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Itinerary 2018

Please note that the itinerary is not finalized and is subject to change based on time, weather, security and other considerations.


DAY ONE:
MONDAY, MARCH 5–ARRIVAL

  • Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport

Our representatives will meet you as you exit the plane and escort you through passport control, baggage claim and customs. Your luggage will be delivered directly to your hotel and will be waiting in your room upon arrival.

  • Discover the Ruins of Megiddo, Where the Thousands of Years of Fascinating History Come To Life

Megiddo lies at the Western entrance to the fertile Jezreel Valley, on the crossroads of the ancient trade route, the Via Maris, that stretched from Egypt in the South through Israel to the Northern empires of Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia (modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria). Rulers of Megiddo controlled the passage of merchants and goods, as well as armies, along the Fertile Crescent. Megiddo was a highly fortified city and many battles took place between competing civilizations for its control.


“Tel” is a term used mainly for archaeological mounds in the Middle East created by human occupation and subsequent abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. At Tel Megiddo, twenty six layers of ruins attest to thousands of years of history and the reign of the Canaanites, King Solomon and King Ahab. In 2005, Megiddo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and continues to draw tens of thousands of visitors every year.

  • Sit-down Lunch
  • Visit the British Detention Center for Illegal Immigrants in Atlit

From 1936 until 1948 the British severely curtailed Jewish immigration to the Mandate of Palestine due to Arab pressure. Thousands chose to immigrate illegally by land, air, and especially by sea. Those who were caught were interred by the British. The detention center in Atlit housed thousands of prisoners and was the scene of a daring breakout on October 10, 1945 led by Yitzchak Rabin (who later served as Prime Minister from 1974-1977 and 1992-1995). A tour of the site includes the barracks, a moving audio-visual presentation on the history of the jail, the processing center, and a ritual mikva constructed for inmates.

  • Transfer to the hotel, check-in, unpack
  • Early dinner in Tel Aviv with guest speaker
  • Overnight: Tel Aviv

Participants who arrive in Israel in the late morning or afternoon will join the rest of the group as per the day’s schedule.


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DAY TWO:
TUESDAY, MARCH 6–OPTIONS DAY

  • Breakfast

Full Israeli breakfast at hotel with guest speaker

Option A - In the Footsteps of the Bible

  • Visit Tel Yizre’el, Site of the Adventures of Gideon In His Triumph Against the Midianites, And the Palace King Ahab And Queen Jezebel

The Book of Judges (Chapter 7) recounts the incredible story of Gideon’s campaign against the far superior army of Midian. Upon instruction from G-d, Gideon dismantled most of his army of over 30,000 warriors so that once victorious, the feat would clearly be seen as miraculous. “Armed” with a shofar and a flaming torch hidden inside a clay vessel, Gideon and just 300 men surrounded the city of Midian. Upon instruction from Gideon, his men broke their clay vessels, blew their shofars and loudly announced, “To G-d and to Gideon”. The Midianites, confused and terrified, began fighting amongst themselves and retreated. Gideon’s directive to his men to follow his example is a lesson in leadership that is emblazoned on the wall of the prestigious IDF Officers Training Academy near Mizpe Ramon.
We will also learn the tale of the wicked King Ahab and his malevolent wife, Queen Jezebel, whose palace stood at this site.

  • Visit the Historic Military Training Ground at Ein Harod

From biblical times to recent history, this strategic spot was where armies-in-the-making trained, armies gathered prior to battle and where great battles were fought.


The Spring of Harod flows from Gideon's Cave, the site where Gideon gathered his men before fighting the Midianites. Judges 7:1 describes the scene: "Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley." It was here that Gideon administered the 'water test' as a way of choosing the warriors for the coming battle (Judges 7:4-7).


Today, Ein Harod is a nature reserve with the second largest pool in Israel, sprawling lawns, a picnic area, and great looming eucalyptus trees. Aside from Gideon's Cave you'll be able to see some remains of an ancient aqueduct and a memorial to soldiers who died fighting on Mt. Gilboa.


The Harod Spring also served as one the first training bases for the Palmach with the assistance of the British officer Orde Wingate who was sympathetic to the plight of the Jews in Israel. The Palmach was a special strike force within the Haganah, the organized clandestine effort at armed self-defense of the Jewish population of the British Mandate that was the precursor to the IDF.

  • Ascend Mt. Gilboa Where King Saul Fell In Battle Against the Philistines

Mount Gilboa (Hebrew: Har HaGilboa), is a mountain range overlooking the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. The name Gilboa means ”boiling springs,” or ”water bursting from rock.”


On this site, King Saul, facing battle against the Philistines, was told that neither he nor his sons would survive the encounter. He bravely accepted his fate and led his men to war on the mountains of Gilboa. Soon, his army was routed, three sons were killed, and his own capture became imminent. Saul ordered his weapons bearer to strike him dead. The young man could not fulfill the king’s wishes. Rather than cause disgrace to G-d’s name when captured alive by the Philistines, Saul fell on his own sword.

Option B - Classic

  • Experience the Mystical Old City of Tzfat (Safed)

No tour to the North of Israel can be complete without recharging one’s spiritual batteries in the transcendent city of Safed.


Safed, or Tzfat as it is known in Hebrew, is derived from the word tsofeh (scout). It refers to the city’s unique location, perched on a steep slope high in the Galilean hills. One of the four holy cities in Israel, Safed represents the element of air. (Hebron represents earth, Jerusalem represents fire, and Tiberias represents water.) According to the Zohar, its pure mountain air is also the holiest in Israel.


Sources date the city back to the time of Joshua bin Nun (1355–1245 BCE), and archeological findings confirm dwellings dating back to the Second Temple era.


Safed grew with an influx of refugees from the Spanish Inquisition in the late fifteenth century, when it reached its zenith as a center of study of Torah and Kabbalah. A massive earthquake in 1837 killed thousands of Safed’s inhabitants and destroyed many of the buildings, leaving behind only a small community. But the city was soon rejuvenated by early Chasidim who settled in its holy environs.


  • Explore Mount Meron, Burial Site of Sages and Mystics

The highest mountain in the Galil at more than 4,000 feet, Meron gets its fame on account of the many great kabbalists and Talmudic sages buried on it. On the mountain are the remains of one of the oldest synagogues in the country, dating back to the time of the Second Temple. It has three entrance gates which all face in the direction of Jerusalem.


The large domed building is the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (second century C.E.) also known by the acronym of his name, Rashbi and his son Rabbi Elazar. Rabbi Shimon is the author of the Zohar, the fundamental text of Kabbalah. Also on the mountain are the gravesites of the great Mishnaic sages Hillel and Shammai, as well as their students. Up to the right is the burial place of Rabbi Yochanan HaSandlar, another great sage of the same era as Rashbi.


Option C - Borders & Security

  • Visit Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Site of An Important Battle In Israel’s War of Independence

The Kibbutz was founded in 1943 and named after Mordechai Anilewicz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. A giant statue of the hero overlooks the community, behind it is the Kibbutz's original water tower that was shelled by the Egyptians during the 1948 War.


The Kibbutz’s heroic defenders managed to stem the onslaught of the Egyptian Army during the War of Independence, allowing the Israeli forces time to regroup and, ultimately, block the enemy from capturing the coastal region. The kibbutz has reconstructed a scene from the war with life-size cut-outs with rifles and helmets representing the Egyptians.

  • Security Briefing at Gaza Border Lookout

A lookout over the border into the self-governing Palestinian territory of Gaza grants a perspective that cannot be gained from media coverage of the Middle East. Since the 2005 disengagement of the Gaza Strip, it has become a hotbed of terrorist activity. Gaza is ruled by the militant Hamas party and is a stronghold of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

  • Tour the Netiv Ha’asara Moshav in Southern Israel

The Netiv Ha-asara moshav in the Negev desert in Southern Israel was founded in 1982. The moshav was established by seventy families who were residents of the former Israeli settlement of the same name in the Sinai Peninsula, which was disbanded as a result of the Camp David Accords (1978).


A visit to the beleaguered communities in the south of Israel provides an opportunity to hear first-hand from those whose lives are directly affected by the often precarious security situation in the region. Candid conversations with the families who have chosen to settle in these communities shed light on what motivates them, what concerns them, and what gives them and their children the strength to persist in extraordinary circumstances.

Option D - Israel Encounters

  • Tour the Ancient Port of Akko (Acre) And Meet With Local Residents of This City With A Mixed Jewish and Arab population

The city of Akko (Acre in English) is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the region. The first settlement at the site of ancient Akko appears can be traced to about 3000 BCE. Akko is mentioned In the Tanach (Judges 1:31) when it verse lists the places from which the Israelites did not initially drive out the Canaanites. It mentioned again later as part of the territory of the tribe of Asher.


At the time of the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE), Akko was on the northern border of the Land of Israel. Akko is mentioned in the Talmud as it tells how the sages kissed the soil upon arriving in Akko. The Talmud also describes how those forced to leave Israel for Babylon wept bitterly upon crossing the border at this place.


Many of the ruins found in Akko date to the Crusader (1095-1291) and Ottoman (1517-1917) Periods, and help trace the tumultuous history of the Jewish people who lived in the region during those trying eras. The great scholar Nachmanides (1194–1270) and other leading rabbis and scholars spent time in Akko. In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte was unable to break the fortified walls of the city and eventually was forced to retreat back to Egypt.


During the time of the British Mandate, fighters of the Haganah, Irgun, and Lehi underground movements were incarcerated in the old Turkish prison in Akko, the “Alcatraz” of the Middle East. They managed to stage a successful breakout in May 1947 and twenty-eight fighters escaped.

  • Explore the Spectacular Rosh Hanikra Grottoes

Known by the Sages as the “Ladder of Tyre,” the towering white cliffs of Rosh Hanikra lie on the northwestern tip of Israel. Over the ages, the pounding waves of the Mediterranean Sea have created a series of stunning grottoes where the azure waters meet the bone-white rock. Since time immemorial, Rosh Hanikra has served as the passage point for traders and merchants, and soldiers and mercenaries making their way between Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. In 1946, the Haganah carried out a daring series of offensives to bring transportation in and out of Palestine to a halt by blowing up all bridges linking the country to the outside world. The bridge at Rosh Hanikra was destroyed with no injuries or loss of life.

Option E - Food & Wine

  • Visit the Morad Fruit Winery

At the foot of lsrael’s Carmel Mountains and amid the beauty of the fertile Galilee, the Morad Winery in Yokneam transforms nature’s harvest into the finest of kosher wines and liqueurs. Made exclusively from fruits, vegetables and herbs, the winery produces a large selection of flavorful and exotic “wines” – from passion fruit to pomegranate. Recently, the winery has opened a boutique winery creating traditional wines as well. At Morad, you will learn about the process and experience a taste of their unique product.

  • Drive Through the Beautiful Carmel Mountain and enjoy Traditional Druze hospitality in the Village of Issufiya

Mount Carmel (lit. “G-d’s Vineyard”) is a stunning mountain range in the north of Israel extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast. During Biblical times, Elijah confronted the false ”prophets” of the pagan god, Ba’al atop the mountain in a dramatic showdown leading the Israelites to proclaim the existence of one G-d.


Mount Carmel is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and today the protected environment serves as nurturing ground for a several animal species facing extinction. The city of Haifa is situated on the northwest slopes of the mountain and the Druze villages of Dalyat el-Carmel and Issufiya are located along the center of the range.

  • Visit the Historic Carmel Winery in Zichron Yaakov

This historic winery has recently opened its doors to the public and presents the fascinating story from the birth of Israel’s wine industry up to the current world of wine in Israel today. Observe the historic chain of wine production from the beginning of modern settlement in Israel. Visit the winery’s cellars and observe authentic traditional and innovative technologies used in the production of the wines.


The winery is located in Zichron Yaakov, a town first established by religious pioneers from Romania in 1882 as an agricultural settlement. Though filled with lofty ideals, the inhabitants were unprepared for a life of farming amid difficult conditions and struggled to support themselves financially. In 1883, the scion of the a wealthy banking family, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, came to their rescue taking the settlement under his wing and naming it after his father Yaakov (James Mayer de Rothchild). Zichron Yaakov literally means literally “in memory of Yaakov”.


The Baron did not content himself with financial handouts, but created a sustainable infrastructure by building houses for the residents, planting vineyards, and establishing the Carmel Winery which continues to produce wine today.

  • Dinner on your own in Tel Aviv
  • Overnight: Tel Aviv

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DAY THREE:
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7–OPTIONS DAY

  • Breakfast

Full Israeli breakfast at hotel with guest speaker

Option A - In the Footsteps of the Bible

  • Explore the Ancient Ruins of Tel Be’er Sheva

Tel Sheva, the archeological mound of biblical Beersheba, is located in the northern Negev, several kilometers east of the present-day city of Be'er Sheva. Beersheba is first mentioned in the biblical account of God's revelation to the patriarchs (Gen. 26:23-25; 46:1).


The ancient town was built on a low hill on the bank of a wadi (dry riverbed), which carries floodwater during the winter months. A close-to-the-surface aquifer along the wadi ensured the year-round supply of water.


A large area of the site was excavated producing several layers of remains of settlements from many eras, including fortified towns of the early Israelite period and the monarchic period of Judah. These ancient settlements are covered by remnants of small fortresses dated from the Persian to the Roman periods.

  • Tour Tel Lachish Archeological Dig

Artifacts found at the sight of the ancient city of Lachish date back more than 5,000 years. The city is mentioned several times in Tanach. The king of Lachish was one of thirty-one kings defeated by Joshua. The city subsequently became part of the tribe of Judah’s territory. The city is also referenced in Chronicles II more than once.


The Book of Kings recounts the terrifying assault of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, on the kingdom of Judea in 701 BCE. The hapless Jewish citizens were subjected to murder, pillage, and forced exile. There seemed to be nothing that could stop the formidable Assyrian war-machine. Even the fortified city of Lachish was breached and conquered. Archeologists discovered wall engravings depicting the assault on Lachish, as well as a steele, detailing the conquest in the palace of Sennecherib in Ninveh.

  • Discover Biblical Era Shrines at Khirbet Qeiyafa

Excavators at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city 30 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah that served as a border city for the Kingdom of Judah, unearthed three biblical-era shrines. The landmark discovery included pottery, stone and metal tools, and art and cult objects that together shed light on the culture and times of biblical kings in what is today the State of Israel.


The discovery is extraordinary because it is the first time that shrines from this time period have been found. The shrines pre-date the construction of King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years; provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of David and have significant implications for the fields of archeology, history, and biblical and religious studies.

Option B - Classic

  • Explore the Old Port of Jaffa—Ancient Gateway to the Land of Israel

Jaffa Port is an ancient port on the Mediterranean Sea, located in the Old City of Jaffa (Hebrew: Yaffo), with a history spanning over three millennia. The port is mentioned in the book of Jonah of the Tanach. It is where the prophet set sail for Tarshish in an attempt to avoid his mission to inspire repentance in the population of Ninveh. Jonah was famously swallowed by a giant fish after the vessel he traveled on was shipwrecked during a storm.


Josephus mentions Jaffa in his description of first Jewish revolt (66–73 AD) against Rome.


For centuries, Jaffa was the entry–point for Jews who sought to settle in or visit the Land of Israel. Its relative proximity to Jerusalem, a mere three-day journey by donkey, made it the obvious docking point for those who traveled by ship to fulfill their life-long dream of reaching the holy city.


In 1917, during World War I, Britain’s General Allenby defeated the Ottomans, and Jaffa became part of the British-administered Palestine Mandate. In 1947 and 1948 harsh fighting ensued between Jaffa which was largely inhabited by Arabs, and the adjoining Jewish city of Tel Aviv. On 13 May 1948, (one day before the proclamation of the State of Israel), the Arab forces in Jaffa were finally defeated by the Haganah and Irgun Zva’i Leumi underground forces. Since 1950, the Jewish city of Tel Aviv and the mostly Arab city of Jaffa are unified as the Tel Aviv-Yaffo municipality.


Still functional as a small fishing port with modern docks, today the port is primarily a recreational zone featuring restaurants, cafés, art galleries, and shops. A lighthouse, Jaffa Light, is located above the port.

  • Explore Rothschild Boulevard and the Colorful Carmel Market in Tel Aviv

Rothschild Boulevard is one of the principal streets in the center of Tel Aviv, beginning in Neve Tzedek at its southwestern edge and running north to the Habima Theatre.


The Carmel Market is the most famous of all Tel Aviv’s marketplaces. From hand-made Jachnun, a traditional Yemenite dish, to artisanal cheeses, and from one-off cotton clothes to designer threads, HaCarmel has it all.

  • Discover the Historic Ruins of Caesarea

Regarded as the jewel of the Mediterranean with its magnificently preserved ruins, Caesarea boasts a rich history and stunning natural setting. Originally a small Phoenician port called Straton’s Tower, the city was propelled to the center of global trade by King Herod. In the year 22 BCE, he built the second largest harbor in the ancient world, complete with a theater, hippodrome, royal palace, market places, bathhouses, and pagan temples.


Every five years, the city hosted lavish sporting competitions, reminiscent of the Olympic Games and gladiator contests. After Herod’s death, Caesarea served as the capital of the Province of Judea as Rome assumed full control over the country. Tensions between Jews and pagans ran high, and a great revolt broke out in 66 C.E. The revolt eventually led to the destruction of the Second Holy Temple.


Caesarea flourished during the Byzantine period and later served as a strategic fortress for the Crusaders. Following the Mameluk conquest in the 13th century, the city fell into ruin and was eventually covered over by sand. The well-known philanthropist, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, was instrumental in reestablishing the city over a hundred years ago and making it into a modern thriving town.

Option C - Borders & Security

  • Visit Bet HaLochem, the IDF’s Disabled Veteran’s Association

Meet with wounded IDF veterans, members at Bet HaLochem who were wounded while fighting in defense of the State of Israel, a heavy price the nation has had to pay for its independence and survival.


The facility at Bet haLochem serves 14,000 members including wounded veterans and their families with facilities to provide ongoing medical care as well as culture and recreation.


  • Look Out Over the Valley of Ayalon, Site of Dramatic Battle for the Latrun Heights

The strategic ridge of Latrun overlooks the Ayalon Valley where Joshua and the Israelites fought a fateful battle against the Canaanites over 3000 years ago. The Bible recounts how Joshua bin Nun saw victory slipping away as the darkness of night approached. He prayed: “O sun! Stand still over Givon; and moon, over the Valley of Ayalon.” Miraculously, the sun stood still, allowing for Joshua’s forces to complete their rout of the enemy.


Many years later Judah the Maccabee was to array his forces in Latrun, preparing for the clash against the Syrian-Greeks.


In modern times, Latrun became the key in the battle for Jerusalem as the road from the coast to the capital was controlled by whoever occupied the ridge. The Jordanian Legion held Jerusalem under siege in 1948 during the War of Independence and the city was under imminent danger of starvation and surrender. Israeli leader David Ben Gurion ordered the formation of the first armored battalion and ordered them to take Latrun at all costs. The plan was called Operation Bin Nun in memory of Joshua, but the Israelis were outgunned, outnumbered, and outmaneuvered by the Jordanians. Over and over the Israeli forces regrouped and attacked but stood no chance against the withering fire of the enemy.


It was in this battle that an injured Ariel Sharon was saved from certain death, an experience that shaped the doctrine of the IDF: never to abandon a soldier in the field. Eventually, the Israelis were forced to construct a bypass route, called the Burma Road, which was used to transfer essential supplies to Jerusalem, thus breaking the siege and saving the city. Only in 1967 did the IDF manage to capture Latrun. Today it serves as a memorial site for the Armored Corps, and it has the largest tank museum in the Middle East, boasting small tanks from the War of Independence alongside the newest Israeli-designed and produced Merkava.


Also on display are tanks captured from the Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians—relics of Israel’s battle for survival.

Option D - Israel Encounters

  • Explore the Old Port of Jaffa—Ancient Gateway to the Land of Israel

Jaffa Port is an ancient port on the Mediterranean Sea, located in the Old City of Jaffa (Hebrew: Yaffo), with a history spanning over three millennia. The port is mentioned in the book of Jonah of the Tanach. It is where the prophet set sail for Tarshish in an attempt to avoid his mission to inspire repentance in the population of Ninveh. Jonah was famously swallowed by a giant fish after the vessel he traveled on was shipwrecked during a storm.


Josephus mentions Jaffa in his description of first Jewish revolt (66–73 AD) against Rome.


For centuries, Jaffa was the entry–point for Jews who sought to settle in or visit the Land of Israel. Its relative proximity to Jerusalem, a mere three-day journey by donkey, made it the obvious docking point for those who traveled by ship to fulfill their life-long dream of reaching the holy city.


In 1917, during World War I, Britain’s General Allenby defeated the Ottomans, and Jaffa became part of the British-administered Palestine Mandate. In 1947 and 1948 harsh fighting ensued between Jaffa which was largely inhabited by Arabs, and the adjoining Jewish city of Tel Aviv. On 13 May 1948, (one day before the proclamation of the State of Israel), the Arab forces in Jaffa were finally defeated by the Haganah and Irgun Zva’i Leumi underground forces. Since 1950, the Jewish city of Tel Aviv and the mostly Arab city of Jaffa are unified as the Tel Aviv-Yaffo municipality.


Still functional as a small fishing port with modern docks, today the port is primarily a recreational zone featuring restaurants, cafés, art galleries, and shops. A lighthouse, Jaffa Light, is located above the port.

  • Visit Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv’s Oldest Neighborhood

The beautiful area of Neve Tzedek was the first neighborhood of Tel Aviv. It was established in 1887 on land that belonged to a political activist named Aaron Shlush. You can still see his house as well as other old buildings representative of the architecture of the early days of settlement in Israel. Neve Tzedek is home to many artists whose works are displayed throughout the area.

  • Tour the Bustling Levinsky Market

The Levinsky market, which extends into numerous side streets, is a colorful market brimming with spices, herbs, and teas. Founded by Jews from Thessalonica, Greece, over 80 years ago, the Levinsky market is tucked under and between derelict three-story buildings. The Greek Jews were followed by an influx of Iranian Jews and immigrants from other countries where herbal remedies and spicy foods are common.

  • Presentation by some of Israeli’s Incredible New Technologies and Promising Start-ups

A showcase of some of Israel’s incredible new technologies at “Silicon Wadi” in Herzlia. Israel’s Silicon Wadi is an area in the coastal plain of Israel where business people and scientists work, developing breakthrough technologies, from cybersecurity and agricultural solutions to world hunger solutions. “Wadi” is the Arabic word for a valley or dry river bed, also commonly used in colloquial Hebrew. Silicon Wadi is a pun based on the Californian region of Silicon Valley.


Israel boasts many high-technology companies in a wide range of fields such as telecommunications equipment, software, semiconductors, biotechnology, and medical electronics. The majority of these companies are start-ups, with the most successful becoming world leaders in their respective fields. High technology and technology-rich products account for some 70 percent of Israeli exports. Multinational corporations have come to recognize Israel’s technology abilities: leading global companies like Intel, Motorola, IBM, Microsoft, Alcatel, and 3Com all have research and development facilities in Israel. Intel and Motorola also manufacture advanced products in Israel, and many other multinationals have purchased local companies, buying their patents and acquiring their human talent.

Option E - Food & Wine

  • Visit Shvil Izim Farm, Makers of Artisan Goat Cheese in Tal Shachar

Located in the serene rolling hills of Moshav Tal Shachar, this wonderful family-run goat farm specializes in its own preservative-free artisan goat cheeses, including a Gouda, a well-reviewed Manchego and their own Soreq, named for the region in which they’re located. The farm also produces a soft feta, labneh or yogurt cheese, Camembert and yogurts, all produced from milk from their own 100-goat herd.

  • Drive Through Ayalon Valley, Location of Joshua’s Historic Battle

The Ayalon Valley is where Joshua and the Children of Israel fought a fateful battle against the Canaanites over 3000 years ago. The Bible recounts how Joshua Bin Nun saw victory slipping away as the darkness of night approached. He prayed: “O sun! Stand still over Givon; and moon, over the Valley of Ayalon.” Miraculously, the sun stood still, allowing for Joshua’s forces to complete their rout of the enemy.

  • Visit the Award-Winning Barkan Winery

Between the Hulda Forest and Kibbutz Hulda, at the heart of 500 acres of vineyards, resides Barkan Wine Cellars' visitor center. Barkan Wine Cellars is the second largest Israeli winery and its leading exporter, producing five to nine million bottles a year. Expect a unique experience around the theme of "from land to bottle". Visit the largest barrel hall in Israel, with over 5,000 barrels, watch an educational film about their grape-growing methods and the wine's manufacturing.

  • See Ancient Olive-Press and Modern Olive Oil Factory

Learn about the production of olive oil in times of old and modern-day technology.



  • All Groups Meet Up At the Western Wall in Late Afternoon for a Unique JLI Experience
  • Group Dinner
  • Check in to your hotel
  • Overnight: Jerusalem

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DAY FOUR:
THURSDAY, MARCH 8–JERUSALEM

  • Breakfast

Full Israeli breakfast at hotel with guest speaker

Option A: In the Footsteps of the Bible

  • Enjoy a Stunning Lookout over the Temple Mount atop the Mount of Olives

The Mount of Olives towers high above the Kidron Valley on the northeastern edge of Jerusalem, and serves as the barrier between the fertile areas of the city and the barren Judean Desert. On the slopes of the mountain is the oldest Jewish cemetery still in use today, with tombs dating back to the First Temple Period over 2500 years ago. Former Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, chose to be buried here as well, instead of on Mount Herzl. Under Roman and Byzantine rule, Jews were not permitted to enter Jerusalem and so the Mount of Olives became a place of pilgrimage, in memory of Temple times. Here too, Jews would gather on Tisha B’Av and mourn the destruction of the Temple while looking down onto the Temple Mount. In modern times, the Mount of Olives was under Jordanian rule from 1948–1967, during which time widespread desecration of the Jewish cemetery took place. According to Jewish tradition, the Mount of Olives plays a central role in the coming of the Messiah, and it is from here that the resurrection of the dead will begin.

  • Take Part In A Real-Life Archeological Excavation. Sift Through Rubble from the Temple Mount at Emek Zurim

Situated on the slopes of the Mount of Olives in the northeastern corner of Jerusalem, the Zurim Valley is the site of a unique archeological project. In 1999, the Muslim Waqf conducted a large-scale removal of earth from the Temple Mount, in order to build a huge underground mosque in the area known as Solomon’s Stables. The work was carried out without any government permits or supervision, and hundreds of tons of rubble were simply dumped in the nearby Kidron Valley. After a prolonged battle, archeologist Gabu Barkai received permission from the government to transfer the rubble to the Zurim Valley, and—with the help of volunteers—sift through bucketful by bucketful, discovering the treasures of the past that had been hidden. The project continues today, and to date, volunteers have found rare coins, arrowheads, mosaic stones, bones, figurines, and many other artifacts that shed light on some 3000 years of history.

  • Visit the Bible Lands Museum

The museum's artifacts represent many different periods in ancient Israel. The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian empires are also depicted within the museum's vast collection. The museum also displays the traditions of other peoples mentioned in the Bible such as the Philistines, Arameans, Hittites, Elamites, Phoenicians, and the Persians.


Daily life in the Biblical periods is also described. Artifacts originate from various areas of ancient life. Transportation, religious worship, trade, agriculture, and communication devices have all been amazingly preserved and tell the story of the realities of ancient life in Israel and its surrounding areas.

Option B: Classic

  • Ascend the Famous Desert Fortress of Masada

One and a quarter miles west of the Dead Sea, rising 1443 feet above sea level, is Masada. With its wide, flat summit, it was the perfect place for military defenses. The first fortifications built on Masada were constructed by the Hasmoneans in 42 CE. Twenty years later, Herod added a wall, water storage cisterns, and a beautiful palace.


Following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish Zealots continued their Great Revolt against the Roman Empire from the Masada fortress. They appropriated the luxurious palaces and bathhouses that King Herod had built for himself a century earlier, and lived off the water cisterns and vast stores of food that he had put in place. It was not long before the crack Roman Tenth Legion, under Flavius Silva, arrived to quell the rebellion with thousands of troops and auxiliaries. While the Zealots were hopelessly outnumbered, they managed to keep the Romans at bay due to the cunning fortifications and the sheer difficulty of ascent. Not to be deterred, the Romans built a massive ramp and a siege tower with a huge battering ram. On the eve of Passover 72 CE, the defensive wall was breached, leaving the path open for the legions to ascend and conquer the mountain. The Zealots chose to end their own lives rather than be subjected to the tyranny of the Romans, and when Flavius ascended Masada the next morning, he was met with a silence that continues to reverberate today.


Signs of Jewish religious life on the mountain include a mikva (ritual pool), and a synagogue that faces in the direction of Jerusalem.

  • Float in the Dead Sea

Measuring 309 square miles, the mineral-rich Dead Sea and nearby springs are known for their curative qualities. Its waters are 35 percent salt, which is ten times saltier than the Atlantic Ocean. Located in the Judean desert at 1,401 feet below sea level, it is the lowest spot on earth, and is a stark contrast to the not-too-distant Judean hills.


Due to the extremely high mineral content of the water, it has been renowned for centuries as a place of healing for a variety of ailments and skin conditions.


The sharp smell emanating from sulfur deposits close by reminds one of the destruction of nearby Sodom and Gomorah, when “G‑d rained down…sulfur and fire” (Genesis 19).

Option C: Borders & Security

  • Pay Tribute to the Fallen Heroes at the IDF Military Cemetery

The main Israel Defense Forces cemetery is located on the northern slope of Mt. Herzl. It was established in November 1949, when soldiers who fell in the Jerusalem area were buried here. In 1949, the government decided to turn the site into the main cemetery for IDF members who have fallen in the line of duty.


Our group will meet with Zohara Haiman, mother of 2nd Lieutenant Yuval Heiman, who died defending Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

  • Visit Ammunition Hill and the Jerusalem Neighborhood of Abu Tor

Ammunition Hill (Givat Hatachmoshet), situated between the modern neighborhoods of Ramat Eshkol and French Hill, was the site of one of the 1967 Six-Day War’s bloodiest and most important battles. A contingent of Israeli paratroopers vied to oust entrenched Jordanian legionnaires who were preventing Israeli access to Mount Scopus and the Jerusalem-Ramallah road. Thirty-seven Israeli troops lost their lives.


Today, Ammunition Hill houses the main Jerusalem induction center for new IDF recruits, an extensive museum, and the trenches and fortifications from the battle. The museum covers the events surrounding the battle in depth, including a rousing documentary film and exhibits on armed Jewish resistance to Nazi oppression in Europe. There are several memorials to the young men who died during the campaign for Jerusalem in 1967.

  • Visit East Jerusalem

From 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was a city divided. The Jordanians controlled the East and Israel the West, with an ugly border running through from North to South. Following the Six-Day War, the city was united, yet many of the neighborhoods remain predominantly Jewish or Arab. In recent years, many Jews have chosen to make their homes in East Jerusalem. But the prevailing political and security climate has made this anything but simple. We will tour some of these neighborhoods and meet with the local Jewish residents.

Option D: Israel Encounters

  • Visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Children’s Memorial

Yad Vashem, Israel’s main Holocaust memorial museum and archive, is situated on the green slopes of Har HaZikaron (Mount of Remembrance) in Jerusalem. Israel’s Holocaust commemoration project began in 1953 with the task of perpetuating the memory of Holocaust victims and documenting the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, to ensure that the Holocaust will be remembered by future generations. The new Yad Vashem museum, opened to the public in 2005, is designed in the shape of a prism penetrating the mountain.


The museum is divided into nine galleries that relate the stories of the Jewish communities before World War II, and the series of events that include the rise of the Nazis to power, the pursuit of the Jews, their eviction to the ghettos, and “the Final Solution” and mass genocide.


The personal experiences and feelings of the victims of the Holocaust constitute the groundwork for the museum’s exhibits of photographs, films, documents, letters, works of art, and personal items found in the camps and ghettos, as well as excerpts from children’s diaries.

  • Visit the Shalva Children's Center

Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities is dedicated to providing transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion.

  • Tour the Knesset

The Knesset is the single-chamber national legislature of Israel, with 120 members. It first convened on February 14, 1949 after the newly-formed modern State of Israel held its first elections. As the legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government. It also has the power to dissolve itself and call new elections.


The term “Knesset” is derived from the ancient Great Assembly (Knesset HaGedolah), an assembly of 120 scribes, sages, and prophets, that governed ancient Israel from the end of the Biblical prophets era to the time of the development of rabbinic Judaism in 200 BCE. There is, however, no organizational continuity and– aside from the number of members –little similarity, as the ancient Knesset was an essentially religious body.


The Knesset compound sits on a hilltop in western Jerusalem in the Givat Ram district of Jerusalem. The main building was financed by James A. de Rothschild as a gift to the State of Israel in his will and was completed in 1966.

Option E: Food & Wine

  • Learn About Israeli Farming With A Visit to Moshav Yesodot

Meet with observant farmers on the Moshav and learn about Jewish Agriculture and the special laws and mitzvot pertaining to the Holy Land practiced by Jewish farmers from Joshua’s times until today.

  • Visit an Ethiopian Community in Atachlit

Explore the fun and adventurous facets of life in Atachlit and enjoy a taste of Ethiopian culture and food. Learn about the incredible journey of Ethiopian Immigration to Israel and walk around the scenic Atachlit farm where you will see the community's fascinating and innovative social enterprise.

  • Visit the Ella Valley Winery, Site of Biblical-Era Vineyards

The Elah Valley area mostly recognized as the site of the famous duel between David and Goliath. However, in ancient times, the valley was renowned for the high-quality wine produced there. The historical tradition of viticulture and wine production was recently revived in the last decade.


The establishment of Ella Valley Wineries marked the return of the area to its wine-producing tradition with the tools and knowledge of 21st-century wine production. The founders of the winery were careful to establish production methods on principles that harness the unique advantages and conditions of the region that has always been conducive to making great wine.

  • Dinner on your own
  • Overnight: Jerusalem

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DAY FIVE:
FRIDAY, MARCH 9– OPTIONS DAY

  • Breakfast

Full Israeli breakfast at hotel with guest speaker

Option A - In the Footsteps of the Bible

  • Tour the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City is divided into four neighborhoods: the Jewish Quarter in the southeast, and the Muslim, Christian, and Armenian quarters. Within the Jewish Quarter, it is possible to find traces of so many significant moments in Jewish history, and almost every stone has a dramatic story to tell.

  • Walk in the Footsteps of Prophets And Kings In the City of David

The Bible recounts how Yoav ben Zeruaya, King David’s fearless general, led a small band of men secretly into the strongly fortified Jebusite city, thereby leading to its capture. King David renamed the city Jerusalem, and designated it as his new capital in place of Hebron. He also purchased the threshing floor of Arnava on Mount Moriah, site of the Temple to be built by his son Solomon, and brought up the Ark of the Covenant to the city, establishing it for all time as the spiritual and political capital of the Jewish people. It is in the City of David where the kings of Judah reigned, where Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied, and where Hezekiah, all alone, faced the mighty wrath of Assyria. There is archeological evidence as well of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians 2500 years ago. Not to be missed are the Palace of the Davidic Dynasty, the lookout over the Kidron Valley and Silwan, Canaanite fortifications, Warren’s Pier, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and the Pool of Shiloach.

Option B – Classic

  • Explore the Ancient Cardo and the Broad Wall

Ancient columns of the main north-south artery of Roman-Byzantine Jerusalem (146 BCE–1453 CE), which also served as a market place, have been unearthed in recent years. Each civilization that came to Jerusalem in the course of more than 1,300 years reused the remains and ruins of their predecessors. In the covered section, visitors can see a wall comprised of many different levels of stones from different periods.


With a turn from HaYehudim Street toward Plugat HaKotel Street, and observers may look down upon the “Broad Wall” an ancient section of wall. Some archeological scholars date the wall to the late first Temple period, when King Hezekiah (587–533 BCE) strengthened the fortifications of Jerusalem. According to others, it dates to the early second Temple period. The maps on the wall explain it all.

  • Discover the Splendor of the Second Temple at the Southern Excavations and Davidson Center

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park reaches the Temple Mount on the north, the slope of the Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley on the east, and the Valley of Hinnom on the west and the south. Visitors to the park follow events spanning some 5000 years, beginning with the Canaanite (Bronze) Age (1600-1200 BCE) and continuing through the days of the Israelite monarchy in the First Temple period ( 960-586 BCE) . Large-scale archeological excavations outside of the Temple Mount have uncovered truly impressive finds. The excavations has also provided a new understanding and appreciation of what Jerusalem looked like some 2000 years ago during the Second Temple period, featuring the splendors of the Second Holy Temple and the impressive architecture of King Herod.

Option C – Borders & Security

  • Visit the Tomb of King David

Between 1948 and 1967 the eastern part of the Old City was occupied by Jordan, which barred entry to Jews even for the purpose of praying at Jewish holy sites. However, the southern part of Mount Zion where the Tomb of David was controlled by Israel and Jewish pilgrims from around the country and the world went to pray at David's Tomb where a climb to the rooftop, provided a glimpse of the Western Wall.


The tomb provides an excellent lookout point to trace the heroic battle for control of the Jewish Quarter in 1948 and its ultimate surrender to the Jordanian Legion.

  • Visit the Alone on the Walls Museum

The fall of the Jewish Quarter into the hands of the Jordanians during the War of Independence interrupted the continuity of Jewish settlement in the Old City which was, up to that point, consistent since ancient times. Only following the city’s reunification during the Six Day War in 1967, was the Jewish Quarter was restored.


Alone on the Walls Museum focuses on the last days and surrender of the Jewish Quarter in the War of Independence. At the museum, visitors can trace the heroic battle for control of the Jewish Quarter in 1948 and its ultimate surrender to the Jordanian Legion and hear personal testimonies describing the tragedy from warriors who defended the Jewish Quarter.

  • Tour Batei Machase, Remains of a Jewish Public Housing Project From the 1800’s

Batei Machase is an apartment compound constructed in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem between 1860 and 1890. It was essentially the first 'public housing' project built in the Mandate of Palestine, and was designed to provide shelter for the city's destitute population. The project was initiated by several Jewish organizations from the Netherlands and Germany, who took it upon themselves to care for the Jews of Jerusalem.


During the war of independence in 1948, the compound was the last stronghold for Jewish defenders of the city, until it was conquered by the Jordanian Legion. During the battle, the Batei Machase compound was partially destroyed, and its synagogue was demolished.

Option D - Israel Encounters

  • Tour the Moslem Quarter with Ateret Cohanim and meet with the local Jewish residents

Of the four quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem (Armenian, Jewish, Christian, and Moslem), the Moslem quarter is the largest and most populous. Until 1929, many Jews lived in the Moslem Quarter, but with the outbreak of the violent pogroms by local Arab inhabitants at that time, they were forced to relocate.


In 1948, the Jordanian Legion succeeded in capturing the entire Old City of Jerusalem and forced the remaining Jewish inhabitants into exile. It was not until the Six-Day War, when the city was liberated, that Jews were able to return. Over the years, house by house, courtyard by courtyard, Jewish properties are being repurchased at great cost by various organizations, most notably Ateret Kohanim. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon purchased an apartment overlooking the main street in the Moslem Quarter. Although he had no plans to live there himself, he hoped that the security of Jews in the quarter would improve as a result of his acquisition.


Other Jewish sites in the Moslem Quarter include Kotel HaKattan, Bet HaTzalam, and the Gates of the Temple Mount.

Option E - Food & Wine

  • Enjoy a Culinary Tour of the Colorful Machane Yehudah Market

The Machane Yehudah outdoor market, or “Shuk” as it is affectionately known, is one of Jerusalem’s most popular sites for a taste of local culture. Established in 1887, during Ottoman rule, along the Jaffa Road artery, the Shuk served the growing Jewish population who lived outside of the Old City. Over the years, Jerusalem saw an influx of new immigrants from all over Europe, Russia, and the Middle East—each group bringing with it its ethnic foods, creating a melting pot of cultures. Today, the Shuk is a blaze of color, a cacophony of sounds and a blend of tantalizing aromas as vendors call attention to their freshly baked goods, fruit, vegetables, and delicacies. You can also enjoy a delicious meal at a wide range of restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries.

  • Prepare for Shabbat, candle-lighting at the hotel
  • Welcome the Shabbat with thousands of Jews from around the globe at the Kottel
  • Friday night dinner at the hotel together with Lone Soldiers
  • Overnight: Jerusalem

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DAY SIX:
SHABBAT, MARCH 10

  • Breakfast

Full Israeli breakfast at hotel

  • Joint JLI Morning Service
  • Full course Shabbat Lunch at the hotel
  • Take some time for yourself to rest, relax and rejuvenate
  • Walking tour of the beautiful Yemin Moshe Neighborhood and Montefiore’s Windmill

The first Jewish neighborhood outside the walls of the Old City was established by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1860 and was called Mishkenot Sha’ananim. It consisted of one elongated building with 22 rooms and most were too frightened to live outside the security of the Old City Walls. From these humble beginnings, however, Jerusalem expanded to the city it is today. Yemin Moshe named in honor of Montefiore was situated for 19 years on the Seam Line between Jordan and Israel but today it hosts a thriving community and has been restored to its full glory.

  • Havdalah

Bring out Shabbat with a Musical Havdala and a mini-concert in the Mamilla-Alrov Promenade overlooking the Old City Walls. Chassidic melodies played by local musicians will carry the inspiration of Shabbat to the days to come.

  • Dinner on your own
  • Overnight: Jerusalem

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DAY SEVEN:
SUNDAY, MARCH 11– YEHUDAH & SHOMRON

  • Breakfast

Full Israeli breakfast at hotel with guest speaker

  • Optional Early Morning Visit to Rachel’s Tomb

Our Matriarch Rachel (Rachel Imeinu) (1585–1553 BCE) passed away outside of Bethlehem (Beit Lechem) soon after giving birth to Benjamin. Her husband Jacob buried her there “on the way to Efrat” (Genesis 35). Rashi explains that when Jacob buried her there he knew that in future times the Jewish people would pass this place on their journey to Babylonian exile, and that compassionate Rachel would come to plead for Divine mercy for them.


The Midrash says Rachel’s prayers at that time elicited Gd’s promise to her that the Jewish people would ultimately be redeemed: “Your children shall return to their own border” (Jeremiah 31:16).


Rachel’s Tomb (Kever Rachel) has always been an important location where Jews engage in heartfelt prayer. It draws tens of thousands of visitors every year who come to visit the resting place of “Mama Rochel.” Some people have a custom to wear red thread that has been wound around Rachel’s Tomb, as an amulet to protect against misfortune.

  • Lookout from Nebi Samuel

Nebi Samuel is located on a hill north of Jerusalem. The hill provides a good view of Jerusalem and controls the roads leading to the city from the north: the road from the Coastal Plain in the west and that from Samaria to the north of Jerusalem. The large mosque with a high, round minaret on the top of the hill is clearly visible from Jerusalem. It is revered by Jews because the cave beneath it is the traditional burial place of the prophet Samuel.

  • Visit the Award-Winning Psagot Winery

Founded just recently in 2003 on a pastoral mountain just six miles from Jerusalem, the Psagot Winery cultivates its grapes on ancient limestone in an ideal sunny area that served as the cradle of wine-cultivation in biblical times. The young winery has already produced several international award-winning vintages.


Overlooking the panoramic Jordan Mountains Psagot Winery invites its guest to savor a quiet moment to enjoy the richness of their wines and gourmet tidbits.

  • Explore the Ancient City of Shiloh. Meet with Local Residents in the Communities and Settlements and Enjoy an Off-Road Excursion by Jeep

Once the Children of Israel entered the Land of Israel (13th Century BCE), they set up the Tabernacle in Shiloh where it served as the spiritual center of the Twelve Tribes for close to 370 years until it was destroyed by the Philistines. Three times a year, Jews would make pilgrimage to the site to offer the festival sacrifices on Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. The High Priest Eli officiated in Shiloh when Hannah, mother of Samuel, poured her heart out before G-d while pleading for a son. It was also under his watch that the Ark of the Tabernacle was captured in battle by the Philistines.

  • Gala Banquet at Binyanei HaUma, Jerusalem’s Iconic International Convention Center

During the Gala Banquet, participants of the Land and the Spirit trip will gather to celebrate the Land of Israel that they have come to know and love during their journey. After traveling her length and breadth, uncovering her secrets, discovering her history, sharing her hopes and fears, we made our eternal heritage a part of us forever.


At the banquet, we will commemorate our journey with an evening of entertainment and inspiration in the company of all 2018 JLI Land & Spirit participants and leading Israeli dignitaries. The banquet meal will be accompanied by stirring addresses, video tributes, and live musical entertainment.

  • Overnight: Jerusalem

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DAY EIGHT:
MONDAY, MARCH 12– HEVRON

  • Breakfast

Full Israeli breakfast at hotel with guest speaker

  • Optional Early Morning Visit to Rachel’s Tomb

Our Matriarch Rachel (Rachel Imeinu) (1585–1553 BCE) passed away outside of Bethlehem (Beit Lechem) soon after giving birth to Benjamin. Her husband Jacob buried her there “on the way to Efrat” (Genesis 35). Rashi explains that when Jacob buried her there he knew that in future times the Jewish people would pass this place on their journey to Babylonian exile, and that compassionate Rachel would come to plead for Divine mercy for them.


The Midrash says Rachel’s prayers at that time elicited Gd’s promise to her that the Jewish people would ultimately be redeemed: “Your children shall return to their own border” (Jeremiah 31:16).


Rachel’s Tomb (Kever Rachel) has always been an important location where Jews engage in heartfelt prayer. It draws tens of thousands of visitors every year who come to visit the resting place of “Mama Rochel.” Some people have a custom to wear red thread that has been wound around Rachel’s Tomb, as an amulet to protect against misfortune.

  • Discover the Fascinating Israel Museum, Israel’s Foremost Cultural institution

The museum is Israel’s largest and most prominent cultural institution, housing the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls in the uniquely sculpted Shrine of the Book. Visitors to the newly renovated campus can also view the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period, the Sculpture Garden, Youth Wing, Archeology Wing, Judaica Wing, and Fine Arts Wing.

  • Explore Hebron, the City of the Patriarchs including tour of Jewish neighborhoods of Avraham Avinu and Bet Hadassah

Hevron is one of the four Holy Cities in the Land of Israel and is the place where our Patriarchs and Matriarchs lived, raised their families and spread the message about the existence of the Creator. Upon Sarah’s death, Abraham purchased a burial plot, the Cave of Machpela, from the local population for an exorbitant price. The negotiation concerning the sale and Abraham’s refusal to accept it as a gift are recorded in meticulous detail in the Book of Genesis. In later years, Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah were all interred in the Cave of Machpela, and so it is no wonder than the Jewish connection to Hevron has remained strong for millennia, despite its turbulent history. Our tour will take through the Jewish neighborhoods of where we will encounter the complexities of life in the city today, meet with local residents and connect with our heritage. The highlight is, of course, a visit to the Cave of Machpela itself.

  • Meet with Rabbi Danny and Batsheva Cohen – Chabad shluchim of Hebron
  • Dinner with IDF combat soldiers outside the Cave of Machpela
  • Transfer to Ben Gurion Airport and Depart from Israel

Next year in Jerusalem!

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