Jerusalem & the Holy Land (2017)

tour led by Douglas Kenning, Ph.D.

Jerusalem is the center of the world, the navel of humanity, the place most sacred to God Himself. Or so hundreds of millions of people have and continue to believe. Let us go there ourselves to seek the seekers, the three millennia of passion in a place more fraught with human fears and certainties than any spot on earth.

[NB: this itinerary is an approximation, the timings of some activities will change or be on different days than here listed.]

 Oct 18, WED. Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, from where we’ll drive up to Jerusalem and check-in at the hotel. After a chance to clean up, we will meet in lobby and discuss the tour and if possible go out to see an overview of the city. Welcome Dinner (incl.). Overnight in Jerusalem (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches).

Oct 19, THURS. Jerusalem of the First & Second Temple Periods. We start with an orientation on the Old City and its history, perhaps by taking a portion of the walk along the walls. Then we visit the City of David, the walled Jebusite city captured by King David ca. 1004 BCE and made the capital of his kingdom. From here, we will visit the Jewish Quarter, where we will lunch while visiting the Cardo, the Herodian Quarter excavations, the Sephardic Synagogues, and the Burnt House. Finally, we will go down to the Western Wall (Kotel) and the newly opened Western Wall Tunnel. Dinner (incl.) and overnight in Jerusalem (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches).

 Oct 20, FRI. Roman and Christian Jerusalem (part 1). We will begin at St. Stephen’s Gate to visit St. Anne’s Basilica and the Bethesda Pools and the site of the healing of the crippled man. Then, starting in the Antonia Fortress and stopping at Ecce Homo, we will follow the Stations of the Cross along Via Dolorosa. This will lead us to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. We will lunch at the Harp of David restaurant (not incl.), then visit Mt. Zion, with Church of the Dormition, possible site of the Last Supper,  and Tomb of David. We will finish the day with the Syrian Church of St. Mark, another possible site of the Last Supper and the gathering of the disciples after the Crucifixion. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Jerusalem (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches).

 Oct 21, SAT. Roman and Christian Jerusalem (part 2). We will drive up to the Mount of Olives, descending to visit sites of the Ascension, Church of Paternoster, Tombs of the Prophets, the Dominius Flevit, Garden of Gethsemane, and the Tomb of Mary. We’ll return by van to lunch in the vicinity of Jaffa Gate in the Old City (not incl.).  In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Armenian Quarter and the evocative orthodox Cathedral Church of St. James (1500).  Other options this day include further walks along the wall, visits to the Garden Tomb, the Rockefeller Museum. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Jerusalem (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches).

 Oct 22, SUN. Hebron & Bethlehem. In the morning, we will drive to the Herodion for a comprehensive tour: the lower city (pool, Roman bath, monumental building, Byzantine church) and the palace/fortress on the man-made mountain top built by King Herod, including the latest excavations of the tomb and Roman theater. Then we will go to Hebron, where we will lunch, then visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Cave of Machpelah), where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah all are buried. We will return to Jerusalem by way of Bethlehem, with a visit to the Church of the Nativity, including St. Catherine’s and the grotto of St. Jerome. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Jerusalem (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches). 

Oct 23, MON. Dead Sea and Masada. We drive from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Judean desert, the lowest point on earth--driving 42 km away while descending 1170 meters--talking about the African Rift valley, water disputes, the shrinking of the Dead Sea, sink-holes, and unique flora and fauna. We’ll visit Masada, the Hasmonean fortress in the desert extensively renovated by Herod, used by the Jewish rebels in their famous last stand against the Romans. Returning, we’ll make an afternoon stop perhaps for a dip in the Dead Sea (not incl.). Returning, we can stop at Ein Gedi, hiking Nahal David to waterfalls and natural pools, and visit the Essene site and museum at Qumran. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Jerusalem (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches).

 Oct 24, TUES. Jerusalem of the Arab Period and the Crusades. We will visit (early) the Temple Mount, where are found the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, and the Golden Gate. We’ll plunge again remain deep into the Old Town, seeking the suq of the Cloth Merchants, a succession of Mamluk doors along Al-Takiyya Street, the Muristan of the Hospitallers and other Crusader sites, plus the museum at the Citadel (Tower of David). During this walkabout we’ll lunch (on your own), perhaps at one of our favorite falafel places. The rest of the afternoon is yours to shop, wander, or sit at a café at the Damascus Gate and watch Jerusalem’s matchless human parade. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Jerusalem (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches).

 Oct 25, WED. Jerusalem of modern Israel. Today will start with a visit to the remarkable Israel Museum, including the Second Temple Model, the museum proper, and the Shrine of the Book, with its exhibits of artifacts from Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. We can lunch there (even picnic if weather seems promising), and stroll through the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden. From here we will go to Yad Vashem, the deeply sad Holocaust Museum. Afterwards, or at any time today, you are fee to break away and do your own thing. Accessible by taxi, or on foot if you are a strong walker, are the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Supreme Court building, the Museum of Islamic Art, and we can arrange a visit to the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. You could just return to lose yourself in the Old City. If you want suggestions, we can advise. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Jerusalem (The Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches). 

Oct 26, THURS. Jericho & Tiberias. With an early departure, we’ll drive down to Jericho, the oldest city in the world, to visit the archaeological site, the Qurantal Monastery, and Kassser el Yahud, the more authentic Jordan baptism site. Then we’ll proceed up the scenic Jordan Valley, lunching enroute (not incl.). In the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) area, we will visit Magdala, a new excavation of a period synagogue in the town. Dinner (incl.) and overnight in Tiberias (Sephardic House Hotel or YMCA Three Arches). 

Oct 27, FRI, Galilee & Golan. With an early departure, we’ll visit Tabcha (the “Church of the Multiplication”, of loaves and fishes, that is), Capernaum, the town of Jesus’ adult ministry, and the Church of the Beatitudes (place of the Sermon on the Mount), with lovely gardens. We travel north into the Golan Heights and the Bental lookout over Syria.  Lunch in Coffee Anan Restaurant on Bental mountain, with its amazing view. In the afternoon, we pass through Druze towns, arriving at Nimrud Crusader fort on its magnificent site. Continuing through lovely mountain scenery, we come to Caesarea Philippi (a.k.a. Panias, a.k.a. Banias) where Jesus taught) with its Temples, its Shrine to Pan, its Shrine to Dancing Goats, Banyas (Banias) Waterfall, and its blessed wooded and water-blessed peacefulness. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Tiberias (hotel: TBA). 

Oct 28, SAT. Canna, Nazareth, Acre. Early departure to passing the Horns of Hattin battle site, just outside of Tiberias and the biblical Field of Wheat (Valley of Tur’an) to visit Canna, the wedding place where Jesus turned water into wine and Nazareth, the place of annunciation, home of Joseph and Mary, where Jesus lived for twenty-seven years. After a light lunch of falafel or shwarma in Nazareth (not incl.), we pass along the Valley of Megiddo (a.k.a Armageddon) to visit the archaeological site, then continue to Haifa (Acre), by way of Mt. Carmel, with an overlook of Haifa and Baha’i Garden and the place where Elijah killed the priests of Ba’al. Dinner (on your own) and overnight in Haifa (perhaps Colony Hotel in German colony). 

Oct 29, SUN. Caesarea Maritima, Tel Aviv, Jaffa. Our last day takes us down the coast to Caesarea Maritima (Caesarea on the Sea), the Roman capital of their province of Judea, where governors like Pontus Pilate lived. We take a driving tour of Tel Aviv enroute to a visit to Jaffa (Yafo), for a few hours of wandering this lovely Roman seaside city, having time for shopping the narrow lanes, browsing the beautiful craftswork, visiting its remarkable multimedia history museum, or just walking the sea front. We will finish with a farewell dinner (incl.), before turning toward Ben Gurion Airport for a late evening flight home.

N.B.: This is a politically turbulent area of the world, much of the intensity focused on Jerusalem. This itinerary assumes a calm political climate. At any time, some sites may be closed to us, or some activities impossible. We will substitute other sites and activities as necessary.

 N.B.: The Old City of Jerusalem is traffic-free, which means that we will be on foot, on rough cobblestones, climbing slopes and stairs, for most hours of most days. Be sure that you can walk at least three miles a day on uneven ground and climb three flights of stairs easily without resting. This is not a tour for people who have difficulty walking, or are slow walkers, or have shortness of breath.


We can arrange a side trip to Petra for those interested, either before or after the above tour. Tell me if this interests you.


 Price: $ 3390 per person (land only)

Tour Cost Includes:

v     All ground transport from & to Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion International Airport) at the beginning & end of the tour. There will be only one airport run in each case, so you are requested to schedule arrival and departure flights appropriately. Contact us for details.

v     Air-conditioned chauffeur-driven bus throughout the tour.

v     Overnight accommodation on twin-sharing basis. All accommodation will be of three-star or higher standard. All hotels have websites for your inspection.

v     11 breakfasts and 7 other meals indicated as (incl) in the itinerary.

v     All entrance fees to sites indicated in the itinerary.

v     Two English-speaking host / expert guides to be with you throughout the tour.

v     All presentations will be in English or an interpreter will be present.

v     tips for driver, hotel & restaurant staffs, & local guides.

v     All applicable government taxes, service charges, and paperwork. 

Tour Cost Does Not Include:

v     Airfare to and from Ben Gurion Airport.

v     Passport applications and fees. Passports are required for entrance into Israel

v     Travel or health insurance.

v     Single supplement charge ($ 750)

v     Meals or beverages not otherwise specified in writing in the itinerary.

v     Items or concerns of a personal nature.


tour led by Dr. Douglas Kenning, organized and operated by Sicily Tour