Top 10 Holy Land experiences over Passover and Easter

So, the holidays are coming up and you’re thinking about how to plan your Holy Land tour. With so many choices of things to do and places to see – organizing your Holy Land tour might seem overwhelming – particularly if you are visiting over the Passover and Easter holidays. No worries. Breaking Bread Journeys has put together our Top 10 list of Must See experiences!

Breaking Bread Journeys recommends the following Top 10 Must Do experiences over the upcoming holidays below. Read thru and start planning your visit today. (not in any particular order)

1. Join the Palm Sunday and/or Good Friday Processions
Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 people are expected the Palm Sunday and Good Friday processionals.

The Palm Sunday procession is led by the Latin Patriarchate and begins at Bethphage and continues into the Old City entering through the St. Stephen’s Gate and ending at the Church of St. Anne. The procession is on Sunday March 29, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. and commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

The Good Friday procession (Via Crucis) is at 11:30 a.m on April 5, 2015.

Good Friday 2

Led by the Franciscan Friars and the procession begins at the First Station of the Cross in the Old City and follows the path that Jesus took on the day of his death, known as the Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. According to Father Juan Solana, the local representative of the Holy See,”Being a part of this very special procession and a unique experience for any Christian.”

2. Participate in a Passover Seder

Over the last several years more Christians are seeking to understand the roots of Christianity and one of the best ways to delve deeper is to study the Torah and celebrate a Passover seder. Unlike Easter which is celebrated by attending mass, the Passover Seder is a true family celebration. If you have an opportunity to attend a seder grab it. It is a wonderfully meaningful experience.

3. Visit the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday or on Easter Sunday

Visit the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday. This shrine is where the last five Stations of the Cross are located. No Easter in the Holy Land is complete without exploring this historic shrine. The Good Fridan services: 8.00 a.m. – Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, Calvary. The doors will remain opened.4.00 p.m. – The Liturgy of the Hours. 8.10 p.m. – “Funeral” Procession.

On Easter Sunday the services are as follows
7:30 a.m. – Entry into the Basilica by the Latin Patriarch
8:00 a.m. – Solemn Mass of Resurrection and Procession around the Rotunda
5:00 p.m. – Daily Procession

4. Tour Mt. Zion

If authenticity is what you are seeking than make sure to visit the Upper Room located at Mount Zion and read about the resurrection in the Gospels while you are there. Jesus’s appearance to the Apostles occurred in the Upper Room.

The Upper Room is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 pm. On Holy Thursday, April 2 – at 3:30 p.m. there is a Pilgrimage to the Cenacle and to the Church of St. James.

5. Attend “Resurrection Sunday” at the Garden Tomb

Easter Sunday also referred to as “Resurrection Sunday”, is a special day at the Garden Tomb and services are held at April 5 at 6:30 am and 9:30 in English, Scandanavian at 11 and Korean at 12. Moreover the Garden Tomb also holds its annual Arabic Easter event which coincides with Orthodox Easter and which brings together 500 to 600 Arab and Israeli believers. Seeing both Israelis and Palestinians together in prayer makes this an even more spiritually significant event. This event is scheduled for April 11 in the afternoon. Call 02-539-8100 for details.

Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb

6. Wake up early and attend Holy Fire Ceremony

The highlight of Orthodox Easter is the the Holy Fire Ceremony that only happens in Jerusalem, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the Sunday after Passover.

Holy Fire Ceremony

Holy Fire Ceremony

On April 11 Orthodox Christians gather very early in the morning and will squeeze into the Church of the Sepulchre for the annual Holy Fire Ceremony.

7. Attend the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall

The very special priestly blessing that is said during the Passover holiday take place on the third day of Passover, April 6, 2015. Known as the Bircat Cohanim, the blessing is recited twice at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, first at 9 am during the morning service and again at 10 am during the Musaf service.

western wall small

You will hear the leader of the service reciting the blessing over the loudspeaker in order that everyone can follow and recite the blessing in unison.

8. Enjoy Free entrance to the Israel Museum on April 10, 2015

Israel Museum celebrates the Passover holiday with free entrance on Friday April 10 only, from 10 am to 2 pm. Moreover, in celebration of its 50th year, a fantastic new new exhibit just opened, “6 Artists / 6 Projects.” Special note: Bank Hapoalim often sponsors free entrances to a number of museums all over the country during the intermediate days of Passover, April 5 – 9, 2015. Make sure to check Bank Hapoalim’s website as the holiday approaches to see what entrances they will be hosting.

9. Dead Sea Music Festival – April 5 – 9, 2015
If you love music, the Dead Sea Music Festival is the festival for you. For the 19th year, Israelis and tourists from abroad will descend to the Dead Sea for this highly anticipated rock music festival where they will enjoy performances by top Israeli artists. Tip: Make sure to catch one of the famous Masada sunrise performances. (usually David Broza performs and if so, don’t miss it).

10. 8th Annual Stone in the Galilee Sculpting Symposium – Maalot-Tarshiha, April 5 – 8, 2015

This international stone sculpting festival is now in its 20th year and brings together many international artists as well as Israel’s most prominent sculptors creating art for public spaces. The festival includes dialogues as well as an indoor exhibition. Call 04-9578888

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