An exciting visit to Israel with its historic sites holy to three religions.
Leave from JFK Airport for an exciting visit to Israel with its historic sites holy to three religions. (Please see the note at the end of the itinerary for JFK departure instructions.)
When you arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, you will be met by a TAL Tours representative and transferred to your hotel. Relax, have a good meal, and prepare for a day full of lots of sightseeing tomorrow.
You will spend your first night in Jerusalem.
Your tour starts in Mount Zion, where you will visit the tomb of King David, which is located in the lower level of what still remains of the former Hagia Zion, a Byzantine church. From there you will go to the upper level and witness for yourself the room where the Last Supper, also known as Cenacle, was held. This is not only the site of the Cenacle, but also the location where the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem.
From there you will proceed to the Walled City of Jerusalem. All .35 square miles make up the city limits of what at one time constituted all of Jerusalem. Within that Old City tour sights such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and walk along the Western Wall. Your tour will continue on to Mount Scopus and then to the Mount of Olives for an opportunity to walk through the newly restored Jewish Quarter.
From there you will continue onto Bethlehem (subject to availability) with a stop at Rachel’s Tomb. Afterwards you will see the Church of the Nativity.
You will again spend the night in Jerusalem.
Your day starts with a drive to the city of Ein Kerem where you will visit the Abbell Synagogue inside the Hadassah Medical Center. The synagogue houses the permanent collection of Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows, a gift he bestowed to the synagogue in 1962 as a way to give back to the land and people he loved so dearly.
After taking in the beauty of the stained glass collection, you will then proceed to Bayit Vegan to visit the miniature model of Jerusalem just as it existed during the Second Temple period.
Next your tour takes you to Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the martyrs and survivors of the Holocaust. Although this will be a somber point of your tour, it is a truly important one for the history of Jews.
Then you will be able to see the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, as your next stop will take place at the Israel Museum.
The last two stops on your tour on day four will be the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, and the Givat Ram Campus of the Hebrew University.
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Your day starts in the Judean Desert, which is bordered by the mountains of Judea and the Dead Sea. Breathtakingly beautiful and relatively small in comparison to most deserts, it is home to several nature reserves and historic sites as well as monasteries and incredible panoramas. At 1300 feet (400 meters) below sea level this desert has the distinction of being the lowest point on earth.
Stop at Qumran to visit the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered several decades ago. From there your tour will take you on a drive along the shores of the Dead Sea to Masada, home to several battles between 37 BCE and 72 AD.
Masada is where Herod the Great is said to have fortified the area between 37 and 31 BCE in the event of a revolt against him. At the onset of the first Jewish-Roman war, it’s also the site where a group of Jewish extremists overcame the Roman garrison of Masada.
Later in 72 AD the Roman governor backed by the Roman Legion was successful at claiming the fortress. The zealots did their best to fight off the Romans and then committed suicide en mass rather than be enslaved.
Descend by cable car and then, time and weather permitting, take a float on the Dead Sea — “the lowest health spa in the world.” See why the same place that is inhabitable to all life forms offers health benefits not found anywhere else in the world.
Overnight in Tel Aviv.
Although there is nothing scheduled for this day, our hope is that you will see the sights of Israel’s second-largest city. Tel Aviv is the richest city in Israel as well as home to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
You can visit the port city of Jaffa, once occupied by Christians during the First Crusade and centuries later taken over by Napoleon. See how the city survived several occupations and a plague that wiped out nearly all its inhabitants and has thrived to be the important historical site that it is today.
Overnight in Tel Aviv.
Depart Tel Aviv and drive to the Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora. Both permanent and temporary exhibitions celebrate the life and culture of the Jewish people. The museum’s goal is to connect Jews with their roots, rich culture and history as well as offer a place of collective bonding.
After seeing the important collections of the Jewish Diaspora Museum, you will drive along the coastal plain to Caesarea, which was the capital of Judea under the Romans. See the excavations of the Crusader city along with the Roman port, aqueduct and the amphitheater that has been restored to its former glory as a concert venue. Today, Caesarea is modern city with a population of approximately 4,500 and is the only Israeli locality managed by a private organization.
Continue via the Druze villages to Haifa, Israel’s 3rd largest city. Haifa is a city with an interesting history as well. While once a city with a mixed population of Jews and Christians, today it’s a city of Jews and Arabs. At various times Haifa was ruled by the Byzantine Empire, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mamluk, the Ayyabid, and the Egyptians.
Overnight in Haifa.
The tour of Haifa will begin at the summit of Mount Carmel, where you will take in a breathtaking panoramic view of Haifa Bay and the Western Galilee. Continue on to the golden-domed Bahai Shrine to visit the exotic Persian Gardens.
Proceed to the city of Safed, the center of Jewish mysticism, where you will visit the ancient synagogues and the artists’ colony. Continue to the Golan Heights to see the former Syrian bunkers, the city of Kuneitra and the new Israeli town of Katzrin.
Overnight in kibbutz.
Start the day with a visit of Tiberius, considered one of Israel’s four holy cities. From the 2nd to the 10th century Tiberius was the Galilee’s largest Jewish city.
Drive to Capernaum to see the ruins of the synagogue and octagonal church of St. Peter and then proceed to Nazareth, the capital and largest city in the North District of Israel today. Indeed, according to the New Testament, this is said to be the home of Jesus.
Here you will visit the church of the Annunciation, where Mary was allegedly told that she would be giving birth to Jesus. Drive via Beit Shean to Beit Alpha to see what still remains of the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue depicting the zodiac.
Overnight in Tel Aviv.
After breakfast, you will be transported to Ben Gurion Airport for departure.
The above program can be extended and tailor-made for groups.
It is very important that you arrive at JFK airport a minimum of three hours prior to departure. This allows you ample time to check your bags, get through security and find your departure gate. In order to more easily go through check-in and security, ensure that your passport and airline tickets are readily accessible.
Although waiting longer at the gate may not seem desirable, the alternative — should you not allow yourself sufficient time — is that you must rush through check-in and security.