Jewish Heritage

Jewish Heritage

Indicative price guide

from $ 3,999 per person

(Based on 2 adults sharing a room) for mid-range and boutique hotels, and $4,999 per person for 5 star accommodation

Itinerary

A formative Israel experience focusing on Jewish Heritage sites, as well as sites of general interest.  You will focus on Jerusalem, the Judean Desert, and the North of the country.

Day 1

Arrival and private transfer to your hotel in Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Ben Gurion International Airport

Ben Gurion International Airport

We hope you had a good flight. Arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport where you will be met by our representative. You will be driven to Jerusalem in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle with plenty of room for luggage.

“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven”

Day 2

Explore the Old City of Jerusalem and the City of David

Old City of Jerusalem

This morning your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel. You will start your tour today from the wonderful lookout point at the Tower of David – panoramic views of Jerusalem will wait for you and provide the perfect backdrop to your guide’s introduction to Jerusalem.

A full tour of the Old City of Jerusalem will be introduced to this place of intense sanctity to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where holy sites tumble over each other. Your expert guide will unpeel layers of history and provide an overview of what Jerusalem means to the three monotheistic religions. You will visit the sites most holy to the non- Jewish faiths, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, for Christianity and you will visit or view the Dome of the Rock for Islam. You will then explore the Jewish heritage of the Old City in more detail, from First Temple period remains in the shape of the fascinating ‘Broad Wall, to Second Temple times and the Kotel (Western Wall) and Cardo (the main street during Roman times), to the Hurva Synagogue first built in the eighteenth century, all the way through to the 1967 war and beyond.

You will also visit the City of David, the heart of ancient Jerusalem, the city of kings and prophets, where books of the Bible were written. Together with your guide you will travel through underground tunnels and hidden springs of the ancient city, where kings were crowned and residents fled from conquerors. You will walk in illuminated darkness through the water of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, where water has flowed since the time of the prophets. Please note Hezekiah’s Tunnel requires waterproof shoes with grip, and shorts which can be rolled up to above the knee.

Day 3

Explore the New City of Jerusalem including Yad Vashem, the Israel Museum and a chef-led market tour

New City of Jerusalem

Yad Vashem brings a weighty but meaningful note to today’s touring. Yad Vashem is Israel’s official monument to the Holocaust, located on the western slope of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. The museum has justifiably achieved international acclaim for its in depth and powerful portrayal of extremely challenging material. The complex includes the Holocaust History Museum, the Children’s Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, The Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, a research institute with archives, a library, a publishing house, and an educational center named The International School for Holocaust Studies.

Special Expert Led Tour

Visiting Mahane Yehuda market you will find yourself surrounded by a plethora of sights, smells and tastes, and the colourful hustle and bustle of Jerusalem life. Your expert culinary guide will show you little known, hidden away gems, and will also explain how Mahane Yehuda serves as a symbol of Israel’s immigrant culture. You will see foods from all parts of the world, and will understand how culinary trends have mixed and influenced each other – just as immigrants from the four corners of the world have preserved their own traditions, and yet integrated to create a unified Israeli culture. The tour lasts for about two hours and includes plenty of tastings. Lunch is included so fear not – you will not be left hungry!

The Israel Museum is surely one of Jerusalem’s treasures. Following a multi-million dollar renovation the museum has received international acclaim and has been named one of the ten most impressive museums in the world. The Israel Museum is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Shrine of the Book) – the oldest known copy of the Bible. You will learn about the remarkable story of these manuscripts, the sect who most likely wrote them, and how they were discovered. You will also visit the celebrated model of second temple Jerusalem.

Day 4

Highlights of the Judean Desert

Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea

This morning your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel. Arguably Israel’s most dramatic site, Masada’s mountain top ruins, set against the extraordinary backdrop of the Judean desert, are but a stage for the retelling of an heroic and ancient tale, now engrained in national mythology. With your expert guide as storyteller, you will hear about the lives of the final Jewish resisters to Roman rule, relive their struggle against the mighty Roman army, and wonder at their heroic end. Masada is a totally unique site, well deserving of its UNESCO world heritage status.

Cool off from the desert heat at Ein Gedi, this glorious, green oasis in the middle of the Judean desert, significant as David’s hiding place from King Saul. Natural spring water cascades over a series of ledges in the desert rock, creating waterfalls and fresh water pools, perfect for hiking and swimming through. The springs give life to palm trees, bulrushes, and tropical and Mediterranean plant life, which together produce the sweetest of scents. Watch out for the hyraxes, ibexes, and many native bird species as your guide leads you along the family-friendly Nahale Davide trail.

The waters of the Dead Sea shimmer like nowhere else on earth. Best of all, here you really will float! Full of good-for-you minerals and surrounded by air which is naturally rich in oxygen, the Dead Sea should leave you feeling full of energy. Please take flip flops along for the Dead Sea, and avoid taking your best bathing suits as the minerals in the water may damage the material.

Day 5

Travel North

Zippori and Safed

This morning check out of your hotel in Jerusalem and drive North with your expert guide, viewing the following places before checking into your hotel in the North.
Your guide will take you to an incredibly beautiful site – Zippori, described by Josephus as “the ornament of the Galilee”. Zippori was the Galilee’s major centre of commerce from the time of the reign of Herod, through the birth of Jesus, and it is probable that Jesus would have worked in Zippori as a craftsman. In Jewish terms, Zippori is hugely important as the place where the Mishna was redacted by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi in 220 CE, and modern Judaism was therefore given shape. Evidence of the city’s former glory and sophistication is today seen in the stunning mosaic floors which remain. Of major interest are the ‘Mona Lisa of the Galilee’ (pictured below), the Nile Mosaic, and the floor of the 6th century synagogue. Zippori’s remains also include a Crusader fortress and Roman theatre which once seated 4500 people.

Next for a one hour tour of Kibbutz Degania Beth. The tour will provide you with real insight into the history and present day reality of kibbutz life. You will learn about the theoretical foundations for the kibbutz, both socialist and Zionist, about the important role which the kibbutzim played in the history and defence of the young state of Israel and about the current day challenges they face. You will also visit the kibbutz archive which is found in the home of Eshkol Levi, the former prime minister of Israel. The archives contain fascinating material relating to the early days of the pioneer movement generally and Degania Beth specifically.

Tsfat is the ancient mystical centre of kabbalah, where you will wander through time worn cobbled streets, exploring age old synagogues, ducking in and out of art galleries, craft shops and charming cafes. Tsfat’s historical sites are diverse: from the graves of important Rabbis, to the impressive crusader Citadel, and the Great Stairs built by the British to separate Jews and Arabs. Tsfat is a magical place where the ancient stones invite you to reach and touch them, to feel the layers of human history, and the breeze asks you to listen out for the tales it whispers.

Day 6

Explore the Golan Heights including an off-road jeep ride

Golan Heights

Today is a big day up in the Golan Heights! The day will combine ancient history with modern geopolitics.
Tel Dan is a wonderful site, combining nature and the great outdoors with biblical remains from the times of King Jeroboam. Together with your expert guide you will follow a family friendly trail which runs over water and through lush greenery, and is wonderfully refreshing on hot days. You will explore biblical remains and learn about the stone table found here, dating to the second half of the 9th century BCE. Carved onto it is an inscription of Hazael, King of Damascus, in which he boasted of his victory over the King of Israel and the House of David. This is of huge significance as it is the first time that the name “House of David” was discovered outside of the Bible.

Digging deeper into the story of the Golan, you will visit El Rom kibbutz which is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, you will see how kibbutzim have had to modernise, turning away from exclusively agricultural industry, and secondly you will see a real example of such modernisation – in this case, the kibbutz’s film dubbing industry. You will view one of their films which focuses on the experiences of a group of Israeli soldiers in the 1973 war (also referred to as the Yom Kippur war), which took place very close to the kibbutz. Through the use of original film and audio, the movie portrays this fierce tank battle from the viewpoint of Avigdor Kahalani, the Israeli commander at the battle of Emek HaBacha (the Valley of Tears). Time allowing, the next step is the close by ‘Valley of Tears’ – the spot where the four day long battle depicted in the movie actually took place.

Special Expert Led Tour

This two hour jeep ride is a fascinating and intense ‘off the beaten track’ experience. Your expert guide will drive you through a working agricultural kibbutz, explaining about the pace and style of life in this region of Israel. You will also explore the history and current day reality of kibbutz life from the historic ‘childrens’ house’ system to today’s need to diversity and modernise. You will then drive off road into the demilitarised zone and along the Syrian border (security conditions allowing), viewing hidden Israeli army bunkers and positions. Your expert guide will provide background on Israel’s historical and current relations with her northern neighbours, together with an in-depth analysis of today’s complex situation in Syria and what it means for Israel. Following the jeep ride, time allowing your main guide will take you to the nearby look out at Mount Bental.

Day 7

Discover Acre and Caesarea

Acre and Caesarea

The Old City of Acre (Akko in Hebrew) is well deserving of its UNESCO world heritage site status. Acre boasts stunning Crusader remains which are so complete you’ll feel transported in time. As your guide recounts Crusader tales, you will marvel at the halls of the Knights Hospitallers, and “escape to the sea” through underground runaway tunnels. Time allowing, together with your guide you will also explore some of Acre’s more varied treasures – the exotic thriving Arab market, the second most holy mosque in Israel (home to a hair from the beard of Mohammed), and the newly renovated Underground Prisoners Museum which commemorates Jewish resistance fighters imprisoned, and sometimes executed, by the British during the Mandate period.

Caesarea was King Herod the Great’s imposing port town, where Rome was honoured with temples, gladiators fought each other to the last, and games were played in celebration of the King and the empire. Later, Caesarea became a thriving Byzantine town, and then a Crusader conquest, each civilisation leaving its archaeological gems. For Christians Caesarea is of significance because of the stone tablet found near the amphitheater which is inscribed with the name Pontius Pilate, and dedicated to Tiberius Caesar who nominated him as procurator. Caesarea is also the place where the Apostle Paul was sent to stand trial, and as a Roman citizen demanded judgment in front of the Emperor. Your expert guide will tell the tales of this once centrally important place, while you enjoy the fresh sea air.

Day 8

Tour Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew city, and the contrasting ancient Jaffa

Tel Aviv and Jaffa

Ancient Jaffa and modern Tel Aviv are wonderful to tour together because of their contrasts. In Jaffa you will explore one of the most ancient ports in the world, replete with history from Biblical, ancient Egyptian, Roman, Napoleonic eras and more. Visiting Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv’s prettiest and oldest neighbourhood, you will hear the story of the city’s beginnings – how the first modern Hebrew city was moulded out of the barren sand dunes in an out-pouring of ideological vision and determination. You will make your way through the colourful and bustling Carmel Market, full of additional tasty treats! The very great variety of foods reflects the fact that Israel is an immigrant society with citizens who have come here from the four corners of the earth (please note the market is closed Friday afternoons and Saturdays). Continuing into more central Tel Aviv you will visit Rothschild Boulevard and Independence Hall (from the outside) where David Ben Gurion famously declared the independence of the modern State of Israel. You will note the various architectural styles of the buildings from eclectic to Bauhaus, and hear stories about the waves of immigration who designed and created these remarkable buildings. The Bauhaus buildings are internationally significant and Tel Aviv’s UNESCO world heritage status is thanks to them.

Day 9

Day at leisure, and then transfer to airport

Tel Aviv

Today is your final day in Israel. Check out of your hotel, and enjoy your remaining time in this extraordinary country, before your flight home. You will be transferred from your hotel in Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport in good time for your flight, in a comfortable air conditioned vehicle.

We hope that you will be leaving Israel with many special memories and that you will come back to visit us again soon.

I have fallen in love with this country all over again, not that it ever changed, but yesterday was a very powerful experience. Thank you

Karen S, London

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