A pilgrimage paired with an in-depth discovery of the Biblical Land


A pilgrimage to the HOLY LAND

is a grace and a joy for ever ...


An Israeli guide, provided by the Israeli Tourist Office, would see to the political and civil aspects of the tour. But M. Christophe WIRTZ, owner of the WIRTZ Travel Agency, was a strong believer in the benefit for his customers to have a Catholic priest as a member of each group he dispatched to Israel. Through his services several most willing clergymen were in turn invited to join the successive parties with the mission of fostering a Christian approach to the Holy Sites of Christ's birth, passion and resurrection. Father John De Ridder s.j. accepted this job of Tour Conductor three times from 1985 to 1986. In 1987, started the Intifada which rang the knell of sponsored pilgrimages for several years. 

Tel Aviv 2


Hebron - Machpelah Cave


The Cave of Machpelah, or Tomb of the Patriarchs, is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The cave was purchased by Abraham as a burial place for his wife Sarah some 3,700 years ago, along with the trees and field adjoining it, the first recorded transaction of a Hebrew buying land in Canaan (Genesis 23). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah were all later buried in the same place. These are considered the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth. Muslims believe that Joseph is also buried here, though Jews think he was buried in Nablus. Though Israel regained control of Hebron in 1967, the Cave of Machpelah has remained under the authority of the Muslim Waqf (Religious Trust), which continues to restrict Jewish access. No visitors are allowed inside during Muslim prayer times, Fridays or Muslim holidays.















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Tel Aviv - Yaffo


Tel Aviv is Israel as the Zionists intended it to be. The Jewish state. Despite being the largest city in Israel, Tel Aviv has a relaxed Mediterranean beach atmosphere. In the Old City of Jerusalem the Christians fight the Muslims and the Jews. In the West Bank the Palestinians fight the settlers. In the suburbs of Jerusalem, the Orthodox Jews fight the secular Jews. In Tel Aviv most people manage to get through their day fighting nothing worse than extremely bad traffic. What is unique about Tel Aviv is that it is both a beach town and the nation's cultural and business capital. The brightest, most creative, and hardest working people in Israel congregate in Tel Aviv as the brightest, most creative, and hardest working Americans congregate in New York City. The difference is that, for about 9 months out of the year, it is possible to enjoy a pleasant sunset walk on the Tel Aviv beach.













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Ashqelon, now an extensive bathing beach

Ashqelon city (2006 pop. 110.187), SW Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a beach resort in an area of citrus groves and cotton plantations. Its industries process agricultural products and manufacture cement, plastics, electronic equipment, and watches. Nearby is the site of ancient Ashqelon, or Ashkelon, whose history dates back to the 3d millenium B.C. It was a trade center and port and a seat of worship of the goddess Astarte. Ancient Ashqelon was conquered by the Philistines in the late 12th cent. B.C. and completely rebuilt. It flourished under the Greeks and Romans; Herod, believed to have been born there, greatly enlarged the city. It was taken by the Arabs in A.D. 638, conquered by the Crusaders King Baldwin II in 1135  and occupied by Richard I in 1191, and completely destroyed by Muslims in 1290. An Israeli settlement was established there in 1948. In 1955 the modern city of Ashqelon was founded when Afridar, a town established by South African Jews in 1952, and Migdal, a former Arab town, were merged. A national park in Ashqelon includes Greek and Roman ruins and the remains of ancient synagogues. A Roman tomb (3d cent.) decorated with frescoes, the ruins of a Byzantine church, and a wall built by Crusaders are also in the city.








The 10 kilometer-long Ashkelon beach attracts both local and foreign beach-goers. Ashkelon, proclaimed a national tourism site, is rapidly developing this sphere.



The Crusaders built ancient columns into the port defences.

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Billy Rose Art Garden

The garden was designed by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi and is its best known attraction. Known now simply as the Art Garden, its genesis lies in a bequest by a once very famous American, the showman/songwriter and investor Billy Rose. Born William Samuel Rosenberg on what was then called the Lower East Side (now the smart East Village) in 1899, Mr. Rose started out life working as a stenographer for the Wall Street financier and later presidential adviser Bernard Baruch, where he acquired the reputation for being the fastest taker of shorthand in the world. He went on to find his fortune assisted fortuitously by the bonds of holy matrimony to the great star of the Ziegfeld Follies, Fannie Brice (Funny Girl).







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BeerSheva, the city in the Neguev desert



Beersheba  [Heb., seven wells or well of the oath], city (1994 pop. 147,900), S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert. It is the trade center for surrounding settlements and for Bedouins. Beersheba is an important rail and road hub for S Israel. The city was one of the southernmost towns of ancient Palestine; hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba," meaning the whole of Palestine. It is especially connected, in the Bible, with Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, and Elijah. A well believed to have been dug by Abraham when he made his covenant with Abimelech is in the city. Beersheba flourished during the late Roman and Byzantine eras but was deserted soon thereafter. Beersheba was the first city taken by the British in the Palestine campaign (1917) of World War I. Under the British mandate (1922–48) it was a city (Bir-es-Seba) inhabited by about 4,000 Muslim Arabs. Given to the Arabs in the partition of Palestine (1948), it was retaken by Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Its population and economy have grown considerably since 1989 as a result of immigration from the former Soviet Union. Beersheba is the seat of the Arid Zone Research Institute and the Ben-Gurion Univ. Remnants of a fortress and shards of the Bronze Age have been found nearby at Tell el-Sheba, the most ancient site of Beersheba.



 Abraham's well




Beersheva new city






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Shrine of the Book


The Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept.




Its pale concrete dome is shaped

like the lid of one of the jars

in which the “Dead Sea Scrolls” were discovered in 1947.












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Knesseth Menorah




In front of the entrance to the Knesseth, stands a 5m high seven-branched candlestick, symbol of the state of Israel, designed and cast in bronze by Benno Elkan. Twenty-nine reliefs show figures and events from Jewish history. It was a gift from the British parliament.




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The Jews were pushed into an exile from their homeland that would last almost 2,000 years. In their absence, Palestine continued to be a crucible or a stage for major historical events – the rise of Islam, the Crusades, the ascendancy of the Ottoman Turks, the imperial rivalry between France and Great Britain.

South of the Knesseth are the pavillions of the Israel Museum containing the Shrine of the Book, Archeological Museum, Bezalel Art Gallery, Billy Rose Art Garden and Department of Antiquities. After the restoration of the Jewish homeland in 1948 the Israelis produced this magnificent museum chronicling the history of Palestine and the Middle East. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, founded in 1965, is a 20-acre complex that draws almost 1 million visitors a year to its unmatched collections of Judaica and Middle Eastern archaeology, which include the priceless Dead Sea Scrolls.




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Yad Vashem Memorial Wall to victims in camps



" And to them will I give a house and within my walls a memorial...There will I put a perpetual name
that shall never be cut off. " (Isaiah, 56:5)




Barbwire Memorial to the Victims in Camps






Memorial to Ghetto Fighters





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Holocaust train cattle car


This cattle car was used by the Nazis to transport Jews to the camps. It was given to Yad Vashem by the Polish authorities in 1990. Now part of a memorial designed by Moshe Safdie, it sits on a severed railroad track jutting out over the slope of a hill, suspended between heaven and earth.


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Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial


Yad Vashem - the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority - is a sprawling complex of museums, archives, monuments and sculptures connected by a maze of walkways. It is the world's largest repository of information about the Holocaust.. "Shem" means name. Six million Jews (along with a fair number of gypsies, homosexuals, disabled and people with the wrong ideology) were killed in a mind-boggling example of man's inhumanity to man. The goal of Yad Vashem is to give a name to every person who died, to personalize this faceless mass, branded like cattle, numbers burned onto their arms, packed into cattle cars, and shipped off to concentration camps and gas chambers.





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Chagall's stained-glass windows




The Hadassah Medical Center (University Clinics) was opened in 1962 and is part of the Hebrew University. In its synagogue can be seen the twelve stained-glass windows by the painter Marc Chagall and the stained-glass artist Charles Marcq, illustrating the 12 sons of Jacob.














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