Saturday, October 30, 2010

General tour itinerary to Israel and Jordan

Departure from Johannesburg

Day 1           
Arrival at Ben Gurion airport and transfer to hotel in Jerusalem to for dinner and overnight...

Day 2            
We start the day with a visit to the Holocaust memorial and museum Yad Vashem. We stop
to see the Menorah in front of the parliament building (Knesset). In the afternoon we will
visit Bethlehem where we will visit the church of the Nativity and the shepherd's fields.
We then return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.

Day 3           
Today we start by ascending the Mount of Olives and from there we will see the whole city
of Jerusalem. We walk down to the Garden and the Church of Gethsemane and from there
to the Lions gate. Here we enter the old city and go to Bethesda and the Ecce Homo arch.
We walk through the market along the Via Dolorosa and visit the Church of the Holy  
Sepulchre.  We end our visit with a visit to the Garden tomb. Dinner and overnight in

Day 4            
We start with a walk over the Old City walls and after that we proceed to the Wailing Wall
to participate in the celebrations of the Bar mitzvahs when 14 year old boys are reading
from the Thora scrolls for the first time. The afternoon we will go the Mount Zion where
we visit the room of the Last Supper and the tomb of King David. The rest of the afternoon
is at own leisure. Stroll through the markets or do some shopping at the Jewish quarter.
Dinner at the hotel and overnight in Jerusalem. After dinner you may visit the Old City
with its vibrant street café’s, street musicians and many exciting shops.

Day 5           
Today we descend to the Dead Sea area through the Judean desert. We visit the fortress of  Masada, the Biblical oasis of Ein Gedi and " float" on the Dead Sea. You can even take a mud bath – Cleopatra’s secret to beauty! This is also an excellent opportunity to buy some famous Dead Sea products! After a short visit to Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found, we continue to Eilat for dinner and overnight.

Day 6           
We cross into Jordan and visit Petra. Jordan is well known for mosaic craftsmanship. Put
on your walking shoes and explore the secrets of one of the seven ancient wonders of the
world! Dinner and overnight in Petra.  

Day 7 
We visit Mount Nebo and Medeba and we drive to sheikh Hussein Bridge to cross back to
Israel.  Dinner and overnight in our hotel in Tiberias

Day 8           
First we visit the Holy sites around the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes
and the traditional place of the miracle of loaves and fishes (Tabgha). Then we visit the
Golan Heights, and one of the sources of the river Jordan and Banyas; Biblical Caesarea
Philippi .We visit the site where the river Jordan leaves the lake. We end our day with a
boat ride over the Lake (Sea of Galilee). Dinner and overnight in Tiberias

Day 9 
Today we visit the mount of transfiguration, Mount Tabor (Sanctuary of the Transfiguration
of Christ), Nazareth village, where we see how life was in the times of Jesus. We also visit
Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle. In the end we return to Tiberias to our hotel
for dinner and overnight

Day 10             
After a visit to Megiddo, biblical Armageddon to Mount Carmel we go to the traditional
site where the Prophet Elijah’s altar was. From here we continue to Caesarea where we
will see the excavations of this crusaders town.  Today we end our tour with a visit to
the old port of Jaffo, the house of Simon the tanner and we make a city tour of tell Aviv.
Dinner and overnight in Tel Aviv

Day 11 
Today we bring you back to the airport for your flight home.

Arrive in JHB
Shalom and lehitra'ot

Monday, October 11, 2010

The garden of Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane is a very important place for the Christian belief.  It is here that Jesus spent His last night before He was arrested.  In Gethsemane there are huge olive trees which might suggest that it may very well be the same trees that were there, over 2 thousand years ago.

The word "Gethsemane" originates from  the Hebrew expression Gat Shemen, which means "olive press" (The Land of Jesus, Bonechi & Steimatzky, 81, 2007).  It is significant then that Jesus spent His last few hours here, since He was pressed from every side and His "soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Matthew 26:38).

When you stand in the midst of this Garden, you will definately be reminded of the intensity of what Jesus had to go through, for our sakes.  Amidst the beauty of the age old olive trees, lies the sorrow of what Christ had to bear.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ben Yehuda Street

In one of the fundamental ironies that defines modern Jerusalem, one is just as likely to hear English as Hebrew on the street named after the father of the revived Hebrew language, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

Ben Yehuda Street, most commonly referred to simply as the midrachov (pedestrian mall), is the heart of Jerusalem's downtown business district and the axis around which much of its tourist life revolves. Dozens of mostly indistinguishable gift shops, offering the ubiquitous Hebrew Coca-Cola shirts, Judaica and commemorative knickknacks, line the smoothly paved street, many still sporting the yellowing "Big Discount for Brave Tourist" signs which date back to the dark and empty days of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

Restaurants tend toward the falafel and ice cream end of things, with only minimal holdouts from the era when Jerusalem residents crowded intimate downtown cafes. And at all times, an eclectic crowd of Jerusalemites and foreigners mill about: street musicians, self-styled prophets, Chabad emissaries behind tefillin (phylactery) tables, frosted-tipped, tight-shirted teenage Israeli peacocks, excitable Anglo girls and boys studying in a post-high school yeshiva, guitar-slinging young Korean Christian choirs singing their missionizing hearts out in a language nobody understands, grim-faced Border Police, beggars, buskers and everyone else.

At its best, Ben Yehuda conjures up everything weird and wonderful about Jerusalem; at its worst, you may find yourself wishing for a few less screaming teen girls. Net types should be pleased to discover that the entire street offers free wireless Internet access courtesy of the municipality.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Church of All Nations

The verdant northern slopes of the Mount of Olives are home to not only the ancient, olive-studded Garden of Gethsemane but also several of the most impressive churches in all Jerusalem, churches representing a broad swath of Christianity.
Among the Catholics' holdings is the Church of All Nations, a singular work of religious architecture built between 1919 and 1924 with donations from Catholic communities in dozens of countries. As way of thanks, the national symbols of each donating country were built into separate domes on the church's ceiling, lending the roof its memorably odd bubble structure.

While the Church of All Nations is relatively new, it has roots in earliest Christianity: a 4th century Byzantine basilica once stood on the site, until it was destroyed by an earthquake that ravaged Jerusalem in 746 A.D. Centuries later, a Crusader chapel was built on the site but was eventually abandoned.

Stunning mosaics adorn the facade of the church. From a distance, the luminous tiles brilliantly reflect the Middle Eastern sun. The mosaic depicts Jesus acting as a conduit between God and the nations of the world.

Inside, the windows are of tinted alabaster so that the lighting is subdued, creating a somber atmosphere. In front of the high altar is the Rock of Agony, lying flat and smoothed with the passage of time, surrounded by a crown of thorns made of wrought iron. The murmur of prayer is the only sound here; all else is silent.