Tel Aviv | Jerusalem | Chan Hashayarot | Ein Gedi | Masada | Dead Sea | Tiberias | Golan Heights | Haifa
- Visit four UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Old City of Jerusalem
- Tour Masada – the historic fortress of King Herod
- Float in the Dead Sea
- Overnight in the desert in a Bedouin tent
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Upon your morning arrival in Tel Aviv, you will be met and taken to the biblical nature reserve, Neot Kedumim. Opened to the public in 1982, it provides a glimpse into the lives of our forefathers through the flora and fauna mentioned throughout the traditional historical Jewish texts. After breakfast, visit the archaeological site of Tel Azeka, which was a Canaanite city dating to before the time of Joshua. See the Elah valley, where David defeated Goliath, as told in the book of Samuel I. Before checking in at your hotel in Jerusalem, enjoy a special She’hecheyanu ceremony. (B)
Visit the City of David, where King David first established his capital 3,000 years ago. Walk through the subterranean Hezekiah’s Tunnel, also known as the Siloam Tunnel. According to the book of Kings II, the tunnel was built in the 8th century BCE by King Hezekiah to protect Jerusalem’s water when the city was under attack by the Assyrian army. The morning in the Old City will culminate with a visit to Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall. Leave the Old City of Jerusalem for the modern city’s Machane Yehuda shuk (open-air market) for lunch. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore the city. At night, return to the Old City to see the story of Jerusalem as told in the fabulous Laser Light Show Spectacular on the backdrop of the Tower of David Museum. (B)
Tour Israel’s Supreme Court, where the values of modern democracy are at work every single day. Then visit the Israel Museum, including the Shrine of the Book, which is home to the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. Later, go to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum (children will visit Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo). (B)
Optional: After dinner, meet with a representative of Encounter, a non-partisan educational organization that builds informed and constructive Jewish leadership to face the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Start the day with a prayer service at the Western Wall followed by a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels, which are located right next to the Western Wall plaza, and underneath many of the buildings and homes in the Old City. Then walk along the Via Dolorosa, which Christians believe to be the path that Jesus walked on his way to being crucified, and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the holiest site in Christianity. Tour the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, followed by the Ramparts Walk along the perimeter of the Old City from Jaffa Gate to Damascus Gate.(B)
Optional: After dinner, meet with representatives of Breaking the Silence, an NGO made up of Israeli veterans who share their experiences serving in the West Bank.
Drive to the Herodium, the palace built by King Herod 2,000 years ago. The afternoon is yours before returning to the hotel and getting ready for Shabbat. Shabbat services on Friday night at a Reform Temple, followed by Shabbat dinner at the hotel. (B,D)
After morning Shabbat services at a Reform Temple, drive south to Tel Be’er Sheva just outside the modern city of Be’er Sheva. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to be the site of the biblical town of Be’er Sheva that was established by Abraham in the book of Genesis. Continue to Sfinat Hamidbar (the “Desert Ship”) near Kibbutz Mashahbei Sade to enjoy Bedouin lunch hospitality and a camel ride. Then enjoy an overnight in a Bedouin tent, including an evening of stargazing in the desert. (B,L)
Morning hike in the gorgeous canyon of Ein Avdat with its many natural springs and waterfalls. Visit Kibbutz Sde Boker, home of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion. Visit his house on the kibbutz, as well as the site where he and his wife Paula are buried. After a special ethnic lunch, tour Ein Gedi Botanical Garden, with its wild plants, as well as herbs and spices used since biblical times. (B)
Early morning drive to the fortress of Masada, the greatest castle in history built by King Herod 2,000 years ago. Ride a cable car up the 1,200-foot high cliff, for an unforgettable tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site. This impressive rugged complex has the most fascinating views of the Judean Desert. Continue to Ein Gedi National Park for lunch and the relaxation at the Ein Gedi Spa and the Ein Gedi Beach. Then on to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, for a float on its mineral-rich waters. (B)
Drive to Safed and visit the Yosef Caro Synagogue Alcove, named for the famous 16th-century codifier of Jewish law as well as the city’s thriving Artists’ Colony. Continue to Tel Dan, one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in Israel, with remains dating back nearly 5,000. Later, enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the Golan Heights and Syria from Mount Bental. (B)
Meet with members of the Reform congregation Yedid Nefesh and its Israeli-born Rabbi Gadi Raviv in Carmiel. Then head to the Druze village Dalyat al-Carmel on Mount Carmel and enjoy Druze hospitality for lunch. Meet members of this community and learn about the unique relationship between this Arab community and the State of Israel and the community’s Jewish neighbors. Continue to Haifa to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Bahai Gardens. These gardens are located around the Shrine of the Bab, which is the second holiest site in the world for the Bahai faith. End the day with a visit to the Atlit detention camp, where many Jews were detained by the British when they attempted to enter pre-state Israel. (B)
Tour the ancient port city of Jaffa, which has a large Arab Christian population living side-by-side with the Jewish residents. Meet with a local Christian lady and hear all about the challenges and advantages that Arab Christians experience living the modern incarnation of one of the world’s oldest cities. Continue to the Diaspora Museum at Tel Aviv University, the National Center for Jewish communities in Israel and around the world. After a walking tour through the outdoor Carmel Market, enjoy free time for lunch and shopping on your own. Then head to the very trendy Florentin neighborhood of Tel Aviv for a wonderful Graffiti Tour, where many of the most talented graffiti artists have added a world of color to Israel’s first modern city. The rest of the afternoon is yours before your farewell dinner. (B,D)