Questions & Answers
What is the Holy Land Institute?
It is a
St. Thomas More Catholic Church in San
Francisco that responds to the exhortation of
the Holy Father Benedict XVI to support Holy
Land Christians and to that of Jesus when he
told Peter, “Feed my sheep.” We seek to
encourage Christians in the Holy Land by
educating adults and young people about the
Bible and the land of the Bible, by organizing
pilgrimages to the Holy Land, by patronizing
Christian businesses in the Holy Land, by
becoming acquainted with the ministries,
outreach and interreligious activities of the
Holy Land Christians, and by promoting
encounters and dialogue.
Who is the travel agent?
Linsil Travel of San Francisco arranges the
travel. Registration forms and payments go
directly to Linsil Travel, CST # 2036096-40. Air
travel is organized from a particular gate city,
such as San Francisco, but flights from other
cities can be arranged.
Who is leading the pilgrimage?
director is Monsignor Labib Kobti, and the
leader is Dr. Claudia Devaux who may be
contacted at (805) 544-9088 or by email at info@HolyLandInstitute.org.
What can we expect in terms of visits to
Biblical and archeological sites?
be provided with readings associated with each
site. Local English-speaking guides will provide
commentary including Biblical context,
archeology, history, and geography. Site visits
require a considerable amount of walking.
What are the distinctive features of Holy Land
The number of
pilgrims is limited to between 16 and 25. The
program language is English; most of our
liturgies will be in English, but some will be
in Arabic. Our patronage of Christian
guesthouses helps support Christians in the Holy
Land and local ministries [e.g., programs for
people with disabilities, schools, youth
movements, orphanages]. Our program is not
limited to holy site visits; we encounter Holy
Land Christians in their homes and elsewhere to
listen to their stories and learn firsthand of
their challenges, joys, and dreams.
Where do we stay in the Holy Land?
East of the
Jordan, we stay at Our Lady of Peace Center in
Amman. Pope Benedict XVI visited this center in
May 2009. West of the Jordan, we stay at a
guesthouse in Nazareth, the boyhood home of
Jesus, and at hotels or guesthouses operated by Christians in
Bethlehem where Ruth, the Moabite, settled with
her mother-in-law Naomi, where her great
grandson King David was born, and where the Lord
Jesus, descended from the House of David, was
born. Bethlehem, a city in the West Bank, used
to be 90% Christian, but due to emigration, the
Christian population has decreased to less than
35%. With the visit of Pope John Paul II in
2000, many hotels and guesthouses were built.
However, only recently has the town seen an
increase in international visitors. Pilgrims
from all over the world, including Spain, Italy.
Poland, the Netherlands, France, England,
Brazil, and India–make Bethlehem their base when
visiting the Holy Land. We also stay in
Christian guesthouses in other towns such as
Nazareth and Taybeh.
What happens on a home visit?
We arrange for
home visits to Christian families. Pilgrims join the host family for
refreshments and conversation and perhaps a personal
tour of the area. Ideas for gifts that pilgrims
might offer their host families include books
featuring pictures of scenery from the pilgrim’s
hometown, chocolates, souvenir serving trays or
coasters, and music CDs.
What is the price?
The price is
indicated on the registration form. A land-only
fee is available for those who wish to make
their own air travel arrangements. Prices are
subject to change if the group fails to get a
minimum number of pilgrims or if operators
increase their prices or if the US dollar is
devalued significantly against other currencies
or, for air travel, if there is a fuel
are required to purchase travel insurance or
sign a waiver.
What is included in the price?
includes roundtrip air fare from a gateway city
[arrangements can be made for connecting
flights], transportation from the destination
airport and to the departure airport, lodging
based on double occupancy [a limited number of
single rooms is available for a supplement],
breakfast and dinner, and entry fees.
What is not included in the pilgrimage price?
snacks, beverages, and personal expenses are not
included in the price nor are the gratuities for
the guides and drivers. If you wish to use a
carriage at Petra instead of walking, you may do
so for about $30 roundtrip. These buggies seat
one driver and two passengers. You may also ride
a camel at Petra for a fee.
What about shopping?
There will be
plenty of opportunities to shop. We make a point
to take you to “fair trade” shops that offer
fair prices to shoppers and fair compensation to
both shopkeepers and artisans. You will learn
about the quality of olive wood carvings, taste
wine and maybe even beer made in the Holy Land,
admire exquisite embroidery work, sip mint tea
and Arabic coffee, perhaps get a manicure or facial, and
experience the luxury of mineral products from
the Dead Sea. You will have free time to bargain
with vendors in Jerusalem, and you will meet our
artisans in Bethlehem and also in Jordan. If
suddenly you need to replace a broken suitcase,
get a shoe repaired, buy batteries for your
camera, consult a pharmacist, or have a dental
cavity filled, we will make sure you see the
What is the electrical voltage?
On both sides
of the Jordan, the voltage is 220. Some
devices are bi-voltage, but if you have an
appliance that only accepts 110 volts, you will
need a converter. To plug in your device, you
will need a Middle East plug adapter which can
be purchased online, in airports, at travel
stores, and even at Target.
When do we go to the Holy
When we get a group of 16 or
more pilgrims, we will schedule a pilgrimage to
the Holy Land. We like to go in spring or fall
to avoid the hot summer and the rainy winter. We
do not go at Easter or Christmas for a couple of
reasons. The more obvious reason is that we want
to avoid the huge crowds. Another very important
reason is that we want to leave the churches
open to the local Christians for these holy
days. We don't want them to miss worshipping in
their own churches at Easter or Christmas due to
What about the weather?
Mediterranean climate is similar to that of
California. The average daily temperature in
Jerusalem in both May and October is a high of
77 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of about 54
How much money should I bring?
gratuities, we suggest that you plan on $10 a
day for the guide and $5 a day for the driver.
For those going to Jordan, there will be a new
guide and driver. On the day we cross the
border, we will have a separate guide and driver
pair on each side of the border. In other words,
count on tipping each pair for that day. You may
encounter attendants at public restrooms; you
can give them local money or a dollar bill. Lunches may run anywhere from about $10 to $20,
and usually beverages are extra. The bus driver will provide
bottled water, and so he must be reimbursed.
Most pilgrims walk to Petra, but for no extra
charge you may ride a horse for part of the
route, or for an additional price [about $30 RT],
two passengers may ride in a carriage. You may pay for many
purchases with dollars,
and you can get shekels for Israel/Palestine and
dinars for Jordan at the airport or at local money changers. Credit
cards are accepted at many shops.
How much luggage may I bring?
We recommend that you bring only
one easy-to-pull bag on wheels as there will be
limited space on the bus and we will be moving
around. Yes, it's a good idea to bring a
carry-on bag as well. Put any medications and maybe
even a change of clothes in your carry-on bag.
It is helpful to have an inflatable neck pillow
for the long flight overseas. You may wish to
pack your Bible.
do I sign up?
registration form and send it with your
Linsil Travel. Payment in full must be
received [usually] two months before the start
of the pilgrimage.