English-language pilgrimage to Holy Land in May announced

Moscow, October 26, 2018


An 8-day English-language pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May 2019 has been announced, and applications are now being accepted. The pilgrimage is organized and sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Discussion Club based at Moscow’s Valaam Representation. Detailed information about the club is available in a video presentation and on its website (both in Russian).

The club also organizes pilgrimages, with the latest being to the Holy Land, May 5-12, 2019. The pilgrimage will be led by an Orthodox Jerusalemite and a native English speaker with ten years of experience in leading tours, who also speaks four languages, including Russian and Hebrew.

Highlights of the tour include a reception by the Patriarch of the Jerusalem Orthodox Church, conversations with local monastics, lively spiritual discussions, and, of course, Divine Liturgy at the Tomb of Christ.

The cost of the pilgrimage is $1,120 plus airfare.

For those interested, further information is given below, including a detailed itinerary, and contact information for joining the pilgrimage.



Guide -- Raphael Musan-Levi:
Orthodox Jerusalemite
10 years of leading pilgrimage tours
Native speaker of English and Hebrew, fluent in Russian
Completed a program of the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies (Cambridge University)
MA Philology candidate

Hotels: 3-star hotels, twin rooms, half board (breakfast and dinner)

Contacts: Roman: +7-926-033-89-81, R.Chustuzian@gmail.com


Day 1 | May 5 | Sunday

Arrival at Tel-Aviv (Ben-Gurion airport), bus transfer to Bethlehem.

Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem

Day 2 | May 6 | Monday


Mount Tabor – the site of the Lord’s Transfiguration. Monastery of Transfiguration. Nazareth: Archangel Gabriel’s Church, Mary’s well. Cana of Galilee – the site of the marriage feast and first miracle. Church of St George the Victory Bearer at the location of the house of Apostle Simon the Canaanite. Excavations of a first-century synagogue and an ancient stone water pot. Magdala: excavations of the ancient first-century city. Sea of Galilee. Lunch including “fish of Apostle Peter”. Capernaum: Church of the twelve Apostles.

Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem

Day 3 | May 7 | Tuesday


Bethlehem: Basilica of the Nativity – Divine Liturgy. Shepherds field – ancient church in the cave of the shepherds. Lavra of St Sabbas the Sanctified.

Monastery of St Theodosius the Great.

Hebron: the Oak of Mamre.

Beit-Jala: Church and cave of St Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem

Day 4 | May 8 | Wednesday


Monastery of St George of Choziba.

Jordan: immersing in the Jordan waters at the site of the Lord’s Baptism in ancient Bethabara. Jericho. Mount of Temptation – place of the Savior’s 40-day fast. Monastery of Holy Prophet Elisha. Site of Zacchaeus the Publican’s house. Monastery of St. Gerasimos of Jordan. A cave church at the place where the Holy Family stopped on their way to Egypt.

Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem

Day 5 | May 9 | Thursday


Monastery of St. Chariton the Confessor (Ein Fara). Shechem –Jacob’s well, where the Lord talked with the Samaritan woman. Bethany – Monastery of Sts. Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The tomb of Lazarus the Four-Days Dead.

Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem

Day 6 | May 10 | Friday


Jerusalem. Ein-Karem. Gorny Convent. Sts. Zachariah and Elizabeth’s estate. Monastery of the Holy Cross – the site associated with the legend of the Life-Giving Cross. Mount of Olives. The Russian Monastery of Ascension – place of the first finding of St. John the Forerunner’s head. Greek Monastery of the Ascension.

Convent of St. Mary Magdalene: relics of the Grand Duchess St. Elizabeth Feodorovna. Garden of Gethsemane – the site of High Priestly Prayer. The tomb of the Mother of God. The wonderworking Jerusalem Icon of the Mother of God.

Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem

Day 7 | May 11 | Saturday


Jerusalem: a walk tour in the Old City. Bethesda pool. House of Sts. Joachim and Anna – birthplace of the Mother of God. Way of sorrows - Savior’s way to Golgotha. Alexander’s Court – threshold of the Judgment Gate. Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Tomb of Christ, Golgotha, the stone of anointment, the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross).


Confession at the All-Night Vigil in the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission.

Matins and the Divine Liturgy at the Tomb of Christ.

Overnight in Jerusalem

Day 8 | May 12 | Sunday


Lydda: Church of St. George the Victory Bearer, his tomb and a part of his relics. The wonderworking Lydda Icon of the Mother of God.

Jaffa: Church of Apostle Peter, the tomb of St. Tabitha.

Transfer to the airport. Departure to Moscow

Note: the program is preliminary and can be changed, including in case of unfavorable political environment.


If you are based in Russia:

By December 25 (inclusively): $250

By March 1 (inclusively): $1,250

Total: $1,500

The total payment covers air tickets (see below), stay at 3-star hotels, half board (breakfast and dinner), guide’s services, transfers to / from Tel-Aviv’s airport, and bus trips during the pilgrimage

If you are based outside Russia:

By December 25 (inclusively): $250

By March 1 (inclusively): $870

Total: $1,120

The total payment covers stay at 3-star hotels, half board (breakfast and dinner), guide’s services, transfers to / from Tel-Aviv’s airport, and bus trips during the pilgrimage


The total payment amount is approximate. It can change due to increasing costs of air tickets as the departure date approaches.

Starting from December 25, the tour administrator reserves the right to keep payments in case the pilgrimage group member refuses to participate in the tour.

Discount: if 16 people sign up for the tour, each pilgrimage group member will receive a $200 discount. Please invite your friends!

Entering the pilgrimage group:

The main part of the group is expected to be formed by December 25

Candidates are added to the group upon the first payment of $250

After December 25, it is possible to be added to the group only in case vacant places are available

In order to participate in the pilgrimage tour one should:

Take part in a one-on-one conversation, common organizational meetings and a dedicated Church service for the traveling

Have an international passport valid at least until the end of the trip

Have money to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Recommended minimum amount (to cover the lunch cost) is $250. If you plan to buy icons, crosses, prayer ropes or other holy objects, or other gifts, and if you wish to light candles and submit prayer request notes actively, you will need an extra $250

Air travel (for those based in Russia):

May 5, Moscow – Tel-Aviv: Ural Airlines flight U6889. Departure from the Zhukovsky Airport at 14:05, arrival at 18:20

May 12, Tel-Aviv – Moscow: Ural Airlines flight U6890. Departure at 19:20, arrival at the Zhukovsky Airport at 23:20

Time is local


“My name is Raphael and I am a Jerusalemite. I am a native English and Hebrew speaker, and a fluent Russian speaker.

My ancestors from my paternal side have been living in Jerusalem and Syria-Palestine for the last 500 years. Coming from a Jewish background, I was received into the Orthodox Church 12 years ago. My spiritual father is His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

I have a distance learning Certificate in Orthodox Christian Studies from the Cambridge Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies (University of Cambridge), where among other things I had courses in Christology and Trinitarian Theology, Sacramental Theology, Prayer and Asceticism etc.

For over a decade, I have worked with Russian Orthodox pilgrims leading them in the Holy Land, praying, explaining, and trying to share with them the love I have for this unique place. Among my pilgrims were bishops, priests, government officials and many pious laymen and women.

I am right now in the process of writing my MA thesis in ancient philology to be defended in July 2019 at the Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities. My topic of research is Corpus Dionysiacum traditionally ascribed to St Dionysius the Areopagite. This work is to be expanded in a PhD later, followed by a publication and translation of the Corpus into Hebrew.

My main interest and expertise are in the Holy Land of the Byzantine and Early Muslim periods. When I lead groups, I focus on the pilgrimage experience of the first millennium, and my historical and philological training is of great help. I try to create exactly the atmosphere of Early Christianity, the Christian empire and holy fathers and not just a trip to a modern tourist destination – Israel.”


“My name is Anna Musan-Levi. I have lived in Jerusalem for the past 24 years, being a church tour guide for the past 10 years. I am a radio and TV presenter, an author and a host of documentary series and programs about the Holy Land on TV channel SOYUZ and radio station Radonezh.

Though my mother tongue is Russian, I am a fluent English speaker. I was taught English by my mother in early childhood and later at a school with advanced learning of English in Moscow. I have worked in English and taught English in Israel for about 10 years. I also speak Hebrew quite well, I know some Serbian and learn French.

I was born in Moscow to a religious church-going family. In 1994, my family settled in Jerusalem. Since then the holy places have become the center of my family’s Church life. Besides active participation in the liturgical life of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, my training for the role of an Orthodox Church guide includes extensive reading of the Holy Scripture with various commentaries, historical materials, and Church Fathers both in Russian and English.

By now, I have worked with thousands of pilgrims, many priests and some bishops. I mainly focus on theological and historical aspects of Scripture, trying to make the New Testament a living spiritual experience for my pilgrims. I know Church singing quite well and always chant with my groups.”


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