Price range
From $5600 per person
Upcoming Date
31-09 November 2022
Tour Time
10 Days (Inc. Arv./Dpt.)

 

If you dig beneath the surface of Israeli life you will find a new spirit alive in the country.  It is the spirit of young and old, drawing on ancient roots and a very Israeli willingness to improvise, daring to re-invent what it means to be Jewish in the land of Israel.  Join us as we set off on a Fall 2022 adventure of all five senses that will take us back to the time of Abraham and catapult us forward into the 21st Century. We will meet poets and politicians, artists and musicians, archeologists and writers, kabbalists and theologians, thought leaders and community activists, who are creating a new reality in our ancient homeland.  Co-Sponsored by Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program, Congregation B’nai Israel & Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County.

Highlights

Desert culinary experience under the stars
CSP scholars & friends joining to take us on adventures. Including Shirel Horovitz, David Mendelsohn and more
Local activists, artists and musicians to show us the best of Israel
Single supplement - $2000

Itinerary

1 - Monday (October 31) : Shalom and Welcome!

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Activities:

  • Optional activities for pre arrivals - If you choose to arrive earlier - contact us directly for optional tours and activities.

  • 2:00 PM - Arrival at Ben Gurion airport - Our representative will be on hand to assist with all formalities and ensure your journey has the smoothest of starts.

  • Shehecheyanu in the Bravdo Family Vineyards - Welcome to Israel! Enjoy a glass of delicious Israeli wine and bless Shehecheyanu in the Bravdo Family Vineyards, served with gorgeous basket of breads, dips and cheeses.

  • 3:00 PM Check-in at Kedma Hotel

  • Meet and greet at the hotel

  • Welcome dinner at the hotel with a special guest, Dr. David Mendelsohn - Dr. David Mendelsohn - An expert in Islamic Studies, History and Culture of Arabs with Israeli Citizenship, Bedouin Law and the relationship between language and culture in Arabic and Hebrew. David’s current research examines the influence of Hebrew on the dialects of Arabic spoken in Israel. He holds advanced degrees in diverse fields: a Ph.D. Classics / Linguistics, an M.A. in Archaeology / Linguistics and an Honours B.A. in Classical Studies. David is the recipient of one of Canada’s highest academic honors, The $200,000 Trudeau Prize and a world class Judo Gold Medal winner. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife Roni and 3 children.

  • Kedma hotel - Located in Sde Boker, walking distance from the desert home of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, this Nabatean khan-style hotel offers a unique Negev-inspired hospitality experience in the perfect tranquil base for local excursions. The hotel's 163 warm and welcoming rooms and suites have been built around an expansive open-air courtyard that hosts a serene pool surrounded by luscious fruit trees and beautiful plants. This layout, that recalls days past, blends seamlessly with the surrounding scenery, and offers endless opportunities for rest and relaxation within the grounds' many quiet corners. Desert-inspired shapes, materials, and colors were used to create this hotel in the traditional Nabatean style. The curved walls appear to have been sculpted by the wind, and the high-ceilinged lobby is flooded with natural light. Situated along the ancient Spice Route once used by Nabatean merchants to transport their wares, Kedma is the ideal location from which to explore magnificent natural landscapes.

Overnight: Kedma hotel
Meal Plan: dinner, Light snack at Bravdo

2 - Tuesday (November 1) : DESERT DREAMS AND REALITY: THE NEGEV

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The Negev Desert makes up more than half of Israel’s land area and supports a fraction of the population. The largest city of Be’er Sheva is your gateway, and charming settlements and kibbutzim dot the landscape on your way to Eilat and the Red Sea. From the Mediterranean coast, dunes and sandy plains give way to plateaus, etched canyons, craggy mountains, and otherworldly craters. The Negev is a continuation of the Sinai Desert of Egypt; from Israel to the southwest, the land ripples uninterrupted towards the Sinai high ranges. To the southeast, it yields to the Arava valley, the great rift that cascades north, down to the Dead Sea, and east into Jordan. From the southern and eastern Negev, it is easy to admire the Moav and Edom mountains beyond the border. This expanse of desert holds secrets in animal and water, stone and sun. Come wander the trails and sink into a pace of life that reflects the land: patient, colorful, and austere.

6:02 a.m. Sunrise

Activities:

  • Breakfast at the hotel - Every morning you will enjoy a delicious Israeli buffet breakfast.

  • Travel to Avdat the ancient Nabatean City - Introduction to the role and significance of Israeli Archaeology by Dr. David Mendelsohn.

  • Nabataean City of Avdat - Dominating the surrounding desert, the beautifully preserved ancient Nabataean city of Avdat served as a caravan stop on the road from Petra to the Mediterranean. Highlights include a Roman bathhouse, catacombs, several 4th-century churches, a pottery workshop and a Byzantine wine press. Named after the Nabataean monarch Obada, Avdat – 650m above sea level – was founded in the 3rd century BCE. Prosperous throughout the Byzantine period, the city was deserted following an earthquake in 630 CE and the Muslim takeover of the Negev six years later.

  • Kornhmeil farm - Group lunch at Kornmehl Goat Cheese Farm - Situated among magical views of the desert hills, the Kornmehl farm faces remnants of terraces belonging to an ancient farm from the Middle Bronze period (3000-4000 BCE). The Kornmehl’s place emphasis on keeping traditional values of cheese making, while adapting them to the local environment, creates cheeses that are personal interpretations of famous French varieties from their antibiotic and hormone free goats who live in excellent conditions with good food.

  • Sde Boker Grave of Ben Gurion - The Old Man and the Desert: Visit the grave of Israel's “founding father”, David Ben-Gurion at Kibbutz Sde Boker. With the help of David Mendelsohn, we’ll explore ben Gurion’s vision for Israel vis a vis where Israel is in the 21st Century and discuss why Ben-Gurion, the “Grand Old Man” of Israel’s public life and the country’s first Prime Minister, abandoned the political scene for life on an isolated kibbutz in the desert. Program will include a viewing of the documentary “Epilogue” at the Ben Gurion Archives.

  • 4:50 p.m. Sunset

  • Festive dinner under the stars with live music

  • Isrotel Kedma Hotel

Overnight: Isrotel Kedma Hotel
Meal Plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner

3 - Wednesday (November 2) : A SPECTACULAR DAY IN THE RAMON CRATER...

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Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Option 1 - Jeep Tour - Take a Jeep Tour and explore the geological wonders of the Ramon Crater.

  • Option 2 - Hiking through the Ramon Crater - Spend the day hiking through the Crater, starting from Mitzpe Ramon. Amazing rocks, landscape, geology- a really fun hike. Getting picked up at the end of the day and go back to the hotel. 11-13 miles, depending where we decide to stop. Moderate.

  • Option 4 - Ma'ayan Hane'urim - Founded by Tchiya and Dudu - a couple following their dream, this is an oasis in the desert with olive groves, an artificial pond and a true place of relaxation for body and soul. Enjoy a relaxed morning with light snacks and beer.

  • All tracks met a the Ma'ayan Hane'urim for an afternoon relax and light lunch

  • Ayalim Village - Visit Ayalim Village at Ashalim and meet Ayalim students. Ayalim connects the young generation to Zionism, Jewish Identity, pioneering, community life and social involvement. In Exchange for a scholarship and low-cost rent, the students volunteer over 300 yearly hours in different educational frameworks as well as pioneering work in Israel’s less populated and under-developed areas.

  • Kerem Eshkolot - Eshkolot Orchard established in 2009 by the Marom family is planted with olives, a vineyard and the Seven Species. Tour the orchard with a focus on the Seven Species and Jewish Halachic traditions in agriculture. Enjoy a dinner inspired by the Seven species

  • Late night: Stargazing in the desert - Take advantage of the low light pollution and see the plethora of stars and planets from Israel’s strongest portable telescopes. The Makhtesh Ramon is the world's largest erosion crater. Hiking, biking off road and other adventure activities are on offer, as is stargazing above the crater, and wildlife spotting. The Makhtesh is a meeting point for animals from the African savannah, Arabian desert and Mediterranean such as wild asses, Nubian ibex, Dorcas gazelles and Arabian leopards.

  • Isrotel Kedma Hotel

Overnight: Isrotel Kedma Hotel
Meal Plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner

4 - Thursday (November 3) : HEADING NORTH TO JERUSALEM...

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“JERUSALEM IS A PORT CITY ON THE SHORE OF ETERNITY.” YEHUDA AMICHAI

6:06 a.m. Sunrise.

Activities:

  • Optional: Sunrise Hike

  • Breakfast & check-out from hotel

  • Atid Bamidbar - Visit to Yerucham (CSP’s sister city) where we will meet with Debby Golan, director of Atid Bamidbar, as well as some of the most interesting residents of this unique development town.

  • Lunch with The Culinary Queens of Yerucham - The Culinary Queens of Yerucham is a social project in which women host Yerucham visitors in their homes for an unforgettable experience of smells, colors and flavors. You are invited to a meal of ethnic delicacies with home hospitality and stories from the community, accompanied by the organization's facilitators, for a rich human, cultural and culinary experience. As one of the of the first development towns established in the early 1950s, Yerucham began as a transit camp for new immigrants coming from Romania, North Africa, India and Iran. Geographically isolated for decades, the town had suffered over the years from economic stagnation and limited opportunities for social mobility. Yet in addition to the history of hardship, there is another narrative that the women tell, and that is the story of resilience and their many efforts to create a better life for subsequent generations.

  • Beer Sheva Optional Tours - After lunch visit to Be’er Sheva (בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע, “B7”), the unofficial capital of the Negev. At Beer-Sheva, the summers are long, hot, humid, arid, and clear and the winters are cold and mostly clear. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 45°F to 91°F and is rarely below 39°F or above 95° - average expected temperature when we visit is 78 degrees with lows in the high-50s.

  • Divide to two groups to explore the city through different lenses

  • Option 1: Naftali Aklum - Meet Naftali Aklum, an Ethiopian activist who was born in Ethiopia in 1979, the youngest of 12 siblings. His brother Ferede Aklum z”l was determined to reach Jerusalem and set out from Ethiopia in 1978 on a long, dangerous trek through the desert, ultimately reaching Sudan. Naftali reached Israel with his family in 1980, at age one, thus fulfilling a dream that had been kept alive for 2,500 years. Hear his story and that of the Ethiopian Aliyah

  • Option 2: Eretz Ir - Eretz-Ir (Country, City) is an Israeli nonprofit dedicated to creating cities with involved residents who take personal and collective responsibility for creating solutions to local challenges. This results in strong community life, a safe and inviting urban sphere and diverse economic opportunities.

  • Overlook Jerusalem - Travel to Jerusalem, stop at overlook of the Old and New City of Jerusalem and the traditional “shehechiyanu” blessing. Jerusalem has a Mediterranean climate that is mild with dry, hot summers and moderate seasonality - average expected temperature when we arrive 67 degrees with lows in the mid-50s (remember to pack warm clothes for the cool evenings).

  • Check-in to your hotel

  • 4:48 PM. Sunset.

  • Group dinner at Hatzot restaurant

  • Optional: 'Shtisel' Tour - A taste of the Ultra-Orthodox world-walk the streets of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, get to know the people, the food, and feel the vibrations of this life. On a busy Thursday night, when people are preparing for Shabbat, gain a more complex appreciation for the people by listening to their music, visiting synagogues, various institutions, seeing unique leisure, fashion, and art this world encompasses, and, of course by eating freshly baked challah.
    Extra cost: $80 per person (based on a minimum of 10 guests)

  • Orient Jerusalem - The Orient Jerusalem hotel, part of the Isrotel Exclusive Collection, is nestled at the heart of the German Colony, walking distance from countless cultural, tourist, and historic attractions: the First Station, Liberty Bell Park, and Mishkenot Sha'ananim, as well as charming boutiques and bistros. The Old City and the Western Wall is just 2 miles away. Guests can unwind in the rooftop pool overlooking iconic landmarks, or the indoor pool on the spa level, near the gym, saunas, and Turkish hamam. The spa also presents pampering Carmel Forest Spa treatments. The Orient Jerusalem's breakfast menu provides a unique culinary experience inspired by the city's neighborhoods and surroundings.

Overnight: Orient Jerusalem
Meal Plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner

5 - Friday (November 4) : JERUSALEM: A FOCAL POINT OF EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY CREATIVITY – YESTERDAY AND TODAY

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6:06 AM Sunrise

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Morning options:

  • Option 1 - Explore the Jerusalem Archeological Park - Explore the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, including the Davidson Center, Robinson's Arch and the Southern Wall steps where Jewish pilgrims entered the Temple Mount 2,000 years ago followed by walking tour through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, for visits to archaeological treasures and other highlights, among them: The Cardo, the main street of Jerusalem in the 6th century. King Hezekiah’s First Temple-period “Broad Wall”. Hurva Square, the central square of the Jewish Quarter. A walk along the Rooftops of the Old City for a behind-thescenes look at the various communities in Jerusalem and how they live alongside each other. *Recommended for first time visitors to Israel

  • Option 2 - City of David - Where it All Began - VIP visit to the City of David, to explore the excavations at the very core of ancient Jerusalem. The original inhabitants of Jerusalem lived not on the site of today’s Old City, but on a narrow ridge descending south from the present Temple Mount. The site possessed the natural defenses of the Hinnom valley to the south, the Kidron Valley to the east, and the Tyropoeon Valley (now largely filled in by the debris of centuries) to the west. And it had fresh water from the Gihon Spring gushing at its foot. Besides David and his son Solomon, this would have been the stamping ground of kings Hezekiah and Josiah and the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.You will continue your tour by walking the streets of Second Temple Jerusalem on recently revealed sites. Be amazed by the excavation in the Central (Tyropoeon) Valley where you will walk through a section of the Second Temple period drainage channel to the highlight of the tour--the monumental foundations' stones of the Western Wall at the foot of the Temple Mount. From there we will climb and exit onto the magnificent road where the Jewish pilgrims walked, two thousand years ago.

  • Option 3 - Christian Jerusalem guided by an expert - Explore Christian East Jerusalem through visits with Christian personalities and institutions with Hana Bendcowsky, Director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish Christian Relations. Hana holds an M.A. degree in Comparative Religions from Hebrew University and has 20 years of practical experience in interfaith activities in Israel and abroad. She teaches in varied institutions, colleges, academic programs and Christian seminaries, including the IDF, governmental offices and institutions. She also works as a tour educator in Jerusalem. Her expertise is the Christian Communities in Israel and Jewish-Christian Relations in the Israeli context.

  • Option 4 - Culinary Food Tour of the Old City - Culinary tour of the old city with Nurit (Nura) Hertz. We’ll be eating and tasting from beginning to end, so please come hungry.

  • Lunch on own and free time

  • Return to the hotel, free time and prepare for Shabbat - Check out the pre-Shabbat happenings at the Tachnah Ha Rishonah right near our hotel). Jerusalem’s First Station, or Tachana Rishona in Hebrew, has become a modern center of culture in recent years, with shopping, restaurants, shows, and more. But the station itself has a long history that dates back to the 1800s. The First Station is located at the end of Emek Rafaim Street, a main boulevard in the city full of cafes and shops. This converted railway station is a great destination if you’re looking to relax and get a taste of modern Jerusalem.

  • 4:06 PM. Candle lighting (4:43 PM Sunset)

  • Shabbat service with a local community - At Shirah Hadasha, a congregation in Jerusalem, founded in 2002 by a group of local residents, including Tova Hartman, with the purpose of creating a religious community that embraces a commitment to halakha, tefillah and feminism in response to the growing need of many religious women and men to readdress the role of women in the synagogue. The congregation combines a traditional liturgy with certain prayer leadership opportunities for women, including Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday nights; and Pesukei DeZimra, removing and replacing the Torah in the Ark, and Torah reading on Saturday mornings. A mechitza separating men and women runs down the middle of the room. Parts of the service requiring a minyan do not begin until both 10 men and 10 women are present. Shira Hadasha's prayer service format has been copied by around 20 congregations in Israel, the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. A number of Orthodox rabbis have publicly disagreed with Shira Hadasha's mode of worship. Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, chief rabbi of Ramat Gan and a prominent religious Zionist rabbi, has ruled that “people should not pray in this synagogue.” Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba has stated that “anyone who is truly God-fearing will not join in such a minyan since this is how the breaking of Jewish tradition begins…

  • Shabbat group dinner at hotel with a Joe Schonwald - Schonwald involved in Israel’s amazing NGO scene as well as “Lone Soldiers”. Joe Schonwlad, a former Conservative Rabbi educated in Israel at the Diaspora Yeshiva, has headed a family foundation in Jerusalem for 25 years. He is the unofficial “mayor of Baka” in that he knows everyone and is a leader in the NGO sphere. He has focused on hunger and the Jewish community around the world. In the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), a lone soldier (Hebrew: חַיָּל בּוֹדֵד‎, Ḥayal Boded) is defined as a serviceman or woman without immediate family in Israel. Lone soldiers serve in regular units and receive various forms of support from the IDF, Israeli government ministries and other organizations. Their exact number fluctuates over time but is consistently in the thousands; the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported in April 2012, that there were an "estimated 5,000". About 40% of them serve in combat units. They are generally either non-Israelis of Jewish background volunteering under the Mahal or Tzofim Garin Tzabar programmes, or immigrants under the Law of Return, although other possibilities exist (e.g. orphaned natives). According to an IDF spokeswoman, 8,217 personnel born outside Israel enlisted between 2009 and August 2012. The most represented countries of origin were Russia and the United States, with 1,685 and 1,661 recruits respectively.

  • Orient Jerusalem

Overnight: Orient Jerusalem
Meal Plan: breakfast, dinner

6 - Saturday (November 5) : SHABBAT IN THE CITY OF PEACE... PARSHAT YAYERA

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6:06 AM Sunrise

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Morning choices:

  • Option 1 - Morning at leisure to spend with friends/family

  • Option 2 - Rest and enjoy the hotel facilities

  • Option 3 - Enjoy Shabbat morning services (including Kehillat Zion, Sod Siach, Raz’ Minyan, Maayanot, Shir Hadash, Yakar, Yedidya, Shira Hadasha)

  • Option 4 - On own - Israel museum - Visit (on your own) one of these major Jerusalem museums - Israel museum, The Museum of Islamic Art or Bible Lands Museum.

  • 12:30 PM - Shabbat lunch at the hotel with Bob Rosenschein - An American-Israeli internet entrepreneur and other special guests in “Start-Up Nation”. He was founder, Chairman and CEO of Answers.com, formerly GuruNet, until May 2011, when it was bought by Summit Partner's AFCV Holdings for $127 million. His latest startup was Curiyo.

  • Afternoon options:

  • Option 1 - Rest and enjoy the hotel amenities

  • Option 2 - Walking Tour - Jerusalem Beyond the Old City Walls - Walking Tour - Jerusalem Beyond the Old City Walls: Travel back in time to hear the stories about the development and expansion of the city outside the Old City walls, stopping at milestones such as the King David Hotel, the Yemin Moshe and Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhoods, and famous houses in Talbiya and Rechavia. Highly recommended for first time visitors to Israel.

  • 5:21 PM Shabbat ends (Sunset is 4:42 PM)

  • Havdallah ceremony - outdoors in Mishkenot Sha'ananim

  • Free evening for dinner - German Colony or along Ben Yehudah Pedestrian Mall. Ben Yehuda wakes up on Saturday night with an exaggerated burst of energy after the Sabbath peace of closed shops and suspended bus service and then, according to many, ''It's the only place that's alive.'' People-watchers tend to go for the outdoor tables along Ben Yehuda, but there's plenty of room inside the cafes. The interiors are streamlined, their chrome and glass more up-to-date and sumptuous than one might expect in these old stone buildings. Prices are never low in Jerusalem, unless you're eating falafel from a stand in the market, so it should come as no surprise that the urbane clientele is well-dressed, well-groomed and self-possessed. Twenty years ago, it was easy to tell the difference between Israelis and Americans; today, with clothing and hair design gone international, until one is within hearing range of fast-moving Hebrew, one can only guess.

  • Late night option {extra cost} - Art tour in Machane Yehudah - Machane Yehuda at night is a whole different story. After all the shop owners close down, A new, young alternative Machane Yehuda comes to live. Come with us to find out who’s responsible for the new graffiti paintings appearing every night on the shops’ shields. We will take you to see some of the most impressing street art the market has to offer in all kinds of corners. In between we will visit a few bars that are the heart of the new and improved night life scene in Machane Yehuda market and taste different kinds of popular Israeli drinks to make sure everyone gets the night market vibe.

  • Orient Jerusalem

Overnight: Orient Jerusalem
Meal Plan: breakfast, lunch

7 - Sunday (November 6) : CONFRONTING JEWISH SOVEREIGNTY – RELIGION AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN A JEWISH STATE

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6:07 AM Sunrise

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Meet with Haredi IDF soldiers at hotel - Learn about the challenges they face both at home and in the army. Ultra-Orthodox men do not, as a general rule, serve in the IDF. The ultra-Orthodox community has relied on what is called the “status quo agreement,” struck before the founding of the State between the religious and secular factions within the Zionist movement. The Nahal Haredi program was developed in 1999 by a group of rabbis in cooperation with the IDF and the Ministry of Defense. It is an attempt to solve the problem of dropouts from ultra-Orthodox (haredi) yeshivot, and at the same time act as the haredi community’s contribution to the IDF, thus alleviating some societal pressure to have all ultra-Orthodox men serve. Haredi men who prove unsuited to the life of study in a yeshivah are sent to serve in specially designed units in the IDF. These units cater to the specific needs of ultra-Orthodox soldiers, maintaining cultural and religious standards (no contact with women, Shabbat observance) and offering some help in adapting to life in larger society (e.g., completing high school equivalency). The ultra-Orthodox public has expressed some dismay over the existence of this unit, however, the unit continues to draw new recruits.

  • Morning options:

  • Option 1 - Yad Vashem private tour - Israel’s largest Holocaust memorial, set on the slopes of the Mount of Remembrance on the edge of Jerusalem. Yad Vashem is dedicated to preserving the memory of the dead; honoring Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors and Gentiles who selflessly aided Jews in need; and researching the phenomenon of the Holocaust in particular and genocide in general, with the aim of avoiding such events in the future. *Recommended for first time visitors to Israel.

  • Option 2 - Israel museum - Visual Identities - tour of the Israel Museum with Shirel Horowitz. From its architecture and its location, and all the way to the art exhibits is one of the most fascinating places to explore the meeting points of Jewish-Israeli, religious-secular, and national-international identities. During this tour we’ll explore in-depth both the Jewish Art and Life wing and the permanent Israeli collection to shed new light on these issues and more. It’s an opportunity to encounter one of the most beautiful museums in the world, amazing artwork, and engage in complex questions about identity.

  • Option 3 - The Other Jerusalem - Walking tour of Arab East Jerusalem with David Mendelsohn. Jerusalem’s Old City is divided into four quarters - the Christian, Jewish, Armenian and Muslim Quarters. The Muslim Quarter lies in the northeastern corner of the Old City and covers 77 acres. It is the largest of the four quarters and the most populated with approximately 22,000 predominantly Muslim residents. Three of the Old City’s gates in the surrounding city walls open up to the Muslim Quarter, they are the Damascus Gate (1542); Herod’s Gate (Flower Gate) and Lions’ Gate (St. Stephen’s Gate). The Golden Gate is a sealed gate that leads directly to Temple Mount.

  • Lunch on your own – in Machne Yehuda

  • Afternoon program options:

  • Option 1 - The Six Days that Changed Jerusalem: Ammunition Hill - Re-live the battle that shaped modern Jerusalem and explore the lives of the IDF soldiers who fought and died in it. In June 1967, one of the bloodiest and most important encounters of the Six-Day War took place at Ammunition Hill. We’ll visit the battleground, pay tribute to the soldiers who fell here, and understand how the IDF’s victory at Ammunition Hill paved the way for the reunification of Jerusalem. Our tour will be led by Alon Wald, whose father Rami died during the battle for Ammunition Hill.

  • Option 2 - The Western Wall Tunnels - Explore what’s under the Kotel through the Kotel Tunnels Tour. The Western Wall is impressive, but its greatness is truly discovered when you descend underground to the Western Wall Tunnels. The tunnels run along approximately 488 meters (1601ft) of the Western Wall, giving visitors a taste for the challenge that stood before Herod the Great during this biggest of all his immense building projects - the expansion of the Temple Mount.

  • Option 3 - Mekudeshet - Join Shirel for a visit to Mekudeshet, an award-winning, cultural organization that creates original art and music to reimagine Jerusalem from a center of conflict into a laboratory for connection between people of all kinds. Their signature project is an annual, city-specific culture festival that commissions artists of diverse disciplines and backgrounds to grapple with the world’s most sensitive city, producing new work from deep within Jerusalem’s complex reality. Mekudeshet’s creative team reflects the range of Jerusalem’s communities, giving us deep and organic connections to the ground. Ultimately, Mekudeshet creations encourage participants to engage with one another, confront their own blind spots, and appreciate the humanity of those who are different. Three years ago, this amazing venture took another step and decided to create a home for all this wonder and creativity - Feel Beit. They write: “On the superfluous line between what exists and what should exist, in the no-man’s land between carnival and routine, in the space between potential and reality, we are giving the stage to an alternative reality. We are opening a contemporary Jerusalem club. We took an empty space in Taverna that was never opened up, we filled it with soul and turned it into a home. A tavern for our chosen reality.”

  • 4:45 PM Sunset.

  • Dinner at Mekudeshet with some amazing Israeli musicians

  • Late night bike ride in Jerusalem (Extra cost applies) - This tour features a bike ride on the classical route of the Armon Hanatziv Promenade. The tour enables an eagle eye view on the Old City, Mount Scopus, the Mount of Olives and downtown Jerusalem.

  • Jerusalem: Orient Hotel

Overnight: Jerusalem: Orient Hotel
Meal Plan: breakfast, dinner

8 - Monday (November 7) : Diving deep into the politics of the land and soaking up the past

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6:08 AM Sunrise

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Morning tracks:

  • Option 1 - Wine Tasting Adventure - Join us for the day as we trace the Israeli grape from biblical times to present trends, while enjoying a day in the “Tuscany” of Israel. We will peek into local boutique wineries, meeting boutique winemakers to learn about the nuances of Israeli wine production and flavors. Israeli cheese, bread, olives and other tasty treats will accompany each wine tasting, and, time permitting, we will enjoy a beer sampling at a microbrewery.

  • Option 2 - Masada & the Dead Sea - Pack bathing suits, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and towels for a day of adventure in and around the Dead Sea. Ascend by cable-car or walk up the Snake Path to Masada, Herod’s mountain palace and the site of the Jewish Zealots’ last stand against the Roman legionnaires. Discuss Masada’s role as a symbol of Jewish defense and its current significance in modern Israel. Text study atop Masada: Elazar Ben Yair and the Zealots of Masada & Yochanan Ben Zakai and the Rabbis of Yavneh.
    Experience sense of weightlessness as you float in the super-saline Dead Sea. *Recommended for first time visitors to Israel

  • Option 3 - Hebron : A Tale of Two Cities - Head deeper into the Judean Hills, arriving in Area H2, the Israeli controlled part of Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank. We will tour the city, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and talk with representatives of the Jewish community about why they live in this religiously important and conflict-ridden city. Meet with local residents for an overview of Jewish life in Hebron and the relationship of Israelis with their Palestinian neighbors.
    In addition, meet and experience local artisans making the famous Dibs (grape molasses) and Kishek (Yogurt stone) in Hebron.

  • Lunch on own

  • Free evening and dinner on own in Jerusalem

  • Jerusalem: Orient Hotel

Overnight: Jerusalem: Orient Hotel
Meal Plan: breakfast

9 - Tuesday (November 8) : Ve'ahavta Lo Kamocha - Minorities in A Jewish State

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Activities:

  • Breakfast & check-out from hotel

  • Religious pluralism program at the Shalom Hartman Institute - A leading center of Jewish thought and education. The institute aims to strengthen Jewish peoplehood, identity, and pluralism, enhance the Jewish and democratic character of Israel; and to ensure that Judaism is a compelling force for good in the 21st century. Our visit will include meeting with Anat Hoffman from IRAC.

  • Head out of Jerusalem

  • Orthodox Women in the New Economy - Explore the changing role of ultra-Orthodox women in the Israeli economy. Our tour of the fast-growing Haredi city of Modi’in Illit will include CityBook Services which works with the US real-estate industry and has a predominantly ultra-Orthodox, female staff. Meet CEO Eli Kazhdan and talk with women about how they balance their religious. Born in Russia and raised in Boston (where he attended Maimonides Jewish Day School in Brookilne), Eli is the son of an Israel Prize laureate in mathematics, who made aliyah in 1991 with his own degrees from Harvard and Hebrew University Law School.

  • Falafel Lunch on route

  • Design Museum - The city of Holon, adjacent to south Tel Aviv, is home to the Design Museum, the first museum in Israel dedicated to design. The building of the museum was planned and designed by Israeli architect and industrial designer Ron Arad in cooperation with Bruno Asa and is located in the eastern part of the new culture area of Holon that includes the Médiathèque (central library, theater, cinémathèque). Nearby is the faculty of design in the Holon Institute of Technology. The museum opened on 3 March 2010 and was noted by travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler as one of the new world wonders. At the museum We’ll start with the building itself which is internationally seen as one of the most original architectural achievements of the beginning of the 21st century, followed by visiting the contemporary exhibitions. Our main focus will be the new exhibition “Overdose” that features interpretations of daily objects, those we rarely notice but can’t live without. All the works are from the famous art and design collection of Galila Brazilai Hollander.

  • Welcome to Tel Aviv - check into hotel and rest - Although one of Tel Aviv’s nicknames is “the city with no break or rest (Ir Bli Hafsaka)”, its first ever nickname was “The first Hebrew City”. The White City (Hebrew: העיר הלבנה, Ha-Ir ha-Levana; Arabic: المدينة البيضاء Al-Madinah al-Baydha’a) is a collection of over 4,000 buildings built in a unique form of the International Style in Tel Aviv from the 1930s, with a strong Bauhaus component, by Jewish architects from Germany and other Central and East European countries with German Cultural influences, who immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine after the rise to power of the Nazis in Germany. Tel Aviv has the largest number of buildings in the Bauhaus/International Style of any city in the world. Preservation, documentation, and exhibitions have brought attention to Tel Aviv's collection of 1930s architecture. In 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed Tel Aviv's White City a World Cultural Heritage site, as "an outstanding example of new town planning and architecture in the early 20th century."

  • Dinner at Guetta restaurant - Dinner with Tel Aviv prize winning poet Noam Partom. It’s easy to think of Partom as one of the major voices of Israeli women in the last decade with her bold, honest and direct words weaved expertly to touch on themes such as love, womanhood, bodily functions and everything that makes up daily lives. We’ll meet with Noam for an energizing writing workshop and a talk about her work. Poet, translator and performance artist Noam Partom is a graduate of Tel Aviv University’s creative writing program, the Helicon Poetry School and the Rimon Academy for Jazz and Contemporary Music. She is the recipient of the 2015 Israeli Culture Ministry Award for Emerging Poets and the 2014 Ramat Gan Award for a debut poetry book. In addition to the poetic-musical show, Songs from the Bidibom, which she created in collaboration with the composer Yonathan Cnaan, Partom also stands behind PoeTube – the online filmed poetry project. Her debut book, Setting the Water on Fire, was published in October 2012, and has since been reprinted three times. In 2018 she published her second poetry book Beyachadness. Read one of her poem translations in this LINK.

  • Late Night options

  • Late night activity: Tel Aviv Nightlife - Check out the vibrant nightlife of Tel Aviv as we discover the bars, cafés, and nightspots hidden from the typical tourist.

  • Meet an Art Collector at his private home - A small group will meet Bill Gross, one of Israel’s most respected Judaica collectors, for a tour of the collector’s private collection. Gross has been collecting Judaica and documents and literature on Jewish art and culture for almost fifty years. He acquired his first piece of Judaica, though - a spice box bought for $10 - in 1964, at age 25, from a Chicago cab driver who spent his spare time scouring thrift and antiques stores for Jewish art for Gross' father-in-law. The spice box was of little interest to Gross' father-in-law, whose collection was donated to the Spertus Museum in Chicago, but it sparked an obsessive interest in Gross, who spent five years just gathering together books on the subject of Judaica. Today, Gross' pursuit could be likened to fitting together thousands of pieces of a huge, intricate puzzle: The puzzle of Jewish life. Objects from his collection can frequently be admired in exhibitions all over the world. (Speaker not included in price)

  • Royal Beach Tel Aviv - The Royal Beach Tel Aviv is located on the non-stop city's bustling promenade, close to countless prominent business centers and popular entertainment venues.
    Check in at the Royal Beach Hotel , Tel Aviv
    The hotel's attractive location makes it easy for guests to enjoy an entire world of fabulous entertainment and cultural activities within easy walking distance: endless white beaches, the artsy Neve Tzedek neighborhood, HaTachana – the old train station that has been converted into a modern leisure complex, the ancient port city of Old Jaffa, Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian mall, the famous Rothschild Boulevard, and more.

Overnight: Royal Beach Tel Aviv
Meal Plan: breakfast, lunch, dinner

10 - Wednesday (November 9) : ART, FOOD AND LIVING WITH THE OTHER

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Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Morning Tracks:

  • Option 1 - Independence Trail + Carmel market with Gil Hovav - Walk along the newly opened Independence Trail in Tel Aviv and embark on a fascinating journey from a Hebrew city to a Hebrew state, a trail that begins with the founding of Tel Aviv in 1909 and ends with the Establishment of Israel in 1948. Inspired by the Freedom Trail in Boston, which takes visitors through the history of the American Revolution, the one-kilometer Independence Trail takes visitors past 10 heritage sites connected by a golden path that snakes through the streets of Tel Aviv. The trail begins at the intersection of tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard and Herzl Street, home to Tel Aviv’s first kiosk. Established in 1910, the location quickly became a central meeting place for locals. During the 1920s, around 100 kiosks operated in the city under the association of the kiosk and soft-drink store owners. Today, the original kiosk serves as an espresso bar, centrally located among Tel Aviv’s most popular bars and restaurants.

    Continue to Carmel Market

    Gil will reveal the secrets of the market as we sample the best foods to be found. Gil is a leading culinary journalists and television personality who comes from one of the most respected families in the Jewish world: he is the great-grandson of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the reviver of the Hebrew language; the grandson of Itamar Ben-Avi who began modern Hebrew journalism; and the son of Moshe & Drora Hovav, "founding members" of Israel's modern-day public radio. (The tasting tour replaces lunch)

    *Recommended for first time visitors to Israel.

  • Option 2 - Strangers Among us + Gallery Hop - Explore the fascinating neighborhood of Neve Sha’anan in South Tel Aviv as a microcosm of Israel. In recent years, Israel has seen a significant rise in non-Jewish immigrants such as migrant workers, asylum-seekers and refugees, presenting new challenges to the Jewish State. With our own eyes we will see how diverse groups have left their impact on Israel and on the neighborhood. This tour will be led by a scholar from Bina, the secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv.

    Gallery Hop with Shirel – Join us for a gallery tour in Kiryat Hamelacha. We will meet with curators to appreciate and understand not only the art itself but also the mechanisms of socio-politics and economy behind them. Galleries include (we won’t visit all but rather a selection based on the exhibitions): Rosenfeld, Raw Art, Dvir, Maya, Binyamini Center, Art Port, Gordon, Alon Segev.

  • Lunch on own, time to shop and pack

  • Farewell dinner at Beit Otzarin with author David Grossman - One of Israel's greatest living writers, and a staunch advocate for peace. His books include A Horse Walks Into a Bar (which won the 2017 Man Booker International Prize), To The End of the Land, and The Yellow Wind. He has been wrestling with the trauma of war and the prospects for peace, as well as love, jealousy, and family relationships for more than three decades. In his first novel, See Under: Love, he grappled with the legacy of the Holocaust. In The Yellow Wind, he foresaw the explosive first intifada, and in his bestselling To the End of the Land, he hauntingly portrayed a mother's love for her son in a time of conflict. He is the recipient of many prizes, including the French Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the Buxtehuder Bulle in Germany, Rome's Premio per la Pace e l'Azione Umitaria, the Premio Ischia-- International Award for Journalism, Israel's Emet Prize, and the Albatross Prize given by the Günter Grass Foundation.

  • Transfer to BGA or continue for extensions

Overnight: Transfer to BGA or continue for extensions
Meal Plan: breakfast, dinner

FAQ

What clothes should I bring?

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Israel is a very informal country and the most formal you'll have to be is "business casual". Religious sites require long pants for the men and clothing that covers the knees and shoulders for the women. Men and women may be requested to cover their heads at Jewish and Muslim religious sites, while at Christian sites men are usually required to remove their hats. It's important to have comfortable walking shoes for the touring days. A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are highly recommended as well. For warmer days, natural fibered clothes are best. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered, as the night and day temperatures can vary greatly, regardless of season. Bring long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, a warm jacket/raincoat, as well as T-shirts. TALK TO US TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT OTHERS BY DONATING YOUR COAT AT THE END OF YOUR TRIP.

Is there someone who can assist with booking flights?

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If you are interested in assistance with flight booking, please refer to our travel partner, Riverdale Travel, for direct bookings. Flights for Experience Israel 2023 will be available to reserve beginning June 1, 2022. If you have any questions or would like to book your flight, please contact Kathy at kathy@riverdaletravel.com. You may also purchase travel insurance by clicking here.

**Flight costs for Experience Israel 2023 are not included in the trip costs, and are paid for separately and directly to the airline or travel agent at the time of booking.

Can I use my credit/debit cards when I'm in Israel?

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Most Israeli shops, restaurants, gas stations, and other providers of services accept major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express (less common). Be sure to check with your credit card company what, if any, international transaction fees will apply. Discover Card (Diner’s Club) is not widely accepted in Israel. Most of your purchases, hotel, and restaurant costs can and should be made with any major credit card.

In addition, most businesses will now accept Apple/Google/Android Pay as another payment method.

What happens if I need medical attention while I'm in Israel?

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The level of medical care provided in Israel, as well as the facilities available, rank up top with the very best in Europe or the United States. There are excellent hospitals in all the major cities and many hotels have a doctor on call. It is required to purchase insurance that includes coverage for medical emergencies (including COVID-19 coverage). For more information about and to purchase travel insurance, please click here.

What is the cancellation policy?

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Please click here to see our cancellation policy.

Terms of Payment

Deposit is due immediately to secure the booking.

Balance for the trip is due no later than 45 days prior to first day of trip.

Please refer to our full Terms and Conditions here.

Cancellation Policy

Bookings can be cancelled within 48 hours, with a full refund.

Should it be necessary to cancel or postpone the tour due to force majeure circumstances, or Israeli government-imposed/air flight restrictions related to COVID-19,  a full refund may be possible, minus a $200 per person service fee.

For cancellations made:

  • Up to 45 days prior to departure, any payments made above the deposit towards the tour will be refunded. The deposit is non-refundable
  • 45 to 30 days prior to departure, 50% of the total tour cost per person will be refunded
  • 29 to 8 days prior to departure, 25% of the total tour cost per person will be refunded
  • 7 to 0 days prior to departure, the client will incur 100% of the cost of the tour

Should members of a group booking cancel their participation, their deposits cannot be applied to the balance payment of other group members.

All cancellation requests must be made in writing.

What’s Included
Hotel accommodation v
Fees for sites and activities listed v
Meals as listed in the itinerary v
Bottles of water, as needed, and snacks v
Group transfer to the airport on departure v
A private, licensed, English speaking tour guide and transportation v
VIP services upon arrival & departure v
Airfare v
COVID-19 health insurance coverage (required) v
Travel Insurance (recommended) v
Tips for tour guides and drivers v
Testimonials
“Not only was the experience reflective of top-notch quality and superb attention to detail, you were treated like family. ”
Elizabeth
2019
“Best Vacation Ever! My wife and I just returned from our first trip to Israel. We've traveled domestically and overseas many times. This was absolutely the best trip we've ever taken. I know many people who have gone to Israel and made lots of recommendations to go here, go there, etc... Ros and the crew at Via Sabra were absolutely fantastic. From shaping the trip to meet our schedule, finances, desires, etc... Via Sabra hit the mark on the nose. They made the trip easy from the gitgo with VIP service to and from Israel; no long lines to wait in and an expert on both ends of the trip to help us navigate the airport, customs, passport control, VAT refunds, baggage and our transport to and from the airport. We had a magnificent guide, Mark Kedem, who was made the trip even more enjoyable; beyond our expectations. Mark has an uncanny knowledge of all aspects of Israel including the geography, history, architecture, food, how all the religions interact, etc. It was like a great history class in-country with great food. Mark also steered us to off the beaten path places and restaurants that were truly memorable and unique. We plan to go back to Israel soon (hopefully next year) and will definitely use Via Sabra and Mark again. They're worth every penny!!!!”
Joe M
2019

Early bird special - $200 off per person.

Available only between October 1-10, 2021!!

Registration for the trip will open on October 1. Fill out this form to be notified when registration for the trip opens, so you can take advantage of early bird special pricing!

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