Friday, June 08, 2012

My Recent Trip to Israel

Until last month, every tour that I had led in Israel was of a student group under the auspices of an educational institution. For that reason, I could never reply with personal experience to inquiries about which travel agent to use, which tour guide to hire, or similar questions. Several weeks ago I returned from a two-week tour with a group of 45 from my church in the Dallas area. The trip went very well and I thought I might share about some of those who made the trip successful.

For arranging our group flight, we used Shirley Fleig of Group Advantage. Shirley has arranged group travel for The Master’s College ever since I first traveled to Israel in 1990. She has always done an outstanding job and this time was no different. (Note: Group Advantage arranges travel for groups only.)

Several friends recommended I contact Yoni Gerrish of Jerusalem Cornerstone Foundation to be our land agent. Yoni is a licensed tour guide who has some similar educational background to me. I appreciated his flexibility and excellent prices. I could not ask for anything more than he provided.

I did all of the teaching but for legal purposes we had a licensed Israeli guide traveling with us. Since this was a new experience for me, I had some concerns, but Yehuda Zabari was a perfect partner for the trip and I would happily work with him again.

A friend had a great experience with Elie Mamann at TalknSave and while our group did not end up needing many cellphones, those who did had a smooth experience with Elie.

What would I consider to be the most important places for a two-week study tour of Israel for a physically fit and mentally prepared church group? My schedule answers that question.

I might close by noting that the above does not mean that there are not other excellent agents and guides. I know that there are! But I thought it might be helpful to share my experience for those interested in knowing some of the options.

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Preparing to recite the blessings and curses between Mounts Gerizim and Ebal

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10 Comments:

  • Great itinerary. Four questions:

    1. Were you not afriad the stairs in the Petra hostel would collapse on the way to the roof? I love the view, but the place is a rathole.

    2. Why not go north first and finish in Jerusalem, rather than coming back for a final day?

    3. I'm guessing the OT tombs you mention were just north of the Garden Tomb. Can you get a group in there?

    4. Any issues taking a group to Nablus? What did you do with your Jewish guide on that day?

    By Blogger Al Sandalow, at Fri Jun 08, 10:31:00 AM  

  • 1. No.

    2. This is more than I care to answer right now. Suffice it to say that this is an educational trip, not a tourist pilgrimage. My goal is not to get groups in and out of the country as fast as possible. Everything begins and ends with Jerusalem.

    3. Where we went is not open to the public.

    4. No problems in Nablus. You can make arrangements with regard to the guide.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Fri Jun 08, 10:48:00 AM  

  • Great itinerary! I am an American living in Nazareth and teaching at the Nazareth Baptist School. I invite you to stop by and meet some of the local believers and see the ministry of the school. Every group that visits considers it one of the biggest blessings of their trip (and that's saying a lot in Israel).. As we say in Nazareth, 'Alan wa Sahlan' - Welcome!

    By Blogger RG, at Fri Jun 08, 01:39:00 PM  

  • I would love to visit. Thanks, RG!

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Fri Jun 08, 02:28:00 PM  

  • Todd, any chance of your sharing the 2 quizzes (at least the questions) with us?

    By Blogger G.M. Grena, at Fri Jun 08, 10:31:00 PM  

  • G.M. - No, because I use similar quizzes with my classes and I need to keep them out of circulation.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Fri Jun 08, 10:33:00 PM  

  • I was there in Israel and met a person from Master Collage, Maybe my group and your group did cross path? And we also had Yehuda Zabari for the first few days of our tour, and I like him also.

    By Blogger Peter, at Sun Jun 10, 09:25:00 AM  

  • Hi Peter,

    I was not with a group from The Master's College and if you had Yehuda at the beginning of our tour, it's likely that we had already left the country.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Sun Jun 10, 01:11:00 PM  

  • I would also recommend the services of Tom Powers as a guide. He can be found on the Internet. I have been blessed to have Tom's services when visiting Israel. He is knowledgeable (almost encyclopedic!) and pays careful attention to the visitor's goals and interests in constructing a schedule and itinerary. He packs so much in a day. Well worth it!

    Joe A.

    By Blogger JA, at Mon Jun 11, 09:49:00 AM  

  • Joe,

    I fully agree with your recommendation of Tom Powers. In fact, he joined us for a portion of this tour and I could well have noted his service in the post above. I've said before and still believe to be true that there are very few people alive who know more about Jerusalem than Tom.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Jun 11, 09:59:00 AM  

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