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:

  • 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. Bravdo Winery is a boutique winery founded by veteran wine growing families of more than 130 years. The winery sits among its own vineyards, near the village of Karmei Yosef, and is one of the very few genuine estate wineries in Israel.

  • Check-in at Kedma Hotel

  • Sunset: 4:54 PM

  • Meet and greet at the hotel with a special guest, Dr. David Mendelsohn - Dr. David Mendelsohn is 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. in 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 Trudeau Prize and a world class Judo Gold Medal winner.

  • Welcome dinner at the hotel

  • Kedma Hotel

: Kedma Hotel

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

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Sunrise: 5:54 AM

The Negev Desert makes up more than half of Israel’s land area and supports a fraction of the population. 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. 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.

Activities:

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

  • Travel to Avdat, the ancient Nabatean City - 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.

  • Avdat National Park - Explore the desert at the Nabatean Spice Route at Avdat, which is over 2,000 years old. Learn the history of the desert’s significance on the culture and flavors of Israel.

  • Kornmehl 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, creating 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: David 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.

  • Sunset: 4:53 PM

  • Festive dinner under the stars with live music

  • Stargazing - Take advantage of the low light pollution and see the plethora of stars and planets from Israel’s strongest portable telescopes.

  • Kedma Hotel

: Kedma Hotel

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

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Sunrise: 5:56 AM

Activities:

  • Optional: Hot Air Balloon ride - *Very Early* Take to the skies for the most incredible views of the Israeli desert. The early morning wake up will be well worth it as you get your own private sail through the sky.

  • 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 - See Ramon Crater up close as you hike through one of its famous trails. See amazing rocks, landscape, geology, and more on this really fun hike.

  • Army Base Visit - Head to the Tze'elim Army Base in the desert to understand a 'day in the life'.

  • Sunset: 4:52 PM

  • 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.

  • Kedma Hotel

  • אדם סלע-חוויה אתגרים - Early morning jeep ride in Makhtesh Ramon. Ride through the stunning Negev Desert and get to know the endless variations of the landscape. Explore the area of Makhtesh Ramon and immerse yourself in the details of the land around you.

: אדם סלע-חוויה אתגרים

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

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Sunrise: 5:57 AM

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel and check out

  • Atid Bamidbar - Visit 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 - 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. In the early 1950s, Yerucham began as a transit camp for new immigrants coming from Romania, North Africa, India and Iran. But, being isolated, the town had suffered over the years from economic stagnation and limited opportunities for social mobility. Yet, 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.

  • Be'er Sheva Optional Tours - After lunch, visit Be’er Sheva, the unofficial capital of the Negev.

  • Option 1: Naftali Aklum - Meet Naftali Aklum, an Ethiopian activist who was born in Ethiopia in 1979. 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 community.

  • Option 2: Eretz-Ir - Eretz-Ir (Country, City) is an Israeli non-profit organization 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.

  • Sunset: 4:48 PM

  • Arrive in Jerusalem and check in to your hotel

  • Group dinner at Hatzot Restaurant - Two brothers, Abraham and Michael Ajami founded this landmark family restaurant in 1970. Located in one of the older neighborhoods in Jerusalem, legend has it that Meurav Yerushalmi - the favorite Israeli mixed grill dish - was born at Hatzot Restaurant.

  • Optional: 'Shtisel' Tour - Get 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.

  • Orient Jerusalem

: Orient Jerusalem

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

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Sunrise: 5:58 AM

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • 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. This will be followed by a walking tour through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, for visits to archaeological treasures and other highlights.

  • Option 2: City of David - Where it All Began - 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. Besides David and his son Solomon, this would have been the stomping ground of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah and the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.

  • 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. in Comparative Religions from Hebrew University and has 20 years of practical experience in interfaith activities in Israel and abroad.

  • Option 4: Culinary Food Tour of the Old City - Take a culinary tour of the Old City. We’ll be eating and tasting from beginning to end, so please come hungry.

  • Lunch on your own and free time - Return to the hotel for free time and to prepare for Shabbat.

  • 4:06 PM Candle Lighting (Sunset: 4:43 PM)

  • Shabbat services with a local community - Shirah Hadasha was founded in 2002 by a group of locals, including Tova Hartman, with the purpose of creating a religious community that embraces halacha, tefillah and feminism, readdressing the role of women in the synagogue.

  • Shabbat group dinner at your hotel with a Joe Schonwald - Schonwald is involved in Israel’s amazing NGO scene as well as with the “Lone Soldiers” community. A former Conservative Rabbi educated in Israel at the Diaspora Yeshiva, Joe has headed a family foundation in Jerusalem for 25 years.

  • Orient Jerusalem

: Orient Jerusalem

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

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Sunrise: 5:59 AM

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Morning choices - Choose various ways to rest and enjoy your Shabbat, as presented by your group leader and guide.

  • 12:30 PM Shabbat Lunch at the hotel with Bob Rosenschein - Bob is an American-Israeli internet entrepreneur and 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.

  • Optional 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.

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

  • Havdalah Ceremony - outdoors in Mishkenot Sha'ananim

  • Free evening for dinner

  • Late night option {extra cost} - Art tour in Machane Yehuda - Machane Yehuda at night is a whole different story. With all the shops closed, a new, young alternative Machane Yehuda comes to life. Come with us to find out who’s responsible for the new graffiti paintings appearing every night on the shops’ shields. In between, we will visit a few bars that are the heart of the new and improved night life scene in Machane Yehuda market.

  • Orient Jerusalem

: Orient Jerusalem

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

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Sunrise: 5:59 AM

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Option 1: Yad Vashem - During a private tour, visit the complex 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 and genocide in general, with the aim of avoiding such events in the future.

  • Option 2: Israel Museum - 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.

  • Option 3: The Other Jerusalem - Walking tour of Arab East Jerusalem with David Mendelsohn.

  • Lunch on your own – in Machane Yehuda

  • Ammunition Hill Museum - A visit in the Ammunition Hill reminds us of the fierce fighting and high death toll exacted in the Six Day War. The site serves as a memorial to those who fell in the battle for Jerusalem.

  • Option 2: The Western Wall Tunnels - 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 - An award-winning cultural organization, Mekudeshet creates original art and music to reimagine Jerusalem from a center of conflict into a laboratory for connection between people of all kinds.

  • Sunset: 4:46 PM

  • Dinner at Mekudeshet with some amazing Israeli musicians

  • Late night bike ride in Jerusalem {extra cost}

  • Orient Jerusalem

: Orient Jerusalem

8 - Monday ( November 7 ) : DIVING INTO POLITICS OF THE LAND AND SOAKING UP THE PAST

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Sunrise: 6:00 AM

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Day 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.

  • 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 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. Experience sense of weightlessness as you float in the super-salinated Dead Sea.

  • Option 3: Hebron: A Tale of Two Cities - Head deeper into the Judean Hills, and tour the two sides of Hebron - the Palestinian side as well as the Israeli-controlled side. Gain both perspectives meet some artisans along the way.

  • Meeting with Haredi IDF Soldiers - Ultra-Orthodox men do not, as a general rule, serve in the IDF. 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 provide opportunities for the Haredi community to contribute to the IDF.

  • Sunset: 4:45 PM

  • Free evening and dinner on your own in Jerusalem

  • Orient Jerusalem

: Orient Jerusalem

9 - Tuesday ( November 8 ) : VE'AHAVTA LO KAMOCHA - MINORITIES IN A JEWISH STATE

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Sunrise: 6:01 AM

Activities:

  • Breakfast at the hotel and check out

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Design Museum Holon - The building of the museum was planned and designed by Israeli architect and industrial designer Ron Arad in cooperation with Asa Bruno. 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 a guided tour of the new exhibition, Alber Elbaz: The Dream Factory which is the most extensive exhibition about Alber Elbaz to date.

  • Welcome to Tel Aviv - check in to your hotel

  • Sunset: 4:45 PM

  • 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 his private collection. 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.

  • Dinner at Guetta restaurant - Enjoy dinner together with Tel Aviv's 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.

  • Royal Beach Tel Aviv

: Royal Beach Tel Aviv

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

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Sunrise: 6:04 AM

Activities:

  • Breakfast at your hotel

  • Morning Tracks:

  • Option 1: Independence Trail + Carmel market with Gil Hovav - Walk along the 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.
    Meet Gil Hovav at the Carmel Market as he reveals the secrets of the market. 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.

  • 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.

  • Lunch on your own, time to shop and pack

  • Sunset: 4:45 PM

  • Farewell dinner at Beit Otzarin with guest speaker

  • Transfer to airport or continue for extensions - We look forward to hosting you again in our beautiful country!

: Transfer to airport or continue for extensions

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

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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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