them: the first part, "The Way of the Beginning
, starts from the northern border above Metula and continues to the north of the Sea of Galilee.
This is an ancient road that was used by the Syrian Jews in the Second Temple period and by the Christian pilgrims who arrived from the fifth century AD on the land route.
The second part,
"the connecting road"
, begins in the north of the Sea of Galilee and ends north of Atlit.
The third part,
, starts from the north of Atlit and continues to Jaffa.
This road is also an ancient road that was used by pilgrims who arrived by sea from cities such as Sidon, Acre and Caesarea.
The fourth part,
"The Way of Silence"
, begins in Jaffa and ends in Jerusalem.
It traces the road used by Jewish pilgrims since the time of the Second Temple, Christian pilgrims since the fourth century and Muslims since the end of the first millennium.
This section, which is 112 kilometers long, is the most advanced in planning and recently a pilot was even held with the participation of people from the Facebook group who wanted to take part in the pioneering journey.
"Precisely towards the week when we were supposed to leave, it was announced that the storm 'Barbara' was approaching, and people asked to postpone," says Golan, "but a discussion developed and we decided that in our view, a pilgrimage is made with the understanding that the weather is another thing that is on the way, like topography, like people you meeting. We understood that we needed to release the control of the modern world. That we should know how to enjoy the road for everything it has. This was actually our first lesson on the pilgrimage. This is not about a trip, but about devotion."
"This is not about a trip, but about dedication."
Yael, Golan and a friend in Jerusalem (photo: courtesy of the photographers, Golan Reis and Yael Tersiuk Nevo)
"Our first lesson in the pilgrimage is that it is not about a trip, but about devotion."
Travelers on the road (photo: courtesy of those photographed, Golan Reis and Yael Tersiuk Nebo)
Efforts are being made to find accommodations
Yael and Golan say that when they stood at the port of Jaffa there were only three other people with them, after most of the participants canceled their arrival.
"But as we went and uploaded pictures of ourselves from the road, more people joined who realized that the weather was part of the matter. On the second day, ten arrived, and when we arrived at the Jaffa Gate, there were already 50 of us," says Golan.
According to Yael, the name "The Way of Silence" they gave to this part describes exactly the mindset of the walkers at this stage of the journey.
After the beginning, connecting with people, places and land, and the challenges, comes the part where, according to Yael, "you gather within yourself, and ask yourself why I set out on this journey in the first place. You only discover the answer at the end."
During the journey they are for us at Be'er Ya'akov in the Yoana Jabotisanki youth village, at Rambam's hand at private individuals, at the spiritual center in Kfar Neve Shalom, at a local khan in Abu Gush and at the "Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant" church, and in Ein Kerem at the Church of the Sisters of Zion and the Rosary Sisters Convent. Efforts are being made to find more places to stay and stay, but as the trail is fixed, they believe, the supply along the way will also increase.
Travelers who finished their journey at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem (photo: courtesy of the photographers, Golan Reis and Yael Tersiuk Nebo)
The "moment that grabs tight from the inside"
Unlike any other path, where the starting point and the ending point have no meaning, in the pilgrimage journey there is only one end point for which the whole journey was created.
One can only imagine the excitement that gripped the immigrants who walked the arduous paths in ancient times.
But the question arises, is it still important to walk to Jerusalem on foot, when each of us as Israelis has come to the city countless times?
"I did not grow up in a religious or traditional home," says Yael.
"And it's true, each of us comes to Jerusalem a lot, but when we arrived at the Jaffa Gate I really choked. I couldn't speak for two hours after we arrived. All the songs about Jerusalem came to me, all the stories about the pilgrimage throughout history, the wonderful people we met along the way, all the efforts, even the physical ones, Until we reached this moment - it was a moment of knowing that it was real and not a dream, that we did it."
"All along the way you are in the mindset of a person whose goal is to reach Jerusalem. You are in Tel Gezer not to travel in Tel Gezer but on the way to Jerusalem," says Golan.
"And when you touch the Jaffa Gate after walking all the way from Jaffa, after climbing the Jerusalem mountains on foot, with the pilgrim's certificate stamped at various sites along the way, it's a moment that grabs you from the inside."
For details on the "Pilgrimage Road to Jerusalem".
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