After participating in the symposium “Women of Influence”, organized at Magdala in March of this year, I felt sure I would come back for another visit. I was impressed by the women of the various walks of life and religions, and their stories so generously shared with us. I was equally impressed by the aesthetics and serenity of the site and the inclusive atmosphere created by Jennifer Ristine and her staff.
I did come back. Last week. Twice even on the same day while on vacation with my teenaged daughter and her friend in the Galilee!
Leaving the girls in Tiberias to stroll “unchaperoned” for a while I paid a visit on my own. The place instilled the same kind of peacefulness as it had done during my first visit and the now enlarged excavations at the entrance arose curiosity.
I continued into the beautiful worship center for what I thought would be about a half an hour’s visit. 1½ hours later I left, having found peace of mind to relax and contemplate. This, to me, attested to the ecumenical spirit of Magdala more than anything else, that I, as a Jewish woman, could find a place to think and quiet my mind at this special site.
I drove back to Tiberias to pick up the girls, bringing them back to Magdala to show them the place.
Magdala has welcomed over 42,000 visitors from January to July 2016. We estimate we will receive over 100,000 visitors by the end of the year. Approximately 30% of the visitors are local Israeli Jews. During the Feast of Mary Magdalene in July, over 250 Christian Arabs came to Magdala to celebrate mass. Daily, we welcome Christians and Jews from around the world to Magdala as we celebrate the commonality of our faith. Magdala — crossroads of Jewish and Christian history.