JEWISH FOCUSED TOUR – 10 DAYS:
Day 1: OLD & NEW
We’ll start our day in Jaffa, one of the most ancient port cities in the world. After wandering the quaint alleyways of this timeless gateway to the Holy Land, we’ll descend to the port where Jonah was swallowed by the whale.
After a local lunch, we’ll head into modern Tel Aviv, exploring the early neighborhoods such as Neve Tzedek and Rothschild Boulevard, and discovering the story of the pioneers who helped build this city, and country, from sand dunes into skyscrapers. Overnight at hotel in Tel Aviv.
Day 2: OVERCOMING CHALLENGES IN ISRAEL'S SOUTH
We’ll begin our day with a drive south to a look out over the Gaza Strip. We’ll discuss the history of the strip and understand some of the challenges for the Palestinians who live there and the Israelis who live nearby. We’ll then continue to visit one of the border kibbutzim and understand how they have adapted to live in the area, through meeting one of the local residents and touring their community. We’ll also be able to enjoy lunch in the communal dining room and learn about kibbutz life.
We’ll finish our day on a more positive note with a visit to the Salad Trail. Here we’ll be able to discover how Israelis fulfilled the vision of David Ben Gurion (the first Prime Minister) to “make the desert bloom”. Pioneering farming techniques developed here have revolutionized desert agriculture. After understanding how it is done, we’ll be able to taste the results before returning to Tel Aviv. Overnight at hotel in Tel Aviv.
Day 3: A DIFFERENT TEL AVIV
Discover the incredible secret of the Ayalon Institute, built underground by the Zionist pioneers as the only way to produce ammunition in the War of Independence. We’ll descend into the hidden factory and hear the story of the daring people who lived there.
We’ll then have a short drive to the Peres Center for Innovation, a fantastic interactive museum highlighting Israel’s start-up spirit. Young and old alike will love the opportunity to experience some of Israel’s groundbreaking inventions.
Next, we’ll head to Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market where we’ll meet a local expert who will take us on a tasting journey through Israeli cuisine and the many immigrant populations that make up our society.We’ll end our day in the trendy neighborhood of Florentine, where we’ll discover what the local street art can tell us about Israeli society, and maybe even create some of our own. Overnight at hotel in Tel Aviv.
Day 4: ISRAEL'S COASTLINE
We’ll travel north to Caesarea, the regional capital that was built by King Herod the Great two thousand years ago. We’ll explore the spectacular ruins, and understand the contribution of Caesarea to the Great Jewish Revolt.
We’ll continue north to Haifa, Israel’s third biggest city, and home to the world center of the Baha’i faith. From a vantage point on Mount Carmel, we’ll look down over their stunning gardens and enjoy the view over the Mediterranean.
Our next stop will be in Akko (Acre), the former Crusader capital and home to the famed Uri Buri restaurant, where we’ll have a break for lunch. We’ll then explore the remarkable ruins and tunnels from the time of the Crusaders, which earned Akko UNESCO world heritage site status.We’ll conclude our day in the beautiful seaside grottoes of Rosh Hanikra. Overnight at hotel in Galilee.
Day 5: SPIRITUALITY IN NORTHERN ISRAEL
We’ll begin our day at Tzippori, the former Roman capital of the Galilee. We’ll walk its ancient stones and marvel at its stunning mosaics. Tzippori plays an important role in Judaism as the home of the codification of the Mishnah (the Jewish oral law).We’ll then bring the ancient ruins to life with a visit to nearby Kfar Kedem. Donning traditional clothing, we’ll get hands-on with Jewish life in the period of the Mishnah, enjoying an authentic lunch, riding donkeys, and enjoying various other activities.Our day will conclude in Safed (Tzfat), one of Judaism’s four holy cities. We’ll wander its ancient alleyways and discover the secrets of the Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism) which developed here 500 years ago. Expect beautiful synagogues, stunning vistas, and remarkable tales. Overnight at hotel in Galilee.
Day 6: NORTHERN BORDERS NOW & THEN
We’ll begin with a somber visit to the Helicopters’ Memorial where we can better understand the First and Second Lebanon Wars and their cost to the local population. A short drive will then take us to Tel Dan where we’ll be able to discover remarkable Biblical ruins as well as look out over the Lebanese border.After a nearby lunch at the picturesque Dag Al Hadan restaurant on the banks of the Dan Stream, we’ll ascend into the Golan Heights and drive to an observation deck near the Syrian border. We will look out over Syria and get an understanding of the complex relationship between contemporary Israel and its northern neighbor.We’ll end our day by raising a glass to our trip during a visit to one of the best boutique wineries in Israel for a short tour and tasting. Overnight at hotel in Galilee.
Day 7: REVOLUTION IN THE WILDERNESS
After checking out we’ll drive south through the Jordan valley, part of which is in the West bank. We’ll use the driving time to get a better understanding of the political situation in the West Bank and Israel’s relationship with Jordan, before arriving at the Ein Gedi desert oasis. We’ll take a short walk in this marvel of nature and will pause by one of the waterfalls to discuss Saul and David’s meeting here.
Our next stop will be the UNESCO World Heritage Site Masada. After a quick lunch we’ll ascend by cable car and will explore the ruins of this remarkable desert fortress built by King Herod 2000 years ago, and discover the tragic end of its final defense.
Before driving up to Jerusalem, we’ll pause at a private Dead Sea beach for some well-earned relaxation. Float on these saline waters and you’ll come out rejuvenated – guaranteed! Overnight at hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 8: BIBLICAL JERUSALEM
Jump straight into the atmosphere of ancient Jerusalem as we open the day with a walk on the 500-year-old city ramparts. We’ll then visit the City of David, the most ancient ruins in Jerusalem, taking us back into the time of the Bible. We’ll see David’s Palace and can walk underground in a tunnel built by King Hezekiah (great fun for kids!). We’ll emerge from the tunnel at the Pool of Siloam, an important stop for Jewish pilgrims at the time of the Temple.We’ll ascend by foot in the spirit of the ancient pilgrims to the impressive excavations in the Davidson Center where we’ll be able to transport ourselves 2000 years back in time and walk on the very stones that visitors would have walked on in the time of the Second Temple.
We’ll pause at the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall) to soak up the atmosphere, and after a great local lunch, we’ll explore the Jewish Quarter (including more ruins from the Biblical period). Our day will conclude with a visit to the King David's Tomb on Mount Zion.
Optional (If on a Friday): In the evening return to the Western Wall plaza to experience the joyous ‘Receiving the Shabbat’ Jewish prayer service. Continue for a traditional Shabbat dinner at a local home or at the hotel. Overnight at hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 9: ADVENTURES NEAR JERUSALEM
We’ll drive a short distance outside of Jerusalem to the main highway into the city. Here we’ll leave the comfort of our van behind to jump into jeeps and discover the story of The Burma Road – an incredible feat of engineering and creativity without which the Israelis may well have lost Jerusalem in the War of Independence.
Back in our van, we’ll drive to the UNESCO world heritage site of Beit Guvrin-Maresha, where we’ll explore the ruins from over 2000 years ago, and then have an opportunity to discover more for ourselves as we join the local archaeologists on a live dig.On the way back to Jerusalem, we’ll stop on Tel Azeka to look out over the Ella Valley and imagine the ancient battle that took place there between David and Goliath. Overnight at hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 10: MODERN JERUSALEM
Our day will begin in a reflective mood during a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust Memorial. After exploring the museum we’ll ascend to Mount Herzl – Israel’s national memorial cemetery. We’ll visit some of the nation's most important figures and discuss their legacies, including Theodor Hertzl, Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir, Shimon Peres and many more.
After enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and most importantly, tastes, at the Machne Yehuda open-air market, we’ll end our day with a visit to the world-class Israel Museum, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We’ll use the museum’s models and displays to trace our footsteps around Israel as our trip sadly comes to a close.
(To see you again)