Israel – Music and Art

An Israel music and art celebration.
This tour is for the cultural pleasure seeker. It reaches further into the soul of Israel than other tours. Israel boasts more musicians per capita than any other nation in the world. Add to that the amazing number of artists, well-known and currently emerging, mystically Kabbalist and ultra-modern, who continually enrich to its cultural wealth, and the international array of flavors available for tasting. The result is a sensual cornucopia. And it is all happening now: This June, Masada will host the Israeli Opera Festival, including the popular “Carmina Burana” by Orff and Verdi’s “Tosca” — which you will enjoy under the stars. We make it possible for you to join thousands of Israelis at this event, as well as smaller, more personal experiences, such as a Yemenite encounter with dance or a visit to the Ein Harod Art Gallery. With the set dates in mind, we have created our most luxurious program to date, packed with experiences that showcase Israel’s abundant cultural bounty. All this while being pampered at Israel’s finest hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem.

Feel yourself coming alive, in every sense of the word.

Day 01   Friday, June 5  Arrival – Tel Aviv.
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, you are met and greeted by your guide, who will escort you to your waterfront Tel Aviv hotel. Shalom — and welcome to the creative cornucopia that is Israel! Dan Hotel (Deluxe, Sea View).

Day 02  Saturday, June 6  Tel Aviv  Yaffo.
Breakfast at the hotel. Enjoy a traditional, restful Shabbat, or, if you choose, join a program at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, continuing to the Neve Tzedek neighborhood and nearby Tachana (Station) complex. Later, enjoy a visit to the much-loved Ilana Goor Museum in Old Jaffa (Yaffo) – housed in a splendid ancient site. Dan Hotel (Deluxe, Sea View).

Day 03 Sunday, June 7 Tel Aviv – Haifa.
Breakfast at the Hotel. This morning, travel along the coast to Haifa, Israel’s great port city.  En route, visit Ein Hod, a creative mecca. Since the 1950’s, this village has been home to aspiring Israeli artists, many of whom have received national recognition. You will see why as you enjoy an insider’s tour of its workshops. Lunch, served in a nearby village, is a feast of authentic, home-style Arabic food. As a complement to the cuisine, the restaurant overlooks the ocean. Later, check-in at to your hotel in Haifa, and enjoy the magnificent view. Dan Carmel Hotel (Deluxe, Bay View).

Day 4 Monday, June 8  Haifa  Akko – Safed (Tzfat).
Breakfast at the Hotel. Today, you will experience the Crusader town of Akko (sometimes called “Acre”). Here, visit the unique Or Torah Synagogue, a Tunisian wonder whose claim to fame is that it is literally covered in mosaics – every floor, wall, ceiling and step! (Nice to see “mosaics” in the very land of Moses.) Complete the visit with a tour of the Ethnographic Museum, also known as the “Treasures in the Walls.” Next, continue to Moshav Ameka, a Yemenite farming village. While sipping delicious hot tea (natives of hot countries cool off this way!), your local host will share her skills as an expert basket weaver and storyteller. You will also be introduced to the dance traditions of Yemen, including the famous and fun “debka.” Continue to Safed (or Tzfat), a city that uniquely blends art and awe. Dinner at the hotel. Bayit Bagalil Hotel.

Day 5 Tuesday, June 9 Safed (Tzfat) – Galilee – Safed (Tzfat).
Breakfast at the Hotel. In the morning, explore the Kabbalistic soul of Israel. In this city of scholarly mystics, wander through some of Israel’s foremost modern galleries, featuring photography, painting, micro-calligraphy (which takes the scribe’s craft to new heights), sculpture, ceramics, jewelry design, and other forms of Judaica. Next, participate in a workshop at the Kabbalah Center.  Optional topics include: “The Mystical power of Hebrew Letters,” “Galilean Medicinal Herbs,” and “The Rabbinical Way of Positive Thinking.” In the afternoon, visit one of the Galilee’s best-known wineries, and participate in wine tastings as well as cheese or olive oil workshops. Return to the Villa with time at leisure. Dinner at the hotel. Bayit Bagalil Hotel.

Day 6 Wednesday, June 10  Safed –Jezreel Valley – Massada – Dead Sea.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Today, drive to Kibbutz Ein Harod, site of one of Israel’s oldest art museums. Originally, Ein Harod was the home to early Zionists, and the Museum – no more than a wooden hut at the time – opened its doors during the first days of Independence. Today, it is one of the most significant art sites in Israel, and houses several contemporary exhibitions. Lunch will be served en route. Next, travel along the Jordan River to the Dead Sea, where (having sated your eyes with art) you will now enjoy the senses of touch and smell. Take time to bask in the sensuous glow of the salty, vitamin-enriched air, so good for skin and soul. In the evening, transfer to Massada for an outdoor concert of Orff’s beloved Carmina Burana.  (Did you know that Israel has more musicians, per capita, than any other nation in the world?) Imagine sitting on the hill of Masada, ears full of gorgeous music, the night sky as your canopy. Dinner at the hotel.  Isrotel Spa and Resort.

Day 7 Thursday, June 11 Dead Sea – Massada – Dead Sea.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Enjoy a morning at leisure while the temperature is still pleasantly cool. These early desert hours are filled with tranquility. Go for a weightless float in the Dead Sea, or relax with a spa treatment, enriched by the primal salts found only in the part of the earth. In the afternoon, choose to rest, or join a short program that starts with an easy hike in Ein Gedi National Park. Here, feel the refreshing mist at David’s Fall, and visit an ancient Synagogue with mysterious mosaic inscriptions.  Next, explore Moshav Neot Hakikar – home to a group of artists inspired by the soil and colors of the starkly beautiful Judean dessert. The visit will take you into one of the studios and include a private workshop guided by the artist. Afterwards, retire to the Resort with time to rest and refresh. In the evening, return to Massada for another special event: Upon arrival, you will be given a private backstage tour  (“Behind the Scenes of the Opera“), followed by a outdoor performance of Verdi’s Tosca. Dinner at the hotel.  Isrotel Spa and Resort.

Day 8 Friday,  June 12 Dead Sea  Jerusalem.
Breakfast at the Hotel. Today, we rise to new heights – traveling up to Jerusalem. Upon arrival, visit the Museum of Islamic Arts, which features two unique sets of rare treasures. First, its rich collections offer an unprecedented look at the scope of Islamic cultures, which range (and vary) from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. This heritage, which — based on our own Commandment — forbids most human representation, has managed nonetheless to produce some of the greatest arts and craftwork in the world. Second, this Museum houses an astounding collection of historic timepieces, crafted by some of the world’s most renowned artisans. Visitors will be amazed by the almost inconceivable level of handicraft, pictorial detail, and technical imagination — all lovingly worked into these tiny clocks. After this visual peak, the afternoon will bring a treat for the taste buds: Continuing to Jerusalem’s bustling Mahane Yehuda Market, you will be hosted for a tour of many flavors, explored and combined in this sensory smorgasbord. From Orient to Occident, from cumin to cinnamon, and from hummus to raw honey, Israel has it all. Enjoy an intimate Shabbat Dinner in a private home, steps from the Western Wall. Even the notes crammed into the notes of the Kotel rustle with inspiration. The Waldorf Astoria.

Day 9 Saturday, June 13 Jerusalem – Latrun – Ein Kerem – Jerusalem.
Breakfast at the Hotel. You may choose to spend Shabbat at leisure in Jerusalem, where that “sanctuary in time” takes on the fullest meaning. Alternatively, join a program which begins to unveil the creative traditions of millennia. First, visit the Monastery of Latrun, where silent monks have, for centuries, made their living from the fruits of the vine. Today, the monastery produces some 250,000 bottles of wine each year, representing of a variety of venerable native vintages. Next, continue to Ein Kerem, a picturesque village (now incorporated as a neighborhood) in the southwestern corner of Jerusalem. Ein Kerem has been a settlement since the 14th century, and has an eclectic feel born of its residents from all over the world. Even during the early years of Israeli statehood, its settlers were immigrants from both North Africa and Eastern Europe – an intriguing Sephardic-Ashkenazi blend.  Today, the area is considered a “cool” place to live — like New York’s Soho (or the old Greenwich Village) — especially attractive to artists, sculptors, and other creative craftspeople. After a brief tour and Lunch, visit the Eden Tamir Music Center for a classical performance (pending). Later, explore the glorious Israel Museum, boasting a world-class collection of Jewish art.  In the evening, enjoy Dinner at a local restaurant, followed by a tour of “Illuminated Jerusalem.” The night-time city — including the Kotel’s once secret rabbinical tunnel — will be revealed in all its radiance. This evening, a special Farewell Dinner awaits you. But don’t think of it as Farewell, but as just one more joyous taste of Israel’s bounty. Its richness  – from art to music to aroma to taste to touch — is yours now, to savor and remember. Waldorf Astoria.

Day 10 Sunday  June 14 Tel Aviv – Home Flight.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport for the flight back to the USA. Todah, Israel — eternally creative, and delighting every sense.

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