The Living History of Israel
The bountiful blessings of a journey to Israel inspire both pilgrims and historians. From church mosaics to historical mosques, temple walls to alluring beaches, Israel is a classic. It brims with religious and historic importance and contemporary vitality, containing some of the world’s most historically and religiously significant sites. This is where the Baha’i Gardens blossom with date palms and carnations, antique fortresses shimmer with gold stones, and Roman ruins rise out of the coastal plains. The welcoming ambiance spans the whole country: from sampling olives fresh from the orchard to wines produced from verdant vines, from the ancient history to gorgeous landscapes and from the vibrant culture to the genuine hospitality of the Israelis.
The Dead Sea is one of the world’s most amazing places. A salt lake whose banks are more than 1,310 feet below sea level, it is the lowest point on dry land. The Dead Sea is flanked by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west, giving it an almost other-worldly beauty. Its famously hypersaline water makes floating easy, and its mineral-rich black mud is used for therapeutic and cosmetic treatments at area resorts. The warm, soothing, super salty water, about ten times saltier than sea water, is rich in chloride salts of magnesium, sodium, potassium, bromine and several others.
Kabbalah is an ancient study of Jewish mysticism. It gained popularity in the 13th century, and Kabbalah in Hebrew means “receiving”. Since the 16th century the town of Safed has been the main center of Kabbalah scholarship, making it one of Judaism’s four holliest cities, along with Jerusalem, Tiberias and Hebron. As opposed to formal rabbinical Judaism, Kabbalah is about reading between, behind and around the lines. Each letter and each accent of every word in the holy books is assigned a numerical value with a particular significance, giving an added meaning to the literal word.
The kibbutz, the Israeli version of a socialist collective commune, was considered one of the great socio-economic experimental successes of the 20th century. Even if Zionism was unpopular among the left from 1967 onwards, the Israeli farming communes inspired several generations of revolutionaries, who cited the communities as living proof that communism works. The idea of a kibbutz was initially influenced by the Soviet Union, but in recent years it has adopted the Chinsese model of integrating capitalism into communistic values.
Even though Jesus was born in Bethlehem and died in Jerusalem, it was in Galilee that his ministry was forged, and an astonishing three-quarters of his activity recorded in the New Testament took place on, around, or within the sight of the Sea of Galilee. The life and teachings of Jesus gain meaning and resonance from the landscape and the social setting in which they emerged. Understanding their context enhances the understanding of the events that have shaped the Western civilization.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, and considered a holy city by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jerusalem was settled in the 4th millennium BC, and during its long history it has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Ancient Egyptian tablets call it "Urusalim" probably meaning "City of Shalem" after a Canaanite deity. During the Israelite period, significant building activity in Jerusalem began in the 9th century BCE (Iron Age II), and in the 8th century the city developed into the religious and administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah.
Viticulture has existed in the land of Israel since biblical times. In the book of Deuteronomy, the fruit of the vine was listed as one of the seven blessed species of fruit found in the land of Israel. The location of Israel along a historic wine trading route between Mesopotamia and Egypt brought winemaking knowledge and influence to the area, and wine played a significant role in the religion of the early Israelites with images of grape growing, harvesting and winemaking often being used to illustrate religious ideals.
11 Days / 10 Nights
This tour starts in Jerusalem and ends in Tel Aviv