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 — 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, deluxe David Citadel 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 David Citadel Hotel (included).
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.
Following lunch on our own, 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.
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.
From the Israel museum, return to our hotel, 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 at one of the many synagogues in Jerusalem. 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 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 the deluxe 5-star Carlton Tel Aviv 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 a wine tasting at the winery and lunch along the way (included) will be part of this full and fascinating day. 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 presentation and discussion: “The Role of Israel in Jewish Literature,” followed by Closing Dinner at our hotel (included).
Depart Israel for home.
Jerusalem: David Citadel Hotel
A five-star, deluxe hotel, the David Citadel is superbly located near the upscale Mamila mall and within easy walking distance of the old and new cities of Jerusalem. Architecturally, the hotel reflects the vision of Israel’s most famous architect, Moshe Safdie; he designed the hotel while keeping in mind a blend of Middle Eastern and classical Jerusalem elements. Containing all the amenities called for in a five-star hotel (and originally opened as the Jerusalem Hilton), the deluxe David Citadel has hosted international VIPs and political leaders, including then-president Bill and Hillary Clinton, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and, most recently, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Tel Aviv: The Carlton Hotel
One of the most well-located hotels in Tel Aviv, the five-star Tel Aviv Carlton is superbly situated on the shore of the Mediterranean, in the heart of Tel Aviv. With breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and a five-minute walk from the Tayelet (Tel Aviv’s waterfront promenade), the Carlton is a short distance from Tel Aviv’s modern shops, many fine restaurants, and picturesque Old Jaffa. With all our modern, newly renovated rooms enjoying sea views and a picturesque dining area overlooking the sea, the Carlton will provide a splendid place for our group to stay in Tel Aviv.