Our Signature Taglit- Birthright Israel Itinerary
Our signature itinerary allows you to discover and feel the creative energy that has helped turn a fledgling state into a regional superpower, a stretch of sand dunes into Tel Aviv and a socialist state into a “Start-Up Nation” with one of today’s most resilient economies. It also ensures you get all the classic experiences that our compact country offers -- Jerusalem’s Old City and Western Wall, Masada at sunrise, Galilee greenery & desert wilderness, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the mystical city of Tzfat, sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches and everything in between.
With NO religious agenda and NO political axe to grind, our signature itinerary does what a Taglit-Birthright Israel itinerary it ought to do -- introduce you to one of the most fascinating, dynamic and ancient places on earth in the most exciting, active and engaging way possible!
After the trip you have the option to extend your ticket and spend more time in Israel or visit nearby Europe, Turkey or the Greek Islands!
More about why our trip is awesome.
Overview & Day 1: Arrival in Israel, Shoreshim-Back to the Roots
On the first day we will begin to understand our “Jewish self” in the context of a collective Jewish past. As we link our story to that of Abraham, we encounter the unique character of a Hebrew without a Hebrew past. While Abraham had the mission of creating something entirely new, we have both the advantage and the challenge of carrying history with us. Like every generation before us we have the capacity to build the Jewish future.
- Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport - Welcome Ceremony
- Travel South to Kibbutz Kramim: We will traverse the Negev Desert which comprises two-thirds of the Israeli landscape. We will connect with our forefathers and foremothers as we travel on the same land that they did thousands of years ago. We will explore the complex historical and physical relationship between the Jewish People and the desert.
- Arrive at the kibbutz: Called “home” by only 3% of Israelis today, the kibbutz movement has played a key role in the development of Israeli society, culture and economy. While visiting with the residents of Kibbutz Kramim, we will learn why the kibbutz movement is experiencing a renaissance after all these years
- Icebreakers: Let's get to know each other!
- Overnight: Southern Israel
DAY 2: THE NEGEV: GO SOUTH TO GAIN WISDOM
The Tanach (Bible) instructs us to go south to “Gain Wisdom”. The Torah was given in the desert and many of our prophets retreated there. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, declared “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested.” What is it about this arid unwelcoming place that conversely proves to be such a fertile environment for vision and ideas?
- Green Project: With advances in the fields of water recycling, desalinization, solar energy and irrigation, Israel has become a world leader in the fields of greentech and cleantech. Today we will learn how and why these technologies were developed.
- Hike at Ein Avdat- a Desert Oasis: The best way to see all of Israel is on foot. We will visit a true desert oasis and ponder the question: Why was the Torah given to the Jewish in the desert?
- Visit Sde Boker: At this one site we will see a modern kibbutz, a world-famous scientific research center, and the final home and resting place of David and Paula Ben-Gurion. We will learn about Ben Gurion’s vision for the future of the Negev Desert.
- Camel Riding: For thousands of years, camels served as a primary method of travel for the residents of the Middle East. Just as our ancestors traveled by camel through the desert, you’ll get to try your hand at riding one of these gentle giants.
- Bedouin Feast: The Bedouins of the Negev Desert pride themselves on their hospitality. Get a taste of this ancient culture in its contemporary manifestation.
- Overnight Under the Stars
DAY 3: LIFE AND DEATH DILEMMAS IN THE DESERT
On this day we will connect to an integral piece of the Jewish narrative and understand how historical events can speak to contemporary dilemmas.
- Breakfast at Bedouin Tent
- Sunrise on Masada: Wake up before dawn, hike up the super steep Roman ramp and watch the sunrise from atop Masada. As you will learn, a group of zealots fled to the fortress on Masada, which had originally been built by King Herod, as the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in the 1st century. You will also have the opportunity to descend via the challenging Snake Path. How the zealots lived and died is one of the great stories and mysteries of Jewish history and still resonates with today’s modern Israel.
- Ein Gedi Spring & Waterfall: Hike through a lush, green natural reserve nestled in the Judean Desert. Enjoy the cool, crystal-clear waterfall at this site where ancient Israel’s first monarch, King Saul had a dramatic encounter with his successor, King David.
- Float in the Dead Sea: Located not far from Ein Gedi is the site that was nominated as one of the new “7 Wonders of the World.” The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and is famous for its high salt content that allows you to float, supported only by the water itself. Slather your body with the nutrient-rich mud found on the banks of the Dead Sea as it is known for its healing properties.
- Drive to Yechiam in the green upper Galilee: A stark contrast from the dry desert terrain, we will now enter Israel’s marshy woodland area, inhabited by variety of flora and fauna. Nestled in between the forested hills of the northern Galilee, Yechiam is unique in that it is both a modern kibbutz and the site of a beautiful 12th- century Crusader Castle.
- Discussion: As an individual and as part of the group, what have you learned from the trip thus far?
- Pool time
- Overnight: Northern Israel
DAY 4: Nature & The LAND
Hiking is an important way through which Israelis of all ages conect with the land of Israel. We will build connections with the land and each other as we hike and meet our Israeli peers.
- Breakfast at Kibbutz
- Start the day with a Hike in the Golan Heights and experience the spectacular environment in all its beauty
- Take in the commanding view from the top of Mt. Bental, (which is actually an extinct volcano). This will set the stage as we will learn about the strategic significance of the Golan Heights as we look over the border with Syria.
- Rendezvous with Israeli Soldiers: Awesome Israel offers you the opportunity to meet Israeli peers who are currently serving as soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces. We believe that connecting with the people of Israel is just as important as connecting with the land and history.
- Travel to the mystical city of Tzfat: At its height in the 16th century, Tzfat became famous as the home of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). Well known for its historic synagogues, holy sites, and winding alleyways, picturesque Tzfat is also home to a renowned Artists’ Quarter
- Overnight: Northern Israel
DAY 5: LIFE oN THE EDGE
Today we will examine some of the key challenges of the Modern State of Israel, a country that has known more that its share of war and conflict. We will explore the issues behind some of these conflicts, the impact this has for those who live in the shadow Israel's borders as well as all of society. We will also consider the current state of what israelis call 'the situation".
- Begin the day with an Israel Update session, learning about the key pressing issues of Israeli society, conflict and peace.
- Then understand what these issues look like on the ground, as you take a tour along the Northern Border of Israel and examine the key strategic issues between Israel and her neighbors. Consider life in the shadow of a border and the impact of the conflict on Israeli society
- Rappelling at the Keshet Cave: Hike through this stunning nature reserve and then rappel down from the amazing Keshet Cave which is a sight to behold.
- Pre-Shabbat Activity: Creating a group Shabbat
- Shabbat Services
- Shabbat Dinner
- Oneg Shabbat: Singing & Storytelling
- Overnight: Northern Israel
DAY 6: ShABBAT- SACRED TIME
On Shabbat we will experience the intersection between sacred time and scared space. We will experience a range of different creative responses to Jewish sites and sources. The pace of our schedule will be less frenetic than usual, in order to allow us to reflect the spirit of the day and allow space and time for us to absorb our experiences so far.
- Free Morning
- Program led by Soldiers
- Shabbat: The Hebrew word Kadosh is generally translated as "holy" or "sacred". However, a closer examination of the root ק.ד.ש will reveal that it actually translates as "set aside" or "distinct" / "special". So what does the expression -l'kadesh et ha'shabbat to make Shabbat Kadosh- mean? Reading the more accurate meaning of the word Kadosh into the Jewish notion of Shabbat opens up our Shabbat experience to infinite possibilities and embraces a wide range of observances, both religious and secular. Awesome Israel seeks to create a Shabbat experience that embraces the many traditions and practices the participants bring while exposing them to more traditional aspects and customs and encouraging them to forge their own way of making Shabbat Kadosh in their lives.
- Walking Tour
- Havdalah Ceremony
- Free evening in Tiberias
- Overnight : Northern Israel
DAY 7: JERUSALEM: SacreD SPACE
For thousands of years we have said “If I forsake thee O Jerusalem”. Today we travel south to the Holy City of Jerusalem, where the setting sun will remind us why this is the City of Gold -“Yerushalaim shel Zahav”. Jerusalem is the home to many different populations, faiths and people. We will literally have the opportunity to explore the City’s many sides from above ground, below ground and at street level.
- Travel south to Jerusalem- the “City of Gold”
- "Shehecheyanu” upon arrival to Jerusalem: For thousands of years, Jews, Christians and Muslims have entered the holy city of Jerusalem, a city that is holy to all three of these religions. What makes Jerusalem so special and yet so complex at the same time? Starting from today, you will learn about both the dynamics of this city and you will begin to establish your personal connection with the city as well.
- Visit the Western Wall
- Tour the Old City of Jerusalem: More Jewish history (as well as Christian and Muslim) is packed into this tiny area then you can possibly imagine. As we traverse the cobblestone streets, climb up to the rooftops of the Old City, and go underground in the ancient tunnels of the City of David, we will literally explore the city from a myriad of perspectives and try to understand what makes this city so special.
- The Holocaust‘s Impact on Modern Israeli Society: Tomorrow we will visit Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial. This evening we will learn about the impact of the Holocaust on modern Israeli society
- Overnight: Jerusalem Area
DAY 8: Memory & Narrative
Today we will explore the connections between history and memory. First, we will visit Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial and consider the impact that the Holocaust has had on modern Israeli society and culture. To round out our experience, and our exploration of modern Jewish memory, we will visit Israel’s main military cemetery where many of Israel’s founders and dignitaries are buried.
- Tour of Yad Vashem Museum and Holocaust Memorial: Yad Vashem is more than an outstanding historical museum. It is also the place where Jews and others memorialize the lost members of our families and contemplate what was and what might have been. It is incumbent upon all of us to grapple with the subject and its impact upon our humanity.
- Visit Mt. Herzl Cemetery, the final resting place of Israeli dignitaries and fallen soldiers: Mt. Herzl is actually three extraordinary sites in one. First, it is the final resting place of the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl. Secondly, it is the National Cemetery for Israel’s political leadership. Finally, Mt. Herzl is the central military cemetery for Israel’s fallen soldiers.
- Out on the town in Jerusalem: We recommend visiting Ben Yehuda Street, which is a great place for shopping, eating, and hanging out with friends. The street is named after Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the man credited with resurrecting Hebrew as a modern language.
- Overnight: Jerusalem Area
DAY 9: StaNding on the seam Lines
Jerusalem (and Israel in general) sits astride many different seam lines. Individuals and society at large are constantly navigating the lines of identity between East and West, religion and State, right and left, Arab and Jew, Christian and Muslim and so on. On this day we will examine some of Israel’s most defining differences and experience both the conflict and the synergy that results. Balancing multiple identities is not a new experience to Jews or Israelis. We will examine what we can learn from the Israeli example – and what we have to teach.
- Clashing Worlds Seminar at Ma’ale Film School: Israeli film is finally receiving the world recognition it deserves. At this film school, we will take a glimpse at some of the burning issues of Israeli society through the eyes of young filmmakers.
- Nachlaot, Machane Yehuda Market: Downtown Jerusalem contains the picturesque neighborhood of Nachlaot, comprising a unique blend of religious communities and young bohemians. It is adjacent to the Machane Yehuda outdoor market, a bustling shuk filled with the Middle East’s finest spices, fruits, and vegetables.
- Volunteer Project: One of the most awesome aspects of an Awesome Israel tour is the opportunity give back and volunteer with underprivileged populations in Jerusalem.
- Overnight: Jerusalem Area
DAY 10: ISRAEL 2.0- Looking to the future
Lonely Planet lists Tel Aviv as one of the world’s top party cities and so there is no better place to end our visit to Israel than the place teasingly known as ‘the Big Orange’. As our time together draws to a close we will reflect on what we will be taking back home with us and how to keep our connection to Israel and to one another strong.
- Breakfast & Checkout
- Drive to Tel Aviv: Just over 100 years old, Tel Aviv was built as the first “modern” Israeli city. Today, the “White City” of Tel Aviv is thought of as a “party capital”, and is famous for its cultural wealth, stunning architecture and great beaches.
- Rabin Square: We will pay our respects at the place where Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli in 1995, an event which shocked Israel to its foundation.
- Stroll the Streets: Visit Shenkin Street and the Carmel Market: This area of south Tel Aviv is our version of New York’s Lower East Side. Originally populated by local clothing shops, today it is a bustling network of markets, trendy boutiques, and cafés.
- Lunch at cafe of your choice
- Visit to Independence Hall: Visit the room where the State of Israel was born! In 1948 David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel in the former home of Meir Dizengoff – the first mayor of Tel Aviv. We come full circle in our exploration of the land, the people, and the culture of the Jewish State.
- Farewell Dinner & Discussion: "How do we take Israel home with us?"
- Travel to Airport
- Check In and Return Flight (or extend your trip and get even more - see below)
The 11th Day - Extend Your Ticket - Travel Israel, Europe or Greek Islands!
After your trip you have the option to extend your ticket and spend more time in Israel or visit nearby Europe, Turkey or the Greek Islands! Make the most of this opportunity!
Taglit-Birthright Israel is an innovative partnership between the people of Israel through the Government of Israel, private philanthropists and thousands of donors and Jewish communities around the world (North American Jewish Federations through the Jewish Federations of North America; the Jewish Agency for Israel; and Keren Hayesod).