|Day 1 Friday, December 21, 2012|
|We will arrive at Ben Gurion Airport and will be met by a Gama Tours representative, who will assist us with our luggage, escort us through customs (option for group or individual transfer). We will continue to our hotel in Jerusalem, where we will check-in. We’ll meet in the hotel for an introductory session.
Afterwards we will walk to the Old City and arrive at the Western Wall (Kotel), Judaism’s holiest site, for a Shabbat evening services unlike anything you have ever experienced.
Overnight in Jerusalem
|Day 2 Saturday, December 22, 2012|
|After breakfast, you can either participate in services at one of the many synagogues in Jerusalem or just relax at the hotel. Feel the special atmosphere of Jerusalem on Shabbat.
Afternoon walking tour of the neighborhoods of Yemin Moshe and Mishkenot Sha’ananim These were the first neighborhoods built outside the Walls of the Old City and therefore they were open to Bedouin raids, pillage and general banditry that was rampant in the region at the time, the Jews were reluctant to move in, even though the housing was luxurious compared to the derelict and overcrowded houses in the Old City.
Overnight in Jerusalem
|Day 3 Sunday, December 23, 2012|
|After breakfast, we’ll proceed to the Old City and walk to the restored Jewish Quarter. A special point of interest is the “Cardo”, meaning the “heart” of this ancient Byzantine City. View the unearthed main Roman thoroughfare and ancient marketplace lined with columns (where you can still shop today!)
Afterwards we will walk to the holy Western Wall – the “Kotel” where we commemorate our arrival to the heart of Judaism with a special She’hecheyanu ceremony. A blessing introduced for Jews to offer thanks for new and unusual experiences, and is typically recited at the beginning of holidays and to celebrate special occasions.
We begin at the passageways descending through the many layers of Jerusalem’s past at the time of the Temple through the Western Wall Tunnels. Inside, a most interesting model shows the different dwelling periods and history of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
End the day at the Southern Wall Excavations and Davidson Center, one of the most significant archeological sites in the country.
Overnight in Jerusalem
|Day 4 Monday, December 24, 2012|
|After an early breakfast, we will depart to the Dead Sea area. Traveling south through the Judean Wilderness we descend to the lowest point on earth at 1305 feet (398m) below sea level. We will continue south to the legendary mountaintop plateau of Massada.
We will ascend by cable car to the ancient synagogue of Massada and explore the ancient fortress. Here, was the last stronghold of the Jewish Zealots in their struggle against the Romans. On Massada we will meet our Rabbi, and celebrate the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies!! Celebrate the exciting Jewish right of passage in a historic location.
We will return north and visit the beautiful Ein Gedi reserve. See the waterfalls at this Oasis in the desert, which is mentioned several times in the Book of Psalms, waterfalls, and study the biblical stories of King David hiding from King Saul. The combination of Ein Gedi’s abundance of water and tropical climate provides wonderful exotic plant and animal life.
After lunch (on your own account), we will enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to put mud on us and float in mineral rich waters of the Dead Sea.
On the way back to Jerusalem we will drive to the “Land of Genesis”. Here, “Abraham” and his family will host us for a biblical-style dinner in their tent. We will return to our hotel for overnight in Jerusalem.
Overnight in Jerusalem
|Day 5 Tuesday, December 25, 2012|
|After breakfast, we’ll travel to Yad Vashem, considered the primary memorial and museum of the Holocaust. Take a tour of the new Holocaust History Museum, which occupies over 4,200 square meters, mainly underground. At the end of the museum’s historical narrative is the Hall of Names, a repository for the pages of testimony of millions of Holocaust victims, and a memorial to those who perished. We will visit the very moving exhibit at the Children’s Pavilion, commemorating the death of over 1.5 million Jewish children in the Holocaust.
In the Hall of Names a victim who perished in the Holocaust will be chosen for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah youths as part of a “Twinning Program.” This may be a child with the same name or birthday as the child celebrating, or someone who came from the same town or area where their family originated.
We will also visit Har Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery where we can visit the gravesites of Israel’s greatest leaders and heroes, including Theodore Herzl, Ze’ev Jabotinski, and Yitzhak Rabin.
Visit the Machane Yehuda Market and receive a special card that allows you to taste the shopkeepers’ daily specials. The Market Tour is full of flavors and fragrances in and around the market and includes fascinating stories, a bit of history, colorful characters, and tastings of some of the unique market delicacies – homemade halva, homemade Jerusalem ice cream, natural health drinks, superb olive oils, and more.
Dinner and Overnight in Jerusalem
|Day 6 Wednesday, December 26, 2012|
|Leave the Galilee area and drive through the lush Jordan Valley where the desert now blooms with flowers and vegetation of every description.
Stop at the Modern Orthodox Kibbutz of Sde Eliyahu which is pioneering in organic agriculture. Take a unique tour in the clean air and the chemical free environment of organic farming at its best. A small example is the use of Birds of Prey instead of pesticide to keep pests and rodents at bay.
Visit Kibbutz Degania which was established in 1910 and birthplace of Moshe Dayan, the first person born on a Kibbutz. Here we’ll join a special chocolate workshop; learn about chocolate in this small boutique hand made chocolate factory.
Drive through the lakeside city of Tiberias resting on shores of the Sea of Galilee and then contintue on to our Kibbutz Hotel.
Dinner and Overnight in Kibbutz Hotel
|Day 7 Thursday, December 27, 2012|
|After breakfast we visit Safed, which is the city of mystical Judaism (Kabbalah), explore the narrow and winding alleys, lined with ancient and beautiful synagogues and browse through the artists’ workshops and galleries found in the flourishing artists’ quarter.
We will take an exciting jeep ride tour of the Golan Heights, and enjoy the scenic hills while learning about the strategic importance and history of this land.
Afterwards we’ll visit Oz 77 and will see a dramatic film about the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This is the site of the main Syrian attack and where only a few Israeli tanks held off the massive armored assault against the IDF.
We’ll pay tribute to those that fell defending the Jewish state at the most important memorial on the Golan Heights. We’ll peer deep into Syria from the Mount Bental outlook.
Dinner and Overnight in a Kibbutz in the Galilee
|Day 8 Friday, December 28, 2012|
|Then we will travel to the ancient crusader port city of Acco, the fascinating UNSCO town with new excavations 1000 years old. Visit the Crusader Halls and to see the underground tunnels and pathways.
Then we’ll arrive in Haifa and ascend Mt. Carmel for a panoramic view of Haifa Bay and the beautiful Bahai Gardens with its impressive Temples and its floral terraces.
Visit the ancient city of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great and once the seat of Roman rule. View the excavated Roman Theater, with its acoustic and theatrical sound, which was used for many performances throughout the centuries.
Proceed to Tel Aviv, Overnight in Tel Aviv
|Day 9 Saturday, December 29, 2012|
|After breakfast we’ll enjoy a day at leisure. A stroll is suggested along the beautiful beachfront promenade while enjoying the refreshing air and surf.
Overnight in Tel Aviv
|Day 10 Sunday, December 30, 2012|
|After breakfast, we start our day visiting in the Old Port City of Jaffa (Yafo), just south of Tel Aviv for a beautiful panoramic view of Tel Aviv and a sense of the first Jewish city of the modern era, established in 1909.
We will also view the beautiful and newly renovated Tachana (Train Station). This site, once the nerve center and bustling main junction for commerce from 1892 to 1948, has quickly become one of modern Tel Aviv’s hottest new complexes.
Next we’ll visit the spiritually moving Independence Hall. We will take a step back in time as we listen to David Ben Gurion’s moving Declaration of Independence which ended 2,000 years of Jewish yearning for a return to the land of Israel.
Afterwards we will visit Rabin Square, where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Walk in his final footsteps and discuss the impact of this event on the State of Israel.
We will end our day at the unique “Palmach Museum” where through a modern multi-media presentation; we can watch the history of the Palmach from 1941 to the War of Independence and the establishment of the State of Israel. Follow the lives and experiences of the young men and women who founded Israel’s Defense Forces.
After a late check out, we’ll go to a local restaurant for a festive farewell dinner in the Yemenite restaurant of Maganda. Then we will drive to Ben Gurion Airport for our flight back to North America.
* Itinerary subject to change.