Israel, a Closer Look
March 13–26, 2010 • Hosted by Linda Smith
Includes airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, most meals, guided touring and more!
Come explore Israel. To stand with Israel by standing in Israel continues as our basic credo while we offer a fresh look into an ancient land. Overcoming obstacles is a continuous struggle for the nation, yet the Covenant Promise remains true. Join us, whether you are returning as an experienced traveler to the Holy Land or expecting the blessing of a first time visit. Smile and begin to pack as we count the days until departure for a most unique trip. While looking toward Zion, we send Shalom from Texas.
Your tour host,
Itinerary at a Glance
Saturday, March 13: Depart USA. Depart on our overnight flight to Israel. Aloft, we will have dinner, time to sleep, breakfast, and the opportunity to praise the Lord for His beautiful creation from the vantage point of 35,000 feet!
Sunday, March 14: Arrive Israel. Welcome to Ben Gurion Airport. After arrival and assistance through customs, we're off to our hotel for a much needed rest. Enjoy the Mediterranean Sea during dinner and overnight at our hotel. Dan Panorama Hotel, Tel Aviv Dinner provided.
We continue our drive north along the Mediterranean coastline to Acre to explore its heritage in the Old City, an area through which Romans, Crusaders and Napoleon all passed. Acre's Crusader Castle is a wondrous step back into the past. The 18th-century El Jazzar mosque graces Acre's skyline with its green dome and minaret. Other parts of the Old City show strong Arab, Turkish and British influences. Our day comes to an end as we drive to the famous and mystical city of Zefat, also known as Safed. Rimon Inn Hotel. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Tuesday, March 16: Safed & Misgav Am. Set high in the hills, Safed is a beautiful and old city, the birthplace of kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and host to a large artist's colony. The combination of galleries and ancient synagogues is truly an aesthetic and spiritual treat.
Our journey continues via Mount Meron to the border settlement of Misgav Am. This kibbutz was founded on November 2nd, 1945, the day of the Balfour Declaration. Located close to the border with Lebanon, Misgav Am maintains an important strategic location in Israel. We'll also have an opportunity to visit Kibbutz Neot Mordechai, where the Teva Naot company designs and manufactures footwear with special anatomical insoles that conform to the shape of the wearer's foot. Their shoes and sandals are sold worldwide. Proceed to our hotel for dinner and overnight. Nof Ginosar Breakfast & dinner provided.
Wednesday, March 17: Gamla & Caesarea Phillipi. We proceed to the hillside city of Gamla which, during the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 CE, was fortified as the main stronghold in the Golan region. The Romans made many attempts to take the city by means of a siege ramp and eventually were successful in penetrating the fortifications and conquering the city. Thousands of inhabitants were slaughtered, while others chose to jump to their deaths from the top of the cliff.
Continue to the imposing Mount Arbel. From the lookout atop the mountain, one can see almost all of the Galilee into the Golan Heights including Safed, Tiberias and most of the Sea of Galilee, where we'll stop for a delicious seafood lunch by the water.
We'll walk down to Capernaum, one of the three cities cursed by Jesus for its lack of faith. Though Jesus grew up in Nazareth, he chose to move His teaching and healing ministry primarily to the village of Capernaum on the shores of the Sea. In this village, Jesus attended synagogue and performed many miracles. As the day comes to an end, we'll take an exhilarating boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and then return to our kibbutz for dinner. Nof Ginosar Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Continue to Belvoir, where we'll see the Crusader fortress, located on a hill of the Naphtali plateau, above the Jordan Valley. As we travel south and descend into the Judean desert we'll drive through arid land, much of which is below sea level. Lunch today will be served at a tent encampment at Genesis Land, where you'll have a chance to experience what life was like during biblical times.
Our sightseeing continues this afternoon as we approach Jerusalem, the highlight of our tour. We'll drive to the Mount of Olives, which has always been an important feature in Jerusalem's landscape. From before the time of Jesus until today, it has served as one of the main burial grounds for the city. Scripture indicates that its eastern slope, near Bethany, is the site where Jesus ascended to heaven. Proceed to our hotel for dinner and overnight. Dan Panorama Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Next, we'll share in sifting through 'Holy Dirt' removed from the Temple Mount. Thousands of tons of dirt have been unceremoniously dumped into the Kidron Valley, so we'll have the opportunity to look for that special treasure remaining from the Second Temple.
Sightseeing continues at the Hall of Heroism, located in a museum tucked into a corner of the Russian Compound, in the heart of downtown Jerusalem. During the British Mandate, the building functioned as a prison, where members of the Jewish underground resistance groups (The LHI, Haganah and IZL) were imprisoned before being transferred to the main prison in Acre.
Our visit to Yad Vashem, memorial to the victims of the Holocaust will bring the horrors of the holocaust to reality as we see the sculpture, the railroad car, children's museum, and the village of lost communities. Our last stop today is the Mt. Herzl memorial park and cemetery, the final resting place of Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, and other noted leaders including Golda Meir, Levi Eshkol and Yitzhak Rabin. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Our next stop will be the Ayalon Institute, an ammunition factory built clandestinely, right under the nose of the authorities during the time of the British Mandate before Israel became a sovereign state. Above ground, the facility appeared to be a kibbutz. However, eight meters below ground things were quite different; this was actually the largest bullet factory in Israel.
Tuesday, March 23: Lachish, Bet Guvrin, Sataf & Jerusalem. This morning we will visit ancient Lachish, generally regarded as the second most important city in the southern kingdom of Judah. It enters the biblical narrative in the battle Accounts of Joshua, Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar. Your view of the flourishing grape arbors at the foot of Tel Lachish, is the same one, amazingly, that the Assyrian conqueror Sennacherib had over 1,300 years ago. We continue to Bet Guvrin, mentioned among the cities of Judea in Joshua and in the Book of Chronicles.
Returning to the Holy City, we ascend via jeep transportation to Jerusalem on the historic Burma Road. Named for the road paved by the Allies from Burma to China during World War II, this makeshift path was reworked by Israeli volunteers during Israel's War of Independence in 1948 to bypass the Jordanian army, break the barricade of Jerusalem and bring supplies to the besieged city. Today the 'Burma Road' is marked with signs, images and exhibits that remind us of this turbulent period in the history of modern Israel.
Another key site in the battle for the Holy City during the 1948 War of Independence, is Castel, located atop a mountain 2,600 feet high along the road to Jerusalem. The city is named for a fortress built in Roman times. The Haganah (Jewish paramilitary organization which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces) decided in early 1948 it was necessary to take the hilltop to keep open the road to Jerusalem. After a fierce battle, the village was conquered and today, the site has a model of the battles which took place in the area.
En route to our hotel, we'll stop at Sataf, a corner of hidden beauty in the Judean Hills and only a few minutes drive from Ein Kerem. Time permitting, and for those who are able, there are easy hiking trails between olive plantations and vineyards. Cultivated plots can be seen at this site where you'll have an opportunity to see biblical farming landscapes and ancient mountain agricultural techniques still in practice. The area offers a fantastic overlook of the surrounding scenery. We'll also visit the Sataf pool, which was the old village's main water supply. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Wednesday, March 24: Shiloh. Today's journey offers an amazing opportunity to visit Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for over 400 years. We begin our day by driving north to where the Ark of the Covenant was placed after Joshua conquered the Land of Israel. Located in the area settled by the tribes of Benjamin and Ephraim, Shiloh served as the site where the Israelites brought their sacrifices. Shiloh is also the place where the priest Eli promised that Hannah would bear a son. That son, Samuel, became a prophet who dedicated himself to the Lord and served the Tabernacle in Shiloh.
We will visit an outpost at Shiloh and meet with Sondra Baras, Director of Christian Friends of Israeli Communities. Our day at Shiloh concludes with tree planting and visits arranged by CFOIC. Return to Jerusalem for overnight. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Thursday, March 25: Jersusalem/Depart Israel. Enjoy one final day at leisure for last-minute sightseeing, shopping, and photo opportunities. After dinner, we'll transfer to Ben Gurion Airport to board our return non-stop flight to the USA, departing just after midnight. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Friday, March 26: Arrive USA. Arrive In New York this morning where we'll make connections to our return flights, arriving at home later today.
Included Tour Features
- Round trip flights from Newark (EWR) on scheduled El Al Israel Airlines flights (flight schedule)
- All transfers with meeting, assistance and porterage
- Accommodations in Superior First Class hotels with private bath
- Buffet breakfast and table d'hote dinner daily plus 1 lunch at Genesis Land & 1 fish lunch at Sea of Galilee
- Touring program including entrance fees, per your itinerary
- Professional English-speaking tour director
- Tips for guides, drivers, & hotel dining room staff
Tour Price, Fees & Options
Please download the reservation application below and submit it to us with your $300 per person non-refundable deposit. Fax to 215-572-9803 or mail to Friendly Planet Travel, 500 Old York Road, Suite 200, Jenkintown, PA 19046.
Reservation application (PDF)
For more information, please contact the tour host:
3607 Palomar Lane
Austin, TX 78727
About your tour host, Linda Smith
Her deeper calling is to the State of Israel where she has traveled and visited regularly over the past twenty-three years. God gave her an intense love for The Land and The Jewish people. She readily shares her own story with hope of giving personal insight into the region and its complicated existence. She is involved in her local church, a Christian-Jewish Coalition group, and committed to a weekly Torah study. She has lived in Jerusalem on two separate occasions, volunteering at Bridges for Peace and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
Linda spent many summer vacations living in the Old City of Jerusalem at the Ecce Homo convent. From this unusual vantage point and situation, she has an extremely wide exposure to the people who live there, including the Jewish community, Arab Christians and Arab Muslims. She developed international friends and teachers who individually and collectively give her unique perspective to the momentous daily events. Linda's tours are planned with emphasis on Biblical, historical, and political events. She searches continuously for a broader perspective to share life experiences. In attempting to understand the middle east, it is imperative to see the people with their intermingled and tangled hopes and dreams. Her many years of involvement in Bible study confirm God's unconditional promise to the Jews and she firmly stands on this premise. She supports Israel, Jerusalem as its undivided capitol, and the unquestioned right of the original Chosen People to be in their land.