It’s that time of year: it’s cold, blustery, mostly gray outside, and we’re itching for true spring. It’s perfect weather to start thinking about escaping to beautiful, warm-even-when-it’s-cold Israel.
My first round of ideas of things to see and do I gave to you a year and a half ago, so it’s time for a new batch:
The Palmach Museum celebrates the elite force of the Haganah, the pre-state army. I have heard from others that this experiential museum, which only takes 90 minutes to walk through, is not to be missed. So it’s really too bad that we missed it. We ran out of time on our last visit and couldn’t go, so it’s definitely going on our itinerary for our next visit! From the website: “Visit to the museum must be pre-arranged. The tour is carried out in groups of up to 25 people (individuals visitors will be pre-arranged into groups). The tour is for children over 6 years only.” The tour is conducted in Hebrew, with English translations via headphones.
During our family trip, it became a refrain among the five kids: “not another ancient Roman ruin!” as we would pull up to yet another ancient Roman ruin. Our tour guide loved them; the kids, not so much after the second one and I think we saw four or five. Chan Hashayarot, near Beersheva in the Negev, is a perfect respite from tour buses and museums and ancient Roman ruins. It is a Bedouin tent experience. If you are camping and bring your own sleeping bag etc. the rate is very cheap. But if you plan to leave your towels and pillows at home, they can provide them; the cost for a family then becomes similar to a hotel. But no hotel will be this fun: the whole family sleeps on mats in a giant Bedouin tent. (Real restrooms with hot showers are very close; this is a must for me.) Get the optional dinner (I think breakfast is included): it is so yummy. I’ve stayed there twice: once with a federation group, with 50 adults in two tents, and once with just my family. When the Ramers went, we arrived on Shabbat afternoon, and they don’t get many visitors on Shabbat, so we had one tent all to ourselves. After 10 days of touring, my kids were so happy to let loose and literally run naked around the tent. Okay, that was the boys. Big Girl is too refined. They also have a herd of camels, which you can ride for an extra fee.
In Jerusalem, anyone will tell you to go to Ben Yehuda Street to shop. Our Tribe and Joy will tell you to go around the corner (right on Yaffo Street and right again) to 8 Yoel Solomon Street and bring a tissue. Why? Because you’re going to drool at the gorgeous handmade jewelry in Turquoise 925. Gold, silver, stones, necklaces, rings, bracelets. If it’s not busy inside Itzhik Sasson, the owner, will offer you a cup of Turkish coffee and he’ll tell you all about how he makes the jewelry himself. Tell him you live in MetroWest NJ and he’ll say “oh, Rebecca G–, how is she!” and treat you like a long lost friend and give you “very good price.”
Yoel Solomon Street has lots of other jewelry, pottery, and crafty shops, and really is a great alternative to the overpriced trinkets on Ben Yehuda (I bought a kipa from The Kipa Man for $10 for Bulldog and found the same one in Tel Aviv for about $4).
Israel-trip veterans, what else would you suggest?