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An Israel Travel Adventure 2017

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 Register online at this LINK

An Israel Travel Adventure

Join us at Congregation B’nai Israel on Thursday, November 10th at 8pm to learn more about this exciting opportunity!

Touching the Spirit & Soul of Israel 

October 15 – 27, 2017

Co-Sponsored by: Community Scholar Program, Congregation B’nai Israel,

Temple Beth El of South Orange County & Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County

Itinerary crafted by Arie Katz, Rabbi Elie Spitz and Rabbi Kvod Wieder

Land Cost: $3,875 PP/Double Occupancy (with registration by December 15th, 2016)

$3,975 PP after December 15th, 2016; Single Supplement $1,125

If you dig beneath the surface of Israeli life you will find a new spirit alive in the country.  It is the spirit of young and old, drawing on ancient roots and a very Israeli willingness to improvise, daring to re-invent what it means to be Jewish in the land of Israel.  Join us as we set off on a Fall 2017 adventure of all five senses that will take us back to the time of Abraham and catapult us forward into the 21st Century. We will meet poets and politicians, artists and musicians, archeologists and writers, kabbalists and theologians, thought leaders and community activists, who are creating a new reality in our ancient homeland.  This unique overseas adventure is brought to you by Community Scholar Program, Congregation B’nai Israel of Tustin and Temple Beth El of South Orange County in co-sponsorship with Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County 

Date Program
Sunday, October 15, 2017 1:15 PM departure from LAX on El Al flight #006
Monday, October 16, 2017


spirit of the founders 

  • Arrive in Tel Aviv at 1:45 PM
  • Drive to Zichron Ya’akov and check in to the Elma Arts Hotel.
  • Afternoon options on own include:
    • Explore Main Street, “Rehov Ha-Meyasdim
    • Spend time at The First Aliyah museum
    • Pre-book and enjoy a spa treatment at the highly rated Elma Arts Spa
  • Sunset is 6:06 PM
  • Opening dinner at Oratorio Restaurant with author and translator Hillel Halkin: “Touching the Spirit & Soul of Israel.”
Tuesday, October 17, 2017


The Ornaments of the Galilee

  • Sunrise is 6:44 AM
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Living with the Other, guided visit through Zippori, a Roman/Jewish city from almost 2,000 years ago and the site of the codification of the Mishna, for a guided visit through the reconstructed site using Mishnaic texts as a guide.
  • Lunch and wine tasting at Kibbutz Hanaton, meet with Haviva Ner-David, 45, a writer and one of the first women ordained as an Orthodox rabbi in Israel, and Jacob Ner-David, an intense 46-year-old who meditates and runs marathons for pleasure, is a serial entrepreneur and investor who has established a boutique winery, Jezreel Winery, set in a former tractor repair shop on the kibbutz groundsAlso meet with Rabbi Yoav Ende and others who are re-envisioning Jewish life in Israel and the future of the Kibbutz.
  • Drive to Amuka in the Biriya Forest and the grave of Yonatan Ben Uziel, sage of the Mishna, for a window into the world of Kivrei TzadikimGraves of the Righteous, and how visits to such graves has become a central form of worship to certain communities in the Jewish world.
  • Mincha—a Moment of Reflection at the ancient Nevoriah Synagogue in the Biriya Forest
  • Sunset is 6:05 PM
  • Check into hotel for dinner with special guest Josh Lauffer. As a singer/songwriter who is a self-defined “obsessive Torah-study fanatic,” Josh composes moving and rhythmic melodies that poetically express the deep layers of meaning contained in Midrashic teaching.

Overnight: Galilee (Kfar Blum Pastoral) 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Mystics and Modern Pioneers or Talmudic Sages and Nature Reserves

·         Sunrise is 6:45 AM

  • Early morning hike: Nahal Snir Nature Reserve

·         Breakfast at the hotel

·         Day choices: (Two tracks – Meron/Tsefat or Golan Heights)

o   (a) Meron/Tsefat:

  •   We will start our morning on Mt. Meron at the graves of Rashbi and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, “author” of the Zohar, where we will also visit the remains of a 2000-year-old synagogue.
  •  Guided visit to Tsfat, walk the alleyways and explore the ancient synagogues with Yossi Chajes.  During our visit, we will spend time with artist Avraham Lowenthal  and kabbalist Baruch Emanuel Erdstein
  •   Lunch on your own
  •   Visit Ethiopian absorption center for tour and meeting with Dr. Yehoshua Sivan\

o   (b) Golan Heights

  •  Walk through the Tel Dan Nature Reserve, located on the largest tributary of the Jordan River, and explore the ruins of the great Biblical city of Dan.
  •  Ascend to the Golan Heights for a visit to the Druze village of Bukhata and a dialogue with Adeeb Farhat and communal leaders on their complex relationship to Israel in the wake of the Syrian civil war.
  • Visit the Katzrin Talmudic Village and explore its archaeological remains, including the partially reconstructed synagogue and homes from a thriving ancient Jewish community.
  • Enjoy the culinary delights of a chocolate workshop at the De Karina Chocolate Factory in Ein Zivan, followed by Wine Tasting at the Pelter Winery (Matar Kosher Label)
  • Visit the newly excavated and renovated synagogue at Umm el Kanatir.
  • Sunset is 6:04 PM
  • Dinner in Rosh Pinah with gourmet chef Ronni Bar El and his wife, artist Genine Bar El.  After dinner enjoy Genine’s one-woman show.

Overnight: Galilee (Kfar Blum Pastoral)

Thursday, October 19, 2017


The Galilee to Jerusalem: Arab Art and Jewish Spiritual Artistry 

  • Sunrise is 6:45 AM
  • Breakfast at the Hotel, check out early
  • Heading to Jerusalem—multiple stops along the way:

·            Visit Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the base of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, with its remains of an ancient synagogue.

·            Drive via Tiberias, an ancient/modern city located on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). One of Israel’s four holy Jewish cities, this is where the “Jerusalem” Talmud was codified.  Included in our visit:

a.       Visit the graves the Rambam (Maimonides) and Rabbi Akiva in Tiberias, considered two of the greatest rabbis in Jewish history.  Why Tiberias and what have their graves come to represent?

b.      Continue to the Kinneret Cemetery, where some of the great secular Zionist pioneers, including Rachel the Poet and Naomi Shemer of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav fame are buried – only a 15-minute drive from Rabbi Akiva and the Rambam and yet worlds and centuries apart in their understandings of Jewish life.

·          Visit Hamat Tiberias, a Talmudic city with excavated synagogue, and one of the most significant Zodiac mosaics found in Israel Lunch at your own expense.

·            Meet Rabbi David Bigman at Yeshivat Ma’ale Gilboa, considered by many to be the most progressive Orthodox yeshiva in Israel.  Take in the view of Mt. Gilboa listening to the Bible’s dramatic description of the battle fought here between the Israelites and the Philistines, with special attention to the story of Israel’s first king, King Saul, and his sons.

  • Travel to Jerusalem, stop at the Haas Promenade for an overlook of the Old and New City of Jerusalem and the traditional “shehechiyanu” blessing.
  • Check in at the Mt. Zion Hotel
  • Sunset is 6:02 PM
  • Welcome to Jerusalem dinner at Siebenberg House with Isaiah Gafni, President of the Shalem College.
  • After dinner, take a walk to the Kotel or Optional late night visit to a Challah Bakery in Jerusalem.

 Overnight: Jerusalem (Mount Zion Hotel)


Friday, October 20, 2017


Jerusalem: Old and New

  • Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan
  • Sunrise is 6:46 AM
  • Optional early morning activity from 7:00 – 9:00 AM, participate in (or view) Women of the Wall service at the Kotel.
  • Breakfast at the Hotel with Shlomit Naor (Modern Orthodox feminist)
  • Morning options:

·            Explore the Old City of Jerusalem—the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter.  See the latest archaeological finds, get a feel for the diversity of this amazing city, meet some of the people who make their lives in this intense center of Jerusalem.  Enter the Old City through the Jaffa Gate and walk along the rooftops for a glimpse into each of the Quarters.

·            The Israel Museum – (i) Start Up Nation Tour: a special tour at the Israel Museum with Elana Ben Haim. During our tour in the museum, Elana will incorporate details about Israel as a Start Up Nation and show Israel’s innovations over the years; and (ii) Challenge, Question, Engage and Enlighten: Text study with Bina, the Secular Yeshiva, which represents the Secular Jewish Renaissance and Yahadut Hevratit (Jewish Social Activism) in Israel.

·            Meet Mordecahi bar Or and spend the morning with KOLOT fellows and visit intentional communities in Jerusalem changing the social fabric of the City and the Country.

  • Lunch on your own or sign up for food tour of Machane Yehudah Open Air Market using “Shuk Bite Tasting Cards”.
  • Return to hotel for free time and to prepare for Shabbat (check out the pre-Shabbat happenings at the Tachnah Ha Rishonah right near our hotel).
  • Candle lighting at 5:21 PM
  • Shabbat services at 6:00 PM at hotel with view of the Old City.
  • Tasty Shabbat Dinner at our Hotel with “Lone Soldiers” and/or with Social Entrepreneurs from Kolot.

Overnight: Jerusalem (Mount Zion Hotel)


Shabbat, October 21, 2017


Shabbat in the City of Peace 

  • Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan (Parashat Noach)
  • Sunrise is 6:47 AM
  • Breakfast at the Hotel, overlooking the Old City
  • Choice of walking tour or suggested services (including Kehillat Zion, Sod Siach, Raz’ Minyan, Maayanot, Shir Hadash, Yakar, Yedidya, Shira Hadasha):
    • Walking Tour: The Poetry of JerusalemFrom the Psalms to Yehudah Amichai, while walking through the neighborhood of Yemin Moshe and Abu Tor, explore how Jerusalem was viewed by generations of poets, those who never set foot in the city, as well as those for whom it was a lifelong home.
  • Shabbat lunch at the Hotel
  • Late afternoon leisure (we’ve had quite a busy 6 days, time to relax a bit, take a nap)
    • Optional Walking Tour of Rehavia, one of Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhoods and home to many of Israel’s greatest leaders, with stories and gossip from the 1950’s and 1960’s.
  • Seudat Shlishit (light meal), Havdalah, discussion, and a little Torah study at the home of Rabbi Bill and Batya Berk.
  • Shabbat ends at 6:37 PM (Sunset is 6:00 PM)
  • Free evening for dinner in Jerusalem, the German Colony or along Ben Yehudah Pedestrian Mall
  • Late night choices:
    • Tower of David Sound and Light Show at 9:00 PM for those who make reservations.
    • Small group visit to home of mixed media assemblage artist Jo Milgrom
    • Late night art tour in Machaneh Yehudah with artist –  Solomon Souza

 Overnight: Jerusalem (Mount Zion Hotel)


Sunday, October 22, 2017


Israel’s Religious Issues and Spiritual Trends 

  • Sunrise is 6:48 AM
  • Breakfast at the Hotel with Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum: “Creating Community in a Messy World.”
  • Morning options:
    • (a) Yeshivat Talpiot– an egalitarian religious yeshiva in Jerusalem creating a unique blend of commitment to religious study and practice and the values of feminism, democracy, and human rights with Co-founder and Rosh Yeshiva Shoshana Cohen.  Time permitting, field visit to Ein Prat in the Judean Desert, including a presentation and study session with Dr. Micah Goodman.
    • (b) Israel’s Supreme Court – meet one of the recently retired Supreme Court Justices for a frank discussion about religion and state in Israel.
    • (c) Morning meeting with Rachel Korazim followed by private tour of Yad Vashem {Israeli Society and the Holocaust or Why Did We Need a New Yad vashem Museum?}
  • Lunch with artist Andi Arnovitz at her Baka home
  • Explore the excavations at the City of David
  • Sunset is 5:59 PM
  • Dinner with Hartman Fellow Tomer Persico, at the Eucalyptus Restaurant with master chef Moshe Basson
  • Late night bike-ride in the Old City (extra cost applies).

Overnight: Jerusalem (Mount Zion Hotel)


Monday, October 23, 2017


Diving Deep into the Politics of the Land/Soaking Up the Past/

Cooking up Some Excitement 

  • Sunrise: 6:48 AM
  • Breakfast at the Hotel, overlooking the Old City
  • Optional early morning visit to the Temple Mount, site of the First and Second Temples, also known to Muslims as the Harem eh Sharif, the Holy Sanctuary, where Mohamed arrived at the Distant Place (Al Aksa) on his midnight journey from Mecca to Jerusalem.  We will explore the Mount from theological, geographical and geo-political perspectives, in an attempt to gain further understanding of its spiritual meaning, while at the same time, the role it plays in the complex and ever changing realities between Jews and Muslims, Arabs and Israelis & Israel and the world.
  • Morning Event: The Jewish Character of Israel: Dialogue with Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman at the Hartman Institute.
  • Morning Tracks (Founders and Followers, Cooking & Masada):

(a)    Founders and Followers: My Home in Judea and Samaria—I am here to stay—visit two Jewish communities, which represent some of the current nuances of the settlement movement:

  •    Geopolitical drive along the Seam Zone barrier to Gush Etzion.
  •    Visit the outpost of Sde Boaz overlooking Bethlehem for a dialogue with one of the leaders of the new Outpost Movement.
  •    Stop at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion to meet with poet and peace activist Eliaz Cohen
  •    Visit Alon Shvut, one of the more established settlements in Gush Etzion and located on Derech HaAvot, the Patriarchs Way for a short walk and dialogue along Derech HaAvot with Biblical guide and scholar Aryeh Rottenberg.
  •    Study session in Efrat with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, with lunch.
  •    Meet with Rami Nazzal, local journalist and guide, for a dialogue and tour of the streets of the city of Bethlehem
  •    Conclude the day with a visit to Rachel’s Tomb

(b)   Jerusalem Cooking Program: Eat & Meet Jerusalem will take you on a private culinary tour in the Nachlaot neighborhood and Mahane Yehuda market, “The Shuk.” At the market, we’ll taste and pick the freshest ingredients for an exciting cooking class at their kitchen close by. Then, we will peel, slice, chop, grind, bake and fry a delicious and colorful feast of the local cuisine.

(c)    Masada & the Dead Sea: Pack bathing suits, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and towels for a day of adventure in and around the Dead Sea. Ascend by cable-car or walk up the Snake Path to Masada, Herod’s mountain palace and the site of the Jewish Zealots’ last stand against the Roman legionnaires.  Discuss Masada’s role as a symbol of Jewish defense and its current significance in modern Israel. Text study atop Masada: Elazar Ben Yair and the Zealots of Masada & Yochanan Ben Zakai and the Rabbis of Yavneh.

Lunch on own

Experience sense of weightlessness as you float in the super-saline Dead Sea.

  • Sunset is 5:58 PM
  • Dinner Israel as a Jewish-Democratic state – a Vision and a Challenge, dialogue with Dr. Ruth Calderon, former member of Knesset and the founder of ALMA and currently a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Overnight: Jerusalem (Mount Zion Hotel)


Tuesday, October 24, 2017


From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv 

  • Sunrise: 6:49 AM

·         Breakfast at the Hotel, overlooking the Old City (final time to enjoy the view from our beautiful hotel)

  • So Close Yet So Far, Guided drive around Lod, a mixed Arab- Jewish city located 15 minutes from Tel Aviv and known for its socio-economic challenges, for an introduction to the city and its challenges.  Visit the site described in Ari Shavit’s book where the Arabs were expelled from the city in 1948 with commentary explaining the various historical claims.
  • In what is considered the worst neighborhood in Israel meet a woman who is considered by many to be one of the most inspiring people in the country—Shirin Natour Hafi, Principal of the Arabic High School of Lod. Hear the story of this courageous woman who, in her spare time, volunteers to teach Hebrew Literature at religious high schools in Jerusalem! Meet kids who are attending a high school that has gone from a 9% matriculation rate to 40% in five years.
  • Visit the new student village and explore a new model of living in Israel where young Israeli students are trying to reshape the complexity of Lod.
  • Lunch on your own at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv.  From the Templers to the Hipsters – the newly renovated Templar town of Sarona is now a hip and vibrant fashion and culinary center.
  • Afternoon choices:
    • (a) Reading Yochi Brandes with Yochi Brandes—an afternoon salon exploring her journey from the world of Ultra-Orthodoxy to one of Israel’s best known writers, who takes traditional Bible and Jewish themes and relates them to contemporary life.
    • (b) Visit the Tel Aviv Port with Ganit Mayslitz Kassif, the chief architect of the project, including a presentation on the eighty-year old port and the vision that defined the planning of the re-invigorated port, followed by a guided walk through the port complex, which last year had over four million visitors
  • Sunset is 5:47 PM
  • Dinner at Goshen or at Liliyot Restaurant with Kobi Oz (a musical legend in Israel) and Agi Mishol (possibly Israel’s most popular living poet) – evening event exploring the poetry of Israel, two different perspectives, moderated by Rachel Korazim.  What is the connection between urban planning and crime? A walk from Rabin Square to Hamedina Square is a lesson in urban planning and its impact on society – the way people move and act in the city, its memories and the various services it offers to those who walk in it

Overnight: Carlton Hotel on the the Beach, Tel Aviv


Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Greater Tel Aviv—History and Breaking New Ground

  • Sunrise: 6:50 AM
  • Breakfast at the Hotel, overlooking the ocean
  • Morning Tracks:

(a)    A Tel Aviv Culinary Adventure—embark on a food selection and buying crawl through the Carmel Market, followed by a Tel Aviv cooking workshop and concluding with lunch with mother and daughter chefs, Sari and Michal Ansky.

(b)   Holon—the City of Museums—for a glimpse at how the vision of one man, Mayor Motti Sasson, changed a city, including a visit to the Israeli Museum of Design, the Cartoon Museum, the Story Gardens, and a dialogue with Motti Sasson.

(c)    Come with us as we go into the belly of the New Central Bus Station of Tel Aviv.  Two and half hours of mysterious oddities, located in one of the most notorious buildings in Israel. Join us to find out why it’s one of the craziest places in the country. Architecture, breakdancing, Yiddish and Tagalog, And what’s with all the graffiti on the 7th floor? and WHAT?! there’s a bat cave?!!! Curious?

  • Lunch on your own in Tel Aviv
  • Afternoon Tracks:

(a)    Small group visits to artists’ studios around Tel Aviv, exploring how they translate their relationship to Judaism and Jewish life into their art.

(b)   Tel Aviv as a Jewish City, Tel Aviv as an Israeli City…Tel Aviv as a City of the World, with scholar Rachel Korazim at her home in Jaffa.

(c)    The Jewish-Arab Tour of Jaffa—guided walk through Jaffa with an Arab guide and a Jewish guide, exploring the people and the places they share, the narratives they don’t share, and a chance to take in a strong dialogue, in conjunction with Mishkenot Ruth Daniel.

(d)    ** TBESOC special afternoon with Kehillat Raanan (Beit Samueli)

  • Sunset is 5:58 PM
  • Free evening in Tel Aviv –

Explore the Tachana, Tel Aviv’s newly renovated old train station and now a center of boutiques and good food, and one of Tel Aviv’s blooming hot spots

Meander through the Old City of Jaffa.

Stroll down Rothschild Boulevard, with its many cafés and bars.

Experience Tel Aviv Port, with its restaurants and clubs.

Explore the newly gentrified Neve Zedek neighborhood.

Saunter down the Tel Aviv Beach Promenade

** TBESOC special evening with Kehillat Raanan (Beit Sam

  • Late Night Option: What is the connection between urban planning and crime? A walk from Rabin Square to Hamedina Square is a lesson in urban planning and its impact on society – the way people move and act in the city, its memories and the various services it offers to those who walk in it What is the connection between urban planning and crime? A walk from Rabin Square to Hamedina Square is a lesson in urban planning and its impact on society – the way people move and act in the city, its memories and the various services it offers to those who walk in it What is the connection between urban planning and crime? A walk from Rabin Square to Hamedina Square is a lesson in urban planning and its impact on society – the way people move and act in the city, its memories and the various services it offers to those who walk in it What is the connection between urban planning and crime? A walk from Rabin Square to Hamedina Square is a lesson in urban planning and its impact on society – the way people move and act in the city, its memories and the various services it offers to those who walk in itNight Time Crime Tour – What’s the connection between urban planning and crime? A walk from Rabin Square to Hamedina Square is a lesion in urban planning and its impact on society – the way people move and act in the city, its memories and the various services it offers to those who walk in it.

Overnight: Carlton Hotel on the Beach, Tel Aviv

Thursday, October 26, 2017 The Best Humus in the World…and Other Delight 

  • Sunrise: 6:51 AM
  • Breakfast at the Hotel, overlooking the ocean
  • Late Check out
  • Morning Tracks:

(a)    The Writing on the Wall as a Teacher of Culture and Language—Graffiti Tour and Hebrew Lesson with artist and social commentator, Shirel Horowitz.

(b)   Guided walk along Rothschild Blvd. from the Founders’ Memorial outside Independence Hall to the Habima Theater, with landscape architect Dr. Gideon Sarig who re-designed the four large boulevards of Tel Aviv.  Explore how Rothschild Blvd. is now a synthesis of a leisure center and global high tech hub, together with a UNESCO World Heritage site of Bauhaus architecture and one of the most important Zionist sites.

  • Battle of the Humus Joints—pick your Jaffa humus place for lunch and see if it’s the best in the world.
    • 1. Hummus Abu Hassan – 14 Shivtey Israel St. Jaffa
    • 2. Abu Dhabi Hummus – 81 King George St. Tel Aviv
    • 3. Hummus Abu Adham – 7 Carlebach St. Tel Aviv
    • 4. Hummus Hacarmel – 11 HaCarmel St. Tel Aviv
    • 5. Hummus Mashausha – 40 Pinsker St. Tel Aviv
    • 6. Shlomo and Doron – 29 Yishkan Street, Tel Aviv
  • Return to Hotel for final shopping, strolling, packing or just relaxing.
  • Making Sense of it all – opportunity for conversation on experiences, feelings and thoughts for the future.
  • Sunset is 5:56 PM
  • Walk to Shenkin St. for festive farewell dinner with Etgar Keret at Orna and Ella, considered by many to be one of the contemporary classic eateries of Tel Aviv, on one of the most trendy streets of Tel Aviv.
  • Transfer to Ben Gurion Airport for flight back to the USA
Friday, October 27, 2017 Overnight Flight back to Orange County, CA with our Neshama Yetera (our new extra soul) on El Al 005 Departing on Friday October 27thth at 1:10 AM, arrival at LAX at 7:00 AM Friday morning.

► Program will be staffed by a Makor Tour Educator

► All breakfasts plus most meals are included in the package price.

** Optional extension: add-on weekend to Beresheet Hotel in the desert at the Ramon Crater (costs range from $695 to $880 for 2 nights, inclusive of meals and transportation). The Beresheet hotel, part of the Isrotel Exclusive Collection, is located amid a breathtakingly beautiful primeval landscape, near the ancient Spice Route, on the edge of the towering cliffs that slope down into the Ramon Crater – an extraordinary natural phenomenon unparalleled in the world. The hotel’s unique location (800m above sea level) guarantees cool, comfortable weather all year round – guests are urged to bring warm clothing, even during the summer. This exceptional desert hotel, which maintains a dialog with the surrounding desert, allowing its essence to penetrate every corner, excels in its attention to even the smallest detail, as well as its emphasis on conscientious and uncompromising personal service. And all this alongside architecture and design that expand the mind and soul. The hotel accommodates individuals, families and groups, giving its guests a luxurious, indulgent hospitality experience like no other.