The archetypes and myths of Jerusalem and the vibrant and pulsating city of Tel Aviv provide the bookends for this unique travel program.
Beginning in Jerusalem, continuing on to the Galilee, and culminating in Tel Aviv, we will meet with knowledgeable curators, hear from distinguished scholars, and talk with local Israelis who can share with us what daily life is like in Israel. From the Galilee to the Golan Heights, our travels will take us through the most magnificent landscapes and the breathtaking views in Israel.
We will enjoy private guided tours at leading museums, experience an Israel that most visitors never get to see in the Hula Valley, and appreciate the splendid countryside of Israel’s north at a time of year when its wildflowers are just beginning to bloom.
And there is more. While in Jerusalem, we will experience the joyous holiday of Purim, a delightful and special time when everyone—from the young to the old—dresses in costume and celebrates. Each of us will be invited to join an Israeli family for a Friday evening Shabbat dinner.
Last but not least, enjoy three of Israel’s finest hotels with accommodations that include fine food, spa services, pools, gardens, and, of course, lovely guest rooms with Israel’s most spectacular land and sea views.
Join us on an extraordinary trip—one that will be as meaningful and exciting for return travelers as for first-time visitors.
Following check-in at the David Citadel hotel, centrally located and within walking distance of both old and new cities of Jerusalem, this evening we will have the opportunity to meet with our guide, hear a presentation relevant to our program, get to know one another, and partake in a welcoming dinner (included) at our hotel.
We will begin the day with a visit to 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 the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls; view the impressive model of Jerusalem during ancient times; have time on our own to meander through the museum and visit exhibits 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, return to our hotel with time to relax, freshen up, have a late afternoon tea or coffee, and/or enjoy our hotel’s amenities.
Evening presentation: “Purim: A Jewish Holiday?”
Dinner on our own.
We will view the extensive excavations at the City of David (original city of Jerusalem during the time of King David) and walk through the rebuilt Jewish Quarter, where, for Purim, children and adults may be walking through the streets in costume. Following lunch on our own in the Jewish Quarter, we will walk to the Kotel (Western Wall) to see and learn about the more recent archaeological findings there, before returning to our hotel with time to freshen up, relax, and enjoy celebrating Purim while (optional) attending services and hearing the Megillah read at an egalitarian synagogue.
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. For our visit to Yad Vashem, we will have a private guided tour for our group.
From Yad Vashem, return to our hotel—OR (optional) explore Mahne Yehudah (the “Jewish Shuk” and outdoor market) with lunch on our own and the opportunity to sample local Israeli food at the market.
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 the daily life of 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, Yemin Moshe comprises one of Jerusalem’s most upscale neighborhoods, and its landmark windmill is one of the highlights of Jerusalem’s landscape.
Evening: Free; dinner on our own.
Early morning departure for the Galilee, where, upon arrival, we will walk through Rosh Pina, one of the first towns established in the late 19th century by the early Zionist settlers in Israel. Replete in history, picturesque buildings, and lovely scenery, Rosh Pina (which means “cornerstone” or “foundation”) is a quaint, tucked-away town near Safed and a lovely place for a short walk and lunch (included) before we continue on to the stunning Hula Nature Preserve in the Upper Galilee. Of worldwide importance, the preserve is a habitat for waterbirds, in addition to serving as an important stopover for birds migrating yearly from Europe to Africa—including thousands of cranes that migrate from Finland to Ethiopia each year. At the preserve, we will have the opportunity to walk (or, for those who prefer, ride in golf carts) along a picturesque, circular trail that includes birdwatching stations, with each giving explanations for the various habits and habitats of the species that tend to congregate there yearly.
Following our visit to the preserve, we will check in to the Mitzpe Hayamim Hotel and Spa, with time to relax and enjoy the hotel’s amenities before dinner. With majestic views of the Golan Heights, the Sea of Galilee, and Mount Hermon, Mitzpe Hayamim is located between the artist village of Rosh Pina and the city of Safed and is considered the jewel of Galilee hotels.
Full-day outing to the Golan Heights, considered by many as having the most spectacular scenery in Israel. In addition to its beautiful views of the Sea of Galilee and Mount Hermon and containing some of the most fertile land in Israel, the Golan plays an important strategic role—both from a security perspective and as a water resource for Israel. In the Golan, we will enjoy breathtaking scenery, visit one of the wineries that the Golan has become noted for worldwide, and stop at Kibbutz Ein Zivan (known for its vineyards and chocolate factory). Lunch on our own, along the way.
This morning, we will visit Safed, a short drive from Mitzpe Hayamim. The ancient and mystical city of Safed, considered one of the four holiest cities in Israel, is located in the Upper Galilee and is Israel’s highest town. With a history dating back to ancient times, it is also renowned as the center of Kabbalists, many of whom settled in Safed as far back as the sixteenth century. Here, we will enjoy a walking tour of Old Safed, with ample time for a stroll through its artists’ quarter to see (or shop at) one of its many galleries and shops. Lunch on our own in Safed.
Afternoon free to relax, and/or enjoy Mitzpe Hayamim spa facilities, walk along some of the lovely, scenic paths around the hotel, and enjoy a private tour of the hotel’s gardens, orchards, dairy, and organic farm, which supply the hotel with fresh food daily.
Depart the Galilee for Tel Aviv, with stops en route in Akko and Zichron Ya’akov. Akko (Acre) is a historic walled port city that has seen continuous development from the Phoenician period until the present time. It was a fortified town during the Ottoman 18th and 19th 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.
Another highlight of our journey today will include a stop at Zichron Ya’akov, a historic town at the southern end of Mount Carmel, 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. Zichron (as it is called in Israel) is famous for its Carmel winery and quaint shopping street lined with cafés and historic buildings. During the course of this full and fascinating day, lunch (included), as well as time on our own to stroll through the charming town of Zichron, and/or enjoy coffee or tea at one of its lovely cafés.
From Zichron, we will continue to Tel Aviv and check in at our hotel, the 5-star deluxe Carlton Tel Aviv (with all our rooms enjoying sea views), in time for dinner on our own.
Morning visit to the 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 its curators, enjoy a private tour for our group, and have a unique learning experience through 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 free to relax, or stroll through the Levinsky market—one of the recently sprouted gems of Tel Aviv—with cafés, bakeries, and shops displaying and selling items ranging from spices, dried fruits, coffee, and tea to many household items.
Evening meeting: Talk and discussion of Israel’s emergence as an economic and high-tech leader in the Middle East and world economy, and what the future may hold for the country—politically, economically, and strategically.
Evening presentation and discussion: “The Role of Israel in Jewish Literature.” Dinner on our own.
Today will include tours 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 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 Center for Israeli Innovation, we will hear a presentation as well as take part in an interactive tour illustrating how Israel emerged as a cutting-edge high-tech country and what some of the plans are to build on this for future development.
Lunch on our own.
Evening: Closing meeting, followed by festive Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).
Free day to (optional) attend services in a local synagogue OR explore Tel Aviv on our own (our guide or the concierge can suggest activities); rest, relax, or lounge on the beach in front of our hotel; or walk on the Tayelet (promenade alongside the beach, accessible directly outside our hotel) as far as Old Jaffa—a distance of 5 kilometers.
Evening: Free; dinner on our own. Sample one of Tel Aviv’s many fine restaurants.
Jerusalem: David Citadel Hotel
A 5-star deluxe hotel, the David Citadel is superbly located near the upscale Mamilla 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 5-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, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Galilee: Mitzpe Hayamim Hotel and Spa
Overlooking the magnificent Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee, Mitzpe Hayamim (Hebrew for “view of the sea”) Hotel and Spa is a 15-minute drive from Safed and considered the finest hotel in the Galilee. Noted for its tranquility and beauty, the hotel is surrounded by forests and stunning gardens and sits on 37 acres of land, with 96 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, an organic farm and dairy, orchards, herb gardens, and streams. Guests at Mitzpe Hayamim can enjoy numerous options for spa, beauty, and cosmetic treatments, gourmet meals, and lovely gardens to stroll through. The hotel’s vegetarian restaurant serves a rich and creative menu using fresh produce from its organic farm, while its bakery produces fresh pastries daily and transforms its fresh milk into a selection of rich, yet healthy, dairy products.
Tel Aviv: Carlton Hotel
With breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and overlooking the beach and Tel Aviv’s waterfront promenade, the 5-star Carlton Tel Aviv is superbly situated on the shore of the Mediterranean, in the heart of Tel Aviv. The Carlton is a short distance from picturesque Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s modern shops, and many fine restaurants. One of the most desirable and well-located hotels in Tel Aviv, with all 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.