Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My final thoughts

We are packed and waiting for our ride to the airport and I will take a little time to reflect on this experience. 

This trip has been truly momentous.  In 12 days we have done about 100 activities.   We have all laughed and cried.  We have all had moments where we pushed our limits past our comfort zones and proved our bravery.  We have learned so much about this amazing country,  it's history and it's people.  I don't think that any of us can choose a favorite moment or even a favorite day.  We are a closer family for having taken this adventure together. 

Mom and dad (Bubby and Zayde), "Thank you" does not properly express my gratitude and I am not enough of a poet to to come up with the best words.

Shelly, I think Hunter said best how we feel about you.  We love you.  You are now an honorary member of our family.  Thank you so much for leading us on this journey and for sharing both your knowledge about Israel and your love of the country.  We are the luckiest family for having you as our guide.

Shalom, Israel!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Most difficult/fun day

Today was truly the most emotionally exhausting day and the most fun.

While the grandparents took the kids to the biblical zoo, the other adults spent an emotional few hours at Yad Vashem, the halocaust museum.  I don't need to get into the details of the visit here except to say that it was necessary and tough and everyone should go if presented with the opportunity.

What I want to talk about was our archeological dig in the afternoon.   We arrived drained from this crazy week and tough morning but were quickly excited by the archeologists who took us down into the cave and set us loose digging for ancient artifacts.  Some of us have done these digs before and didn't expect much.  Immediately,  though, shouts of discoveries started echoing through the cave.  We were all quickly filling our "find buckets" with huge pottery shards and bones from 2000 years ago.  We were stunned at the sizes and amounts and in awe that we were digging in a live dig and making truly exciting discoveries.  Just as we were all planning our new careers as archeologists,  they announced that this phase was over and it was time to bring our buckets of dirt to the surface for sifting.  We were all pretty disappointed and slowly made our way to the sunlight with our buckets. ..again, with low expectations to find anything else.

As Rob , Hunter, Noah and I started to sift our first bucket, I picked up a tiny black something that I figured was another tine piece of charcoal when I realizedthat it had an interesting shape.  Upon closer inspection,  I realized that it was a bead.   I handed it to the real professionals and continued my sifting.  A few moments later, I heard excitement and turned around to see that they had cleaned off the bead and it revealed gold stripes.  It was beautiful!  

To finish the experience,  we crawled and climbed through a cool underground tunnel. 

Of everything we have experienced here, this dig was hands-down my favorite.

Last night in Jerusalem

Tonight is our last night in Jerusalem... Also our last night in Israel.

This morning, while the children went to the zoo with Bubbe and Zeidi, the remaining four of us went for a guided walk through Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum.

Words cannot describe the experience. I was in tears before we made it down the first hallway. It wasn't the numbers or back story, but rather the individual tales... The photos and filmstrips of real men, women, and especially children who were violently and heartlessly corralled, and eventually slaughtered by the Nazis. Without mass media or internet, Hitler successfully persuaded a chilling number of people to fear those who are different, to try to banish then, and ultimately to try to destroy them.
We say "never again," not simply because of what happened in the 1940s... But rather because the risk remains.
The gut wrenching trip through Yad Vashem underscores the need for a Jewish state where the persecuted can live and flourish. It was painful but appropriate to wind down our Israeli tour with this somber and sobering experience.

FORTUNATELY, the day got brighter. We met up with the grandparents and grandkids who had enjoyed the zoo. After lunch we ventured out, skirting in and out of the west Bank until we made our way to a fantastic, and recently uncovered archeological dig.  With picks and shovels we excavated fragments of pottery and even a few rare and unusual pieces of metal and jewelry. Both kids and adults enjoyed digging through the dirt in the cool shelter of an underground cave. After sifting through our findings, most of us crawled through another excavated cave, with multiple chambers lit only by candles, and separated by narrow passageways.
I am continually amazed at the complex engineering that took place even thousands of years ago.
This was the time and place of the Maccabees.
As I showered off back at the hotel, I watched the dirt run down the drain and I wondered: who else wore that dirt 2000 years before me?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Abby's favorite things in Israel

My favorite things I did in Israel so far are the donkey rides camel rides and the food tasting!!! Have an amazing rest of the trip. 🌻🌼🌸🌹🌷

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Abby has been even more excited about eating falafel than I am. Although I think we've about had our fill now.

Here is a picture of falafel #3, from a small bar/food stand in the Old Train Station Plaza. This one was excellent and had the best combination of salad toppings.

The second picture is the restaurant where Abby had falafel #4, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. She must have loved it, because I never got a picture of this falafel. I opted for shwarma this time, with the works, which include grilled onions, hummus, tahini, and salad. It's a good thing we've been very active this trip, so we can enjoy all of the delicious food!

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I'm having technical difficulties, so it looks like I'll have to add the pictures later.

Jerusalem: Day 4

First thing this morning we went to Masada. We took a cable car up. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting (I hate heights as well as enclosed spaces.) It was a fast cable car too! We got to look down on the people hiking up the mountain.

After we got up, we did a bunch of stuff touring the fortress which was actually really cool! We also took the cable car down. Didn't like that as much.

After Masada we went to the Dead Sea. I was hesitant at first to get in (Or more realistically flat-out refused to go in until half our time was up) but it also took a great deal of effort getting me out. Once I got in I loved it. It was soooooooooooooooooooooo weird though! But... I liked it anyway. Yup: that's me!

After the Dead Sea (I would've stayed there all day) we went to this camel-riding thingy. I did not like it AT ALL. For one thing, it was only like five minutes (Not complaining) and it took like 20 minutes to get there and I don't even wanna know how long to get back. Second: The camels were... How should I say this...? Interesting. Another thing is that we- that is they- were walking right on the edge. And I mean right on the edge. Of a "cliffish"/" mountainish" kind of thing. And our camel, when it was laying down so we could get off, instead of gradually, slowly, comfortably, going down like the other ones, it just when "Thump!" and I didn't and probably couldn't have, but I felt like a almost fell off. It was definitely NOT among my favorite things so far.

Overall, it was a good day, and the Dead Sea ended up being being my favorite thing on the trip so far. Pay attention to the "so far" though. My favorite thing may change. The Dead Sea was pretty cool though.

Oh! And I almost forgot! We're going to this light show in the Old City! I'll post about it tomorrow if I have time.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jerusalem: Day 3

Today we went to some old irrigation cave thingies from King David's time in the Old City in Jerusalem. Honestly, I am claustrophobic so it wasn't all that enjoyable for me, all though clearly most of the other dweebs loved it. How...?

Anyway, after the caves we did a bunch of other stuff in the Old City, and okay: some of it was pretty cool. We were kinda rushing at lunch but it was reeeeeeeeeeeeaaaally good. I had a שוורמא wrap that my uncle didn't finish. I could've easily eaten at least a whole one of them. Probably more.

Some time after lunch, most of the other dweebs went on another underground tunnel tour; this time of the כותל, I stayed behind with Mrs. Dweeb and our great guide, Shelly. She took us for some other stuff which was actually awesome. I got to do a lot of puzzle/logic/math/etc. type stuff which I loooooooooove. I figured out about how much the heaviest stone in the temple weighs (1,600,000 pounds) and how the temple was destroyed with fire (It was built of limestone, which has lots of pores and the smoke from the fire, which there was an excess of 'cause of the wood in between the blocks of stone, got into the pores and the smoke expanded because of the heat causing the stones to explode) and stuff like that.

But yeah anyway, today was pretty good and tomorrow is gonna be soooooooooooooooooooooo hot and tiring (Dead Sea, Massada, camel riding, etc.) I'm hoping for good dinner tonight.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jerusalem, Day 2

Mornings start early in Jerusalem, even on Sundays. By 6am, I could here the sounds of cars on the streets and construction trucks backing up. Despite that noise, the kids remained fast asleep as they recovered from our first day in Jerusalem.
Today we will continue our tradition of waking up early for a large Israeli breakfast. We also continue the tradition of drafting the kids out of bed, which has proven to be one of the most consistent challenges of the trip. Even Jacob wants to stay in bed!I think the late nights are catching up with us.

Or itinerary today includes a guided tour of the old city including some excavation sites and underground aquifers. Looking forward to seeing how history of literally being uncovered at these archeological sites.



Jerusalem day 1

Yesterday, we drove from the north down to Jerusalem.   On the way we stopped at in Tzfat, my favorite Israeli town and, although we were not there long, we got a nice taste of the town (not literally this time).  We continued south stopping at a goat/cheese farm for a tasting.   This was not our favorite stop, but to be fair, it had some tough competition.  

Back on the bus for the long drive out of the green north, through the brown west bank and finally up to the golden city of Jerusalem.  

We enjoyed a top notch Shabbat dinner, where almost all of us enjoyed the kiddush wine, including a few first timers which gave us, and them, a nice giggle.
After dinner, we took the boys to Liberty Bell park until they shut off the lights and we took the hint to finally end our day.
We woke this morning, 2 hours later than normal to our much anticipated day off from touring.  The day certainly wasn't wasted as we returned to the park, then to the new train station mall area and then split up and all headed to the old city.

Rob, Hunter and I decided to check out the Christian quarter.   We were feeling a bit lost without a destination or map but enjoyed wandering the market labyrinths and eventually found the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.   I still need to read up on what the place is but it was amazing and ancient and Rob's first taste of this type of ancient architecture.   We let Hunter be our photographer and it turns out that we have a true artist in the family.

We finished the day with a great idea to get some takeout pizza to the park, only to find that the only nearby pizza place does not do takeout (I know, it's crazy, right?)  The pizza was delicious, though, and we are all in bed, resting up for our last 3 days which are sure to be busy and fun.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The North

After another amazing breakfast yesterday at the intercontinental hotel in tel Aviv (it feels like a week ago), we checked out and boarded our bus for our trip to the northern part of the country and a trip back in time. 
Our first stop was to a kibbutz (I cannot remember the name) where we learned about life for the first kibbutznik  settlers.  It was fascinating to learn about just how tough life was and then to learn about how kibbutz life has changed and adapted to modern life.
Our next stop took us all the way back to biblical days.  We made pita and rode donkeys.  I don't have any pictures so we will add them later....these could be the best pictures from the trip.  
Back on the bus and miraculously most of the kids passed out for a nice little nap and then we woke them and all but the littlest boys went rafting down the Jordan river.  Yep, this is still a single day.  This was relaxing and fun (for most of us) and the truly fascinating part was to see all of the different groups both on the river and hanging out on the banks.  There were some American tour groups that were obviously college aged Birthright groups, but there were also ultra orthodox men with life jackets over their ankle length overcoats, groups with Arab girls with leggings and skirts, Israeli school groups, and soldiers.  Everyone was laughing and goofing off in exactly the same way, reminding us that  despite what the news may say, Israel is a country full of fun loving and very normal people who despite dressing differently and believing differently, all love to laugh and be silly
From there we moved into our latest hotel/resort and after cleaning up, met for another amazing buffet.
After dinner, the big kids went back to their rooms while the little boys ran around like madmen amongst the other little kids that are staying here.
This brings me to this morning...some adults will go for a hike while the kids all sleep in and then we will have another crazy day.

Pictures will follow...I only took a few yesterday and the Internet here is terrible.

Falafel #2

Lunch today was at a local restaurant in a Druze village, after a jeep tour of the Golan Heights. The owner brought out a family style spread, as you can see.

This falafel was definitely notch above the first one. Hot and crispy, fresh from the oil, it was almost too hot to pick up right away. The sesame seeds on top gave it a extra nutty flavor. I preferred the texture of this falafel, it was firm but still soft, with more spices. The homemade hummus and tahini were delicious. And best was the labna, slightly salty, almost like a chunky ricotta, with a well of olive oil and zatar.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reflections on Ayalon

Now it's my turn to be up at 3 am. So I'm taking advantage of the packet of Dead Sea bath salts from the hotel and enjoying a rare quiet bath.

Reflecting on our day, I am still amazed by the Ayalon Institute, a clandestine munitions factory that operated under a kibbutz. Literally, 24 feet underground. The complexity of the planning necessary to hide these operations underneath the laundry, taking on enough laundry business from the surrounding community to justify running the noisy washers for twelve hours a day, is something from spy novels. The precision on these operations puts OSHA to shame. The tiniest lapse in hand assembling the bullets would have caused a disastrous explosion. Yet in four years of operations there was only a single injury-causing error, when the young man in charge of cutting the brass casings to length accidentally cut off the tip of his finger. (The guide told me this was truly the only accident that occurred, unless you count the 41 babies conceived during this time.

I'm curious to see how this blog post formats. Apparently Google is defaulting to Hebrew now, and I had to translate the page before writing this post. As I type, the lines are composed right to left, as if I am typing in Hebrew. It's very disorienting and is throwing off my punctuation. I really did pass all of my English classes.

Long day

Barely made it to dessert!

Falafel #1

One of my missions on this trip is a falafel quest. So, today we had our first falafel in Israel. After a ridiculously huge breakfast, and sampling Greek spreads and dolmas, amazing marzipan and meringues, cheese bourekas with hard boiled eggs and flavored rice (which could be its own post), we had to top it off with falafel and Sharma.

I don't know the name of the restaurant, but it was a good first Israeli falafel. It was a fresh and hot, a little chunkier than I'm used to, crispy outside and moist inside. A touch of something sweet. The salad toppings were great. Standard cucumbers and tomatoes, a carrot and parsley salad, and my favorite, roasted red peppers. They also had a super spicy red chili sauce, but nothing these Texans (except a couple) can't handle.

Eating our way around town

No words needed.

Our first full day

Wow.  I can't believe that it's only 4:30.  After a full night's sleep, we all met downstairs for the most amazing breakfast buffet ever.  The Israelis really know how to please everyone...especially us.  Some of us went the savory route with shakshuka, spreads, breads and cheeses while others had sweet pastries.  Hunter had a waffle with chocolate sauce because who needs maple syrup? 

After that giant breakfast we headed to Jaffa for a walking tour through the markets where we continued to eat our way through the city.  We had Greek dips, more breads, more pastries and finished it off with falafel and shwarma.

Somehow we rolled ourselves to the bus to head to the Ayalon clandestine munitions factory to get a little history.

The rest of the day will be spent at the pool, dinner and then another good night's sleep.

Breakfast

After varying amounts of sleep, we all managed to get down to breakfast on schedule. The breakfast buffet at the hotel was overwhelming. There was the standard omelette bar, bagels, eggs, fruit and yogurt. Plus all the Israeli standards, such as an array of chopped salads and veggies, hummus, tahini, shakshuka,  half a dozen types of breads, yogurts and cheeses. And if that wasn't enough, there was lasagna and a miso soup bar.

This is my kind of breakfast. Now we're ready to explore Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Jetlag

Up since 3am. The sun is finally rising now. Fog over the city and the shore. Looking forward to our first Israeli breakfast in about two hours.

Tel Aviv

We are here.  We are hungry.  We are headed out to explore.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

And so it begins

Here we are at the beginning our the first leg of the trip on our way to Philadelphia.  So far so good.  Our 3 families are in separate areas of the plane but Rob and Hunter are already sleeping soundly.  I think we ate all enjoying some peace and quiet before the whirlwind begins.  I've had a nagging feeling that I forgot something and have realized that I forgot hunters bathing suits.  Oops.  Looks like he will be getting a souvenir Israeli bathing suit so no big deal.  I'm actually a little bored since hunter is asleep and somebody already did all 3 soduku and the crossword puzzle of my in flight magazine but don't have much to say since we have barely passed oklahoma.

Happy Birthday, Dweeb Deblet!

What a way to start your birthday! I hope you got to celebrate already, and get some peaceful travel time today.

:-)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Our itinerary

Today is Friday and we leave Dallas this coming Sunday.  I'm sure that we are all busy doing laundry and packing and being generally excited for this trip.

I had originally planned on posting each day's itinerary on that day and then actually read through the itinerary and realized that I will be way too exhausted to do that so here is our itinerary while I still have a some energy.

SEGAL PARTY
PRIVATE TRIP TO ISRAEL
JUNE 7-18, 2015

Day One: Sunday, June 7, 2015
DEPARTURE

§ Depart the U.S.A.

Overnight: Flight

Day Two: Monday, June 8, 2015
ARRIVAL | no guide

§ 3:15 p.m. Arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport with US Airways, flight #796.
§ VIP Welcome by our representative and assistance with arrival formalities.
§ Transfer to Tel Aviv, known as the “city that never sleeps,” with its centers of culture, recreation and national history, great beaches and fine stores.
§ Check into the hotel.
§ Dinner at your own expense at a local restaurant (a reservation can be made).

Overnight: David Intercontinental, Tel Aviv

Day Three: Tuesday, June 9, 2015
FOUNDATIONS OF A CITY AND A STATE     

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
§ 9:00 a.m. Meet your tour guide in the hotel lobby and visit the Jaffa Overlook for an introduction to Tel Aviv at the place where it all began and then walk through the famous Jaffa Flea Market – “Shuk Hapishpishim”.
§ LaDa’at Ethnic Tasting: take a tour through Tel Aviv’s famous Levinsky Market, where you'll find a combination of foods and sweets from all over the Mediterranean and hear the unique stories of the individuals who sell them, with Lunch on own.
§ 2:00 p.m. Drive to the Ayalon Institute near Rehovot for an eye-opening tour of a clandestine munitions factory used during the British Mandate. Return to Tel Aviv.
§ Walk through the Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall, with its bi-weekly crafts fair and eateries; alongside is the colorful Carmel open-air market and across the way Sheinkin Street, with its hip cafés and funky chic shopping.
OR
§ Swimming time at hotel beach!
§ Dinner at your own expense at the renovated Old Port of Tel Aviv, with its wonderful restaurants, cafés and shops, right on the water’s edge.

Overnight: David Intercontinental, Tel Aviv

Day Four: Wednesday, June 10, 2015  
TO THE GALILEE

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
§ Check out of the hotel and drive north along the the Trans-Israel Highway for a close-up view of the ‘Security Barrier along the seam zone between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
§ 10:30 a.m. Visit Kibbutz Ein Shemer for a unique kibbutz experience; go back in time to the early days of the kibbutz to see – feel – smell and taste the different aspects the kibbutz has and learn how it changed from the time the kibbutz was established till today.
§ Lunch at your own expense en route.
§ 1:30 p.m. Visit Kfar Kedem in the Galilee for a hands-on family experience, exploring Jewish life of 2,000 years ago, including donkey rides, costumes, pita baking and more.
§ 4:00 p.m. Drive to the Upper Galilee and enjoy rafting or kayaking down the Jordan River.
§ Check into the hotel.
§ Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Kibbutz Hagoshrim Hotel, Upper Galilee

Day Five: Thursday, June 11, 2015
SERENITY AND SECURITY IN THE GOLAN

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
§ Walk through the Tel Dan Nature Reserve, located on the largest tributary of the Jordan River, and explore the ruins of the great Biblical city of Dan.
§ 10:30 a.m. Take a Jeep tour off-road up the Golan Heights in the footsteps of Israeli soldiers and their battles in the Six-Day War. Enjoy the beautiful natural scenery and gain an insight into the strategic complexity of the Golan.
§ Visit a Druze village for a window into the unique world of the Israeli Druze community, with lunch at your own expense.
§ 2:00 p.m. Enjoy the culinary delights of a chocolate workshop at the De Karina Chocolate Factory at Kibbutz Ein Zivan.
§ The panoramic views from Mt. Bental (overlooking the abandoned Syrian town of Kuneitra) give sharp insights into Israel’s security situation on the Golan Heights, and the enormous challenges it faced in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
§ Return to the hotel and time to enjoy the pool and for the adults, a chance to relax at the hotel spa.
§ Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Kibbutz Hagoshrim Hotel, Upper Galilee



Day Six: Friday, June 12, 2015
ASCENDING TO JERUSALEM

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
§ Check out of the hotel and drive to Tsfat,  center of Jewish mysticism for hundreds of years and a contemporary artists’ colony, including:
§ Guided visits to the Ari, Caro or Abuhav Synagogues with their great stories and mystical messages.
§ A stroll through the quaint Artists’ Colony and shop in the galleries and crafts shops.
§ Drive south past Tiberias on the shores of Lake Kinneret and the Jordan Valley.
§ 12:30 p.m. Hands-on experience in modern-day goat farming at the Az-Iz Goat Farm, with cheese-tasting.
§ Lunch at your own expense.
§ Upon entering Jerusalem, stop on Mt. Scopus to recite the traditional “shehechiyanu” blessing.
§ Check into the hotel and time to prepare for Shabbat.
§ Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel (Western Wall).
§ Festive Shabbat dinner at the hotel

Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem

Day Seven: Saturday, June 13, 2015
SHABBAT IN JERUSALEM | no guide

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
§ Optional Shabbat Services.
§ Free Shabbat in Jerusalem for an opportunity to explore (on own):
§ The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem, for a walk through the city’s history – with observation points, an animated film and visual and audio-visual aids – from the time of Abraham to the end of the British Mandate over Palestine.
§ Walk through Jerusalem’s famous Old City Market (shuk).
§ The Biblical Zoo, a beautifully landscaped habitat with a special focus on preserving Biblical fauna, geared to children of all ages (2-80).
§ Ben Kodesh Lechol: Havdallah overlooking the Old City.
§ Dinner at your own expense, perhaps on trendy Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony.

Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem



Day Eight: Sunday, June 14, 2015
THE LAYERS OF JERUSALEM

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
§ Proceed to Old City and begin with an exploration of the excavations at the City of David, the very core of ancient Jerusalem; view the Gihon Spring and wade through the 2,700-year-old water tunnel of King Hezekiah (optional dry exit).
§ Stop at the Kotel (Western Wall) and experience the special atmosphere of this holy site and then walk through the Western Wall Tunnel, the underground continuation of the Western Wall alongside the Temple Mount (Western Wall Tunnel entrance at 1:10 p.m.).
§ Lunch at your own expense in the Jewish Quarter and continue with a walking tour to archaeological treasures and other highlights, among them:
§ The Cardo, the main street of Jerusalem in the 6th century.
§ King Hezekiah’s First Temple-period “Broad Wall”.
§ A walk along the Rooftops of the Old City for a behind-the-scenes look at the various communities in Jerusalem and how they live alongside each other.
§ Return to the hotel.
§ Dinner at your own expense, perhaps at the Old Train Station Plaza, a central neighborhood hub for food, entertainment, culture, and enrichment.

Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem

Day Nine: Monday, June 15, 2015
INTO THE DESERT, MASADA AND THE DEAD SEA

§ Early breakfast at the hotel.
§ Drive to the Dead Sea Basin and ascend by cable-car to Masada, Herod’s mountain palace and the 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.
§ Lunch at your own expense.
§ Short hike to Nahal David, the freshwater spring and waterfalls in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, where David hid from King Saul.
§ Experience the weightlessness of the Dead Sea as you float in its waters.
§ Return to Jerusalem.
§ 4:00 p.m. Stop for a camel ride through the desert in Biblical-style.
§ Free time in the Mamilla pedestrian arcade, a very contemporary shopping area with a whiff of the past, located outside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City; dinner at your own expense.
§ 9:30 p.m. The Night Spectacular at the Tower of David Museum: The walls of the Citadel serve as a stage for a nighttime show – a celebration of sight and sound – that depicts the story of Jerusalem.

Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem



Day Ten: Tuesday, June 16, 2015
MEMORY & RENEWAL

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
Adults:
§ 9:00 a.m. Visit the Yad Vashem complex, the Jewish National Memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, including:
§ The Avenue of the Righteous
§ The new Historical Museum
§ The Children’s Memorial
Kids with Anna and Irwin:
§ The renewed and wonderfully creative Israel Museum, with its wide-ranging and eclectic collection, from Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls, to Jewish Life and Art, European art, contemporary Israeli art and the open-air model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period.
All:
§ Lunch at your own expense.
§ Depart Jerusalem towards Beit Guvrin.
§ 2:00 p.m. Take part in an archaeological dig at the Beit Guvrin Caves; prepare to get your hands dirty uncovering pottery from the Hellenistic period, 2,300 years ago, followed by a crawl through the Maresha Cave Labyrinth (crawling is optional). Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park was recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
§ Return to Jerusalem.
§ Free Evening in Jerusalem on Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall or on Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony, with dinner at your own expense.

Overnight: Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem

Day Eleven: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
A MOSAIC OF ISRAEL

§ Breakfast at the hotel.
§ Join Friends Bat Mitzvah ceremony at Robinson's Arch.
§ Experience the sights, smells, and tastes of Jerusalem while walking through the Machaneh Yehuda open-air market, with lunch at your own expense.
§ Engage in a dynamic family experience at the Kol Ha’Ot Art Gallery. Through the magical power of the arts and the special atmosphere of the location, grapple with Jewish texts in a transformative, interactive program that will leave you with a long-lasting family memory.
§ Free time for last minute shopping and packing.
§ Dinner at your own expense.
§ Late check-out from the hotel and transfer to the airport to check in for the departure flight, with VIP assistance.
§ 11:30 p.m. Fly with US Airways flight #797 to the US.

Overnight: Flight

Day Twelve: Thursday, June 18, 2015
ARRIVAL HOME

§  Arrive back in Dallas.