We invite you to join the 2021 Museum of Jewish Heritage tour to Israel, designed for those who have already traveled to Israel as well as those visiting it for the first time.
On this trip, which begins in Jerusalem where ancient history mingles with modern-day life, we will visit impressive museums, see magnificent artifacts and objects, tour newly uncovered archaeological sites, and visit places where Jewish rebels fought for independence against ancient Rome — it will be Hanukkah after all! We will also have the opportunity to meet with well-informed and interesting Israelis who can shed light on the political and social climate in the country today.
We will learn how, throughout history, Jews sought to preserve their cultural integrity, even as they questioned how much interaction with other cultures could be absorbed before their own identity was lost. As we shall come to understand, this conflict and reaching for diversity, from the time of the Maccabees until today, is still a challenge for contemporary Israeli society.
In addition to visiting notable institutions we will tour several cities and towns and take in some of the country’s spectacular landscapes and sea views along the way. On Friday evening we will join an Israeli family for Shabbat dinner and celebrate Hanukkah. As with all our tours, we will enjoy accommodations at two of Israel’s finest hotels.
Our trip begins in Jerusalem, where ancient history mingles with modern-day life and stirs our emotions like no other place on earth. Following check-in at the renowned 5-star King David Hotel, we will have the opportunity to meet with our guide, hear a talk relevant to our program, light a Hanukkah menorah together (tonight will mark the fourth night of Hanukkah—what could be more meaningful than to be in Israel on this holiday?), and get to know one another. Following our opening meeting and talk, we will enjoy a welcoming dinner at the King David Hotel (included).
We will start today exploring the Israel Museum, the largest museum in Israel and ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Here, we will enjoy a private guided tour to select parts of the museum, including Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls; and the Second Temple (Holy Land) Model of Jerusalem among other exhibits. In addition, we will have time to meander through the museum and focus on displays of personal interest (one could spend an entire week at the museum and still not see everything), and shop at the museum’s elegant gift shop.
Following lunch on our own at the museum, we will walk through the rebuilt Jewish Quarter and visit the Kotel (Western Wall), before returning to our hotel with time to freshen up, relax, and enjoy a Hanukkah menorah walking tour through one of Jerusalem’s many interesting neighborhoods. Dinner on our own.
Morning visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial and Holocaust Museum, the world’s leading archive and research center of the Holocaust. At Yad Vashem, we will be greeted by one of the Museum’s curators, who, through lecture and discussion, will bring us up to date on current research in Holocaust studies and education. We will have a private guided tour for our group as we walk through the museum.
From Yad Vashem return to the King David, or (optional) explore Mahne Yehudah (the “Jewish Shuk” and outdoor market) for lunch on our own and the opportunity to sample some local Israeli food.
Evening: Shabbat dinner (included) with an Israeli family (we will divide into groups of four or five, with each group hosted by a different family)—an opportunity to meet and learn about daily life in Israel from local Jerusalemites.
Day free to rest, relax, explore parts of Jerusalem on our own, and/or attend services of our choice. For those interested, optional morning walk through nearby Yemin Moshe, where we can attend (or observe) parts of services at both the historic Ashkenazi and Sephardic synagogues. With land bought by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1855, Yemin Moshe represented a project designed to encourage Jews to move outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Today, the area is one of Jerusalem’s most upscale neighborhoods with its landmark windmill one of the highlights of Jerusalem’s landscape.
Evening free; dinner on our own.
Depart our hotel for a day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea. At Masada, we will ride the cable car up the mountain and enjoy the majestic views of the Judaean desert as we ascend to the top of this historic site. Atop Masada, accompanied by our experienced guide, we will walk along this once almost impregnable fortress and learn more about the last Jewish rebellion that took place here before the exile to Rome. Lunch along the way (included) at a hotel along the Dead Sea before we return to Jerusalem in time for dinner on our own.
Today, we will visit the recent – and ongoing- excavations at the City of David; walk underneath the city’s ancient walls, and (subject to it being open to visitors) tour the Supreme Court of Israel—one of the most important institutions in the struggle to shape the social and secular fabric of Israeli society. Lunch on our own with time free to explore and/or shop on our last day in Jerusalem.
Evening: Meeting and lecture on current Israeli politics, including the tension surrounding the role of the Supreme Court. Dinner on our own.
Early morning departure for Tel Aviv, where we will visit the new ANU Museum (formerly known as Bet Hatfutsot). Those who have visited the museum before (located on the campus of Tel Aviv University) will be amazed at its completely renovated and updated displays and buildings. At the museum, we will be greeted by one of the its curators, enjoy a private tour for our group, and have a unique learning experience through the interactive and fascinating exhibits that relate the stories of Jews from more than 80 countries over thousands of years.
Lunch on our own and afternoon visit to the vibrant Nachalat Binyamin outdoor pedestrian mall, with its biweekly outdoor fair displaying the works of Israeli artisans and designers—a perfect place to purchase handmade Israeli-designed crafts.
Check into deluxe 5-star Sheraton Hotel in late afternoon, with time to relax, refresh, and enjoy our sea view rooms. Dinner on our own – with many fine restaurants to choose from in Tel Aviv.
Day trip to Akko (Acre) and Zichron Ya’akov, including lunch and wine tasting. Akko (Acre) is a historic walled port city with continuous development from the Phoenician period. Historically, Akko is characteristic of a fortified town dating from the Ottoman eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with typical components such as a citadel, mosques, khans, and Turkish baths. The remains of the Crusader town, dating from 1104–1291, are almost intact, both above and below street level, and provide an exceptional picture of the layout and structure of this capital of the medieval Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem.
Other highlights today will include a visit to Zichron Ya’akov, a historic town at the southern end of the Carmel mountain, with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. One of the first Jewish settlements in Israel, it was founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild and named after his father. Today, it is famous for its winery and quaint shopping street lined with cafés and historic buildings.
We will return to Tel Aviv in time for dinner on our own.
Today will include a tour of the Rabin Center and Museum and the new Center for Israeli Innovation. The Rabin Center is the first and only museum in Israel designed to explore the development of the State of Israel as a young democracy. Designed in a downward spiral, the museum presents two parallel stories: the history of the state and Israeli society; and the life of Yitzhak Rabin. At the Israeli Innovation Center, through interactive exhibits, we will learn more about why and how Israel (known as the “start up nation”) has provided fertile conditions for its emergence as a cutting-edge high-tech country and what some of the plans are to build on this for future development.
Evening: Closing meeting and farewell dinner at our hotel (included).
Depart Israel for home.
Jerusalem: King David Hotel
The King David, the “Grand Dame” of Israel’s hotels, is considered the country’s finest and most stylish hotel. Built in 1931, over the years it has been the hotel of choice for dignitaries, VIPs, and heads of governments, including U.S. presidents and secretaries of state, prime ministers, and celebrities from all over the world. Located just a 15-minute walk from the Old City as well as downtown Jerusalem, the historic King David is renowned for its charm and decor, with more character and history than any other hotel in Israel.
Tel Aviv: Sheraton Hotel
One of the most desirable hotels in Tel Aviv, the 5-star Sheraton is superbly situated on the shore of the Mediterranean, in the heart of Tel Aviv. With breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and overlooking the beach and Tel Aviv’s waterfront promenade, the Sheraton is located a short distance from Tel Aviv’s modern stores, many restaurants, and picturesque Old Jaffa. With sea-view rooms for all in our group, and modern facilities that include a spa featuring Dead Sea treatments and fitness room, it will provide the perfect place for our group to stay in Tel Aviv.