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Priding itself as a start-up nation teemed with thousands years of history, Israel is essential to the Jewish experience. With almost half of the world Jewry residing there, it is no doubt that the “Land of Milk & Honey” is like an oasis of anything Jewish. Recent excavations take us back in time, uncovering some of the oldest stone tools as well as oldest human fossils on the planet. Israel is the birthplace of so much, the intersection of Chutzpe, Carpe Diem and Yalla.
Since the establishment of the state in 1948, more than 3 million Jews from over 90 countries have ‘made Aliyah’ and Israel their home, making it a Jewish microcosm and a melting pot of cultures. As the Mecca of Falafel, Gefilte Fish, Sushi and Vegan Burgers, this small land has long been offering more than its special “Shiv’at HaMinim,” With a multitude of traditions, the whole country is a tightly packed ball where one can traverse in the desert and dive in sweet or salty waters. Sun-bathing, politics, clubbing and archaeology, kibbutz life and capitalism--it all co-exists in Israel. It’s a fast and complex place where you are likely to learn you have to take things easy to enjoy.
For thousands of years Jews have prayed, “To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy.”Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of the united Kingdom of Israel some 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. The last remaining vestige of Judaism’s holiest site, the Western (Wailing) Wall of the Ancient Temple is the place of greatest Jewish veneration and the focus of Jewish prayer.
During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times! The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium B.C.E. The walls of the Old City were built under Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538 and since the early 19th century they divide it into four quarters – known as the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters. Becoming a World Heritage site in 1981, modern Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City’s boundaries.
All branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, including the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), the residences of the Prime Minister and President, and the Supreme Court. Jerusalem is home to the Hebrew University, the Israel Museum with its Shrine of the Book and, the most important Holocaust museum in the world, YadVashem. Touring from Mount Scopus to Ammunition Hill, from Mount of Olives through Mount Herzel and to YadVashem, touring Jersualem is unlike any other place.
Often seen as the vibrant counterpoint to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv styles itself as the city that“never sleeps.” It stands for the immersive, all-embracing, modern and post modern heart of Israel.
Strolling on Rothschild Boulevard. today, it is to imagine the modest beginnings where the first water well was dug just a over 100 years ago, a time when barely 66 Jewish families gathered on a desolate sand dune and marked the land with white and grey sea shells. Nowadays next to fancy restaurants, sweaty workers, bohemian artists, artisans’ studios and looming high rises, this city is a mix of history, religion and culture. Tel Aviv is also known as the ‘white city’, a UNESCO world heritage site since 2003, with the largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings (no less than 4000!) in the world.
Take your time to explore Jaffa’s harbour, one of the oldest port cities in the world, still a modest and functional small fishing port to this day. Consider the Ottoman period atthe elaborate multi-gabled roof Clock Tower with colourful mosaic windows. Our tour will take you down to “Ha-Tachana”, an old Ottoman train station and now a popular shopping area. In NeveZedek, the first Jewish neighbourhood outside the Jaffa walls with its picturesque pathways and cultural institutions, you can breathe in the bustling atmosphere of this vibrant Mediterranean city! And at the very heart of the city,one can find the milestones of Tel Aviv’s rich cultural life: the Habima theatre, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tel Aviv Museum, and the Opera house.
Although secular life prevails here, synagogues in this Jewish city are reflective of great diversity and pluralism: Yemenite Jews pray in “KeremHateimanim,” the Libyan Synagogue in Old Jaffa; the Masorti community are to be found in “NeveShechter,” and the reform synagogue is “Beit Daniel” or the imposing “Great Synagogue.” Let us offer you a unique experience exploring all of Tel Aviv’s exciting historical and contemporary sites!
Israel's Haifa is one of our many port destinations. If you plan to come to your guided tour(s) by cruise ship, we would be more than happy to arrange for your transfer and arrival!
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