A visit to Israel inevitably stirs a thousand impressions. While geographically Israel is the size of New Jersey, culturally it is the size of a continent. Even within its small territory, one travels through a variety of climates and populations, from the arid south to the cooler, fertile area of the north; from the sparsely populated desert and Dead Sea region to the teeming complexity of Tel Aviv, Nazareth, and Haifa. And yet what one discovers in every region of Israel is the tremendous depth of its history. By its very position on the map, and by its place in the heritage of the world’s three great religions, Israel has been for millennia the great intersection of Western and Eastern civilizations. Each civilization that has claimed this land has left as much of itself behind as it has borne away in flight before the next conqueror. Even today, in speaking about the Occupied Territories, one cannot escape the irony of the term. All of Israel is occupied, haunted by the history of those who have built its roads and temples, imbued by the many convictions and cross purposes of those who have known it and regard it still as the Promised Land.
Our tour will focus primarily on Jerusalem and Haifa, with five nights in Jerusalem, including day trips to Bethlehem and Masada, two nights in Tiberius for the Galilee Region, three nights in Haifa—the City of Coexistence—for visits to Nazareth, Acco, Haifa itself, and a final day in Tel Aviv/Yaffo. We well understand that Americans cannot visit Israel without addressing issues of peace and conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Any tour that does not address these issues in some meaningful way cannot earn the respect of its members. The quest for peace is central to the experience of Israel today. Leading our tour will be Amir Orly, who led our last trip in 2011 and taught in recent Alumni Colleges, A History of the Jewish People and A History of the Bible.