I am so excited to take you to Israel. To me, Israel is my second home – for a long time it was my literal home. I emigrated to Israel from the US in the 1985 and I lived there for most of the next 10 years. I truly feel like I “grew up” in Tel Aviv. Living there formed my spiritual being and taught me so much about life and what it meant to be a citizen of the world, a human being. I felt like I lived in the center of the world and I was a citizen of the universe.
Fast forward many years to 2007 when I began leading tours to different corners of the world – India, Bhutan, Peru, England. It took me 10 years of leading tours to realize that Israel is a place I so want to show people. Before you say – well I’m not Jewish, or I’m not Christian – hold on. The land of Israel is so much more than that! It is a land of unsurpassed beauty, of ancient history, of myths and legends, of desires, mysticism and deep spirituality. It is a land that will touch you at the deepest levels because that is what she does. That is why this tiny little slip of a country has been the center of world religions, conflicts and contention, emotions, desires and ambitions, and so much more, since the beginning of time.
Taking us on this journey is Jared Goldfarb, an independent educator and licensed tour guide based in Jerusalem with nearly 20 years experience in the field. Born and raised in New Hampshire, he studied at Brandeis University, and has since lived in six different countries. After working for the Jewish Federation in Boston from 1994-96, Jared decided to spend a year in Israel… and never left. Since 1999 has worked as an independent guide for families, faith communities, and multi-narrative student encounters with Israel/Palestine.
Jared serves as a faculty member at Jerusalem institutions and he teaches Middle Eastern history and the historical context of Judaism, Christianity and Islam for various seminaries and multi-faith missions; and he has served as scholar-in-residence in numerous communities, including Boston, New York, Baltimore, San Francisco, New Orleans, St. Louis and London.
Sunday, December 9 – Arrive in Israel and meet Jared at Ben Gurion Airport. We will take the Mediterranean Coastal highway to Caesarea, and Mt. Carmel and check into the beautiful at the heart of mystical Israel, the home of Kabalah – Tzfat.
Monday, December 10 – After breakfast and yoga at The Way Inn, we will explore Tzfat, including historical walking tour, a kabbala
lesson, and encounter with local artists. If time permits, we will visit the Mt. of the Beatitudes. At sunset we will have a guided meditation over looking the Golan Heights. In the evening the owners of The Way Inn, Ronni and Genine Bar-El, will give us a private cooking class.
Tuesday, December 11 – We will make our way a bit north of Tzaft for a nature walk on the Golan Heights, followed by lunch at a local winery. As we will be literally on the border with Syria, we will talk geopolitics on the border, then visit the home of a local Druze family for dinner.
Wednesday, December 12 – After breakfast we will drive to the beautiful Arab city of Um el-Fahm and meet with the founder of the Arab Art Gallery. We will also visit a bi-cultural school, and, if time permits, the Freedom Farm, an animal sanctuary, and Caesarea, an ancient Herodian port city . In the evening we will arrive to the heart of Israel – Jerusalem.
Thursday, December 13 – Jerusalem is home to nearly every major religion and many minor religions of the world. The entire city is constructed from lime stone giving it an iridescent, other-worldly glow. After breakfast, we explore the nooks and crannies of the Old City of Jerusalem, including Jewish, Christian & Muslim narratives. The Arab Market has four different “quarters” including an Armenian Quarter , the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Christian Quarter, which is the home of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Each quarter has its own feel, its own culture, crafts, art and food. We will be able to shop and eat and learn all the while meandering through the serpentine ancient alleys, talking with locals and enjoying the “scene”. In the evening we attend a special cultural event.
Friday, December 14 – Today we will move on to visit modern Jerusalem, a marvel of creativity, architecture and activity. First we will go to Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum). This incredibly moving museum, designed by the world-renowned Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, is also an example of a living sanctuary as a rememberence of those killed in the Holocaust. In addition to the incredible memorial, the grounds feature gardens and special exhibit spaces, incorporating the surrounding land as part of the picture of the Holocaust and how it stays with us to this day.
Afterwards, we will visit Machane Yehuda – a vibrant Jerusalem marketplace. In the evening, we will welcome in the Shabat (Sabath) with a Kabbalat Shabbat dinner with local families.
Saturday, December 15 – Those choosing to keep the Sabbath can use this day as a day of rest, (we can arrange to visit a Synagogue) or you can join a day trip to Bethlehem, just six miles from Jerusalem. We will explore the many cultural sites of this ancient Palestinian city, which was settled in 5000 BCE, with a local guide. We’ll visit historic & religious sites, and learn more modern Palestinian society & politics.
Sunday, December 16 – After breakfast, we will leave Jerusalem and make our way south, to explore the Judean Desert. Along the way we visit the ancient fortress of
Masada in Judea. The complex was built by King Herod, who reigned between 37 BCE and 4 CE. It was here that became a last stand for Jews fighting the Roman empire. In the revolt, the Jewish tribe chose death rather than slavery when the Roman’s broke through their defenses. It is also an archaeological site of great significance. The remains of Herod’s palaces are outstanding and help to illustrate the lives of the Jews and their harrowing choice. Masada overlooks Kibbutz Ein Gedi & the Dead Sea. Return to Jerusalem for overnight.
Monday, December 17 – We will explore the roots of early Zionism in Old Jaffa and Neve Tzedek, and enjoy some free time exploring the expansive Shuk Hapishpushim – literally – the Flea Market! Later we will visit a vegetable and fruit market with chef and author Phyllis Glazer to choose goodies to prepare in
Phyllis’ Kitchen for a cooking class, featuring Israeli vegetarian delights.
Tuesday, December 18 – We will embark on a tour of the city, including the fabulous Bauhaus Buildings that can be found all over the heart of the city. Later we will walk around the Old city of Jaffa and Neve Tzedek, and learn about the early Zionist movement. We will have free time to explore Jaffa and Tel Aviv’s wonderful, eclectic Nachalat Binayamni Arts and Crafts marketplace. Overnight in Jaffa
Wednesday, December 19 – We will leave Tel Aviv in the morning and travel down south
towards the desert – the Negev. Along the way we will visit various sites and in the late afternoon we will arrive at our tent hotel in the desert – Sukkah Bamidbar. Here we will experience the immense solitude of the desert – a welcome respite from the busy city. We will see the entire galaxy laid out before us as we slow down and settle into this magical landscape.
Thursday, December 20 – Today we will continue exploring the Negev, including learning biblical history, visiting a Bedouin community, visit Makhtesh Ramon, a crater created 220 million years ago when oceans covered the area. From here we will make our way to the resort town of Eilat, on the Red Sea, surrounded by the Sinai Desert in Egypt. Overnight in Eilat.
Friday, December 21 – From Eilat you can either fly back to Tel Aviv to depart for the US, or join our excursion into the ancient Nabatian City of Petra, in Jordan, just over the border. (If you chose not to travel to Jordan, we will deduct that portion of the trip from your final cost). We will leave for Petra crossing over to the Red Sea to the Jordanian town of Aqaba and enter the Kingdom of Jordan. Here we will be met by a Jordanian tour guide who will lead us on our tour.
The city of Petra, capital of the Nabataean Arabs, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It is not known precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire from the 1st century BC, which grew rich through trade in frankincense, myrrh, and spices. Petra was later annexed to the Roman Empire and continued to thrive until a large earthquake in 363 AD destroyed much of the city in the 4th century AD. After a full day tour we will retire to our Tent Hotel in Petra, a unique desert experience.
Saturday, December 22 – After breakfast in the desert, we’ll take a jeep tour of Wadi Rum, a protected desert wilderness in southern Jordan. It features dramatic sandstone mountains like the many-domed Jebel Um Ishrin, and natural arches such as Burdah Rock Bridge. Many prehistoric inscriptions and carvings line rocky caverns and steep chasms. The natural watering hole of Lawrence’s Spring is named after British soldier Lawrence of Arabia, who allegedly washed there. In late afternoon we will return to Eilat, and catch an evening flight to Ben Gurion Airport, and depart Israel for home.
- Accommodation in double room (or single with supplement) bed and breakfast basis for 12 nights at the hotels below.
- Expert tour guidance in English.
- Yoga and guided meditation sessions with Susan.
- Two Middle-Eastern vegetarian cooking classes.
- Special dinner with local families.
- Dowsing lesson at an ancient site with Larry.
- Guided star-gazing in the desert with Larry (former NASA rocket scientist).
- Tour and accommodations in Petra, Jordan.
- Tips and gratuities for driver and hotels.
- All currently applicable Govt. taxes.
- Assistance on arrival/departure at airport/hotels.
- All transportation using one air-conditioned Coach.
- All currently applicable entrance fees to the monuments covered.
- Meals other than breakfast and as specified above.
- Alcoholic drinks.
- Tip for dedicated guide Jared Goldfarb.
- Medical & Travel Insurance.
- Expenses of a personal nature such as laundry, beverages, telephone calls etc.
- Any other services not listed above.
- Flight to Israel and return.
- Flight from Eilat to Tel Aviv (TBA) .
- More than 90 days prior to departure: $300
- 61 – 89 days prior to departure: Full deposit
- 60 – 30 days prior to departure: 50% of total price
- Less than 50 days prior to departure: 100% of total price