Pilgrimage Israel 7 days

  • Place:
    Israel

    Day 1: Tel Aviv

    Arrival at Ben Gurion airport. Drive to Tel Aviv.
    -Dinner Overnight Breakfast. Hotel in Tel Aviv

    Day 2: Jaffa – Haifa – Tiberias

    We start our Pilgrim Tour by driving to Old Jaffa. Visit the church of St Peter that overlooks the picturesque shing port and that has been a beacon to sea-weary pilgrims for over a century, signaling that the Holy Land was near. The church’s charming red brick facade stands out in a city built of stone; its interior, with vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, marble-covered walls and a huge painting of St Peter’s visitation by an angel over the altar, recalls churches in the Italian tradition . St. Peter’s, where Mass is held daily in several languages for a lively local congregation, was built in 1654 over a medieval fortress. In the late eighteenth century it was twice destroyed, and the present structure was completed in 1894.
    World history is always present anywhere in Israel and Jaffa’s St. Peter’s is no exception: a room at the church reportedly hosted Napoleon Bonaparte when he came to the city in 1799. Walking tour of the old city of Jaffa and the Artists’ Quarter. Drive to Caesarea, visit the antiquities from the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader Periods (Roman Theater, aqueduct and more). Drive to Haifa, drive along Panorama Road, view the Persian Gardens (World Center of the Baha’i denomination). Visit the Stella Mares Monastery with the church of St. Elias. Drive to Nazareth, visit the Holy Sites of Christianity, Church of Annunciation, St. Joseph’s Church, Mary’s well. Continue to Tiberias.
    -Dinner Overnight Breakfast. Hotel in Tiberias

    Day 3: Sea of Galilee – Mount of Beatitudes – Banyas – Golan Heights – Tiberias

    Drive along the shore of the Sea of Galilee to Tabgha on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee that is the scene of many Gospel stories, including the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. Early Christians marked the site of this miracle (Matt. 14:15-21; Mark 6:35-44; John 6:1-14) with a church containing magni cent mosaics. The small loaves and shes mosaic, marking the place where Jesus uttered a blessing over the bread, has become a well-loved symbol of this place and of the miracle. Visitors love to take a walk along the Tabgha-Capernaum promenade, built by the Tourism Ministry, to another part of the Tabgha cove and the Church of Peter’s Primacy. This is the traditional site of the events of John 21 after the resurrection – Jesus cooking breakfast for the disciples, the miraculous catch of sh and Peter’s reconciliation. Tabgha comes from a Greek word meaning “seven springs.” One of them, the Spring of Job, surges into the lake a short walk eastward along the promenade. Continue to Capernaum – known as Jesus’ “own town” (Matt. 9:1) – “walking where Jesus walked” takes on thrilling new meaning. As you sit on the stone benches of Capernaum’s ancient synagogue, you’ll be reminded that right here, Jesus taught (Mark 1:21; John 6:59) and healed a man possessed by an evil spirit (Mark 1:23-27). The synagogue on this very spot, whose foundations you can still see, is the one about which Luke says that it was built by the centurion whose servant Jesus later healed (Luke 7:3-5). Jesus also raised from the dead the daughter of this synagogue’s leader (Luke 8:49-53). The ruins that surround you here, from homes with ordinary tools of daily life to intricately decorated stone carvings, are powerful reminders of Jesus’ prediction about this town (Matt. 11:23). A highlight of the site is Peter’s house, where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-31). Peter’s house was a simple dwelling, like many others that archaeologists have unearthed in this small shing and farming village.
    But on this particular dwelling, Christian pilgrims over the centuries left no less than 131 inscriptions on the walls. Jesus’ name appears frequently, as does Peter’s, along with crosses, pilgrims’ names and blessings. Eventually, in the mid-fourth century, a large church was built, whose mosaic oor you can still see, with Peter’s house as its centerpiece. Some years ago a modern church went up above the ruins. These walls, old and new, attest to the continuing reverence for the site of one of the best-loved healing stories of the Gospels, here in the heart of Capernaum, the center of Jesus’ Galilee ministry.
    We will continue to the Mount of Beatitudes. As the name suggests, this is the hill upon which Jesus was said to have preached the “Sermon on the Mount”. The lie of the land next to the church forms a natural amphitheatre sloping down to the lake side, so it is more likely that Jesus stood at the bottom of the hill, but this does not detract from the beauty of the church on its crest.
    Drive to Banyas (Caesarea Philippi), one of the Jordan River’s three tributaries. Drive to the Golan Heights.
    Return to Tiberias.
    -Dinner Overnight Breakfast. Hotel in Tiberias

    Day 4: Yardenit – Jericho – Masada – Dead Sea – Jerusalem

    Drive to “Yardenit” the unique and registered site of baptism for Christian pilgrims, at the place where the Jordan River ows out of the Sea of Galilee and into the Dead Sea.
    Yardenit is a crossroad for many pilgrims, one among other holy places around the Sea of Galilee, such as Capernaum, Tabgha and the Mount of Beatitudes. Every year, over half a million tourists from all over the world visit the site. The baptismal site is located on the banks of the Jordan River between magni cent eucalyptus trees and the natural river ora. It is an ideal spot for recollection in serenity and tranquility.
    Comfortable and adequate facilities are available for religious ceremonies on the banks of the Jordan River. The visit at Yardenit is unique and a most impressive experience for every guest. Continue via the Jordan Valley to Jericho the oldest city in the world (if possible), visit the excavations of Tel El Sultan (if possible). Drive to the Masada Fortress: Ascent and descent by cable car – walking tour around the Fortress with explanations. Continue to the shore of the Dead Sea (bathing possible). Drive to Jerusalem.
    -Dinner Overnight Breakfast. Hotel in Jerusalem

    Day 5: Old City of Jerusalem

    Ascent the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of Jerusalem. All day walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem:St.AnnaChurchwiththePoolsofBethesda,thesiteofthemiraculoushealingofaparalyzed man by Jesus, as recounted solely in the gospel of John, and also the site of the birth of Mary’s mother, “Anne”. The grounds contain extensive excavations revealing the original ve pools and successive remains of the Byzantine, Crusader and medieval churches built over the pools, as well as water run- off collection systems, dating back to the eighth century BCE, which were built in order to supply the temple with water. The strata are labeled and color coded and easy to follow, but dwar ng all this is the purest crusader church in the whole country: St. Anne’s. St. Anne’s church was built by crusaders on a plot adjacent to that of the Byzantine church destroyed by Hakim (which had a small chapel built over it).
    Not long afterwards Salah A-Din took over the city, and in 1192 the church was turned into an Islamic school (there is still the inaugural inscription above the door). In subsequent years the church fell into disuse but, miraculously, was never destroyed because it made a handy rubbish dump. Thus, it remained until 1856 when the Ottoman government, seeking to express gratitude to France for its help in the Crimean war, gave her the church. It is still run by French fathers. The sheep pools were an Aesclepion, a Greek “hospital” based partly on miraculous healing by divine intervention, partly on the merits of seclusion and rest and partly on theories that have of late come into vogue with Jungian Analysts.
    From there we will walk through the Via Dolorosa, the road Jesus walked from the place of Pontius Pilate’s sentencing to Golgotha, whose name means “way of sorrows.” The beautiful hymn that begins “On a hill far away…” has led many to form a mental picture of this last road as a pastoral, quiet scene, a path wending its way, perhaps among old olive trees, up a mountain to where crosses stand starkly against the sky. Walking the real street in Old Jerusalem that bears the name “Via Dolorosa” means putting aside these images, but hopefully replacing them with other, even more meaningful ones that will bring you closer to moments you will always hold precious. You’ll nd the street can be noisy – with venders vying for your attention by calling out their wares. Old stone buildings rise up on either side, and instead of a tree-lined country lane, seemingly endless stone steps ascend through the city. Christian visitors are sometimes startled to realize that this is not new; in fact, it is exactly what Jesus would have seen that Friday. It was Passover week; Jerusalem was bursting at the seams with pilgrims. Many would have looked away for fear of the Romans. Indeed, the Romans forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross (Mark 15:21).
    For as long as Christians have been coming to the Holy City, they have walked the last path of Jesus. At least for the last 1,000 years, it is the same path visitors walk today. As time went on, the sacred stories became sacred landmarks – the Stations of the Cross. There are fourteen stations. The rst is the Praetorium, where Pilate condemned Jesus and Jesus took up the cross (Mark 15:15). A convent now stands over a small part of this huge fortress. In its basement are ancient agstones, by tradition known as the Gabata (John 19:13), or stone pavement. Beneath the pavement is a gigantic water cistern built by Herod the Great, which might have quenched the thirst of the Roman soldiers who taunted Jesus (Matt. 27: 27-31). Emerging from the antiquities, about 20 feet below the present road, visitors nd the Stations of the Cross modestly marked. When the Jerusalem Municipality found ancient stones during maintenance work some years ago, they repaved the present Via Dolorosa with them – the better to show the sacred sites to Christian visitors. Past the Praetorium is station three, where Jesus fell with the cross; tradition says this event recurred, and it is marked by stations two more times. The fourth station is where Simon took up the cross.
    Each station and its story: Jesus meets Mary, a noble woman of Jerusalem wipes the sweat from Jesus’ brow; Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-30), and onward to the last stations the cruci xion and burial, located within the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We will continue to Lithostrotos and Ecce Homo Arc. In the afternoon we will visit the Garden Tomb site that is an alternative site for the burial and Resurrection of Jesus. Despite questions of veracity that surround the site,it is well worth a visit for any tour group simply for the atmosphere of peace and the beauty of the gardens. The guides are gracious and there is ample room to hold church services. The location was decided upon in 1884 by General Gordon when he found the “corruption” of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher by the historic denominations intolerable. Gordon was looking for “A green hill far away without (outside) a city wall”, and upon nding the Sepulcher within the walls became convinced it was in the wrong place.
    Looking out from Damascus gate he saw a skull-like hillside opposite and felt certain it was “Golgotha”: subsequent excavations at the site found a tomb close by that was immediately declared to be Jesus’ and the picture as found in John 19 was complete. All was well except for questions over the line of the wall of First Century Jerusalem, the nature of limestone’s decay and the layouts of First Century CE tombs versus Eighth Century BCE tombs, questions that still rage today. After the visit of the Garden Tomb we will walk through the Jewish Quarter, visit the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) and the Cardo Maximus, a Roman street, visit the Garden of Gethsemane with the Church of All Nations.
    We will end this wonderful day at the Mount Zion with a visit of the room of the last supper and the Dormition Church.
    -Dinner Overnight Breakfast. Hotel in Jerusalem.

    Day 6: New City of Jerusalem

    Visit West Jerusalem (New City): See a model of Jerusalem from the time of Herod the great at the Israel Museum and the “Shrine of the Book”. Drive to the Hadassah Medical Center with the Marc Chagall Windows in the synagogue. Before our Pilgrim tour comes to an end we will visit Ein Karem. Nestled in the terraced hills southwest of Jerusalem is the village of Ein Karem, where picturesque lanes lead you to the traditional spot where Elizabeth “felt life” when she met her kinswoman Mary, and where John the Baptist was born and raised. Luke 1:39 tells us that after the annunciation, Mary hurried to “a town in the hill country of Judah” to visit Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. Centuries ago, Christians began to mark Elizabeth’s hometown at Ein Karem, whose name means “spring of the vineyard.”
    Though just a short drive from Jerusalem’s modern neighborhoods, once you arrive there you can leave the everyday world behind and step back in time. You’ll still nd the spring, where no doubt Elizabeth drew water for her household. If you arrive in the waning of winter you’ll see the almond trees rejoicing in their pink and white blossoms; in summer the grapevines on their terraces still bear fruit. As you watch children at play in the little village park, it’s easy to imagine John as a young boy clambering across these very slopes. Ein Karem was less than a day’s walk from the Temple in Jerusalem to which Zechariah, John’s father, would be called to his duties as a priest. It was while serving at the altar of incense in the Temple that Zechariah saw the angel Gabriel, who informed him that his aged wife Elizabeth would give birth after years of barrenness.
    The shock must have caused Zechariah to forget his manners at angelic meetings! He immediately questioned the angel’s words, and so was struck voiceless until the naming ceremony at his son’s circumcision. In the cool, restful interiors of Ein Karem’s churches you can see where ancient Christians marked the site of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, and where Mary uttered her great praise poem that begins with the words “My soul glori es the Lord…” (Luke 1:46). Keep your Bibles open to Luke’s Gospel here, because in the gardens, quiet corners and courtyards you can also pause over the story of Elizabeth’s naming of John (Luke 1:59-60) and Zechariah’s own poem of praise and prophecy (Luke 1:67-79).
    Many legends surround John’s early years. One tells of his miraculous survival of the murder of the innocents by King Herod. John was only a few months older than Jesus and thus, when the order came from Herod to kill all the boys “in Bethlehem and the vicinity” (Matt. 2:16), John, too, was in mortal danger. It is said that Elizabeth managed to conceal her son in a cave (still shown to visitors) and though the soldiers came close, they unknowingly passed over his hiding place. Ein Karem, so close to the city and yet with such a different atmosphere, is also a great draw for Israeli visitors, whom you’ll nd strolling along the lanes with you, exploring the churches, browsing the little shops, savoring a cup of coffee or a meal, and just like you, enjoying a perfect interlude.
    -Dinner Overnight Breakfast. Hotel in Jerusalem

    Day 7: Back home

    Transfer to airport for your flight back home.

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