Great Visit to Tel Mond and Israel

Back Row - Richard Mantyla, Vicki Swenson, Ray Young, Pam Heller, Robert Rosenbluth, Suzanne Schwartz, Sue Rosin, Fred Bloom, Leone Levy, Howard Heller
Front Row - Craig Hullinger, Beth Ruyle Hullinger, Linda Rosenbluth

We had a wonderful time In Tel Mond and Israel. Thanks to all in Tel Mond and throughout Israel who made our visit so interesting. Mayor Golan and his staff were most gracious and told us about the community and its history. We are especially impressed with their hospitality and their commitment to developing our sister cities relationship.  

Our visits to the schools were very enjoyable and the children had great questions.The City museum was fascinating and told us about the community past.

Our visits to homes and the art fair were fun and the art so delightful we are bringing some home with us.  The art fair in homes is a unique idea that works very well. Our visit to the library was informative. The children’ section was creative and fun.

Our highlight was our Sabat meal with families in Tel Mond. They provided a wonderful meal and great hospitality.  The warmth of the family at these gatherings was an inspiration for all families.

The rest of our tour was also great. We learned great deal about old and new Israel. 

Thanks to our guide Naom Kalev and driver Rafi Shlomon for their outstanding guidance and kindness. Thanks to tour organizers Shaike Dranitsky and Malka Druker for organizing a great tour. And thanks to City Director Linda Rosenbluth for her great efforts in leading this successful tour. And thanks to all the people on our tour - we were a great convivial group who enjoyed each other and the tour.

We thank everyone for their hospitality.

Rober and Linda Rosenbluth, Mayor and Mrs. Golan, Beth Ruyle and Craig Hullinger

Itinerary - Visit to Tel Mond, Israel

Revised detailed itinerary
Sarasota Sister Cities
Trip to Israel
3-13 April 2014

Thursday, April 3

Touchdown at Ben Gurion International Airport. Arrival to the hotel, on your own.

Free evening.

Enjoy dinner in a Restaurant in Herzliya (on own account).

Overnight: Dan Accadia Hotel, Herzliya

Friday, April 4

This morning meet your guide and touring vehicle that will be at your disposal to take you to Tel Mond. Enjoy the day touring in Tel Mond, your twin city (program as per your own arrangements).

Return to your hotel to freshen up for Shabbat.

Transfer to Tel Mond. Optional Kabbalat Shabbat prayers in a synagogue. Enjoy Shabbat Dinner hosted by families of Tel Mond (own arrangements).

Return to your hotel in Herzliya by your hosts.

Overnight: Dan Accadia Hotel, Herzliya

Saturday, April 5

After breakfast drive to Rehovot to visit the Ayalon Museum, the first Israeli ammunition factory hidden under the laundry of a kibbutz and operated secretly during the British Mandate. The factory and its products played an important role for the Hagana underground and later, during the War of Independence, for the newly born Israel Defense Forces.

Drive to the Ad Halom Bridge on the old road from Ashkelon to Tel Aviv next to Ashdod.  This was the place where the Egyptian forces were stopped for the first time on their advance on Tel Aviv in 1948. 
They were bombed by the first Israeli aircraft, which was imported into Israel the night before this attack.  This was a great victory for the moral of the young and struggling Israeli Army.

Proceed to the "Philistine Plain" to the ancient city of Beit Guvrin, which contains antiquities and unusual man made caves, including those of Tel Maresha. Beit Guvrin was once an important Roman city where remains from Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Crusader eras have been discovered. The caves were used for refuge during the Bar Kochva revolt against the Romans. Enjoy exploring the many caves, which include water cisterns, stables, burial caves and beautifully preserved columbaria (dovecote). See the impressive "bell - shaped" caves.

Conclude the day at Tel Aviv to tour Jaffa, one of the oldest biblical cities in the world and an important seaport since antiquity. Visit the restored Old City including the artists' colony and the quaint harbor. Jaffa has much to offer in the way of art galleries, gift-shops and restaurants found tucked away amongst the winding, cobblestone streets.

Afterwards, we will enjoy a city tour of Tel Aviv.

Drive to the Dan Accadia hotel to freshen up before departing for dinner. Depart to Tel Mond, to spend time and have dinner with our hosts. Own return to the hotel in Herzliya.

Overnight: Dan Accadia Hotel, Herzliya

Sunday, April 6

Check out of the hotel and drive to Starlet Derma, to learn about hi-tech development of cosmetic products in a wide range of applications such as anti-aging, whitening, cellulite reduction, acne and hair re-growth (arranged by Ori Lahav).

On to Kiriyat Yam, for a short visit to the Ethiopian Heritage Center (pending confirmation).

Lunch en route, on own account.

Further along the coastline, visit the ancient city of Akko (Acre), once the Crusader capital of the North and now a city of mixed Arab and Jewish populations. Walk on the city walls to the harbor, and through the colorful markets, to visit the huge underground Crusader Halls. These Halls were once part of the hostels established by the Crusaders as accommodations for their pilgrims and used as a hospital for their injured warriors.

Situated above these halls is the notorious prison that was built by the Turks and later used by the British, to imprison Jewish underground fighters during their struggle against British rule.

On to Goren Forest, for a spectacular view over the Montfort castle.

Drive along Israel security road with Lebanon, via Avivim and Misgav Am, to hear about the security issues of the area, while overlooking southern Lebanon.

Proceed to your hotel and check in. Dinner is included for you tonight at the hotel.

Overnight: Hagoshrim Kibbutz Hotel , Galilee
Monday, April 7

Our first visit today will be to the springs and waterfall of Banias, one of the sources of the Jordan River. Banias, (Caesarea Phillipi) was a pagan city dedicated to the god Pan and was reconstructed in ancient times by Philip, the son of Herod. Here Saint Peter made his proclamation of faith in Jesus, who declared him the rock on which he would build his Church and promised him the key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Enjoy a nature walk along the Nature Reserve.

Begin the day by ascending the Golan Heights passing former Syrian army headquarters and positions overlooking the Galilee. This drive will help you realize the importance of the Golan to Israel.

Drive to Kibbutz El Rom to see the special and unique presentation of the heroic story of Brigade 7 fighting on the Golan Heights. To complete the picture of the Golan's strategic role in our security and contemporary politics, drive to an observation point overlooking the Valley of Tears, the site of a major tank battle during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and overlooking the Syrian - Israeli border today.

Onwards along the battlefields of the 1973 war to an active IDF unit to meet with the troops, defending Israel's northern border (pending Military confirmation).

Nestled in the mountains of the Golan Heights lies an artists' village, Moshav Aniam, filled with one-of-a-kind cottages each displaying its unique wares, ranging from jewelry to pottery to Judaica.

If time permits, proceed to the Hula Valley and hear the story of Israel's early pioneers who lost their lives as they dried up the deadly mosquito infested swampland to provide fertile farmland for their new country. We will also visit the magnificent Oforia 3D-Movie theatre that tells us the story of the migrating birds coming from Europe to Africa in the most spectacular manner.

Return to your hotel to freshen up before dinner at your hotel (included).

Overnight: Hagoshrim Kibbutz Hotel, Galilee

Tuesday, April 8


Following breakfast, check out of the hotel and drive to Mt. of Beatitudes at the north of the sea to the Church commemorating Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount". It was here that Jesus laid down the foundation of what became the Christian religion. A spectacular view of the whole lake can be had from here, including the areas of Magdala and Genassareth. The famous Italian architect Barlucci built the present church.

On to Capernaum and the remains of the large white limestone synagogue with its beautifully carved columns and stones. This was a thriving town during the Second Temple period and was also the center of Jesus' Ministry in the Galilee and birthplace of Saint Peter. Capernaum is one of the three towns condemned by Jesus. It was destroyed by an earthquake and was never rebuilt.

Drive via Tiberias, capital of the Galilee, situated on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). This is one of the four Jewish Holy Cities and site of the tombs of Maimonedes, Rabbi Akiva and many other outstanding Sages. Famous Hot Springs known throughout the ages for their curative powers are located in this scenic lakeside resort.

There is an incredible new archeological discovery in Tiberias, which is still closed to the public – a Roman theatre from 2000 years ago. You will have a chance to have a glimpse on what is being accomplished in this dig (pending confirmation).

Travel along the Jordan Rift Valley to the remains of Beit Shean, one of the oldest settled sites in the country. This is where, in biblical times, the bodies of Saul and his sons were nailed to the city walls by the Philistines. In Roman times, this city was known as Scythopolis and was part of the great Decapolis. Amongst the ruins, you will see a theater, which was the main cultural and entertainment center during that period and accommodated over 6,000 people. There is also a complete neighborhood, a bathhouse covering one and a half acres of floor-space, the Cardo - heart of the city and the Roman Shrine. Today Beit Shean is a modern development town.

Stop at Kasser El Yahud, the third most important site for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land (after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity). It is considered to be the site where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The site is also considered to be the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan when they entered Canaan.
Ascend to Jerusalem. Upon your first view of the eternal Holy City stop for a moment's reflection and prayer by saying the "Shehecheyanu" and "Borei Pri Hagefen" blessing as pilgrims did when approaching Jerusalem throughout history.

Arrive and check in to your hotel. Gather for dinner at Olive and Fish restaurant.

Overnight: Dan Panorama Hotel, Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 9

After breakfast we will head to the Mount of Olives area, which affords a beautiful view of the city, especially the Old City and is rich in historical sites. Some of these include the Tombs of the Prophets, the Dominus Flavit Church where it is said Jesus wept over Jerusalem, the Chapel of the Ascension, the Church of Pater Noster where the Lord's Prayer is written in 53 languages, and a major Jewish cemetery.

On to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The garden is next to the magnificent Church of all Nations (Basilica of Agony). It was here that Jesus sweat blood and wept in agony after learning of his betrayal by Judah. This is the site of his arrest and his prophecy of the Second Coming to his disciples. Old and beautiful olives trees grow on these slopes and thus the Hebrew name was once Gat-Shmanim which means oil-press. It is said that some of these trees beheld Jesus in prayer. Here, too, is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary.

Adjoining the Western Wall is a small hill, the biblical City of David, one of Jerusalem’s most important historical and archaeological treasures. This city was appointed the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago by King David. It was Jerusalem’s heart and soul from the days of the First Temple till today. Visit the many spectacular excavations and underground sites unearthed including the Spring House, the royal water cistern, Area G, as well as Warren’s Shaft and more.

Enter through one of the gates and walk through the Old City, the axis around which the three great monotheistic religions revolve.

Near the Western Wall view the archaeological discoveries excavated in a vast, concealed tunnel along the Western Wall. Inside, a model shows the different dwelling periods and history of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Digging at this site exposed a continuous wall, almost 448 meters long. There is one stone reaching the weight of close to 570 tons. Some 2,000 square meters of rooms and public halls were discovered, as well as a section of the Second Temple road, a Hasmonean water tunnel, a pool and many other finds. Stand on the site believed to be the nearest spot to the "Holy of Holies".

In the Christian Quarter follow the final hours of Jesus' life as you walk along the Via Dolorosa. to the place of the crucifixion and the tomb of Christ enshrined within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is, in fact, a complex of various chapels built on what was called the Hill of Golgotha.

Tour the Jewish Quarter that was reconstructed after the city was unified at the conclusion of the Six-Day War in 1967. Walk along the restored Jewish Quarter to the "Cardo", meaning the "heart" of this ancient Byzantine City. View the unearthed main Roman thoroughfare and ancient marketplace lined with columns.

The evening is at leisure.

Overnight: Dan Panorama Hotel, Jerusalem

Thursday, April 10

Start the day with a visit at the Mevasseret Absorption Center, funded by our campaign dollars. This center is home to hundreds of new immigrants, recent arrivals from Ethiopia. Meet the newcomers and hear their amazing personal stories.

Continue to visit Yad Vashem, the memorial to the six million innocent victims of the Holocaust. Accompanied by a curator of Yad Vashem walk through the new Historical Museum, the Children's Hall, the Memorial Hall and view the recently constructed Memorial to the Deportees. A special emphasis will be put on the subject of art during the Holocaust.

Drive by via the Government Center and the Knesset and catch a glimpse of the Menorah (Candelabra), symbol of Israel, portraying important events in Jewish history that stands proudly outside.

This afternoon, head to the Mahane Yehuda open air market of Jerusalem to see how the locals do their shopping in preparation for the Shabbat. Take in the sites, smells and noises of the market. And don't forget to pick up some chocolate rugelach!

Return to the hotel. The evening is at leisure.

Overnight: Dan Panorama Hotel, Jerusalem

Friday, April 11
Please remember to bring your hats, swimming suits and suntan lotion with you today!

Depart for the Dead Sea area traveling south through the Judean Wilderness, a place of refuge and shelter for Jews since time immemorial.

Our first visit will be to the caves of Qumran where the Essenes lived 2000 years ago and where the original Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. Visit the ruins of this ancient desert village.

Arrive at Masada and ascend the cliff top fortress by cable car. As you explore the ancient remains of fortifications, King Herod's palaces, storerooms and baths, you will hear about the spirit of its last Jewish defenders. These Zealots held out for three years against the legions of Flavius Silva and chose to die as free men at their own hands in preference to Roman slavery. From the top of Masada, the outlines of the Roman encampments are still visible below. Descend by cable car.

Continue along the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, and arrive at a lovely hotel, located on the shores of the Dead Sea. Here we will have lunch and enjoy a swim in the hotel's swimming pool or go down to their private beach to experience a therapeutic dip in the Dead Sea. Let the buoyant waters support you as you relax on your back. The hotel also provides spa facilities (Not included; must be pre reserved.)

Return to the hotel and freshen up before the Shabbat.

Towards evening.....


As the sun sets preparations will be made for welcoming the Shabbat at the Kotel (Western Wall). As you enter the Old City, look around you and notice how people from all corners of the world enter through the various gates with one purpose in mind, to welcome the Shabbat Bride at the holiest place on earth for Judaism.

Return to your hotel for a traditional Friday night dinner.

Overnight: Dan Panorama Hotel, Jerusalem

Saturday, April 12


Meet your guide and vehicle and head to the Old City through the Jaffa Gate. On to Mount Zion, flanked on one side by the wall of the Old City. This site is traditionally viewed as the Tomb of King David, the second king of Israel. Also visit the Room of the Last Supper where it is said Jesus had his last meal with his disciples.

Visit the Israel Museum is one of the largest encyclopedic museums in the world, covering everything from ancient archeology to contemporary art.  While the Museum undergoes a major program of renewal - the largest in its history -- you can still enjoy a full program of exhibitions and activities in its Shrine of the Book and Second Temple Model site, Weisbord Exhibition Pavilion and Billy Rose Art Garden.

The Shrine of the Book, an architectural masterpiece designed by Frederick Keisler, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The Model of Jerusalem in Second Temple Times is a 50:1 scale model that
accurately depicts the terrain at the time of the creation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and up until the time of the Temple's destruction. 

Visit different neighborhoods of Jerusalem – this will be an ethnic and architectural tour.

Continue to the Arazim Park to pay respects at the monument dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks in 2001.  This monument shows the names of all the victims and has been built from original metal pieces brought from the remains of the Twin Towers after the attack.

Return to the hotel in Jerusalem. This evening you may like to stroll down Ben Yehuda Street. On Saturday nights, Ben Yehuda Street is one of the favorite gathering places for young Jerusalemites. There are many artists displaying their jewelry and crafts, as well as sidewalk cafes.

Overnight: Dan Panorama Hotel, Jerusalem

Sunday, April 13

Check out of the hotel. Drive to a high ridge on which there is a large building topped by a spire. This is the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet, in Arabic - Nebi Samuel. During the Middle Ages Jews flocked to visit the shrine. Today there are new, exciting excavations in the area uncovering the secrets of the past.

Today we will have the unique opportunity of planting a tree sapling at the biblical landscape reserve of Neot Kedumim.

Drive to Tel Aviv. Visit Independence Hall, located in the home of Meir Dizengoff, the first Mayor of Tel Aviv. Here on May 14th, 1948, David Ben Gurion, who bacame the first Prime Minister, declared the independence of the new Jewish State. “On the Basis of our historical rights (biblical rights) we are building today a democratic Jewish State. We extend our hands to our neighbors for peace, because it is our belief and legacy as well”, said Ben Gurion”.

On to the new spectacular “Palmach Museum”. Through a modern multi-media presentation view the history of the Palmach from 1941 to the War of Independence and the establishment of the State of Israel. The story tells of the struggle against the British, the illegal immigration, reflecting the motivation and dedication of the youth in their fight for independence.

In the evening, drive to the Yemenite Quarter of Tel Aviv and reminisce over the trips highlights as you enjoy an authentic Middle Eastern farewell dinner at Maganda Restaurant.

Transfer to Ben Gurion International Airport will be provided for those departing tonight.

(Individual arrangements for the other participants staying longer in Israel, to be updated closer to the time of the group’s arrival).

Shalom U’Lehitraot
(See you soon)
The contents of this itinerary are correct at the time of printing, but are subject to change without prior


Accommodation at hotels includes full Israeli breakfast daily and hotel service charge. The price has been based on the following hotels:

April 3 – 6 (Three nights)
Dan Accadia Hotel, Herzeliya (Deluxe pool-view rooms)

April 6 - 8 (Two nights)
Hagoshrim Kibbutz Hotel, Galilee (Boutique rooms)

April 8 - 13 (Five nights)
Dan Panorama Hotel, Jerusalem (Superior rooms)

In addition to the complete Israeli breakfast served daily, we have included the following meals:
Sunday, April 6 - Dinner at Hagoshrim Kibbutz Hotel, Galilee
Monday, April 7 - Dinner at Hagoshrim Kibbutz Hotel, Galilee
Tuesday, April 8 – Dinner at 'Olive and Fish' Restaurant, Jerusalem
Friday, April 11 - "Lunch and Swim" at a Dead Sea Hotel, Spa
Friday, April 11 – Shabbat dinner at the hotel, Jerusalem
Sunday, April 13 – Farewell dinner at “Maganda” Restaurant, Tel Aviv

Ten days of touring with a professional English speaking tour guide.
Ten days of touring with a professional English speaking driver in a vehicle licensed/ insured for tourism.
Overnight stays away from home base and expenses for the tour guide and driver
All mileage per the above program.
All tour coordination services.
Night outings with the guide, driver and touring vehicle, as per itinerary
Overtime for the guide, driver and touring vehicle, as per itinerary
Entrance fees to the various parks and sites, as per the itinerary.
Curator at Yad Vashem
Porterage fee at all hotels.
Gratuities for guide and driver.
Bottled mineral water throughout the trip
One departure transfer from Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport.
One VIP meeting/assistance upon departure in the Terminal.

For 13 guests in the group: $ 3,591 per person, in a midibus
As to single occupancy room,
For the category of 12-14 guests, add the single supplement rate of $1,550 to the above per person cost.

The above-suggested program includes many elements that have not yet been booked. They are pending final booking and confirmation. As such, there may be slight changes in the final program. The above cost is subject to change at any time as per notice from hotels and other suppliers of services. If number of participants and/or rooming arrangements and/or flights schedules are changed, the price will be revised.

Cost of round trip airfare from country of origin to Israel.
Any expenses of a personal nature.
Meals other than those indicated.
Spa treatments.
Beverage at meals.
Early check in and late check out.
Overtime or over mileage beyond what has been allotted.
Any guests at meals other than the participants of the party.
Personal health insurance, insurance for baggage, personal items, trip cancellation or interruption.

Please note that check - in at Israeli hotels is 2:00 PM– 3:00 PM and check - out time is 11:00 AM - 12:00 noon. Should you want guaranteed early check - in or guaranteed late check - out, this may well involve a supplemental charge. Note also that check - in at many Israeli hotels on Saturdays is often two hours after sundown. Some Israeli hotels charge for wireless internet services

The above proposal has been costed out based on the itinerary, mileage and hours to be traveled, and the other touring elements noted above. Should you veer from the printed program this may result in over mileage and/or overtime charges above and beyond what has been budgeted. The base tour day is based on up to ten hours per day. Such charges will be billed to you at the end of the trip.

The gratuities for guide and driver are included in the cost. It is customary also to tip your airport drivers, bellboys and hotel staff. This is of course left up to your discretion.

All passports need to be valid for at least six months from the date of departure from the USA. 

A deposit of $500.00 per person is required to assure reservations.
60 days before arrival 50% of the total amount is required.
Final and full payment is required 30 days prior to arrival.
Payment may be made via bank transfer
For payment via credit card, please add 3% to the total price.  
Funds may be wired to:
Bank HaPoalim,
Rehovot Branch #615
Credit to Mabat Platinum Ltd., Touring Services.
Account:      #615 515
Bank Address: Herzl Street, 179, Rehovot, Israel
Swift: poalilit
ABA:  021000021
IBAN #: IL870126150000000615515  
Correspondent Bank:  JP Morgan
All above prices and all payments must be made in U S dollars.

If cancellation is received in our office:
Up to 60 days before arrival date – $500 per person will be charged.
Between 60 – 30 days before arrival – an additional $1,000 per person will be charged.
Within 30 days of arrival - full payment will be charged.
Cancellation of various elements in the program less than 48 hours prior to the event may well result in a full
cancellation charge.

Please be aware that according to the new Israeli tax laws, being strictly enforced by all hotels, all guests holding Israel citizenship, even those with dual citizenship/passports both for individual travelers and guests part of a group, or invited local guests, will be charged VAT tax. Therefore we need to receive this information in advance in order to finalize the bill. Should we not get this information in advance, and hotels charge us VAT tax, be aware that we will charge you with this extra amount retroactively. Should the Israeli Government change the VAT tax law for tourists holding foreign citizenship, a VAT tax will apply to all touring services.

Insurance for baggage, personal items, health coverage and trip cancellation and interruption is not included, but is highly recommended. We suggest obtaining coverage through your local provider.

Mabat Platinum Ltd., (hereinafter called the Tour Operator), acts only as an agent for the various companies, owners or contractors providing the means of transportation, accommodation and other services. All exchange orders, coupons and tickets are offered subject to the Terms and Conditions under which such services are offered or provided. The issuance and acceptance of such tickets shall be deemed to be consent to the further conditions that the Tour Operator shall not be in any way liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity in any vehicle, or through the acts or defaults of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger/s or of any hotel proprietor, personnel or servant otherwise in connection therewith. The airline and transportation companies concerned are not to be held responsible for any act; omission or event during the time passengers are not on board their planes or conveyances. The right is reserved to withdraw any tour announced in this program and to make such alterations to the itineraries as may be found desirable for the proper carrying out of the tours. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable in the Tour Operator's discretion to alter the arrangements or itineraries for the passenger/s comfort or welfare or for any reason whatsoever, such alterations may be made without penalty to the Operator. The Tour Operator reserves the right to change any hotel/s listed with one of a similar category if circumstances necessitate. Additional expenses, if any, shall be borne by the passenger/s. The right is reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of any group at any time.

I trust that the above is satisfactory. Feel free to forward any comments or questions by e-mail.

Sincerely yours,

Shaike Dranitzky and Malka Drucker