USCJ 55+ Israel Journey
The Magic of Israel for Mature Adults
Join staff from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and fellow Jewish mature (and not so mature) adults 55+ as we travel to Israel for a memorable journey in the Land of Milk & Honey. Together we will experience the magic of Jerusalem, the thrill of the Dead Sea, and the beauty of the Galilee. The program includes visits to Israel’s must-sees along with wonderful cultural experiences, an authentic Shabbat in Jerusalem, insightful speakers, and meals at top Israeli restaurants. References available upon request.
Upcoming Trip Dates
Each trip can be combined with a 3-day/3-night extension package to Eilat & Petra at the end of the main tour. Participation is limited and programs typically sell out.
• November 3 – November 14, 2013
• March 9 – March 20, 2014
Get a feel for trip by exploring picture from past seasons: Fall '12 | Spring '12 | Fall '11 | Spring '11 | Fall '10
Quick Program Links
USCJ 55+ Israel Experiences are led by Jo-Anne Tucker-Zemlak and other professionals. The tour is also led by an English-speaking, licensed Israeli guide who accompanies the group on a 24/7 basis. Our guides are charismatic informal educators who share the story of Israel with energy and pride. The program is also staffed by an Israeli host who supports the trip as a whole. Last but not least, we travel on a private luxury touring bus with a dedicated bus driver. More than just sharing the story of Israel, our staff strives to create a sense of community among the individual travelers. Participants often return home with lasting friendships and a more meaningful experience in Israel as a result.
Organized in Partnership with USCJ
USCJ 55+ Israel Experiences are organized in partnership with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. USCJ is the umbrella of the Conservative Movement in North America, and our tour in Israel embodies the values and traditions of Conservative Judaism. Membership or prior affiliation with a USCJ synagogue is not necessary to participate in the tour.
An Active Tour
Each day is full of travel experiences that are designed to provide you with the full flavor of Israel. Although the program does not have any formal age limits, the itinerary involves a good amount of walking and some long touring days in general. Participants who wish to take a break from the active schedule can opt-out of certain experiences along the way.
Independent and Group Travel
Although USCJ 55+ Israel Experiences are group tours, there are ample opportunities for personal exploration. In particular, Saturday and Sunday in Jerusalem are designed to be less structured days with many optional tours. In general, no activities are mandatory, and participants can opt out of any programming. We only ask that you coordinate with our guide in such cases. Finally, participants are encouraged to arrive to Jerusalem before the program starts or stay after the program ends. We can extend your reservation at the group hotels accordingly.
The following are some of the highlights of the USCJ 55+ Israel Journey. A confirmed itinerary will be distributed approximately two months prior to the program and is subject to some change
SUNDAY, DAY 1 | Depart for Israel
Meet fellow travelers for our group flight departing from New York City (non-stop), or arrange you own flight to Israel. Spend the night in the sky en route to Israel.
MONDAY, DAY 2 | Dreaming of Modern Israel
Arrive to Israel in the morning, meet our local Israeli guide, and the ascent to Jerusalem begins. After a traditional shecheyanu prayer at the Haas Promenade overlooking the Old City, we start our journey at the Theodore Herzl Museum on Mt. Herzl where Israel’s founders and heads of state are buried. Here we trace the history of Zionist thought from its inception to the present. From Mt. Herzl we check-in to our centrally located hotel to relax before formal program introductions and a delicious dinner at Jerusalem’s Shayanne Restaurant. Overnight: Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem [Meals Provided: Dinner]
TUESDAY, DAY 3 | Cosmopolitan Tel Aviv
Transfer to Tel Aviv in the morning where we recount the struggle for a Jewish State at the Palmach Museum followed by a visit to Independence Hall where we relive the founding of modern Israel. Celebrate the vibrancy of Tel Aviv by strolling down the street festival along Nahalat Binyamin. Continue on through Tel Aviv’s historic “White City” district – which was recently recognized as a UNESCO world-heritage site for its unique Bauhaus architecture. Our visit to Tel Aviv concludes on a somber note at Rabin Square Memorial, the site of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. Return to Jerusalem in the early evening to close out the day at Jerusalem’s picturesque Anna Ticho Restaurant. Overnight: Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Dinner]
WEDNESDAY, DAY 4 | The Old City of Jerusalem
Step back in time to the foundations of Jerusalem’s Old City. Enter the Jewish Quarter via the Zion Gate and explore the alleyways, rooftops and squares of the Jewish Quarter – including the ancient Cardo market. Our experience culminates with a visit to the Kotel – the Western Wall – as well as a tour of the Southern Wall Excavations and the Kotel Tunnels. Dinner tonight is in the Mamilla pedestrian shopping center at Herzl Restaurant. Overnight: Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Dinner]
THURSDAY, DAY 5 | The Judean Desert
Wake up early and journey to the lowest place on earth – the Judean Desert. Ascend Masada via the cable cars and tour Herod’s mountaintop fortress and palace. From Masada, travel to the Dead Sea where we float on its salty waters and relax in the thermal hotsprings at Ein Gedi Spa. Wrap-up the day with a traditional desert tent feast at Eretz Breisheit. Overnight: Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Dinner]
FRIDAY, DAY 6 | Contemporary Jerusalem
Begin the day with a visit to the newly rededicated Israel Museum – including the Dead Sea Scrolls and Temple Model complex/ Friday is a special day in Jerusalem, and we invite you to experience the energy of pre-Shabbat shopping at Mahane Yehuda marketplace. As the sun begins to set we reconvene as a group to prepare for Shabbat – the day of rest. Optional Kabbalat Shabbat services will be held at a local synagogue followed by a festive Shabbat dinner at the hotel. Overnight: Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner]
SATURDAY, DAY 7 | Shabbat in Jerusalem
Join optional Shabbat services followed by lunch at Jerusalem’s Fuchsberg Center. In the afternoon we take a walking tour of Jerusalem’s colorful neighborhoods. After marking Shabbat’s end with the Havdallah service, the evening is free to explore Jerusalem nightlife on your own. Overnight: Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Lunch]
SUNDAY, DAY 8 | Loss and Renewal
Today is our final day in Jerusalem, and we begin the day with an emotional visit to the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial. Our afternoon program includes a visit to the Chagall Windows at Hadassah Hospital and a tree planting ceremony in the Jerusalem Bird Observatory next to the Knesset – Israel’s parliament. Alternatively, take the afternoon off and explore Jerusalem on your own. Dinner this evening is hosted by a local Masorti Movement synagogue in Jerusalem Overnight: Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Dinner]
MONDAY, DAY 9 | Along the Mediterranean Coast
We begin our travels northward along the Mediterranean Coast with a stop at the Caesarea amphitheater on the beach. Continue northwards and explore the Talmudic-era catacombs at Beit Shearim catacombs en route. We check-in this evening to kibbutz accommodations in the Galilee where we will take a short tour of the kibbutz community and enjoy a fresh dinner. Overnight: Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Dinner]
TUESDAY, DAY 10 | Mystics of the Galilee
We begin our day with a walking tour of the Hula Valley Nature Reserve – a world famous site for observing migratory birds. From the valley we head to Misgav Am, a highpoint with a view that looks out on Israel and Lebanon. Our touring concludes in Tsfat – the worldwide center of Kabbalah – high in the hills of the Galilee. Here we explore the ancient alleyways of this picturesque town and learn about the unique development of Jewish thought that has transpired here through the course of Jewish history. We close out the day with a sunset cruise on the Sea of Galilee followed by dinner at Decks Restaurant along the Tiberias shoreline. Overnight: Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar Guest House [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Dinner]
WEDNESDAY, DAY 11 | Looking Back, Looking Forwards
This is our final day in Israel, and before traveling back towards the airport near Tel Aviv, we take a moment to ascend the Golan Heights for a view from the Mitzpe L’Shalon lookout point. From the Golan we head south along the Jordan Valley to reflect on the pioneering accomplishments of early Zionism at “Old Gesher” as well as touring the extensive Roman-era archeological complex at Beit Shean. From the Jordan Valley we head high into the Carmel Mountains for a walking tour of Zichron Yaacov – one of the first towns established as part of the Zionist Movement of the 19th century. Following dinner we return to Ben Gurion Airport to say our goodbyes prior to boarding the overnight group flight back to North America. [Meals Provided: Breakfast / Dinner]
THURSDAY, DAY 12 | SHALOM!
Our group flight arrives back to the New York area in the early morning after ten days in Israel full of new experiences, new insights, and new friendships.
Eilat Extension Package + Petra Day Tour
Cap off your journey in Israel with a 3-night/3-day extension to Eilat – Israel’s Red Sea resort town. Before heading back to the United States, relax at the Dan Panorama resort hotel on the water. Enjoy Eilat’s warm climate, beautiful views, and unique tropical ocean attractions. Package includes round trip domestic flights to/from Eilat, accommodations at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Eilat, breakfast daily and all Shabbat meals. An optional privately guided day tour of Petra in Jordan is available. Learn More: Eilat Extension Package Trip Sheet
Program Costs & Terms
INCLUDED IN TRAVEL PACKAGE
• Roundtrip group flights from/to New York or option to arrange own flights (Getting to Israel)
• Hotel accommodations according to itinerary (program costs based on double room occupancy)
• Licensed English-speaking Israeli tour guide and deluxe touring bus daily
• All entrance fees, activity costs, and special guests/speakers
• Two group meals meal per day (Kosher)
• Local taxes, porterage, and gratuities at meals
NOTE: Israeli citizens may be subject to VAT (tax) at hotels.
• Not Included: One meal/day, travel insurance and guide/driver gratuities (suggested $115/traveler)
PROGRAM COSTS: Core Program
• Air & Land Package from New York: $3,600*
• Land Only Package: $2,200
• Single Rooming Supplement Fee: $650
• Travelers Insurance: Learn More
*Group flights are confirmed approximately ten months prior to the start of the program. The “Air & Land Package” price is subject to change till that time based on the final confirmed flight information.
PROGRAM COSTS: Eilat Extension
• Eilat Extension Package: $750
• Eilat Extension Single Supplement Fee: $250
• Petra Day Tour: $240
PAYMENT & CANCELLATION TERMS
A $250/person deposit is due with registration. The balance of program costs is due 120 days before the trip. Please note that participants who cancel within 120 days of the program start date will receive a refund, minus the $250/person deposit. Participants who cancel between 90 and 45 days before the program start date will be eligible for a refund, minus a $1000 cancellation fee. Participants who cancel within 45 days of the program start date are not eligible for a refund. All cancellations must be made in writing, and participants are encouraged to take out trip cancellation insurance. Airlines may adjust fuel surcharge until time of ticketing. Program costs are subject to change accordingly.
To sign-up for an upcoming program download the Registration Form
Completed registration forms may be submitted by fax to 1-202-315-3269 or by mail to:
Attn: USCJ 55+ Israel Experiences
5185 MacArthur Blvd, NW #640
Washington, DC 20016
Program is subject to availability. Confirmation of participation will be sent upon receipt of registration.
Detailed pre-trip preparation material and program luggage tags are distributed approximately three months prior to arrival in advance of the payment due date. Participants will also be invited to a trip Facebook group in order to "meet" fellow travelers before the program and stay in touch afterwards.
Getting to/from Israel
Participants can opt to join a group flight from NYC or can be responsible for arranging their own air travel to/from Israel. If you are arranging your own travel to Israel, we encourage you to book flights that mirror the group flight. If you are arriving on a separate flight, we will confirm a meeting plan with you. Participants planning to be in Jerusalem before the arrival date can be accommodated at the arrival hotel by prior arrangements. NOTE: A car transfers from the airport to our Jerusalem hotel is not included for travelers arriving to Israel on their own, but it can be arranged upon request.
At the end of the program, participants will be escorted back to Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday evening in time to catch overnight flights back to North America (departing between 10:30pm and 1:00am the next day). Participants on return flights outside of this window can be accommodated by special arrangement, and additional fees will apply.
NOTE: Please send us your confirmed travel plans as soon as you have finalized them.
USCJ Israel Experiences are designed to be an experience – not just a tour. With that in mind, we have assembled an Israel Sources & Resources document. You will receive a printed copy in Israel and we encourage you to read it over in advance to put the experience in context.
Passport & Visa Rules
All participants must have valid passports in order to travel to Israel. If your passport expires within six months of your entry date to Israel, you will need to get your passport renewed prior to arrival in Israel. If you have a passport from a country other than the United States or Canada, you may need to apply for a visa in order to enter Israel. Additionally, if you have an Israeli passport, you must present it upon entry to Israel. NOTE: Israeli citizens are subject to VAT fees at our group hotels.
Local Health Insurance
Separate from travel insurance (see below), Authentic Israel offers optional local health insurance in Israel that covers treatment and medication for non pre-existing conditions. The policy carries no deductible or co-pay, and there are no claims to submit. Even if you have coverage at home that extends abroad, you would need to pay out of pocket in Israel and file a claim with your insurance when you return home. This local Israeli policy is a very easy way to receive medical care in Israel without any paperwork or reimbursement process. Detailed policy information is available upon request. The cost of the policy for the ten-day USCJ Family Israel Experience is according to the following age groupings:
• Up to age 65 – $25/person ($30/person including the Eilat extension)
• Ages 66-75 – $60/person ($72/person including the Eilat extension)
• Ages 76-85 – $70/person ($84/person including the Eilat extension)
One of the best decisions we have ever made was to join your tour for our first trip to Israel. You and your staff made our trip a great experience and we are very grateful.
- Carol & Len, Pennsylvania
This trip was beyond my expectation - we saw and learned so much. Being in Israel makes me so proud of the Israelis and being a Jew.
- Bobbie, Maryland
I met the most lovely and interesting fellow travelers. We all got along so well. Great trip for first-timers to Israel and those of us who continue to return again and again.
- Marge, Washington, DC
This trip was everything we could have asked for and more. Leaders and guides were superb. What a fantastic overview of Israel's past and present!
- John & Phylicia, Pennsylvania
I entered Israel as an intellectual friend and left as a passionate lover.
- Wendy & Dave, New York
As a first-time traveler to Israel, I cannot imagine a better trip. No wasted time; hit all the high points - historically, culturally, and spiritually interesting and rewarding. Plus, lots of fun, and at a great price. What else can anyone ask for?
- Jerry & Debby, Maryland
We sent our children to Israel, and now it was time for us to see what they were talking about!
- Jackie & Steve, New York
Great, great trip home.
- Joe & Marion, New Jersey
It’s probably been said before, but I think it can never be said too often, every Jew in the United States should go to Israel at least once in their lifetime. This trip brought back my birthright to me. Thank you!
- Benita, California
The trip was great, fun and quite a learning experience. Seeing everything I’ve heard about, or read about thru the years, made me realize “it really happened”.
- Joan & Dave, Florida
This was one the highlight vacations that we ever have taken. We have been traveling to various parts of the world for a long time. This was our third trip to Israel and what made this so special was the attentiveness to our wants and needs, you went above and beyond and adding extra "sightseeing” along the way. It was a joy to see how Israel had changed and prospered.
- Leo & Doris, Connecticut
A trip to Israel is a very emotional experience but seeing it through the eyes of someone as passionate as Jo-Anne enhances the trip even more.
- Sharon, Maryland
You had me at Shalom! Welcome home!
- Andy, New York