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2021 Holy Land Tour to Israel–Retirement Homes

March 24-April 3, 2021

Have you always wanted to see the Holy Land?

Would you like to walk where Jesus walked?

Do you have a thirst to learn more about the Bible?

This will be a trip that will forever change the way you read your Bible!

This 11-day trip includes 8 full days and  9 nights in Israel

(Photo to the right: Azam (bus driver), Eric Johnson, and guide Andre Sharma, all of us looking forward to having you come!)

Join us for so many sites that you have read about in the Bible, including:

  • Sea of Galilee boat ride
  • Caesarea by the Sea
  • St. Peter’s fish lunch
  • Rabbi Tunnel Tour of Western Wall
  • Communion service at Garden Tomb
  • Bethlehem
  • Hezekiah’s Tunnel
  • And much more

To register for this trip, click _________ (COMING SOON!)

To see the insurance policy, click Allianz Travel Insurance.

Itinerary subject to change while touring for the best interest of the group.

DAY 1 –WEDNESDAY, March 24, 2021: Flight from Dulles Airport

Today we gather in Washington, DC for our first leg–transportation from the retirement home to the airport will be provided.  Meals served on board.

DAY 2 – THURSDAY, March 25, 2021: Complete flight to Tel Aviv

We will lose 7 hours on the time change plus the time and transfer in a European city to fly to Tel Aviv, which will take up most of the day.  Upon arrival in Tel Aviv we are met by our guide Andre Sharma and Eric Johnson, both of whom will be with us for the time we are in the Holy Land. Board our bus and travel through Tel Aviv, proceeding to the city of Netanya on the Mediterranean to our hotel where we will check in for overnight.

HOTEL: Island Suites Netanya

DAY 3 – FRIDAY, March 26: CAESAREA /  MT. CARMEL /  NAZARETH / TIBERIAS

This morning we begin our day at Caesarea, a port on the Mediterranean Sea that was built by Herod the Great and dedicated to Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor. Here you will have a chance to sit in the Roman theater, walk along the hippodrome, and check out a Crusader fort. You can also see where Herod’s palace once stood, as 2,000-year-old floor mosaics can still be seen on the shore. Paul was under arrest and certainly was here! This is considered one of Israel’s major archaeological sites, and the sea makes it one of the most beautiful places in the country. We proceed to Mt. Carmel where the famous standoff took place between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  This is a great place to overlook the valleys on both sides and get bearings on our location. From here we head over to Nazareth where we will visit Nazareth Village, a recreation of Nazareth from 2,000 years ago. Visit shepherds, carpenters, and others who are in period dress and understand better what it was like to live in Nazareth during the days of Jesus.  IF there is time, we will also try to stop by the Church of the Annunication where Gabriel met the Virgin Mary.  After this eventful first day, we make our way to our hotel for the first of our two-night stay.

Hotel: Ron Beach Hotel (Tiberias) Night 1

DAY 4 – SATURDAY, March 27, 2021: JORDAN RIVER / CAPERNAUM / TAGBHA / Mt. of BEATITUDES / INCLUDED ST. PETER’S FISH LUNCH /    MAGDALA / BOAT RIDE / TIBERIAS

This morning is a special time to practice the ordinance of water baptism. We will go to the Jordan River where those participants who have never been baptized (or who do not remember their infant baptisms) will have a chance to give their testimony and be immersed the same way as Jesus. Next we continue to Capernaum where the home of Peter and the town’s synagogue can be seen. Next we visit Christian churches located at Tabgha (loaves and fishes) and the Mount of Beatitudes—a place where we can read from the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s have lunch at a restaurant to partake of a St. Peter’s fish (or, if you wish, chicken) meal, the one lunch included in the price. After lunch,  we heave over to Magdala where an authentic Jewish synagogue from 2,000 was discovered less than 2 decades ago! Scholars say Jesus would have visited this synagogue in the place where Mary Magdalene lived.  Our final activity is taking a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee…how exciting! We will have a chance to hear Christian worship music, dance to Jewish songs, and celebrate our time in the Holy Land. We will see a New Testament boat found two decades ago during a drought dating to the time of the apostles
(if you haven’t been baptized, you too can participate in this very important ordinance)

Hotel: Ron Beach Hotel (2 of 2)

DAY 5 – SUNDAY, MARCH 28, 2021:  QUMRAN / MASADA /  DEAD SEA SWIM / EIN GEDI / JERICHO

Picture to right: Cistern at Masada

We start the day by taking an extended bus ride down to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on the earth (1300 feet below sea level). After a few hours of driving, we stop by Qumran and check out the village once inhabited by the Essenes, the people who compiled the Dead Sea Scrolls 2,000 years ago. These scrolls were first discovered by a shepherd boy in 1947, including the earliest copies we have of the Old Testament. This discovery helps us see how accurate the Old Testament really is. Then we head to Masada and ascend by cable car to the magnificent ruins of the fortress where, from AD 70-73, Jewish defenders made their historic stand in the Judean revolt against Rome. We will have a chance to explore as we walk through the storehouses, cisterns, and three-tiered palace created by Herod the Great. From here, we head over to a private beach on the Dead Sea…who’s ready for short swim in a sea where nobody drowns? It is the lowest point on earth.If there is time, we will stop by in Gedi, the desert oasis where David hid from Saul. It is a chance to take a short hike to the lower waterfall and have a devotional. We head back north to Jericho where we will spend the night.

Hotel: Oasis Hotel 1 night

DAY 6 – MONDAY, March 29, 2021: JERICHO / BETHLEHEM / MOUNT OF OLIVES / JERUSALEM

We begin at a place called Jericho–perhaps you’ve heard of the walls falling down?  We will have a chance to see the burn layers and understand personally what this tell is all about. From here, let’s go visit one of the possible sites for the Shepherds’ Fields in the Nativity sotry—perhaps we could celebrate Christmas a bit early by singing “Silent Night” inside one of the caves! Bethlehem is where Jesus was born, a direct fulfillment of Micah 5:2. After lunch, we can visit the Church of the Nativity where, in a basement cave, we will stand in the same place where the Savior was born. We will also visit the quarters where Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate in the fourth century. After a stop at a Bethlehem olive wood shop run by Christians, we head to Jerusalem, the place where we will spend the rest of our trip. Let’s go on up to the Mount of Olives and offer us a bird’s-eye view of the old city of Jerusalem. This will give you a perspective as we embark on a tour of this city over the next week. We head to our hotel for the first of a five night stay—unpack your bags for the rest of the week!

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem (1 of 5)

DAY 7 – TUESDAY, March 30, 2021: JACOB’S WELL / SHECHEM / SAMARIA /  SHILOH / JERUSALEM

Today we will have a chance to see sites that many tourists will never experience. We start off by visiting Jacob’s Well in Nablis where Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4). Drink a cup of cold water from this deep well! From here we head over to Shechem, a place so very important in the Bible located between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. Next we visit Samaria to see the Israelite ruins of the capitol of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. There is a wonderful authentic Palestinian lunch we can experience. On our way back to Jerusalem, let’s stop by Shiloh, the site where the tabernacle resided for some four centuries. We will be able to see the very place where the tabernacle resided for this time. We then head back to the hotel after another incredible day.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem (2 of 5)

DAY 8– WEDNESDAY, March 31, 2021: RABBI TUNNEL / WESTERN WALL / TEMPLE MOUNT / POOL OF BETHESDA / ST. ANNE’S CHURCH/ SOUTHERN STEPS / UPPER ROOM

This morning we start at the the Western “Wailing” Wall, the holiest place in all of Judaism, before touring the Rabbi Tunnel, which takes us down to the very foundation of the walls. Next we will climb up to the Temple Mount, which is where the Dome of the Rock is located. This is the site where the Holy of Holies was located. From here, we will stop by the Pool of Bethesda (John 5) and St. Anne’s Church, which is perfectly preserved from the Crusader period – with remarkable acoustics. Why don’t we sing “Amazing Grace” together! You have never heard this hymn sung more sweetly than here. After this, we go back to the Jewish Quarter where we will visit the Southern (Teaching) Steps—Jesus was certainly here, right outside the temple itself. We end the day visiting the upper room and the place where many Jews believe David was buried.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem (3 of 5)

DAY 9 –MAUNDY THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2021: CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER/ CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS / GETHSEMANE / GARDEN TOMB / HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

We start out in the morning by visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the place where Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried before raising on the third day. It’s the climax. Then we will go backwards in time as we look at other sites important in Jesus’s last days, including the Church of All Nations, the place where Jesus went after the Last Supper and the site of the Garden of Gethsemane. There are olive trees in this garden with root systems going back to the time of Jesus! This is where Jesus prayed before he was betrayed and arrested. We then head over to the Garden Tomb! We will have a private communion service here that you will never forget! The words “He is not here. He is risen indeed” will have extra meaning for everyone. We end the day at Yad Vashem, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial. We’ve seen redemption by the death of resurrection of Jesus, and this is the result of those who don’t understand what God’s gift is all about.

Hotel:Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem (4 of 5)

DAY 10 – GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 2021: ISRAEL MUSEUM / CITY OF DAVID / HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL / POOL OF SILOAM / FREE TIME

We begin the morning at the Israel Museum  to spend time seeing authentic samples of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as walking around a model city of the ancient city of Jerusalem that is a football field in size! At the Shrine of the Book, we will be able to see actual pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And then, at the museum we can see such important artifacts as the Pontius Pilate inscription, the Tel Dan inscription (with proof of David), and the ossuary of Caiaphas, among many other important pieces of biblical history. After our morning adventure, we have one of two possible destinations:

  1. For those who have good mobility, we will visit the City of David to see the palace (and David’s view) on this hill. We will then make our way down dozens of stairs to slosh through Hezekiah’s Tunnel and hike 1749 feet from one end to the other–be sure you bring your flashlights and swimsuit. (The water is no higher than 2 1/2 feet this time of the year.)  This tunnel was dug by Hezekiah’s men in the 8th century BC and you will feel the chisel marks that were made almost 3 millennia ago! For those not so adventurous, there is a shorter dry tunnel as well, although I recommend the water tunnel for those who don’t like tight spaces. We will also see the Pool of Siloam talked about in the Bible, as part of it has recently been uncovered! After this, we will go to the city of Jerusalem for lunch and free time in the afternoon.
  2. For those who would rather skip the City of David and spend the full afternoon shopping or exploring on your own, the bus will drop you off at the Jaffa Gate. You will be picked up (with the rest of the group) at the end of the day at this same place.

Don’t forget to pack your bags before you fall asleep because we leave early the next morning for the airport.

Hotel: Ambassador Hotel Jerusalem (5 of 5)

DAY 11 –SATURDAY APRIL 3:  JERUSALEM / HOME

What a trip! It has been an adventure seeing so much that relates to the Bible. It’s time to catch an early morning flight to Dulles Airport. There will be so much to reflect on as the next day, April 4, is Easter Sunday! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Total Cost of the 11-day Israel Trip: $5095

What is included in the cost?

  • RT  transportation/transfers from DullesIMG
  • Full-time guide / bus / driver (Andre Sharma will be our guide, he’s AWESOME!)
  • 9 nights in 4-star hotels
  • All admission fees
  • 2 meals a day, breakfast and dinner buffet
  • A St. Peter’s fish lunch on our Sea of Galilee day
  • Travel Diary of the Holy Land, specifically for your trip (designed and produced by Eric Johnson–see the diary from the 2015 trip to your right)
  • Email correspondence throughout the months preceding the trip from Eric Johnson, including teaching, tips, video links, etc
  • A 50-day Devotional Preparation Guide (given PDF) at Christmas 2020

And so much more!

Not included: Optional travel insurance policy (7.25% or 9.8% of tour cost), transportation to Kennedy airport, most lunches, snacks/drinks, souvenirs.

For signing up within a week after Eric Johnson has visited, each single and couple will complimentary copy of The Holy Land For Christian Travelers. These will be delivered when Eric visits the campuses. In addition, each retirement home campus will receive several DVDs, including The Holy Land Revealed by Jody Magness, a 36-episode series that can be used by the social director. These are a gift to each campus site from Eric Johnson.

But here’s the best part. Everyone who meets the “Early Bird” discount will receive $100 off the cost of the trip. This means the trip is now under $5,000!

And, if we travel with 45 or more, each person who comes will receive an additional $100 in cash, making the cost of the trip even less.

Questions you may have

Is there unlimited room for sign ups?

Actually, no. There is limited room and this trip could sell out. We will only travel with one bus.

Will there be a lot of walking?

Yes, there will be land to cover. If you go to Disneyland, you know that you will easily put in 5 miles the day you’re there. In Israel, it’s similar. To see the sites, the buses will drop us off and we will need to walk to get to the site(s). On the average day, we will cover between 3 to 6 miles, although not all at once. Generally we will get on and off the bus an average of 5-6 times each day. If you get tired, you are free to stay with the bus, as our driver stays with the bus when we are gone. Our day typically begins at 6 a.m. wake-up call, 6:30 breakfast, and 7:30 drive away from the hotel. We usually try to get back to the hotel by 5:30 p.m. Dinner is usually at 6:30 p.m.Because Israel has no ADA laws, it is highly recommended that you are not wheelchair bound or you will miss more than half of what we will see. Walkers are not much of a help either. The best way to go is use a sturdy can or the portable walking/hiking sticks.

Will there be education in the months before we go?

Yes, Eric Johnson will be writing regular emails (more frequent in the fall/winter of 2020) to educate the passengers, provide video links, give announcements, etc. This will be his 14th trip since 2009 and he has a lot of experience getting people prepared–physically, mentally, and spiritually—to go on this trip of a lifetime. Your social director will be given some incredible videos that could be shown to travelers in a group setting as well. Or perhaps these materials could be checked out individually.

Do we need passports, visas, and shots?

Passports, YES! Your passport is needed. For US passports, yours should not expired before November 2021 or you will need to renew it. You can apply for a passport at your local post office. Do yourself a favor and obtain this well in advance! Sometimes passport deliveries are delayed and you don’t want to risk it. As far visas and shots, the answer is no to both!

Do we need the insurance policy?

There are two different policies from which you can choose. One is a standard policy, covering missed connections, medical issues, and lost luggage. The other allows you to cancel for any reason and receive 80% of your money back. You need to decide for yourself, but I definitely recommend the basic insurance for peace of mind

What about safety?

I have to be honest, I feel much more safe in Israel, even in the West Bank, than I do in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Washington DC! (Sorry if you live in those cities.) Nobody on my trips feels threatened at any site we have visited. As I understand it, no American tourist has been killed or even seriously injured for decades by any terrorist activity while going on a pilgrimage to Israel. The entire time we are in Israel, safety will be our highest priority. If anything is ever happens in a particular area during our trip, we will avoid that place–the guide will be in constant communication with the authorities. Also understand that governmental security is all around us, especially in sensitive areas such as Temple Mount and the Western Wall. And security is tighter in the Ben Gurion Airport than anywhere in the world. You will be as safe as possible and much safer than if they were in London, Paris, or Rome. So, in conclusion, I believe this is a very safe trip, or I would not have traveled here, without incident, close to a dozen times and have brought every member of my family–my wife twice

Actual comments from previous travelers

“Whoever goes with Eric Johnson is happy and satisfied because he cares about his passengers”–Andre Shama, Tour Guide in Israel

“This trip has so much power to change you!”

“Thanks for a prize-winning tour!”–Duane Tubbs, La Mesa, CA (2019 trip)

“The thrill of walking where Jesus walked and seeing the hills that Jesus preached from…it changes the way you read the Bible. It’s definitely worth it!”

“My experience on this trip was unlike any other. I will never forget what I saw and felt as we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee — I knew I was seeing the same things that Jesus Himself saw. This was the trip of a lifetime and it was worth every cent!”

“Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for such a life changing trip. I am so grateful for your time and planning for the last 10 days. This Easter has new meaning to me now that I have walked where Jesus walked, prayed where He prayed and saw where He was sacrificed. What a gift it is to visit the Holy Land and get to fellowship with such an amazing group of people.” K.B., traveler on the March 2018 trip

 Click here for a letter written on 3/6/2017 by a passenger on the 2017 trip.

2018 Video Testimonies

“There are no words to express the appreciation we have for this most outstanding trip-of-a-lifetime. Our hearts and minds are overflowing with new, deeper knowledge of the land and history of our precious Savior and Father. All glory to Him!!” –Shelly Anderson

“As I reflect back on our amazing trip and continue to try to adjust for the time zone change (smile), I just wanted to drop you a note and thank-you for the incredible journey you led. As people have been asking me about our time in Israel I am finding that it is so very difficult to put into words the dramatic impact that it had strengthening my faith and opening my understanding of God’s Word.”–Pat McCarty

“Just want to say one more time how grateful I am for your leadership of such a life-changing trip.  There is not a single person that didn’t have an incredible time, and many people’s faith grew significantly because of the experience. . . . You really did a great job at managing the details and all you did to make the trip smooth and enjoyable was noticed and appreciated.”–Chris Rutz

Check out these videos from Ritch Sandford

About trip organizer Eric Johnson

Photo to the left: Eric with daughters Janelle (now a University of Utah junior) and Carissa (CHS, class of 2010, now employed by Liberty University in Virginia and soon-to-be English teacher at a Christian school) stand on the Mount of Olives overlooking the old city of Jerusalem.

Eric Johnson graduated from Christian High (El Cajon) in 1980. In 1993, he returned to the school as a teacher, serving the Home of the Patriots for 17 years as the Bible department head, Genesis adviser, and JV softball coach. In 2009, he organized his first Holy Land adventure for 45 students, teachers, and parents. This was the first of many trips that he led. In fact, more than 300 people, including more than a dozen pastors, have traveled to the Holy Land with him. They have learned how the Bible speaks about real people and real places while describing historical events. Eric believes that everyone should come to the Holy Land and experience this incredible place for themselves in order to make the Bible come alive. Reading God’s Word will never be the same! As a note, in 2019 Eric took 41 senior citizens to Israel from five different retirement homes in the West. Half of the group was in their 80s, and 3 folks were in their 90s. All did great and have a wonderful experience.

Eric is married to Terri (31 years) and has three daughters. After teaching at CHS for 17 years, he moved to Utah in order to become a full-time Christian missionary to the Mormon people. He received his Master’s of Divinity degree in 1991 and has written several books . He is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal and was a contributor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (Holman, 2010).

Photo to the left: Eric stands in front of the Pontius Pilate inscription and the Caiphas family ossuary located in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Photo to the right: Eric and daughter Hannah on a trip in 2011 after Hannah’s baptism in the Jordan River

Previous trips to Israel taken by Eric Johnson

    • 1990 (passenger on a tour led by Dr. Ronald Youngblood, my professor at Bethel Seminary San Diego and a translator of the 1978 New International Version — see photo at right)
    • 2009 (CHS): 47 students, teachers, parents, staff from Christian High School (CHS) in El Cajon, CA in April
    • 2011 38 students, teachers, parents, staff from three different Christian high schools in March
    • 2012 (CHS): 43 students, teachers, parents, staff from CHS in March (Thad and Melissa Rothrock attended!)
    • 2013 (Adult): 45 adult travelers, including several pastors in February
    • 2015 (Adult): 18 adult travelers in February
  • 2017 (Adult): 55 adult travelers in February, including five pastors (Feb-March 2017)
  • 2018 (Adult): 27 adult travelers in February, including members from Clairemont Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Diego
  • 2018 (CHS/CVCS) 57 students and parents from two different Christian schools  in March (Thad and Melissa Rothrock attended!)
  • 2019 (Covenant Retirement Communities): 41 adult travelers from the Western U.S.
  • 2019 (Private group to Turkey, Greece, Italy): 15 adult travelers
  • Feb/March 2020: 55 adults are scheduled for a 13-day trip
  • March 2020: 22 adults are scheduled for a 13-day trip

Please, I encourage you to talk to anyone who has been on one of my previous trips and they will tell you, “Go!” You will never see more than on my trips. And this will be something you will never regret.

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