- Sep 13, 2022
- Donny Arkush
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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.
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?
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.
Call us at Tradition Tours to talk about your Holy Land tour.CALL US : +1 855 958 6877
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donny Arkush is the President and Co-Founder of Tradition Tours. Donny has more than 19 years of experience in the travel industry. He’s driven by a desire to ensure that every single Tradition Tour traveler has the best Holy Land experience possible. To get regular emails from Donny, click here.
What to Pack for your La Dolce Vita Experience in Italy | Tradition Tours
Discover the romance, history, and allure of Italy, a country synonymous with fashion, art, and culture. Packing for Italy with Tradition Tours means preparing for an adventure that indulges all the senses. Our comprehensive packing guide ensures that you’ll be well-equipped for the stylish streets of Milan, the ancient ruins of Rome, and the picturesque landscapes of Tuscany.
Your Essential Italy Packing Guide – Experience La Dolce Vita with Tradition Tours
Decoding Italy’s Varied Climate
Italy's weather varies from the Alpine chill in the north to the Mediterranean warmth of the south. It's essential to pack according to the time of year and the regions you plan to visit with Tradition Tours.
Spring (March to May): Pack layers for this temperate season, with a mix of light clothing and a warm jacket for cooler evenings.
Summer (June to August): Light, airy clothing will serve you well under the Italian sun. Remember your sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat for protection.
Autumn (September to November): Expect crisp air and possible showers. Layers are again your friend, alongside a reliable waterproof jacket.
Winter (December to February): Northern Italy demands warm clothing and a heavy coat, while the south remains milder but can be damp.
Fashion Meets Function: Italian Style
Italy is at the forefront of fashion, and the way you dress can impact your experience. Italians appreciate chic and smart attire, but comfort should not be compromised for style.
Women: Think elegant dresses, skirts, and trousers paired with comfortable walking shoes for daytime exploration. For evenings, a stylish ensemble accessorized with a scarf will blend right in.
Men: Tailored trousers and collared shirts strike the right balance between sophistication and comfort. Leather shoes are a staple for Italian men in the evening.
Accessories: A pair of good-quality sunglasses and a stylish hat not only protect against the sun but also add an Italian flair to your outfit.
Footwear: Walking in Comfort
Cobblestone streets and long walks through museums and ruins demand comfortable footwear. Opt for well-cushioned shoes that provide support. Sandals are perfect for coastal areas in the summer, but make sure they’re sturdy for walking.
Beach Bliss and Island Hopping
If your tour includes the Amalfi Coast or the islands of Capri and Sicily, swimwear, a cover-up, and beach footwear are essential. A quick-dry towel and snorkeling gear might also come in handy.
Tech Essentials for the Modern Traveler
A smartphone or tablet with a good camera will ensure you capture the memories. Don’t forget your chargers, an international power adapter, and a power bank to keep your devices charged on the go.
Seasonal Packing Lists
Women: Sundresses, light blouses, skirts, and a light sweater for breezy nights.
Men: Shorts, breathable shirts, and a lightweight jacket for the evening.
Children: Similar to adults, with extra swimwear for those gelato-fueled beach days.
Women: Warm layers, stylish boots, and a heavy coat for the chill, especially in the north.
Men: Wool trousers, sweaters, and a warm jacket or overcoat.
Children: Insulated jackets and thermal wear to keep cozy while enjoying Italy's winter delights.
Packing for Italian Art and Culture
Remember to bring a small backpack or crossbody bag to carry daily essentials like a water bottle, guidebook, and any souvenirs you pick up along the way. Binoculars might be a great addition for appreciating architectural details.
Tradition Tours’ Expert Advice
Should you have any questions about preparing for your trip, Tradition Tours’ specialists are just a phone call away at 1-855-958-6877. Get personalized advice to tailor your packing list for an unforgettable Italian journey.
Veria: A Deep Dive into Paul's Legacy | Tradition Tours
As Apostle Paul once walked its streets, spreading the teachings of Christianity, the city of Veria was etching its place in the annals of religious history. Today, with Tradition Tours, we delve deeper into the city's rich historical tapestry and embrace the layers of its past.
Paul's Enduring Legacy in Veria
Beyond its scenic charm, Veria holds a weighty significance in early Christian history. The "Vima of Apostle Paul" isn't just a monument but a living testament to Paul's profound impact. This revered spot is believed to be where Paul introduced Christianity to the locals, laying the foundational stones of a faith that would flourish in the region. In Veria, you're not merely walking through historical landmarks—you’re retracing the steps of one of Christianity's most pivotal figures.
Historical Bedrock: Veria's Centuries-Old Heritage
While Paul’s influence is paramount, Veria's history extends further back, boasting a mosaic of influences from the Byzantine, Ottoman, and Jewish eras. The city has been a melting pot of cultures, each leaving indelible marks. From the remnants of old synagogues bearing witness to a once-thriving Jewish community to the Byzantine structures that showcase an era of art and architectural evolution, Veria is like an open museum waiting for you to explore.
Private Tours: Delving into Veria's Heartbeat
There’s an intimate beauty in exploring at your own pace. Tradition Tours’ private tours in Greece ensure such a unique experience. Feel the cobblestone streets, absorb the stories behind the historic edifices, and immerse yourself in a city and region that has woven centuries of history into its daily life.
Churches of Veria: Beacons of Faith and History
Veria’s churches are not just places of worship—they’re time capsules. With Tradition Tours’ Church Tours, you’ll discover the layers of Veria's Christian heritage. From the Church of Christ with its Byzantine-era frescoes to the old Metropolis echoing the chants from centuries past, each sanctuary offers a unique narrative that blends faith and history.
**Expriance Veria’s Nature **
Amidst its storied streets, Veria’s natural beauty unfolds, providing a tranquil backdrop to its history. The gentle currents of the Tripotamos River, the green expanses of the Barbouta district, and the majestic Vermio Mountains offer rejuvenating respites.
History isn't just about dates and events; it's about stories, legacies, and the continuous threads that connect the past with the present. Veria is a testament to this tapestry of time. So don’t wait to hear about Veria 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.
Weather in Italy: Your Year-Round Guide for the Perfect Italian Getaway | Tradition Tours
Embark on an Italian adventure that takes you through the rolling hills of Tuscany, the historic streets of Rome, and the sun-kissed shores of Sicily. Understanding Italy's weather patterns is essential for a seamless travel experience with Tradition Tours. Let's explore the seasonal climates that make Italy a year-round destination.
Italy's Weather: A Diverse Climate Awaits
Italy's climate is as varied as its pasta shapes, ranging from the snow-capped Alps in the north to the Mediterranean warmth in the south. Here's what you can expect during your visit:
Spring Splendor (March to May)
The countryside blooms, and the cities are not yet crowded. Northern Italy thaws with a crisp air, while the south begins to warm. Perfect for sightseeing and Easter festivities.
Temperatures: North (46°F-64°F), Central (50°F-70°F), South (52°F-72°F).
Key Events: Easter celebrations, Rome's Birthday, and the Flower Festival in Spello.
Summer Sunshine (June to August)
Italy basks in glorious sunshine, making it prime time for beach destinations. Coastal breezes offer respite, while inland cities can get hot.
Temperatures: North (60°F-85°F), Central (65°F-90°F), South (70°F-95°F).
Key Events: Venice Film Festival, Palio di Siena, and Umbria Jazz Festival.
Autumn Ambiance (September to November)
The heat subsides, the grapes are harvested, and the tourist crowds thin out. A wonderful time for wine tours and autumnal festivals.
Temperatures: North (45°F-65°F), Central (50°F-72°F), South (54°F-75°F).
Key Events: Alba White Truffle Festival, EuroChocolate in Perugia, and the Chianti Olive Oil Harvest.
Winter Wonders (December to February)
Ski enthusiasts flock to the Alps, while milder southern regions offer respite from the cold. Festive markets and carnivals light up the season.
Temperatures: North (28°F-45°F), Central (35°F-55°F), South (50°F-60°F).
Key Events: Venice Carnival, Christmas Markets, and New Year's Eve celebrations.
Packing Tips Revisited: Weather-Wise Wardrobe
If you've read our previous blog on packing for Italy, you'll remember that smart packing is key. Our weather guide complements your packing list with Tradition Tours:
Spring: A versatile jacket and layers to adapt to the changing temperatures.
Summer: Breathable fabrics and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection.
Autumn: Comfortable walking shoes and a waterproof coat for the occasional shower.
Winter: A warm coat, gloves, and thermal layers for the northern chill.
Capture the Climate: Best Times for Photography
Photographers will find the golden hours of Italian sunsets a dream. The soft spring and autumn light offers the perfect backdrop for your photos, while summer offers vibrant blue skies.
Tradition Tours' Commitment to Comfort
No matter the season, Tradition Tours is dedicated to making your Italian vacation comfortable and memorable. Our local guides are weather-wise and ready to adapt your itinerary to any conditions.
Get in Touch with Tradition Tours
For further advice or to book your next Italian escapade, call Tradition Tours at 1-855-958-6877. Whether it's basking in the summer sun or enjoying a winter festa, we tailor your trip to the perfection of Italian weather.
What to pack for your tour to Greece | Tradition Tours
Essential Packing Guide for Your Greek Odyssey with Tradition Tours
Embarking on a Grecian adventure with Tradition Tours is an invitation to encounter mythology, history, and breathtaking landscapes. To ensure you’re well-prepared for the Aegean sun, the whisper of the olive groves, and the cobblestone alleys of history-steeped villages, this comprehensive packing guide is your perfect checklist.
##Preparing for the Grecian Climate
Greece celebrates a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Your packing list will vary significantly depending on whether you're sun-kissing on the islands or exploring the ancient ruins during the off-season.
Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November)
The shoulder seasons in Greece are idyllic, marked by pleasant weather, fewer tourists, and the perfect conditions for exploration. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing but don’t forget a versatile jacket and some long-sleeve options for the evenings.
Summer (June to August)
The Grecian summer can be torrid, especially in the islands and the mainland’s south. Prepare with light cottons, linens, and plenty of sun protection. Remember to bring a hat, sunglasses, and a reliable sunscreen.
Winter (December to February)
While milder than northern Europe, Greek winters can be brisk, particularly in the north and in mountainous regions. Ensure you have layers—a thermal base layer, sweaters, and a warm jacket.
Cultural Considerations: Dressing Respectfully
Greece’s rich historical and cultural tapestry means that you'll likely visit religious sites like the monasteries of Meteora or the iconic Parthenon. Opt for modest clothing that covers shoulders and knees; a pashmina or scarf is invaluable for impromptu cover-ups.
Footwear: Walking Back in Time
Whether it’s the steps of Santorini or the ruins of Delphi, comfortable walking shoes are a must. Consider durable sandals or walking shoes for the daytime and a smarter option for evening dining by the sea.
Beach Days and Island Hops
If the cerulean blues of the Greek seas are calling, include a swimsuit, a quick-dry towel, and reef-friendly sunblock. A tote bag for your seaside essentials and snorkeling gear can enhance your experience with the Aegean's marine life.
Tech and Connectivity
Stay connected with the world and capture your memories by packing your smartphone, charger, and a travel adapter for European outlets. A power bank ensures you never miss a photo opportunity amidst Greece’s endless beauty.
A Daypack for Daily Adventures
A lightweight daypack is your trusty companion for carrying essentials—water, a camera, snacks, and small souvenirs from the local 'agora' (market).
Seasonal Packing Lists
Men: Light pants, shorts, T-shirts, a long-sleeve lightweight shirt for sun protection, and a sweater for breezy nights.
Women: Shorts, skirts, light dresses, T-shirts, tank tops, and a light cardigan or shawl.
Children: Similar to adults, plus sunhats and swim diapers for the littlest ones.
Men: Jeans, trousers, long-sleeve tops, sweaters, and a warm jacket.
Women: Pants, leggings, tunics, sweaters, and a warm, waterproof coat.
Children: Warm pants, sweaters, and jackets, mimicking adult attire.
To the Shores of the Aegean: Eilat and the Dead Sea
For those seeking the sun-soaked bliss of Greece's beaches, swimwear, cover-ups, and sun protection are essential. For island-hopping, consider a separate, smaller suitcase or a duffel bag to streamline travel between ferries and accommodations.
Dressing in Layers: The Greek Way
Greece's climate can fluctuate—chilly mornings may give way to warm afternoons. Embrace the art of layering. It's practical for adjusting to temperature changes and ideal for transitioning from outdoor adventures to elegant tavernas.
Your Tradition Tours Safety Net
We at Tradition Tours are always at your service. If you’re uncertain about an item or need a last-minute packing tip, our team is a call away at 1-855-958-6877. Our priority is to alleviate the stress of preparation so you can indulge fully in the wonder of Greece.
Packing for Greece is an exercise in balancing practicality with respect for the culture and anticipation of the elements. From the sun-drenched shores to the shadowed recesses of ancient ruins, every item in your suitcase should serve a purpose, allowing you to roam freely