With just 8 days before departing for our next pilgrimage on January 9, 2014, I’m dreaming about the first leg in Jaffa Israel! Jaffa is one of the oldest cities in the world, just south of Tel Aviv and dating back to ancient times. This charming port city’s name is derived from the Hebrew word yafah (הפי) meaning “beautiful.” Old Jaffa, one of the most popular Mediterranean destinations, dates back to antiquity; not only was it an important religious setting, but it held a strategic military location at the top of a hill with a view of the coast.
Although many visitors focus on the history of Jaffa, since it is marked by conquest, I’m intrigued with it being a locale for miracles.
Four times, Old Jaffa is mentioned in the Old Testament, in the books of Joshua, Jonah, Ezra, and Chronicles. Kings David and Solomon used the port of entry for importing timber to build temples. In the Acts of the Apostles, it is written that Peter performed the miracle of the resurrection of Tabatha, the widow, in Jaffa. He received a vision from G-d there, expressing that there should be no discrimination between the Jews and the Gentiles.
Astrology is the inspiration behind the beautiful Wishing Bridge, connecting Peak Parkand Kdumim Square in the heart of the Old City. At the entrance to the bridge sits an intricate and beautiful stone mosaic of the twelve zodiac signs.
And the bridge displays smooth, dark wood embraced by 12 bronze plaques, each representing a Zodiac symbol.
Local legend holds that if a person grasps the appropriate astrological plaque while making a wish and gazing out at the Mediterranean Sea, his or her wish will come true.
Nearby, the Zodiac Fountain in Kdumim Square, combines effects of water, lighting, and stonework to complete the representation of the 12 chalkstone zodiac sculptures in fascinating, original designs.
The Fountain offers passersby yet another chance to make dreams come true. We will toss a coin into the fountain and intend that our wishes will be fulfilled.
A salvage excavation at the site was conducted as part of the digging work for the Fountain. The findings found under the Fountain corroborate an old legend mentioning the existence of a magical wishing well located in that very place—Anyone who tosses a coin in it and makes a wish has her or his wish fulfilled on the spot. Oh, yes, I’ll be tossing in my coin!
The zodiacs also appear in the street names of Old Jaffa and the Wishing Bridge connecting Jaffa Hill with Kdumim Square, such as Rehov Mazal Dagim – Pisces Street.
The artists of the bridge and fountain are carrying on a tradition that goes back millennia. An ancient mosaic in extraordinary condition discovered in an archaeological exploration of a 4th-century synagogue in Tiberias shows the 12 signs of the zodiac, surrounding an image of the sun-god Helios. Ancient zodiac imagery has also been found in the south of Israel.