We drive to the ancient city of Jaffa, the gateway to the Land of Israel, desired by generations of Jews. This is the perfect place to stroll through the alley-ways, watch the sun set over the Tel Aviv Seaside, and slowly get acquainted with the Land of Israel. We set out to the “First Hebrew City” – Tel Aviv. We start with the “Independence Hall”, House of Tel Aviv’s first mayor, where David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel. We stroll through the Rothshild Boulevard, famous for its special BAUHAUS-Architecture that made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through the colorful (and noisy…) Carmel Market and get a taste of Israel, after which you can always feel the Avant-Garde culture at the Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Zone and fancy neighbourhood Neve Tsedek. We will visit also Sarona Market, contemporary urban market, at the Sarona complex, newly renovated in the heart of Tel Aviv, originally a German Templar Colony from 140 years ago.
Continue along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the modern Port-City Haifa, situated on the slopes of the evergreen Mount Carmel. Visit the famous Haifa Panorama Lookout, overlooking the marvelous Baha’i Gardens – a World Heritage Site. Drive to Acco (Acre) to visit the underground “Knights Halls” extraordinarily preserved since the Crusader Times, the Acco-Prison, remembering the brave Jewish underground-fighters who were imprisoned and executed by the British here, the Turkish Bath where “The Last Bath Attendant” will tell you some of Acco’s Legends, after which you will experience the typical Bazaar, with the colors and odors of the orient. In Acco we will also visit the Tunisian “Or Hatorah” Synagogue, a life-endeavor of a simple Jew who created a unique synagogue, covered with mosaics that depict the Jewish History & Religion.
In the morning we ascend to the holy city of Tzefat (Safed), the center of Jewish Mysticism, Kabbalah. We breathe its special, spiritual atmosphere, listen to its many legends, and visit some of its enchanting synagogues. Meet a Kabbalistic Artist and talk with him about Kabbalah & his/her work. Then we drive down from the Mountains of Galilee, and drive by the pioneer-settlement Rosh Pina, established 1882 on the shores of the Hula-Lake. A short time later we arrive at the Nature Reserve Tel Dan. Tel Dan is a good place for a relaxing hike in and around the water. In Dan, one of the sources of the Jordan River, archaeologists found some remarkable findings, such as the most ancient built arch in the world, and the very altar that was built by the biblical king Jeroboam on the border of the Kingdom of Israel. From here we ascend to the wild scenery of the Northern Golan, passing by “Nimrod’s Castle” and some Druze villages, to reach the Quneitra Observation Point. Here we can take a look over the Syrian Border, and hear about the current situation in the Golan. We end the day in Ancient Qatzrin, where a Talmudic village was reconstructed. Ancient Qatzrin is also famous for its synagogue. Time permitting, we can also arrange a wine-tasting session in the famous Golan Winery.
Today we leave Galilee, in order to ascend to The Holy City – Jerusalem! Visit “Yad Vashem” – the National Holocaust Memorial, ending with a visit at the “Menorah” by the Knesset, symbolizing the strength of Israel’s spirit over all those who tried to break it with physical power. Then we visit the recently renovated Israel Museum, take a look at the 1:50 Model of Jerusalem during the time of the Second Temple and the “Shrine of the Book”, housing the original Dead Sea Scrolls. At the end of this day we can experience the turmoil of last shopping for Shabbat at the Machane Yehuda Market, and maybe even participate at the “Kabbalat Shabbat” (Welcoming of the Sabbath ceremony) by the Western Wall. Festive Shabbat-Meal and Overnight in Jerusalem.
Today’s program is designed to suit Sabbath-Observers. We will accommodate you in a hotel near the Old City, so that you can participate in the following program without desecrating the Shabbat.
We start at Mt. Zion, where we visit King David’s Tomb. Then we enter the Old City through the Zion Gate. We visit the Old and New sites in the rebuilt Jewish Quarter, and try to experience its special Shabbat-Atmosphere, which, of course, also includes a Shabbat-prayer at the Western Wall! The Shabbat-Afternoon is planned to be at leisure.
We are southwards bound, into the desert! We walk through the Oasis of Ein Gedi, known since the days of King David. Ein Gedi, where four springs with fresh water meet the desert sun, is a place to enjoy the rich and unique flora and fauna that such an oasis can offer. We walk to the waterfall and back to the bus. We climb (by cable-car…) the famous cliff-fortress of Massada, where Herod the Great built a magnificent palace in the middle of the desert. Massada was then used as a fortress by the Jewish “Zealots” who fought, few against many, against the pagan Roman Empire. Their heroic struggle became a symbol for the modern State of Israel. We will not miss, of course, some floating (not swimming!) on the Dead Sea, the deepest point on earth!
David Ben-Gurion’s vision of “making the desert bloom” has come true! That’s why we start the day at the Sde Boker College, incorporating all of his visions of education, science, and Zionism, all of which result in the blooming park overlooking the Zin Valley, where Ben Gurion asked to be buried. In order to literally taste all of this, we will visit one of the newly-established Desert-Farm, where we will have a taste of the locally produced wine or goat-cheese and hear from the owner about the life of these modern pioneers. Drive to Machtesh Ramon – a unique geological phenomena, only to be found in the Negev. We will tour some of its unique geological & historical sites.
Drive past Beer Sheba to Beth Guvrin (Tel Maresha), where we participate in archaeological excavations of man-made caves, digging down into our past with our own hands! A short drive brings us to the Valley of the Therabynth, to “Emek David”, where the symbolic battle between David & Goliath took place. Here we change the bus with special 4×4 Ranger-Vehicles that will take us off-the-beaten-track to the ancient battle-site, and more… We end the day with a Biblical Farewell-Dinner in Kibbutz Netiv Halamed He, reconstructing King David’s Royal Tent and the regal dishes served to his guests.