Day 1 : Tel Aviv
Mon. 23 Dec 2019
- Late afternoon arrival at Isr ael’s Ben G urion international airport. Following airport procedures, you will be met by your tour educator/guide and escorted to your awaiting coach transportation.
- Transfer to Tel Aviv
- Hotel check in. Have a chance to rest and relax after the long jou rney, as we ll as prepare for the evening.
- Gather together for a candle lighting ceremony , celebrating the 2nd night of Hanukkah.
- This evening , gather together for a welcome dinner at Goshen , to be joined by Rabbi Gilad Kariv . A Reform Rabbi and attorney, Rabbi Kariv serves as the Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism.
Day 2 : Mizpe Ramon
Tue. 24 Dec 2019
- After breakfast, check out from your hotel accommodations and depart Tel Aviv.
- At Kvutzat Schiller, volunteer with Project Leket and glean crops from the field. Leket Israel, the National Food Bank, is the leading food rescue organization in Israel. Unique among all other organizations that serve the poor in Israel and food banks worldwide, Leket Israel’s sole focus is rescuing healthy, surplus food and delivering it to those in need through partner nonprofit organizations.
- Next, travel to the nearby city of Rehovot and visit the historic Ayalon Institute , where the Hagana produced munitions in secret under the noses of the British authorities in pre state Palestine.
- Located on the campus of the world renowned Weizmann Institute of Science, have lunch at Café Mada, joined by Rabbi Mikie Goldstein , Israel’s first gay Masorti (Conservative) rabbi Rabbi Goldst ein is the rabbi of Congregation Adat Shalom Emanuel, a conservative synagogue in Rehovot. He is married to Israel's Ambassador to the Ivory Coast Isi Yanouka. Born in the UK, Mikie made aliya in 1989 and has held a variety of professional a nd volunteer leadership positions in Israel's LGBTQA community.
- Travel south through the Negev desert to the Bedouin village of Lakiya to encounter Bedouin women activists. Take part in a desert weaving project with them.
- Time permitting: En route, stop at Kibbutz Sde Boker to visit the burial site of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion overlooking the breathtaking view of the biblical stream of Zin. The settlement of the Negev was one of Israel's first prime minister's most ambitious goals, and it was here that he felt that the future of the Jewish nation would ultimately be fulfilled.
- Proceed to the Negev development town of Mitzpe Ramon for hotel check in and a chance to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- Gather together for a candle lighting ceremony celebrating the 3rd night of Hanukkah.
- Dinner at the hotel.
- Tonight, enjoy a spectacular stargazing activity and telescope tour of the brilliant night sky. Located in the middle of the Negev desert, Machtesh Ramon is far away from urban light pollution. The crater’s pitch black conditions present an unmatched view of the night sky allowing you to observe the action and drama of the Milky Way galaxy and beyond.
Day 3 : Jerusalem
Wed. 25 Dec 2019
- Optional: Early morning walk along the rim of the Ramon Crater
- After breakfast, check out of your hotel accommodations.
- Experience an off road jeep tour of the Ramon Crater
- Depart the region and travel north to the Western Negev.
- Lunch en route.
- Tour the Western Negev together with veteran, pluralistic Jewish & Israel educator Joe Perlov . For the past 20 years, this region has been uniquely impacted by the Hamas terror organization and government in the Gaza Strip, and its residents and industry have often fell victim to the ongoing onslaught of incoming rocket and mortar fire as well as fear of the presence of 'terror tunnels' a nd ‘terror kites’ from the Gaza Strip.
- At the nearby Kerem Shalom border crossing, see many of the hundreds of trucks which carry aid and supplies, a nd which travel through Israel to the Hamas controlled Gaza territory daily.
- Next, see the buried remains of the former Sinai settlement of Yamit . Here in the sands of the desert, view the dismantled walls of the homes of the former town, buried here in place by the Begin government so that Jewish extremists would not try to resettle Sinai.
- See the Maon Synagogue , an archaeological site dating from the 6th century CE, noted for its magnificent mosaic floor. Explore the roots of the Jews’ presence in the area and compare and contrast their life to ours.
- Visit the community of Netiv Ha'Asara. Tour this special moshav, located on the southern border with Gaza, and learn about the community’s drive to continue to seek for peace with their neighbors despite, and in the face of the frequent missile and mortar attacks directed at it by Hamas in Gaza. See the moshav’s protective border wall, which has been transformed into a wall of peace with unique ceramics and messages of co-existence. Lunch to be provided on-site.
- Drive to Jerusalem.
- Upon arrival, check-in to your hotel accommodations. Have a chance to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- Gather together to say Shehechiyanu and for a candle lighting ceremony celebrating the 4th night of Hanukkah.
- Free evening at leisure; dinner on own.
- Optional: Experience the beauty of Han ukkah in Jerusalem as you traverse some of the city’s more eclectic neighborhoods on a Chanukiyyot tour..
Day 4 : Jerusalem
Thu. 26 Dec 2019
- After breakfast, visit Yad Vashem , considered the foremost memorial to mankind’s darkest period and Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Shoah. Explore the issues of the legacy and impact of the Holocaust on the State of Israel
- Next, go to the famous Machane Yehuda food and spice market, one of the most beautiful markets and most familiar icons in Israel. While there, go on a culinary tour for lunch. Experience the tastes and smells of some of Israel’s most diverse foods, as well as iconic classics while simultaneously exploring the history and culture of this one-of-a-kind city.
- Choose one for the group: Travel outside Jerusalem and across the Green Line into the Palestinian Territories and the Gush Etzion settle ment bloc. At Roots , meet with locals, both Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank who struggle to carry on as normal a life as possible despite the separation fences and roadblocks, working together at promoting peaceful dialogue and co existence (subject to availability) OR Tour the Knesset to be organized by Jewish Pluralism Watch , a non partisan NGO which monitors, interprets and publicizes the positions, statements and voting records of Knesset members and other elected officials on all is sues related to democracy, religion and the state. Meet with an MK active in progressive issues (subject to availability).
- Return to the hotel for a chance to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- Gather tog ether for a candle lighting ceremony , celebrating the 5th night of Hanukkah.
- Have dinner at Anna
- Evening options (choose one for the group): Explore the famous Western Wall Tunnels as they stretch under the homes of the Muslim Quarter and make their way along the entirety of the length of the Tem ple Mount OR Experience the breathtaking digital choreography of the Night Spectacular sound & light show at the Tower of David. Using the dramatic backdrop of the Tower of David Citadel as a canvas, view this one of a kind, high tech performance as it brings to life the history of the ancient city of Jerusalem.
Day 5 : Jerusalem
Fri. 27 Dec 2019
After breakfast, gain an exclusive view of the Jerusalem Seam Line tour with Col. (Res.) Grisha Yakubovich , former head of the Civilian Department in the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit . Travel along the separation fence with him as he explains the considerations and negotiations which went into its construction and how its presence has impacted the city of Jerusalem (subject to availability)
At the City of David , experience 5,000 years of history as you descend into the ancient foundations of King David’s Jerusalem.
Ascend through an ancient tunnel running underneath the walls of the Old City to the base of the Temple Mount at the Southern Wall Excavations at the Davidson Center. Witness the grandeur of one of the most formidable sites in the Roman world and hear about the role of the ancient Temple to the Jewish people both historically and today.
Go to the Kotel the Western Wall , the ancient retaining wall of the 2 nd Temple which stood on the Temple Mount (the holiest site in the world for the Jewish people) and a centerpiece for Jewish prayer and longing since biblical times. Have an opportunity for personal prayer and reflection.
Falafel lunch in the Jewish Quarter on own.
Explore the Old City of Jerusalem Stroll along the timeless cobblestones of the Jewish Quarter, which has had a continuous Jewish presence for over 3,000 years.
Time permitting: Spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to explore and shop.
Return to the hotel for a chance to rest, relax and prepare for Shabbat.
Gather together for a candle lighting ceremony , celebrating the 6th night of Hanukkah.
Kabbalat Shabbat at the egalitarian platform of the Western Wall
Shabbat dinner at hotel.
Day 6 : Jerusalem
Sat. 28 Dec 2019
- 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.
- Shabbat Touring Options (choose one per group ; additional costs applicable)
Expedition to Masada and the Dead Sea
- Depart Jerusalem and travel to the Dead Sea region the lowest spot on land on Earth.
- Hike up the 'Snake Path' to summit Masada (or ascend via cabl e car for those not interested in hiking). Tour the remains of King Herod's desert fortress retreat, incredibly preserved by the arid conditions of the Judean Desert. Learn about the history of this fascinating place, a symbol of the ancient sovereignty of the Kingdom of Israel. Hear about the tale of its violent destruction and as the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman conquest.
- Spend the remainder of the morning and early a fternoon at a Dead Sea resort hotel and have a chance to swim and ‘float’ in the super buoyant waters of the Dead Sea (lunch included).
- Return to Jerusalem.
The Christian Quarter & Israel Museum
- Depart the hotel and embark towards the Old City
- Experience the sites of the Christian Quarter. 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.
- Lunch on own in the Christian Quarter.
- Afterward , visit the Israel Museum the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. While there, explore theShrine of the Book , home of the Dead Sea Scrolls , the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world.
- Return to the hotel.
- Havdalah at the hotel.
- Meet with Joe Perlov for Conflict in Context: The Changing Map of Israel and the Middle East. This program, which has been presented to thousands of participants in Israel and America, serves as both an intro duction to and update of the history of the Middle East and the current geopolitical situation in Israel and its surroundings. Joe gives participants an understanding of the competing narratives in Israel, as well as the Jewish and non Jewish worlds, and serves as a window into the various positions at work in the area.
- Gather together for a candle lighting ceremony, celebrating the 7th night of Hanukkah.
- Free evening at leisure; dinner on own.
Day 7 : Hula Valley (Upper Galilee)
Sun. 29 Dec 2019
- After breakfast, check-out from your hotel accommodations and depart Jerusalem.
- Optional: Visit the impressive 9/11 Memorial located in the Jerusalem forest outside the city. Overlooking a breathtaking view, it commemorates the tragic loss of victims’ lives and the heroic sacrifice of the first-responders who lost their lives to save others (subject to road conditions at the time of visit).
- Drive west towards Israel’s coastal plain.
- Freedom Farm Sanctuary is a new Israeli enterprise based on similar models around the world. It was created out of a vision shared by hundreds of thousands in Israel, who aspire to make a significant change in the attitude of humans towards other earthly creations, who dream that one day we will be able to view animals as creatures entitled to lives of freedom, with whom we can live side by side harmoniously without hurting, abusing or exploiting, and without taking their flesh, their liberty, and their soul.
- Next, spend some time at Givat Haviva. The Center for a Shared Society at Givat Haviva aims to build an inclusive, socially cohesive society in Israel by engaging divided communities in collective action towards the advancement of a sustainable, thriving Israeli democracy based on mutual responsibility, civic equality and a shared vision of the future. Lunch to be provided.
- Proceed north across the Galilee to your Kibbutz guesthouse for check-in.
- Have a chance to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- Gather together for a candle-lighting ceremony, celebrating the 8th night of Hanukkah.
- This evening, have dinner at the hotel, to be joined by representatives of Ayalim.
The Ayalim Association was established in 2002, as part of a national strategy supported by the Government of Israel, to settle the Negev and the Galilee. And indeed, this new model of settlement that combines vision with action is bringing about a social revolution in Israel.
Inspired by the pioneering spirit of Israel’s founders, Ayalim promotes the physical and social development of the Negev and the Galilee, regions designated as National Priority Areas. Over 1,000 idealistic young adults live in 11 Ayalim student villages in the Negev and the Galilee, where they serve as agents of change for strengthening distressed areas, both in periphery towns and inner cities.
Day 8 : Hula Valley (Upper Galilee)
Mon. 30 Dec 2019
- After breakfast, travel to the mystical city of Tzfat, one of the Four Holy Cities according to tradition and the birthplace of Jewish Mysticism. Stroll through the narrow, winding alleys; visit some of the beautiful and historic synagogues and browse through the artists’ workshops and galleries found in the flourishing artists' quarter.
- Ascend the Golan Heights. Overlooking most of the Galilee, this strategic plateau was conquered by Israel in 1967’s Six-Day War. Since then, the region has come to play a vital role in the security of the nation, providing a buffer bordering neighboring Syria. Additionally, the region supports a substantial and diverse local economy, despite its proximity to its unstable neighbor, Syria.
- Have lunch in a Golan Druze Village. Meet with community leaders and members and learn about the community’s unique history and its rapidly-evolving positions on its place within Israeli society as a result of the legacy of the Syrian civil war.
- Next, go for a self-driven ATV tour of the Golan Heights. Passing by important waypoints, learn about the history of the strategic plateau during the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars and about why the Israeli consensus is to hold on to the region in any future comprehensive peace accord.
- Overlooking Syria from atop Mt. Bental, meet with former IDF commander and security expert Lt. Col. (Res.) Sarit Zehavi for a geopolitical briefing.
- Afterward, travel to nearby Kibbutz Ein Zivan and visit the renowned Pelter Winery for a tour and wine tasting.
- Return to your Kibbutz guesthouse to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- Dinner at the hotel.
- Optional: Evening kumsitz (Israeli-style bonfire) featuring smores, guitar-playing/song-session and a drum-circle (not included in tour cost).
Day 9 : Tel Aviv
Tue. 31 Dec 2019
- After breakfast, check-out from your hotel accommodations.
- Travel to the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
- Visit the first-century synagogue in Magdala. Dr. Faydra Shapiro, a scholar of Biblical archaeology, will guide you through this site, believed to date back some 2,000 years from 50BCE to 100CE. In the middle of the 120-square meter main hall of the synagogue, archaeologists have discovered an unusual stone carved with a seven-branched menorah. The menorah engraving is the first of its kind to be discovered from the Early Roman period.
- Depart the region and travel south.
- Lunch en route on own.
- In Hadera, meet with local Ethiopian-Jewish community members and youth impacted by a regional initiative facilitated by the Ethiopian National Project (subject to availability).
- Continue to Tel Aviv.
- Visit Beit Hatfutsot-Museum of the Jewish People. Beit Hatfutsot is a global center for Jews worldwide that plays a pivotal role as a vibrant, dynamic and interactive educational and cultural institution, strengthening Jewish identity and perpetuating Jewish heritage globally.
- Proceed to the hotel for check-in and a chance to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- Free evening at leisure; dinner on own.
- Optional: Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style at one of Tel Aviv’s iconic nightlife hotspots, together with thousands of Israeli revelers (not included in tour cost).
Day 10 : Tel Aviv
Wed. 1 Jan 2020
- Optional: Early-morning walk along the iconic ‘tayelet’ beachfront promenade.
- After breakfast, spend the morning visiting neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv together with activist Julie Fisher to take a deeper look and to learn about one of the most interesting and complex issues confronting Israeli society today, the African asylum-seeking community. Meet the inspiring Israelis leading innovative programs to help meet the needs of this unique community. The tour will include a visit to the Bialik-Rogozin school.
Julie Fisher is an educator, volunteer, and human rights advocate. She began volunteering in Tel Aviv 7 years ago, after being introduced to USAID-funded projects, through her role as spouse of former US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.
- Visit central Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where on November 4th, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist at a peace rally.
- Lunch on own in the area.
- Explore the "State of Mind" Israel Innovation Center. This 'Start-Up Nation' museum highlights Israeli achievements in entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology in a variety of sectors including agriculture, medicine, defense, cyber security, science, transportation, aerospace and more (subject to availability).
- At the Palmach Museum, walk through a modern multi-media presentation follows the lives and experiences of the young men and women who founded Israel’s Defense Forces (subject to availability).
- Return to the hotel for a chance to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
- Have dinner at a Tel Aviv restaurant with Jonah Fisher, the GATHER director at Seeds of Peace. Discuss the impact of this incredible organization, as well as enjoy a special session about Jewish religion and culture through the prism of the popular TV show Hayehudim Baim (subject to availability).
Day 11 : End of Itinerary
Thu. 2 Jan 2020
- Optional: Begin the day with an invigorating morning Krav Maga session on the beach, led by Rachel Shear. Rachel was formerly the IDF’s chief Krav Maga instructor and the sole female in the unit.
- After breakfast, depart the hotel.
- Choose one for the group: Side-by-Side, Coexistence in Jaffa: Operated by the Beit Daniel Center for Progressive Judaism, this program exposes you to the various historical narratives of Jaffa through the eyes of a Zionist Jew and a Palestinian Arab. Combining exposure to the complexities of the city and current issues prevalent in Jaffa society, the tour will raise the question of whether peace and coexistence is possible in this complex place OR Tel Aviv, the gay capital of the Middle East, is also the home of a young, vibrant and colorful LGBT community. Embark on a ‘Rainbow tour’ of the White City and discover the secrets of the largest LGBT community in Israel. Walk through all the important ‘pink points’ while learning about the events that shape and continue to impact this unique community.
- Israeli food is on the tables of top chefs and is making waves around the world. Join Delicious Israel founder and locally renowned foodie Inbal Baum in Tel Aviv’s iconic Carmel Market (‘Shuk Hacarmel’) to explore the authentic roots and history of this diverse culinary culture on a mouthwatering tasting tour.
- Later, meet Kehillat Halev’s Rabah Naomi Efrat and hear what excites her about her role as the spiritual leader of this flourishing community, and for her contribution to the growth of progressive Jewish life in Tel Aviv.
Rabah Naomi Efrat has been involved in social action for the past 14 years, serving as a program coordinator, educator and as the Partnership Director of the Rikma Network for Community Development. Naomi is responsible for developing the growing network of socially involved communities throughout Israel's periphery and the cooperative ventures among them. Additionally, she directs a nationwide Jewish Renewal project, which has four community batei midrash (study houses) in Israel and runs social-action programs in the field of Jewish renewal. Naomi is part of the Kama Urban Kibbutz in Be'er Sheva and is a board member of the Tor HaMidbar organization, the platform for social involvement through which the community operates projects in the Negev region and the rest of Israel.
- Return to the hotel. Spend the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to explore Tel Aviv on your own, do any last-minute shopping and to rest, relax and prepare for the journey home.
- Evening check-out from your hotel accommodations.
- Depart from the hotel for the vibrant Tel Aviv Port district. There, have a farewell dinner at Lechem Basar.
- Transfer to Ben Gurion airport for your international flight back to the USA.
***Kenes Tours seek to create and deliver client-driven, high-impact, and content-rich programs. To do this, the cooperation of suppliers, speakers, and other content providers are vital. Despite our desire to implement our proposed programs, and considering Israel’s ever-changing cultural and business dynamic, there are times when amendments are required due to circumstances beyond our control. As such, our itineraries are all ‘subject to availability.’ Recognizing the importance of providing a stellar program, in cases where we are not able to confirm an item on your itinerary, we commit to providing alternative content of an equal or greater impact.***