Monday, May 4 Going up into the Land
Arrive in Israel to be met and assisted by your ITC representative (today’s program depends on arrival time) . Tour Old Jaffa, the ancient port city once known as Zion Gate from which Jonah tried to flee and where Solomon brought the Cedars of Lebanon on the way to Jerusalem. Today paintings and sculptures have been installed in its ancient alleys. Shekhiyanu-Welcome ceremony on top of Tel Jaffa overlooking modern Tel Aviv. Check-in to the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Tel Aviv's Mediterranean Coast. Welcome dinner at Maganda Yemenite Restaurant. Overnight: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Tel Aviv
Tuesday, May 5 – The Hebrew City and the Jewish State
Visit the Palmach Museum in Ramat Aviv to learn about the elite underground organization which played a critical role in the founding of the State of Israel. ITC Touch: Discover City of Sand and Sea, a mosaic fountain created by artist and writer Nachum Gutman portraying scenes from the history of Jaffa and Tel Aviv. Hear about the establishment of Tel Aviv standing at the Founders' Monument on Rothschild Boulevard. Then see the Bauhaus architecture for which central Tel Aviv was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the new Israel Innovation Center, located in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, to learn though its interactive exhibit about new advancements by Israeli Start-Ups in fields such as science, technology, medicine, security, aero-space and more. Lunch on your own and free time to explore the Nachalat Binyamin crafts fair and experience Tel Aviv's young lively spirit. While there checkout the nearby Carmel Market and bohemian Sheinkin Street – All Three of these Tel Aviv icons meet at the "Magen David Junction". Travel to Rehovot for a guided tour of the Ayalon Institute – An underground bullet factory used by Jewish forces before the founding of the State of Israel. Free time to swim in the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy beach side Promenade. Dinner on own. Overnight: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Tel Aviv
Wednesday, May 6 – Cradles of Jewish Civilization in the Galilee
Depart for northern Israel. Tour the ruins of Caesarea, including its Roman Theater, Promontory Palace, Hippodrome and Amphitheater. ITC Touch: Learn about a rabbinic debate over Jews attending gladiator games. Encounter with Rabbi Elisha Wolfin, the spiritual leader of the Ve'Ahavta Masorti (Conservative) Congregation in Zichron Yaakov. Lunch on own on Zichron Yaakov’s Pedestrian Mall. Zichron Yaakov is an early Zionisty pioneering community, founded in 1882. The Pedestrian Mall is in the center of the old “Moshava”. Tour mystical Tzfat's old synagogues and picturesque alleyways. Tzfat was the cradle of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) in the 16th century. Kabbalat Shabbat, Judaism's Friday night service and the hymn Lecha Dodi originated in Tzfat a that time. Check–in to the Kfar Blum Hotel on Kibbutz Kfar Blum in the Galilee Panhandle. Dinner at hotel
Thursday, May 7 – Ancient and Modern Geopolitics and Israel’s Finest
Walk in the lush Tel Dan Nature Reserve, one of the sources of the Jordan River, where you'll discover biblical intrigue and one of the oldest arches in the world. Lunch at Dag Al Hadan Restaurant on the Hatzbani River. Tour of the Golan Heights for a special perspective on Israel's complex geopolitics as we "look down at Israel" the way the Syrian army once did. Geopolitical briefing on top of Bental by Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Sarit Zehavi on the current situation along the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire lines in the Golan Heights.
Please choose one of the following two "touring and tasting" options. Both located on nearby Kibbutz Ein Zivan (Possibility of splitting the group): Chocolate making workshop at the De Karina Chocolate Factory. OR: Taste wines and liqueurs at the boutique Bahat Winery including wine tasting. BBQ dinner with young Israeli soldiers, who are giving some of the best years of their lives to the defense of Israel - Meet the human face of the Israeli army. Overnight: Kfar Blum
Friday, May 8 – Across Israel: A Multicultural Jewish Society
Discover Ethiopian Jewish culture at the Germachin Center in Beit Shean. Hear a personal account of this community's modern day Exodus story and about the challenges facing the Ethiopian Israeli community today. Lunch at Rozalia Restaurant in Beit Shean. Continue south through the Jordan Valley and ascend to Jerusalem. Shehekhianu ceremony to celebrate arriving in Jerusalem overlooking the Old City. Explore the bustling Machane Yehuda Market and take in a slice of local life as you see Jerusalemites prepare for Shabbat. On the way, see the nearby picturesque Nachalaot. Check-in to the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem. Free time to relax and prepare for Shabbat.
Saturday, 9 May – And on the Seventh Day…in Jerusalem
Shabbat morning services – TBD with Rabbi Sandler.. Traditional Shabbat lunch at hotel. Late afternoon walking tour to the historic Montefiore Windmill to discover the first neighbourhood built outside the walls of the Old City. AND/OR: Walking tour to First Temple period burial site at Ketef Hinnom – Where archaeologists discovered the oldest biblical text ever found. Havdalah with Rabbi Sandler. Dinner on own. Recommendation for the evening: Check out the First Station Cempound – Jerusalem's old Ottoman Train Station which has been converted into a restaurant-café area. Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem
Sunday, 10 May – The Old City of Jerusalem: An Ancient Jewish Legacy
Discover the archaeological story of the Western Wall and episodes of Jewish life in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago at Robinson's Arch and the Southern Wall Excavations, including a recent discovery connected to Chanukah. Visit the traditional prayer area of the Western Wall. Walk through the Western Wall Tunnels to discover underground Jerusalem. Lunch on own in the Jewish Quarter. Tour of the Jewish Quarter including the Cardo, Broad Wall and Rooftops, followed by free time to shop and explore on own. Guided tour of the new Hebrew Music Museum in downtown Jerusalem's Nachalat Shiva neighborhood to learn about the history of Jewish music from biblical times and through seven different regions of the Diaspora. Recommendation for the evening: Coffee and dessert at one of the cafés in adjacent Music Square and listen to an open air performance. Then check out the nearby Ben Yehuda Street Pedestrian Mall. Free evening. Dinner on own. Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem
Monday, 11 May – Holocaust, Remembrance and Continuity
Tour of Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial, including the Holocaust History Museum and Children’s Memorial. Lunch on own. See the world renown Chagall Windows at Hadassah Hospital. Meaningful visit to Mt. Herzl Cemetery to discover chapters in the history of Israel at the graves of Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir, Theodore Herzl and Hannah Senesch. Meeting with Rabbi Chaya Rowen-Becker at Ramot Zion Masorti Congregation in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood. Dinner on own in Jerusalem’s Mamilla neighborhood. Watch the Night Spectacular – Sound and light show at the Tower of David. Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem
Tuesday, 12 May – Masada and the Dead Sea: Freedom Fighters or Fanatics?
Set out early across the Judean Desert and ascend Masada by cable car to tour the ruins of Herod's palace and the last outpost of Jewish independence 2,000 years ago. Discussion: Which Jewish Legacy – Masada or Yavne? Who were our ancesters? What decision did they make? Swim in the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, at a local resort. The resort also has a fresh water pool and spa facilities. Massage and spa treatments available by prior reservation at own expense. Lunch at Dead Sea resort. Time permitting: Walk in Ein Gedi Nature Reserve opportunity to bath in waterfalls and hear how David hid there from King Saul. Free evening. Dinner on own. Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem
Wednesday, 13 May Geopolitical tour of Jerusalem
For an in depth view of key geopolitical issues impacting on the city beyond what you read in the newspapers. The tour will include a discussion of borders, building and settlement (Jewish and Arab) and Israel's security fence. Visit the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Shrine of the Book and the large scale Model of Ancient Jerusalem. Time permitting: Free time to explore additional exhibitions on own. Lunch on own Remainder of day free to explore on your own and get in last minute shopping. Late check out. Farewell Dinner at Olive and Fish Restaurant. Transfer to Ben Gurion Airport – See you again soon!
Thursday, 14 May – Arrive in USA
Begin planning your next Israel trip with Rabbi Sandler and ITC Tours!