Israel Travel Blog

Welcome to your Jewish Heritage

The next step in embracing your heritage and culture is to learn about the rituals, rites, and traditions unique to your religion and culture.Everything is celebrated in Jewish culture from birth to death, and they honour the person who lived it and the entirety of life.

Rituals are important and respected in many cultures, and it is a way of offering a warm invitation into their world.

Religious rituals known as rites of passage commemorate a person’s path from one stage of life to another.

Jewish customs that go back to biblical times and that have developed following regional traditions and Halakha (the power of laws and ordinances that have existed since the time of the Bible to regulate Jewish religious observances, daily life, and behaviour) mark important moments in a Jew’s life.

The Bible mentions rites of passage, including Brit Milah, Bat Mitzvah, and Bar Mitzvah. The evolution of weddings and funerals has mobilized rites of passage, such as marriage and death, and each has its rituals.

Rites of passage have occasionally been connected to other biblically inspired rituals, such as festivals and pilgrimages.

Birth and Baptism

The birth of a child is a reason for joyful celebration in every culture.

Brit Milah

Brit Milah Jews have a religious duty to remember God’s covenant with Abraham by getting circumcised.

Brit Bat/Simchat Bat 

Ashkenazi Jews have a long-standing custom where the father is invited to the synagogue on the first Shabbat following the birth of his daughter to receive an aliyah (the privilege of reading the blessings before and after a section of the public Torah reading), after which the baby’s name is announced.

Baptism

Baptism in the Jordan River is a priceless rite of passage because it welcomes you into your heritage, helps you embrace it, and connects you to your ancestors, making you feel closer to them.

Coming of age

Jewish life became characterized by the textual world of the Torah and its changing interpretations, and the entrance of male and female children constituted a significant passage.

Jewish law holds parents responsible for their children’s actions up to this time.

These rituals mark the passage from childhood to adulthood, which includes accepting personal accountability for one’s behaviour and having more significant Jewish obligations.

Bar Mitzvah “Son of the Commandment”

At the age of 13, boys have their Bar Mitzvah. Once they reach adulthood, they are accountable to God for their sins.

When it comes to religious practice, a boy who has turned Bar Mitzvah is responsible for the same duties, obligations, and benefits as an adult.

On the first Sabbath following the boy’s 13th birthday, the ceremony takes place in the synagogue. After the ceremony, the boy’s father acknowledges that his son is now prepared to accept accountability for his own conduct.

Bat Mitzvah “Daughter of the Commandment.”

At the age of twelve, girls get their Bat Mitzvah.

Regarding the Torah readings, the ceremony is identical to that for boys and is performed on the Sabbath in the Temple.

The readings typically include a statement of commitment, a reading from the Bible, and other texts that discuss the obligations and responsibilities of the Jewish woman.

Marriage

Jewish law stipulates two steps in the marriage process:

  • Kiddushin: The Betrothal
  • Huppah: The Canopy

Kiddushin

Kiddushin, which means “sanctification,” is the name for a Jewish marriage (when something is holy or sacred). Shabbat, holidays, and mourning times are prohibited for Jewish weddings.

Huppah

Wedding Canopy: The couple is taken by their parents to stand underneath the Huppah wedding canopy. It represents the Tallit (prayer shawl) and the home they will build together.

Ketubah

Marriage Contract: Instead of exchanging vows, the bride and groom sign the marriage contract, or ketubah, in the presence of two witnesses after the Rabbi has read it to them.

Two different kinds of contracts exist:

  • The Orthodox: It outlines the groom’s duties in the marriage. It doesn’t have any promises from the bride in it. It is meant to give her security in the future.
  • The Reform: It refers to shared responsibility and partnership within the marriage.

Smashing The Glass

The wedding ritual concludes with seven blessings recited over the wine and asking God to bless the bride and husband. There is a prayer for Zion (Jerusalem) as well.

The groom then stomps on the wine glass to break it as a memory of the Temple’s destruction in 70CE after the bride and groom take another taste of the wine.

Death

Burial Rites

As a sign of respect, a Jewish person’s funeral must be held as quickly as possible (often within 24 hours) after death. On Shabbat or the start or last days of festivals, though, they are prohibited.

Chevra Kaddisha

A group of honourable men and women offered their services to help with funeral arrangements, wash and prepare the body for burial, and attend to the sick and the deceased.

Kaddish

When the Kaddish is said following the funeral, mourning begins.

At a parent’s funeral and every day for the following eleven months, children must recite the Kaddish.

The Kaddish focuses on the name of God, asking that people recognize its sacredness.

The grieving declares that even though they have lost a loved one, God is still their God, and they still acknowledge him as the supreme being in charge of the universe.

Sitting Shiva

Shiva, which means “seven” in Hebrew, is a term for the seven days following a funeral that do not include Shabbat.

Leave the Planning to the Experts

Want to learn more about these rituals and rites of passage or experience them yourself or with your family? Get in touch with ITAS Tours and talk with one of our advisors to find out more and start planning your next trip to Israel.

With ITAS Tours, your only concern will be enjoying the festivities and the parties. Israel Travel Advisory Service will create the perfect Custom, Family, and Jewish Israel Tour with more than 50 years of providing the highest quality tours in Israel, bringing families and their friends together to explore their rich heritage.

Click here to find out more!

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The Ultimate Family-Friendly Activities to do in Israel

There are plenty of things one can do or places one can visit while in Israel, but not all are fun for kids. And let’s be honest, there’s only so much walking kids can handle before they start complaining.

So, if you want to do something super interesting in Israel other than visiting all the famous historical landmarks and making your typical tourism trip. Here are several activities for all the family, keeping your children entertained and interested in your trip:

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

One of Israel’s top family-friendly attractions is the 62-acre Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, situated in the city’s southern part.

The park is surrounded by lush nature, has a large artificial lake, and is filled with free-roaming wildlife.

One of the attractions at the Biblical Zoo is a train that circles the property and stops at various locations so guests can tour the whole place.

Over 170 species of animals coexist in the park, many of which are referenced in the Hebrew Bible. It also has a petting zoo, play area, playground, and many hands-on and engaging activities for younger children.

Superland& The Island

If you want something that’s outside the box and for all ages, these are your best options:

Superland

Travel for 30 minutes outside Tel Aviv to Superland. This amusement park includes thrilling roller coasters, fun carousels and Ferris wheels, and a variety of carnival-style activities for both young and young-at-heart visitors.

While you take a magical swan boat ride on the river or bungee jump from a pirate ship, ignore the silly Tel Aviv residents who claim that everything you need is in the White City.

The Island

The Island is a theme park on the roof of Azrieli Mall for kids between the ages of 4 and 12.

It’s a fantastic alternative to spending another day at the beach because it has water attractions like a large pool, water slides, and fountains.

On The Island, you can find a trampoline, a survival ropes course, climbing walls, video games, an electric train, a haunted tunnel, and other entertaining features.

While your kids are on the roller coaster, jumping, climbing, dancing, or on the water slides, you can unwind in the pool area while keeping an eye on your kids.

Timna Park

Timna Park, located in the Negev Desert close to the city of Eilat in the south, offers a breathtaking view of the area’s geological past.

Timna Park’s 15,000 acres are situated in a valley that is in the shape of a horseshoe. Families are invited to explore this desert park and enjoy sights like the world’s first copper mine and a lake in the middle of the desert!

Families can take the Timna Park and Desert Agriculture Tour from Eilat to enjoy an all-inclusive park tour that offers the chance to create sand art, and sample recently picked vegetables from a desert greenhouse.

Naama Farm

A trip to the Naama Farm in Western Negev is a beautiful opportunity for families with young children to spend the day outside and interact with animals.

The Naama Farm is one of Israel’s biggest goat and sheep farming operations, providing the majority of the goat and sheep milk consumed in the nation.

Families can walk through the stables and interact with the animals, feeding baby goats, and milking lambs, among other activities.

Additionally, the farm offers a variety of classes where kids may learn how goat cheese is created and participate in other arts and crafts projects.

Ramat Gan Safari

The Ramat Gan Safari is one of Israel’s most well-liked family-friendly activities!

The Ramat Gan Safari, one of the largest zoos in the Middle East, is the ideal location for families seeking an authentic African safari experience in Israel.

The 250-acre park is home to African creatures that are allowed to roam about freely. Visitors can take a safari ride through the area, which houses a zoo with over 1600 species.

Negev Desert

Camel Rides

Riding camels and learning about these unique desert creatures is a fun and unforgettable experience for families.

Additionally, it is among the best ways to explore the desert. There are several ways to take camel rides safely and ensure that the animals are treated and cared for appropriately around the Negev desert.

A fun and unforgettable family outing is a trip to the Negev Camel Ranch. There are many hiking paths, mountain bike trails, jeep trip opportunities, and camel tours in the Negev Camel Rach.

Another type of activity in the desert everyone can enjoy is the more acrobatic and athletic type, like this one.

Sandboarding

Head to the desert if you’re looking for more unique, family-friendly activities in Israel!

Sandboarding in the Negev Desert is a memorable and enjoyable experience for the whole family that is suitable for both children and adults.

Families can enjoy the breathtaking desert scenery and a thrilling and unforgettable experience.

More Daring Activities

These are some of your best options if you are looking for activities that are a little more extreme or for the ages above 12.

Jerusalem Ropes Course

Ropes courses are a great way to challenge your physical and mental strength.

The Jerusalem Ropes Course includes an 80-meter zip line, a rope ladder, swings, and an acrobatic rope walk. It is the ideal team-building activity that requires both physical and mental strength.

The challenging tasks provided will give visitors a sense of confidence and accomplishment. It’s great for people of all ages, from preschoolers to adults, and the whole family will enjoy it!

Jerusalem Rappelling/Snapping

Not your ordinary Jerusalem sightseeing trip.

Rappelling off the Tayelet or Gei Ben Hinnom with a view of the Old City is a wonderful way to explore Jerusalem.

Rock climbing champion and tour leader Yaakov is patient and knowledgeable, making him the ideal choice to show visitors the ropes.

Climbing walls and trees will be an adventure your kids won’t soon forget.

Ready For More Family Adventures?

Whether in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, Israel is filled with activities for all ages. Whether you’re looking for a more relaxed experience or an adventurous one, ITAS Tours is the way to go.

Therefore, be sure to contact Israel Travel Advisory Service to assist you in planning the ideal trip, vacation, or tour to Israel for you and your family.

From family tours to custom Israel tours, Israel Travel Advisory Service offers a variety of Israel Tour packages.

ITAS takes joy in ensuring that you have a real Israeli vacation thanks to our more than 45 years of experience planning trips to Israel.

Click here to learn more!

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Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter: Unique Things to See

Jerusalem is a beautiful and big city, and it is known for its beautiful synagogues and important historic landmarks like the Western Wall and Masada. But, how much do you know about Jerusalem aside from this?

The Old City, also known as The Holy City, is divided into four uneven quarters: the Muslim Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Jewish Quarter.

Each quarter has its own special and unique landmarks they are known for.

The Muslim Quarter has the Kotel Katan or Little Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnels, which run below the neighborhoods along the wall. Also, the Via Dolorosa, Way of the Cross, starts here with the first seven Stations of the Cross.

The Armenian Quarter has the Tower of David, also known as the Citadel. It is situated between the eastern and western parts of the city and expresses the continuing dialogue between ancient and modern Jerusalem. The Tower is a medieval fortress that serves as a historical entrance to the Old City and has been the iconic symbol of Jerusalem for generations.

The Christian Quarter has several important churches, but the main one is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is where Jesus was crucified and where Jesus’s empty tomb is located. It also has the last four Stations of the Cross of the Via Dolorosa.

Though the Jewish Quarter is known for The Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site, it also functions as a synagogue, including the area beneath Wilson’s Arch. But it has much more than that to offer.

Here are more landmarks and history to discover when visiting the Jewish Quarter.

More Sights to Discover

The Davidson Center

The Davidson Center is both an archaeological park and a museum. Archaeological relics and remains from the First Temple and Second Temple periods can be found.

Admire the City Wall, the staircase used by pilgrims to reach the Temple, and the historic ceremonial baths. Explore the area and walk down a historic road that countless pilgrims have traveled before you.

According to Jewish tradition, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zackai frequently traveled that same street. Located below this street is a drainage channel, and Jewish warriors used this drainage as a place to hide from the Romans.

Hurva Synagogue

One of the main attractions in the Jewish Quarter is the Hurva Synagogue. A group of Eastern European Jewish immigrants began constructing it in 1500.

In 1520, local Muslims destroyed it. As a symbol of the Jewish Quarter, the synagogue stood for almost a century after being rebuilt in 1864 by Lithuanian Jews.

In 1948, Jordanian soldiers from the Arab Legion destroyed the synagogue again during the War of Independence.

The Jewish Quarter and Hurva Synagogue were rebuilt after Israel won the Six-Day War and regained control of Jerusalem from the Jordanians in 1967.

It was rebuilt by the Israeli government in the early 2000s in the style it had in the 19th century.

Today, it is an active place of worship that is well worth a visit. You also have a stunning 360-degree view of the Old City from the veranda of the synagogue’s dome.

The Cardo

The north side of the Cardo was built during the Roman period (from the Damascus Gate to David Street). The south side was built during the 6th century, the Byzantine era. Its impressive columns and built-in shopping lane make it one of the main attractions in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Its original shops, which date back to the Byzantine period, are still in use today as gift shops and cafes, making it a fantastic place to take a stroll.

In the Herodian Quarter:

The Wohl Museum of Archaeology

It is a fascinating underground museum where visitors get a glimpse into what luxury and decadence looked like in ancient Jerusalem. It gives us a view and taste of how aristocratic families used to live.

The museum features a six-house compound set on the slope of the hill, which descends to the Temple Mount featuring an uninterrupted view across to the Temple. From underneath the current street level of the Old City, you can get a great idea of what life might have been like in the era of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Want more of Jerusalem?

Don’t miss out on what Jerusalem offers, especially its Jewish Quarter. You don’t want to sleep on its beauties and wonders, and it’s a magical place full of landmarks and stories you must find out for yourself.

So, make sure you get in touch with ITAS Tours so we can help you craft the best vacation, trip, and tour to Israel for you and your family.

Israel Travel Advisory Service offers a wide range of Jewish Israel Tours, from family tours to custom Israel tours.

With over 45 years of experience organizing Jewish heritage tours, we pride ourselves on ensuring that you’ll have a most memorable Israeli vacation.

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A Guide To Selecting The Perfect Bat Mitzvah Tour Of Israel

If your daughter is soon to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah, you may have heard of travel agencies that provide pre-planned trips and tours to Israel. How will you pick the ideal tour company when so many options are available?

You can choose the ideal tour for your family and daughter using the four questions and five tips listed below.

What is a Bat Mitzvah Tour?

These tours and package holidays to Israel are for all family members, not only for the B’nai Mitzvah girl (the child coming of age). These tours cater to all guests, from younger siblings to grandparents, and offer spectacular holidays for the entire family.

Most tours will begin in Jerusalem and focus on the Old City and a walk through the restored Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall Tunnels, and the Time Elevator, which presents the 3,000-year history of Jerusalem.

Bat Mitzvah tours vary significantly from company to company, so choosing a tour focusing on areas and places that interest you, your family, and your daughter is important.

Find Personal Recommendations

A great way to find a top-notch tour company is to ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations.

Alternatively, you can ask in your local synagogue or on an online forum if you don’t know anyone who has been on such a tour.

What is the level of experience of the tour guides?

Your tour guide will make or break your trip to Israel, so this is an important question to ask a tour company. A reputable company will readily share the names and experiences of the guides they have working for them.

A tour guide who has worked with a company for an extended period is a positive sign, demonstrating the tour guide’s expertise, professionalism, and positive visitor feedback. It also suggests that the tour company is a respectable, high-quality business where a professional guide is proud to work.

An awesome tour guide will have the skills to include young children and grandparents and will become part of your family during the tour. They will meet you at the airport and remain with you throughout your journey.

You will learn so much about Israeli customs, traditions, and history that you could never expect to acquire elsewhere.

How Many Families Are Grouped Together on Each Tour?

You can choose a trip with just your family and friends or you can choose a trip which brings various families together to view Israel in an entirely new way. This can be a fun way to meet new people and make life-long friends.

You may never have thought it’s possible but travelling with new families can be helpful as they can share the magic of Israel’s rich history and the wonder of the Bat Mitzvah ceremonies.

Tips To Make or Break Your Bat Mitzvah

If you are looking for a small, intimate family Bat Mitzvah in Israel, combined with a private tour designed to fit your family’s wish-list, here are five steps to reach that goal:

  1. Select your flight dates, stay duration, and ceremony date on Monday and Thursday mornings when the Torah sections are read, and there are services for Bat Mitzvahs.
  2. Choose the ideal place for your family’s amazing celebration.
  3. Typically, the tour company will provide a Rabbi for the Bat Mitzvah ceremony but if you have any particulars you’d like to arrange, let them know and most can accommodate your wishes.
  4. Purchase any extras to make your ceremony more enjoyable, including a photographer, caterer, special lunch or dinner event, and more.
  5. Get a customized itinerary for you and your family’s amazing tour and ceremony in Israel based on your stay length and the ceremony’s date.

Your Adventure Starts with ITAS Tours

Receive expert guidance in selecting the perfect ceremony venue and celebratory activity for your Bat Mitzvah trip to Israel. They offer the perfect Bat Mitzvah Tours in Israel, fully customized for your family.

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Jerusalem: The City of Heart and Soul

Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture and not a single time in the Koran. Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming. There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem.

To many theologians, it is Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, and it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain.

When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it’s a homecoming. Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory.

Throughout the history of Jerusalem, Jews lived inside its walls with only two interruptions: when Roman invaders forbade entry into the city and under Jordanian occupation when Jews, regardless of nationality, were denied access into the old Jewish quarter to meditate and pray at the Wall.

Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness but of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master, Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav, said, “Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart”.

The poet Yehuda Amichai, for whom Jerusalem was his heart and soul, wrote in one of his poems a verse that captures something of my feelings: “Jerusalem is a swing: sometimes I descend into the generations and sometimes I rise into the heavens.”

And that’s Jerusalem: a city where opposites, diversity, and change are all fused, lending it its unique character.

There is no other city in the world like Jerusalem. A city that people pine for, a city they face to pray, and for whose sake they pray, a city to which so many look up. A city that serves as a common ground but is often also a locus of friction.

A city contains everything: the spirit of sanctity and the vibrancy of day-to-day life. Jerusalem is a city whose one million inhabitants reflect the entire mosaic of Israeli society and its complexity. It’s a city whose name means “peace” and has also known many wars.

Jerusalem Day symbolizes one of the formative events in the city’s history. Since Jerusalem was unified, all parts of it have been growing and developing.

Jerusalem safeguards the sovereignty of the State of Israel. It guarantees freedom of worship for members of all religions, along with a form of coexistence that does not diminish difference and tradition, bringing to light the strength of our ability to live and work together.

On Jerusalem’s festive day, a national holiday for us all, our hope is that it preserves its unique character, including the burst of renewal and growth it has experienced in recent years.

Want to visit Jerusalem the City of Heart and Soul?

If you want to visit Jerusalem and get inspired as well, make sure you get in contact with Israel Travel Advisory Service.

With over 45 years of experience in organizing Israel Jewish tours, we pride ourselves in ensuring that your vacation to Israel is the best version of itself it can be.

Our offices in New Jersey, Florida, and Israel strive to provide the best quality Israel, family, Jewish Israeli, and Jewish Heritage tours.

ITAS is your best Israel travel advisory option.

Let us do the planning, and we’ll make sure you have a wonderful and fulfilling vacation.

Click here to learn more!

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Important Tips to Know Before Visiting Israel

Visiting a new place is exciting and Israel is a great place to visit and vacation. There are many religious and historical spots to see. Apart from the linkage, there are many natural wonders. Today we’ll provide important tips to know before visiting Israel.

With all this excitement comes uncertainty. When visiting a new country, some rules must be followed, written or unspoken, and a language barrier.

It is always good to be prepared beforehand. If you are looking for the best Israel travel tips, look no further. Here is everything you need to know about this historically rich country.

In this travel guide, you will visit the most hidden corners and discover places your typical tourist agency won’t show you.

Do’s & Don’ts when visiting Israel

  • Do Use Local Greetings

You are not likely to offend anyone in Israel by trying to use the country’s traditional greeting. Just as Americans do not take offence to visitors from other countries saying “hello,” you are welcome to use the Israeli greeting “shalom” when you visit.

It will help you blend in with the locals. The literal translation of the traditional greeting is “peace” and is used for both hello and goodbye across Israel.

  • Don’t Smoke on Saturday

Most people agree smoking isn’t good for your health. But those who smoke might not realize it is also considered ill mannered to smoke at certain times or places in Israel.

You will want to observe no-smoking signs wherever you are in Israel, but keep in mind that smoking is in direct violation of the “Shabbat,” a holy day observed on Saturdays in Israel. If you can refrain from smoking that day, that’s a plus.

Otherwise, you should at least avoid doing it around religious places or in the presence of Orthodox Jews who may find it offensive.

  • Do dress properly

Dress codes are pretty simple and are common sense in Israel, but there are a few rules you might not be accustomed to. Make sure you pack conservative clothes for visiting any religious sites.

Although it may be warm during the summer, if you plan to visit places like the Western Wall or the spot where Jesus was crucified, it is recommended to wear t-shirts with sleeves that fall below the elbow and long skirts or pants.

Men should not wear shorts or go without shirts around these sites. When visiting Jewish shrines or memorials, it is also proper for men to cover their heads. Women should not wear anything that exposes bare legs or shoulders while visiting a holy site.

Often there will be a complimentary yarmulke, a small skullcap, available to visitors who need to cover their heads. If you forget to carry proper clothing, worry not, as religious women hand it out near the Western Wall.

Practical travel tips

  • The best time to travel to Israel

Deciding when to go to Israel largely depends on what you are interested in doing while you are there. While there is no right or wrong time to go, there are a couple of things you need to consider when planning your trip: climate and Jewish Holidays.

Israel has two seasons: summer (April to late October) and winter (November to March). Summers are hot and humid but rain-free, and winter starts when it gets from cool to cold and begins raining. It generally doesn’t snow in Israel, except for the mountain areas in the Golan Heights.

Another vital tip to consider when you travel to Israel is the Jewish holidays. In Israel, there are two calendars: the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar, but most religious holidays are based on the Jewish calendar.

Even though it’s interesting to be in Israel during some of these holidays, you’ll have to remember everything closes down during that time: public transportation, banks, stores, etc. Also, hotel prices will be much higher.

  • What to pack

When travelling to Israel, you must be conscious of what you wear. While places like Tel Aviv, Jaffa, or Haifa are more open-minded and fashion-forward, in cities like Jerusalem, modest clothing is recommended. Don’t bring tank tops, shorts, or anything above the knees.

As a general rule, think convenience before fashion. Here are a few tips on what to pack:

–  A scarf and a long-sleeve top.

–  Light-weight clothing if you are travelling in summer.

– A light jacket and some sweaters for colder months.

–  Comfortable shoes are a must in Israel, especially in Jerusalem.

–  Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen lotion.

–  A small umbrella. Rain may come unexpectedly.

Always carry electrical adapters with you.

The most common thing to happen to tourists is to forget to bring their charger or an adapter to charge their electrical devices. The electrical outlets around Israel require a 3-round-pegged prong, so you’ll need a power adaptor.

Before you travel, make sure you have a checklist to confirm your chargers and adaptors so you don’t spend time looking for one in town and waste the time you could spend touring.

Feel ready to travel to Israel?

After all this advice, you are ready to visit Israel. If you want to book a trip, get in touch with ITAS tours, your best option for Israel tours and your trusted travel advisor.

Israel Travel Advisory Service offers a wide range of Jewish Israel Tours, from family tours to bar/bat mitzvah Israel tours.

With over 45 years of experience organizing Jewish heritage tours, we pride ourselves on ensuring that you’ll have a real Israeli vacation.

If you found our tips to know before visiting Israel helpful, let us know in the comments. If you want to experience one of these holidays for yourself, ITAS is the way to go. We have Israeli Jewish tour packages that meet every need.

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Jewish Holidays: Religious and Spiritual Travel Guide

We all love to travel, whether with friends and family or by ourselves. Vacationing in Israel during the Jewish Holidays can be a wonderful experience.

Jewish holidays in Israel are worth remembering since each one is celebrated differently with festivals and unique events.

Each one has its own traditions and particular quirks, so here is a guide for your Israel Holiday Vacation.

There’s a celebration everywhere around you!

Shabbat, the Day of Rest
The Jewish holiday Shabbat is celebrated weekly and always begins on a Friday night (when dusk falls).

Jews who observe Shabbat diligently will not use electricity, write, or travel other than by foot, and will spend the day in prayer, eating celebratory meals, and resting.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashanah (in Hebrew “Head of the Year”) celebrates the Jewish New Year and is a joyous festival.

The festivities include prayers at the synagogue, a large meal, and exchanging gifts.

The ancient ceremony of “tashlich” is carried out on the first afternoon. It is a tradition to go to the sea or any body of water and throw breadcrumbs or pebbles in. This symbolizes the “casting away” of one’s sins.

For religious Jews, all of this is a chance for “spiritual renewal and great contemplation.”

Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement”

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar, and in Israel, all life comes to a standstill.

Every business and school is closed, airplanes do not take off or land, and the streets are deserted by cars.

Religious Jews will fast for 25 hours, wear white and spend large parts of the time in synagogue, praying for forgiveness from God for their sins.

According to Jewish belief, this is the day God will pass judgment on every individual for the coming year. So it is seen as a chance to repent and ask for a chance of forgiveness.

Sukkot, “The Festival of Tabernacles”

Another fun festival, especially for children, is Sukkot which follows Yom Kippur and lasts seven days.

Historically, it was one of the three pilgrimage festivals where the Israelites were commanded to travel to the Temple. Today, Israelis celebrate by building a sukkah, a temporary, freestanding structure with three walls decorated with palm leaves.

It is tradition to eat meals inside and decorate the interior with the “four species,” the four different plants mentioned in the Torah. These are lulav, etrog, hadass, and aravah.

People carry these four plants at the synagogue and recite special prayers known as “Hoshanot.”

Simchat Torah, Rejoicing of the Torah
Simchat Torah immediately follows Sukkot and is a festival of unbridled joy. Jews dance around the synagogue holding Torah scrolls to mark the reading cycle of these holy manuscripts. In Israel, it is common to see Israelis dancing in the streets.

Hanukkah, “Festival of Lights”

Hanukkah is celebrated during winter and commemorates the “miracle of the oil” at the same time as the Second Temple. It lasts for eight days, and each night candles are lit on a special candelabrum.

Two special foods that are eaten are latkes and sufganiyot. Latkes are potato pancakes fried and served either with applesauce or sour cream. Sufganiyot are donuts with jelly inside.

Children spin a “dreidel,” and it’s a tradition to give them “gelt,” chocolate money, and small gifts.

Purim, the Feast of Lots
The Jewish holiday of Purim commemorates the bravery of Esther, who saved the Jews of Persia from being wiped out. It is a festival of enormous merriment in Israel, and it is a wonderful tradition for children and adults to dress up and attend parties.

Jews also attend the synagogue in costume, where they read from the Book of Esther and shout and boo at the name of “Haman,” Esther’s enemy, and drink a lot of wine.

Attending an adloyada (carnival parade) is a beautiful tradition, as is eating “Hamantaschen” cookies filled with poppy seeds. Religious Jews also send “mishloachmanot,” food baskets, to family, friends, and charities.

Yom haAtzmaut, Independence Day
The evening kicks off with a torch of lightning in Jerusalem and fireworks displays all over the country. Some parties continue late into the night, and the following day, it’s a time-honoured tradition to attend a barbeque and eat until you can’t move.

If you’re at the shoreline around midday, watch the flyovers that the Israeli Air Force carries out.

The Eight-Day Festival of Passover
This joyous festival falls in the spring in Israel and commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Israel, who fled slavery under the laws of the cruel Pharaoh.

It’s a tradition at this time of the year to hold a “seder,” in Hebrew “order,” where the “Haggadah” book is read, recounting the story of the Jews flight, including the miraculous parting of the waves of the Red Sea.

At Passover, bakeries in Israel close because it’s a religious commandment to eat only “matzah,” unleavened bread, for the holiday. This lets Jews remember that their ancestors fled Egypt in such haste that their bread had no time to rise.

In the Haggadah, the matzah is called “the Bread of Affliction.” The festival is also a reminder of liberty and that, after 2,000 years, with the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews became a free people in their land.

Shavuot
Shavuot, “Festival of Weeks”, falls seven weeks after Passover. It is a pilgrimage holiday that marks the end of the spring harvest and the Torah’s giving to Moses on Mount Sinai. It’s a tradition to eat dairy products and wear white clothing with white flowers.
Shavuot is celebrated in earnest on the kibbutz, with the tradition of “bringing forth the first fruit.” Historically, this was an opportunity for farmers to display their achievements after a year of hard work in the fields.

Where’s the best place to spend some of these holidays?

So, where in Israel should you try to go to experience and be a part of the festivities?

Well, at Purim, there are parties all over the country but be sure not to miss the opportunity to see an adloyada. The two most popular take place in Holon, near Tel Aviv, and SdeBoker, in the Negev desert.

Shabbat comes around weekly and is celebrated at home after a short Friday night service at the synagogue. Israelis are very hospitable, so you might be invited as a guest to someone’s house for a meal.

There is also a Get Shabbat program running where you can be paired with a host family. Most families are traditional and observe Shabbat costumes, so you’ll see blessings made over candles, wine, and bread and get a feel for the whole experience.

For Passover, you’ll feel the spirit of freedom everywhere. If you want to see more religious traditions, head to Jerusalem, notably the Western Wall, for the “Birkat Kohanim,” a Priestly Blessing.

In terms of being a tourist, the only day you will be limited is Yom Kippur, so if you’re visiting during this holiday, make sure you have your preparations in advance, or get in touch with your Israeli tour operator for a “day off”.

Whichever time of the year you choose to be in Israel, experiencing any of the Jewish Holidays will only add to your overall enjoyment.

Israel Travel Advisory Service offers a wide range of Jewish Israel Tours, from family tours to bar/bat mitzvah Israel tours.

With over 45 years of experience in organizing Jewish heritage tours, we pride ourselves on ensuring that you’ll have a real Israeli vacation.

If you want to experience one of these holidays, ITAS is your way. We have Israel Jewish plans and tours that meet every need.

Click here to get in touch with our operators for more information!

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Family Trips to the Holy Land: A List by Experts

Family vacations are great, especially if they are to heal the body and soul, and a perfect way to do so could be by taking a family trip to Israel.

Israel Travel Advisory Service (ITAS) has offered custom tours to Israel for 50 years. We intend to provide our customers with the best travel and tour service.

We have different programs, each perfect to fit your needs and budget.

Custom Israel Tours

If you are looking to take a family trip to Israel, we recommend checking our custom Israel Tours. With this option, you’ll be able to create the perfect customized family visit to Israel and feel safe and confident doing it.

Jewish Heritage Tour Itinerary

If you are looking for a more specific experience along with your family members, check the Israel Jewish Heritage Tour Itinerary. You’ll get a relaxing retreat or a unique educational experience depending on what you want.

And you won’t have to worry about a thing! We’ll help you select departure dates, flights, hotel accommodations, as well as historical, religious, and cultural sites.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Israel Tour

Besides experiencing wonderful tours along with the family, what better way to enjoy a trip to Israel than celebrating your son’s or daughter’s bar/bat mitzvah on top of Masada.

ITAS offers top-notch itineraries and professional services on all our Jewish family trips to Israel.

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Want To Enjoy Jerusalem’s Nightlife? Try Visiting Any of the These Spots

If you’re to visit Jerusalem any time soon, chances are that your current schedule only covers daytime activities. After all, it’s not rare for people to want the most out of daylight hours and end the day with a well-deserved rest.But here’s the thing, Jerusalem easily stands as one of the world’s most diverse cities. So much that nightlife feels as if you were already touring another city—Albeit one that’s just as beautiful.Such opportunities are not common, so it should be within your best interest to account for these experiences while you’re there.

Assuming that there’s still time to rearrange your schedule, here are some recommendations for places to visit during nighttime.

Believe us. You won’t regret staying up a little longer for any of these.

The Jerusalem Chords Bridge

The Chords Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge located near the city’s central bus station.

Standing at 387 feet high (118 meters), the Chords Bridge is the tallest structure in all of Jerusalem. In retrospect, you can’t get a more literal example of an “eye-catching landmark.”

But why should you add it to your schedule to begin with? Especially if you can appreciate such a tall construction from almost anywhere.

It was built with inspirations from both ancient and modern architecture, making it an incredible sight to behold from up close.

Plus, such ways of crafting are always subject to the insights of travelers as to figure out the artist’s deeper motivations. Maybe you could craft some of your own while you’re there.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the matter of its extra decorations. For a while now, the bridge’s chords have been decorated with various colored lights, which are always turned on during the night.

In other words, by visiting after sunset, you will get a light show unlike any other.

Mahane Yehuda Market

The Mahane Yehuda Market isn’t any regular market, mind you, and it’s the most extensive and liveliest out of all Jerusalem.

Composed by a series of narrow alleyways, all of them will be able to cover any need you might be running into. From regular convenience stores to gift shops. From family restaurants to the fanciest food outlets. From good ol’ bars to full-sized party venues.

In a way, saying that the Mahane Yehuda Market has something for everyone would be an understatement. Not to mention, its ambiance does give something to brag about. You’ll probably meet lots of fascinating people there!

If possible, try visiting on a Thursday night. Since most people don’t have to work on Friday, Thursday nights tend to see the market at its fullest potential.

Jaffa Road

Likewise, you can’t go wrong by visiting Jaffa Road, one of the city’s oldest and longest roads. Not only that, but it also houses several buildings that are essential to Jerusalem’s history. If that fits your interests, you could ask for a guided tour.

Additionally, this road has seen many commercial venues opening their doors. Jaffa Road is filled with locales for most needs, similar to the Mahane Yehuda Market, albeit to a lesser extent.

A simple walk along this road can quickly turn into a worthwhile experience. The buildings themselves are beautiful, and they’re all decorated with charming nightlights, and it’s a sight that’s both atmospheric and breathtaking.

Kikar Safra

Jerusalem is filled with culture that even its city hall is part of the experience. Kikar Safra is not only home to the city’s municipal government as it also houses many cultural and artistic performances.

While there are many buildings dedicated to that purpose, many artists have decided to make use of the surrounding exteriors instead. Something that Kikar Safra agrees to and promotes to a certain extent.

Just imagine what these artists could have prepared for a nighttime performance.

Keep in mind that these performances are subject to their own scheduling, so visit the city hall’s website beforehand and see what’s offered during your stay.

Mishkenot Sha’ananim

If you’re into preservation and some mild isolation, we’ve got an offer. Try visiting Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the very first Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Located slightly above the Sultan’s Pool, it now houses numerous art galleries and music centers in the sweet calm of the Old City’s outskirts.

In a way, you get to experience all kinds of aesthetic beauty.  You get the looks of the surrounding areas (like Mount Zion), you get to experience classic Jerusalem architecture, astounding paintings, the sound of carefully crafted music, and even a calm day in semi-rural life.

If that sounds attractive already, now picture how the daytime experience might differ from the nighttime one.

Tachana Rishona

If you like the idea of visiting several cultural centers, we can’t forget about Tachana Rishona, also known as The First Station.

As the name suggests, Tachana Rishona was a train station that represented the last stop of a Jaffa to Jerusalem trip. However, as the need for train transportation decreased, it eventually got discontinued.

Luckily, the town found another use for the location in no time. Nowadays, The First Station is used as a cultural and entertainment venue, which prides itself on celebrating the old Jerusalem days.

You can expect to find several pubs, restaurants, and even merchants inside, most of which offer their services on exterior spaces. Now, talk about a colorful and atmospheric night accompanied by good music.

The Wailing Wall

Going back to 520 BC, The Second Temple once stood as one of the most sacred locations for Judaism.

It was said that the Temple was the purest source of divine power, which then spread itself to the rest of the world.

With that in mind, it stands to reason that the Temple also housed a massive array of praying sessions, festivities, and religious offerings amidst the Jewish community. Sadly, it came to a close after the Temple was destroyed around 70 AD.

But that is not to say that traditions and customs have been lost to time.

Nowadays, the Wailing Wall (also known as the Kotel, or Western Wall) proudly stands as the last remaining structure of the Second Temple. So, to respect its former glory, Jews worldwide have decided to visit regularly and partake in praying sessions.

For the most part, visits are limited to the praying sessions. The only exception is during Friday nights when people organize celebrations akin to those held in the Second Temple.

If you opt for a Friday night visit, you’ll get to enjoy the night with tons of singing and dancing!

For Scheduling Your Daytime and Nighttime Itineraries, ITAS Tours Is There for You!

You now know some great places to visit during any night in Jerusalem.

But what’s that? You’re interested in visiting such places, but you don’t know what to move in your schedule to make it happen? Well, ITAS Tours can help with that, and more!

With over 45 years of experience in organizing Israel Jewish tours, we pride ourselves in ensuring that your trip to the Holy Land is the best version of itself it can be. And that involves taking care of everything in your name, from the planning itself to making all necessary arrangements.

Likewise, we pride ourselves in saying that no other company has managed to reach our quality levels, nor our levels of attention to your needs. Our team of experts will gladly be helping you from the early stages of your planning up until your trip back home.

Be it for personal vacation tours or family tours, ITAS Tours has got your back. Both Israel and Jerusalem have never been closer to you!

Visit our website to learn more!

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Traveling with Kids to Israel: Tips for Families

Having a family is hard work, and most of us spend tireless days working to make sure our kids can enjoy a great life. But as soon as mouths are fed and bills are paid, it’s time for a well-earned vacation.

Family trips are the best chance we have for spending time and bonding with our kids, and it’s a chance to recharge our batteries before going back to work.

A trip to remember

When looking for a spot for a family vacation, it’s best to consider somewhere that can fulfill everyone’s needs.

An Israel vacation tour is a great way for Jewish families to connect their rich ancestral roots.

Markets, museums, beaches, and plenty of historical sites are all in the books regarding Israel family tours. There’s something for everyone.

Tips to consider

Now, if you’re going on an Israel tour with kids, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Stay Hydrated

Most people take their family vacations since school is out during the summer, but the Israel summer can be very warm.

Make sure to keep water and hydrating snacks (like cucumber slices) handy to cool off and avoid dehydration.

Take it slow

We know that vacation time is limited, but between jet lag, crowds, and the unfamiliarity of a new place, your kids might feel overwhelmed.

Take breaks regularly and make sure you don’t overschedule outings. Remember, a vacation is about relaxation, too.

Where and what to eat

Kids can be the pickiest of eaters, and when going somewhere new, mealtimes can be a challenge.

Luckily, Israel’s got options galore to both to satisfy your pickiest palettes and astound the curious ones. Hotels offer a large variety of foods on their menus and it’s all very fresh!

Make it educational

Israel has an abundance of historical and biblical sites all around.

Before going, make sure to spend some time teaching your kids about what they will see there and why it’s important.

Keep the kids entertained

While education and cultural experiences are important, remember that your kids want to play.

Look for more kid-friendly activities such as the zoo, the aquarium, or even the First Station, where your kids can enjoy an international play date. Eilat is a wonderful resort city in the south of Israel on the Red Sea – the perfect place to play in the sun.

The big tip

With all there is to do in Israel, you’d need a vacation just to figure out what to do during your trip. That’s why it’s always best to ask the experts.

Here at ITAS Tours, we offer Israel Jewish Tours curated with care to cover all the bases and make sure that your family’s experience will be one to remember.

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