Enjoy an Israel Familiarization Tour
We begin our Israel familiarization tour in Tel Aviv. Here we meet our agent who assists us through customs and security. Then we transfer to our motor coach and arrive at our hotel in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee in time for our dinner and overnight. We begin our sightseeing with a visit to the Mt. of Beatitudes, with time for reflection and time for a short devotion. From here, we make our way to Capernaum and then board a replica wooden “Jesus Boat” as we sail on the Sea of Galilee. We will include a visit to the Jesus Boat Museum, where we will have an opportunity to view a recently excavated boat that dates back to the time of Jesus. Our lunch stop includes the option of the special St. Peter’s Fish for those interested. Our Israel familiarization tour will take us to Magdala to see a synagogue from the time of Jesus, Nazareth to visit the “Nazareth Village” with a detailed explanation of what life was like during the time of Jesus, and Cana. While in Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding reception, those who would like to will have opportunity to renew their marriage vows. Afterwards, we make our way for Gadara and then head to the River Jordan. There, we will have the opportunity to step into this special river. Dinner and overnight will be in Tiberias. Today, we will visit the following Biblical sites: Caesarea Megiddo, and Mt. Carmel. Time permitting, we’ll stop at the Druze Village for a short lunch break. Dinner and overnight will be in Tiberias.
Did you know? A familiarization tour is an opportunity for clergy to experience Israel before returning with their own group!
Explore The Holy City
After breakfast, we travel north for the Golan Heights and view the area from a special lookout. We drive to Caesarea Philippi, where Peter made the good confession of Christ as “the Son of the living God.” We will have a short hike/walk to Tel Dan where we will see the gate of Jeroboam and then we make our way for Gideon Springs. Afterwards, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. In Beit Shean, the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung from the city walls after they were defeated by the Philistines. We then ascend to the majestic city of Jerusalem in time for dinner and overnight. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.” After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing and drive to the Wilderness. Our first stop will be at Masada, where we take a cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. Here, we survey the ruins of fortifications, waterworks, synagogue, temples and palaces. From here, we drive to Qumran and the settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Afterwards, a short drive takes us to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul. We will make a special stop at the Dead Sea for a short swim/float. Time and conditions permitting, we’ll include a visit to the new baptismal site Qasr El-Yahud Baptismal Site, the newly excavated site where tradition believes Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. If time permits, we will have a short visit to Jericho. Dinner and overnight will be in Jerusalem. We begin the day on the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breathtaking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We will enter Jerusalem through the Zion Gate and walk to the holiest site in the whole Jewish world, the Western (Wailing) Wall of Herod’s temple. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David. On this site now stands El-Aksa Mosque, and the magnificent Dome of the Rock. From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate to walk the Via Dolorosa which includes St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Pavement, Ecce Homo Arch, and the ancient Cardo. We continue on to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Next on our Israel familiarization tour, a short walk takes us to stand on the original steps that Jesus walked on as he entered the Temple area, the Southern Steps. We conclude our sightseeing today with a visit to Bethlehem. We pass by Rachel’s tomb on the outskirts and visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field. We will have dinner and overnight in Jerusalem. Following dinner, we return to the Western Wall to visit the Rabbis’ Tunnel.
Experiencing the Garden Tomb
After breakfast on our Israel familiarization tour, we visit the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. You will be fascinated by the 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time. Next, we drive to the incredible archaeological find, the City of David. Afterwards, we have a short walk to Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Be sure to bring a flashlight and good water shoes with you, as you will get wet walking through the tunnel. If time permits on our Israel familiarization tour, we will quickly visit the new excavation and view the Pool of Siloam. Afterwards, we will make our way to the Church of Agony at St. Peter Gallicantu. Finally on our Israel familiarization tour, we will visit Golgotha and the Garden Tomb for worship and communion. Overnight will be in Jerusalem. This morning on our Israel familiarization tour we will have leisure time in Jerusalem. Then we will depart Jerusalem late morning/early afternoon and begin our sightseeing with a drive to visit the Elah Valley and the brook where David slew Goliath. From here, we continue our drive to Jaffa for a special Farewell Dinner at the Old Men and the Sea Restaurant or something similar. We will transfer to Ben Gurion airport for the flight back to the U.S.A. We arrive back to the U.S.A. in the morning with the memories of our Israel familiarization tour.