Masada and Dead Sea
Sunday, February 17
The tour to Masada and Dead Sea begins by descending below sea level through the Judean Desert.
On the way you can see the inn of the Good Samaritan. We will stop to look out across the desert as we pass the point marking “sea level”.
The ancient city of Jericho can be seen in the distance. This is where Joshua’s troops caused the walls to fall (Joshua 6) and where Jesus healed the blind (Mark 10:46-52).
Arriving at Masada, we ascend the mountain by cable car to tour the 2000-year old palace built by King Herod. Herod had built a swimming pool, water cisterns, two palaces, store rooms and even a synagogue.
It was here that the Jews came to defy the Romans and in this remote spot are reported to have committed mass suicide in defiance after a long and drawn-out siege by the Roman army. We will take you through the important archeological sites bringing this dramatic historical moment to life for you.
We leave Masada and head to the Dead Sea. The tour concludes with time to enjoy basking in the sun at the beach or floating in the mineral-rich Dead Sea, located at the lowest place on earth (400m below sea level).
You can also cover yourself from head to toe in the natural Dead Sea mud, which has unique therapeutic qualities and will leave your skin feeling soft and fresh. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to swim – the high salt content will keep you afloat.
Departure: 07:15 a.m. from Sheraton Hotel (conference venue)
Please bring hats, bathing suits, towels, comfortable shoes and flip flops for the beach.
Jerusalem – Old and New City
Wednesday, February 20
The day tour of Jerusalem starts with a breathtaking panoramic overview of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the entire old city of Jerusalem, where we can imagine the glorious Second Temple just before it was destroyed in 70 CE. The Second Temple was an important Jewish Holy place of worship and gathering between 516 BCE and 70 CE.
Continue the tour driving along Kidron Valley. View the Mount of Olives, an ancient Jewish burial site; the Garden of Gethsemane, a beautiful garden with some very old olive trees which got its name from Greek, a corruption of the Hebrew words “gath-shmanin” – oil press; and the Church of All Nations which was built in the 1920’s with donations from Christian communities all over the world (also known as the Church of the Agony).
We enter the Old City passing the Armenian Quarter, one of the four quarters of the old city of Jerusalem. A large section of the Armenian Quarter is occupied by the closed compound of the Armenian Monastery.
Head to the Cardo, which was the main street of the old city 1500 years ago. It was destroyed over the decades, restored, and today is a vibrant marketplace full of art galleries and unique goods.
Continue through the Jewish Quarter, where you will see many holy and historical sites of the Jewish people. We proceed to the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall or Kotel.
The Kotel was part of a big renovation project initiated by King Herod in the year 37 BCE. It is the western support wall built during this widening of the Temple Mount Plaza. The Second Temple was destroyed in the year 70 CE. The Western Wall was the remnant closest to the site of the Temple’s Holy of Holies that was accessible to Jews. Therefore, it became a place of prayer and yearning for Jews around the world.
Walk along the Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion. Follow the Stations of the Cross and end at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, identified as both the place of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.
After a short walk through the market, we exit the Old City and continue to Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum, a living memorial to the 6 million Jews that perished in the Holocaust and those who risked their lives to save them.
Departure: 7:15 a.m. from Sheraton Hotel (conference venue)
Modest dress required: Covered shoulders / No shorts
No entry for children under age 10 to Holocaust Museum.
Caesarea, Acre & Rosh Hanikra
Thursday, February 21
Israel’s northern coast is home to ancient Roman ruins, stunning grottos and beautiful beaches. This day tour takes you through all of the regional highlights including Caesarea, Haifa, the Baha’i Gardens, Rosh Hanikra and Acre (Acco).
We begin the day in Caesarea, site of the ancient Roman regional capital and port. Named by Herod the Great in honor of Caesar Augustus, Caesarea was one of the most ambitious port-building enterprises of the Roman world, begun in 22 BCE. We will take you on a walking tour of the archeological remains, including the port, the city, the hippodrome and the impressive amphitheatre, and help bring this ancient city with its tumultuous history back to life.
From Caesarea we continue north to Haifa for a beautiful panoramic view of the impressive Baha’i Gardens, the city and the port. Haifa offers some of the most memorable panoramic views in Israel.
We then proceed on our journey towards Rosh Hanikra, where we take the cable car to visit the beautiful limestone grottos on the waterfront. We will also view Israel’s border with Lebanon, situated right on top of Rosh Hanikra.
Making our way back south, we will stop in the enchanting port city of Acre or Acco, to visit the Crusader underground city and the crypt. Acre, site of Napoleon’s defeat, is rich in history, which is evident everywhere within the old city. We will walk through the old city market, bustling with the fresh finds of the local fishermen, as well as spices, vegetables and more. The market ends at the scenic harbor, where you can watch local children jump into the ocean from the remains of the old city walls.
We will walk along the waterfront, and then return to the buses for the trip back to Tel Aviv.
Departure: 7:15 a.m. from Sheraton Hotel (conference venue)
Please bring hats and comfortable shoes.
♦ All itineraries are subject to change and require a minimum of 15 participants per tour. In the event that bookings do not reach the minimum number of participants, registrants will be placed on a similar organized tour.
♦ All tours depart from and return to the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel (conference venue).
♦ Lunch not included.
♦ For additional tours and extensions, please contact the Secretariat.
♦ Tours may not be canceled after February 10.