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Cultural 9 days

Day 01
Arrive Ben Gurion Airport, meet and greet by Holiday Travel representative and transfer to Tel Aviv hotel. Overnight in Tel Aviv.

 

Day 02gi1
 We will start in Jaffa, one of the oldest port cities in the world. We will visit the new museum in the old part, which multimedia presentation brings to life the past of the city. Then continue to Neve Tzedek, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside Tel Aviv. When the city began to develop away from the Jaffa core, the area degenerated into disrepair and urban decay. Nowadays is one of the city’s trendiest areas, bustling coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and artists’ galleries.

We then drive by Rostchild Blvd and learn about the Bauhaus architectural movement. Dating from the beginning of the 20 Century, it was a German school that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. This area of the city is called the “White City of Tel Aviv” and has many examples of Bauhaus Architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Departing Tel Aviv drive along the Sharon Plains to Haifa, probably the most industrialized area in Israel. Haifa is famous for housing the Shrine of the Baha’i, a monotheistic religion founded in 19th-century Persia. From here enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the Haifa Bay and admire the beautiful gardens.

Haifa is also the city with the biggest population mix of Jews and Arabs. We will visit “Beit Hagefen” Jewish-Arab Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization which strives for the creation of common and equal spaces that encompass the variety of identities and cultures in Haifa in particular and in Israel in general. Here we will learn about the situation of the Arab population in Israel and the life in a Jewish State.

Continue to the Sea of Galilee area for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 03
Today we will explore some of the most important Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee. Start at Capernaum where we see the remains of the synagogue where probably Jesus preached and Mt of Beatitudes, where Jesus pronounced probably his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount.

We then ascend to the Golan Heights, to the lookout point in Mt Bental. We will learn about the strategic situation and the Six Day War, when Israel annexed the area from Syria and the general situation of Israel with its neighbors. The Golan Heights are also home of a large Druze population. The Druze religion has its roots in Ismailism, blending Islamic monotheism with Greek philosophy and Hindu influences. We will visit one of their villages and learn about their daily life under Israeli rule and their contact with their relatives on the other side of the border. Return to Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 04
Depart Tiberias and drive to Zippori National Park. The city dates from Roman times, but the remains we see today are from the beautiful restoration by Herod Antipas, and Rabbi Judah Hanassi moved the Sanhedrin from Bet She'arim to Zippori, where he redacted the Mishnah in 220 CE.  The Mishna is the first major recompilation and redaction of the Jewish oral traditions.

We will then visit a Kibbutz. A “Kibbutz” is an Israeli unique communal settlement. The first was founded in 1909 in the Sea of Galilee by young Jewish pioneers, mainly from Eastern Europe. At the beginning most Kibbutzim mainly relied on agriculture but have then developed varied and successful industries. An example among many others is Kibbutz Hatzerim with its world awarded irrigation system.

We continue south and drive towards Beer Sheva, the capital of the Negev, and proceed to our Bedouin Camp. The Bedouins is an Arab ethnic group, in Israel there’re many settlements and cities in the south, and are enrolled in the army. We start our exploration with the traditional coffee making ceremony and we will hear the story of this desert people. End the day with a Bedouin “Hafla”, the traditional dinner fest.

 

Day 05
After breakfast we drive to Kibbutz Sde Boker. Here spent his last years David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. Ben Gurion loved the Negev, and after his political career settled here and fought for the blossom of the Desert. Here we will learn about the years before the declaration of independence of Israel as well as its first year of struggle and further development. 

Avdat, founded by the Nabateans in the 4th Century BC and was the most important city after Petra. Among other very well preserved remains, the most unique landmark of Avdat is a beautiful winepress of Byzantine period, what reveals the agricultural skills that tamed their harsh surroundings by harvesting every precious drop of water into a complex system of channels and cisterns.

We now start exploring the Incense Route, beginning with We then move to Mamshit, the smallest of the Negev's Nabatean cities but is the best restored. Among Mamshit’s highlights is “the wealthy house” with spacious rooms built around a courtyard, and a three-story guard tower you can still climb for a fabulous view of the surroundings. And also Two impressive churches were discovered in Mamshit.

The western "Nile Church" features a mosaic floor with colorful geometric patterns, birds, a fruit basket, and five Greek inscriptions. In the eastern church are the remnants of a pulpit on small marble pillars. Continue to Arad or Dead Sea for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 06
Today we will visit the fortress of Masada. Built on an inexpugnable plateau by King Herod the Great, the site is a symbol for the Jewish People. At the beginning of the Jewish revolt against the Roman in 66 AD a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. After years of siege, close to 1,000 men, women and children committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans.

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth at over 400 meters below Sea Level. Its salinity of over 10 times sea water will make you unsinkable; enjoy your free time floating reading your favorite book. Proceed through the Judean Wilderness to Jerusalem, where we will spend the next days. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.

 

Day 07
After breakfast enjoy a panoramic view atop of Mt of Olives, and continue to the City of the David, the original Jerusalem. Walk along a recently uncovered paved street from Roman times that connect the original Pools of Bethesda with the Western Wall.

At the end of this journey is the Davidson Center, where we will learn about the Temple admiring the Southern Wall excavations, and the nearby Wailing Wall, last remain of the Temple and Holiest place for the Jewish People.

The Via Dolorosa is the path Jesus followed with the cross to the place of his crucifixion. Follow the last steps to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where according to Catholic tradition Jesus was buried. The Church was built by order of Emperor Constantine I in 326. The control of the building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries.

We will walk through Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood and we will learn about their life and way of living, the situation with the laic society and modern Israel. The afternoon is free for self-exploration.

 

gi4Day 08
One of the most important events that made possible the State of Israel as home of the Jews was the World War II and the Holocaust of six million Jews by the Nazis. The Yad Vashem Memorial is the place where the world remembers the victims, along with those that tried to protect them from the atrocity, at their own risk.

We will see the Hall of Remembrance, which way to it is lined up with trees planted in honor of non-Jewish men and women - "Righteous Among the Nations", who, at the risk of their own lives, attempted to rescue Jews from the Holocaust, and the Children’s Memorial, an underground cavern in which the flickering flames of memorial candles are reflected in an infinity of tiny lights within the prevailing darkness and remembers the 1.5 million children.

From here we will take the tram and ride to Ben Yehuda square, the heart of Jerusalem. We will walk by Nachalat Shiva, one of the first neighborhoods built outside the Old City walls and continue to Nachlaot, another of the first neighborhoods. Nachlaot is actually six neighborhoods, built for different people and you could tell that every few streets resembled a different Diaspora. Explore its narrow alleys and discover the hidden courtyards and tens of synagogues. 

We continue to Machane Yehuda market, probably the most colorful in Israel. Here we will enjoy a journey of aromas and tastes, including Syrian olives and olive oil, fantastic goat cheeses, traditional hummus and more. Return to your hotel and meet this evening for a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers.

 

Day 09
Today transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for your departure flight or participate in an extension tour.