Sacred to the three monotheistic faiths, a state of modern miracles, the only democracy in the Middle East, a vibrant hub of innovation and culture, over a century of conflict: Israel is all of this and more. Immerse yourself in the real Israel with first hand encounters, interactive workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, meetings with experts and locals, encounters with the ancient and modern worlds, exposure to intense and diverse culinary experiences, and so much more!

 

Program highlights:

  • Art and culture in Tel Aviv: museums, graffiti tour, Bauhaus architecture
  • History and archeology: fabulous Caesarea, the Old City of Jerusalem and the Via Dolorosa
  • Food and wine: spice market tour, Druze cooking workshop, boutique winery tours & tastings
  • Security and Geopolitics: meet with IDF soldiers serving on the border, Palestinian and settler activists seeking to find common ground, visit Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority
  • Unique to the world of nature: witness bird migration over the Galilee; experience the lowest point on earth at the Dead Sea

What’s included:

  • 9 nights’ accommodation in five-star properties
  • Welcome reception
  • Daily breakfast at hotels
  • 6 lunches
  • 6 dinners
  • Full guiding services of an expert tour educator
  • Site visits
  • Speakers
  • Airport transfers for participants arriving and departing at suggested times
  • Transportation in an air-conditioned coach

 

Day 1: Arrive in Tel Aviv, opening session

Day 2: Tel Aviv: culture and innovation

Day 3: Western Galilee: archeology, Druze culture, ancient Kabbalistic city of Tzfat, winery tour

Day 4: Golan Heights and Upper Galilee: geopolitics and security, ATV ride, and bird migration

Day 5: Christian sites in the Galilee and the ascent to Jerusalem

Day 6: Jerusalem, Dead Sea Scrolls, Bethlehem and Sound and Light Show

Day 7: The Old City of Jerusalem: sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Day 8: Massada and the Dead Sea region

Day 9: Settlements and Territories: daily life and coexistence in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria

Day 10: Jerusalem: the modern city and capital of Israel

 

Day 1, Monday – Setting the Scene

  • Individual arrivals at Ben Gurion Airport and transfer to Tel Aviv hotel
  • Cocktails and dinner with Tal Becker, principal deputy legal adviser at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Tal will speak on “Israel in a Volatile Middle East“: An in-depth analysis of Israel’s strategic landscape, and the challenges and opportunities for Israel in a volatile and rapidly changing Middle East. The lecture surveys Israel’s relations, interests and considerations with respect to the full range of countries across the Middle East including: Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Gulf States.

Overnight: Tel Aviv

 


Day 2, Tuesday – The many facets of Tel Aviv

  • Drive down beautiful Rothschild Boulevard to view unique Bauhaus architecture, which has earned the city its prestigious status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before walking through the picturesque areas of Neve Tzedek and Old Jaffa.
  • Visit either the “Library” or “Mindspace”– shared workspaces dedicated to innovation and hi-tech.  Meet with an expert in the field for a briefing on the latest amazing Israeli developments.
  • Continue to the Yitzhak Rabin Center, which weaves the history of the State of Israel through the life story of one of its most devoted sons and iconic leaders. The museum, with its rich layering of content, provides a full understanding of where Yitzhak Rabin was in his life at the same moment that major events were happening in Israel and around the world.
  • Every one of the beautifully renovated houses in Sarona has a story to tell, from their beginnings as the homes of the German Templars, through the key roles they played during the War of Independence, to the current renaissance of their neighborhood as Tel Aviv’s favorite leisure location and ultimate dynamic urban experience. The tour of the neighborhood will be followed by lunch on own in the renowned covered food market.
  • Take a Graffiti tour of Tel Aviv.  As in most cities, graffiti has become the sounding board for local artistic expression in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, with its own unique style.
  • Dinner on own
  • Optional: Evening performance at the Bat ShevaDance Company’s Modern Ballet, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, or the ‘Na Lagaat’ Deaf/Blind Theater in Jaffa. (not included in tour cost)

Overnight: Tel Aviv

 


Day 3, Wednesday – History and tradition in the Galilee

  • Check out of the hotel and drive north to explore the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater, Crusader harbor, and 12th-century ramparts at Caesarea. This ancient city, now archaeological park located on the Mediterranean Sea was constructed by Herod the Great between 22 and 10 BC and is named for the Roman Caesar Augustus.  Caesarea was one of the most splendid cities in the Roman province and was its capital for almost 600 years.
  • Enjoy a Culinary Workshop and lunch at the home of Druze residents in the village of Julis. The Druze community has preserved its traditions and secret beliefs for centuries, in spite of being cut off from their fellow believers in Syria and Lebanon. Druze culinary style features the very best of Middle Eastern tastes and techniques.
  • Visit the Kabbalistic town of Safed, home to ancient synagogues, artists’ galleries and alleyways full of legends and history stretching back over 2,000 years.  See the famous candle factory and take part in a “Sofer Stam” (Biblical Scribe) workshop.
  • Dinner and wine tasting at the Adir Boutique Winery, one of the more than three hundred Israeli boutique wineries which have  flourished in the last thirty years in the greatest revival of the country’s wine industry since Biblical times.
  • Late check-in to the Kibbutz guest house.

Overnight: North-Kibbutz Guest House

 


Day 4, Thursday – Security and Borders

  • After breakfast, take part in a briefing on modern kibbutz life and a tour of the kibbutz.
  • Ascend the Golan Heights.
  • On top of Mt. Bental is a series of Israeli bunkers which give a sobering taste of what outpost army life is like. From the highest lookout, there is a sweeping and gorgeous view to the north towards Mt. Hermon and sweeping southwards towards the reaches of the southern Golan-including all the Syrian approaches to the Heights. This makes Mt. Bental a must-see for anyone interested in understanding the geopolitical and strategic importance of Israel’s retaining the Golan Heights.
  • Board jeeps for an off-road ride through the foothills of the Golan Heights.  Traverse the battlefields of the Yom Kippur War and journey to bunkers that protect Israeli soldiers on the border with Syria.  Pizza lunch and security briefing on site.
  • The Agamon Hahula Nature Reserve, situated in the heart of the Hula Valley, is considered one of the world’s most prominent bird-watching sites. Follow and observe some of the annual half-billion migrating, courting, and nesting birds, as well as other animals according to seasonal variation.
  • Dinner at Kibbutz guest house.

Overnight: North- Kibbutz Guest House 

 


Day 5, Friday – Ascending to Jerusalem

  • Take part in an early-morning meeting with soldiers manning the IDF outposts on the Lebanese border at Kibbutz Malkiye.
  • Next, circumvent the Sea of Galilee to visit Capernaum and its ancient synagogue where Jesus preached.
  • Pause at Magdala, where groundbreaking research into this 2,000-year-old settlement is reaffirming much of what is written in the Old and New Testaments.
  • Ascend to Jerusalem via the Jordan Valley for a spectacular view of the city from the Mount of Olives.
  • Join thousands of Jerusalem residents as they greet the Jewish Sabbath at the Western Wall.
  • Dinner at one of the many restaurants in the city’s Old Train Station complex.

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 6, Saturday – Jerusalem and Bethlehem

  • Tour the internationally renowned Israel Museum, housing the Dead Sea Scrolls and magnificent collections of archeology and Judaica, contemporary Israeli art, and ethnography.
  • Visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus. Lunch at the Shepherds Fields.
  • Return to Jerusalem to enjoy Helen Gottstein’s Four Faces of Israel, a highly interactive and original one-woman show on modern day Israel: its challenges, its divisions, its history, its passions, and its people. The four characters convey a great deal of information on the nature of the state, Middle Eastern history, modern Jewish identity, and the complex challenges faced by contemporary Israel.
  • Dinner on own before enjoying a late-night showing of the Night Spectacular at the Tower of David Museum. This amazing sound and light show uses the walls of this archaeological site as the background for spectacular projected images which tell the millennia-long story of Jerusalem.

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 7, Sunday – Historic and Contemporary Jerusalem

  • Spend the morning in the Old City of Jerusalem, uncovering the layers of Jewish history from the time of the First Temple until the present day, including exploring underneath the Old City’s chaotic maze of buildings at the Western Wall Tunnels. The extension of the retaining wall was built 2,000 years ago by Herod the Great to support the massive compound where the Temple stood. The excavated tunnel is one of the city’s most phenomenal sites.
  • Walk along the Via Dolorosa, culminating at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
  • Continue through the Cardo, the Ramparts and the Four Quarters of the city, with a falafel lunch en route.
  • Take a Jerusalem seam line tour.  Join Col. (Res.) Dany Tirza, architect of the security fence which runs through the city, to learn about the planning and implementation of the project, and learn about its various impacts for those going about their daily lives in its presence.
  • Dinner at the Notre Dame Rooftop wine and cheese restaurant with Father Eammonn Kelly, long-term Jerusalem resident, for his perspective on life in the Holy City.

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 8, Monday – Descent to the Dead Sea

  • Drive to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth.
  • Stop at Ein Gedi, an oasis known for its caves, springs, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna and take an easy hike up to the waterfalls.
  • Ascend Masada and tour King Herod’s historic hilltop fortress, where a small band of Jewish zealots took refuge after the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 BCE, resisting a prolonged siege by the Roman army.
  • Lunch and swim at the luxurious Herods Dead Sea spa hotel and enjoy an opportunity for spa treatments (not included in tour cost).
  • Return to Jerusalem and enjoy an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 9, Tuesday – Geopolitics

  • After breakfast, take part in a meeting with Dr. Reuven Hazan, expert on constitutional law: ‘How does the Israeli political system differ from the American one?’
  • Join Rami Nazzal, East Jerusalem resident, for a tour of the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Rawabi and a frank discussion on daily life on both sides of the divide.
  • For an alternative view, travel to visit Israeli settlements in Gush Etzion. Meet with “Shorashim (“Roots”), an NGO active in promoting Jewish-Arab coexistence, dialogue and eventually trust between Israelis and Palestinian as a path to peace.
  • Making sense of it all: Wrap Up session over a farewell dinner.

Overnight: Jerusalem

 


Day 10, Wednesday – Life in Jerusalem

  • Plant a tree in the Land of Israel, in the midst of the city of Jerusalem at the Deer Valley Park, itself a prime example of urban ecology.
  • Yad Vashem presents the story of the Shoah from a unique Jewish perspective, emphasizing the experiences of the individual victims through original artifacts, survivor testimonies, and personal possessions. Following the tour, meet with Dr. Rachel Korazim to explore the special and sometimes ambivalent relationship between Israelis and the Shoah, from her special perspective as a Holocaust scholar and daughter of Holocaust survivors.
  • Grazing lunch at the Machane Yehuda food and spice market. Enjoy the flavors and aromas, the colors and the noise before a ‘must-taste’ stop at the Marzipan Bakery for “rugalach.”
  • Free time for shopping and packing.
  • Check-out from hotel and transfer to the airport for the flight home or to Eilat for an optional Petra extension.

 

*Itinerary is subject to change pending circumstances beyond our control* 

 


Petra Extension:

Day 1: Wednesday

  • 8:30 pm Check in to airport for flight to Eilat
  • 9:30 pm Flight to Eilat, landing at 10:30 pm
  • Transfer to Eilat hotel and check-in.

Overnight: Eilat 

 


Day 2: Thursday

  • 7:30 am Transfer to the Jordanian border
  • 8:00 am Border crossing procedures
  • 9:00 am Drive to Petra
  • 11:00 am Tour of Petra, the unique city carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabateans, an industrious people who settled here more than 2,000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome.
  • 2:30 pm Lunch and return drive to border with Israel.
  • 6:00 pm Border crossing procedures
  • 6:30 pm Transfer to hotel and free evening.

Overnight: Eilat

 


Day 3: Friday

  • Free morning in Eilat for beach activities or visit to the Underwater Observatory (activities not included in tour cost).
  • 2:00 pm Transfer to Eilat Airport
  • 3:30 pm Domestic flight to Tel Aviv
  • 4:30 pm Arrival in Tel Aviv.  Transfer to a restaurant in the city for dinner, and afterwards transfer to Ben Gurion airport for return flight.

 

From: USD 4,575 per person sharing a twin room, land package.

Supplement for accommodations in a single room USD 1,675.

Based on a minimum of 15 paying participants per group.

 


 

Petra Extension:

USD 1,100 per person sharing a twin room.

Supplement for accommodations in a single room USD 276.

Based on a minimum of 15 paying participants per group.

 

Dr. Tal Becker

Dr. Becker has been a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, senior policy advisor to Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, a lead negotiator and drafter in the Annapolis peace talks, director of the international law department at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, counsel to Israel’s UN Mission in New York, and an international law expert for the Israel Defense Forces.

He is the author of Terrorism and the State, which won the Guggenheim Prize for best international law book, and has served, among numerous positions, as the Vice-Chairman of the United Nations General Assembly’s Legal Committee, the first Israeli to hold a position of this stature in over 40 years.

 


Avi Melamed

Avi serves as the Salisbury Fellow of Intelligence and Middle East Affairs for the Eisenhower Institute, and is an expert on current affairs in the Arab and Muslim world and their impact on Israel and the Middle East.  He is a former Israeli intelligence officer and senior official on Arab affairs.  Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk government, senior advisory, intelligence and counter-terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities-often in very sensitive times-on behalf of Israeli government agencies.

 


Father Eamonn Kelly

Father Kelly hails from County Clare, Ireland and joined the Congregation of the Legion of Christ at the Dublin Novitiate in 1974. Following studies at Salamanca, Spain, the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, both in Rome, he gained extensive experience directing youth ministry in the Greater Detroit area, Michigan, and later in development work across North America. He was ordained a priest in 1987.

 


Dr. Dany Tirza

Dr. Tirza began his long military career (1977-2007) as a combat soldier and commander of regimental units in Judea and Samaria (1980-1994).  In 1994, he was appointed head of a special staff in charge of the regional and strategic planning which provided assistance to the government including the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in their decision making process on security and regional issues.   In this capacity he was in charge of planning Israel’s security infrastructure (including the security barrier in and around Jerusalem) and participated in ‘thinking teams’ at the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Security Council and the Control Terrorism Bureau.  He has participated in Israeli delegations to peace negotiations with the Palestinians as an expert on territorial issues and mapping.

 


Professor Reuven Hazan

Professor Reuven Hazan is the Chair of the Department of Political Science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  His expertise centers on the historical and current analysis of democratic institutions, specifically placing Israeli democracy in perspective.  Professor Hazan was closely involved in reforming Israel’s electoral system and continues to advise Israel’s leading politicians on the restructuring of its legislative branch.  He collaborates with Israel’s top think tanks, serves as a consultant for several political parties, is often called upon to testify in the Israeli parliament, and has served on the Presidential Commission on the Structure of Government in Israel.  He recently returned to Jerusalem from a sabbatical year as a visiting professor in the Government Department at Harvard University.

Professor Hazan is a frequent commentator on CNN, FOX, BBC, NPR and other networks, providing insight into the latest developments in Israeli politics.   He has been quoted in magazines such as Time and Newsweek and in newspapers across North America from the Los Angeles Times to the Wall Street Journal.

 

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