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Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism

May 13, 2024 - May 24, 2024

Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism
Journey to Israel: A Pilgrimage for the Soul
Led by Rabbi Steve Gross
See the Land of Israel through ancient and modern lenses
Connect your personal story with our people's history in Israel
Experience first-hand Israel's challenges and triumphs
Monday, May 13, 2024
  • Various arrivals to Ben Gurion airport from Houston.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Beach Hotel, Tel Aviv
Tuesday, May 14, 2024
  • Breakfast and check-out of hotel
  • Travel to the Negev Desert.
  •  Guided exploration of biblical Tel Beer Sheba, including walking through its ancient water system.
  • Jeep tour to explore Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater) to discover magnificent desert landscapes and a fascinating geological window into the earth’s past.   Enjoy the extraordinary palette of colors of your first sunset in the Land of Israel.
  • Check-in to hotel.
  • Dinner at hotel
Overnight: Kedma Hotel, Sde Boker
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Masada and The Dead Sea
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Ascend Masada via cable car for a guided visit through the site, including opportunity to view Second Temple Period mosaics and an exploration of the symbolism and questions that arise from the Masada story and their implications for Jewish life today.
  • Float in the Dead Sea at a Dead Sea resort.
  • Lunch at hotel
  • Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the hotel’s luxurious recreational and spa facilities or participate in some of the optional desert activities:
    • Option – Run, Walk or Bike (equipment rental not included).
  • Dinner at hotel
  • Optional Night Stargazing.
Overnight: Kedma Hotel, Sde Boker
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Jerusalem: Ancient and Holy
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • View the Zin Valley from David Ben Gurion’s Gravesite at Sde Boker and discuss the place of the desert in the beginnings of Judaism and Jewish peoplehood.
  • Travel to Jerusalem
  • As you enter Jerusalem, pause for a view the Old City of Jerusalem and Temple Mount, a moment for collective memory, reflection and Shehecheyanu.
  • Discover the archaeological story of the Western Wall and episodes of Jewish life in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago at Robinson’s Arch and the Southern Wall Excavations.
  • Visit the traditional prayer area of the Western Wall.
  • Guided walk through the Western Wall Tunnels to discover underground Jerusalem.
  • Lunch on own
  • Tour of Jewish Quarter including the Herodian Mansions, Cardo, Broad Wall and Rooftops.
  • Check in to the hotel in Jerusalem.
  • Free evening
  • Dinner on own
Overnight: Jerusalem, Orient Hotel
Friday, May 17, 2024
Holocaust, Memory and Continuity
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Guided tour of Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum, including the Holocaust History Museum, Avenue of the Righteous and Children’s Memorial.
  • Lunch on your own
  • Visit the bustling open-air Machane Yehuda Market to take in a slice of local life as Jerusalemites prepare for Shabbat.
  • Free time to relax and explore Jerusalem on own.
  • Friday evening Shabbat services – To be determined with Rabbi Gross.
  • Festive Shabbat dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Jerusalem, Orient Hotel
Saturday/Shabbat, May 18, 2024
A Jerusalem Shabbat
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Shabbat morning walk with Rabbi Gross across the new bridge that spans the length of the Valley of Hinnom.
  • Jerusalem: A City of Many Traditions – Return to the Old City to walk along the Ramparts, then continue for a tour of Mount Zion, followed by free time in the Old City Market – The “Suk.”
  • Lunch on own
  • Guided visit through the Christian Quarter, including a segment of the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
  • Return to hotel.
  • Speaker: The Human Mosaic of Israel @ 2023 with social anthropologist Paul Liptz.
  • Havdalah with Rabbi Gross.
  • Free evening
  • Dinner on own in small groups at recommended restaurants
Overnight: Jerusalem, Orient Hotel
Sunday, May 19, 2024
On to the North
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Travel north through the Jordan Valley, with pauses to note the issues that face Israel and its relationship with the West Bank and its population.
  • Guided exploration of the ruins of Beit Shean, once a splendid city of the Roman Decapolis.
  • Lunch on your own
  • Stop at the Kinneret Cemetery for a glimpse into the world of the early and contemporary Zionist pioneers, using poetry and music at the graves of Rachel the Poet and Naomi Shemer, the songwriter of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.
  • Check-in to hotel in northern Israel.
  • Dinner at hotel
Overnight: Upper Galilee, Kibbutz Kfar Giladi Hotel
Monday, May 20, 2024
The Strategic Golan Heights
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Guided tour in the Golan Heights to look at the valley below from old bunkers the way the Syrian army once did, then look out at Syria from strategic Bental.
  • Visit the home of Naseeba Samara in the Druze village of Buq’ata for lunch and a glimpse into the world of the Golan Heights Druze and the ramifications of the Syrian Civil War for their community.
  • Guided bird watching expedition in Agmon Huleh, a ‘paradise for birds and people’ and Israel’s largest wetlands reclamation project, to see thousands of migrating waterfowl come to roost, while riding in a special ‘bird blind wagon’.
  • Dinner at hotel
Overnight: Upper Galilee, Kibbutz Kfar Giladi Hotel
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tzfat and Tzippori
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Guided walk in mystical Tzfat, cradle of Kabbalah  (Jewish mysticism) in the 16th century; see its old synagogues, picturesque alleyways and discover the origins of Judaism’s Friday night service in the city where Lecha Dodi was written.
  • Meeting with a kabbalistic artist to hear how Jewish spirituality influences their work.
  • Lunch on own
  • Explore the ruins of Tzippori, the city where Rabbi Judah Hanasi sealed the Mishna, to see magnificent ancient mosaic pavements, including the “Mona Lisa of the Galilee,” Nile Flood Festival and an ancient synagogue with a wheel of the zodiac on its 1,500 year old floor.
  • Travel to Kfar Kara in the Wadi Ara region for a visit to the home of Amna Kamaana, a Muslim Israeli woman who established a Muslim women’s empowerment initiative and an Arab-Jewish coexistence initiative in her home.
  • Continue to Tel Aviv.
  • Check-in to hotel on Tel Aviv’s Mediterranean coast.
  • Free evening
  • Dinner on own
Overnight: Tel Aviv, Renaissance Hotel
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
The Hebrew City and the Jewish State
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Multimedia tour of the Palmach Museum, following a virtual Palmach unit to discover the story of the elite underground organization which played a critical role in establishing of the State of Israel.
  • Walking tour of historic Neve Tzedek, the neighborhood that gave birth to the “first Hebrew city in 2,000 years”, once home to Zionist cultural pioneers Eliezer Ben Yehuda, S. Y. Agnon and Nahum Gutman.
  • Graffiti tour in the upbeat Florentine neighborhood to see Tel Aviv’s remarkable street art and hear about its social commentary.
  • Lunch on own
  • Stand in front of Independence Hall on Rothschild Boulevard to learn David Ben Gurion declaring Israel’s independence, then hear about the establishment of Tel Aviv at the nearby Founders’ Monument and view the Bauhaus architecture for which central Tel Aviv’s ‘White City’ was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Visit the Israel ParaSport Center in Ramat Gan to learn about its work improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities through sport and the achievements of its paralympic team.
  • Return to hotel for a free evening and dinner on own
Overnight: Tel Aviv, Renaissance Hotel
Thursday, May 23, 2024
Peace, Innovation, Coexistence and Conclusions
  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Guided tour of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa to learn about Israel as the Start-Up Nation and late President Shimon Peres’ vision for a new Middle East, with Speaker on Israel in a New Middle East.
  • Walk in Old Jaffa, the ancient port city whence Jonah tried to flee, and through which King Solomon brought the Cedars of Lebanon for the building of the Temple; today, it is an eclectic, mixed city with art installed in its ancient alleyways.
  • Concluding discussion on top of Tel Jaffa overlooking modern Tel Aviv.
  • Free time to pack, relax, explore on own and get in last-minute shopping.
  • Late check out.
  • Farewell dinner at Goshen Restaurant.
  • Proceed to Ben Gurion International Airport for return flight home.
Overnight: En-route
Friday, May 24, 2024
Arrival to U.S.
Per person, in double-occupancy
Single-occupancy supplement

*Price is based on 20 participants
*Price does not include airfare


1 night Crowne Plaza Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv**
2 nights in Sde Boker, Negev: Kedma Hotel**
3 nights in Jerusalem: Orient Hotel**
2 nights in Northern Israel: Kibbutz Kfar Giladi Hotel**
2 nights + late check-out on final day in Tel Aviv: Renaissance Hotel**

**pending final confirmations

Land Price Includes:

  • One Group Transfer from and one transfer to Ben Gurion Airport
  • Licensed Israeli Government Tour Educator and trained by Makor – 10 days
  • All group Transportation in Israel on a private luxury bus – 9 days
  • Credit Card Fees
  • Hotel Accommodations** per above (including porterage) ** or similar, pending final confirmations
  • All Site Admissions, programs and speakers as per the itinerary


  • Breakfast daily
  • 2 Lunches
  • 6 Dinners
  • Source Materials, Hat, Bag, Map
  • Water on bus daily – 3 bottles/person/day

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Tips for Guide and Driver
  • Meals on own and out of pocket expenses
  • Travel and Medical Insurance (see below for more information)
  • Expenses incurred in case of required Covid testing during the trip or before departure
  • VAT for Israeli Citizens




Upon Registration — Deposit of $500 per participant

January 15, 2024— 50% of Total Payment

April 15, 2024 — Full Payment


Cancel Before January 15, 2024 — Full Refund

Cancel between January 15 and March 1, 2024 — 50% Refund

Cancel between March 1 and April 15, 2024 — 25% Refund

Cancel after April 15, 2024 — No Refund

Please Note: The refund policy will be adjusted with regard to COVID19 developments, to the benefit of the participants. 


For more information, please contact:
Rabbi Steve Gross ([email protected]), or
Rabbi Misha Zinkow (Makor North American liaison), [email protected], or 1-833-GoMakor (1-833-466-2567, Eastern Time Zone)


  • We urge you to purchase cancellation insurance & supplemental medical coverage (which covers pre-existing conditions). This is a smart way to safeguard against life’s surprises.
  • We have made arrangements with SMS-Travel Insurance Center (Israel) of Omaha, Nebraska. SMS has over 25 years of experience as worldwide insurance brokers and can help you choose the policy that best meets your needs. Yonah Engel is our contact person.

Please note regarding the purchase of travel insurance:

  • most insurance policies require purchase within 21 days of your first payment (your $500 deposit) in order to receive maximum coverage (pre-existing conditions, bankruptcy insurance, etc).
  • even if you do not yet know the final trip cost (e.g. flights), write down the amount you do know – and then at a later date, the insurance premium can be amended.
  • trip dates are for the entire period away from home
  • trip costs are all pre-paid expenses (e.g. airfare + land costs)
Phone number: 1-402-404-5205
Mention promo code: IGT-MAKOR

There is no "group flight" for this journey. You are invited to purchase tickets through a travel agent or on the Internet. The “official kick-off” of the journey will be at breakfast on the morning of Tuesday, May 14, 2024. You should depart for Israel on Sunday, May 12, and arrive any time on Monday, May 13. Makor will provide bus transport to the Crowne Plaza on Monday, May 13 for the largest group arrival. Individual arrivals can catch a taxi at Ben Gurion to the hotel. Rooms have been reserved at the Crowne Plaza Beach Hotel for Monday, May 13. The entire group will be taken by Makor to Ben Gurion Airport together at the conclusion of the trip.