The Itinerary as usual with traveling, especially across cultures, no stop is guaranteed, but we sure will do our best.
March 19th Saturday: Meet up at BHM airport (time TBA) and leave BHM and fly to Philadelphia, Paris, and finally arrive in Tel Aviv.
March 20th Sunday: Arrive in Tel Aviv 4:40 PM. Gather luggage, exchange some money and rent our car to begin our drive north the Haifa. Check into our Rothschild Luxury Apartment with a beautiful view of Haifa, Israel (Hopefully by 7 pm).
March 21st Monday: We start our day exploring at the ancient Port of Caesarea and Roman Aqueducts. Then drive over to the Atlit Detention Center. The drive up into the Carmel mountains and stop at site of Elijah's Mount Carmel challenge to the prophets of Ba'al where we overlook the Valley of Armageddon. We return to our Haifa apartment overnight. (If Covid Protocols still dictate 24 hours without movement upon arrival, we will get plenty of rest and rearrange our schedule closer to time to pack it all in)
March 22nd Tuesday: We start the day by packing up and checking out before we drive to Rosh HaNikra for exploring inside the white-cliff grottos near the Lebanon border. Then we head east to Kfar Blum to raft down the Jordan River. (If the weather has felt too chilly, we have other options here). Then we dive a little way over to Caesarea Philippi (Site of Jesus asking the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" If there's time as we drive south toward the Sea of Galilee, we'll make a stop at the Mount of Beatitudes and the Mount Arbel Overlook for a short hike. Then continue around the lake to Tiberias and check into our Sea of Galilee luxury apartment overlooking the Sea of Galilee for the next 3 nights.
March 23rd Wednesday: Breakfast at 7:30. Christian sites day. We will visit the Jesus Boat Museum and take a boat ride on the Galilee and the timing will set up the rest of our day. We will visit St Peter's Primacy, Capernaum, stop by to tour Ein Gev Kibbutz and enjoy a fish lunch there if the timing is right. We will drive up to Gamla National Park where we might get a view of the eagles flying the updrafts from the sea and mountains convergence. On the way home, we will visit Magdela & the Boat Chapel for tour and contemplation time, and while there do a fun grocery store run for snacks, & pick up pizza for dinner and head back to our apartment.
March 24th Thursday: We start the morning with an hour's drive to the ancient ruins of Bet She'an, where Saul and his sons' bodies were hung on the city walls and once a thriving Christian community until an earthquake toppled the city in place in the 700s AD. Then we take a break at Gan Ha Shlosha, a three-tier'ed swimming hole with manicured lawns and turquoise waters. Coming home to Tiberias we will stop for a Jordan River Baptism if anyone wants to be baptized. We can clean up at the apartment and head out to dinner or stop for dinner in Tiberias on the way. Drive back to our apartment.
March 25th Friday: Early morning pack up and departure for a long driving day covering most of the length of Israel. We stop at the Valley of Elah (David & Goliath Field), literally pull off the road to go check out the stream! Then continue south into the desert toward Beer Sheva (for another grocery run/lunch). We'll take another short car break at the Mitzpe Ramon Crater in the middle of the Negev Desert, then continue through the stark and beautiful Negev Wilderness to the resort town of Eilat at the Red Sea and check into our apartment for 3 nights.
March 26th Saturday: Sleep in and enjoy a late morning of Shabbat devotions with the Lord. Head to the Coral Beach Reserve for a half day of snorkeling the Red Sea. Dinner will be at a restaurant out on the Promenade after everything reopens after Shabbat.
March 27th Sunday: Today will will drive a little ways north to see some sites that were closed when we drove by on Friday afternoon: Timna National Park, Hai Bar Yotvatah Nature Reserve (a drive through safari) and head to enjoy a "Business lunch" at Yotvatah Dairy Kibbutz. (This is where the milk of the "Land of milk and honey" comes from!) Then back in Eilat we will find a restaurant for dinner. Maybe take a walk on one of the beaches or take a dip in the Red Sea again.
March 28th Monday: We will have an early departure to drive north toward the Dead Sea. (~3.5 hr). We will go by Aroma Coffee for lunch or a snack before heading up to Masada for a 2-3 hour time of exploration and connecting with God over Ezekiel 37: "Can these dry bones live?" We check into our spa resort for one night in time for some afternoon free time for shopping for Dead Sea products or a Dead Sea soak or the resort pool. There will be a bountiful dinner buffet for us at the hotel.
March 29th Tuesday: Enjoy a delightful breakfast buffet and check out, hike Ein Gedi (where David hid from Saul) where you can get into water pools and falls; swim suits & towel a plus. Then drive a little further to Qumron (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered). Then we turn toward Jerusalem, stopping by Jericho/Valley Shadow of Death en route. If the timing is right we should be able to visit Gethsemane on our way into town, then drive to the top of the Mount Olives for a view of Jerusalem at sunset. We will check into our Jerusalem VRBO apartment for the remaining 4 nights, and head out to dinner in Jerusalem!
March 30th Wednesday: An early breakfast at home before we walk to Jaffa Gate--get coffee at Aroma!--and climb up to do the Rampart's Walk (on top of the Old City walls of Jerusalem) toward the Western Wall and get an orientation of the city from above. We will take some time at the Wall for prayer and contemplation, then have an early lunch in Cardo area. Then we head under ground to walk through the Rabbinical Tunnels, and split off to go see Saint Anne's Church (with amazing acoustics) at the site of the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda. We'll take the slow route through the Old City Shuk for some shopping on a leisurely walk back to Jaffa Gate. Dinner at Foccacia near Ben Yahudah Street or some place else that looks interesting.
March 31 Thursday: Today we will be all over Jerusalem visiting David's Citadel, the Upper Room (replica), Caiaphas's House and the cistern where Jesus was held overnight before His crucifixion. Then to lighten the mood we go over to the City of David and Hezekiah's tunnel to slosh through 1 kilometer of the Gihon spring underground (don't forget your flashlight, water shoes and shorts for this stop). The later afternoon will leave us free time for Ben Yehuda shopping before we head over to the (new city) Shuk to do some shopping for our Shabbat dinner on Friday. We will find a restaurant for tonight's dinner en route.
April 1st Friday: This morning we are planning a free morning off to lounge around, or try the Israel Museum (at your own expense) or Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on your own. (A little time is also on reserve here in case we need to get a COVID test before we fly home) Our first "official outing" today will be a walk to the Garden Tomb for a 2:30 PM appointment for a tour, have communion together, and see the empty tomb. Then we walk a few blocks over to the American Colony Hotel to enjoy a High Tea experience. Walk back to our apartment and cook Shabbat dinner at home together. If anyone is feeling adventurous we can head back to the Western Wall for Erev Shabbat.
April 2nd Sunday: Our final day is a leisurely Shabbat in Jerusalem since most everything is closed. We can wander through some local parks, drive by the U.S. Embassy or Bethlehem. We'll check out of our apartment by 6 PM to head to Abu Gosh for a finale dinner on our way to the airport. Kim will return the car and the security-check airport lines begin 3 hours before the flight home. Planning on a 10:30 to midnight flight home and fly most of the day Sunday.
April 3rd Sunday: Arrive home & begin RECOVERY!
$3490.00 for the land tour portion. This group is by invitation only.
$500 down due with application
$1500 due Nov 15, 2021
$1490 (balance) due Feb 1, 2022 (~45 days prior to travel).
Flight priced & billed separately, but generally plan on ~$1300-1500 from BHM. You may use frequent flier miles or points and meet us in Tel Aviv if you prefer.
New travelers with Ruth Israel Initiative should download a PDF application to print below. Mail with down payment to:
Ruth Israel Initiative
9 B Chatham Court
Pelham, AL 35124
Stuff you should know before you go
First, check out the B-4 YOU GO tab above.
We will be spending two glorious weeks in the Land of Israel. Our Jerusalem days are walking tours, so there is no transportation provided except our feet. This helps us connect with the people and land. You may hire a taxi on your own, back to the VRBO apartment if needed, but we suggest that you start training your body as you train your heart for this trip so you will be able to fully participate in it with your teammates. Trips include accommodation, breakfasts and dinners, and entrance to sites. However, lunches, tips, insurance (Highly recommended to have a Covid-protection clause), and souvenirs are on your own. We will have at least one meet-the-team meeting over zoom to get acquainted for we go.
This trip is personalized and limited to 6 people. Our small "boutique" size allows great access. There is an aspect of spiritual development, prayer activations, spiritual formation exercises, and "Friendship with Jesus" strengthening and deepening that accompany each Ruth Israel Initiative Journey at nearly every location stop in the Land, and the Lord usually shakes some things up in our hearts in a beautiful way. If you are not accustomed to journaling or "listening prayer" Seth Barnes book Listening Prayer is another book you'll want to pick up to prepare your heart and skills for listening for God's voice as you interact together in the Holy Land. It is great to hone listening skills in a daily devotional.
In addition, the volume of information available to you while you are in Israel won't sink in unless you have a proper grid of understanding already formed with which to process all that we will experience, so the book Israel Basics is a prerequisite for preparation. And Teplinsky's book Why Still Care About Israel? will really fill out your foundation so that you can get the most out of your time in Israel. See the Resources Page for even further study.
We also invite your questions!