ICEJ Summer Family Tour 2023
Families Building Lifelong Memories Together in Israel
By: Liesl Maas, Tours Co-Director
With the warmth of summer filling the air, the ICEJ USA Branch embarked on its first-ever Summer Family Tour to Israel. The tour’s purpose was to give families with children—younger and older—grandparents, and even extended family the opportunity to experience the land of the Bible together. Every day was specially put together with a mixture of adventure, biblical history, and an opportunity to learn more about the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The group came prepared for a 10-day tour of Israel, but what they got exceeded all their expectations.
Participants visited the beautiful ruins of Caesarea Marittima, where the gospel went forth to the gentiles. They walked atop Mount Carmel, where Elijah defended the worship of our God. They took a boat ride over the Sea of Galilee, imagining themselves watching Jesus calm the storms and walk on the water. The Bible came to life before everyone’s eyes as they sat listening to the Word of God read out loud at the Mount of Beatitudes and as they walked down the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem toward Gethsemane, picturing Jesus’s final hours on Earth before He died for us. Each family had time to pray, worship the Lord, and take communion together at the Garden Tomb. It was moving for the whole group to witness some kids and parents get baptized in the Jordan River, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus and many others. A tour participant gave her life to the Lord on the shores of the Galilee one morning, and the presence of the Lord was with the group every place they went. Everyone on the trip felt something special was taking place as each day continued.
But what would a family tour to Israel be without some adventure and fun along the way! They kayaked down the Jordan River, rode camels in the desert, herded goats, hunted for scorpions at night, and enjoyed a bonfire before sleeping in a Bedouin tent—a highlight for kids, parents, and grandparents alike! All this brought about marriage and family team-building lessons everyone enjoyed.
Finally, the group had the incredibly special opportunity to visit the ICEJ Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors, where they met a Survivor of the Holocaust and heard her story of how she survived this terrible time in history. ICEJ Deputy AID Director Yudit Setz spoke about ICEJ’s Holocaust project ministry and all that is being done to help these precious individuals with basic physical needs. At the end of the visit, the kids came around the lady who spoke to the group and hugged her. She was so touched and happy to see them, and the feeling was mutual.
The warmth of summer doesn’t bother you when you are in Israel standing under the fresh waterfalls at Ein Gedi, where David hid from Saul, swimming in the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus fed the multitudes, or floating in the waters of the famous Dead Sea. There is nothing better than spending a summer vacation in Israel—for these families, their summer trip to Israel proved to be a special memory-making, life-changing 10 days that they will have with them forever, affirmed by one tour participant Francine from Tennessee who said, “What a blessed and wonderful experience together.”
What plans do you and your family have for the summer of 2024? Consider coming to Israel on a life-changing 10-day tour that will build precious lasting memories for you and your family forever!