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Discover the Napa Valley of the Middle East
This week is about a different type of experience on your tour.
What’s the different type of experience? Wine.
While not often top of mind when people think of the wine regions of the world, Israel actually has the almost-ideal climate and geography to produce some of the best wine in the world. In fact, the grapes in Israel are sometimes called “the mother of all European wine” because, on a DNA-level, winemaking grapes find their origin in the Holy Land.
Give us a call to talk about booking your trip, and ask us to send you a fascinating article about grape DNA. If the science of wine is your thing, you’ll love it!
From Upper Galilee to the Golan Heights and the Judean Hills, if you have a taste for wine and wineries, Israel has an incredible amount to offer.
While obviously, you’ll travel to the Holy Land for reasons other than (or in addition to) the wine, it can add an extra flair to your trip if you desire.
If you make Nazareth Village part of your trip (especially if you’re planning a Church tour), you’ll also be able to see an ancient wine press that was formed into the bedrock of Galilee – likely from the 1st century time of Jesus. It’s certainly a “unique” archeological find that you won’t see in many places.
Whether you make wine and wineries part of your trip or not, we know you’ll have the experience of a lifetime in the Holy Land.
Here’s what Daryl had to say after returning home from his recent tour:
“I wasn’t expecting to see so many places. Our guide was so knowledgeable I couldn’t keep up in my notes, but a welcome surprise for the vast information he provided. I would certainly go again if the opportunity provides.”
Like something out of Indiana Jones…
Maybe church history isn’t your thing…
Maybe you’re not one of those people who’ve dreamed for decades about visiting ancient monasteries and synagogues…
Or temples and ruins. Ancient archeology.
But even still, you can marvel at history AND the ingenuity of people thousands of years ago.
(Or maybe you’re just a movie buff and want to visit the place Indiana Jones called the “temple of doom.”)
Ever wanted to add Petra to your bucket list? Give us a call at 1-855-958-6877.
Petra is an amazing place. A breathtaking reason to visit Jordan, a country bordering Israel.
An ancient civilization, the Nabatean people carved homes into the mountain. From a distance, the mountain looks littered with holes from a woodpecker pecking away for years.
But upon closer inspection, you’ll see those holes are actually doorways. Dug-out caves that ancient families turned into homes.
More than that, Petra is full of ancient sites to see. Sites within sites. As a whole, Petra is amazing. But it’s so special because it’s where you’ll find dozens of ancient ruins. An entire community’s worth!
The gate. The walkway. The treasury. The tombs. The palace. The “high place of sacrifice” The theatre. The monastery. Wadi Musa (the valley of Moses).
You’ll experience them today as they existed hundreds (or thousands) of years ago.
As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it’s more than a MUST SEE. Petra might be (should be) on the top of your Bucket List.
When you’re in Israel, it’s not a long journey to Petra. You can simply add a day trip to your itinerary. Ask us about this special add-on. We’ll take care of all the details for you so you can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime location.
You’ll see wonders, take pictures, and have stories to share for the rest of your life. Petra truly is incredible. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what Geoff said:
“Whether we were walking through the walkway of limestone or riding a camel through the ancient city, it was unbelievable to experience this ancient community. Truly a day I won’t ever forget! Wow!”
Visit the mountain where God won!
Another week. Another blog about an important mountain in Israel.
This time… Mount Carmel.
1 Kings 18, in case you forget the story.
(Give us a call to discuss including Mount Carmel on your tour of the Holy Land. Toll-free 1-855-958-6877.)
The Prophet Elijah needed to prove that Baal and other pagan gods were lesser than his God. So, to put it simply, they had a competition to see which god was the true God.
The “fire of the Lord” fell on the place where Elijah had set up a sacrifice and proved to everyone there who the one true God was and is.
When you visit Mount Carmel today, you’ll see the statue of Elijah that was erected by monks centuries ago.
You’ll see their ancient monastery, rebuilt in the 1800s. You’ll see the traditional place of Elijah’s miracle. And yes… it’s truly a beautiful mountain!
You’ll step where God proved His power and truth through the fires of sacrifice. (In much of Jerusalem, you’ll walk in the footsteps of Jesus, but on Mount Carmel, you’ll walk where God the Father performed miracles.)
It’s a life-changing experience that you won’t forget.
Whether you’re organizing a Holy Land tour for your church group OR you’re planning a memorable family and friends trip, we’d love to help you organize the details.
With a trip this special, you don’t want to leave it to luck or hope you pick the right locations and times and tour guides. Lean on our expertise and guidance. We’ll help you plan every detail… even the ones people often forget or overlook.
As always, you can give us a call toll-free. 1-855-958-6877. We’ll walk you through logistics, ideas, flights, budgets, and all the important information.
Talk to you soon,
P.S. Want to include Mount Carmel in your tour of the Holy Land? We’ll help you build an itinerary that includes all the spots you want to experience. Give us a call today to talk about your options. 1-855-958-6877.
Check out THIS spot in Galilee!
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written to you about specific locations or attractions in Israel.
I hope you enjoyed the “weather in Israel” and “what to pack” emails recently. If you missed the usual location-specific emails, I promise that you’re going to love today’s email.
(If you’re ready to talk about your trip to the Holy Land, give us a call. Ask us questions. Hear some stories. Talk budget and timeline. 1-855-958-6877)
Have you ever heard of Mount Arbel?
You know Galilee. You know the Tiberias.
If so, then you know the general region of Mount Arbel.
With high cliffs (110-meter, 360 feet) and incredible views of the Gollan Heights, Mount Arbel is likely a spot that isn’t on your “must-see” list.. But perhaps it should be.
Besides its breathtaking natural beauty, this amazing mountain has ruins from the Hellenistic period, the Romans, the Ottomans, and even the Byzantines.
Its ancient Jewish synagogue is definitely something you don’t want to miss – originally built in the 4th century and then rebuilt in the 6th century and used for a few hundred years.
You’ll see lots of ruins and history on your tour of the Holy Land. But in terms of ancient ruins that span multiple time periods, I’d argue that Mount Arbel could be the most breathtaking.
Beautiful, can’t-miss history.
You might even be fortunate enough to meet the local Bedouins (nomads). Consider yourself extremely blessed when they invite you into their cave-style home for “Bedouin tea.” It’s true, it happens from time to time. But I’ll tell you more about that in a future email.
An unbelievable and memorable experience, for sure!
You can research Mount Arbel on Google or Bing. You can find it on Wikipedia. You’ll learn a lot – the facts and stats. But nothing compares (or even comes close) to experiencing these incredible ruins and seeing these incredible sites with your own eyes.
The pictures you bring home will only be matched by the stories you’ll tell friends and family when you return home. Memories and stories that you’ll pass down to your grandchildren.
As always, you can give us a call toll-free. 1-855-958-6877. We’ll tell you the stories that people have relayed to us during and after their trek to Mount Arbel.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
P.S. Thinking of a church trip to the Holy Land? Don’t try to plan the logistics and details on your own, it’s a lot to handle by yourself. We have the lists and know the people to ensure your church’s Holy Land tour is unbelievable and unforgettable. Give us a FREE call to start the process. 1-855-958-6877.
What to Pack For Your Trip to the Holy Land
When planning a trip to Israel, packing the right items can make all the difference. Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure (for religious or secular reasons), Israel offers a unique and exciting travel experience that’s sure to make memories that last a lifetime. Knowing what to bring and what to leave behind can help ensure you have a hassle-free, enjoyable, and memorable adventure.
As with any travel, the first thing to consider is the type of activities you plan to do while in Israel. If you plan to visit the beach, make sure to pack swimwear, sunscreen and a beach towel. If you plan to explore the local culture or religious sites, consider bringing comfortable and modest clothing such as long skirts and shirts with sleeves. You’ll also want to bring good, comfortable walking shoes for exploring the ancient ruins of Israel.
Another important item to consider is a daypack. This will come in handy for carrying water, snacks, a camera, and any souvenirs you pick up. Depending on the length of your trip, you may also want to bring a larger backpack, especially if you plan to do any overnight hikes.
When it comes to electronics, consider bringing a laptop or tablet for staying connected and doing research while on the go. Cell phones are also a must, especially if you plan to use a local SIM card. Don’t forget all your chargers AND adapters so you can charge your electronics. Also don’t forget, you may need to let your mobile provider know of your travel plans beforehand so you don’t have any hiccups on your trip.
If you are planning to visit Hezekiah’s Tunnel (Siloam tunnel) , also pack a flashlight and waterproof footwear such as Crocs.
With those basics out of the way, there are still some key items to note, especially based on which season you are travelling in.
Summer, Men Packing List
For daytime, be sure to pack shorts or light pants, and T-shirts or polo shirts.
In the evening, you may want to switch to slacks or jeans (shorts for a casual night). And bring a long-sleeved sweater for chilly evenings.
Also, pack dressier pants and tops for Shabbat (Saturday night) or banquets.
Summer, Women’s Packing
For daytime, women can likewise pack shorts or light pants. You may also want to bring a light skirt or t-shirts and short-sleeved tops.
In the evening, shorts, pants, skirts, and dresses are fine to pack. You may also want to bring dressier pants or dresses for Shabbat. Also bring along a sweater in case the evening gets chilly.
For kids, pack the same as adults.
Winter Packing Instructions
For men, in the daytime, you’ll want to have pants or jeans, sweaters, and a comfortable, warm jacket.
Evenings, same thing. But bring along a sport coat in case you need something less casual.
For women, sweats, jeans, or comfortable pants are fine. Heavy sweaters and casual tops will keep you warm and comfortable.
For nighttime, the same list but perhaps less casual. It’s a chance to pack your favorite dresier outfit. This is especially true for Shabbat.
Kids, same as adults.
Dead Sea and Eilat
If your Israel tour brings you to Eilat or the Dead Sea, you have some special packing instructions.
Pack swimwear and a coverup. A sun hat is a necessity, especially for Eilat.
If you travel to Eilat, please bring a separate piece of luggage for two people. You’ll need to bring enough clothing for 3 days. No need to bring all your luggage. But be sure to have luggage tags.
Remember, comfortable shoes should always be part of your packing list. Tennis shoes work well. If you’re going to the Dead Sea, pack Cros or other rubber, waterproof footwear. This is a MUST.
No matter where you travel, and regardless of the season, dress in layers as often as possible. The mornings often start out chilly and then warm up. Dress so you can “peel” as the weather changes throughout the day.
As always, if you have questions about your packing list, give us a call at 1-855-958-6877, and we can help you create your perfect packing list. We’d rather have you ask ahead of time instead of neglecting to pack something important. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Give us a call today.
What’s the weather like in Israel?
Today, let’s talk weather. First things first…
I promise you’re going to learn all about the weather in Israel. More than you’ll learn with a quick Google search. Then, next week, you’ll learn what to pack, so you’ll be ready for the weather.
(Or, if you prefer to talk about the weather over the phone, you can give us a call @ 1-855-958-6877).
But before I tell you anything about the weather, you need to remember that Israel, like most of the world, measures temperature in Celcius. So when you hear that today was a lovely 19 degrees, don’t think it was below freezing and horrible.
19 Celcius is actually quite lovely this time of year. Mid-60s in Fahrenheit. Not too hot, not too cold. A lovely February day.
As with much of the Northern hemisphere, January and February are the coldest months in Israel. You can expect temperatures to average around 14 or 15 C (mid-50s F). January is also often the wettest month of the year, with an average rainfall of 120-130 millimeters (or just about 4-5 inches).
While winter months tend to have lower temperatures and higher rainfall, they also have lower prices. For some people, that’s more than worth the trade-off.
If you prefer warmer weather and practically zero rainfall, July and August are great months to plan your Holy Land tour. With average temperatures in Jerusalem of around 28C (or 84F), the beaches and sightseeing locations are at their peak form in the summer months.
And… unlike much of the Middle East, you won’t experience horrifically hot, arid weather in Israel. A heat wave rarely reaches into the triple-digits (Fahrenheit). And in winter, there’s rarely a moment when the weather reaches below freezing.
Think of the Holy Land as a Goldilocks zone of great climate. Not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry. It is a land flowing with milk and honey, after all.
You probably have questions about the weather and which month you should plan your trip. Don’t just take your best guess. Give us a phone call, and we’ll be happy to discuss the pros and cons with you. And what other travelers have told us over the years.
As always, you can give us a call toll-free. 1-855-958-6877. OR you can schedule a time for us to call you. Pick the day and time that works best for you.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Tradition Tours tel:1-855-958-6877
P.S. Next week, I’ll publish a blog about “what to pack” for your trip to the Holy Land. It might be a bit longer than our usual blogs… but it’ll be more than worth it! If you have any questions be in touch!
Traveling to Israel is an investment
I just got off a call with a pastor. We talked about his church planning a trip to Israel. Here’s one of the things he said that really stood out:
“Travelling to Israel is an investment!”
(Want to talk about your Holy Land tour? Give us a call @ 1-855-958-6877.)
I nodded my head in agreement and wanted to know more. So I asked him why he’d frame a Holy Land tour as an investment and not an expense.
(Most travel is enjoyable but would still be labeled as an expense, right?!?)
This pastor went on to talk about the importance of seeing the stories of the Bible with your own eyes. That people from his church will come back from Israel with a greater understanding of the Bible AND their faith.
I’d imagine that every sermon he preaches on Sunday mornings will mean something more, something different, something deeper to those folks in the congregation who experienced the Holy Land together.
If you’re a pastor or leader of your church, imagine the power of your people experiencing the Holy Land together, too!
Jonan, upon returning home from the Holy Land, had this to say:
“Having been to the Holy Land, seeing the various sites, and learning about the culture, adds a new dimension to my reading of the Bible.”
We hear the same thing ALL the time.
Is it time to make an investment in your faith, too? Time to challenge your church community to invest in their faith this year? Schedule a day/time for us to call and talk about it with you by clicking here.
Donny Arkush Tradition Tours tel:1-855-958-6877
P.S. Be sure to read our next couple of emails. We’ll be telling you about two of the biggest questions we get: the weather in Israel and what to pack for your tour. Can’t wait to learn more? You can always give us a call this week @ 1-855-958-6877.
For the most part, the weekly Tradition Tours blogs are about locations and stories you’re already familiar with.
Biblical locations. Traditional food. The Sea of Galilee. Capernaum. The Jordan River. Stuff like that.
But today’s email is a location only some of you have heard of. The Cardo.
Think of the Cardo as an ancient version of Jerusalem’s Main Street from Roman times.
From the Damasus Gate in the north end of the Old City to the Zion Gate in the south, walking along the Cardo is another Jerusalem experience you won’t ever forget.
You’ll see ancient Roman columns lining the street on each side. You’ll imagine how the Cardo used to be as wide as a 4-lane highway with vendors and shopping under a covered roof. Ancient times come to life!
As you’re walking down the Cardo, you’ll be walking through history.
Ancient Roman and Byzantine history! From the times of Jesus. The Bible comes to life in a way that’s completely unique and memorable. A life-changing experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
BUT here’s the important thing:
This is an example of WHY it's so important to book your Holy Land trip with Tradition Tours. This is the stuff you might leave out of planning or booking your trip because you don’t know the power and importance of ALL the unique places in Jerusalem.
You’ll hear about it after you get home and regret you didn’t see it. Don’t let that happen. Give us a call to start planning your trip (or your church trip) today. 1-855-958-6877.
Donny Arkush Tradition Tours tel:1-855-958-6877
A new discovery in ancient Israel
When it comes to Israel, it’s important to keep your ear to the ground. Here’s why…
Yes, ancient Israel is from a long-past era. Such is history. When you walk the streets of Jerusalem, you’re walking through thousands of years of lived stories.
And yet, sometimes, there’s news. Exciting news. New news.
(Know what else is exciting and new? Give us a call at Tradition Tours to talk about your dream tour of the Holy Land. Toll-free, 1-855-958-6877.)
A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about the Pool of Siloam.
It was built nearly 3000 years ago and was a central and important location in ancient Jerusalem.
The people would gather there three times a year – Pentecost, Tabernacle, and Passover.
It was a holy site. A place to spiritually cleanse yourself before you made the pilgrimage up to the Temple. We’ve known about the Pool for quite some time. Known its exact location for hundreds of years.
But until now, we’ve only had access to a small portion of the Pool.
As you read this email, the entire biblical Pool of Siloam is being uncovered and revealed.
Excavators are carefully unearthing the walkways and wonders of this ancient site. But with each scoop of the excavator’s bucket, they unearth more than mere history. They unearth biblical history, historical proof to validate the Bible’s truth.
The place where Jesus healed the blind man will soon be yours to see. Just as the people walking around ancient Jerusalem would have seen it 3000 years ago.
When you book your trip to the Holy land – whether for yourself or your church group – be sure to include the Pool of Siloam. Once it’s fully excavated and restored, it’s a site you won’t want to miss.
Give us a call and we can give you more details on the timeline for when you’ll want to book your trip to see the unearthed Pool.
Tradition Tours tel:1-855-958-6877
You won’t expect THIS in Israel
Yes, you know hummus and falafel. Maybe you’ve tried shakshuka. Or babka.
But let me tell you a quick story…
(Or you can give me a call and I’ll tell you over the phone. 1-855-958-6877.)
The other week, I was in Israel. It was a great trip with a great church group. We all had an amazing time. But I’d had enough of hotel food and restaurant meals. My palate wanted something more down-to-earth. To be frank, it wanted street food.
Shawarma to be more specific.
Maybe you’ve had shawarma in your town or at a local market. Or you’ve seen it on the menu or noticed a meat spit and wondered what it tastes like.
I honestly cannot begin to describe the eruption of flavor that IS street shawarma. Jerusalem street shawarma. I promise you; it might just be one of the highlights of your trip. Sounds silly, but it’s true!
Talk about flavor in every bite. Taste buds going wild. An absolutely unexpected delight.
When you think “Israel” you don’t necessarily think of the foods and flavors. But let me tell you, the spices and aromas and delicious food that you’ll experience are often part of what you’ll write home about.
When people ask you, “How was your trip to Israel?” Your answer might very well be: “The food was amazing!”
Consider it an added benefit to your Holy Land tour. Taste buds explode and mouths salivate. I hear it from groups all the time. And like I said, when I was in Israel recently, I craved the food more than anything else.
Why? Because there’s nothing like Israeli food IN Israel. You can ONLY find those specific flavors in that specific place in the world.
So when you think “Israel” don’t forget to imagine the flavors, too!
P.S. Thinking of booking a trip to Israel for yourself OR your church group? Here’s your two best options for connecting with us at Tradition Tours. First, you can give me a toll-free call at your convenience OR you can schedule a time for us to call you. Click here to find a time that works for us to call you. Talk soon!
The tastes of the Old Market in Jerusalem
You’re going to feel like you’ve stepped back in time!
(True, that’s something you’ll feel on every excursion and every day of your time in the Holy Land, but it’s especially true when you visit the Old Market in Jerusalem.)
Want to know which other excursions NOT to miss? Give us a call, and we’ll talk you through it. Toll-free - 1-855-958-6877.
But back to the Old Market… The “Shuk” as it’s called…
The sights. The sounds. The smells. The flavors.
It’s such a unique experience that it’s impossible to put into words.
Whether you’ve only been there once or dozens of times, the Old Market is a rare gem that MUST be experienced to be believed.
The sights and sounds of the Old Market will live in your memory forever. The smells and tastes will seem stuck in your nose and tastebuds for you to recall years and decades later.
Seeing IS believing. It’s been around for hundreds of years, yet there are still new corners to explore and new treasures to discover every single time you’re there.
Whether it’s only for a few hours or all day long, after walking around the Old Market, you won’t leave empty-handed; you won’t leave with an empty stomach; and you won’t leave without loads of incredible stories to take home.
And if you’re feeling the urge to explore your younger years again, in the evening… the Old Market transforms into a hub of nightlife. With bars and restaurants galore, you’re sure to have a memorable (and enjoyable) time.
Give us a call. Let’s make sure to add the Old Market to your Holy Land experience.
P.S. Two options for you to connect with us at Tradition Tours. First, you can give me a toll-free call at your convenience OR you can schedule a time for us to call you. You can click here to find a time that works for us to call.
Build your Holy Land tour around THIS
You’ve seen pictures of it… You’ve heard stories of it… You’ve probably even dreamed about it…
The Western Wall in Jerusalem. (Sometimes it’s been called the “wailing wall” but that’s not the preferred name nowadays.)
Want a quick rundown of why it’s called the Western wall instead? I’d be happy to explain and talk about the incredible experience of seeing it! Give me a call @ 1-855-958-6877.
To make a very long history a bit shorter, what’s called the Western wall is essentially part of the retaining wall of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. (The one re-built in Ezra/Nehemiah in the Old Testament and was then destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.)
Let me tell you…
When you place your hand against the Western wall, you’ll feel history. It’s like no other experience in the world. Truly!
You’ll see the handwritten notes rolled up and left in the cracks of the Temple foundation by people over the decades and centuries. You can even leave a note (often a written prayer) as well.
It’s truly a place of history like few others in the world.
Life-changing. Unforgettable. Unbelievable.
As you’ll do many times during your trip to the Holy Land, you’ll regularly pinch yourself to make sure it’s reality and not a dream.
The Western wall is an experience to build your Holy Land trip around. Just as the Wall was part of the foundation of the Temple, so it can be the foundation of your entire tour.
Give us a call today to talk about your options.
P.S. Want to talk about turning your dream trip into a reality? You’ve got two great options. You can give us a call @ 1-855-958-6877 or schedule a time for us to call you. You can click here to find a time that works for us to call.
Visit the place of Jesus' first miracle
The first miracle of Jesus recorded in the Bible. Do you remember what it was? Here’s a few hints…
A wedding. Six stone water jars filled to the brim. Saving the best wine until last.
Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana
Want to visit? Call us to include Cana in your Holy Land tour - 1-855-958-6877.
Modern-day Biblical scholars think that the location is now called Kafr Kanna. It’s a place you can visit today to see where this amazing miracle happened those centuries ago.
Like many of the Biblical stories, when you visit the site where they actually happened, those stories become:
More meaningful More inspirational More incredible
For many who book their Holy Land tour with us, the Biblical stories become more life-changing and faith-strengthening.
We’d be honored to help you plan your pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Whether for families or church groups, we’ve helped thousands of people check “visit the Holy Land” off their bucket list.
Give us a call today and we’ll help you imagine what your trip-of-a-lifetime will be like. Our toll-free number is 1-855-958-6877.
Look forward to hearing from you soon!
P.S. When was the last wedding you attended? Can you imagine the shock and surprise if Jesus was there, turning regular water into amazing wine? Go see the place where the miracle happened. Give us a call and we’ll walk you through details such as logistics, timeline, cost, etc. Pick up your phone and call now – 1-855-958-6877.
A place you NEVER thought to visit
Sodom and Gomorrah.
When you think of these ancient cities, what comes to mind? Certainly, you’ve heard of them before.
Want to visit the ancient ruins? Give us a call to talk about how we can help make that happen. Call today – 1-855-958-6877.
What do you think of? What do you imagine? Where does your mind’s eye take you when you think of these ancient cities?
There’s debate over why God chose to destroy them, but the stories seem to agree on the people’s wickedness.
In Genesis 19, the stories also agree that God rained down sulfur and fire to destroy the cities and all within them. As you might recall, when Lot’s wife turned back to look, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
(You can go see the “pillar of salt” for yourself.)
There are other references in the Old and New Testaments to Sodom and Gomorrah, too.
But when you see those biblical references come to life… When you look out upon the ancient ruins of these cities…
You’ll be impressed. You’ll be in awe and wonder.
It’s not often a location that people think to put into your Holy Land tour. But it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. Ask us how we can (easily) add this life-changing location to your itinerary.
P.S Archeologists believe the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah to be slightly south of the Dead Sea. Which means that we can customize your Holy Land tour to include multiple amazing sites in one day. Curious to know which other locations we can add to your experience? Then give us a call and we’ll help you explore the amazing options you may not have thought of yet.
Call us at Tradition Tours to talk about your Holy Land tour. Toll-free, 1-855-958-6877.
Recommended Reading List For Israel
Here’s a fun question we got this week. We don’t often share questions from our travelers on the blog, but this was an interesting one, so I thought I’d share the exchange here.
“Hi Hannah, We are so excited about our upcoming trip! Are there any books you would recommend that we read to prepare ourselves for our tour of The Holy Land? Thanks, Grace”
Here is a part of my response:
Naturally, due to the history-rich region, hundreds of books have been written on the topic of Israel, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Of course, there have been many books written without a religious focus, most notably would be the first-person narrative written by Josephus Flavius concerning the Roman conquest of Jerusalem.
Let’s face it, Israel is like no other place you have visited to date. Due to its rich history, from the Tabernacle in Shiloh, dating back some 3000 years, to the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea, to the Old City of Jerusalem, no region in the world has such an eclectic mix of cultures and religions which have fused together to create the vibrant and modern-day Israel that you will experience on your Tradition Tour.
I recently sat down to lunch with one of our tour guides, and we discussed, amongst other topics, our favorite Israel-based literature list, excluding the Bible, of course.
I hope the following list, based on our conversation, will serve as a great tool in helping you grow your knowledge before you touch down at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport for your visit.
The Book List (Christian Traveler):
1. The Pledge by Leonard Slater
A Reporter and news correspondent for more than 25 years, Leonard Slater’s The Pledge tells the story of the secret American underground that helped arm the new state of Israel for its war of independence after World War II. It involved hundreds of Americans from every walk of life — millionaires and students, longshoremen and ex-GIs, Protestants and Catholics, and Jews; an epic that turned idealists into adventurers, cynics into idealists, respectable business people into smugglers. The story of this incredible and dramatic race against time — to provide a state not yet born with an army that was still illegal — is told in one of the most suspenseful works of history ever published. It was an epic that contained heroism, farce, and endless contradictions: the Israeli air force was supplied with old Nazi fighter planes bought from Communist Czechoslovakia with money solicited from a real-estate magnate at the urging of a Socialist farmer. Operating out of a Manhattan hotel: known for its tall chorus girls and little old ladies, this same amateur underground bought a surplus U.s. Navy aircraft carrier and prepared to sail it halfway around the world in a vest-pocket replica of D-Day… Yet somehow, this dedicated band of conspirators created an armed force out of nothing.
2. Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George
Margaret George’s MARY, CALLED MAGDALENE, is about the life and ministry of Jesus and what happened to his disciples after his death. The book is in three parts. Part One, titled DEMONS, tells about the childhood and young adulthood of Mary of Magdala and how she came to be possessed by demons. Part Two, titled DISCIPLE, is the story of the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ and how he casts out her demons. Part Three, titled APOSTLE, tells what happened to Mary and the other disciples after the death of Jesus Christ.
3. Israel: A simple guide to the most misunderstood country on Earth by Noa Tishby
Published in 2021, this book with take you through Israel’s history and the personal stories of Noa and her family. Noa will take con on a journey from Biblical times to modern-day Israel. A must-read to get a snapshot of what Israel is today.
4. The Source by James Michener
The Source is a historical novel by James A. Michener, first published in 1965. It is a survey of the history of the Jewish people and the land of Israel from pre-monotheistic days to the birth of the modern State of Israel.
5. Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, and the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day, and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the Israel–Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of 3,000 years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism, and coexistence. Drawing on new archives, current scholarship, his family papers, and a lifetime’s study, Montefiore illuminates the essence of sanctity and mysticism, identity and empire in a unique chronicle of the city that is believed will be the setting for the Apocalypse. This is how Jerusalem became Jerusalem and the only city that exists twice – in heaven and on earth.
6. Six Days of War by Michael Oren
This NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER is the first comprehensive account of the epoch-making Six-Day War. Though it lasted for only six tense days in June, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war never really ended. Every crisis that has ripped through this region in the ensuing decades, from the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to the ongoing intifada, is a direct consequence of those six days of fighting. Writing with a novelist’s command of narrative and a historian’s grasp of fact and motive, Michael B. Oren reconstructs both the lightning-fast action on the battlefields and the political shocks that electrified the world. Extraordinary personalities—Moshe Dayan and Gamal Abdul Nasser, Lyndon Johnson, and Alexei Kosygin—rose and toppled from power due to this war; borders were redrawn; daring strategies brilliantly succeeded or disastrously failed in a matter of hours. And the balance of power changed—in the Middle East and the world. A towering work of history and an enthralling human narrative, Six Days of War is the most important book on the Middle East conflict to appear in a generation.
7. The War of Atonement by Chaim Herzog
This is the authoritative account of the Israeli Army’s performance in the bitter Yom Kippur War of 1973. The origins of the war in the turbulent history of competing powers in the Middle East are fully explored, as is the build-up of Arab forces that almost caught Israel by surprise and the realization of the Israeli leadership that they would once again have to fight against overwhelming odds for the survival of their state. A gripping narrative of the conflict, punctuated by first-hand accounts and interviews with combatants, The War of Atonement is full of drama and tales of inspirational bravery. An analysis of the political implications of the conflict brings this epic tale to a close. This is the most comprehensive work on a conflict that has had significant implications for our own troubled times.
8. The Angel by Uri Bar-Joseph
Now a Netflix Movie
The Angel is a gripping narrative that documents the sensational life and mysterious death of Ashraf Marwan, a senior Egyptian official who spied for Israel. This book offers new insights into the turbulent modern history of the Middle East. As the son-in-law of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and a close advisor to his successor, Anwar Sadat, Ashraf Marwan had access to the deepest secrets of the country’s government. But Marwan himself had a secret: He was a spy for the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. Under the codename “The Angel,” Marwan turned Egypt into an open book for the Israeli intelligence services—and, by alerting the Mossad in advance of the joint Egyptian-Syrian attack on Yom Kippur, saved Israel from a devastating defeat. Drawing on meticulous research and interviews with many key participants, Uri Bar-Joseph pieces together Marwan’s story. He sheds new light on this volatile time in modern Egyptian and Middle Eastern history, culminating in 2011’s Arab Spring. The Angel also chronicles the discord within the Israeli government that brought down Prime Minister Golda Meir.
9.Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel by Francine Klagsbrun
The definitive biography of Golda Meir: the iron-willed leader, chain-smoking, political operative, and tea-and-cake-serving grandmother who became the fourth prime minister of Israel and one of the most notable women of our time. Born in czarist Russia in 1898, Golda immigrated to America in 1906 and moved to mandatory Palestine in 1921. A series of public service jobs brought her to the attention of David Ben-Gurion, and her political career took off. This enthralling read covers her unique journey and highlights some of her accomplishments along the way, like secretly meeting in Amman with King Abdullah right before Israel declared independence, Visiting the USSR as Israel’s first representative, serving as minister of labor and foreign minister in the 1950s and 1960s, to the clandestine meetings with Jordan’s King Hussein this is a masterful recounting of Israel’s founding mother. For many participants of our tours, an emotional “highlight” is a visit to the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center. These selections are a powerful prep for a visit.
10. I Never Saw Another Butterfly – Children’s Drawings & Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp
Fifteen thousand children under fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp. Fewer than 100 survived. In these poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, their hopes and fears, and their courage and optimism with 60 color illustrations.
11. The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn
This rich and riveting narrative, a writer’s search for the truth behind his family’s tragic past in World War II, becomes a remarkably original epic—part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work—that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history. The Lost begins as the story of a boy who grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust. This unmentionable subject gripped his imagination from earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939 and tantalized by fragmentary tales of a terrible betrayal, Daniel Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relatives’ fates. That quest eventually takes him to a dozen countries on four continents and forces him to confront the wrenching discrepancies between the histories we live and the stories we tell. And it leads him, finally, back to the small Ukrainian town where his family’s story began and where the solution to a decades-old mystery awaits him. Deftly moving between past and present, interweaving a world-wandering odyssey with childhood memories of a now-lost generation of immigrant Jews and provocative ruminations on biblical texts and Jewish history, The Lost transforms the story of one family into a profound, morally searching meditation on our fragile hold on the past. Deeply personal, grippingly suspenseful, and beautifully written, this literary tour de force illuminates all that is lost and found in the passage of time.
The Lost Luggage Saga Of Summer 2022
This summer has been a continuous saga of lost luggage and delayed flights, including a story of one person whose luggage was lost in Europe and had placed airtags in his bags allowing him to track his bags and eventually flying to the airport where he was left in a room full of bags where he finally reunited with his lost bags. Yup you guessed it, one of them was lost again when he checked in for his flight home.
Our phones have been ringing almost weekly with someone arriving at their tour destination, and their bags have not arrived with them and have asked for help or a solution to stop it from happening again.
The only solution to the problem is more baggage handlers in the airports, and for more flights to be on time, obviously with the revamp of travel post-pandemic, this is taking a while to achieve as new employees wait for their security clearances to work on airport ramps around the word.
Adding a GPS tracker to your bags does not hurt though truth be told, their help in finding your bags will be minimal unless you are willing to fly halfway around the world to get your bag. However, it is nice to see when your bag will arrive on the carousel when your bags do arrive on your flight with you.
The best recommendation is to pack a few days of essential clothing in your hand luggage just in case, and always take any medication in your hand luggage on the plane with you.
In addition many travel insurance companies will include a lost luggage clause in their policies so make sure you’ve got the correct coverage.
Are you getting ready to depart on your Tradition Tour? Be in touch with any luggage questions, and safe travels!
Float The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea should be a ‘must’ on anyone’s bucket list to Israel whether you are looking for a Holy Land experience or just visiting Israel to experience its history, culture and see if the country lives up to its hype. Geographic location: The Dead Sea is located at the lowest point on earth, approximately 430 meters – 1410 feet below sea level. When you travel to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem you can expect to drive for apparently 45 minutes downhill until you reach the floor of the Jordan Valley. The Dead Sea is nestled south of Jericho and creates a natural border between Israel on its west bank and Jordan on its east bank. Though it’s referred to as a ‘sea’ it’s only about 12 miles wide and 40 miles in length.
Can you swim in its waters? Due to its high levels of salt which are almost 10 times higher than the ocean, it’s not a good idea to try and swim as the water can make contact with your eyes (could be dangerous-painful). Your best bet is to do what all visitors do which is to enjoy a unique floating experience as the salt in the water gives the water a thick consistency. Grab a paper or book so you can capture a photo and post it to Instagram just remember to #traditiontours
History: For centuries the Sea has been appreciated for its rich minerals which give it a very unique blue look contrasted by its white shoreline. People have been flocking to the Dead Sea for its health benefits and picturesque beauty dating back to King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and the Nabateans who extracted asphalt from the sea to sell to the Egyptians. In the bible: The Dead Sea is referred to as the Salt Sea in the bible, Ezekiel prophesied the in the future the sea will flow with fresh water, and fishermen will cast their nets from its shores. Today due to the high level of salt its almost impossible for fish to survive in its waters, though some bacterial species have been discovered living in sinkholes within the last 10 years or so.
Bottom line: If its good enough for the Queen of Sheba then its good enough for you! Make sure to include a visit to this unique location.
What’s up with falafel? It’s almost a given that your tour guide in Egypt, Jordan, or Israel will offer the option to grab a falafel for lunch while you are out and about touring.
The origins of this vegetarian sandwich are a bit of a mystery, though the common theory is that falafel originated in Egypt possibly by the Copts as a replacement for eating meat during lent. Some say the origins go back as far as to when the Pharaohs ruled Egypt.
Nowadays the food has become a common staple of street food throughout the middle east as a quick source of protein and is recognized as a national dish in many countries throughout the Levant. If you are to stop someone in the street and ask where to buy a falafel each person will give you their recommendation on the best restaurant/stand to enjoy this savory and very filling vegetarian sandwich.
Yes, its true falafel has made inroads into the global fast-food arena especially among the vegetarian crowd, falafel can be found in many food courts throughout the world and is known as a quick satiety dish, still, there is something unique, savory, and heavenly about the way its made in the middle east.
The bottom line: when your guide asks if you want to grab a falafel, go ahead and give it a try, enjoy the unique savory taste and smell of your freshly made falafel whether it’s stuffed in a pita or wrapped in a lafa and don’t forget the extra garnishes as well!
Rise & Shine
Rise and shine!
I am definitely not a breakfast person. I don’t usually feel like eating anything until I’ve been up for a while. But somehow, when I’m in Israel, all that changes. That first morning of your Tradition Tours pilgrimage, when you get up early to make sure you’re on time for a long day of touring ahead (no one wants to be the last on the bus), and everyone’s at breakfast! So you go into the dining room to check it out. Wow! There is station after station of food. An assortment of cheeses, salads, fresh fruit and vegetables. Special Israeli foods like Halvah, and even falafel! Hot foods, including the popular Middle Eastern egg dish, shakshuka. Teas and coffees… the list goes on. What I always find fascinating is observing those around me. There are people there from countries all over the world. Each has its’ own culture. For some, a breakfast buffet-like this is the norm, while for others, it’s mind-boggling. It’s interesting to see how some people are just trying to process the sheer amount of food and the variety, while others take it all in stride.
During the early days of the state of Israel, people living on a Kibbutz would eat their meals together in a communal dining room. They would have a large mid-morning buffet meal, similar to a brunch. By the 1950’s, Israeli hotels were promoting “Israeli breakfasts” in a style similar to the Kibbutz meals. One of the things I found interesting, was that many Israeli families came to the hotel for the weekend, as a mini vacation. Sunday morning, some lingered for hours over breakfast, sharing special time with family and friends. Even the children seemed used to it. This is simply just part of their lifestyle. There’s a special atmosphere in the room each morning, as everyone sits down to enjoy a few minutes as they begin their day. Whether you’re just sitting down with a cup of coffee, or enjoying something from every station! – it’s a special opportunity to pause and begin your day in Israel the right way. Looking for more information on the types of food you can expect on your tour?
Contact the Tradition Tours office on 855-958-6877 or email us at [email protected]
Visiting Apples & Oranges
First time travelers from the USA are often caught off-guard by the unexpected experiences, sights, sounds, and atmosphere of being in a whole new world… and not always in a good way....
Travelers to countries like Israel find that while personalities, cuisine, and architecture may be exotic, the country operates like any other first world country. Hotels are what you would expect, streets are well maintained, and one can almost be lulled into the belief that they are in Europe. But the reality is, that the local customs differ. So, for example, what may be perceived as being rude in America, is more than acceptable in Israel.
Understand Where You Are... While developing countries offer attractions and experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, travelers often do a double take by some of the conditions when they arrive.
Take Egypt for example: Visiting the Land of the Pharaohs is an incredible experience, with the Nile River, the Pyramids, and more, history is all around you and the sites are overwhelming! The hotels, while dated, are also wonderful and luxurious, but you may be surprised at the state of Cairo, with traffic laws that are nearly non-existent and street conditions that are not what you would find in the USA.
Taking a tour that involves more than one country? It is important to remember that the standards that govern hotel ratings, the hotel star system in other words, are set by the country’s tourism ministry. This means that “5-Star” hotels mean completely different things in different countries!
It is not uncommon for us to hear that travelers are disappointed by hotel standards when traveling from a 1st-world country, to a developing or 3rd-world country. So, if you are visiting Jordan, for example, Petra will surely astound you, but a 3- star or 4-star hotel, while clean, may not impress you as much as those in Egypt.
Worlds Largest Vegan Festival
A True Vegan Destination
Vegan Fest 2019 is coming to Tel-Aviv this June! Tel-Aviv was names the “vegan capital of the world” in 2017, and this Mediterranean food haven is gearing up to serve the more than 50,000 participants expected to be in attendance.
There is going to be plenty of variety in store with more than 26 local restaurants and 37 vegan stalls attending! In all there will be 100+ Vegan Food & Product stands in attendance.
While I prefer the regional meat dishes such as Shawarma and Kefta, there is something special about a Falafel, and the myriad of other vegan dishes available all across Israel. A popular destination for vegans due to all the vegan-friendly restaurants all over the country, but Tel Aviv in particular is home to at least 400 vegan and vegan-friendly eateries.
Taste Of The Past – 3,000 Year Old Beer!
A Beer 3000 Years In The Making... Scientists found microbes that survived for thousands of years inside pores in the clay of ancient pottery used to make & store beer & wine
A Taste Of History
If you have taken one of our tours you know what it feels like to walk in history. You can see the sights that our ancestors saw, touch the stones that they held, and even read some of the texts they read... but never have we had the opportunity to taste what they ate and drank until now!
After finding yeast in the walls of broken clay vessels that were unearthed, a group of researchers from Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University and Ariel University, along with the Dead Sea Arava Science Center, and beer experts worked together to isolate the yeast and recreate the golden nectar that our ancestors actually drank 3000 years ago!
What They Learned
Beer was very important to ancient middle-eastern cultures. "Beer was an important beverage for the Philistines for its high caloric content and because it was safer to drink than plain water," according to Aren Maeir. The examination of the ancient pots led to other fascinating discoveries. Professor Yuval Gadot found that "They held not beer but mead, a fermented honey drink, meaning there was a beekeeping industry in ancient Judea”.
In a word:
While the taste of the beer they brewed was remarkably similar to the beer we enjoy today. The experience of tasting history is something that we at Tradition Tours dream of.
The processes they developed to create this beer offers promising prospects for the future. Could we one day taste dishes engineered from the remnants of an ancient unwashed dinner dish? We can only hope!
Petra Jordan’s Most Iconic Location
A question we get asked all the time: Is the visit to Petra worth it? – The short answer is YES!
Many Tradition Tours travelers add on a visit to Jordan following their tour in Israel and yes it’s definitely worth the visit just make sure you have good shoes.
About Petra: The city was built in the desert by the ancient Nabataeans who were a Bedouin tribe who roamed the deserts of Arabia, eventually, a group of Nabataeans decided to settle in the desert and built the city including an intricate water system to gather the winter rains. The city was the capital of the Nabataean empire and was an important trading city.
Petra The ‘Lost City’ was added to the list of the seven wonders of the world in 2007 and yes Indiana Jones the last crusade was filmed here. Once you arrive in Petra you will have the option to either walk through the canyon or to get a ride on a donkey or buggy (for a small fee). If time permits and you’re comfortable with the rugged terrain I would recommend walking this will allow you to spend more time appreciating the vibrant pink and red stonework cliff faces. As you leave the canyon you will come out to a large open area and will find yourself directly in front of the ‘treasury’. Fancy a camel ride, Petra is a great option for the experience (great photo op), looking for souvenirs there are no shortage of Bedouins hawking their wares. If you are feeling strenuous take a hike up to the monastery the views are awesome!
So yes your visit to Petra is 110% worth it!
Contact us on 855-958-6877 for more info on your Petra visit
Is Israel Safe? V 2.0
I have coined this blog post “Is Israel Safe 2.0” as a continuation of our previous safety blog where I discussed some of the safety measures Israel takes to protect her citizens and the millions of tourists that flock to the county each year.
Earlier this year, back in May of 2018, Jack Ma (CEO of Alibaba) made his first visit to Israel where he received an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University. During his speech, Mr. Ma mentioned he was initially nervous to visit, as he has been told you can expect to see missile launchers on street corners and feared he was flying into a war zone.
In truth he found the opposite, calling Israel “inspirational” Mr. Ma had arrived in a country which is open for business with a core focus on peace, prosperity, and security for its people.
Here’s a short excerpt of Mr. Ma’s Speech in Tel Aviv:
“I feel honored and inspired to meet you. There’s an amazing history here, and amazing things we have to learn. All human beings in the world should learn about history here.
When I stand here in this great land, with your vision, your creativity, and your wisdom, I feel so honored to get this [honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University]. This honor is on behalf of all the entrepreneurs fighting for their lives, fighting for the future on the way.”
Israel is a country that is focused on high-end technology, including their security techniques, which it shares with the world making them a global leader in the field.
Let’s face it, during the recent demonstrations on the Israel Gaza Border, Israel took measures to ensure it would not affect the communities that are in a close proximity to the border, with a special emphasis on the tens of thousands of tourists in the country at the time, including many Tradition Tours tourists. It is important to note, our tours avoid these “red-zones” as an added safety measure.
Most of Israel’s population have served in its military where her soldiers are trained early on on the importance of security and keeping an “eye” on your surroundings. This has created an “in-house” network of security personnel throughout the country who are constantly vigilant of their surroundings as they go throughout their day.
With this knowledge in mind, anyone who is thinking of traveling to Israel should feel happy and proud to visit and should keep in mind the words of Mr. Ma “Israel has proved that small is powerful, and it is on the way to small is beautiful. We think beautiful means peace and inclusiveness.”
So, with that in mind, why not come and visit the small, beautiful, and peaceful Israel? The first step? Contact Tradition Tours where we have tours designed to fit any tourist looking to visit a safe Israel.
Israel: A Fusion Of Old & New
When you travel with Tradition Tours regardless of if you choose a Christian, Jewish or private tour, you will come back from your tour in awe at what you have lived, breathed and seen during your Israel visit. This feeling may be due to a spiritual epiphany, a historical discovery, or because Tradition Tours made sure that all your travel needs taken care of with a smile.
The focus of this article is on the fusion of the new and the old and how they come together and as if dancing the tango with each other, which is one of the truly unique experiences that Israel has to offer. This is because, at Israel’s core the modern and ancient are one and the same, the struggle for survival and the ability to adapt to any situation.
The Ancient: No tour to Israel is complete without a visit to Masada this fortress nestled in the desert mountains overlooking the Dead Sea. It was at this site that Jews held out against the troops of the Roman Empire fighting for their survival and adapting to their surroundings to survive.
The recent history: Prior to the establishment of Israel as a sovereign nation the area was governed by a British Mandate. This was a very trying time for the Jews as they were constantly being attacked by their enemies and were unable to properly defend themselves. The Jew population decided that they needed to manufacture weapons in order to survive which they did successfully in an underground munitions factory today known as the Ayalon Institute. It is at the Ayalon Institute, (which is included on our many of our tours) where we again see the same history being played out, a group of people adapting to their surroundings in order to survive.
The New: Israel is a country which is continuously evolving. which is what makes it such an exciting country to visit. You may be sitting on the beach enjoying all that modern Tel Aviv has to offer while there are people working in offices close by working on the latest startup technology, working on a goal to increase Israel’s revenues allowing the country to survive and continue its trajectory of growth. Israel is the source for many technologies which we all take for granted today. From applications like Waze to the modern cellphone chip in your phone, that was also an Israeli invention designed at Motorola’s R&D located in Israel.
This fusion of new and old is taking place across the entire country including Jerusalem, a city which is home to thousands of years of history, is also a home for numerous research and development centers for both Israeli startups and multinational companies.
So if you want to experience this rare phenomenon be it for business or pleasure, contact us today on 855-958-6877 and begin planning your visit to Israel with Tradition Tours.