Experience Israel through its many faces: versatile populations and various ethnic groups await you as you tour the country from North to South.
Start the day in on biblical Mount Carmel, making the acquaintance of Israel’s Druze community in the village of Isfiya, and enjoying Druze hospitality.
Then, it’s on to Haifa, where you’ll have opportunities to encounter two religious groups in addition to Judaism, both coming out of Islam and each moving away from the source. The beautiful Bahai Gardens convey some of the underlying aesthetics and spirituality of the Bahai faith, while a visit to the Ahmadiyya community will shed light on their ideas and history. (The Ahmadiyya community lives in a small neighborhood of Haifa called Kababir on the western slopes of Mount Carmel).
Travel to Acre, to the Al-Jazzar mosque, one of Israel's most beautiful shrines, to encounter the Sunni Muslim community in Israel. Visit the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, fought over by Crusaders and the Muslims some 900 years ago. Walk through the maze of Crusader halls and enjoy the local bazaar, shops and restaurants owned by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
In the early evening, drive to the Sea of Galilee area.
Overnight: in the Sea of Galilee area.
Start the day with a visit to the Yigal Alon Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar. (Yigal Alon was among the founders of Israel’s Labor Movement and of Kibbutz Ginosar). This unique museum focuses on the human experience in the Galilee in the past, present and future. It is also home to changing exhibits showcasing the finest talents of Galilee artists from a variety of faiths and ethnic backgrounds, and the magnificent display of the Galilee Boat, dating from the time of Jesus discovered mired in the mud on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This would also be a good opportunity to learn about one of Israel’s most incredible creations: the kibbutz.
Proceed to a tour of the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee and visit a number of Christian holy sites, among them Capernaum, Simon Peter’s home town, Tabha, commemorating the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes and Mt. of the Beatitudes, where the Sermon on the Mount was preached.
In the afternoon, visit Tzfat (Safed), one of the four holy cities in Israel and the home of Lurian mysticism (a branch of Jewish mysticism conceived by the 16th century Rabbi Isaac Luria). Stroll along the lanes of the Old City and to see some of its many synagogues, its unique artist’s colony and historic cemetery.
In the early evening, drive to Jerusalem via the coastal road.
Overnight in Jerusalem.
The day will be dedicated to the understanding of Jerusalem as the center for the three great monotheistic faiths; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Start out with a visit to the Temple Mount, site of the offering of Isaac, the Jerusalem Temples, and the ninth-century Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. See the Western Wall, sacred to the Jewish People as the last remnant of the Second Temple.
Visit the Southern Wall Excavations, as you walk on the original two thousand-year old street and climb the ancient steps. At the Davidson Center, in the basement of an eighth-century CE palace, enjoy the historical exhibits and make arrangements to see its virtual-reconstruction, high-definition interactive model.
Visit the Tower of David Museum, dedicated to the history of Jerusalem over the past 4,000 years and showcasing the city’s various ethnic groups and their contributions. Climb to the tower situated in the museum for a beautiful view of the four quarters of the Old City - Armenian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish.
Proceed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, site of the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus according to Christian tradition. You will notice the many Christian denominations represented in the church, distinguished by their dress and liturgy – Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian Orthodox , each in their own corner of the ancient complex.
Wander the Old City markets, steeping yourself in its sights, sounds and aromas, and try your hand at hunting and bargaining for treasures.
In the evening, drive through the New City, to enjoy a view of its monuments beautifully illuminated: The Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book (open Tuesdays until 9:00 P.M.), the Supreme Court building and the Knesset.
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Drive to Be'er Sheba via Moshav Nevatim. Moshav Nevatim is home to Cochin Jews, from India, who came to Israel after the establishment of the state. Cochin Jews consider themselves one of the most ancient Jewish communities in the world. The Center for Cochin Heritage at Moshav Nevatim tells the story of this unique community. (Visit must be pre-arranged; Tel: 08-6238299).
Continue to the Joe Alon Bedouin Center, focusing on Bedouin culture and history. The Bedouin tribes scattered throughout the Negev have undergone a rapid process of transition from nomadic to modern life. Many of the characteristics of the Bedouin lifestyle are therefore disappearing, creating the urgent need to document this ancient way of life through the work of this important center.
Return to Jerusalem for a late afternoon/early evening walk through downtown Jerusalem to Mahane Yehuda, the Jewish open-air fruit and vegetable market and stroll through Me'ah She’arim, the inner city’s venerable Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood (modest dress required).