The Bible in its Land:

Biblical Archaeology in Israel

 

Monday, June 1st, to Friday, June 12th, 2020

 

 

Tour Led by

Gary A. Rendsburg

Laurie Professor of Jewish History

Rutgers University

&

Dudu Cohen

Archeologist and Licensed Guide

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

Jewish history begins in the land of Israel, where the Bible was written and where modern archaeology reveals the ancient past.  Our tour will bring these two aspects of early Judaism to life, as we explore the land “with the text in one hand and the trowel in the other.”  We will focus on both the biblical period and the immediate post-biblical or Greco-Roman period, with visits to archaeological sites in Jerusalem, Qumran, Masada, Megiddo, Caesarea, and more.  We also will enjoy several exquisitely beautiful natural sites (Gamla and Ein Gedi), untouched since biblical times.  An outing to the Israel Museum is included in our itinerary, where we will see such items as the “House of David” inscription found at Tel Dan and the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the caves at Qumran.  Plus, there will be some free time to explore Jerusalem on your own.  All this and more during our study tour of the land of Israel.    

 

 

ITINERARY

 

Monday, June 1st – Day One – Depart for Israel

 

The group flight will depart from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Ben-Gurion International Airport. Departure scheduled for 9:00 pm.

 

Jerusalem Cityscape

Tuesday, June 2nd – Day Two – Arrive to Israel / Jerusalem

 

Morning:

Those coming from EWR on the group flight will arrive to Ben-Gurion International Airport outside of Tel Aviv and make our way up to Jerusalem. Arrival scheduled for 2:25 pm. 

 

We will arrive in Jerusalem in the late afternoon and check-in to the hotel.

 

Yerushalayim harim saviv lah “Jerusalem, the mountains surround her,” states Psalm 125:2 – so there is no better way to “meet” Jerusalem than to stand on the surrounding mountain tops and to enjoy the vistas of the city, both ancient and modern.  We will stand on Mount Scopus, Mount of Olives, and the Haas Promenade, in order to view the city from three different directions (north, east, and south, respectively).  Plus, we will drive the outer perimeter of the current Old City walls, built 1537-1538 during the early Ottoman period, as a further way of orienting ourselves to this very special and historic city. There will be a stop at the Jaffa Gate to learn about the complexity of the history of Jerusalem and the Old city wall.

                       

Evening:       

After time to relax and get settled-in, the group will meet for an early evening Orientation and Welcome Dinner.

 

Meal: Welcome Dinner

 

Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem

David's Tower

Wednesday, June 3rd

Day Three – Jerusalem

 

We will spend the day visiting Jerusalem’s major archaeo-logical excavations.

 

Morning:       Morning:

After breakfast, we will see some of the most important archaeological sites in Jerusalem.

 

 

The morning’s itinerary will include the City of David excavations (with the recently discovered palace of King David).

Afternoon:  

We will explore the Second Temple period excavations at the southern and western walls of the Temple Mount (the Western Wall itself, Robinson’s Arch, mikveh installations, staircases, etc.). 

 

After the tour, there will be free time to visit the sites in the Old City on your own (we will help you get your bearings). The motor coach will return to the hotel after the tour via the city center.

 

In the late afternoon, we will have our first Learning Session on THE HISTORY OF JERUSALEM.

 

Evening:     

We are at leisure.

 

Meal: Breakfast

 

Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem

 

Masada

Thursday, June 4th  –

Day Four –

Dead Sea Area

 

We will spend the day visiting Qumran, Masada and Ein Gedi, the three most important archaeological sites in the area. Don’t forget your walking shoes and hat. 

 

Morning:      

After an early breakfast, we will travel to the Dead Sea region. We will go through the Judean Desert east and south of Jerusalem, to reach the shore of the Dead Sea.

                       

Our first stop will be Qumran, the site of an Essene community whose precious possessions were the 900-plus documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in the caves above Qumran.

 

We will then travel to the nearby mountain fortress of Masada, home to Herod’s winter palace and the last stronghold of the Zealots during the Great Revolt against Rome. After taking the cable car to the top of this mountain fortress with its magnificent view, we will have our second Learning Session on THE ANCIENT JEWISH SECTS:  SADDUCEES, PHARISEES, ESSENES, AND ZEALOTS.

 

Afternoon:

We will have lunch on our own at the Visitors Center, at the foot of the mountain. 

 

Afterwards, we will stop in the desert oasis of Ein Gedi.  Known for both its natural beauty, an oasis in the desert, and for the Byzantine-period synagogue found there, replete with exquisite mosaic floor. Afterwards, we will take a dip in the Dead Sea before we leave the Dead Sea Region.

 

We will return to Jerusalem and you will some free time to relax or explore the city on your own.

 

Evening:       

We will have dinner together at one of Jerusalem’s fine restaurants.

 

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

 

Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem

 

Bible Lands Museum

                  Friday, June 5th – Day Five – Jerusalem

 

Today we will focus on some of the institutions in Jerusalem that are directly related to our topic before welcoming in Shabbat.

 

Morning:

After breakfast, we will take the short ride to the Givat Ram campus of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, home to the Jewish National University Library. We will go behind the scenes and look at some of the rare volumes that reveal the history of archaeology in the country.

 

Our next stop will be the nearby Bible Lands Museum. Founded in 1992, the museum holds one of the largest private collections of Biblical era archaeological finds in the world.

 

Afternoon:

We will mix with the Jerusalem citizenry as they share in the ritual of buying fresh food before Shabbat in Machne Yehuda. The rest of the afternoon is free to have lunch (perhaps great hummus nearby) on your own and wonder around the city.

 

Evening:

We will enjoy Erev Shabbat dinner together at the hotel.

 

Meals: Breakfast and Erev Shabbat Dinner

 

Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem

 

Israel Museum

                      Saturday, June 6th – Day 6 –

                     Shabbat in Jerusalem

 

Morning:      

Before breakfast, there will be ample time to attend Shabbat services at a local synagogue: The Great Synagogue (Orthodox), The Center for Conservative Judaism, and Hebrew Union College (Reform). Breakfast is served later   in morning.

 

There will be the option to pre-order lunch at the hotel.

 

Afternoon:  

We will then leave from the hotel for a the one-hour walk that takes us through some of the city’s most beautiful residential areas to the Israel Museum where Dr. Rendsburg will lead you on a tour focusing on the archaeology of Israel. You may opt to take a taxi to the Museum and back.

                                               

Evening:       

Motzei Shabbat is free for exploring on your own.

 

Meals: Breakfast

 

Overnight: Dan Panorama, Jerusalem

 

Bet She'an

Sunday, June 7th

Day Seven –

Bet She’an/Belvoir/

Bet Alpha/Tiberias

 

Morning:      

After an early breakfast and check-out, we will head north along the country’s border with Jordan to visit two sites from two different historical periods, Bet She’an and Belvoir.

 

We will begin our touring with a visit Bet She’an, the best-preserved city from Roman times in the land of Israel.  The entire city lies before the visitor, including its central streets, theatre, bathhouse, amphitheater, and more, with architectural detail visible throughout.

 

Afternoon:

After a stop for lunch on your own, we will visit Belvoir, a Crusader fortress with a breath-taking view of the Jordan Valley. “Belvoir” literally means “beautiful view” is also known as Kochav HaYarden in Hebrew or "Star of the Jordan."

 

We will also visit the synagogue at Bet Alpha with its world-famous mosaic floors that features the Zodiac.

 

We will arrive to Tiberias in the late afternoon.  After check-in to our hotel, there will be time to relax before the evening’s program.

 

Evening:       

We will enjoy dinner together at the hotel. 

 

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

 

Overnight: Tiberias - Leonardo Plaza Hotel  or similar

 

 

 

Golan Hts. Winery

Monday, June 8th

Day Eight –

Gamla & the Golan Heights

 

Morning:        Morning:

After breakfast, we will take an hour ride on our motor coach to Gamla. It is believed that the area has been populated since the Early Bronze Age, but it’s relevance to our narrative begins in the late 2nd century BCE. Josephus, the famous Roman chronicler, reported that the city was a rebel stronghold. While visiting the area, we will learn about the Golan’s importance in modern Israeli history.

 

Afternoon:  

After lunch on your own en route, we will visit Katzrin. We will stop the kibbutz. We will also visit the Golan Heights Winery. It is Israel's third largest winery and was named New World Winery of the Year in 2012 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

 

In the late afternoon, we will go to Ein Gev for an early fish dinner together.

 

Afterwards, we will take a leisurely boat ride across the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to Tiberias

 

Evening:

You are at leisure to relax in the hotel or explore Tiberias on your own.

 

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

 

Overnight: Tiberias - Leonardo Plaza Hotel  or similar

 

 

 

 

Mosaic at Sephorris

Tuesday, June 9th – Day Nine –

Sephorris and Beit She'arim

 

Today we will visit the large archaeological site at Sephorris and Beit She'arim 

 

Morning:      

After breakfast, we will depart for Sephorris, where Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi, compiler of the Mishnah, and major figure in early rabbinic Judaism lived and prospered.  Sephorris reveals both a very Jewish city, with a large synagogue, numerous mikveh installations, and more, and a very multicultural city, with a theatre, a marketplace, and villas and mansions decorated with the most exquisite collection of mosaic floors found anywhere in the country.  The waterworks which bring fresh water from the surrounding springs constitute a masterwork of ancient engineering.  From the site we can see Nazareth a few miles away, which affords us an opportunity to talk about Christianity as an offshoot of early Judaism. 

 

Afternoon:

After lunch on your own in Afula-known for its fabulous falafel-we will travel to Beit She'arim with its many burial caves. It is the site of thousands of Jewish burials spread throughout twenty catacombs.

 

During our day’s touring, we will have an on-site Learning Session (#3) on THE RISE OF RABBINIC JUDAISM.

 

We will return to Tiberias in the late afternoon.

 

Evening:

After dinner at the hotel, you are at leisure.

 

Meal: Breakfast and Dinner

 

Overnight: Tiberias - Leonardo Plaza Hotel  or similar

 

 

 

 

Megiddo

Wednesday, June 10th – Day Ten – Megiddo

 

Today we will focus on the world-famous archaeological site  at Megiddo.

 

Morning:

After breakfast, we will enjoy our fourth Learning Session on THE MAXIMALISTS & MINIMALISTS IN THE STUDY OF ANCIENT ISRAEL. Afterwards, we will check-out and begin out touring.

 

We will go to the impressive archaeological site at Megiddo. It sits on an international crossroads and the current site sits on 25 archaeological strata, whose remains include the underground water system, a massive Canaanite altar site, Solomon’s stables, and the imposing gate complex.  From atop the mound we will enjoy the view of the Jezreel Valley, thereby appreciating the city’s strategic value. 

 

In fact, so many battles were fought at or near Megiddo during its history, it was only natural for apocalyptically minded people to create the term ‘Armageddon’ to refer to the final cataclysmic battle. 

 

Afternoon:

We will then depart for Tel Aviv, arriving  in the late afternoon for check-in to our hotel near the Mediterranean. We will stop en route for lunch on your own.

 

Evening: We are at leisure to sample some of the city's fine food.

 

Meal: Breakfast

 

Overnight: Dan Panorama, Tel Aviv

 

2016 Group at Caesarea with Gary, Dudu and Moshe

 

 

 

Thursday, June 11th – Day Eleven – Caesarea and Return to the U.S.

 

Our study tour draws to a close with a visit to the ancient seaport excavations at Caesarea on the Mediterranean.  We then have free time in Tel Aviv before our Farewell Dinner, and we head to the airport for our red-eye flight back to the U.S.

 

Morning:      

Caesarea is the perfect place to end our tour, as we look out at the Mediterranean Sea.  The city was built afresh by Herod, to serve as a Roman city within the land of Israel, and all its architectural wonders are still easily visible:  Herod’s palace, theatre, amphitheater, harbor, temple to Jupiter, and more. 

 

We will have our fifth and final Learning Session on EARLY CHRISTIANITY AS A JEWISH MOVEMENT amidst the ruins of Caesarea.

 

Professor Rendsburg participated in the excavations of Caesarea in 1999, so the site has a special place in his heart.

 

Afternoon:  

We return to Tel Aviv so you can have time to relax or do some shopping.

 

Evening:       

We will get together for a festive Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant followed by a Wrap-Up Discussion led by Professor Rendsburg and Dr. Cohen.         

 

We then depart for the airport for the red-eye flight back to the United States.

 

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

 

                   Note that there is a late check-out by 6:00 pm     

 

Friday, June 12th – Day Twelve – Arrive in the U.S.

 

We are scheduled to arrive to Newark Liberty International Airport early Friday morning.

 

This Itinerary is Subject to Change

 

Please Note:  We will be doing light hiking for short distances during the study tour and walking on Shabbat in Jerusalem (taking a taxi is optional for this walk).  This program, therefore, should be considered to be moderately difficult physically.

STUDY TOUR TEAM

Our Scholar

 

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University.  His teaching and research focus on ‘all things ancient Israel’ – primarily language and literature, though also history and archaeology.  His secondary interests include post-biblical Judaism, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages. 

 

Rendsburg’s most recently published book is How the Bible Is Written (2019), with particular attention to the use of language to create literature.  In addition, he has produced two lecture series for the Great Courses program, one on ‘The Book of Genesis’ and one on ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls’. 

 

Rendsburg has visited all the major archaeological sites in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan; he has excavated at Tel Dor and Caesarea; and he has led tours of both Israel and Egypt.  Previously he taught at Cornell University, and he has served as visiting professor or visiting researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Colgate University, UCLA, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, and the Hebrew University. 

 

Our Archaeologist/Guide

Dudu Cohen, Ph.D. earned his degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: B.A. in Geography, M.A. in Archaeology and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. 

He has been a licensed guide since 1972. He served as a navigator in the paratroop brigade of the IDF. He was a high school teacher for Bible & Jewish History. He later served as a Youth-Aliyah Shaliach in Chicago. As a researcher, Dudu is a permanent contributor for Projects TABS – TheTorah.com (http://thetorah.com/tour-guide-bible-scholar-dudu-cohen/) Dudu lists among his discoveries: 'Waheb in Suphah' (Numbers 21:14), the ancient pass of the Arnon Canyon; and the Via Limes Arabicus – the Eastern Roman frontier road in Jordan.

 

Our Tour Escort

Moshe Margolin is the  founding Director of  JEWISH EXPLORATIONS. He holds degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Teachers College, Columbia University.

His career in the field of Jewish Education spans four decades. He has held senior positions in both the United States and in Israel including the founding VP of Education for Birthright Israel and the Program Officer at the Fulbright Commission at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. He has been associated with The Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew College in Boston and The Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC. Moshe is married with three grown children and three grandchildren. He recently served as the Tour Escort on study tours to Morocco and Charleston/Savannah.

 

HOTELS

The newly-renovated Dan Panorama Hotel Jerusalem is located in the heart of the city.

 

It has earned the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.

 

The Leonardo Plaza Tiberias is located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Enjoy dinner at the Herod’s Restaurant or just relax on the beach with a book. Enjoy the pampering hotel service, nature and sea treasures in an exclusive atmosphere. Modern rooms, generous service and balconies overlooking the Sea of Galilee make your stay at Leonardo Plaza Tiberias an unforgettable experience.

 

The Dan Panorama Tel Aviv is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

 

 

It has earned the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

 

PRICES

 

 

LAND ONLY

$5,595

 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT

$1,475

 

Airfares are not yet available. We will need a minimum

of 10 people in order to conduct a group flight

 

 

The price includes:

 

 

All hotels and activities as cited in the Itinerary.

 

Meals (hotel breakfasts daily and 6 dinners as indicated). Bottled sparkling and still water with included meals.

 

Bottled water on the bus.  

 

The services of our Scholar.

 

The services of an Archaeologist/Licensed Guide.

 

The services of an experienced Tour Escort.

 

Tips for meals provided.

 

Tips for the guide and driver.

 

Airport transfers as noted.

 

The price does not include:

 

Expenses of a personal nature.

 

Meals not included in the Itinerary.

 

Travel insurance—highly recommended—available through the Gil Travel Group.

 

 

 

ALL PRICES BASED ON A MINIMUM OF 10 PARTICIPANTS

 

MAXIMUM OF 18 PARTICIPANTS

 

REQUIRED DEPOSIT:

 

A $500 deposit per person is required upon Registration.

 

 

PAYMENT SCHEDULE AND REFUND POLICY:

 

Available as part of the Online Registration process.

 

 QUESTIONS?????

For Travel-Related Questions:

Contact Ariel Lipszyc

Gil Travel Group

800-223-3855 x 239

ariell@giltravel.com

 

 

For Program Questions:

Contact Moshe Margolin, Director

Jewish Explorations

866-898-0037

moshe@jewish-explorations.com

 

This program is copyrighted by Adult Jewish Learning Programs LLC.  Travel services for Jewish Explorations study tours are provided exclusively by the Gil Travel Group.

 

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