We are leaving for Israel today. Commuter Husband and I have hoped we would have Oldest Son's Bar Mitzvah in Israel - literally since he was born. And here we are! Below is our packed and incredible game plan. We will be with 34 others on this Temple Emanu-El journey. Rabbi Adam Allenberg, Cantor Richard Cohn and Karen Hoffman are our inspiring leaders.
DAY ONE: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Overnight flight through Philadelphia
DAY TWO: Monday, December 24, 2012 - TEL AVIV!
3:05 p.m. Arrive in Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion International Airport.
Welcome dinner at Kimmel, offering a selection of eclectic food, located in downtown Tel Aviv in a restored building which formerly belonged to the last Turkish Sultan.
DAY THREE: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 TEL AVIV: ENGAGING MODERN ISRAEL
Visit to Independence Hall, site of David Ben Gurion's monumental proclamation of the State of Israel in May 1948.
LaDa'at Scavenger Hunt in Tel Aviv - Explore the city of Tel Aviv while participating in a special family scavenger hunt.
Follow the story of Israel's pre-state elite fighting force, the Palmach, while walking through a state of the art multimedia experience that allows a glimpse into the lives of extraordinary people at Beit Hapalmach.
Visit the Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall with its restored buildings and sidewalk artists, and continue onto the colourful Carmel Open-Air Market, with lunch on your own.
Visit the Old City of Jaffa and ascend from the ancient port through the renovated alleyways to the Jaffa Overlook for an introduction to Tel Aviv at the place where it all began.
DAY FOUR: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 -GO SOUTH TO MITZPEH RAMON! DREAMS, VISION AND REALITY
Visit Neot Kedumim, a large interactive nature reserve dedicated to the flora and fauna of the Bible, with tree planting and sheep herding (to better understand the challenges of our biblical leaders).
Drive to Moshav Netiv Haasarah; lunch on your own en route.
Living on the Edge: Visit Moshav Netiv Haasarah, located on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, for an insight into the security complexities of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza while trying to create a thriving home, including a dialogue with a resident.
Visit the gravesite of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, located at Kibbutz Sde Boker overlooking the Wilderness of Zinn in the Negev Desert and contemplate the challenges of the early pioneers and the transformation of Israel, from dream to reality.
Continue south to the desert town of Mitzpeh Ramon.
DAY FIVE: Thursday, December 27, 2012 THE POWER OF THE DESERT
Early departure south towards the Arava, driving through the massive natural formation of the Ramon Crater.
Continue to Kibbutz Lotan.
Sustainability, Ecology and I: Gain further insight into the advances made by the members of Kibbutz Lotan in the field of environmentalism and sustainability, with an in-depth walk through the kibbutz to view housing, agricultural and human attempts to live within the desert without leaving a mark on it.
Lunch on the kibbutz and dialogue with kibbutz members on life in the desert, on the periphery and more.
Visit the impressive Timna Park with its new audio-visual program, ancient copper mines, modern man-made pool and many unique geological formations.
DAY SIX: Friday, December 28, 2012 SERENITY OF NATURE AND THE BEAUTY OF JERUSALEM
Jeep tour to explore the geological wonders of the Ramon Crater with a stop for a walk to the unique natural phenomenon known as the Carpentry Shop.
Drive north to Jerusalem, stopping for lunch on your own.
Stop at the Haas Promenade to say the traditional shehechiyanu blessing, recited upon entering Jerusalem.
Depart for Kabbalat Shabbat Service at Kehillat Yozma in Modi'in led by Rabbi Kinneret Shirion and Rabbi Nir Barkin including home hospitality or communal Shabbat dinner.
DAY SEVEN: Saturday, December 29, 2012 (No Guide) SHABBAT IN JERUSALEM
Free Shabbat in Jerusalem for an opportunity to visit (on own):
The Old City Ramparts for a walk along the ancient walls of the city. (A voucher will be provided.)
The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem, for a walk through the city's history from the time of Abraham to the end of the British Mandate over Palestine.
Visit the Israel Museum, one of the most creative and innovative museums in the world to visit the Second Temple Model of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Scrolls. .
Walk through the picturesque neighbourhood of Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the first neighbourhood built outside the walls of the Old City 150 years ago.
Israeli Society @ 2012: Dialogue with scholar Paul Liptz of the Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew Union College.
Ben Kodesh Lechol Havdallah overlooking the Old City.
Weather permitting: The Night Spectacular at the Tower of David Museum: The walls of the Citadel serve as a stage for a night-time show which is a celebration of sight and sound, depicting the story of Jerusalem.
DAY EIGHT: Sunday, December 30, 2012 THE LAYERS OF JERUSALEM
Hands on experience at Yad LaKashish, a multifaceted sheltered workshop for senior citizens and people with disabilities, a 5-star tzadakah project.
Depart for the Old City.
LaDa'at Jewish Quarter - explore the meaningful religious and historical sites of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem while participating in an experiential tour-game, including:
The Cardo, a Byzantine street that is now the world's oldest shopping arcade
The Hurva Square, the central square of the Jewish Quarter.
Touch the stones of the Kotel (Western Wall).
Visit the Western Wall Tunnel, the underground continuation of the Western Wall alongside the Temple Mount.
DAY NINE: Monday, December 31, 2012 DIGGING FOR THE ROOTS OF OUR FAITH
B'nai Mitzvah Service in the Dan Panorama Hotel Penthouse suite.
Oldest Son's BAR MITZVAH (along with 4 other special kids)
Festive Celebratory lunch at a local restaurant/venue.
LaDa'at The Geopolitics of Jerusalem - Travel through the city of Jerusalem exploring some of the political and diplomatic complexities of recent years, including the ‘Security Barrier' with further insight into the ramifications of current developments.
Take part in an active dig at the Beit Guvrin Caves and prepare to get your hands dirty as you uncover pottery from the Hellenistic period, 2,300 years ago, followed by a crawl through the Maresha Cave Labyrinth.
DAY TEN: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 MASADA AND THE DEAD SEA
Descend to the Dead Sea Basin.
Bathe in the relaxing and healthy sulphur springs at the Mineral Beach and float in the Dead Sea.
Hike to Masada, Herod's mountain palace and site of the Jewish Zealots' last stand against the Roman Legionnaires. Discuss Masada's role as a symbol of Jewish defence and its current significance in modern Israel.
Visit Genesis Land, a Biblical style encampment in the Judean Desert, delve into the Bible, experience Biblical Hospitality, enjoy a ‘Hafla' feast and take a camel ride through the desert.
DAY ELEVEN: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 MEMORIES AND RENEWAL
Holocaust Education in Contemporary Society: Dialogue with Holocaust scholar Shalmi Barmor, Director of ECHO, an organization for Jewish educational centers in Central and Eastern Europe.
Follow in the footsteps of the Israeli paratroopers through a guided visit to Ammunition Hill, the site of a Jordanian Police Academy until 1967 and one of the most important battles for the unification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War.
LaDa'at Machaneh Yehuda - Actively explore the colorful and ethnically rich Machaneh Yehuda Market of Jerusalem, with lunch on your own.
Festive Farewell Dinner at Olive & Fish, a meat and fish restaurant located across from the Liberty Bell Gardens.