Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Travel to Israel, Jordan and Palestine with Dr. Michelson

Travel to Israel, Jordan, & Palestine – the “Holy Land”

What kind of trip is this?
While it is the case that this trip is offered most intentionally for Christian persons (students) who will participate in full-time ministry – there are political, archeological, social and cross-cultural components to this class that are intentionally constructed. Our primary focus is on Bible related sites and issues, but the class (for credit) is entitled “Ideology of Land: Jewish and Arab Perspectives” because there are contested ideas about who lives in these lands and why – and these contests date back in antiquity. The trip is not a pilgrimage, though spiritual contemplation is welcome. The trip is principally educational.

Is it safe?
Given the contemporary world, no one can ever assure anyone’s complete safety anywhere in the world. The Holy Land is no exception to this sad reality. However, travel to and within Jordan, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories does not place one at significantly greater risk of being a victim of violence than does travel to and within any major American city. In my own travel to the area no one with my group has felt threatened by violence.

What sites will the trip visit?
Sea of Galilee Dead Sea Jordan River Bethlehem
Jerusalem Mount of Olives Golan Heights Nazareth
Masada Jerash Caesarea Maratima Sepphoris
Madaba Mt. Nebo Mount of Olives
Mount of Beatitudes Church of Nativity Church of the Holy Sepulchre

What are the dates for the trip?
January 3 to 13, 2011 – with supplemental elective two days to Petra at supplemental cost.

Who will lead the tour?
Dr. Marty Alan Michelson along with faculty from the Society of Biblical Studies.
( See more here: and )

Why do you lead trips to the Holy Land?
I lead trips to the Holy Land because I love the experience. I love introducing people to the traditional holy sites and to the lands of the Bible. Also, I love helping Americans to learn about the contemporary culture and struggles of the people who populate the lands of the Bible today. My trips actively engage questions of peace-making in the Middle East. I make no profit from the trips.

How much does it cost?
$2997 (plus airfare to/from Chicago!) which will cover some meals every day (breakfast & dinner,not snacks!), entrance fees, border fees, guide fees, taxes, tips. Students Loans CAN be applied! The two-day addition to Petra – if enough register to participate – is $525.

When is the money due?
Full payment with the registration will be due ten weeks before the departure date. To make it simple, full payment is due at the start of the Academic Semester per SNU’s calendar – late August.

Aren’t many similar trips to the Holy Land cheaper?
No. Many travel companies practice a “bait-and-switch” method of sales. They either advertise a price that is eventually either is unavailable or is later inflated with additional “fees” (like taxes, tips, entry fees, domestic air, oversea ground transportation, visa fees, meals, etc.). My pricing policy is realistic and does not inflate after you have committed to travel. I have, in the past, had the US Department of Travel add last minute fees for security excise fees, however.

What all is covered by the cost of the trip?
The price of the trip includes all transportation, lodging, taxes and governmental fees, all morning and evening meals (lunch is not included), admission to all sites, and tips. The price does not include the price of lunch each day or the price of keepsakes and a few personally chosen tips.

Is this trip sponsored by the university where you teach? And can I get college credit?
Yes, SNU, where I teach, is associated with this trip. Yes, college credit is available and ENCOURAGED. A BLT (Biblical Literature) class for Undergraduate or *Graduate* students will be offered in Fall 2010. The class can also be taken as Theology or History.

Who may go on this trip?
The trip is open primarily and intentionally to college age students associated with SNU. Other persons will be welcome as space is available for anyone who wishes to see the Holy Land. Parents or Senior adults are welcome to experience the travel together. The main ingredient is a gracious attitude, willing heart, studious mind, and ability to walk/hike or willingness to sit behind while others do their walking/hiking to/from locations.

Can I be baptized in the Jordan River?
Yes. Dr. Michelson will baptize anyone who has not been baptized before and who professes Christ as Lord. For those who have been baptized before, they may renew their baptismal vows at the Jordan River.

Will we celebrate the Lord’s Supper at any point?
Yes. For those who wish to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we will offer the sacrament while on the Mount of the Beatitudes (overlooking the Sea of Galilee).

Are there a limited number of places available on this trip?
Yes. The trip is limited to the number of people who can comfortably travel in a single bus on location.

Do I need a passport?
Yes. You will need a passport at least six months before we travel. You start the passport process at Do this early, NOW!

What kind of meals will be available?
Some meals will be served as buffets with traditional Arabic, Jewish, American dishes from which to choose. Other meals will be served in sit down style with service to your table. Lunch will be purchased at local restaurants (at the traveler’s expense). Meal portions will not be “all you can eat” but will be a full portion meal, often served in several “courses.”

How much cash should I take?
The answer to this question largely depends upon each individual’s personal spending habits. The only direct expenses that travelers will incur are lunch time meals and beverages (other than water) at meal times. (In the Middle East, hotels traditionally serve only water and charge a nominal fee [about $1] for any additional beverage.) I have traveled with people who spent less $100 on a fifteen day trip and with people who have spent more than $500 in the same length of time. (Most outlets take credit cards and ATMs are widely available, but I do NOT recommend traveler’s checks—many places will not accept traveler’s checks and many others add a surcharge to traveler’s checks). As a general guideline, I would recommend about $300 in cash for most travelers.

Will the trip offer time for personal prayer and spiritual reflection?
Yes. Most days will include a few hours in the evening when travelers can engage in unstructured activities ranging from personal prayer and meditation to walks along the Sea of Galilee.

What are the hotel accommodations like?
Our accommodations are generally in three and four hotels, comparable to moderately priced American hotels. All are clean, safe and professionally staffed. Some have pools, saunas, hot tubs and exercise. All have private bathrooms and comfortable beds.

Will we meet with any local people?
Yes. We will organize evening programs with people who represent the diversity of political and religious opinions in the Middle East. The programs allow the travelers to meet local Christians, Jews and Muslims from both Israel and Palestinians. Travelers will be able to dialogue with a wide spectrum of opinion.

How do I register for the trip?
Nothing can be done to register for the trip now. But, in March/April 2010 you should plan to schedule for the course for Fall 2010. Plan now to “not take” a BLT credit in your major – and take this course for credit! Contact Dr. Marty Michelson,


Korey said...

I know I have already talked to you about it before, but I just wanted to remind you. I am very interested!

Unknown said...

I went to the Holy Land in 2007 with Dr. Michelson and it was an amazing trip! I feel like having been to the Holy Land gives you different eyes when you come to read the Scriptures. Earlier this week I was reading in the Gospels and Jesus was traveling in through Galilee -- I have been to the towns that were named in the passage! As I read, I was thinking of the terrain and the smells and the way it felt to walk along the lake. It brings a whole new level of experience to the text. And the trip gives me some far greater insights into the current social political situation in the Middle East. I've had the privilege to travel quite a bit, but I would easily say that this was one of the best trips I've ever had the opportunity to go on!

JuniperLeeMorris said...

I went on this trip in 2008 with Dr. Michelson, let me just say YOU SHOULD GO! it was so worth it! like Sarah said, you will never read the Bible the same again, it totally brings it to life! you will also gain amazing memories in this opportunity to see new lands and meet interesting Middle Eastern people. It is NOT dangerous, we never once feared for our lives, they really like Americans. spending a few days in Bethlehem was my favorite part,i will never forget the sights, especially the church of the nativity. it was so meaningful to walk through the streets where our Savior was born! it is definitely something you have to experience, pictures and words don't do it justice. GO!

Stephanie DiPego said...

If I am not studying abroad, I will DEFINITELY go! : )

Tyler said...

A few tips:
1. Falafel in Cana = pure goodness...make sure this isn't your first falafel sandwich because all others will fall short.
2. Explore...take three or four people and walk around before you hit the hay, try turkish coffee, buy and barter with the locals, and enjoy the moments.
3. Experience...I journaled, others took pictures, and others collected stuff, but everyone brings something back. You will get tired and it will be worth it!

I have talked with other people who have gone on similar trips to Israel and they didn't get to say in Bethlehem, they didn't stop in Cana for falafel, and they definitely didn't get the same interaction with the local community. The SBS makes sure you experience a richer trip with more depth than any tourist trip could give you (so much depth they'll give you college credit for it :). I don't usually presume to know what other's want, but YOU want to go on this trip!