There won’t be a test on your trip to Israel, at least from me! But most people want to prepare yourself. Personally, I would shy away from the travel books that you’d get at the bookstore.
They make you think like a tourist when, in fact, you are a pilgrim. The following books provide helpful background for our time in the Holy Land.
In the Steps of Jesus, Peter Walker. (Great resource; I just saw if for $11 at Barnes & Noble.)
The Source, James Michener. The book is long and very Michener-esque. But for those who make it through it, they love it! Start reading now! Page upon page will follow.
Killing Jesus, Bill O’Reilly. It is good, even if a bit gory and rough. It will give you a picture of the life and times of our Lord.
Jesus: A Pilgrimage, Fr. James Martin. Sometimes his ‘meditations’ are a bit overdrawn, but I think it will get you thinking about the experiences you will have in Israel.
Jerusalem, Simon Sebag Montefiore. This is a great book that I just finished a few years ago. It is what it claims to me: a biography of a war-torn city.
Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer: A totally secular, business book about the remarkable accomplishments of the Jewish state of Israel. Amazing perspective on how and why.
The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World, Anson Rainey and Steven Notley. This is too expensive…but you might be able to find it at a used site. But the book has what everyone will want to have with them on the trip: maps. (I’ll give you one on the first day!)
Go to Galilee, Jacob Firsel. I have not read this book but it comes highly recommended.
The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today, Tom Wright. This is a wonderful meditation on the aspect of pilgrimage through the land. We are not ‘pilgrims’ in the sense of being exiled from a country or a religious zealot trying to prove our faithfulness to God. But we are pilgrims in the sense that we are trying to walk with the Lord as he walked. Bishop Wright is, as always, “Wright” on!
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg These books are wonderful (there are a few in this series) and deeply inspiring. I would highly recommend them and the website that the author maintains. She’s great!
Biblical Archaeology Review (magazine): There are some great deals at this website if you subscribe. They have some downloadable books that are really very good.
There is no shortage of links and channels on the Internet that will give you information about the Holy Land and your trip to Israel. I have recommended these in the past.
The trip will be filled with rich experiences and meaningful connections. There are things you can do today to increase the impact of your investment. Here are a few:
Walk – While this is not a trekking tour, we will be visiting so many sites. Being physically prepared for the itinerary and terrain will be helpful.
Read – Most of us are familiar with the biblical timeline, but we might need a refresher on the history of the church in the region. Jerusalem has been sacked over two dozen times by various forces so it can be a bit confusing.
Fran shares the Roseberry’s strategy, tips, and lists for greatest efficiency while packing light:
Due to weight restrictions for luggage and the length of our trip, its expected you’ll wear most things at least twice. When possible, bring things that can be washed in the evening and dry by morning. Pack a few items with extreme weather in mind as you don’t want to be uncomfortable on such an important trip. If needed, things can be laundered at our hotel in Jerusalem.
Here are some key words to remember when you are making decisions for the trip: practical, comfortable, modest, multipurpose, layers. Our trip is casual and we don’t plan on ‘dressing up’ at any time.
We will each take two pieces of luggage. David takes a larger bag to check and a small backpack. I will take a carry on and a small backpack also. We take the backpacks onto the bus with us each day to carry a jacket (when needed), Bible and journal, snacks, etc. (The things on the bus are always secure. You can leave things on the bus during the day if you want.) I will often wear a small fanny pack. If you are going to check your bag, it is a good idea to pack a few
pieces of clothing in your spouse’s or roommate’s bag. Only a few times has a bag been lost but it takes a few days to catch up to us!
Watch weight limits on carry on and checked bags. The airlines will weigh everything if it seems heavy. For checked bags, the limit is 50 lbs. and a total of 62” (HXDXW). The first checked bag is free but each additional checked bag is $100. You are also allowed two carryon items: one bag not-to-exceed 40 lbs. and 14” X 9” X 22”, and a personal item such as a handbag, small backpack, computer or camera bag.
NOTE: include in every checked bag a copy of your passport, a copy of our itinerary and copies of labels from any prescriptions you bring with you. If your bags are lost or misdirected, the airlines will know where you will be.
ALSO: use TSA-approved locks on your bags.
Listed below are items we will take. Wear the bulkier and heavier things on the plane to help keep your suitcase weight down.