Creative & Cool:
A Voyage of Inspiration in Israel
Completely out of the ordinary, Creative & Cool truly lives up to its title as a Voyage of Inspiration in Israel. Discover the evolution of modern Israel’s vibrant culture and captivating multi-ethnic society. Come face to face with the most innovative aspects of the country’s artistic expression, ‘wow’ hi tech sector and progressive economy alongside empowering encounters with the Jewish people’s past and the many nuances of today’s complex challenges.
- Contemporary art and culture in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
- Authentic encounters with multi-cultural diversity
- Meetings with influential artists, curators and critics
- Visits to Israel’s avant-garde galleries and museums
- Encounters with innovators, creators and key agents of social change
- Experience high-energy outdoor adventure activities
- Rich and unique culinary experiences with the best sustainably-sourced, fresh ingredients
- Connect to the past & envision the future in Jerusalem
- In-depth briefings on geopolitics, security challenges and co-existence
- Get together with Palestinian and Israeli settler activists who seek to find common ground
- Discuss the promise of tomorrow with Palestinian visionaries in Rawabi
- Be inspired by Israel’s heroes.
Day 1: Sunday-Travel to Israel
- Embark on our journey and travel from the United States to Israel.
- Spend the day en route in the air.
Day 2: Monday-Welcome to Israel!
- Mid-afternoon arrival at Ben Gurion airport. Following arrival procedures, we will be met by our tour educator and escorted to our transportation to Tel Aviv.
- Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, we check-in to our hotel accommodations.
- Later this evening, we will enjoy a fabulous welcome reception and dinner at the Porter School of Environmental Studies. The building, one of Israel’s most modern in concept and design, has been built according to the strictest LEED certifications to be fully-green and nearly self-sufficient.
- Upon arrival, step out to the terrace to enjoy its breathtaking panoramic view of the Tel Aviv skyline and fabulous welcome cocktail reception. Musical accompaniment will be provided.
- Next, enjoy a Gala Dinner on-site. Special welcome greetings will be offered by mission leaders, and we will be joined by Einat Wilf, a former MK and a leading intellectual and original thinker on matters of foreign policy, economics, education, Israel and the Jewish people (subject to availability). Additionally, we will be joined by some Talpiot Graduates. The Talpiot program is an elite IDF training program for recruits who demonstrate outstanding abilities in the sciences and leadership potential. Its graduates have overwhelmingly gone on to become some of the most successful innovators and leaders of the Startup Nation (subject to availability)
Overnight: Tel Aviv
Day 3: Tuesday-Evolutions: The Coming of Age of Creativity in Modern Israel
- Optional: Early-morning Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga activity on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
- After breakfast, we depart our hotel for the day, dividing into three tracks:
Track one: Arts
- See a different side of Tel Aviv on the streets of the trendy and bohemian Florentine neighborhood, together with renowned graffiti artist Dede and experience the social and political voices of the city and country by deciphering the incredible graffiti on the walls (subject to availability).
- Choose one for the group:
- Experience Tel Aviv’s renowned Bauhaus architecture on a White City Tour – the result of mass immigration to Israel by German Jews in the 1930‘s, Germany’s Bauhaus architecture movement found a new identity in Tel Aviv. Today, the city is home to more examples of Bauhaus buildings than any other city on earth; so much so that Tel Aviv, the ‘White City’ (as the Bauhaus neighborhoods are known), has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- OR Discover the creative and inspired world of Israeli fashion through a direct and informal encounter with today’s emerging and innovative fashion scene, together with renowned fashion guru Galit Reisman. This TLVStyle tour will feature a special visit to the recently re-launched and iconic Maskit fashion house, originally founded by Ruth Dayan.
- Lunch at Café Puaa in Jaffa.
Track Two: Ecology
- Encounter the origins of modern Israeli agriculture at Mikve Yisrael. Established in 1870 by renowned agronomist Charles Netter, Mikve Yisrael was the first Jewish agricultural school in pre-state Israel. The institution was highly influential not only in teaching new immigrants the special methods and practices needed to successfully cultivate the land, but also served as an effective link in transforming the identity of the Jewish immigrant from city-dweller to the Israeli ‘New-Jew’ and in such, helped to build the strong independent ethos of the State of Israel.
- Continue to visit Green in the City, a community-led urban agriculture ‘farm’ situated on the rooftop of Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center mall. Participate in a workshop on the topic of urban agriculture as an ecologically-sound and sustainable solution for urban lifestyles.
- Have a delicious lunch at the trailblazing Meshek Barzilay A creation of Merav Barzilay-one of Israel’s first CSA (community-supported agriculture) entrepreneurs, the restaurant is one of the city’s leading field-to-plate restaurants, prominently located in the city’s trendy Neve Tzedek neighborhood.
Track Three: Technology
- Tour of the Startup City. Take a journey through Tel Aviv’s fascinating startup scene, together with start-up guru Gabby Czertok, innovation leader and general manager of The Bridge-an innovative commercialization program for start-ups that serves as a bridge between the entrepreneurial community and major global markets. Gabby will introduce Tel Aviv as the focal point of global entrepreneurship and innovation as we explore the hi-tech atmosphere of Rothschild Boulevard and visit with some of the area’s more cutting-edge innovators. Learn up close what truly makes Tel Aviv the world’s leading start-up and innovation center.
- Lunch at Nanuchka.
- Conclude the day surfing in the Mediterranean Sea with JAFI loan fund recipient Hagal Sheli (‘My Wave’), a dynamic and high-impact organization that helps disadvantaged teens catch a wave to a better life using surfing as a vehicle for personal growth and advancement.
- Return to our hotel to rest and prepare for this evening.
- Travel to nearby Ra’anana for a home hospitality dinner at the home of immigrants from Seattle, to be joined by peers from the community. Additionally, we will also be accompanied by Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel who will discuss the implications and ramifications of US-Israel relationship in the Trump-era, as well as Israeli attitudes towards President Trump (subject to availability).
Overnight: Tel Aviv
Day 4: Wednesday-Tel Aviv: Inspired Leadership & Israel’s Capital of Cool
- After breakfast, dive into important questions. How is Israel perceived in global opinion? What surprising facts can change Israel’s image? This morning, meet with Joanna Landau, founder of Vibe Israel, a non-profit organization leading creative and innovative initiatives to strengthen Israel’s brand in the world. Joanna has worked as a lawyer in the high-tech industry and established two Internet startups based in Tel Aviv.
- Experience TLVShow! Part show with great actors, part group walking tour, and part scavenger hunt game, TLVShow is beyond a doubt one of the most original and memorable ways to experience Tel Aviv. While walking the most beautiful neighborhoods of the city along with a small group, you will be part of a mystery adventure which will surround you wherever you turn. It will transform your life into that of a professional secret agent who is involved in a mission where anything can happen and everybody around are suspiciously involved.
- Enjoy lunch at Neve Tzedek’s iconic Suzanna, featuring the best of fresh and delicious Israeli food and regional inspirations.
- This afternoon, divide into two tracks:
Track One: Arts
- Inspired by the complex and nuanced challenges of their country, Israel’s local artists engage in creating unique and layered expressions of art unlike any others in the world. Renowned for its special creative essence, Israeli art is taking center stage in the global scene. Together with renowned art curator and critic Smadar Sheffi, explore a selection of influential Tel Aviv contemporary galleries.
Track Two: Eco & Tech
- Meet with Jack Levy, director of Israel Cleantech Ventures-the leading venture capital firm focused on supporting Israel’s emerging clean technology companies. Together with Jack, we will visit a local cleantech company.
- Return to hotel to freshen up.
- Dine and imbibe in a delicious dinner at Jems Brewery. Engage in a memorable speed-dating activity involving recipients and participants in various local JAFI projects.
Overnight: Tel Aviv
Day 5: Thursday-Cultural Advancement and Social Change through Innovations
- After breakfast, we check out of our hotel accommodations.
- Depart Tel Aviv and travel north along Israel’s coastal highway.
- Accompanied by renowned Jewish educator Rabbi Shimon Felix, visit the Ecological Greenhouse at Kibbutz Ein Shemer. Created by Avital Geva, one of the heroes of Yossi Klein Halevi’s book “Like Dreamers”, the Greenhouse hosts hundreds of Arab and Jewish schoolchildren, who work together on experiments and projects in ecology, sustainability, water conservation, and other life sciences.
- We continue on to Um El-Fahem, a warm and welcoming scenic hill-top Arab city located in the ‘Wadi Ara’ area between Caesarea, Haifa, and Nazareth. Visit the homes of local residents to get a taste of Arab culture and cuisine, and hear first-hand about their thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and dreams. Discuss and debate what it means to be a non-Jewish citizen of the Jewish State, and conduct a dialogue about the future of Israel, its citizens, and the region. We visit the Um El-Fahem Art Gallery, the only one of its kind in the Arab Israeli sector, and meet with its director Said Abu Shakra.
- Enjoy a delicious traditional Arab lunch in Um El-Fahem.
- Travel across the Upper Galilee.
- Located in the Arab village of Majd-al-Krum, visit Moona – A Space for Change. Moona strives to enhance education, support entrepreneurship and create scientific–technological innovation as a means for regional development in the Galilee through joint collaboration between local Jewish and Arab employees. Meet with founder and CEO (and former fighter pilot) Assaf BrimerOR Visit Ziv Hospital in Tzfat. In recent years, this hospital has been at the forefront of Israel’s efforts to treat wounded Syrian combatants, casualties of the ongoing and tragic civil war in neighboring Syria.
- Continue east across the Galilee panhandle to the picturesque Hula Valley.
- Check-in to our hotel accommodations.
- Enjoy dinner at the Assaf Winery, located at Moshav Kidmat Tzvi. Experience excellent locally prepared food paired with fine estate wines served against the idyllic backdrop of the Golan Heights OR Experience a festive bonfire and barbeque dinner on the shores of the Jordan River.
Day 6: Friday-Strategic Challenges & Creative Solutions/Erev Shabbat
- Optional: Start your day with an early-morning hike along the Banias River, one of Israel’s most beautiful nature reserves. The Banias spring feeds into the Jordan River and the reserve’s large waterfall tumbles down a 33-foot precipice year-round. A nearby cave houses the remains of a temple dedicated to the Greek god, Pan. In the wars of 1948 and 1967, when the Golan was held by Syria, the site housed a Syrian officers’ club.
- After breakfast, we check out of our hotel accommodations and set out to ascend the Golan Heights.
- Journey via off-road jeeps to Mt. Avital for a briefing with Col. (Reserves) Marco Moreno on the geopolitical and strategic challenges Israel faces from threats that emanate from across the Syrian and Lebanese borders. Hear the story of how he created a tactical strategy to mitigate the threats through providing life-saving humanitarian aid to wounded combatants which has come to embody the current operational practice of the IDF in the area.
- Experience a 5-star lunch in the field in the Golan Heights-provided by Chef Tal!
- Drive south, through the strategic Jordan Valley on our way to Jerusalem. A formidable natural border between Israel and Jordan, this region plays a vital role towards national security. Its location over the Green Line, however, presents Israel with a nuanced challenge in any future final status agreement with the Palestinians.
- Travelling via Jericho, we ascend the Judean Mountains and enter the city of Jerusalem.
- At Scopus, we experience a breathtaking overlook of the entirety of the Old City of Jerusalem as together we say Shehecheyanu.
- Proceed to hotel for check-in.
- Together as a community, welcome in the Sabbath with song, joy and dance. Experience Kabbalat Shabbat at the iconic Jerusalem YMCAbuilding, accompanied by a performance of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. The Jerusalem Youth Chorus is a choral and dialogue program for Israeli and Palestinian high school students. Through the co-creation of music and the sharing of stories, the chorus seeks to empower youth in Jerusalem to become leaders in their communities and to promote peace.
- Festive Shabbat dinner at our hotel, to be accompanied by Lone Soldiers (subject to availability).
Day 7: Saturday-Shabbat in the Holy City of Jerusalem
- Enjoy breakfast in the hotel’s main dining room.
- Experience the atmosphere of Shabbat in Jerusalem at leisure. For those interested in attending Shabbat morning services at nearby area synagogues, a list will be provided.
Special touring options include (choose one):
- Walking tour of Yemin Moshe. Yemin Moshe was the first Jewish neighborhood to be established in the modern era outside the walls of the Old City. The picturesque 19th century area, founded by Moshe Montefiore, has seen quite its share of the city’s tumultuous modern history; it sits on the seam between East and West.
- Enjoy a walking tour of Jerusalem. Study the poetry of Yehuda Amichai as we walk through the neighborhoods in which he lived and wrote. This tour combines text, poetry and sites to “get under the skin” of the city. As we read poems in the places in which they are set, we will gain a deeper understanding of the history of Jerusalem, the people of the City and the life of Yehuda Amichai who is widely considered to be Israel’s greatest modern poet.
- View the Four Quarters of the Old City from above as you experience a Ramparts Walk tour along the top of the actual walls of the Old City.
- Experience the sites of the Christian Quarter together with Hannah Bendcowsky, program director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian relations. Walk through several of the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, and conclude inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, held by believers to be the site of Jesus’s execution and burial. Receive interesting insights into the status of Israel’s multi-ethnic Christian community and the issues of identity it faces as a small minority living in a Jewish state with a sizable Muslim minority.
- Discovering Hidden Gems of the Old City. Stroll through the shuks (markets) of the Christian and Muslim Quarters, as well as the covert courtyards and alleyways of the Jewish Quarter. Discover the history, tastes, stories, people and places that make this city unique. Along the way taste the local delicacies – from tahini in the 200-year-old factory through spices, hummus, kebab and Middle Eastern desserts. View the city from special lookout points in all quarters and discover the hidden treasures that the city has to offer.
- Visit the Israel Museum. The Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistoric times to The Jewish Art and Life wings feature the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. While here, a visit to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls (the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world), and the model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period are a must.
- Tour Massada & the Dead Sea (includes lunch at a Dead Sea hotel).
- Visit Rawabi, the new Palestinian city in construction, and meet with businessman and entrepreneur Bashar Al-Masri on site (subject to availability). Afterwards, travel to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Tour the city and visit its main sights.
- As Shabbat comes to a close, we gather as a community to express thanks for this special time together. A beautiful Havdalah ceremony will be held amongst the timeless ruins of the Tower of David.
- Meet with Yossi Klein Halevy, prominent American-born author and journalist for a meaningful discussion on where we stand today as Jews in the world (subject to availability).
- Dinner on own.
- Feel the presence of millennia of Jewish history and yearning as we have time to reflect at the Western Wall at night. Afterwards, explore the famous Western Wall Tunnels as they stretch under the homes of the Muslim Quarter and make their way along the entire length of the Temple Mount (subject to availability) OR Experience the thrill of history at the brand-new Sound and Light Show at the City of David.
Day 8: Sunday-From Darkness to Light
- Visit Yad Vashem, considered the foremost memorial to mankind’s darkest period and Israel’s official memorial and historical museum to the victims of the Shoah. Explore the issues of the legacy and impact of the Nazi Holocaust on the nascent State of Israel, together with renowned Holocaust scholar Rachel Korazim (subject to availability).
- Track 1: Yad Vashem First Timers
- Visit Yad Vashem and tour the recently renovated museum/memorial.
- Track 2: Yad Vashem in Depth
- Tour of the Art Museum accompanied by Mindy Weisel. A renowned artist known for her focus on Holocaust motifs, Mindy will take us through a journey through expressions of collective memory at the world’s largest collection of Holocaust-related art (subject to availability).
- All together: Community-led memorial ceremony at the Ohel Yizkor, with reflections from our local leadership.
- Next, proceed to thefamous Mahane Yehuda food and spice market, one of the most beautiful markets and most familiar icons in Israel. Have the opportunity to experience the many traditional ethnic contributions to today’s modern Israeli cuisine (with origins as diverse as Iraq, Morocco, Libya, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Poland, Greece, Yemen, Iran, and more!). Enjoy the plethora of flavors, aromas, and colors of the market, as well as some of the people we will meet who live and work here with a hands-on culinary tour.
- What does farming and coffee have to do with coexistence? Situated across the Green Line, meet with locals, both Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to carry on as normal a life as possible in spite of the separation fences and roadblocks. Among them, former Palestinian prisoner Ali Abu Awwad and settler Shaul Judelman of the Roots NGO work together at promoting peaceful dialogue and co-existence.
- This evening, experience the authentic atmosphere of the desert at Eretz Canaan. Upon arrival, board ATV’s for an exciting ride through the mesmerizing and serene surroundings of the Judean Desert. Our ride will culminate with a Desert-style feast at an exclusive mountaintop location overlooking the stunning beauty of the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea vistas spread out a thousand feet below. Dinner will be accompanied by drummers, Belly-dancers, and extravagant culinary selections.
- Return to Jerusalem.
Day 9: Monday- Faces of Jerusalem
- Experience Helen Gottstein’s one-woman play focusing on life in modern Israel, ‘The Four Faces of Israel’.
- Poverty and the growing gap between rich and poor in Israel are inextricably linked to chronic unemployment – hundreds and thousands of Israelis living permanently out of the workforce. Join JDC staff and see how we are tackling this situation head on, helping Israelis not just gain employment but develop a career, the ultimate tool for financial independence. Meet with Haredim and Arabs and hear how JDC’s programs help them overcome physical, social and emotional barriers to work, allowing them to support themselves and their families with pride.
- Lunch on own.
- This afternoon, we divide into three tracks:
Track One: Art
- Visit the historic campus of the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design. Founded in 1906, Bezalel is Israel’s oldest institution of higher education and is renowned as Israel’s national school of art. Meet with students studying here and learn about their experiences as students of the arts in Jerusalem OR Tour influential Jerusalem galleries with local artist and expert Andi Arnovitz. Born and raised in the United States, Andi made Aliya to Israel on 1999. Her work has been displayed in galleries and museums in Europe, Israel, Canada, and in the U.S., as well as a part of many collections including the Library of Congress, the Israel National Library, foreign ministries, foundations and private collections.
Track Two: Tech
- Meet with founder, CEO and visionary Jon Medved at Jerusalem-based OurCrowd. OurCrowd is the Israeli innovation sector’s largest equity crowdfunding platform, eager to promote the biggest ideas developed by the top Israeli start-ups (subject to availability) OR Meet with representatives at Jerusalem-based innovation giant Mobileye. This home-grown start-up revolutionized driving safety with its ingenious early-warning system which utilizes hyper-advanced technology and complex algorithms to assist cautious drivers in avoiding oncoming collisions and on-road hazards. Mobileye was recently purchased by Intel for a whopping $15.3 billion; the largest-ever exit in Israel’s high-tech industry to date (subject to availability).
Track Three: Eco
- Jerusalem’s ecological issues: Successful urban planning and development in Israel’s capital. Participants in this track will be exposed to a variety of interesting ecological initiatives and solutions to common environmental challenges such as (time permitting):
- Jerusalem’s high-speed railway station
- The effects and ramifications of the mass-construction of luxury apartments for absentee tenants
- The Jerusalem Bird Observatory
- Learn about natural and planted trees and their importance to the city’s landscape
- Visit a local community garden and a green recycling station
- Conclude with group learning of faith-based texts relating to contemporary environmental issues
- OR Meet with Alon Tal, founder of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a unique education and research program that prepares future Arab and Israeli leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges with innovative, peace-building solutions. Dr. Tal is also the founder of Adam Teva V’Din (the Israeli Union for Environmental Defense), Israel’s leading environmental advocacy organization (subject to availability).
- Return to the hotel for rest and to prepare for our departure.
- Late afternoon check-out and depart Jerusalem.
- Gather one final time as a group at Neot Kedumim, a ‘biblical reserve’ preserving the environmental conditions and technological methods of ancient Israel. We leave our lasting mark on this inspired and creative land by planting a tree, before enjoying a delicious, locally-sourced farewell dinner, paired with a choice selection of award-winning Israeli wines and beers. Our meal will be accompanied by an inspirational meeting with Noam Gershony. Noam served in the IDF as an Apache helicopter pilot. At the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, he was severely injured in an operation which brought two helicopters down. Thanks to the initial work of the IDF’s 669 Search and Rescue unit, the doctors at Rambam hospital in Haifa, and Noam’s positive attitude, he not only survived but now serves as an inspiration for Israelis and Jews around the world (subject to availability).
- Transfer to Ben Gurion airport for our international flight.
Day 10: Tuesday-In Flight
- Our trip concludes as we arrive back in the USA.
L’hitraot! Farewell but not Goodbye!
Itinerary is subject to change depending on circumstances out of our control.