Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises

Israel

The Holy Land, Part 2


See Israel, the Holy Land, Part 1

Did you know that Israel has the highest ratio of museums per person in the entire world? This small country has so many important buildings and monuments, and dozens of wonderful natural places. Seeing all of them would take ages!

The Holy Land, Part 2

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Interesting Facts about Israel

  • In regards to its population, Israel has the highest ratio of college degrees and startup companies, and Israeli academics produce more scientific papers per person than anywhere else in the world.
  • Israel is the only country to revive a dead (unspoken) language (like Latin) and establish it as a national language. Hebrew is one of the world's most ancient languages, and for thousands of years had been mainly used for prayers and religious texts only.

    It was revived in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today millions of people speak Hebrew, and Israel has the second highest publication of new books per person.
  • The beaches in Israel offer a variety of four bodies of water: the Meditation Sea in the west, the Dead Sea in the east, the Red Sea in the south, and the Sea Galilee in the north. They range from extra salty in the Dead Sea to fresh water in the Sea of Galilee. Israel has 137 official beaches (but only 273 km of coastline).
  • Tel Aviv is called the "Non-Stop City". It offers 14 kilometers of white sandy beaches (with 318 days of sunshine on average per year), and one of the world's most vibrant nightlife scenes.
  • In addition to the delicious local dishes, such as falafel, made of chickpea beans:

    falafel

    Or the delicious egg dish called shakshouka:

    shakshouka

    Israelis love Japanese food. There are more than 100 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv, which is the highest number of sushi restaurants per person after Tokyo and New York City.

    Sushi in Tel Aviv


Dead Sea

Despite its name, the Dead Sea is a lake, one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. Because it is has 10 times more salt than the ocean, the Dead Sea is a really harsh environment for any living organism – in fact, no plants or animals flourish in this lake, which is why it is called "Dead".

The salinity and water density also make it impossible to swim in the lake. Instead, visitors can enjoy floating, and even reading while in the water.

The lake holds another world record – being located 1,412 feet (430.5 meters) below sea level, which is the lowest place on land.

The wonders of the Dead Sea have been known to humans for thousands of years. For a long time, essential minerals needed for fertilization of the land, and for health purposes have been supplied from the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea


Bahá'í Gardens

The Hanging Gardens of Haifa, or the Terraces of the Bahá'í Faith, is a complex of several garden terraces surrounding the Shrine of the Báb in the city of Haifa.

The terraces represent the first eighteen followers of the Báb, the founder of Bábism, a small religion started in 1844. Together with the terrace of the Shrine, the total number of terraces is nineteen, a significant number for this religion.

The terraces stretch for 0.6 miles (1 km) from the base of Mount Caramel to the summit, where the Shrine of the Báb awaits. The Shrine is important because the Báb was buried there. No religious services take place in the shrine. Visitors can come in for a quiet prayer or meditation.

Bahá'í Gardens


Eilat

Israel has access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Eilat is the southernmost city in the country, and the only port on the Red Sea. The coast is so short that it is possible to walk to Jordan or Egypt in one day.

Records show that Eilat was profitable for mining even during the ancient Egyptian empire.

On average, Eilat has 360 sunny days in a year, which makes it a popular beach location all year round. The most beloved attraction is the colorful coral reef, rich in marine life.

Those who are not adventurous enough to go diving can observe dolphins from a nearby research station, or visit the Coral World Underwater Observatory, the largest public aquarium in the region.

Eilat


Banias Nature Reserve

At the foot of Mount Hermon lies the source of the Banias River, protected in a nature reserve.

The spring located in this nature reserve was once associated with Pan, the Greek god of the wild. There are still remnants of a shrine and an ancient city built by the Greeks.

In addition, the biggest waterfall in Israel is also located there. The nature reserve is made up of two separate parks – the Banias Falls Park, with a trail that leads directly to the waterfall, and the Banias Springs Park, where top attractions include Pan's Cave and the Hermon stream.

Visitors can visit the nature reserve by hiking on one of the four trails, the longest one taking only 90 minutes.

Banias Nature Reserve


Nazareth

Located in northern Israel, Nazareth is home to a mixed Muslim and Christian population. Historically, the city has been best known as the place where Jesus Christ and his mother Mary lived.

Consequently, many sites important for Jesus' childhood and the early years of his teaching are located in Nazareth and are seen as highly holy places. For example, the Synagogue Church is believed to be the synagogue where Jesus was taught as a child.

Another very important building in Nazareth is the Church of Annunciation. This large Catholic church was built on the site where an angel called Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to give birth to Jesus. Visitors are also drawn to several Muslim places of worship, such as the White Mosque, the oldest mosque in the city.

Nazareth

See Israel, the Holy Land, Part 1


Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "salinity" mean?
    1. the amount of water in a lake
    2. the amount of salt in water
    3. the number of salty dishes

  2. What does "meditation" mean?
    1. remaining silent and calm for a long time for spiritual reasons
    2. trying to solve a religious conflict
    3. being located between two seas

  3. What does "ratio" mean?
    1. planned activities
    2. number of registered objects
    3. relationship between two quantities

  4. What does "trail" mean?
    1. marked path
    2. set of stairs
    3. a special tree

  5. What does "aquarium" mean?
    1. river source
    2. body of salt water
    3. water container where fish live


Collocation Questions

  1. No religious __________ takes place in the Báb shrine.
    1. action
    2. service
    3. performance

  2. The Banias Falls Park trail __________ directly to the waterfall.
    1. leads
    2. shows
    3. guides

  3. In the Church of Annunciation, Gabriel __________ Jesus' birth to Mary.
    1. declared
    2. proclaimed
    3. announced

  4. Many sights in Nazareth are __________ places.
    1. divine
    2. holy
    3. blessed

  1. The minerals needed for health products have been __________ from the Dead Sea.
    1. supplied
    2. provided
    3. collected

  1. You can't really swim in the Dead Sea, only __________.
    1. levitate
    2. hang
    3. float

  1. A constitution is the __________ law of the state.
    1. superior
    2. supreme
    3. premier

  2. No living organisms can __________ in the Dead Sea.
    1. flourish
    2. prosper
    3. burgeon

  3. Banias is made __________ of two parks.
    1. out
    2. up
    3. in

  4. Nazareth is home to a __________ population of Muslims and Christians.
    1. assorted
    2. varied
    3. mixed


Wh Questions

  1. Why is it impossible to swim in the Dead Sea?
    1. because the water is too dense
    2. because there isn't enough water
    3. because of the lack of minerals

  2. When did people discover the benefits of the Dead Sea minerals?
    1. when the excavations started in 2002
    2. thousands of years ago
    3. in 1948

  3. Where did Jesus grow up?
    1. in Jerusalem
    2. in Haifa
    3. in Nazareth

  4. Who was Pan?
    1. the Greek god of the wild
    2. the Roman god of the wild
    3. the Greek god of war

  1. How can you tell that Tel Aviv residents love sushi?
    1. there is a street called the Sushi Street
    2. they normally fly to Japan once a year
    3. there are so many sushi restaurants


Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Bahá'í gardens are important for Bábism.
    2. Bahá'í gardens are important for Judaism.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. Banias hiking trails are very demanding – the shortest route takes 90 minutes.
    2. Banias hiking trails are not so demanding – the longest route takes 90 minutes.


True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Biking from Eilat to Jordan would take three days."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "The water in the Dead Sea is much saltier than the ocean water."
    1. True
    2. False


Answer Key

1. B | 2. A | 3. C | 4. A | 5. C | 6. B | 7. A | 8. C | 9. B | 10. A | 11. C | 12. B | 13. A | 14. B | 15. C | 16. A | 17. B | 18. C | 19. A | 20. C |21. A | 22. A | 23. B | 24. A


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