Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture and not a single time in the Koran. Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming. There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem.
To many theologians, it is Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, and it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain.
When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it’s a homecoming. Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory.
Throughout the history of Jerusalem, Jews lived inside its walls with only two interruptions: when Roman invaders forbade entry into the city and under Jordanian occupation when Jews, regardless of nationality, were denied access into the old Jewish quarter to meditate and pray at the Wall.
Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness but of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master, Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav, said, “Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart”.
The poet Yehuda Amichai, for whom Jerusalem was his heart and soul, wrote in one of his poems a verse that captures something of my feelings: “Jerusalem is a swing: sometimes I descend into the generations and sometimes I rise into the heavens.”
And that’s Jerusalem: a city where opposites, diversity, and change are all fused, lending it its unique character.
There is no other city in the world like Jerusalem. A city that people pine for, a city they face to pray, and for whose sake they pray, a city to which so many look up. A city that serves as a common ground but is often also a locus of friction.
A city contains everything: the spirit of sanctity and the vibrancy of day-to-day life. Jerusalem is a city whose one million inhabitants reflect the entire mosaic of Israeli society and its complexity. It’s a city whose name means “peace” and has also known many wars.
Jerusalem Day symbolizes one of the formative events in the city’s history. Since Jerusalem was unified, all parts of it have been growing and developing.
Jerusalem safeguards the sovereignty of the State of Israel. It guarantees freedom of worship for members of all religions, along with a form of coexistence that does not diminish difference and tradition, bringing to light the strength of our ability to live and work together.
On Jerusalem’s festive day, a national holiday for us all, our hope is that it preserves its unique character, including the burst of renewal and growth it has experienced in recent years.
Want to visit Jerusalem the City of Heart and Soul?
If you want to visit Jerusalem and get inspired as well, make sure you get in contact with Israel Travel Advisory Service.
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For many, visiting Israel is a dream come true. Thus, the importance of maximizing your time while there is something tour operators take into great consideration when creating customized tours. If your unfamiliar with Israel the help of a knowledgeable tour guide is extremely beneficial. And there are so many amazing sites to see it’s hard to choose which ones to make a priority during your Israel vacation itinerary. To help you with that ITAS (Israel Travel Advisory Service) has created a list of some of the top must-see sites in Israel.
Nearly 3 million people visit the Western Wall annually. Around 19 BC King Herod the Great began a massive expansion project, besides rebuilding the Jewish Temple, he extended the platform on which it stood. The Western Wall we see today is part of the retaining walls built during that time. Most of the stones used to build the wall weigh between 2 and 8 tons each, but others weigh even more, with one incredibly large stone located in the northern section of Wilson’s Arch measuring 43 ft. and weighing approximately 570 tons. The Western Wall is approximately 1600-feet-long, most of it is concealed by buildings. Due to restrictions put on Jews from entering the Temple Mount, the Western Wall plaza is the closest connection to the Temple. For this reason, it is the holiest site in Judaism.
Caesarea Harbor National Park
In 31 BCE Augustus Caesar gifted a small Phoenician town to Herod the Great. He renamed it after the Emperor and built a major port, palace, bathhouse, hippodrome, stables and other impressive structures such as the aqueduct and Roman amphitheater. Visitors today can enjoy a breathtaking view the Mediterranean coastline as they stroll amongst the ancient ruins of Caesarea. A new Visitor Center offers a media presentation and rare archaeological artifacts inside one of the original vaults built by Herod.
On the list of World Heritage sites, the Baha’i Garden and Shrine complex is the holiest site for the Baha’i faith. It is also Haifa’s #1 attraction because of its stunning beauty and grandeur. The main garden is comprised of 19 steep terraces full of lovely flowers, fountains and small sculptures. From its base this striking floral staircase extends a half mile up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. Standing on its top terrace you can see the Haifa city and port, Akko, and the hills of Galilee.
The Dead Sea is the lowest elevation on Earth at roughly 1400 feet below sea level. It is one of the saltiest lakes with a salinity of approx. 34%. The Dead Sea lies in the Jordan Rift Valley bordered to the east by Jordan and to the west by Israel and the West Bank. Due to its harsh saline environment nothing can grow in it, however due to it’s high mineral contents, Dead Sea mud has been touted for its therapeutic properties for centuries.
Yad Vashem is Israel’s National Holocaust Museum and the largest of its kind in the world. The museum exhibits provide an accurate historical account, through various media, of the atrocities the Jewish people endured during World War II. Yad Vashem preserves the memory of those who perished and honors those who fought valiantly against the oppressors. It is a site every visitor to Israel should see for themselves to better understand the magnitude of this atrocity.
Our list of the top must-see sites in Israel could be much longer! Other amazing sites to include on your Israel vacation itinerary are: the City of David, Masada (another World Heritage site), Independence Hall, Rosh HaNikra, and the Jewish Quarter to name just a few.
Israel Travel Advisory Service is a highly respected, full-service tour operator specializing in Jewish Heritage tours of Israel. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A trip to the ancient land of Israel isn’t complete without a visit to some of its spectacular synagogues. You can easily request these sites from Israel travel companies which offer custom Israel itineraries. There are so many impressive synagogues scattered throughout Israel, in this blog entry we’ll look at three of them: the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Abuhav Synagogue in Safed, and Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue. Each of theses synagogues are unique and worthy of a visit during an Israel vacation.
The Hurva Synagogue, originally founded in 1721, is in Jerusalem’s Old City. It was destroyed years later and lay in ruins for over 100 years. Rebuilt in 1864, the Hurva Synagogue was the central space used by the Ashkenazi Jewish community to gather for meetings and worship until its destruction by the Arab Legion in the 1948 War of Independence. Ten years later, a 52-foot commemorative arch was built over the ruins as a memorial. In 2010, a replica of the synagogue which was built on the site 150 years earlier was rededicated as a place of worship. The Hurva Synagogue is a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people. One of its most spectacular features is the breathtaking 360-degree views of Jerusalem from the veranda which surrounds the dome.
The Abuhav Synagogue is another splendid site to visit during a custom Israel itinerary. This synagogue houses the oldest Torah scroll in Safed, believed to have been written by the Spanish Rabbi, Isaac Abuhav. Built in the fifteenth century – the interior dome is adorned with images of musical instruments used in the Temple in Jerusalem and various symbols from the tribes of Israel. Legend has it that Rabbi Abuhav and his followers built the synagogue in Safed around 1490, after expulsion from Spain. The synagogue is often visited by groups touring the Jewish homeland.
Lastly, is the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. Built with funds provided by Sir Isaac Wolfson, a Jewish philanthropist from Great Britain, the Great Synagogue was consecrated on August 4, 1982 in memory of the six-million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The Synagogue is the largest in the world. Its façade design is based on the Second Jewish Temple. The sanctuary features a colossal chandelier and gorgeous stained-glass above the Aron Kodesh. Free guided tours of the Great Synagogue are available when you call ahead. Or better still, let Israel Travel Advisory Service prepare the perfect custom Israel itinerary for you and your family or friends. While you relax we’ll do all the “heavy lifting”.
Israel vacation tours are the ultimate dream for those of Jewish descent as well as those who have embraced and devoted their lives to Judaism. As the melting pot of Jewish history and culture, Israel has an abundance of historically and culturally significant sites and attractions that are definite must-sees when embarking on custom Israel tours:
Jerusalem’s Western Wall
One of the most sacred places in Judaism is the Western Wall or Kotel. It is among the most visited sites in Israel, attracting thousands upon thousands of visitor’s year in and year out. At sunset on Friday’s Jews gather for a magical experience at the Kotel as they welcome in the Shabbat together. The underground tunnels are also worth visiting, comprised of excavations beneath the wall. These tunnels reveal stunning structures from significant eras including the Hasmonean, Herodian, Mamluk, and Umayyad periods. The Western Wall tunnels will lead you to all kinds of exciting discoveries, including underground structures like the Western Stone, which is one of the largest building blocks in the world.
The Jewish Quarter
Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter is something you do not want to miss. The Jewish Quarter isn’t only home to the Western Wall, but also a range of other important landmarks, like the Tower of David and the Temple Mount (Mt. Moriah). The Tower of David can be found near Jaffa Gate. This citadel comes alive at night with a spectacular sound and light show.
Masada is now a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site. It was built by Herod the Great way back 30 BCE, as an imposing mountain fortress that offers incredible historical and cultural significance to the region. Among the ruins are Herod’s palace, terraces, store houses, bath house, and Roman siege ramp.
City of David
This site is exactly where King David established the kingdom he was promised. Today, the city is an amazing archaeological park rife with historically significant artifacts.
An important rule of thumb to remember when taking Israel tours is to gain the advice of an experienced Israel travel management company. Israel Travel Advisory Service can be helpful in planning out your visit to some of the country’s most sought after landmarks.
While Israel is relatively new to independence (celebrating only 70 years of independent country-hood in 2018), its ancient lands have seen a great deal of history and are home to numerous sites that are sacred to Judaism. Aptly called The Holy Land, Israel is filled with sacred places that make for really unique attractions, especially for those looking for a rich “Homeland” experience, those who love history, or those who simply want to get a taste of life in one of the most sought after worldwide destinations. Nevertheless, Israel tours offer so much more than religious heritage as you can plan custom Israel tours around energetic cities with all the modern conveniences you could ever wish for—not to mention the country’s exceptional natural attractions and stunning Mediterranean beaches. If you are considering booking Israel vacation tours, here are some life-changing benefits you are setting yourself up to discover:
· Israel tours are always comprehensive, mainly because the country is such a small place offering so many fascinating attractions to see and discover. If it is a religious experience you are craving, Jerusalem is definitely the best place to start your tour. Jerusalem is home to all kinds of hard to miss attractions, from the Old City to the beautifully restored Jewish Quarter, the Menorah, and many stunning destinations of historical and biblical importance. From here, it is easy to take side trips to the stunning beaches of Tel Aviv, followed by other must-see destinations like the Dead Sea, Negev, Galilee, and Masada.
· Tel Aviv is so much more than its leisurely beaches. Some places of interest that you should definitely consider to include in your Israel tours itinerary include the Independence Hall, and the Mini Israel Park—a famous destination in Latrun where you’ll find impressive miniature versions of important landmarks in Israel. Old Jaffa is also a must-see for its ancient ruins.
· Israel Vacation Tours are not complete without a taste of the country’s superb nature. Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, Israel is home to so many unspoiled beaches, with the added bonus of being close to the cities. Away from the coast, you’ll find unique and diverse natural wonders, ranging from deserts to lush hills and valleys.