Located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Tel Aviv is Israel's commercial center, and the hub of the country's largest metropolitan area (over 2 million inhabitants). It is chic and fast-paced, offering fine restaurants and stores, galleries and theater. Golan Heights is a mountainous plateau in the north-east of the country. Until the Six-Day War of 1967, it was a Syrian military zone dominating the Hula Valley and the Sea of Galilee. To the north are Mt. Hermon and the sources of the Jordan River.
Day 1, Thursday: Jerusalem "Shehecheyanu". Welcome to Israel! Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport where our representative will meet and assist you through customs and transfer you to Jerusalem. Before checking in to your hotel, enjoy a special welcoming toast, overlooking the Golden City from Mount Scopus. Dinner in the hotel.
Day 2, Friday: Jerusalem-The Modern History. After breakfast, we will view the Menorah opposite the Knesset. Drive by the impressive Supreme Court building to Hadassah Hospital, with its famous Chagall windows. We continue to the JNF Forest where everyone will have the opportunity to plant a tree with his/her own hands. On to Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Spend time at the Museum and the Children's Memorial and walk along the Avenue of the Righteous. Visit the impressive Valley of the Destroyed Communities and walk between the huge rocks engraved with thousands of names of the lost communities. In the evening, we will experience the thrill of entering the Old City, walking through Zion Gate to the Hurvah Synagogue and to the Kotel (Western Wall) to view Kabbalat Shabbat by the Hasidic Jews. Shabbat dinner and overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 3, Saturday: Jerusalem-Second Temple Era. Shabbat morning free. After lunch, enjoy a walking tour to the Old City to visit the Western Wall, the Kotel. Walk along the restored Cardo in the Jewish Quarter. On to the Shuk (the Arab market) with its colorful stores. Visit the Tower of David and the museum, where we can experience a journey through 3,000 years of Jerusalem's history. This evening stroll in the famous pedestrian Ben Yehuda Street, sample Israeli food and shop. Dinner on your own.
Day 4, Sunday: Independence & Memorial. Drive to Rehovot to the Ayalon Institute, which was the code-name of a secret ammunition factory for the Haganah, before the establishment of Israel. Continue to Latrun, to visit the Tank Museum and the memorial for the Israeli soldiers who fought in the Tank Corps. Continue to Neot Kedumim, the Biblical landscape reserve, where you can find most of the plants mentioned in the Bible. Drive along the Biblical road passing the new town of Modi'in, the home region of the Maccabees, Givon, the battle-field of Joshua, and the tomb of the Prophet Samuel. Enter the new suburb of Ramot and continue to Ammunition Hill, site of one of the most heroic battles in the Six-Day War. Continue to Mount Herzl to pay our respect to the leaders of our nation. Visit the graves of Theodor Herzl, Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir and others. Walk through the Military Cemetery, paying tribute to the thousands of IDF soldiers buried here. Visit the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. We conclude the day with a visit to the Scale-Model of ancient Jerusalem from the time of the Second Temple, as well as the new models of"Mini-Israel". Dinner is on your own. Overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 5, Monday: Jerusalem - Bar/Bat Mitzvah Services. Today we will celebrate the Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Southern Steps, the original entrance to the Temple. Visit the Old City, the Western Wall Tunnel and the magnificent Herodian Quarter where you will be impressed by the luxurious mansions from the days of the Temple. Walk in the Jewish Quarter to the Burnt House, and the Museum of Temple Treasures. In the evening we will have a special Banquet honoring the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child(ren). Overnight at our hotel in Jerusalem.
Day 6, Tuesday: Jerusalem/Dead Sea/Massada. After breakfast we will drive to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. Continue along the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, via the oasis of Ein Gedi to Massada. Ascend by cable-car and visit the fortress built by King Herod, later becoming the last stronghold of the Zealots. Enjoy the magnificent panoramic view from the top of the mount. Walk among the ruins of the synagogue, the store-rooms, the bath-house and the palaces. Walk down the Roman ramp, built by Jewish slaves to enable the Romans to conquer the fortified mount. Visit a Bedouin camp where we will experience the famous eastern hospitality. Drive to our deluxe spa hotel on the shores of the Dead Sea. Dinner and overnight.
Day 7, Wednesday: Dead Sea/Jericho/Jordan Valley/Galilee. Drive north to Jericho, the oldest town in the world. Drive along the Jordan Valley to Bet Alpha, to see the beautiful mosaic floor in the ancient synagogue. Continue to the natural spring, the Sachne, for a refreshing swim. On to Bet She'an, the largest on-going archeological excavation in Israel. Visit the Roman theater, the Cardo and the Bath-house complex. Drive to our Kibbutz Guesthouse in Galilee. Dinner and overnight, followed by a lecture about life in the Kibbutz.
Day 8, Thursday: Galilee/Golan Heights/Safed. Today will be dedicated to exploring the Galilee. Drive along the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, where we can see an ancient decorated synagogue. Cross the bridge over the Jordan River to ascend the Golan Heights. Visit Katzrin, the capital town of the Golan. Drive along the border with Syria to Banias and Tel Dan, the main sources of the Jordan River and a beautiful nature reserve. Stop at Tel Hai, site of the heroic story of Josef Trumpeldor and his friends. At the preserved stockade you will hear the story of the struggle of the settlers, which contributed to the establishment of the State of Israel. We next visit Safed, the center of Jewish Mysticism or Kabbalah. Wander through the cobble-stone streets visiting the artists' colony and old synagogues. This evening we will board a boat for a fun cruise on the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and overnight at our Kibbutz hotel.
Day 9, Friday: Galilee to Tel Aviv/A day of More History. After breakfast, drive to Zippori, one of the Sanhedrin's centers, during the Mishna and Talmud period. See the beautiful mosaic floors decorating the mansions, and especially the "Mona Lisa" of Galilee. Continue to the medieval port of Akko where we will visit the newly excavated and beautifully preserved Crusader town, the Knights' Halls and the ancient port. On to Bet She'arim to visit the catacombs of the Mishna and Talmud rabbis. Drive to Haifa, the third-largest city in Israel. Ascend to Mount Carmel for a panoramic view of the bay and port. Continue along the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea, the ancient Roman port city. Visit the impressive excavations and see the Roman theater and aqueduct as well as the moat and walls from the Crusader period. Drive by Netanya, Israel's "diamond town", to Tel Aviv. Shabbat dinner and overnight.
Day 10, Saturday: Tel Aviv/Jaffa/Relaxing. Free morning in Tel Aviv. Go to a synagogue or enjoy a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Early afternoon, check out of the hotel and drive to old Jaffa. Explore the narrow alleys and its galleries. Later in the evening we will conclude our visit to Israel with a farewell dinner at a typical restaurant.
Day 11, Sunday: Back home. Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
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