Tomorrow we embark, we 13 pilgrims from Beth Haverim Shir Shalom, on a journey of spirit to what I consider to be our other homeland, Eretz Yisrael. I pray and expect that we will bring back reports, like the reports of Joshua and Caleb in the Torah; we will see extraordinary sites, meet with amazing and interesting people, and perhaps even do a bit of tikkun olam, of world-fixing, along the way.
We'll be reporting from this site daily, we hope, as we make our way through Israel from the north to the middle part of the country. Below is our itinerary if you'd like to follow the journey with us.
Day 1, Wednesday, July 23, 2008: Departure from the U.S.
Day 2, Thursday, July 24, 2008: Arrival Israel, Ben Gurion Airport… Meet our guide… Begin journey to Jerusalem…Stop atop the Haas Promenade for a special "Sh'hekiyanu!" ceremony overlooking the City of Gold…7 pm - Welcome dinner at Joy Restaurant in the German Colony…Overnight Jerusalem.
Day 3, Friday, July 25, 2008: Breakfast… 9 am - This morning we visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Israel's memorial to the victims of the Holocaust… 11:15 am - Continue to the New Mt. Herzl Museum, where we learn about the life and work of one of Israel's most important historical pioneers… At the Mt. Herzl military cemetery we visit the gravesites of Golda Meir, Theodore Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin… Walk through the bustling Machane Yehuda Market, as Jerusalemites shop for the approaching Shabbat…5:00 pm - Special Kabbalat Shabbat and home hospitality with Cantor Evan Cohen at Har El (Tentatively confirmed)…Overnight Jerusalem.
Day 4, Saturday, July 26, 2008: Breakfast… Shabbat services this morning on own – a list of local congregations can be provided…Walking tour beginning with Montefiores Windmill in Yemin Moshe… Arab Shuk …lunch (on own) in the Christian Quarter… Visit to the Citadel Museum of History at David's Tower…Exit through the Jaffa Gate… Overnight Jerusalem.
Day 5, Sunday, July 27, 2008: Breakfast…11 am (arrive early for security/entrance)- Visit the Knesset where we tour the building, then meet with Gil Hoffman - chief political correspondent and analyst for the Jerusalem Post. Gil will speak with the group on the topic of “The challenges facing Israel and how they can be overcome”…Continue to the old city where we have time for lunch (on own) and for shopping in the Jewish Quarter and Cardo… Tour the fascinating tunnels under the Western Wall…Visit the Davidson Center and Southern Wall excavations… … Overnight Jerusalem.
Day 6, Monday, July 28, 2008: Early departure to the Dead Sea Basin, where we ascend Masada and explore the ruins of King Herod's ancient fortress – Option to climb for those willing to take the heat!… Enjoy an unsinkable swim in the salty waters of the Dead Sea… Hike to the waterfall at Ein Gedi…Return to Jerusalem…Overnight Jerusalem
Day 7, Tuesday, July 29, 2008: Breakfast… Depart Jerusalem, traveling north… Visit the Roman ruins of Beit Shean and view the intricate mosaic floors and the synagogue of Beit Alpha…Lunch(on own) in Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee…Continue north to Misgav Am (3 pm), where we meet with local kibbutzniks and hear about the challenges of life along the Lebanese border… Dinner and overnight at our kibbutz in the Galilee.
Day 8, Wednesday, July 30, 2008: Breakfast… 9 am - Morning jeep tour up to Golan Heights… Continue to Safed, center of Jewish mysticism, where we tour the Artist Colony and synagogues…2 pm - Participate in a special kabbalah learning experience in this beautiful city at the Kabbalah Center … 4:30 pm - Special kayaking trip down the Jordan River…Dinner and overnight kibbutz in the Galilee.
Day 9, Thursday, July 31, 2008: Breakfast…Visit Tzippori to see the ancient ruins, including a floor mosaic known as the Mona Lisa of the Galilee… Depart the Galilee for Israel's northwest coast, where we visit the Crusader city of Akko, exploring the fortresses and British Prison… Stop next atop Mt. Carmel in Haifa to view the amazing Bahai Gardens…As we journey south we stop in Caesarea, site of the Roman Theater and aqueduct… Arrive in Tel Aviv and stop for a moment of reflection at Rabin Square…Free time for dinner (on own)…Overnight Tel Aviv.
Day 10, Friday, August 1, 2008: Breakfast…9:15 am - Meeting with Rabbi Mickey Boyden of congregation Kehilat Yonatan in nearby Hod Hasharon (confirmed)… 1 pm - Travel to the Bet Guvrin region through Haella Valley where the battle between David and Goliath took place…Participate in a unique "hands-on" archeological dig in the caves of Tel Maresha… 5:30 pm - Return to Jerusalem, where we have time to freshen up before welcoming Shabbat at the Southern Steps in the Old City… 7:30 pm - Shabbat dinner at our hotel this evening… Overnight Jerusalem.
Day 11, Saturday, August 2, 2008: Breakfast… Shabbat services this morning at HUC… 12:00 pm - Shabbat Lunch at Beit Shmuel (confirmed)… 1:30 – 3:30 pm - Afternoon “Walking the Psalms” Old City walking tour, led by Rabbi David Wilfond (Confirmed). Walk or taxi back on own from the Dung gate, where the tour ends…Free evening to enjoy dinner on own as Jerusalem returns to life after Shabbat… Overnight Jerusalem.
Day 12, Sunday, August 3, 2008: Breakfast…Free day at Leisure –check out and store your luggage by noon…7 pm - Farewell dinner this evening Departure to airport for our flight home, arriving tomorrow morning.
Day 13, Monday, August 4, 2008: Arrive in the United States.