Day 1 : Tel Aviv
Tuesday - Arrival in Israel
•Mid-afternoon arrival at Israel's Ben Gurion international airport.
•After airport procedures, you will be met by your tour educator and escorted to the awaiting coach transportation.
•Transfer to Tel Aviv.
•Hotel check-in with a chance to rest, relax and prepare for the evening.
•Welcome dinner at a Tel Aviv restaurant.
Day 2 : Jerusalem
Wednesday – A First Glimpse/Ascent to Jerusalem
•After breakfast, check-out of hotel accommodations.
•Get a glimpse of the real cultural DNA of Tel Aviv through a special Graffiti and Street Art Tour in the hip Florentine neighborhood, guided by Yael Shapira. http://www.ohsoarty.com/yaelshapira/
•Experience delicious sights, smells, sounds and tastes of the Carmel Market.
•Lunch on own.
•Travel through the Judean Hills to the Jerusalem Forest with a short nature hike among the terraced hillside of the Sataf Spring.
•Ascend to Jerusalem.
•Upon entering the city, proceed to the Haas Promenade for a breathtaking overlook of Jerusalem. Led by your rabbi, say a special Shehecheyanu, a blessing of safe arrival in the Land of Israel and the eternal city of Jerusalem.
•Proceed to hotel for check-in.
•Free evening at leisure with dinner on own.
Day 3 : Jerusalem
Thursday - Spiritual & Political Divides
•At the City of David, experience 5,000 years of history as you descend into the ancient foundations of King David’s Jerusalem. http://www.cityofdavid.org.il/en
•Enter an ancient tunnel which runs beneath the Old City walls to the base of the Temple Mount, exiting 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 Temple to the Jewish people both historically and today.
•Go to the Kotel - the Western Wall - the ancient retaining wall of the 2nd 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. Here you will have an opportunity for personal prayer and reflection at this monumental site.
•Tour the Old City of Jerusalem. Explore the Jewish Quarter. Visit the or the Herodian Quarter, two excellent examples of discoveries of actual homes and buildings which Jews lived in during the time of the 2nd Temple. Explore the Roman Cardo where traditionally shops were located (and are located today). https://info.goisrael.com/en/the-jewish-quarter-65861
•Lunch on own.
•This afternoon, participate in a Jerusalem Seam Line tour with Colonel (Res.) Dan Tirza, the architect of the security fence in the Jerusalem area. Travel along the separation fence as he explains the considerations and negotiations that went into its construction and how its presence has impacted the city of Jerusalem (subject to availability).
•Travel across the Green Line to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, the largest concentration of Jewish settlements in Judea & Samaria (the West Bank).
•In Efrat, meet with the settlement's founder and leader, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. Learn about the guiding rational and meaning behind the modern settlement movement. Discuss the complex and nuanced challenges it faces (subject to availability). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shlomo_Riskin
•Return to Jerusalem.
•Free evening at leisure (restaurant recommendations will be provided).
Day 4 : Jerusalem
Friday, June 1st -- Rebirth & Renewal/Erev Shabbat
•After breakfast, visit Yad Vashem, considered the foremost memorial to humankind’s darkest period; Israel's official memorial and historical museum to the victims of the Shoah. Partake in a moving memorial ceremony in the Valley of Communities (subject to availability). http://www.yadvashem.org/
•Meet with locals, both Israelis and Palestinians, living in the West Bank who struggle to carry on as normal a life as possible in spite of the separation fences and roadblocks. Learn from former prisoner, Ali Abu Awwad, and Shaul Judelman of the Roots NGO who work together at promoting peaceful dialogue and co-existence (subject to availability). https://www.friendsofroots.net/
•Return to the hotel to relax and prepare for Shabbat.
•Kabbalat Shabbat at the Western Wall, one of the holiest locations in the world for the Jewish people and the remnants of the Temple. Here you will sing and dance with devoted worshipers as they welcome in the Sabbath.
•Enjoy a delicious Shabbat of a Lifetime dinner served at the home of a local family in the city’s Nachlaot neighborhood. http://shabbatofalifetime.com/
OR Enjoy Shabbat dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 : Jerusalem
Saturday - Shabbat in 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. (Optionally, services can be led at the hotel by the congregation’s rabbi).
•Special touring options may include (choose one for the group):
- 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.
- Walking tour 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, believed 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.
- Walking tour to discover 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, stories, people and places that make this city unique. View the city from special lookout points in all quarters and discover the hidden treasures that the city offers.
- Walking tour to explore the Jewish Quarter and hear the story of its destruction during the War of Independence, and its rebirth and renewal following the conquest of the Old City during the Six Day War.
- Visit the Israel Museum. The Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistoric times to today. 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.
- Special afternoon learning/study opportunities with your congregation’s rabbi.
- As Shabbat ends, gather for a beautiful Havdalah ceremony amongst the ancient ruins of the Tower of David or other inspiring location (subject to availability) led by your rabbi. https://www.tod.org.il/en/
•Dinner on own (restaurant recommendations will be provided).
•Optional evening activities:
•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 Temple Mount (subject to availability). https://english.thekotel.org/western_wall_sites/western_wall_tunnels/
•Experience the breathtaking digital choreography of the Night Spectacular Sound & Light Show at the Tower of David Museum. Utilizing the dramatic backdrop of the Tower of David Citadel as a canvas, this one-of-a-kind high-tech performance brings to life the ancient city of Jerusalem.
Day 6 : Hula Valley (Upper Galilee)
Sunday - Nuanced Moments on Ascent to the Galilee
•After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and depart Jerusalem.
•Visit the impressive 9/11 Memorial located in the Jerusalem forest outside the city. Created following the 2001 attacks, this memorial overlooking a breathtaking view of the region commemorates the tragic loss of life, as well as the heroic sacrifice of the first-responders to save others. It provides an excellent platform to discuss the importance of the cultural and diplomatic ties which encompass the U.S.-Israel relationship (subject to road conditions at the time of visit).
•Located in the foothills of the Judean Mountains, take an easy hike along the path of the Burma Trail. Accompanied by renowned Jewish educator Joe Perlov, focus on some of the more challenging aspects of Israel's complex creation and the effects of the outcome of the 1948 War of Independence on the broader region vis a vis Arab villages which are not there today. Discuss the ways in which this complex and nuanced topic resonates on modern Jewish and Israeli identity. https://www.regardingisrael.com/our-mission
•Travel north along Israel's Highway 6, adjacent to the separation fence, where it straddles the border at the country’s narrowest point…only 8 miles between the Mediterranean Sea and the West Bank.
•Lunch on own en route.
•Stop in the quaint village of Zichron Yaakov. Founded by the 'Chalutzim' (pioneers) of the First Aliya with the generous assistance of the Baron Edmund James de Rothschild in 1882, learn about the trials and tribulations of the fledgling 'Yishuv' of Jewish pioneers and their perplexing efforts to settle the land of Israel under the most difficult of conditions. https://www.israel21c.org/zichron-yaakov-home-of-wine-and-spies/
•Proceed across the Galilee region to your Kibbutz guest house on the shores of the Sea of Galilee for check-in.
•Dinner at the kibbutz.
•This evening, delight in the togetherness of an Israeli “Kumsitz” bonfire or go on a spectacular torch lit tour of Nimrod's Fortress, an ancient castle situated on the slopes of Mt. Hermon. http://www.parks.org.il/sites/English/ParksAndReserves/mvzerNmrod/Pages/default.aspx
Day 7 : Hula Valley (Upper Galilee)
Monday - The Essence of the Galilee
•After breakfast, visit the Kinneret Courtyard near the shores of the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). Learn about the history of the cooperative settlements of Israel and farming in the early 20th century. The courtyard includes a khan (rest house) built in 1870, where the first visitors to the farm stayed, and various other buildings.
•At the Kinneret Cemetery, study the words of Rachel the poetess whose prose beautifully articulates the dreams of Israel’s pioneers, and visit the gravesite of the iconic Israeli songwriter Nomi Shemer, who penned the famous “Yerushalayim shel Zahav.”
•Tour the mystical city of Safed, 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 historical synagogues and browse through the artists’ workshops and galleries found in the flourishing artists' quarter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=IyhX_qCyjoc
•Enjoy lunch on own.
•Next, ascend the Golan Heights via off-road jeeps to Mt. Bental. There, learn about the nuanced challenges and complexities of the ongoing Syrian civil war and its impact on Israel's geopolitics.
•Later this afternoon, proceed to Kibbutz Ein Zivan.
- Adults: Enjoy a tour and tasting at the award-winning and internationally renowned Pelter Winery. Meet with the winemakers Tal and Nir Pelter (subject to availability). http://pelter.co.il/en/
- Kids: Make delicious chocolates at the De Karina Chocolate Factory! http://de-karina.co.il/en/
•Return to the Kibbutz guesthouse.
•Dinner at the kibbutz.
•This evening, meet with a kibbutz member to discuss the status of life on the kibbutz in the modern era.
Day 8 : Tel Aviv
Tuesday - Diverse Encounters
•After breakfast, check-out of your accommodations and depart the region.
Visit the newly excavated synagogue and remains of the 1st century Jewish community who lived at Magdala. Learn how this site is building bridges between Jews and Christians in Israel and around the world. http://www.magdala.org/
•Travel across the Upper Galilee to the Arab village of Majd al Krum.
•There, visit Moona: A Space for Change, former IAF fighter pilot Assaf Breimer's endeavor to advance and bring together Jewish and Arab Israeli teens through learning space science & technology. http://moona.co/en/
•Drive south across the Galilee to Mount Carmel.
•Stop in the secluded Druze village of Usfiya. Here you will meet with members of this fascinating minority community over a home hospitality lunch. Learn about some of the tenets of this special faith-community and discover the bonds that tie their livelihoods to the Jewish State.
•Continue down the Mediterranean coast to the city of Hadera. There, you will encounter a local center of the Ethiopian National Project (ENP). Together with locals, learn about the unique challenges and problems faced by the Ethiopian-Jewish community living in Israel's periphery and how NGO's such as the ENP are making great strides to empower local residents. http://www.enp.org.il/en/
At Caesarea, explore the ancient Roman amphitheater, Crusader harbor and 12th-century ramparts with the exclusive help of cutting-edge Virtual Reality technology that brings you back in time to see the buildings of the city in all their glory as they once were. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcL-zbrpJjY
•Proceed to Tel Aviv.
•Check-in to your hotel accommodations.
•Free evening at leisure (restaurant recommendations will be provided).
Day 9 : End of Itinerary
Wednesday - Tel Aviv: From Pioneering Heritage to Creative Culture
•After breakfast, 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. http://eng.shimur.org/Ayalon-institute/
•Return to Tel Aviv.
•Take a dual narrative tour of ancient Jaffa with your Jewish guide and an Arab guide, each sharing narratives of the city. Possible site visits may include:
- A hint of hope at the Orchard of Abraham’s Children – a bilingual kindergarten.
- Visit the local El Mahmudiya Mosque.
•Enjoy lunch at Jaffa's iconic Dr. Shakshuka. http://www.doctorshakshuka.co.il/
•Learn about how Tel Aviv became known as the “White City” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site on a walking tour of Rothschild Boulevard and the beautiful architecture surrounding you. Discover the history of the first Hebrew city and its impact on the Israeli landscape.
•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). http://www.taglitinnovation.com/
•Visit Independence Hall, the site where David Ben Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence on May 14th, 1948. http://eng.ihi.org.il/
•Return to the hotel for a chance to rest, relax and pack for tonight’s flight.
•This evening, over a farewell dinner at a leading Tel Aviv restaurant, gather together one last time to reflect on and share your most memorable Israel experiences.
•Transfer to Ben Gurion airport for your international flight back to the U.S.