Off the Beaten Path – 2017 – Recap

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Off the Beaten Path – 2017 – Recap
Dan Stolebarger

The idea became a reality and will now continue to grow as we set the dates for our 2018 exploration.

HGE’s inaugural ‘Off the Beaten Path’ tour was extremely successful. We took twelve people on a journey to Israel that did not include all the basic sites. We started with a pre-tour extension to Petra with stops at Mitzpe Ramon and Timnah, and then made our way up to Jerusalem to unite with the group.

While in Jerusalem we took an off road Jeep Tour to the Judean Desert with stops at the cliffs of the Azazel (where the scapegoat would have been thrown off) and the incredible overlook of St. George’s Monastery near Jericho. The rest of our time in Jerusalem included a teaching stop at Shorashim, a trek through the rabbinical tunnels, a sifting project just a stones throw from the Temple Mount, a visit to the new Friends of Zion Museum as well as to the Temple Institute. But the most memorable moment for me, while in Jerusalem, was our visit to Ammunition Hill where by divine providence we were guided by the son of one of the IDF soldiers who lost his life on the Hill in 1967. The passion and emotion of our guide will make this a site that I will never forget.

From Jerusalem we made our way to Zippori and Nazareth before reaching a jewel of a lodging place called Vared Hagalil which is a horse ranch on the northern hills of the Galilee. What a perfect place to have solitude and an unforgettable view! One highlight for me was when we celebrated the coming of Shabbat together!

While up north we visited the following sites as well: Tabgha, Mount Arbel, Korazim, Magdala, and Gamla. But another one of the unforgettable highlights was our off road Jeep Tour which took us to the Syrian border of the Golan Heights … such up to date information regarding the Syrian / Iranian threat! HGE always wants to provide our crew to experience both the Israel of the Bible as well as the Israel of today and this experience did not disappoint!

As we departed the Galilee we took in the white cliffs of Rosh Hanikra which is on the Mediterranean, located right on the border of Lebanon and Israel. We took a cable car down to the grottos and saw the Israeli Navy positions as they guard the border.

Then it was onto our last destination – Tel Aviv. Little would I realize that in some ways we saved the best for last as we visited Independence Hall. What an amazing site as we were transported back in time to May 14, 1948 and sat in the very room where David Ben Gurion proclaimed to the world that the Jews were back home and would be living in the newly formed State of Israel – I still get goosebumps recounting this visit! To end our time we surprised our group by heading to Caesarea Maritime and had an amazing sunset farewell dinner together at the port where Paul left for Rome. All in all – such an amazing time!

Bottom line … we have got to do this again! So, stay tuned as we arrange the dates and begin to unveil our new ideas. My plan for the ‘Off the Beaten Path’ experience will always be changing! Can’t wait to see what falls into place for the Fall of 2018.