Custom & Group Travel
14 days for $3290*
from Newark (EWR)

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!


Israel map 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,
Linda Smith


Itinerary at a Glance

Day Destinations
1 Depart USA
2 Arrive Israel
3 Tel Aviv, Caesarea & Safed
4 Safed & Misgav Am
5 Gamla & Caesarea Phillipi
6 Tzippori, Mt. Arbel, Mt. of Beatitudes & Capernaum
7 Sea of Galilee, Belvoir & Jerusalem
8 Jerusalem
9 Jerusalem
10 Sderot, Beer Sheva & Jerusalem
11 Lachish, Bet Guvrin, Sataf & Jerusalem
12 Shiloh
13 Jersusalem/Depart Israel
14 Arrive USA

Detailed Itinerary

Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean 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.

Palmach Museum, Tel Aviv  © IMOT
Palmach Museum, Tel Aviv   © IMOT
Monday, March 15: Tel Aviv, Caesarea & Safed. Our closer look into Israel begins today with a visit to the Palmach History Museum to get a better sense of the period that led to the founding of the state of Israel. The Palmach served as fighting force of the Haganah, the pre-state underground defense organization which was eventually incorporated into the Israel Defense Forces after 1948. Though it existed for only seven years, the values of the Palmach—mutual responsibility, assistance, sacrifice and contribution to the greater good—are legendary in the annals of local history and society.

Roman Theater at Caesarea  © IMOT
Roman Theater at Caesarea   © IMOT
We proceed north to Caesarea, Roman capital of Judea. Herod's building determination is evident as we see a beautifully restored theater, harbor, water system and ruins of the ancient city.

Al Jazzar Mosque, Acre 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.

Old port of Acre (Akko)

Street in old Safed 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.

Safed resident 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.

Gamla ruins 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.

Golan Heights  © IMOT
Golan Heights   © IMOT
We continue our journey with a drive to Caesarea Phillipi and headwaters of the Jordan. Visualize the Golan's critical and strategic importance as you stand on Mt. Bental. We'll climb into jeeps for a bouncing ride across the Golan Plateau to view the entire area. You'll see the Syrian bunkers and lines of defense put in place during the battle for the Golan Heights in 1967. You'll look down at the Israeli towns which were so terribly vulnerable to shelling during the years when the Syrians controlled the Golan. Return to Nof Ginosar for dinner and overnight. Breakfast & dinner provided.

Fortress at Tzippori
Fortress at Tzippori   © my-holyland.com
Thursday, March 18: Tzippori, Mt. Arbel, Mt. of Beatitudes & Capernaum. Today we visit Tzippori located in the central Galilee, close to the town of Nazareth. The site holds a rich historical and architectural legacy that includes Assyrian, Hellenistic, Judean, Babylonian, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, Arabic and Ottoman influences. Biblical archaeologists believe that the parents of the Virgin Mary, Anna and Joachim, were natives of Tzippori (earlier known as Sepphoris) which at the time was a Hellenized town.

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.

Mt. of Beatitudes
Mt. of Beatitudes   © my-holyland.com
In the afternoon, we'll drive to the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee to the place where the land rises in a conical shape that forms a natural amphitheater. This place, known as the Mt. of Beatitudes, has traditionally been identified as the hillside where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount.

Capernaum, view over Sea of Galilee 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.

Ginossar 'Jesus Boat' remnants  © IMOT
Ginossar 'Jesus Boat' remnants   © IMOT
Friday, March 19: Sea of Galilee, Belvoir & Jerusalem. Start the day with a visit to see the first century "Jesus Boat", found by members of Kibbutz Nof Ginossar after a drought in 1985 caused the water level in the Sea of Galilee to fall lower than usual, exposing this ancient boat.

Belvoir Fortress ruins 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.

Mount of Olives, Jerusalem 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.

Western Wall Plaza, Jerusalem
Western Wall Plaza, Jerusalem   © Willem Proos
Saturday, March 20: Jerusalem. Following a leisurely breakfast, we'll enjoy a guided walking tour of the Christian Quarter. We'll then proceed to the Old City to see the Western (Wailing) Wall, the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national life. We'll explore the area around the Wall including the western flight of stairs leading to the main entrances of the Temple Mount. Excavators uncovered the easternmost part of this staircase with its alternating long and short steps. Some suggest that the fifteen long steps may have been one of the locations where pilgrims sang the fifteen Psalms of Ascent as they went up to worship.

Church of St. Anne, Jerusalem © IMOT
Church of St. Anne, Jerusalem   © IMOT
Inside the walls, we'll see St. Anne's, and the Pool of Bethesda. The pools at one time appeared to have been almost 30 feet deep and are sites of healing described by John in the New Testament. St. Anne's is the best preserved Crusader built church in all of Israel, with perfect acoustics, making it a favorite stop.

9th Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa & Church of the Holy Sepulcher
9th Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa
Then we'll set off on the Via Dolorosa, the "Sorrowful Road" which traces Christ's path through the streets of Jerusalem to the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the Rock of Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus was crucified. Stroll through the colorful bazaars of the Old City, where sunlight is often obscured by a vast array of clothing, food, spices and other tempting treasures. Our day in Jerusalem ends at the beautiful Garden Tomb. Breakfast & dinner provided.

Garden Tomb  © FreeStockPhotos.com
Garden Tomb   © FreeStockPhotos.com
Sunday, March 21: Jerusalem. Our journey continues today with a visit to the Temple Mount, also known as Mount Moriah. The Bible records that it was here that God chose to rest His Name and Divine Presence. As a result, two Jewish Temples were built at the site. According to Jewish and Christian tradition, the third and final Temple will also be located here.

Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, Jerusalem

Mount of Olives & Kidron Valley, Jerusalem 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.

Janusz Korczak & the Ghetto's Children memorial, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 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.

Remnants of Qassam rockets fired on Sderot  Photo by Marek Peters
Remnants of Qassam rockets fired on Sderot   Photo by Marek Peters
Monday, March 22: Sderot, Beer Sheva & Jerusalem. Today, as a gesture of solidarity, we will visit Sderot, a western Negev city in the southern district of Israel. Less than a mile from Gaza, Sderot has received many rocket attacks that have been fired by supporters of Islamic groups. The town and its surrounding area have been under near-constant bombardment by thousands of rockets and mortar shells. Despite the imperfect aim of these projectiles, they have caused deaths and severe injuries, as well as significant damage to homes and property and deep psychological distress to the residents in the area.

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.

Ancient well in old Beer Sheva  © IMOT
Ancient well in old Beer Sheva   © IMOT
Next, we travel south to ancient Beer Sheva. The city goes back thousands of years. Its location on the main trading routes and the availability of water contributed to the importance and development of the town. Abraham arrived here and settled in the region and it is known that Christian Pilgrims passed through Beersheba on their way to the Sinai Desert Churches. Abraham's well, mentioned in the Bible, can be found at the foot of the Old City. One can see from the grooves on the side, just how many times ropes have been pulled up and down from this well. Return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. Breakfast & dinner provided.

Sennacherib sieges Lachish 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.

Old Burma Road  Photo by Ori~ 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.

Castel National Park, 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.

Praying in Shiloh 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.

View of Shiloh from Tel 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.

Israeli Man  © IMOT/Albatros 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.


Destination FAQs


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

Tour (per person, double occupancy): $3290*
Airline Taxes, Fees & Sept. 11th Security Fee: $95 
Single Room Supplement: $895 
Comprehensive Travel Insurance (recommended) $129 

Reservations

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.

Acrobat PDF fileReservation application (PDF)

For more information, please contact the tour host:

Linda Smith
3607 Palomar Lane
Austin, TX 78727
Tel: 512-388-1603
Cell: 512-422-1373



About your tour host, Linda Smith

Jeremiah 31:5
Jeremiah 31:5 "Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria. The planters will plant and will enjoy them."
Linda Smith lives in Austin, Texas where she continues in her ‘day job' as Executive Assistant for the Supreme Court of Texas.

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.

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