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Stained Glass Creation and Historical Use

glass-111343_6403-D Stained Glass Structure

Stained glass has a long history of being featured in houses of worship, dating as far back as the 1st century A.D. The term usually refers to works created from colored glass that have been used in windows of churches and other important buildings. Over time, the architecture of stained glass has changed from the traditional flat panels you might see in a church window to a three dimensional structure or sculpture.

Religious Use of Stained Glass through History

Since ancient times, civilizations have been creating stained glass. Stained glass windows have been found in Christian churches dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries, and in Britain, the first reference to stained glass came in 675, when Benedict Biscop brought workers to glaze the windows of the Monastery of St. Peter at Monkwearmouth as it was constructed.

In the middle ages, the stained glass windows found in churches and religious buildings served a purpose greater than just beautifying the space- these windows were used to tell the stories of the Bible to a population that was largely illiterate.


The Poor Man’s Bible

Stained glass in the Romanesque style was in demand in the 9th and 10th centuries after Constantine allowed Christians to worship openly.  These windows often showed individual figures and were relatively small. The predominant colors were red and blue, surrounded by white glass.

Later, in the 13th and 14th centuries, stained glass flourished as windows in Gothic cathedrals got much larger than the churches of the past. Because the windows were designed to be larger, the images began to tell a story, designed in sequence. As time moved on, stronger jewel-toned colors and depictions of moralizing images became popular. The creation of moralizing images became especially important during the Reformation, when the creation of religious images brought penalties.

Making Stained Glass Windows

There are two ways to create stained glass.

  • The first method brings the coloring in stained glass as a step in the manufacturing process; the creators add metallic salts to the molten glass before shaping it into sheets or blowing the glass into decorative sculptures.
  • The second method involves a special type of paint. Stained glass artists may also use a vitreous paint that contains bits of ground up glass to color sheets of clear glass. When heated, the paint breaks down and shows the beautiful colors.

Soldering the joints
By John Carmichael [CC BY 2.0], via flickr

To create a stained glass window with multiple colors, artists first create their design and a pattern to use before cutting the glass sheets by hand to fit into the desired pattern. Next, they will use paint to color the pieces of their design and kiln fire it to bring out the colors in the paint. To assemble the finished product, artists assemble each piece in the pattern they’ve chosen and apply a leading or foil between each one, especially at the joints. Then the leading is soldered to hold it all together, especially at the joints. Once the piece has cooled, the assembled window is puttied, dried and polished.

This is an oversimplification of the stained glass (installation) making process, but we hope you get an idea of the procedure. It is a time-consuming processing and requires a lot of attention, but with all things, the enjoyment from the process and the satisfaction from completion surpasses everything. Each new project is an exciting challenge. With the guides available on the internet and the stained glass schools around the world, the skills necessary to learn to make stained glass art are a lot more accessible than before.

We are not experts in the art of stained glass, but we are experts in the travel industry. If you desire to go on a tour and stop at specific locations to see famous stained glass windows, we’re here for you. Just click the link to contact Gil Travel and one of our expert agents will be in contact with you shortly.

Do you like stained glass? We would like to share this collection of lesser known stained glass windows around the world that we’ve compiled. Click the image below to access the “Stained Glass Wonders” pdf. 

Four Israeli Desserts with Strong Cultural Connections

4213599247_f6f1c12559_bBaklava Sampler (By stuart_spivack [CC BY SA 2.0], via flickr)

If you’re traveling in Israel and have a craving for an authentic Israeli dessert, you have a wide variety of choices to satisfy your sweet tooth!In fact, there are many desserts in Jewish culture that are not only delicious but have strong significance for the people of Israel. Thankfully, some of these sweet treats are even available worldwide.

The following list includes desserts that are appropriate for consumption in connection with Jewish religious ceremonies as well as treats that can be appropriate for everyday snacks.  Whether you’re in the mood for a pleasant pastry or a sugary sweet, all the following items have a strong cultural significance.


Krembo, the sweet memories of childhood
By ella [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Krembo is an incredibly sweet treat that is very popular with youngsters. This chocolate coated biscuit and marshmallow is also thought to be a comfort food for Israelis living outside their home country, especially in the United States. There are multiple flavors of commercially available Krembo, including banana and strawberry, although those don’t have a huge share in the market for this treat. Some say it is only sold during the winter months.

I wonder if they taste like thin mints
By slgc [CC BY 2.0], via flickr

Central to Passover, this unleavened bread is a symbol that begins the Seder meal. At this time Jewish individuals break a cake of matzah, which they call “the bread of affliction.” It is said that Jews in Egypt were commanded to eat matzah along with the paschal of lamb for the first Passover; Jewish historians say that the unleavened bread is a symbol of the haste that the Jews employed when they were liberated from Egypt- there was no time to let the bread rise before baking. The belief is that non-Jews enjoy Matzah more than Jews enjoy them because of its overconsumption during Passover. There are a variety of recipes that utilize matzah for a sweet or savory treat.
We would like to offer our Tel Aviv Restaurant Guide. The rest of the blog continues below


Have you made your own before?
By Rachel Tayse [CC BY 2.0], via flickr

A traditional Jewish cookie, rugelach is cookie that is covered with nuts, raisins, sugar and cinnamon before shaping into a crescent. One variation is to roll the dough into a rectangle, covered with filling, then cut the pastry dough into circles. There are conflicting stories about where the name for this cookie comes from. Some say the rugelach cookie gets its name from the Yiddish term for royal – “rugel.” Another website,, reports that Rugelach is a Yiddish word that translates into “little twists” and that the cookie originated with Ashkenazi Jews who migrated to German-speaking countries.

Fresh, golden baklava

This pastry is extremely popular during the Jewish holidays; on Rosh Hashanah, pastry-makers substitute blanched almonds for walnuts in baklava (or baklawa). In Israel, this dessert is created with layers of phyllo pastry sheets, nuts, sweet butter, clove, sugar, cinnamon and then finished with a syrup containing orange and lemon rinds.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Fortunately, many of these Israeli foods and desserts are available in the United States. However, if you want to travel to Israel and try the authentic ones, contact Gil Travel and our expert travel agents here can help you create an itinerary to include delicious local fare while you explore the many sites.

More than Hummus and Rugelach: Israel’s Culinary Heritage

When people think of Israel’s food, it’s likely they think of hummus, rugelach or falafel. But there’s a wide range of Israeli dishes that celebrate the country’s culture and heritage.  If you’re looking for a way to create memories that will last and to expand your palate as well, consider immersing yourself in the foods of the region, like the ones described below.

Seven underrated Israeli dishes

In Israel, cholent, otherwise known as Jewish stew, is a slow-cooked meal that is extremely popular during Shabbat. In fact, the recipe was developed over the centuries to align with Jewish laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath. According to multiple sources, the dish boils on Friday before the Sabbath, and then is placed into a slow cooker or oven on low heat until the next day. Cholent typically includes meat, potatoes, beans and barley. However, Sephardic Jews often substitute rice for the beans and barley and chicken for the beef. They may also add whole eggs, shell included! Ashkenazi Jews often include a sausage casing or chicken neck skin stuffed with flour.
Jachnun is another dish created out of necessity to abide by Jewish laws regarding the Sabbath. It is a sweet bread from Yemen, typically served on the morning of Shabbat with a side of tomato dip. The rolled and baked dough is left to cook in a slow oven over night and when finished, has the flaky texture of a croissant. You may find this dish in Tel Aviv, at the Shuk HaCarmel.

For more delicious food, check out our Tel Aviv Restaurant guide! Rest of the blog continues below.


Potato Latkes
By Megan Chromik [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr

Latkes are traditionally served during Hanukkah, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy this dish year round! There are multiple variations on the traditional pancake recipe, both sweet and savory. Well known versions include potato latkes and cheese latkes. There are also some more out of the box recipes including corn and red pepper latkes, mushroom-pecan latkes, and even sweet potato latkes with cinnamon.
This gelatinous pudding is a very popular dish in Israeli kitchens. You’ll find it in the street markets and restaurants of Israel. There are several versions of this dish: a dairy-free version, a dairy version and a chocolate option. It is also known to have been often flavored with rosewater.
Matbucha is a dish of stewed tomatoes, red peppers, garlic and onions. In Israeli kitchens, cooks make their own adjustments to matbucha – adding a variety of vegetables and garnishes. This dish is often served as a dip for pita bread or vegetables.
This rice-like pasta was invented in the 1940s by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Being very popular amongst children, the pasta is often sold in ring, star and heart shapes. Variations are made from white flour, whole wheat and spelt flour. It is often prepared with onions and garlic or even meats and vegetables, and then fried. Yummy!

Beef and Lamb mixed Shawarma
By avlxyz [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr

Shawarma is shredded meat often served in a pita. Meats used in shawarma include lamb, chicken, turkey, beef or veal. This is a very popular street food, available at vendors in markets and tourist areas. The dish also includes shredded vegetables and condiments.

Which one of these delicacies are you hoping to try on your next trip to Israel?