Experience Israel through its many faces: versatile populations and various ethnic groups await you as you tour the country from North to South.
Tel Aviv - Haifa
Start the day with a visit to the Diaspora Museum. The museum tells the story of the Jewish People from the time of their expulsion from the Land of Israel 2,500 years ago to the present.
Continue north to drive up Mount Carmel to visit the Mukhraka, a Carmelite Monastery that is one of the oldest in the world, which commemorates the confrontation between the prophet Elijah and the false priests of Ba’al.
Further north on the tip of Mount Carmel, Haifa presents 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).
Overnight in Haifa.
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.
Continue to the twin towns of Ma’alot (Jewish) – Tarshiha (mixed Moslem and Christian Arab) on the way to the Druze town of Hurfeish, with its museum of Druze culture and its mountaintop holy place, Nebi Sabalan. Nebi Sabalan (perhaps referring to Zebulon, one of the sons of Jacob) is one of the most important Druze religious sites in Israel. The site offers a beautiful vista of the western Galilee.
Continue to Gish, known in Roman times as Gush Halav, where a Christian Maronite community retains the traditions of a religion with roots in Lebanon as early as the fifth century.
A visit to Rehaniya, populated by Circassian Muslims, whose ancestors migrated here from the Caucasus in the late 18th and 19th centuries, is an opportunity to learn about their history and perhaps have a taste of their food.
Overnight in the Upper Galilee.
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 Jewish Quarter, with the beautifully restored Four Sephardic Synagoguesand variety of archaeological remains, and also a bustling center of contemporary Jerusalem life.
Continue to the Armenian Quarter, the Armenian Museum, and the Church of St. James (3:00-3:40 P.M. except Sundays; Saturdays 6:30-9:30 A.M.).
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.
Arrive at the picturesque Christ Church near Jaffa Gate where an information center highlights the history of the Anglicans in Jerusalem. Understand the development of British influence in Jerusalem in the 19th century and see some of the scale models of the city at that time.
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.
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Start the day with a Visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. Walk through the astounding new museum with its new and moving focus on the individual in the Holocaust, the Children’s Memorial and Hall of Remembrance.
Drive through the New City viewing old and new neighborhoods and the Knesset (The Israeli Parliament) (open for visits on Sundays and Thursdays) and the beautifully designed Supreme Court building.
At the nearby Israel Museum, among many other fascinating exhibits discover the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Shrine of the Book and see the Model of ancient Jerusalem.
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).
Overnight in Jerusalem.
Visit Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, famed as the home of a community of Essenes 2,000 years ago. It is possible that John the Baptist spent some time with the community here.
Stop at the oasis of Ein Gedi along the shore of the Dead Sea and walk along through the Nahal David stream to a beautiful waterfall.
Next, continue to Massada to take the cable-car to the top of Herod’s magnificent fortress, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to the Jewish historian Josephus, we have the dramatic record of the last stand of the rebels at Massada against the Romans during the Great Revolt in 73 CE that took place at this very site, which has become an important modern symbol.
Enjoy the rest of the day and evening at leisure at one of the spa hotels on the shores of the Dead Sea.
Overnight in the Dead Sea area.
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.
From here, it is approximately two hours by car to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.