TEL AVIV, Israel (K-State Athletics) – Members of the Kansas State men’s basketball team and their traveling party continued their historic 10-day trip to Israel and Abu Dhabi with visits to Bethlehem on Saturday (August 12) and the Dead Sea on Sunday (August 13) before finally arriving back in Tel Aviv.

Saturday, August 12: Visit to Bethlehem
The group got up early on Saturday morning (August 12) and made the near 30-minute trip to another historic and religious site – the city of Bethlehem and the Basilica of the Nativity. Although a short trip in time, Bethlehem is located within the disputed West Bank between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The traveling party made the short walk to the center of town, where they visited the Basilica of the Nativity that was built by Roman Emperor Constantine in 326 A.D. to mark the birthplace of Jesus. It is the oldest surviving church in the Holy Land with ornate Byzantine art and continues to have mass daily. The group made their way down a narrow doorway below the church floor, where they were each given the opportunity to touch the spot of Jesus’ birth before moving down and visiting the spot where the manger was placed (now marked by five lanterns).

They concluded the visit to Bethlehem with an authentic Palestinian lunch at the home of their host Kamal, where they again feasted on many local dishes, including hummus (there is much debate on who has the best between Israel and Palestine) as well as saffron rice, chicken and many others.

After returning to Jerusalem and enjoying some free time, the team ended their day with dinner at the Mamilla Hotel. The restaurant has a rooftop view of all of Jerusalem. There was also a sighting of singer Christina Aguilera and her entourage.

Sunday, August 13: Visit to the Dead Sea, Arrive Back in Tel Aviv
The party departed Jerusalem for the final time on Sunday morning (August 13) and made the near 2-hour journey to the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on Earth at more than 1,400 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea (named so because of the lack of aquatic life due to the lake’s extreme salinity) is in the interior of Israel bordering the country of Jordan. With temperatures near 106 degrees, the group was able to enjoy some time in the crystal blue water, which is so dense with salt and minerals that you float to the surface. They also covered themselves with the mud from the sea which is said to be cleansing and healing for the skin and scalp.

After enjoying nearly 2-hours at the Dead Sea and the pool at the Milos Hotel, the group jumped on the buses for another 2-hour trip to their next stop – Tel Aviv – which is on the Mediterranean coast. The city of nearly 500,000 people (second largest in Israel) is the home to much of the country’s international business and technology while also known for its nightlife (much like the New York City, it is also referred to as the city that never sleeps). It also has the highest cost of living of any city in the world.

The traveling party was able to enjoy a relaxing night out at one of the hottest spots in all of Tel Aviv at Qumran, where they were joined by their host Daniel Posner, the Founder and Chairman of Athletes for Israel, and Lea Miller-Tooley and her team at Complete Sports Management.

For more information on Athletes for Israel organization and its mission, visit

The team took part in their third practice of the trip on Monday morning (August 14) before listening to a presentation from Start-Up Nation Central, Innovation: Africa and Colosseum about the present and future of Israel as a hub of innovation and technology. After a lunch at Old Man and The Sea, they spent time on a tour of Old Jaffa before enjoying time at the beach and shopping.

The team’s first game is tomorrow (Tuesday, August 15) against the Israeli Select Team.

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