The Holy Land and Passion Play
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, we will begin the Holy Land portion of our tour. Here we are met by our agent who assists us through customs and security. We then board our motor coach for Tiberias, where we will have dinner and overnight at our hotel right on the beautiful Sea of Galilee. There is nothing quite like watching a sunrise on the Sea of Galilee from your hotel room or from a boat. Today will include many biblical sites along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and in the Upper Jordan Valley: e.g. Capernaum, Mount of Beatitudes, Tabaha (Feeding of 5000; Mark 6), Church of Peter of Primacy, Magdala; view Mt. Hermon, Tiberias. Optional: Baptism in the Jordan River. Dinner and overnight in Tiberias. After breakfast, the Holy Land tour will take us north to the Golan Heights for a beautiful view of northern Israel’s landscape. Then we head to Caesarea Philippi where Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. We embark on a short hike to Tel Dan to see the altar of Jeroboam before heading to Gideon Springs. Next, we visit Beit Shean, one of the best-preserved Decapolis Roman cities. This is where King Saul and his sons’ bodies were hung from the city walls after being defeated by the Philistines. We return to our hotel in Tiberias for dinner and overnight.
Experience the Holy Land in Jerusalem
Today the Holy Land tour will take us to Jerusalem. Along the way we will stop at many biblical sites: Cana, Nazareth, Megiddo, Caesarea, and on to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight. We begin our explorations with a drive to the beautiful Mt. of Olives to behold the breath-taking panorama of the Holy City. Our pilgrimage will proceed to the Church of Ascension, descend to Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and there visit the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We will enter Jerusalem through the Dung 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 the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in all Islam) and the El-Aksa Mosque. From the temple area, we make our way to St. Stephen’s Gate, St. Anne’s Crusader Church, and then onto the Pools of Bethesda. This afternoon we pass by Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem and visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field. Time permitting, we’ll view Israel’s Knesset, the huge bronze Menorah, and make a short visit to Yad Vashem Children’s Holocaust Memorial. This morning we depart Jerusalem via motor coach, and we will descend down to the Dead Sea and the wilderness of Judah. Our first stop will be Qumran and the possible settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Following the road south along the western shore of the Dead Sea, we will stop at Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul, and everyone will have an opportunity to put their feet in the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on the earth. Continuing south, the next stop is Masada, where we ascend high upon the wilderness mountain by way of the cable car to the fortress built by King Herod. Here we survey the ruins of the fortifications, waterworks, synagogues, temples and palaces. From here on the Holy Land tour, we continue into Jericho for a short visit, conditions permitting. Before returning to our hotel, we’ll visit the recently updated model of Jerusalem near the Shrine of the Book (1:50 scale model of Herodian Jerusalem as it would have appeared in Jesus’ time). Dinner and overnight are in Jerusalem. We begin the Holy Land tour today by driving to Ein Karem village, the birthplace of John the Baptist, to see the Church of Visitation, and then go to Yad Vashem and spend time touring The Holocaust Memorial. The Holy land tour will then take us to the Israel Museum, including the Bronfman Archaeological Museum and the Shrine of the Book Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Late in the afternoon we will visit the Garden Tomb with an optional communion service together.
The Oberammergau Passion Play
After breakfast at our hotel, we drive to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport and depart the Holy Land. We will board our non-stop flight to Munich. After customs and passport formalities, we meet up with our guide who welcomes us to Germany. The drive between Munich’s airport and the tiny village of Oberammergau is spectacular. First, we have a brief orientation tour of Munich, Bavaria’s capital, then we drive south towards the snow-capped Alps. Our accommodations for the next two nights are in a little village near Oberammergau. Oberammergau is not only known for its World-Famous Passion Play, but also for its woodcarving craft and for its colorful and attractive frescos known as Lüftlmalereien. In the morning, we have time to explore the lovely village, the museum, the parish church and a woodcarving workshop. Then we should take our seat at the Passion Play Theater for the early afternoon performance. All the actors, musicians, and singers as well as the backstage staff are either born in Oberammergau or been residents for more than 20 years. Between the different scenes of the life of Jesus Christ we can admire “living pictures” – scenes from the Bible presented as still life. After 2.5 hours, it is time for a dinner break, which is waiting for us in a local restaurant. After dinner, we have the opportunity to stroll around in the village and to do some shopping. Later this evening, the second part of the play starts and will end at approximately 11:00 pm. We go back to our hotel in Oberammergau for overnight after the play. Today we depart from Munich airport for our flight back to the U.S.A. We return home the same day. Indeed, we have experienced the Journey of a Lifetime! We visited all sites connected with the Savior and the Bible in the Holy Land, then capped off these unforgettable experiences with the most memorable and spectacular presentation of Christ’s great Last Week, the traditional Passion Play of Oberammergau.