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August 3, 2009August 3, 2009  0 comments  Events

Traveling with kids? Looking for an educational and fun way to entertain them? Head over to the Israel Museum on either a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday this month. The museum has constructed an archaeological tell where your kids can learn and participate in a minature archaeological dig. Let them learn about sifting and antiquities in this hands on activity. The cost is $50 per child and is recommedned for kids 7 years and up. By the way, the museum is offering free admission to kids for the entire month of August. While you're at it, you can enjoy breakfast in a prehistoric cave on Mon, Tues, and Wednesday at 11:30. No need to know hebrew to experience this museum.

 


October 12, 2009October 12, 2009  1 comments  attractions

It is traditional to eat sweet foods during the Jewish high holiday season. Certain items are very prevalent throughout the country and show up on almost everyone's feast table at some point - such as apples, honey, chocolate, honey cake, figs and other specialty items. As part of our celebration of the holiday season combined with the fact that all the schools are out for vacation for almost two weeks, we opted to take a couple days to travel to the north and enjoy the celebrations that were going on. While many venues were offering special festivities during the weekly succot holidays - all of these venues are opened year round, for the most part and are highly recommended for visitation by individuals, groups and families alike. If you are a foodie - even better - you'll love learning about the many products that are organically grown in this region. Below are a couple interesting places that we visited last week.

 

Bustan HaGolan - Located just off of Highway 98, this wonderful outdoor attraction lies on the easternmost border of the Golan Heights, overlooking Syria. The fields offer abundant peach and apples  - we picked huge granny smiths and star kings as well as massive white peaches which were likely the last of this season. Within this large farm grapes are being grown on the fertile fields. Numerous activities await families with small children that can enjoy spending an entire day at the property. For an entrance price of approximately $8, children can ride ponies, visit the petting zoo including the alpacas and llamas, make candy apples, eat apple pie and pick apples as well as play on the well maintained playground. Parents will also enjoy the relaxing atmosphere that offers a stunning view overlooking Syria and the new city of Quneitra as well as the UN facility and hydro-power plant that provides electricity for the entire area. 04-6993612 

 

Ein Zivan - This quaint kibbutz settlement is situated approximately two kilometers south of Bustan HaGolan, off of highway 91, also in the eastern Golan Heights. The kibbutz is known for the famous private chocolate factory that was built on its grounds by a 3rd generation chocolatier from Argentina that made aliyah to Israel a few years ago. The factory is known as Pri Village and offers chocolate workshops for adults and kids that include a movie of the history of the Pri Village, a tour through the factory as well as a hands on workshop where participants learn to make their own handcrafted chocolates. A large chocolate shop featuring a variety of different products is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. The factory is kosher and closes early on Friday (at 3) and remains closed all of Saturday (sabbath). The factory offers special programs for school children from throughout the country (and, in fact, our daughter participated in a workshop on the chemistry of chocolate making). Because we arrived late we were unable to attend the workshop, however our tour included the 8 minute movie, a tour of the factory as well as a tasting (which was delicious). 04-699-3622

 

 


January 31, 2010January 31, 2010  2 comments  Traveling with Kids

You come to the Holy Land with your children. You're excited to show them the land, to teach them about its rich history and its centrality to Christianity. But kids just wanna have fun! Fret not! In Israel, you can do both at the same time. Take advantage of the unique experiences the Holy Land offers. Swim in the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on water. Clamber over ancient Crusader fortresses. Point out the flora and fauna that existed in the times of Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

Here are 5 kid-friendly stops for your Holy Land itinerary:

 

North:

Walk in the water at the Majarsa Nature Reserve! The Daliot River, which runs into the Kinneret, forms the perfect water hike. Wade through the river, befriending exotic dragonflies and fish along the way. Remember to bring waterproof shoes or sandals - the rocks are slippery! The water level ranges from ankle to waist-height (though the level depends on the rainfall from the previous winter.) You might have to carry the small ones through the deeper portions; older ones will relish the chance to swim in the refreshingly cool water. Babies and toddlers can enjoy the hike as well, happily reclining in a baby carrier, as Mom or Dad does all the work! The hike lasts about twenty to thirty minutes, depending on the crowds (and the speed of your crew.) Reward your kids - and yourself - for a job well done at the ubiquitous "artik" (Hebrew for ice pop) stand that will greet you upon exit.

Note: Depending on the amount of time you will be in Israel, it might be worth investing in a parks pass. For the price of the pass, you have unlimited access to all the national parks in Israel for a year. You can purchase a pass at any of the parks.

 

At Bat Ya'ar Ranch, near the ancient, mystical city of Tsfat, you may hear your kids say, "Wow!" "Cool!" or "Can we do that again?" But they will definitely not say, "I'm bored!" The ranch, one of the foremost horseback riding sites in Israel, has plenty of fun for everyone. Parents and kids, ages 10 and up, can take a (gentle, trained) horse out for an hour (or longer). For a true "havaya" (Hebrew for "experience"), go on a two-day horseback trek! Meander "out west," stopping for the night at a unique ecological village. Bat Ya'ar also offers a challenging ropes course (open on Saturdays and holidays), as well as Israel's only outdoor bowling site! The younger crowd can enjoy all sorts of age-appropriate activities, such as pony rides, pita-making, and a petting zoo. Bat Ya'ar also offers activities for groups - contact the ranch for more information or to make reservations. (office@batyaar.co.il or 04-682-2268)

 

Center:

The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens - aka The Biblical Zoo, located in Jerusalem - offers all the wonder and enchantment of a zoo through a unique Biblical perspective. The informational signs tell readers not only about the animal's diet and habitat - but also where this animal is mentioned in the Bible. The zoo is spread out over 62 lush, well-maintained acres. Observe the magnificent animals - regal lions, playful monkeys, slithery reptiles, and majestic elephants; hike a short path to a fantastic viewing area and observe zebras, giraffes, and hippos bathing in the cool water. Don't miss out on the Children's Zoo, complete with a petting zoo and a Noah's Ark-themed playground. Surrounding the playground is a beautiful sculpture garden - which youcan touch and climb on! The Children's Zoo also offers shade and comfortable benches, and, of course, refreshments. Relax with an ice cream or ice-cold drink before continuing on your way.

 

Have a budding archaeologist on your hands? Then grab your trowel and soil sifter and head to Bet Guvrin to participate in Dig for a Day! (What? You don't have your own trowel and soil sifter? That's okay - the folks at Archaeological Seminars, who run the digs, will provide them for you!) The program, which is appropriate for adults and kids over the age of five, runs approximately three hours. While that might not be enough time to unearth and reassemble King Tut, it will be jam-packed with digging, sifting, examining your finds, and then touring the park. Crawl through the vast, labyrinthine cave system (don't worry, it's guided) and marvel at the complex underground rooms built hundreds of years ago. Keep in mind that you need to pay separately for entrance into the park, in addition to the fees for the dig.

 

Ein Hemed, just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway (Route 1), an oasis of green in a mostly brown country, is filled with fascinating Crusader remains and leafy grounds. The Crusaders who lived here long ago gave the place a different name - Aqua Bella, meaning "beautiful water," in appreciation of the refreshing stream that runs through the park. At the entrance of Ein Hemed is a small playground, but what will surely fascinate the little guys for longer is the imposing, two-story Crusader manor. Walk through the magnificent arched gate into a central courtyard and investigate the well-preserved rooms. (Terrific for a game of ultimate hide-and-seek!) Follow a path to a burial cave that scholars have dated to the Second Temple period. The gurgling stream adds to the beauty and serenity of the park. Guided tours are available with a reservation, including a "Genesis Tour," "Nature's Right to Water" and "William the Crusader."

 

The experiential is what we remember the most. Let your kids run, swim, climb, and dig - let them touch their history with their own two hands (and feet). The impact of this experience will resonate with them long after the dirt is scrubbed off and the ice pops are finished.


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