By Yonit Schiller
Once you land in Israel, among the first questions you’ll ask yourself are: Where are we going? What should we do? Where is the best falafel? You could easily Google some answers to these questions but in order to truly maximize your time in Israel, (and perhaps I’m a bit biased given my profession) - there's nothing quite like a guided educational experience.
Within the first hour you spend together, you’ll come to realize that a tour guide isn’t just a person you hire to show you around Israel. A licensed guide is generally a passionate educator who is entrusted with the task of helping you to truly experience the country- to take it all in and challenge your comfort zone, leaving you inspired. The guide is there- right by your side- to help you navigate, process, and piece together the various elements of your trip as you traverse breathtaking landscapes, and delve into the exhilarating kaleidoscope of diverse ethnicities, culinary flavors, geopolitics, and religious traditions across Israel.
Israel is no ordinary destination. As you’re probably aware, tourists and locals alike feel a real connection to this land and its people. A good tour guide will help you peel back the layers so that you can better connect to yourself by making any place you end up exploring speak to you on a personal level.
Your guide will lead you on an individual journey even if you’re part of a larger group by building a community through the facilitation of meaningful discussion, and creating a safe space for all participants to not only feel included, but to recognize that they are part of something much bigger than themselves.
Sometimes being a tourist can be overwhelming because we’re so preoccupied with ticking off all the important boxes. A tour guide channels that excitement and energy and is instrumental in affording you the opportunity to be present- cultivating an appreciation and mindfulness for the moment. Every day of your trip will become a celebration and a wonder to behold- even those annoying count-offs will turn into something you’ll look forward to.
Israelis are a people who have learned through crisis and hardship how to live life to its fullest- to celebrate every waking moment. As you make your way through Israel, the locals always have a colorful story to share and your guide can find opportunities to pepper your itinerary with encounters by native Israelis.
The Importance of Hummus
This soulful chickpea dip has brought people of various walks of life together for generations. Your tour guide will be able to point you in the direction of mouthwatering hummus- whether it be masbacha, fava bean, mushroom, or yerushalmi. Eating hummus in Israel will make you question how you existed for so long without the real thing and is bound to have your heart beating fast when you realize that the store bought-variety is inferior at best and eating hummus will simply never be the same again.
If you’re Jewish and between the ages of 18 to 26, you might be eligible for a free trip to Israel, which would include a 10-day guided tour around the entire country with other young Jewish adults around the world. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will only be able to get when you sign up for Birthright Israel; you’ll enjoy all the benefits of having a tour guide through Israel. You can register now and claim your seat for trips through March 2022.