Hot and Now Tours
There are some sites in Israel that are must see sites. These sites have to be part of your itineraries, especially if it’s your first time in Israel! It would be such a shame to come all the way to Israel, and not see them. Want an example? And it is best to see these sites as tours for the guide to really help you understand why they are really important. The Western Wall, Caesarea, and Masada are just a few! Why are these sites so important to see. These are sites that have changed history, changed the way people think about the world around them. Jerusalem was just a little town before King David, Jesus, and Muhammad came around.
Masada was an unused fortress until Jews decided to revolt against the Romans. Atlit was just a small Crusader site until it turned into a camp for immigrants who came into the country illegal.
The itineraries you will read below are some Hot and Now Tours of the sites you absolutely can’t miss out on! So take a look and contact me!
Jerusalem Day Trip
Jerusalem is an absolute when you come to Israel. But why? It is a 3,000 year old city that began as a small wayside town when it became the City of David and grew into a city with something to see in every square inch of the city. It is the capital of country, and holy to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Before the Temple Mound was built, Abraham almost sacrificed his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah. The First and Second Jewish Temples were built in Jerusalem. It was the capital of the first kingdom of Israel.
While the Second Temple was still standing, Jesus made many visit to Jerusalem. It is also the site where Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. Muhammad came to the Temple Mound and ascended to heaven to talk to Allah and the prophets. If this is not enough, the list goes on. We can’t see it all, but there are some sites you CAN’T miss. So let’s get started!
We are going to begin the day at the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. Here we will begin to explore why Jerusalem is so important, so holy, to Judaism. Why are there walls around the old city? What made this place so holy?
With 3,000 years of history, there is no lack of answers to these questions. The walls of Jerusalem were built in the 1500’s by Sulieman the Great. The builders put gates in the walls in order for people come in and out. Now Sulieman and his people built the wall surrounding the city to protect the residents at night, from attackers, etc. Jaffa Gate is called this because the road that exits the Gate leads to the city of Jaffa. When we start at Jaffa Gate we will begin to understand Jerusalem’s roots and present.
Four Sephardic Synagogues
We will continue to the Four Sephardic Synagogues, four actual congregations within one building! Today, one of the congregations is Ashkenazim, while the other three are Sephardi. But in the beginning all four of them were Sephardi. Why does that matter? Ashkenazi, or Eastern European, Jews have didn’t practices in prayers, holidays, and customs from Sephardic Jews, or Jews with roots from Iberian Peninsula.
Here we can see the differences first hand. We will take the opportunity to discuss the differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi synagogues and practices. It is important to understand why the synagogue is such a central place in Jewish life. The synagogue has been a social center, a spiritual center, and center of development of Judaism since the destruction of the Second Temple 2,000 years ago. In this light we will talk about what we see and use in a synagogue today. For more information, click here.
The Churva Synagogue is a cornerstone of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Built in the 1700’s the synagogue was destroyed and rebuilt several times, in part because tensions between the Jewish and Muslim communities. The last time is it was destroyed was during the War of 1948 when Jordan took over East Jerusalem. When Israel reunited the city of Jerusalem in 1967, the state rebuilt the synagogue to remember the synagogue’s history. It is a great window into history and the different chapters of the city. It is a beautiful building with a fascinating history. We will talk about it’s history, and use it to better learn about and understand Jerusalem’s history. Learn more here.
The Kotel is the holiest site today in the Jewish world. The Kotel is holy because it is as close as we can get to where the holy of holies was located. What it the holy of holies? It is where the presence of G-d lived on the Temple Mound. The Kotel is the last retaining wall of the Second Temple Mound still standing, and it was the only part of the Temple Mound that the Romans couldn’t destroy.
It is called the Western Wall in English because it was the Western retaining wall of the Temple Mound. The full wall was 10 times longer than what we see today, a total of 490 meters. That is 5.4 football fields! So why didn’t the Romans not destroy it? Was it because they couldn’t, or because they figured they destroyed everything else? We will discuss the importance of this site, its history, and have some spiritual time or prayer at this holy site.
Lunch at Mahane Yehuda Market
After our morning in the Old City, we will drive to Jerusalem’s famous open- air market, Mahane Yehuda. It began on the border of Jerusalem and Arab villages as a place for both Jews and Muslims to do business. Coexistence flourished so much that the Arabs knew the Yiddish of the Jews and the Jewish businesspeople and customers knew the Arabic of the Arab businesspeople and customers. From a small market it grew into a well-known, beloved market with many stores, and restaurants. Here we will have time for lunch and a bit of shopping.
After lunch we will continue to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. The Museum displays the chronology of World War II. The exhibitions are divided up by topics ranging from the rise of Hitler, the ghettos of Europe, the death camps, and the end of the War. Walking through the museum, we will discuss not only the events, but how we remember them. We will also take the time to remember the events of the Holocaust at some of Yad Vashem’s memorials. There is a memorial for the Righteous Gentiles, who saved thousands and thousands of Jews during the War. We will visit this memorial to remember these honorable people. We will visit the Children’s Memorial, which remembers the 1 million Jewish children murdered during World War II. To read more about Yad Vashem and its tours, click here.
Mount Herzl Cemetery
We will end the day at the Mount Herzl Cemetery, Israel’s National and Military Cemetery. Prime Ministers, Presidents, Speakers of the Knesset, Presidents of the Jewish Agency, and Zionist Leaders are buried here. We will have to visit them another day.
We will remember some of Israel’s early Zionist leaders, including Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement in Europe. While he did not live to see the day Israel was established, he was buried here in 1949. The Mount Herzl Cemetery is also where soldiers who are killed in service are buried. However, there are military sections of other cemeteries as well. We will end to visit the soldiers we lost to honor what they gave for this country. We will learn and understand how Israel remembers them. For more information about Mount Herzl, click here.
Masada & Dead Sea Day Trip
Of all my hot and now tours, the Masada & the Dead Sea trip is one of the most fun and adventurous. It is a trip with a story of adventure, action, and difficult decisions. It is a trip with amazing views over beautiful landscapes. But we will also have some time to relax and enjoy ourselves. It is a trip with where you can relax, put your feet up, and literally float into a bliss. It is a perfect mix to a great trip.
We will begin the Masada and Dead Sea tours early to climb up Masada in time to watch the sun rise over the land of Israel. Masada was one of Herod’s many fortresses until the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans. A group of Jews came up to the fortress thinking they were the last Jews alive. The Romans follow them here and begin building a ramp to the top. The Jewish fighters will decide their own fate!
How would the world remember the last Jews standing? They decide to take their own lives and not let the Romans determine their destiny. We will take the time to discover the remains and story of what took place here on the plateau. There is so much to explore on Masada from a synagogue to Herod’s castle! And we will see it all! We will then walk down the Roman Ramp, back to the bottom of mountain to continue our day. Learn more about Masada and its history.
After a fun and exciting morning, we will have lunch at a restaurant along the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth! There will be a few options to choose, so you won’t have to worry about not having enough to eat.
Lookout onto the Dead Sea
After lunch we will go to the Ein Bokek outlook to see the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, from a further spot. What made the geological phenomenon of the Dead Sea? There are a lot of things going on. There are a lot of factors that go into the geological area. In order to fully appreciate this area and the Sea we must discuss it from an outlook.
Afternoon at the Dead Sea
After the outlook, we will spend the afternoon at the shores of the Dead Sea. We will have an opportunity to float in the water of the saltiest sea (a 33% salt level), put mineral filled mud on our body, and enjoy some time at the earth’s lowest spot. The mud will make our skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom, and enriched with the minerals from the mud. After a relaxing and refreshing afternoon, we will head to the hotel for check in and dinner. Want more info? Click here.
Ports throughout History
Want some tours that truly takes you back in time? Samantha Israel Tours’ ‘hot and now tours’ has just the trip for you! Sea ports have been essential to travel and trade throughout time. The land of Israel has been just as essential. It is what connects Europe, Asia, and Africa together. Sea travel is one of the oldest ways of travel. So it is reasonable that the two match up well. So when we look at the ports of Israel- Jaffa, Atlit, Haifa- we get a great snapshot of the an important part of the country. When you see these ports from throughout time, you can really understand what true gems we really have in Israel.
We will begin the day at the Jaffa Port, one of the oldest ports in the world. It is the location of the story of Jonah and the whale. Jonah tried to run away from something G-d wanted him to do, and ran to the port of Jaffa. The cedarwood for the First and Second Temple arrived to the land through the port of Jaffa. It was in Jaffa where Peter had his famous dream that allowed Christians not to follow the Jewish laws of kashrut. During the 1st major wave of Jewish immigration before the state of Israel in 1882, and others as well, the ships would dock outside of Jaffa Port. After docking, the passengers had to come in on smaller boats. We will explore all of these stories and more to really understand the Jaffa Port’s role.
Caesarea National Park
Caesarea is an ancient city that was built from the ground up by King Herod in 22 B.C.E. The remains paint a great picture of the city’s peak—full with the King’s castle, an amphitheater, and remains built in the Crusader period! Much of it is still unexcavated. Think about how huge the Roman Empire was! This was their port…and remains still exist in the shores of Caesarea. We will explore all we have to see in the ancient port of Caesarea.
We will then continue to the aqueduct that fed water into the ancient city of Caesarea. As you may tell by the theme water plays a BIG role in daily life. At its height, Caesarea needed significant amounts of water on a daily basis. The sophisticated water system met a big challenge and provided the city with the needed water. We can see the amazing remains of the system that brought the water from the original source to the city. To learn more, click here.
Tel Dor is an ancient port that even the ancient Egyptians used for their travels. An ancient Egyptian document mentions Tel Dor when an Egyptian Priest stopped here on his way to Lebanon and someone robbed him of all his money! It was used throughout antiquity as a port and center of trade. After thousands of years of not being used it became home to a glass wine bottles factory. We will explore both periods and the connections between them.
Atlit, a little further north on the shoreline, is a site where the British would hold clandestine immigrants until naturalized or sent to Cyprus where there were more camps. But they were breaking British Law as the British were in control here. After 1948, the new Israeli Government reserved the camp as a museum. The officials reserved it to always remember what happened here. We will explore Atlit and the camp, and its impact on the chapter in history called the British Mandate over Israel. Learn more here.
These tours are incredibly important to understand Israel. They help us learn more about the State and its history. Contact me for more information about such tours and others for your next trip to Israel. I can guide you through all tours that are relevant for your group, even if mix and match some of these important sites. Going on tours like this help tourists understand where they are. After all, we are in a different country. And obviously we have to see sites that are essential parts of the country. It would be like going to France for the first time and not taking a tour of the Louvre, or going to London without going to the Big Ben. So contact me, and together, we will find the tours that match you and included these great sites!