Note: These unique Essential Israel 2 Day Excursions can be wonderful additions to any Essential Israel tour.
The focus of this excursion is Christian and Jewish aspects of the Galilee in ancient and modern times. We will start the tour with Beit Shearim National Park, one of the main centers of Jewish leadership after the destruction of the Temple. The incredible archeology – including a large stone menorah inside a burial cave – testifies to the important Jewish community that flourished there 1,800 years ago. We will continue our tour to Nazareth Village to see what life was like in Jesus’ hometown when He was a boy there. Our next stop will be for lunch in Tiberius, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus’ ministry, many miracles and teachings took place in this spectacular area. Perhaps, you’ll want to drive a motorboat on the Sea of Galilee for a memorable experience. Tiberius has a rich Jewish history as well, particularly since the 4th century when it became the seat of Jewish leadership and the Talmud was written there. We will visit the Traditional Tomb of Rabbi Akiva to hear more about the Jewish connection to ancient Tiberius, and see a spectacular view of the city from above. Our next stop will be at Ginosar, to see fishing boat from Jesus’ time that was discovered on the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. From here, we’ll visit Capernaum where Jesus would stay at Simon Peter’s house. The house later became a church, and co-existed with a synagogue next door for many centuries. Or, perhaps instead, you will choose to visit Bethsaida or Kursi which today are archeological sites in which Jesus did miracles. We’ll conclude this remarkable day with a delicious dinner of St. Peter’s Fish by the Sea.
We will start the day with a tour of the Sapir Pumping Station which has pumped water from the Sea of Galilee throughout Israel in the National Water Carrier since 1967. We will hear about Israel’s remarkable advances in providing water to its residents in an arid region. We will also gain an understanding about how the water issue impacts Israel’s relations with her neighbors. Next, we’re off to the picturesque town of Tzfat in the Upper Galilee where Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) flourished in the 16th century. Important events also took place in Tzfat in1948 which were pivotal in the decision to declare the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. We will visit historic sites, and browse in the wonderful shops with handmade Israeli jewelry and art. See the famous “Alleyway of the Messiah” through which, according to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will walk before coming to Jerusalem. After a wonderful lunch with a breathtaking view of the Upper Galilee, we’ll drive through the Hula Valley, one of the important places for birds of Europe and Africa to rest during their migration season. We’ll conclude the day at Tel Dan National Park on the borders of Lebanon and Syria. Tel Dan was the Northern Border of the Israelites in ancient times as well. Take off your shoes, and wade in a refreshing pool of the Dan River. See a Canaanite gate, which is one of the oldest gates found in archeology in the world. We’ll also see the entrance to the Israelite City of Dan and an altar from the First Temple Period.
Put on your walking shoes for two days of terrific touring in Jerusalem! We’ll start with a breathtaking lookout from the Mount of Olives. We’ll hear how this mountain has been an important and holy place for over 3,000 years. Mount of Olives is full of Jewish graves dating back to the time of King Solomon, and is an active Jewish cemetery until today. In Jewish and Christian tradition, the Mount of Olives is deeply connected to the Messiah and End of Days prophecies. Jesus entered the Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, He stayed there in his last week teaching the disciples at night in a grotto, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and was betrayed by the Disciples and Judas. Also on this mountain, Jesus ascended after the resurrection.
From this lookout, we’ll have a perfect view of the City of David, Mt. Zion, the Walls of the Old City, the Temple Mount, the Golden Gate of the Temple Mount., and much more. We’ll descend the Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane for some quiet moments for prayer and reflection. We’ll continue walking into St. Stephen’s Gate/Lions’ Gate. This is the same route that the paratroopers took when they reunited the city of Jerusalem in 1967. We’ll catch glimpses of the Temple Mount as we walk by gates (open only to Muslims) that lead to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa Mosque. We’ll see the ancient water pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a lame man, and learn about where Jerusalem residents have accessed water throughout the generations. Enjoy the sites, sounds, and aromas of the Arab Market, as we make our way to the Jewish Quarter. Take a break for some freshly made felafel, and we’ll continue our tour with Mt. Zion. On Mt. Zion, we’ll visit the traditional Tomb of King David and the Room of the Last Supper and Pentacost. We’ll continue with a tour of the Jewish Quarter with optional sites including: The Burnt House, Herodian Quarter, Broad Wall, Cardo, Hurva Synagogue, and the Temple Institute. See the Golden Menorah as you look out over the Western Wall Plaza. Approach the Wall where you may want to place a note. We’ll continue to the City of David, the exact location where King David built his palace. Perhaps, you’ll want to challenge yourself to walk through King Hezekiah’s 2,700 year old water tunnel. It’s a unique experience, and you will be so happy you did. Top off this spectacular day with a short walk to the Davidson Southern Wall Excavations through a 2,000 year old walkway. Take off your shoes and walk the stairs that Jesus walked up to the Temple.
Today we’ll visit some important national sites, located in Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital.
We’ll start the day with a tour of the Supreme Court. The style of this special building is based on Biblical passages and ancient Jerusalem architecture. Perhaps, we’ll have a chance to sit in on a court case. Next, we’ll walk through the Rose Garden which connects the Supreme Court to the Knesset. As we approach the Knesset, we’ll first stop at the Knesset Menorah, a great place to learn more about the national symbols of Israel. What is the origin of the menorah? Why did it become the emblem of the State? When did the Jewish Star become a national symbol? We will then enter the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, for a fascinating tour. But first, how about some coffee and pastries in the Knesset cafeteria, among politicians and national leaders?
We will then continue to the nearby Israel Museum, for a tour of the newly renovated archeology, wing which contains some of the most important finds of Biblical archeology in the world. We will also see the over 2,000 year old Dead Sea Scrolls and the model of Jerusalem which is very similar to how it would have looked in Jesus’ days. We will top off this outstanding day in Israel’s Capital with a visit to the Garden Tomb for prayer and reflection.
We’ll start with a lookout from Har Homa. From this recently built neighborhood in Jerusalem, we can see Bethlehem and Shepherd’s Fields. We will also learn about terms that are often discussed in the media such as East Jerusalem, the Oslo Accords, Areas A, B, and C, the Separation Barrier and more. From there, we will continue to Herodian, King Herod’s boutique palace (and burial place) which later became a refuge for Jews fighting the Romans during the Great Revolt which ended with the destruction of the Temple and the fall of Masada, and 60 years later the Bar Kochba Revolt. Herodian has a spectacular view of the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. After Herodian, it’s time for lunch at one of the fabulous cafes in Gush Etzion (the Etzion Bloc).
Gush Etzion, in ancient and modern times is the gateway to Jerusalem, both physically and spiritually. We’ll walk on the Patriarch’s Way, the exact road that Abraham would have walked with Isaac on their way to Jerusalem (and we’ll see archeological evidence which indicates this actually was the road they walked on). We’ll hear about the heroic founding and defending of Gush Etzion in the 20s, 30s and 40s, ending tragically when Jordanian soldiers took the area and massacred the residents in 1948, the day before the State of Israel was declared. Hear the inspiring story of the return to Gush Etzion 19 years later, immediately after the 6 Day War, when Gush Etzion was returned to Jewish hands. Next we’ll visit the ancient water system called the Biyar that incredibly carried spring water from this area to the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem until modern times. We’ll conclude our day in Efrat, the picturesque Israeli community which in modern and ancient times, borders on Bethlehem and is mentioned in the books of Genesis, Samuel and Ruth. Efrat was re-founded about 30 years ago by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, a modern day Nehemiah. We will have a delicious dinner at the Efrat Guest House and perhaps hear a speaker from Rabbi Riskin’s Center for Jewish and Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).
We’re off to Hebron, but first, how about a training session to Gush Etzion’s shooting and anti-terrorism range? We’ll drive through the Hebron Hills where several important battles of the Macabees took place. From here, they went to take back and purify the Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks. As we approach Hebron, we’ll drive through Kiryat Arba and hear the fascinating story of it’s founding. Next, we’ll arrive to Hebron for a lookout from ancient Tel Rumeda, which is likely to be the location of Hebron in Biblical times. From here, we have a fantastic view of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Next we’ll visit the Avraham Avinu Neighborhood, named after our forefather Abraham who dwelled here, and legend has it, continues to make appearances here from time to time. This is today one of the few Jewish neighborhood in Hebron which has had continuous Jewish settlement almost since the time it was King David’s Capital city over 3,000 years ago. From here, we will visit the Hebron cemetery, which testifies to this Jewish presence and the massacres of the Arab riots of 1929 in which Jewish residents were killed or forced to leave (until the return after the 6 Day War). After this important visit, we will go to the Tomb of the Patriarchs where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and others are buried. We will hear amazing stories about miracles that have taken place in this place throughout history. We will conclude this spectacular day with a visit to Susiya, a Jewish town in the Hebron Hills full of mikvahs (ritual baths), olive presses, and a beautiful synagogue where a Jewish community thrived until the 8th century, 1200 years ago.