Dec 10 (THUR)
Welcome to Israel! Upon arrival you will be transferred to a hotel in Tel-Aviv, get acclimated, and recover from the flights. If time and will permits we could have an evening stroll in the alleys of Jaffa, and set a nice welcome dinner.
Dec 11 (FRI)
Your first day in Israel will be a day tour of Jaffa and Tel-Aviv. Taking advantage of the friday markets, we will explore the Flea Market, the Carmel market, and the Nahalat Binyamin Arts and crafts market. We will also make sure to visit Jaffa and appreciate its major significance in Christian history.
Dec 12 (SAT)
Heading into the wilderness we will check out and sojourn into the desert! at Tel Arad we will appreciate the archaeological evidence illustrating the story of the Exodus. We will also review a unique Judahic temple that was abolished by King Hezekiah. In Beer-Sheva we will visit the Tamarisk tree said to be planted by Abraham, and have lunch.
We then have a long drive down to the red Sea. We will make one stop at the northern edge of the Ramon crater. We could also visit the local and upgraded visitors center, and possibly set some rappelling into the Crater.
Dec 13 (SUN)
If the border with Jordan will be open, an early start will get to have a full and exciting day of exploring Petra. The Capital of the Nabateans around the time of Jesus is exceptionally preserved and set in a beautiful colorful sandstone desert.
If the borders will still be closed because of the pandemic, we will devote the day to exploring the Red Sea. We could have a private sail combined with water sports, and snorkeling or scuba dive along the coral reef. We could drive up to the Eilat mountains for a view into the Sinai peninsula, and a hike in the “Red Canyon“.
Dec 14 (MON)
Heading north, we will make a stop at Timna park for a possible hike in the ancient copper mines and a guided tour of the replica of the tabernacle. Later we will also stop by the salt pillar known as “Lot’s wife“, and review the story and quest for Sodom and Gomorrah.
O/N: Dead Sea
Dec 15 (TUE)
An early start will get us to reach Masada before the crowds, and the heat. About 2000 years ago this rock plateau witnessed the suicide of 960 Jews, who favored death to Roman slavery. The wealth of remains, combined with the tragic story and the majestic landscapes make Masada one of the most spectacular destinations in Israel.
We then reach the northern edge of the Dead Sea, and review the natural caves in the area, where in the 1950s the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found. This treasure of manuscripts sheds much information on Judaism at the time of John the Baptist. In fact, many scholars believe he was a member of this community before practicing Baptism. Indeed, a short distance from the cave, east of Jericho, we will also stop for a view and possible body immersion at the Bpatism site of Jesus along the Jordan river.
Toward 16:00 we will reach Biblical Beit-Shean. This site was a Philistine camp in the days of King Saul. In the time of Jesus, it was a member of the Decapolis, and Jesus most likely passed through this city, perhaps even more then once.
Reaching the Magdala hotel we will check in and enjoy the new facility right by the Sea of Galilee, as well as the extraordinary discoveries made just next to the hotel.
O/N: Magdala Hotel
Dec 16 (WED)
A day devoted to Holy Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee will start with a visit to Capernaum, the anchor of Jesus’ ministry around the lake. We will review the rich archaeological finds at the site, and their relevance to Jesus and the early church.
The hill above is known as “Mount of the Beatitudes“, the site of the “Sermon on the Mount”. We could have a spiritual session reading and contemplating on the revolutionary messages presented here by Jesus.
Next we will cross the Jordan river, and have lunch in the fish restaurant of Kibbutz Ein-Gev. We will then hike up the Roman city of Hippos-Sussita and learn about the Swine miracle and the Decapolis in the time of Jesus.
We will end the day with a sail across the Sea of Galilee to Ginosar, where will see the display of a 2,000 year old boat found on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
O/N: Magdala Hotel
Dec 17 (THUR)
Heading up to the northern edge of Israel we will visit Caesarea-Philipi, where Jesus announced on Simon-Yona as his prime disciple and changing his name to “Peter”. Next we will ascend the Golan heights to the border with Syria, where we will have an off-road tour along the Syrian border with a local expert guide, learning about the geo-politics of the region in the 20th century.
For lunch we will go to a Druze village and dine at the home of Naseeba, a local feminist, entrepreneur, and great chef!
After lunch we could drive to Kibbutz ein-Zivan and let the kids join a Chocolate workshop. Alternatively, we could drive down to the Sea of Galilee and hike with the kids in the streams of the Majrasa.
O/N: Magdala Hotel
Dec 18 (FRI)
A day devoted to more sites of the New testament will start with a visit to Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine. We could also set a ceremony of renewal of vows before driving into Nazareth. Getting off next to the local spring (“Mary’s well“) we will stroll through the old city of Nazareth to the giant complex of the “Church of Annunciation“.
For lunch we will go the BEST kabab restaurant in Israel, and later drive up to the Mount of Precipice, for some amazing panoramas of the Jezreel valley. Next we will drive to Nain, where Jesus raised a child from the Dead, and end with a climb to Mount Tabor, known also as the Mount of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
O/N: Magdala Hotel
Dec 19 (SAT)
On the last day around the Sea of Galilee we will have an optional early morning hike down from the Arbel cliffs down to the hotel, and after a late breakfast, we will check out and head to the upper Galiee. In Peki’in we will wonder in the alleys of the village and learn about the unique Jewish history and presence at the site.
Next we will reach the north-Western corner of Israel that borders Lebanon right by the Mediterranean and take the cable car down into the Rosh Hanikrah grottoes.
Dec 20 (SUN)
This day will be devoted mostly to the medieval capital of the Crusaders – Akko. We will explore the huge halls of the Hospitallers (The “knights halls“), stroll through the colorful local market, visit the grand size Al Jazzar mosuqe, and at the port go for an extreme speed boat ride around the walls of the old city.
After lunch we will continue exploring the old city, including a unique synagogue famous for its mosaics covering its floors, walls and ceiling. We will return to Haifa and possibly join a tour along the Bahai Terraced Gardens. We can also visit the “Stella Maris” complex, said to be where Elijah hid after confronting and slaying the Ba’al prophets on the Carmel.
Dec 21 (MON)
We start with a drive up the Carmel, to the “Muhraka“. Here, by local tradition, Elijah battled against pagan worship introduced by Jezebel. The site also provides stunning panoramas of the Mediterranean coast and the Jezreel valley.
Next we cross the Carmel and pass by a 2000 year old tomb with a big round stone at its entrance. This tomb is possibly similar to the one where Jesus was buried in Jerusalem.
After a lunch break, we will reach Megiddo. This significant site in Canaanite and Israelite times bears a wealth of finds from both periods. Yet for the Christian world Megiddo is famous for being equated with “Armageddon”. Here, according the book of the Apoclypse, a major battle will take place at the end of times.
We then drive to Caesarea Maritima. Here, by the shores of the Mediterranean, King Herod established a Roman metropolis. Caesarea was a major site also in the following periods, but after the explosion of the Crusaders it was abandoned. Its remains were covered by sand, and only massive archaeological work uncovered it remains. Caesarea is also a major site for the Christian world. Here Peter baptized the first non Jew into Christianity, and here Paul may have written some of his epistles.
In the evening we will reach Jerusalem and greet it from the Mount Scopus viewpoint.
Dec 22 (TUE)
On our first day in Jerusalem we will explore its highlights in and around the Old City. We will start with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This site marks by Christian tradition the very place of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. Next we will walk through the “stations of the Cross” (VIA DOLOROSA) which are intertwined with the local bazar (suq).
After a lunch break, we will reach the famous Western Wall. Absorbing the sanctity of the site we will continue into the Jewish Quarter and sample some its sites – The Cardo, the Hurvah synagogue, the Herodian Quarter, and more.
Dec 23 (WED)
An early start will get us into the Temple Mount ahead of the crowds. We will learn about the impressive Muslim architecture that is visible on the site, and how yet one can still trace remains of the Jewish Temple that once stood here.
After a group photo by the Dome of the Rock, we continue down to the “City of David“, where the earliest remains of Biblical Jerusalem are known. We will review the possible remains of King David’s palace, and continue underground to walk from the Gihon Spring through the subterranean water tunnels of the city in Antiquity (The “Canaanite tunnel” or “Hezekiah’s tunnel“).
Upon reaching the Pool of Siloam we we will return to the Bus, and drive up to Mount Zion for a lunch break, and later visit the sites related to the Last Supper (the cenacle), the rest place of Mary, combined with the site of the Pentacost (Dormition Abbey), the possible first century Church, the Tomb mark of King David, and the site of Jesus interrogation by the High priest and Peter’s denial of him (Petrus in gallicantu).
Dec 24 (THUR)
Zooming out of the Jerusalem, today we will be focusing on the Judean Foothills, the Shephelah. We will start with a stop at Emmaus, the possible site where Jesus appeared after his resurrection. We will continue to Biblical Beth-Shemesh, and view a new sensational discovery of possibly where the ark was kept after its return from Philistine captivity. We will also contemplate on Samson’s deadly intrigues that took place in this region, and then reach the site of the battle between David and Goliath.
We will end the day with a tour of Lachish, the second biggest city in the Judean Kingdom which was devastated by the Assyrian assault in 701 BCE.
Dec 25 (FRI)
Assuming the borders will be open, Christmas day will be devoted to visiting Bethlehem. With your Palestinian guide you will drive to the heart of the city, and taken into the Church of Nativity, whose apse is said to be right on top of the birthplace of Jesus. Nearby you will be drive to the Shepherds’ field. From here, according the Matthew the shepherds heard of the newborn and cam to adore him.
On your return we will drive to the site of Herodium. Here, some 2000 years ago King Herod designed a mighty desert fortified palace complex. Eventually he was also buried at the site. In 2008 a royal tomb complex was discovered at the site, which attracts many visitors to this day.
In the evening, if you wish, you could walk to the Western Wall plaza to watch the special and festive prayers and dances in front of the wall. If you wish, we can also arrange a special Friday evening dinner experience with a Jewish religious family.
Dec 26 (SAT)
The last day in Jerusalem can be left for some free time and shopping. For those who want we can also set a special off-road tour in the mountains of Jerusalem.
One option is an off-road tour into the Judean Desert. We will reach the mount of Azazel, and later the stunning viewpoint of Mar Saba monastery. We will continue to the site of the Good Samaritan inn, and end at the beautiful viewpoint of Saint George monastery.
Another option is an off-road tour in the Shephelah. We will drive along parts of the “Burma Road” lane that enabled providing vital supplies to Jerusalem in 1948. Next we will drive along the “Sculptures road” to Tel Tsorah, the traditional burial site of Samson and his father. Crossing the Shephelah we pass by Lachish and then navigate our way to Khirbet beit loya. By the tradition of the Latter-day Saints communities, this is the estate of priest Lehi.
Dec 27 (SUN)
In the morning you will join the Sunday session at the Brigham Young University on Mount Scopus. Later we will drive to the great panoramic viewpoint of Mount of Olives, and after a possible camel ride we will visit two Holy Christian site nearby – the church of Pater Noster, where Jesus introduced the “Lord’s prayer”, and the Chapel of the ascension, believed to be where Jesus returned to the heavens. As we walk down the Mount of Olives we could visit the huge Jewish cemetery on the slopes of the Mountain and learn about Jewish Burial costumes and messianic beliefs. At the foothill of the mountain we will visit the Garden of Gethsemane, and across the road we could go for some concluding words at the Orson Hyde memorial garden. As we head back to the hotel, we will drive through the Arab and Ultra-orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem and learn how this complicated city co-exist.
In the evening we could have a farewell dinner, and start packing for your departure the next day.
Dec 28 (MON)
Morning transfer to the airport for departure.
FAREWELL AND GOD BLESS YOU!!