Day 1 :
Departure from Home
- Departure from home airport:
Relax and enjoy your scheduled flight from North America.
Day 2 :
Arrive in Tel Aviv
- Upon arrival:
Your 24-hour Tour Director will meet you at the airport and remain with your group until your final airport departure. Your group will also have a private coach and driver while touring for the next seven days. Your base for the next two nights will be Tel Aviv, where you’ll enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel.
- Tel Aviv in brief:
Located on the Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv is the second-most populous city in Israel. Founded by the Jewish community on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa, Tel Aviv's White City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises the world's largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings.
- Daily reflection and group discussion:
"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." - John Dewey
Every evening of the program, we’ll set time aside to update your Reflection Journal and share thoughts and impressions that have come up during the day.
Day 3 :
Three World Religions
- Ben-Gurion House: :
Gain an understanding of Zionism at the Ben-Gurion House. Ben-Gurion House invites visitors to experience a personal, unmediated meeting with the first prime minister of the state of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, and its exhibits include documentary, historical photographs and materials. The house’s purpose is to highlight the personal and public life of David Ben-Gurion and presents the main chapters of 20th-century Zionist history, such as Ben-Gurion's legacy, the establishment of the State of Israel, and the central decisions and junctions in the State of Israel’s history.
- Coffee and conversation with locals:
Enjoy a coffee and meeting in Anton Coffee. Talk with a Christian woman who lives in Jaffa to hear all about the challenges and advantages that she, as an Arab Christian, faces.
- Jaffa tour:
Drive along the Mediterranean coast to Jaffa, one of the oldest cities in the world. See Jaffa's picturesque harbor and visit the city's Old Section, which has been restored to a charming artists' colony and cultural center.
- Visit with a local non-profit:
Visit the Orchard of Abraham's children, a bi-lingual Waldorf kindergarten for Jewish and Arabic kids. Here, friendly human and educational encounters are emphasized for the sake of reconciliation and mediation between the children of Abraham.
- Meet with the Imam at Mahmoudiya Mosque: :
Visit the Mahmoudiya Mosque, the largest and most significant mosques in Jaffa. Your group will also have the opportunity to meet with the Imam of Mahmoudiya Mosque.
- Explore and shop at Carmel Market:
End the day at the Carmel Market, Tel Aviv’s main market.
Day 4 :
Caesarea—Haifa—Acre—Sea of Galilee
- Continue on your journey:
Today, you’ll travel from Tel Aviv to the Sea of Galilee. En route, your group will visit Caesarea, Haifa, and Acre.
This morning, you’ll depart Tel Aviv heading north along the Mediterranean shoreline to Caesarea. Cornelius the Centurion and his household were saved and baptized (Acts 10) here. Caesarea was also where Paul made his defense to Festus and King Agrippa, before his final journey to Rome (Acts 25 & 26). Visit the excavated Roman Theater, with its acoustic and theatrical sound, which featured many performances over the centuries; enjoy an audio-visual presentation that brings to life the Roman times of 2,000 years ago; walk through the excavated fortress; and view the aqueduct, once used for conveying water.
- Beit Ha'Gefen: :
At Beit Ha'Gefen, an Arab-Jewish Cultural Center, learn about their mission of creating shared egalitarian spaces containing the variety of identities and cultures in Haifa and Israel. You’ll participate in activities based on the belief that interpersonal acquaintanceship and encounters with different cultures as well as their narratives and spiritual assets are important for breaking down barriers and building trust between Haifa’s and Israel’s various nationalities, ethnic groups, and religions.
- Baha'i Hanging Gardens:
Enjoy Baha'i Hanging Gardens, where a golden dome, marble walls, granite pillars, and manicured gardens cascade down the slope of Mount Carmel and serve as the world headquarters of the Baha'i faith, a monotheistic religion committed to the unity of humanity and the fundamental oneness of all religions.
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Acre, an exceptional historic, walled port city with continuous settlement from as far back as the Phoenician period. The present city looks characteristic of a fortified town dating from the Ottoman 18th and 19th centuries. Acre preserves substantial remains of medieval Crusader buildings despite the Moslem town appearance, which are both above and below street-level and provide insight into the layout and structures of the medieval Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem’s capital. Present-day Acre features the typical urban components of an Ottoman walled town, such as the well-preserved citadel, mosques, khans, and baths. Visit the Crusaders Halls and Al Jazar Mosque.
- Room and board accommodations:
Your base for the next two nights will be in the Sea of Galilee area. Breakfast and dinner will be provided at the hotel.
Day 5 :
The Sermon on the Mount and Modern Geopolitics
Journey to Capernaum, the town where Jesus first assembled his disciples to view remains of the ancient synagogue.
- Mount of Beatitudes:
Visit the Mount of Beatitudes, the site of the Sermon on the Mount, and a beautiful church with an octagonal dome that represents the Eight Beatitudes of the Sermon.
- Golan Heights:
Ascend the Golan Heights to Mt. Bental for a stunning panoramic view of the Golan Heights, overlooking the border between Israel and Syria. Learn about the geopolitics of the region.
- Tel Hermonit:
Continue north to Tel Hermonit, the area where a major armored brigade battle took place during the 1973 war.
- Tel Dan:
Descend the Golan Heights to visit the biblical site of Tel Dan, one of Israel’s largest and oldest archaeological sites. During the Israelite monarchy period, the city was the northernmost in the kingdom and inhabited by the biblical tribe of Dan. Today, you can see many remains not only from that period but also dating back to nearly 5,000 years ago.
- Agamon Hula:
End the day in Agamon Hula, one of the world's most prominent bird-watching sites. At the park, you can observe migrating, courting, and nesting birds.
Day 6 :
Natural Israel and Bedouin Life
- Nazareth Village:
Your travels continue through the Jordan Valley to Nazareth, with a visit to Nazareth Village, an interactive replica of the Town of Nazareth as it was during Christ's youth.
- Basilica of the Annunciation:
Visit The Basilica of the Annunciation, built on the site where Christians believe the Archangel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah. From here, you’ll view St. Joseph's Workshop, the Grotto where Mary lived, and the blessed Cave where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary (Luke 1).
- Bio Bee Biological Systems:
Visit Bio Bee Biological Systems, one of the leading international companies in the biologically based integrated pest management, natural pollination, and medfly control field. This is a great opportunity to see one portion of the "Startup Nation."
- Oasis of Ein Gedi:
Continue along the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea shoreline to the Oasis of Ein Gedi (1 Samuel 23:24-29) and your group will walk to the waterfall, which is mentioned several times in the Book of Psalms—the place where King David hid from King Saul. Ein Gedi is also famous for the persimmon groves confiscated by Cleopatra.
- Kfar Hanokdim:
At the Bedouin compound of Kfar Hanokdim, enjoy a fire bond and learn about Bedouin life in the desert.
- Overnight in the Bedouin camp:
Dinner and overnight stay at the Kfar Hanokdim Bedouin compound.
Day 7 :
The Dead Sea—Jerusalem
- Sunrise on the Mountain of Edom:
Following an early morning wake-up call, you’ll ascend Masada along the Roman Ramp and see the sunrise from the Mountain of Edom. Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located 500 meters above the Dead Sea, where the fortress is set on a giant cliff, 600m in length, 300m wide, and 2,000 years old—it’s the greatest castle in history built by King Herod. Enjoy the unforgettable tour of the palaces, the warehouses and residential areas, the alter complex, the impressive fortified system, and the most fascinating views of the Judean Desert.
- Float in the Dead Sea:
Spend time swimming in the Dead Sea. This famous body of water is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east, and Palestine and Israel to the west. Its surface and shores are 1,407 feet below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea’s water has a density of 1,240 kg/m3, which makes swimming similar to floating.
- Continue on your journey:
Continue on your journey from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. En route, your group will stop in Leket.
- Volunteer activity:
Volunteer at Leket Israel, the national food bank, is Israel’s leading food rescue organization.
- Room and board accommodations: :
For the next three nights, your base will be in Jerusalem. While here, you’ll enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel.
- Jerusalem in brief:
Jerusalem, a Middle Eastern city west of the Dead Sea, has been a place of pilgrimage and worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims since the biblical era. Its Old City has significant religious sites around the Temple Mount compound, including the Western Wall (sacred to Judaism), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (a Christian pilgrimage site), and the Dome of the Rock (a 7th-century Islamic shrine with a gold dome).
Day 8 :
- School visit:
Your first visit this morning will be to The Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand Jerusalem School. This integrated, bilingual, and multicultural school is where Jewish and Arab teachers co-teach, each speaking in their mother tongue, and emphasize humanistic values including equality, human dignity, mutual respect, and empathy.
- Israel Museum:
Visit the Israel Museum, home to the Shrine of the Book—housing part of the Dead Sea Scrolls—and a Model of Jerusalem from the time of the Second Temple. Your group may schedule an optional special tour with a Museum curator in advance of your trip.
- Holocaust Museum:
Visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Opened in 1963, Yad Vashem is the world's leading Holocaust memorial and research center. In addition to walking through the museum and following the fate of Europe's Jews from the early 1930s through their liberation in 1945, you’ll also meet with a Holocaust survivor and hear their account.
Bethlehem is a Palestinian town south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. As the biblical birthplace of Jesus, it's a major Christian pilgrimage destination. Jesus’ birth is marked by an inlaid silver star in a grotto under the 6th-century Church of the Nativity, which shares Manger Square with the 15th-century Church of St. Catherine and the Mosque of Omar, built in 1860.
- Basilica of the Nativity:
Enter the Basilica of the Nativity, a church built in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine to honor Jesus’ birthplace. Then, descend to the Grotto of the Nativity, the cave where it’s believed Jesus was born and placed in the manger.
- Optional evening activities in Jerusalem are:
• Meet with a Jewish Orthodox family in their home for dinner and learn about the Orthodox-Jewish people, their lifestyle, and their society. Some topics discussed with the guests include Shabbat special customs and elements (special candle lighting ceremony can be included); the various current issues within Orthodox society; Orthodox family life, dating, and marriage; Orthodox society’s place in the context of secular society and the State of Israel; women’s status within the family and society; and the political attitude of the Orthodox society on the two-state solution.
• Participate in a Challah baking class (Challah = Jewish Friday bread).
Day 9 :
The City of David
- Temple Mount:
View the Temple Mount, home to the Dome of the Rock, where the prophet Muhammed is believed to have ascended to heaven. The complex is lined with trees and offers a quiet serenity compared to the hustle and bustle of the city just outside its perimeter. The site is also the former location of the First and Second Temples, sacred to Judaism.
- Mount Olivet:
The Mount of Olives or Mount Olivet is a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem's Old City. Named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes, the southern part of the Mount was the Silwan necropolis, attributed to the ancient Judean kingdom. Several key events in Jesus’ life, as related in the Gospels, took place on the Mount of Olives, and in the Acts of the Apostles, it’s described as the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven. Because of its association with both Jesus and Mary, the Mount has been a site of Christian worship since ancient times, and today it’s a major pilgrimage site for Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants.
Gethsemane is an urban garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before his crucifixion, it’s also known as the site of the Agony in the Garden.
- Old City of Jerusalem:
Your visit to the Old City of Jerusalem will emphasize the major sites of the three monotheistic religions and the ongoing conflict between them because they all consider the city a holy site.
- Church of the Holy Sepulcher:
Enter the Old City of Jerusalem via the Lions Gate and walk along the Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross) to the Church of Holy Sepulcher, in which six different denominations and churches (The Roman Catholic, Armenian Church, Coptic Church, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, and Russian Church) share the sovereignty of this holy place. En route, you’ll enjoy a special view from the Austrian Hospice rooftop (located next to the third station).
- Elia Photography Shop:
Following the visit to the Holy Sepulcher, you’ll visit the Elia Photography Shop and learn about this Armenian family’s history.
- Western Wall:
Visit the Western Wall, the holiest site in the Jewish world. It became the most sacred spot in Judaism due to its proximity to the four pillars of the Holy of Holies, from which, according to numerous sources, the Divine Presence never departed. The Western Wall became a center of religious mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel's exile as well as a nationalist memorial of Israel's former glory and the hope for its restoration. Because of the religious association, it became known in European languages as the "Wailing Wall." Visitors also place prayers on notes before slipping them into the cracks of the walls.
- Davidson Center and Archaeological Park:
If time permits, you’ll visit the Davidson Center and Archaeological Park to see remains of Jerusalem from the Second-Temple period through the Roman, Byzantine, and early-Islamic periods.
- Final reflection and discussion session:
This evening, you’ll make the final entries in your Reflection Journal and share some of the most significant observations and perspectives that have taken shape throughout your tour of the Holy Land. We’ll also discuss how these experiences may be most relevant for us all as we return home.
Day 10 :
Departure from Tel Aviv
Your rewarding and enjoyable Religious Coexistence and The Holy Land Today Tour comes to an end as your Tour Director accompanies your group to the airport on your final day.