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Israel: Past and Present OCTOBER 20 DEPARTURE, 2015 ... click on the link

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To travel to the ancient land of David and Solomon, Sarah and Deborah, the  ministry of Jesus, and 3rd holiest place in Islam, is to be profoundly touched by history. The modern State of Israel builds on this rich tradition that blends the old and the new- from earliest spice routes to the 21st Century space age.

 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1:Depart USA.

Depart USA from Tampa airport to Tel Aviv, via New York.

 

Day 2: Arrive Tel Aviv.

Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. Meet your guide who will assiTel Avivst, and escort you to your waiting touring coach. This evening, enjoy a late welcome dinner and orientation with your guide. Accommodations: Dan Panorama Hotel Tel Aviv. Dinner provided.

 

Day 3:Tel Aviv.

 

Tel Aviv
Today you will take a tour of Tel Aviv, which includes a visit to the Beit Hatefutsot (Diaspora Museum) located on the Tel Aviv University Campus. Continue with a drive along the Mediterranean coast to the Crusader Seaport and artist quarter in Jaffa. In the evening meet with the retired head of the women's Army Corp, Orit Adato. Overnight in Tel Aviv.

Breakfast and dinner provided.

 

Day 4:Caesarea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo & Akko.

 

 

Aqueduct, Caesarea
Aqueduct, Caesarea
After breakfast, drive north along the Mediterranean Sea to Caesarea, the Roman capital of Judea, which King Herod built into the grandest city in Palestine, second only to Jerusalem. View the beautifully restored theater and extensive and ongoing excavations of the ruins of the ancient town, its harbor and aqueduct. Next, explore Mount Carmel, where you will find Muhraka, the location of the contest between Elijah and the priests of Baal. We proceed inland to Megiddo, Biblical Armageddon, and the inspiration for James Michener's great novel, The Source. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, Megiddo's twenty major strata contain the remains of around 30 different cities and holds a central place in the biblical narrative. Our last stop today will be at Akko, a major Crusader city and harbor that was founded by the Phoenicians

Accommodations: Akko Palm Beach Hotel. Breakfast and dinner provided.

Day 5: Nazareth, Safed & Tiberias.

 

 

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth
Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth
This morning we visit the Church of Annunciation which is one of the holiest spots in Christendom. Continue to Tzippori, where you’ll see the cosmopolitan nature of ancient Israel epitomized in this Roman city. Later, we’ll visit Safed, a Galilean community, popular today because of its artists quarter, and one of the four holy cities in Israel. It has been a spiritual center since the 1600s when it was the center of Kabbala (Jewish mysticism). End the day with an exploration of the city of Tiberias, located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Hot sulphur springs have drawn weary travelers here since the Roman era. A beautiful 5th century synagogue with stunning mosaics was also unearthed here.

 

Accommodations: Leonardo Plaza Hotel Tiberias. Breakfast and dinner provided.

Day 6:Capernaum, Banias & Golan Heights.

Capernaum © Doron Horowitz

 

After breakfast we drive to Capernaum. Long identified with St. Peter and Christianity, Capernaum has a well-preserved synagogue dating to the Roman period (2nd and 3rd centuries CE) which has been extensively excavated and restored. Continue to Tabgha to see a Byzantine church that commemorates the Christian miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. Later we drive to the Banias where we’ll see, at one of the headwaters of the Jordan River, a Roman shrine to the god Pan. Soon after, we’ll explore the area of the Golan. This region plays a major role in the security of northern Israel. We’ll visit Tel Fahar to get a good view of the modern military/political situation today. If you are ready for a bit of Roman-style RNR, we will then drive to Hammat Gader for a visit to the Roman Baths.

Breakfast and dinner provided.

Day 7:Beit Shean, Qumran & the Dead Sea.

 

 

Ruins at Beit She'an, Israel
Ruins at Beit She'an, Israel

We begin today's activities just south of the Sea of Galilee with a visit to Beit Shean, one of the most outstanding Roman cities ever excavated and restored. We continue on to Belvoir, where a Crusader fortress located nearby, protected the surrounding area. There’s a stunning view of the Jordan Valley from high up on the ruins of the site. Continue to the Dead Sea, via Wadi Qelt. One of the attractions here is the gorgeous St George Monastery, built by the hermit John Thebes in the 5th century CE and later restored by the Crusaders. Our last stop of the day will be at Qumran. The Dead Sea scrolls, which have been called the most exciting archaeological/spiritual discovery of the 20th century, were found here in a cave high up in the cliffs, in 1947 by Bedouins. They most likely were associated with the Essene community that inhabited the area. Accommodations: Daniel Hotel Dead Sea. Breakfast and dinner provided.

 

Day 8:Dead Sea & Masada.

 

View from Masada

 

View from Masada

After breakfast we travel to the Herodian Fortress of Masada. This is one of the most stirring monuments to freedom and human dignity as well as the site of the Zealot’s last stand against Roman legions in 73CE. Later, we visit Ein Gedi, a waterfall oasis that proves that nature reserves can exist in the desert and have water flowing through them throughout the year. A Byzantine era synagogue can be found here as well. We continue on to Tel Arad. This southern citadel protected Israel from the Moabite and Edomite armies. A highlight of the visit to Tel Arad is the Israelite temple in the upper city, which scholars say was a miniature version of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. At the end of the day, we’ll have an opportunity to meet with Israeli archaeologist Yehuda Govrin and learn about the excavations that have been conducted in the area. Accommodations: Inbar Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner provided.

 

Day 9:Avdat & Mitzpe Ramon.

 

 

Mitzpe Ramon Visitor Center
Mitzpe Ramon Visitor Center

As you stand among the ruins of the Negev Highland city of Avdat, you can almost hear the echoes of the bells tinkling on the bridles of the camels that passed this way in their caravans of hundreds, bringing the riches of the East – frankincense and myrrh – to market via the Mediterranean. Avdat was founded by Nabatean traders, the masters of those caravans, as a way station on this Incense Route. Long before, the Israelites had wandered near here through the Wilderness of Zin. As time passed a citadel, known as Avdat, was built to protect the area. Nearby, we will get a chance to see Ein Avdat, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Israel." Next, we will visit the Negev town of Mitzpe Ramon which overlooks a sizable erosion cirque known as the Ramon Crater. Afterwards, we will uncover the ancient mysteries of Tel Be'er Sheva. This was one of Solomon’s major fortress cities and stable complexes. Accommodations: Leonardo Negev Hotel Beersheva. Breakfast and dinner provided.

 

Day 10:Lachish & Jerusalem.

 

 

Beersheva
Beersheva
After breakfast we depart Beersheva and drive north where we will stop at the Bronze and Iron Age City of Lachish. When Sennacherib invaded Judea he destroyed 46 cities. Azekah said of the city, “I cannot see the signal fires of Lachish”. A new city (Lachish II) rose on the ruins of the city destroyed by Sennacherib. However, it was recorded by Jeremiah that Azekah and Lachish were the last cities to fall to the Babylonians before they lay siege to Jerusalem. Later we will explore the geological wonder of stalagmites and stalactites at the Sorek Cave, located on the western slopes of the Judean Hills. Totaling about an acre in area, Sorek is Israel's largest cave.

 

The rocks within the cave are approximately 80-100 million years old and the stalactites were formed about 5 million years ago. As the day comes to an end, we reach the highlight of our journey – the Holy city of Jerusalem. We’ll stop at the Mt of Olives, which overlooks Jerusalem from the east, and here we’ll say a hearty welcome and blessing for peace in the city and throughout Israel.

Accommodations: Dan Panorama Hotel Jerusalem. Breakfast and dinner provided.

 

Day 11:New City of Jerusalem.

 

 

Western Wall, Jerusalem
Western Wall, Jerusalem

This morning we visit the Rabbinical Tunnel that stretches north along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, underneath the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Each step takes us further into Jerusalem’s history as we visit the Davidson Center. The cultural soul of Israel is found at the Israel Museum, while the political reality plays out in the Knesset (parliament). We’ll have a chance to visit both of these very important sites. We’ll also visit the model of Jerusalem during the time of the Second Temple, and this will give us an incredible view of the city of Jerusalem 2000 years ago. We’ll continue to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Center which reminds us all of unspeakable horror that humans can perpetrate on fellow humans. Europe's darkest days are never forgotten and become reality with a visit to this memorial. Time permitting, we will visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and have an opportunity to visit the Church of the Nativity at the center of the town. Breakfast and dinner provided.

 

Day 12: Old City of Jerusalem

 

 

Old City of Jerusalem
Old City of Jerusalem
After breakfast we will enjoy a walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem including the Western Wall, the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national consciousness, by virtue of its proximity to the Western Wall of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. We’ll then continue to the Temple Mount (circumstances permitting). Jewish tradition holds that it is the site where God gathered the dust to create Adam and where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac to prove his faith.

It is here that, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ lashed out against the money changers (and was later crucified a few hundred yards away). Among Muslims, the Temple Mount is called Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).

 

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

They believe it was here that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the “Divine Presence” on the back of a winged horse, commemorated by one of Islam’s architectural triumphs, the Dome of the Rock shrine. This will give us a spiritual overview of the holiest of cities for the three great western religious traditions. We’ll also visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, identified as both the place of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. The church has long been a major pilgrimage center for Christians all around the world. Farewell dinner this evening at the hotel. After dinner, depart to Tel Aviv airport to check-in for your overnight flight back to the U.S via New York.

Breakfast and dinner provided.

 

Day 13:Arrive USA.

 

Arrive to you home city later this morning.

 


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