Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New flights, now with El Al!

Here's our new flight plan:

February 25, 2013 - depart New York's JFK on El Al flight 8 at 11:50 pm, arriving the next day in Tel Aviv at 5:20 pm

March 8, 2013 - depart Tel Aviv on El Al flight 1 at 1:00 am, arriving at 6:00 am in New York/JFK.

El Al is a great way to travel to Israel!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

New dates, and flight information!

We've adjusted the dates a bit to take advantage of optimal airfares. Here is the current flight info:

  • February 25, 2013 - We leave on Delta flight 879 from Boston to New York/JFK, departing 4:15pm and arriving 5:55pm. 
  • We continue on Delta flight 268 from New York/JFK to Tel Aviv, departing 8:55pm and arriving 2:40pm on February 26. 

  • March 8, 2013 - We leave Israel on Delta flight 269 from Tel Aviv to New York/JFK, departing 12:05am and arriving 5:15am. 
  • We continue on Delta flight 867 from New York/JFK to Boston, departing 8:20am and arriving 9:44am. 

The cost remains $3100, based on current fuel surcharges from the airline.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rabbi Steven Schwarzman, Co-leader

Rabbi Steven Schwarzman is the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Worcester.

He previously served as rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, Maine, and as student rabbi at congregations in New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, and Indiana.

Rabbi Schwarzman was ordained in 2008 by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he was a Neubauer Family Fellow, a Kaplan Fellow, and a Rabbi Bernard Lipnick Endowment Fund Scholar, in addition to having served as a teaching assistant in the Rabbinical School. He was awarded the Raymond Mark Wintrob Memorial Prize for outstanding work in Bible and History in 2008.

Rabbi Schwarzman also has an M.A. cum laude in Contemporary Jewry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he specialized in the study of American Jewry, and a B.A. in Oriental Studies (with honors) and Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

He previously worked as a writer, editor, and translator in Israel and in the United States in organizational, academic, and corporate settings, and is the editor (with Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins) of Enveloped in Light: A Tallit Sourcebook. His writings and translations have appeared in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the National Jewish Post & Opinion, the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, Qedem, and Biblical Archaeology Review.

Rabbi Schwarzman lived in Israel for nine years. He is married and the father of four children.

Fr. Tomasz Borkowski, Co-leader

Fr. Tomasz Borkowski is a native of Poland. He is a Catholic priest of the Worcester Diocese in Massachusetts and has been serving as a chaplain at Worcester Polytechnic Institute since 2010. Prior to that he was a pastor of two parishes in Clinton, MA for seven years. And before that, he served as associate pastor at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Webster and St. Stephen’s church in Worcester. Fr. Tomasz was ordained to the priesthood in 2001 at St. Paul's Cathedral by Bp. Daniel P. Riley. 

In addition to ministering at WPI, Fr. Tomasz is currently pursuing his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. His theological interests lie in New Testament, Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity. Since his seminary years he always was interested in interfaith relations.
Fr. Tomasz’s first visit to Holy Land took place two years ago when together with Rabbi Seth Bernstein and Barbara Kupfer he went on an interfaith pilgrimage to Israel, which is a birthplace and spiritual home to both Jews and Christians. He is looking forward to joining Barbara and Rabbi Steven Schwarzman from Beth Israel on the 2013 Interfaith Trip to Holy Land next year. He invites anyone to join them on this spiritually enriching journey to the land rich in history and religious traditions to learn more about its past and present. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Our Tour Operator

A new way to see Israel and beyond

How much will the trip cost?

The (almost) all-inclusive cost of the package is $3100 per person in double rooms.

This includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare Boston - Tel Aviv - Boston
  • Airport taxes and fuel surcharges
  • Meeting and assistance on arrival at Ben Gurion Airport by our representative
  • Porterage at airport and hotels
  • Air-conditioned bus
  • Transfers on arrival and departure
  • Touring & sightseeing with an English speaking guide
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • 9 nights’ hotel accommodation on a half-board basis
Not included:

  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Any meals not mentioned above
  • Travel insurance (available for purchase)
  • The supplement for a single room is $559


Here are the hotels we plan to stay at:

February 25 – 27 Grand Beach, Tel Aviv
February 27 – March 3 Prima Kings Jerusalem
March 3 – 6 Lavi Galilee Kibbutz Hotel

Our 2013 itinerary!

Day 1, Sunday, February 24, 2013 - Depart USA

Day 2, Monday, February 25 - Arrival in Israel / Jerusalem

Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, where you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel.
Overnight in Tel Aviv two nights.

Day 3, Tuesday, February 26 - Tel Aviv

After breakfast, drive through the highlights of Tel Aviv, the city that “never sleeps”. Tour the Diaspora Museum and the Hall of Independence. Walk in the fascinating streets of Old Jaffa and Nave Zedek. Enjoy the beautiful view of Tel Aviv from Azrieli Tower. This is also one of the biggest shopping malls in Tel Aviv. Return to your hotel for dinner.

Day 4, Wednesday, February 27 - Beit Govrin/ Qumran / Masada / Dead Sea

Depart Tel Aviv to Beit Govrin for a “first hand” archaeological dig. Drive to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, almost 1300 feet (400 meters) below sea level. Stop at Qumran to visit the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Drive along the shores of the Dead Sea to Masada. Ascend by cable car and tour the ancient fortress where the Zealots made their last stand against the Romans before committing mass suicide in 73 AD. Descend by cable car. Enjoy floating on the Dead Sea and drive to Jerusalem. Check in at your hotel. Enjoy dinner and overnight four nights in Jerusalem.

Day 5, Thursday, February 28 - Jerusalem: The Old City

After breakfast, drive to Mount Scopus and then to the Mount of Olives for a magnificent panoramic view of the Old and the New City of Jerusalem. Today we tour the Old City of Jerusalem. First stop on Mt. Zion to see the tomb of King David and the room of the Last Supper. Enter the walled city and walk to the City of David; see the archaeological gardens and tour the Davidson Center. Stop for a prayer at the Western Wall and walk through the newly restored Jewish Quarter. Visit the Roman Cardo, the Herodian Quarter and continue to the Western Wall. Walk along the Via Dolorosa to the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Return to your hotel.

Day 6, Friday, March 1 - Jerusalem: The New City

Drive to Ein Karem to visit the Church of Visitation and proceed to Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust. Visit the Shrine of the Book located at the Israel Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. Tour the model of Jerusalem as it was during the Second Temple period. Proceed to Bethlehem* to visit Rachel’s Tomb and the Church of Nativity. Return to your hotel.

Day 7, Saturday, March 2 - Shabbat (Sabbath) at leisure in Jerusalem

Enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel. Join synagogues in prayer or tour Jerusalem on your own.

Day 8, Sunday, March 3 - Jordan Valley, Beit She'an, Yardenit, Nazareth

Enjoy breakfast and depart Jerusalem. Drive north through the Jordan Valley for about 2.5 hours. We will stop at Beit She’an to see the excavations of the city where the Philistines hung the bodies of Saul and Jonathan. Drive to Yardenit, where the Jordan river leaves the Sea of Galilee, for a baptism ceremony for those who are interested. Drive to Nazareth via Cana of Galilee. Visit the Church of Annunciation, St. Joseph’s workshop and Mary’s Well. Visit Tzipori. Drive to your hotel for dinner and overnight. Overnight at your kibbutz hotel three nights.

Day 9, Monday, March 4 - Around the Sea of Galilee

After breakfast, arrive at the Sea of Galilee and Kibbutz Ginosar to see the ancient boat from the time of Jesus. Take a boat ride to Capernaum to visit the remains of the 2nd century synagogue. Proceed to Tabgha, the site of the Miracle of Fishes and Loaves, and visit the Church of Multiplication with its 4th century mosaic floor. Continue to Mount Arbel for a donkey ride. Tour Mount of Beatitudes, the place where Jesus delivered the sermon on the Mount.

Day 10, Tuesday, March 5 - Dan, Golan, Caesarea Phillippi, and Banias

Enjoy breakfast at the Kibbutz. Start the day with a short hike in the Tel Dan national reserve- a beautiful paradise that lies in the ruins of the ancient city of Dan. Walk the gorgeous trails leading through a dense forest, streams and the Chatzbani River. Continue to the Golan Heights to see the former Syrian bunkers, Kuneitra and the new Israeli town of Katzrin. Learn about the battles, the borders and the beauty of this important and strategic region. Tour Caesarea Phillippi and the Banias Springs. Return to your Kibbutz hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 11, Wednesday, March 6 - Haifa, Megiddo, Caesarea, Tel Aviv, and back home

Depart Galilee and drive along the coastal plain. Stop in Haifa to stand at Mt. Carmel to view the Persian Gardens at the Bahai Temple. Stop at a Druze village to enjoy their hospitality and learn about this unique community. Continue to El-Maharrakah (meaning the “burning”), the site associated with Elijah’s altar. Proceed to Megiddo, identified as the site of Armageddon. Visit the archaeological excavations including the well-preserved water supply system. Stop in Caesarea, capital of Judea under the Romans. Visit the excavations of the ancient city, the Roman theatre and aqueduct. Arrive at Tel Aviv and enjoy farewell dinner before transfer to the airport for your night flight back home.

Barbara Kupfer, Trip Coordinator

"Israel is just a desert."
This is one of the comments Barbara Kupfer of Worcester used to hear from people who had never seen Israel. And she decided to do something about it. In 2011, she brought together a priest and a rabbi to lead the first interfaith trip from Worcester to Israel. Almost 30 Christians and Jews from central Massachusetts joined together to see firsthand what life is like in modern Israel and to jointly experience each other's holy places in the Holy Land.
With a background in marketing and sales, and many trips to Israel over the last fifty years, Barbara networked to build the first of these trips and is looking forward to many more trips to build interfaith understanding in New England.

Our Guide, Carol Ann

Our guide for the trip, Carol Ann, is a native of New Jersey who has been living in Israel since 1967. She is a graduate of Oxford University and speaks five languages. She works as a licensed tour guide in Israel and has helped Christian, Jewish, and interfaith groups understand all aspects of life in Israel, both ancient and modern since 1990.
Carol Ann has served as the guide for the New England Israel Interfaith trips since 2011.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What is the New England Israel Interfaith Trip?

We're a group of Christians and Jews, from Worcester and other parts of Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England. And we will be traveling together to Israel, the Holy Land, in early 2013.

This is not the first such trip. A similar group went from Worcester to Israel in 2011 (and this year's group is likely to include several people from the first group who want to experience the ancient and modern country of Israel again). We will learn from and with each other, and we will learn about ourselves and our own faith as we walk in the footsteps of our ancestors.

Plans and details are subject to change, but here is the current program: we will set out for Israel on Sunday, February 24, 2013, and return on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Good thing we can fly there, unlike earlier generations of pilgrims!