Tuesday, September 24 Tel Aviv
Arrive in Tel Aviv, settle into your hotel, and meet your fellow travellers for an orientation and welcome dinner.
Wednesday, September 25 Nazareth
At Jaffa (biblical Joppa), the oldest port in the world, see a panoramic view and receive an orientation to the region. Walk through the Old City and artists’ quarter. Meet with the Women’s Coalition for Peace, an umbrella organization of women’s groups in Israel working towards a just solution to the conflict between Jews and Palestinians. In the afternoon, continue across the Jezreel Valley and drive up to the Hill of Precipitation to reflect on the biblical events Jesus would have seen from this precipice near Nazareth. Notice the sites of the battle of the Waters of Megiddo, led by Deborah and wonder at the courage and faith of this remarkable woman. Continue to Nazareth for the night.
Thursday, September 26 Nazareth
Spend time this morning at Nazareth Village, a living history museum of a first-century hamlet. Learn more about the life and teachings of Jesus as we see what his childhood hometown might have looked like, go on a guided parable walk, and enter a replica of a first-century synagogue. Then take a walking tour of modern Nazareth, including Mary’s Spring, the Church of the Annunciation, and the bazaar. If time permits, you’ll also visit Sepphoris, believed to be the birthplace of Mary. End the day with a meeting with the Nazareth Women’s Centre and with Violette Khoury, the director of Sabeel, a peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians who seek a just peace. Violette has also co-founded Nasijona, a women’s project to keep Palestinian traditions and culture alive. We are hoping to organize a panel discussion with Christian and Muslim women living in Israel and a cultural program and time for one-on-one conversations.
Friday, September 27 Sea of Galilee
Drive to Tiberias along the Western Shore of the Sea of Galilee and up to the Mount of Beatitudes. Walk down the hill to Tabgha where Christians remember the first feeding of the multitude. Continue on to the nearby ancient city of Capernaum. Visit Beth Saida, the fishing village of the Gospels, and Kursi, then continue to a location where the Jordan River exits south from the Sea of Galilee and heads down the Jordan Valley. End the day by scanning the landscape of Jesus’ ministry from a boat on the Sea of Galilee.
Saturday, September 28 Sea of Galilee
Ascend the Golan Heights with visits to the ancient city of Gamla, Kuneitra overlook and Tel Dan. Enjoy the natural beauty in Banias Nature Reserve and see the headwaters of the Jordan River and remains of temples at Caesarea Philippi. Visit an ancient synagogue that was discovered in 2009 at Magdala, the likely home of Mary Magdalene.
Sunday, September 29 Dead Sea
Drive along the western shores of the Sea of Galilee and head south into the Jordan Valley to Beit She’an, located at the strategic junction between the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel Valley. See the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins, and visit the Passover altar, where hundreds of Samaritans still gather each year for a ceremony. Continue through the Biblical heartland to Nablus and Samaria, viewing important locations like Mount Gerizim and the Mount of Temptation. Visit Jericho, the lowest city on earth, and remember the walls that crumbled at a trumpet’s blast. Spend tonight on the Dead Sea, where you’ll have the chance to swim (or float!) in the surprisingly salty waters.
Monday, September 30 Bethlehem
Head down to the desert for a visit to Masada, the magnificent site of Herod’s palaces and of the last stand of the Jews who rebelled against Rome (AD 66-73). Take a short nature walk at oasis of En Gedi where David hid from Saul in a cave. View the salt formation known as Lot’s Wife. See St. George’s Monastery, a still-active monastery dating from the sixth century, built into the cliffs of Wadi Qelt. Get your first glimpse of the holy city of Jerusalem from Mt. Scopus, then continue on to Bethlehem for the night. The accommodations in Beit Sahour/Bethlehem are part of a women’s empowerment program which we will learn about in the evening.
Tuesday, October 1 Bethlehem
In Hebron, see the Tomb of the Patriarchs, also known as Il Ibrahimi Mosque, a site sacred to both Muslims and Jews and believed to be the final resting place of Abraham’s family. Meet with Christian Peacemaker Teams to learn about their activities in supporting peace and human rights through nonviolent direct action. This afternoon, get a hilltop view of Bethlehem. Visit Solomon’s Pools—ancient reservoirs from a complex water system—and the nearby Hortus Conclusus monastery. Visit the traditional site of the Shepherd’s Field, where the shepherds first saw the Star of Nativity. Walk through the restored old town of Bethlehem to the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. Near the Grotto of the Nativity you’ll also see Jerome’s Grotto, where he lived and translated the Vulgate Bible. Meet with Lucia Thaljieh of the Women’s Program at Wi’am, the Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre. Wi’am’s Women’s Program works to engage women in community issues and empower their leadership roles at both the domestic and societal levels.
Wednesday, October 2 Jerusalem
From the Mount of Olives—where Jesus often retreated—get a panoramic view of Jerusalem. Walk down the Palm Sunday road to the Church of Dominus Flevit. Stop at the beautiful Russian Church of Mary Magdalene. In the Garden of Gethsemane, marvel at the gnarled ancient olive trees and gather for prayer. Drive through the Kidron Valley, and see Zechariah’s Tomb, the Tomb of the Sons of Hezir, and Absalom’s Tomb. Travel up Mt. Zion to the grounds of the church of Peter in Gallicantu, for excellent views of ancient Jerusalem from the west. Continue up the mountain to visit the Upper Room, the traditional site of the Last Supper, and King David’s Tomb. Possibly meet with Mennonite Central Committee in the evening to hear about their work in Jerusalem and beyond.
Thursday, October 3 Jerusalem
Visit the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the man paralyzed for 38 years, and sing in the adjoining Crusader Church of St. Anne. Walk along the Via Dolorosa to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Take time to reflect and celebrate communion at the Garden Tomb. In the afternoon, explore Jerusalem on your own, with time to shop, sightsee, or relax. Over a farewell dinner, reminisce about your experiences in the Holy Land.
Friday, October 4
Transfer to Tel Aviv. Travel home with rich new insights about your faith and the Bible.
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