9 NIGHTS / 10 DAYS
Israel… The Holy Land is a great introductory tour visiting some of the most famous historical and cultural regions of Israel. While not always in political control of the land, as promised to Abraham, Jews have lived in this land continuously from the time of its original conquest by Joshua more than 3200 years ago until the present day. Considered as the Cradle of Civilization, this tiny piece of land between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea is likely the most fought-over piece of real estate in history. Ruled or controlled by a succession of empires, from Babylonian, Persian, Greek Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Empires, to Islamic and Christian crusaders, Ottoman and the British Empires . Come join us as we traverse this mystical and magical place visiting key historical places like Caesarea National Park, one of Israel’s most impressive archaeological site first built by King Herod. Visit Akko featuring remnants of the Hellenistic-Roman period as well the Crusader and Ottoman periods and many of the biblical sites that created the Judeo-Christian ethic.
Tour Program Summery Outline
Day 1 - Arrive Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv)
Day 2 - Caesarea – Haifa - Beit Shearim - Akko
Day 3 - Bar’am synagogue – Tzfat - Tiberias
Day 4 - Magdalah - Rosh Pina - Gush Halav - Metula – Misgav Am- Hula Valley - Tel Dan - Tel Azaziat
Day 5 - Golan Heights (Almagor, Katzrin, Kibbutz El Rom observation point)
Day 6 - Tiberias - Kibbutz Deganyah - Beith Shean - Beith Alpha
Day 7 - Jerusalem Old City
Day 8 - Jerusalem New City
Day 9 - Judean Desert
Day 10 – Departure
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Day 1 Arrive Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv)
Meet and greet services upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport and transfer to your hotel. Dinner and overnight Tel Aviv
Day 2 Caesarea – Haifa - Beit Shearim - Akko
This morning we head north to Caesarea, administrative center and seat of the Roman governor in Judea. Continue to Haifa and the Carmel range where Israelite monotheism and paganism came to conflicts described in the book of Kings. We visit Beit Shearim, the Jewish settlement from the second temple period, made famous because Rabbi Judah, the prince editor of the Mishna lived, taught, and was buried here during the days when the Sanhedrin (ancient Jewish court system) was based here. Next we drive to Akko, the main port of the Crusaders. In 1799 Napoleon attempted to capture Akko but failed and had to with draw to Egypt.
Dinner and overnight in the Western Galilee area
Day 3 Bar’am synagogue – Tzfat - Tiberias
Depart to visit the Bar'am synagogue, one of the most beautiful and best preserved synagogues in Israel dating back to the Mishnah period, twin to the synagogue of Capernaum, the difference being that this synagogue is situated in the middle of Upper Galilee. We head for Safed (Tzfat) Center of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism brought here by Sephardic Jews from the XVI century during the Ottoman period when a vibrant Jewish settlement prospered right in the center of hilly Galilee. Our historian instructor will discuss the likes of Moshe Cordovero, Josef Caro, the Ari Benjamin of Najera author of Shabbat Cala which propelled Safed to become an effervescent center for Jewish studies both in Western and Eastern Europe. We will hear about the twelve Spanish synagogues that existed before the earthquake of 1838 and continue to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight.
Day 4 Magdalah - Rosh Pina - Gush Halav - Metula - Misgav Am- Hula Valley - Tel Dan - Tel Azaziat
Visit to the ruins of the newly discovered synagogue from Second Temple period in Magdala situated along the western coastline of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) and at the eastern foothills of Mount Arbel. We will hear about their participation in the Great Revolt against the Romans in 68 AD and continue north to Rosh Pinah, the oldest Moshava (a form of rural Jewish settlement established by early settlers dating back to the late 1870s during the first two waves of Jewish Zionist immigration) dating back to 1878. We will hear about their many challenges such as lack of water, malaria, hostile Bedouins before taken under the wing of Baron Rothschild, the great benefactor of Jewish settlement in the 19th century. Next we head to Gush Halav, a Maronite settlement that was a Jewish settlement until the 7th and home to an ancient synagogue from the 3rd century. We continue north towards Metula and Misgav Am, two settlements in the northern tip of Israel boasting breath taking scenery with views some 20 miles into Lebanon. We descend to the Hula valley where 18 kibbutzim of Upper Galilee Regional Council. We visit at Tel Dan, an Israelite settlement dating back to the time of the biblical conquest of the Land. Before returning to our hotel in Tiberias we visit Tel Azaziat from where the Syrians used to shoot at the kibbutzim bringing about the Six Day War.
Dinner and overnight Tiberias
Day 5 Golan Heights (Almagor, Katzrin, Kibbutz El Rom observation point)
We begin today with a stop at Almagor, a moshav (explain) situated smack atop the pre 1967 border where the mouth of the Jordan River merges into the sea of Galilee. We cross the Jordan and go East into Katzrin and visit a Jewish settlement from the late Roman period. After visiting Katzrin we visit the observation point close to kibbutz El Rom from where you can see deep into Syria. We will hear about one of the “miracles” of the Yom Kippur War where a small armored force turned back the enormous waves of Syrian tanks surging into the Israeli Golan Heights (our guide was in that area during the war providing artillery supports to the Israeli tanks).
Dinner and overnight Tiberias.
We visit the walls of Tiberias from the 16 century built under the patronage of Dona Gracia Mendes the Grande dame of Sephardic Jewry. We visited her museum in Tiberias. We go briefly into Kibbutz Deganya, Israel’s first kibbutz (a communal settlement) established in 1909 by immigrants to Ottoman Palestine. Next we visit Beit Shean, town Roman polis of the second temple period, impressing and imposing. We visit the Beit Alpha synagogue with its beautiful mosaics Byzantine period we hear how they built this beautiful mosaic.
Ascend to Jerusalem, upon arrival at the Holy City we’ll stop at Mount Scopus for a panoramic overview of the city and the traditional “shehechiyanu” blessing, followed by an introduction to the city.
Dinner and overnight.
Day 7 Jerusalem Old City
Start with a visit of the Tomb of King David on Mt Zion. Walk along the Cardo, the ancient roman road, visit the four Sephardic synagogues restored after 1967 war in the Jewish quarter. Western wall and tour the Kottel Tunnels, visit Davidson Center and walk through the Roman Cardo to the local Arab bazaar. Walk through Jaffa Gate to David Tower museum and see the ancient remains of the city beginning with the First Temple Period.
Dinner and Overnight Jerusalem
Day 8 Jerusalem New City
Visit Mea Shearim ("a hundred gates”), one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem to learn about the unique lifestyle of the ultra-orthodox communities. Drive to Mount Herzl, the Military Cemetery and Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust. Visit Ammunition Hill, a former Jordanian army stronghold, conquered by the Israeli Army in the six day war, and converted into a national memorial site and museum. Drive by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament and see the menorah with the biblical emblems. Next visit the Israel Museum, the shrine of the book where the Dead Sea scrolls are housed, and the new Holy land model – a miniature replica of Jerusalem as it was during the second temple period.
Dinner and overnight Jerusalem
Day 9 Judean Desert
Drive to the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea. Stop at Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Continue to Masada, ascend by cable car and tour the ancient fortress; visit remain of the walls, palaces, synagogue, the bathhouse and surrounding ruins. Descend by cable car and stop for lunch and spa facilities in one of the leading hotels in the area.
Dinner and overnight Jerusalem
Evening option in Jerusalem: The Spectacular Sound and Light show at the David Citadel Museum – according to scheduled days and time of show
OPTIONAL: Shabbat dinner in Jerusalem: Shabbat of a Lifetime program to experience an authentic Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) at the home of a host family in the heart of Jerusalem. Shabbat of a Lifetime participants receive an informative introduction to Shabbat while dining on a five-course meal with their hosts.
Day 10 Departure
Transfer to the Ben Gurion Airport for departure or take the optional extension.
(Optional extension 4 days / 3 nights Eilat & Petra)
Optional extension 4 days / 3 nights Eilat & Petra