"Ancient and Holy in the Holy Land"

(Israel - Palestine and Jordan)

May 12 - 25, 2013

Honorary Leader of the Pilgrimage: His Grace Michael (Dahulich), Bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey.

The proposed trip is an Orthodox Christian pilgrimage and educational tour. We combine visits to sites of religious significance with stops at places of historical and archaeological importance. The tour will be of interest to all who have an interest in the Early Church, Monasticism and the Ancient Middle East.

If you are interested in joining this tour or have any questions, please contact us!

“Ancient and Holy in the Holy Land” is a unique trip that combines several features. It is first and foremost an Orthodox Christian pilgrimage. Our highest priority is the veneration of the Holy Sites associated with the Earthly Ministry of our Savior, Most Holy Virgin Mary, Apostles of our Lord and a multitude of righteous individuals from the Old and New Testament. Therefore, we will first and foremost visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Mt. Tabor and number of sites in Galilee. At the same time, we seek to provide members of our tour with a better understanding of the ecclesiastical and cultural-historical background of the Holy Land; for this reason, we will visit important monuments of the Jewish and Nabatean past – Masada, Qumran, and Petra, as well as imposing Roman Ruins at Sephoris and Jerash. The trip includes visits to important monuments of the Byzantine past, chiefly active and ruined monastic sites of Israel and Jordan, such as the monasteries of St. Sabbas, St. Theodosius, St. George of Hoziba, and the foundations at Kursi and Um Rassas. While this religious tour is prepared with an Orthodox traveler in mind, anyone interested in Early Church History and in the Antiquities of the Middle East will surely benefit from our voyage.


Please note that the following itinerary has tentative dates that may change. Updates will be posted as soon as confirmed dates will be available. Please keep checking back or contact Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky for more information. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you in our pilgrim group.



(Israel-Palestine and Jordan)

October 28 - November 10, 2012


Day 1 – Sunday, May 12, 2013
Departure from New York.
Day 1 – Monday, May 13, 2013
Arrival in Tel Aviv. Transfer to Nazareth/Tiberias for rest, supper and overnight.  On our way to Galilee we will stop to venerate the Tomb of St. Great Martyr George the Victory-bearer, who according to tradition was a native of this little town in Palestine.
Day 2 – Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Our first day in Galilee will begin by exploring the vicinity of “sea” of Galilee. We plan to visit a number of sites around the lake. To cover the territory in one day is impossible, but some of the most important sites are definitely on the list: we will visit Capernaum, where Jesus made his home during the years of His earthly ministry; the Mount of Beatitudes where Our Lord taught His followers the New Testament “ten commandments” Tabgha, with church of multiplication of loaves and fishes; and Kursi, the place where Lord healed the Gadarine demoniacs and where the herd of swine rushed into the sea and drowned.
Day 3 – Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Our second day in Galilee we will start in the town of Nazareth, where the good news to the world were announced by Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary and where Christ spent his young years with His Most-Holy Mother and the righteous Joseph. There are two important churches in town that share the glory and importance of the event. One is an Orthodox Church built over a well with a spring where according to local tradition the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary. Another shrine is the much large Catholic foundation that is built over the remains of the house of the carpenter Joseph. Later this morning we will stop in the little town of Cana – the place of the first miracle of our Lord (of turning water into wine) that announced the beginning of His service to the world. In the afternoon we will continue to Mt. Tabor, the place of the Lord’s glorious and wondrous Transfiguration.
Day 5 – Thursday, May 16, 2013
Today we will begin by attending early Liturgy at the Basilica of Nativity in Bethlehem, founded on the place of the birth of our Savior. After service and some light nourishment, we will continue to venture deep into Judean desert to venerate the most prominent fathers and spiritual leaders of Palestinian Monasticism – St. Sabba the Sanctified and Venerable Theodosios the Sanctified. The Lavra of St. Sabba is open for males only, so we have to warn our female pilgrims that they will be able to observe the monastery only from a “bird’s eye view” – from an observation deck in an ancient defense tower nearby.
For Lunch we will return back to Bethlehem and will continue with an exploration of a Greek Monastery on Shepherd’s Field, which is marking traditional spot of the apparition of Angels that brought good news about the Birth of Messiah to simple, but pious shepherds. If situation on the ground will permit, we will visit Russian Ecclesiastical compound in Hebron that encompasses the site with the oak tree marking the site of the settlement of Abraham in the Promised Land.
Day 5 - Friday, May 17, 2013
Today we will start in Bethany, one of the sites not too far from Jerusalem that Lord loved to visit because his friends Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus lived there. Here we will visit Tomb of Lazarus and Russian Ecclesiastical school for Palestinian Children. From here we will proceed to the Monastery of our Lord’s Ascension on Mt. of Olives. In the afternoon we will visit Jericho, one of the most ancient cities on the World; according to research Jericho was successively occupied for over 11,000 years. Here we will visit two ecclesiastical compounds respectively associated with the traditional sites of the famous Zacchaeus’s tree and the remains of the house (or rather remains of the Byzantine Monastery built on the site) of the repented tax collector. At the end of the day we will visit the Monastery of St. Gerasimos of Jordan, one of the oldest in the Judean Desert.
* The accessibility of the sites in Jericho is subject to constant change due to the political situation
Day 6 - Saturday, May 18, 2013
We will start our day on Mount of Olives, following the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem and His saving Passion. Our first stop will be at the Church of “Our Father” – a small modern house of worship built over a system of tunnels and caves where according to tradition our Lord taught His disciples the prefect prayer to His Heavenly Father. From here we will come to the site known as “Dominus Flevit” or Lord wept. From here the most beautiful panorama of the Holy City unfolds before your eyes and it is here that our Savior wept over the city and its inhabitants that so terrifyingly rejected their salvation. Convent of St. Mary Magdalene – a Russian Imperial foundation that houses the remains of the martyred grand Duchess Elisabeth. In addition to the splendid church built in the upper part of the convent, there is a smaller cave church that tradition is named as the place of the prayer, or rather “sleeping” place of the disciples during his agony in the Gethsemane. Practically adjacent to the site is the Garden of Gethsemane, the beginning point of Christ’s Passions with splendid Basilica of Agony. From here we will proceed to St. Stephan’s Gate and will enter the Old City. Our first visit will be to the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos built over the house where the Theotokos lived with her righteous parents Joachim and Anna, then to a sheep’s pool, known from the Gospel story as Bethesda. Then we will continue on Via Dolorosa – the path Christ walked carrying His cross to Golgotha. We will make several stops along the way to visit churches and places marked by Holy Tradition as being related to the last walk of Christ to save all men from death. We will end our journey in the Holy Sepulcher – a Medieval Cathedral built atop of a Byzantine basilica that St. Helen had built to house the places of our Lord’s Saving Passion and Crucifixion – Golgotha, the stone of anointing, the Tomb of our Lord – place of Lord’s Resurrection, and several adjacent places depicted in the description of the Lord’s Saving Passion.
Day 7 - Sunday, May 19, 2013
With Our Lord’s will, we will start our day with Matins and Divine Liturgy in the church of the Holy Sepulcher. I want to forewarn all pilgrims that we would have to be in the church of the Holy Sepulcher between 11:30pm and 3am (duration of the entire Midnight office) as the gates will be closed during that entire time. After the Midnight service we will return to the hotel. After breakfast we will continue our exploration of the city with visits Mt. Zion – to venerate the tomb of the righteous King David, the chapel marking the place of the Mystical Supper, and the Basilica of our Lady’s Dormition, the Monastery of the Holy Cross and the National Museum of Israel, where we will visit the Shrine of the Book that houses the famous Scrolls of Qumran; Katamon for a visit of the Church of St. Simeon; Emmaus Nikopolis, the place of apparition of the Risen Lord to Lukas and Cleopas.
Day 8 - Monday, May 20, 2013
Free Day
Based on the political situation, a tour of the Holy Sites located on the territories of the Palestinian West Bank may be offered. If offered, tour will include the Jacob’s Well, Mt. Gerizim, Ancient Sebastia and some other important Holy Sites.
Day 9 - Tuesday, May 21, 2013
This morning we will check out from the hotel and will transfer to Jordanian Border. After border formalities, we will go to the site that recently was identified as the most probable place of “Bethany beyond Jordan” – the place of our Lord’s baptism, also not far from the hill from where according to tradition St. Prophet Elias ascended to Heaven in a fiery chariot. The area is historically very significant and marked with many Byzantine ruins. The vicinity of the site is also closely associated with the Venerable Mary of Egypt and her cult is very prominent among local Christians. Today we will start our day with a visit to Mt. Nebo. The law-giver Moses observed the Promised Land from this mountain and this is the closest he ever got to the place where he desired to be so much. Then we will visit Madaba – a little village housing Byzantine Churches with very important mosaics, among them, one depicting the map of the Holy Land. This will be our last stop before our transfer to Petra.
Day 10 - Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Petra is a most intriguing Nabatean city carved in rock cliffs. This is a historical monument really “one of its kind anywhere in the world.”  We will spend most of the day exploring ancient ruins and temples, fortifications, theaters and other buildings carved in the rock. In the afternoon we will explore the site of Little Petra, located just some miles away from its more famous “neighbor”.
For overnight and Dinner we will remain in Petra.
Day 11 - Thursday, May 23, 2013
This morning we will depart from Petra back to Amman. Along the way, we will stop to see Shobak Castle which was originally called Krak de Montreal o Mons Regalis, and was the first Crusader outpost beyond the Jordan River. It was built by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem to guard the road from Egypt to Damascus. It resisted many sieges, but in 1189, it fell to Saladin's troops. The towers and walls are well preserved and decorated with carved inscriptions dating from 14th. From Shobak we will continue to the deserted Byzantine camp-settlement of Um Rassas, with the remains of an important monastic complex where probably the only surviving column of some ascetic (stylite) still stands. Our last top of the day will be Mukawir – site of Herod’s palace, where the sorrowful events of the end days of St. John the Baptist most likely took place. We will arrive to Amman for dinner and overnight.
Day 12 – Friday, May 24, 2013
This morning we will travel North to visit the Archeological Park in Jerash, which is the site of some of the largest and better preserved ruins of one of the major cities of the historical and biblical Decapolis. For its state of preservation, this archeological park has gained the nickname of “Pompeii of the East”. Dinner and overnight in Amman.
Day 13 – Saturday, May 25, 2013
Departure from Amman for the US, arriving to New York.
Financial arrangements:
The current cost of the land portion of the tour is USD 2450 per person, based on double occupancy in a group of 26+ participants.
Price includes:
Accommodation in good Tourist-Class Hotels on half board basis (Buffet Breakfast and Dinner daily)
Several extra meals (several lunches along the way)
Deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach for the transfers all along the tour, according to the program
Road and local taxes for the tourist bus
Tours as per the itinerary above
Entrance tickets to the museums and donations for the entrance to the churches and monasteries as per itinerary
* The hotels that we offer for this tour are local equivalent of 3***/4**** and in some places are the best available. Please note that, the level of accommodations and services may be different from the expectations of similarly rated hotels in Western Europe or North America.
Price does NOT include:
Air Fare**
Personal medical/travel insurance
Meals other than specified
Beverages during meals
Entrance fees other than specified
Porterage, gratuities and extras
Anything not specifically mentioned in “Price includes”
Airfare - proposed flights:
Depart NY at 6:50pm (Flight TK 002) on 05/12/13; Arrive to Tel Aviv at 2:45pm (TK 786) on 05/13/13
Depart Amman at 7:40am (Flight TK 813) on 05/26/13; Arrive to NY at 4:50pm (TK 001) on 05/26/13
Current cost of the round trip air fare with the Turkish Airlines is $1200. Please note that taxes and fuel surcharges may fluctuate until tickets are paid in full. Please indicate in the questionnaire if you’d like to take advantage of the current offer.
You can make flight arrangements on your own, if you would be able to find a better deal with another airline. However, in that case it will be your responsibility to arrange transportation to the hotel and back to/from the airport at the port of entry/departure.
Financial arrangements:
The current cost of the trip is $2,450 per person, based on double occupancy in a group of at least 30 paying members. Single accommodations: $600 and subject to availability. Please factor that the final price may fluctuate due to the actual number of participants or due to significant difference in exchange rate of shekel/Jordanian dinar vs. the US dollar at the time of the final payment. Our hope is that the price of the tour will remain the same. In any case you'll be informed right away of any possible financial changes or adjustments.
All payments should be made by check to: "Palomnik, LLC" and mailed to: 53 Baxter Street, Binghamton, NY 13905. Any returned checks are subject to $25 fee. For payment with a Credit Card and for domestic or international bank wires, please contact Fr. Ilya directly.
A $500.00 deposit is required when you sign up for the trip. The deposit is non-refundable, unless is cancelled by the organizers due to lack of participation or other valid and unforeseen circumstances. The deadline for signing up for the trip is January 31, 2013. The entire amount is due 60 days prior to departure, March 12, 2013. Failure to pay in full by March 12, 2013 without written notice of explanation may lead to the cancellation of your participation, with no refund of any previously committed funds. If you decide to join the pilgrimage after the deadline, please contact tour coordinator regarding the availability.
In the event that you need to cancel after you have signed up, the charges in addition to the full amount of the deposit are*:
25% of the tour cost, 60 to 45 days prior to the departure
50% of the tour cost, 45 to 30 days prior to the departure
100% of the tour cost 30 or fewer days prior to the departure
Special requests:
All special requests, concerns and suggestions must be submitted in writing to Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky no later than the date of the final payment (March 12, 2013).
All cancellations must be done in writing as well and sent directly to agent/coordinator - Fr. llya Gotlinsky and must be received for reimbursement by the dates shown in the cancellation schedule.
Rules on the road:
It is strongly suggested for a traveler to obtain insurance covering medical needs and coverage regarding personal property;
be aware that all medical needs will be sole responsibility of the traveler;
act in a manner consistent with the surrounding environment;
make arrangement to have sufficient funds to cover personal needs and unexpected happenings.
The places that we will be visiting may not have the same amenities that one may be accustomed to. Medical facilities in some areas are limited. Because of the difference in language and customs, it is expected that the traveler will follow the directions of the Tour Director at all times.
The Director reserves the right to restrict a person’s participation in the group’s activities, including exclusion from the group, when, in the opinion of the Director, such action is appropriate.
Please note: The Director of the trip (Fr. Ilya Gotlinsky) does not hold any legal responsibilities concerning any of the arrangements. He plays only the role of an agent/coordinator.
Passport and Visa:
A valid passport is needed to travel to the Middle East. The passport must be issued at least three months prior to the departure and must be valid until your return.  US citizens do not need a visa to travel to Israel. Group Visa to Jordan is obtained at the border free of charge. If you are not a US, Canada or EU citizen, please contact the Embassies or Consulates of Israel and Jordan to see if you do need a visa to travel there.
Israel and Jordan generally are safe countries despite the abundance of news about domestic disturbance there. Even in the West Bank tourists are not considered to be targets. In Israel you should be careful around any conservative religious quarters of Muslims and Jews alike. Petty street crime such as pick pocketing is quite widely spread, especially in large cities and in and around “tourist traps”. Don't keep all of your cash in one place, and carry important documents (like your passport) with you in a hidden pocket or secure bag. You don't want to be in a foreign land without money or travel documents. Expensive jewelry and fancy clothes are best left at home.
Israel and Jordan have very good health systems and drugs are widely available at many pharmacies. Most of the clerks at the pharmacies speak fluent English. However, we still would recommend you to bring whatever medications that you think you may need, and especially prescription drugs. Please check with your doctor if you need any vaccinations when traveling to that part of the World. Please bring anti-allergen remedies if you have a history of pollen allergy. It is very easy to become dehydrated on trip like this because the climate is hot and dry. Make sure to drink lots of liquids (pure water is the best choice). Mid July will be very hot, especially in the desert. So, please be prepared adequately and don’t take your chances with heat and sun. In Israel it is safe to drink tap water, unless noted otherwise. In Jordan and some parts of Israel it is advised to use only bottle water for drinking and brushing of teeth.
Church and services:
We are going to visit a lot of churches and cathedrals. While the dress code is generally loose, I want to encourage all to show moderation and respect. People in shorts and open shouldered outfits most likely won’t be allowed in most monasteries and churches. Monastic and clergy will treat tourists and pilgrims very differently. While I understand your desire to wear shorts and something cool in a hot climate, I encourage you not to spoil the visit for the rest of the group.  Several services are scheduled during the pilgrimage. However, at this time I’m not giving exact time or place of all of the services as that all is flexible and can change. The very pattern of our days may be changed to fit the services in. Services are open to all who want to attend, but are not mandatory. Those Orthodox travelers who would like to receive Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy must attend Confession before the pilgrimage as opportunities to hear your confession during the pilgrimage by clergy members of the group may be limited.
Many of the stores in Israel and Jordan accept credit cards (mostly Visa or MasterCard, no Discover or American Express). However, if you plan to shop at the markets or at the souvenir stands you will need cash. Dollars and Euros are very widely accepted. However, if you feel that you need local currency, the easiest way to obtain it is to use the ATM machine. For ATMs use your debit card because you won’t be charged any interest on cash withdrawals. On your credit card purchase or with your debit card cash withdrawal you get the best exchange rate, that of the day. It is a good idea to let your bank or credit company (the one that you’ll be using a card) know that you are traveling overseas. Without such a notice some companies may “freeze” your account in an attempt to prevent foreign card fraud. Whenever you shop, especially at the markets and in the Arab stores, make sure to bargain. As a rule you can reduce the price by about 30-50% and often you can make even a much better deal. Be persistent and pay no attention to raging emotion – that’s part of the culture and the way of conducting trade business.
Dress code:
Although you will see a lot of tourist wearing shorts and sleeveless t-shirts, in parts of Israel and Jordan such outfits may be considered offensive. Light, but longer pants and dresses are appreciated and buy more respect. Open sandals will be very uncomfortable on the uneven terrain of the Archeological sites and may be considered provocative in a non-tourist settings of the West Bank aand parts of Jordan (This recommendation applies to both - men and women).
Be sure to bring:
An alarm clock; alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wet wipes; Kleenex; film and extra batteries for your camera (at the tourist places they are widely available but significantly more expensive); comfortable shoes for a lot of walking (do not start the trip with new shoes). Electric outlet adapter is necessary if you plan to use any electric gadgets from the US. Hat or a head cover, sun protection lotion and a bottle of water (can be purchased along the way) are absolutely “must have” things on this trip.

Last Updated (Monday, 29 October 2012 18:58)