Making Lifelong Memories on Israel Family Tours

While some families opt to go on vacations to a coastal resort to relax or a European country to enjoy the cities, other families decide to make memories in a more interesting and exciting way on Israel family tours.

Israel family tours offer more than sitting on the beach, going on hikes, or going to museums. Family vacations to Israel offer the most fun activities with a meaningful history and unprecedented views, all while connecting to the beautiful Israeli culture and ultimately creating a stronger and deeper bond with your family. Whether you decide to go on  private guided tours in Israel, with only your family or with a group of families, parents, kids, and even grandparents are bound to find excitement at every turn! Check out some of the options for family trips to Israel in 2017!

Private guided tours in Israel for the whole family

One of the great things about private guided tours in Israel specific for families, is that your family’s wants and needs will be met perfectly, and the trip will be completely customized to fit your family’s personality. Israel tour guides are also wonderful with kids of all ages, from younger families to families with teenagers. No two families are exactly the same, and as such no two Israel family tours should look exactly the same. Each family should experience Israel in the way that will be most meaningful for that family, and not the way that seems the easiest for the collective. That’s why private guided tours in Israel are often a great option for those families looking for a unique and authentic experience.

Multi-generational Israel family tours

For younger generations, it can be extremely powerful to travel with grandparents to meaningful locations such as Israel. Having on Israel family tours three, sometimes even four generations together makes not only the history of the country come alive, but also the history of the family. This can make a lifelong impact on the younger generations of a family. Logistics for this type of trip aren’t easy, but with the right tour guides in Israel, there is no reason it cannot be done. There are many activities that are enjoyable for every generation, as well as opportunities to allow for the kids to do one thing while the adults do another.

Small group trips to Israel in 2021/22

In order to add another level of fun to Israel family tours, a number of families with common interests can group together. This allows for kids to create new bonds with kids from other families, and parents to enjoy some quality time with other adults and friends. If families are looking into trips to Israel in 2021, customised group vacations might be the best option because planning as a group can be easy and fun. This option is also often more cost efficient for those who are travelling on a budget.

At the end of the day, giving your family a unique and exciting experience in Israel is the best gift you could ever give them, even more than sunbathing on the beach in Mexico or riding a rollercoaster at some amusement park. Israel has something for everyone, and has the unique ability to create a truly strong family bond!

Fall in Love with Israel on Guided Tours in Israel

One of the most wonderful things about Israel is the Israeli people. Israelis offer a unique perspective on their unique culture, and are not afraid to share their passions with those around them. That’s why the tour guides in Israel are so spectacular – they are passionate about their country and they share that passion with every tourist. Upon planning trips to Israel in 2017, it is certainly worth it to consider guided tours in Israel, so you can not only learn about the country, but you can also fall in love with Israel through the passionate culture and wonderful people. Here are the top three reasons that guided tours in Israel are the way to go when planning trips to Israel in 2021!

Tour guides in Israel are family oriented

On Israel family tours, it is very important to have a guide that knows how to get through to an audience of kids. Tour guides in Israel understand this importance, and as such they are experts on connecting to kids of all ages. A love for Israel and Israeli culture stems from the young generations, so a guide that knows how to impart that passion and love on the younger tourists is a successful guide. It is also no secret that Israel family tours can be difficult because it can be hard to find activities that are appealing and appropriate for all members of the family. Tour guides in Israel are highly aware of that fact, and are experts in making every site attractive to the whole family.

Guided tours in Israel can be customized

While large organized trips to Israel are usually “cookie cutter itineraries”, meaning they are the same for every group every trip. Guided tours in Israel, though, are put together by the guide and tour provider together with the group coming to Israel. That way, instead of getting a generic itinerary that won’t necessarily work for your specific group, you will get an itinerary that is fit to the interests of your group. Just as the tour can be customized, so can the tour guide. Tour guides in Israel fall on a wide spectrum of interests and specialties, so when planning customized guided tours in Israel, you can also find a tour guide in Israel that meets your interests and needs.

Touring with a guide will gain you special access

There are many places that lone tourists cannot go into in Israel. However, with trained tour guides in Israel, almost no doors are closed to tourists. Guided tours in Israel offer all of the activities that might not be listed in the guide books, because tour guides in Israel have all of the insider knowledge. Tour guides in Israel all go through intensive training for two years in order to gain the privilege to pass their knowledge and passion along to tourists, and along the way they learn about all of the hidden nooks and crannies and most beautiful corners of the country. When going on guided tours in Israel, tourists get the exclusive access to those places, as well. 

Organized Trips to Israel for Teens and Young Adults

For many teens and young adults, going on tours in Israel is a life changing experience. Jewish Israel tours for teens and young adults help to shape both a Jewish identity as well as a relationship with Israel that lasts a lifetime.

There are many options out there for tours to Israel for teens and young adults, and many are organized trips to Israel. It is important to choose the right organized trip to Israel for you, so that you can enjoy Israel in a way that will have a lasting impression. Here are some of the best types of organized trips to Israel for teens and young adults!

Volunteer tours in Israel

Often times, Jewish young adults will do volunteer work in the US for different organizations. However, it is incredible substantial for every young adult to do volunteer work during tours in Israel. It gives a new perspective to the charity work done for Israel from abroad. There are many organized trips to Israel that offer volunteer opportunities, such as volunteer work on a kibbutz, volunteering with youth in danger or with Holocaust survivors . Think of it as an “alternative and meaningful spring break”!

Active tours in Israel

Teens and young adults are the perfect group for active tours in Israel. Israel has hundreds of hiking, rappelling, spelunking, and canyoning opportunities that are great for the young and brave. This is also a great way to discover the country from north to south, and to see the beautiful views and landscapes from vantage points that you won’t find anywhere else. Other types of active tours include cycling tours, yoga tours, and camping.

LGBT tours in Israel

Israel has a booming LGBT scene, with one of the largest pride parades in the world, and Tel Aviv as one of the gay-friendliest cities in the world. There are many organized trips to Israel that take groups to discover this vibrant scene. LGBT tours in Israel are a new way to enjoy a wonderful side of the culturally rich country.

Jewish teen and young adult tours in Israel

Jewish Israel tours are a great option for teens and young adults. Teens and young adults are at a point in life where they can and should be forming a Jewish identity and a relationship with Israel. Jewish Israel tours for teens are created to do just that – help show the many sides of Israel, from culture, to food, to religious sites, to beautiful nature, in order to help each teen and young adult form a well rounded and informed opinion. Also, spending time with other Jewish teens and young adults is a fun added bonus that will create lifelong friendships!

 

The Top 7 Reasons Why Israel Cycling Tours are Recommended

We’ve all heard about cycling tours in Italy, France, and Spain. Get ready to add Israel to the list of perfect cycling destinations. 

While there are many different ways to travel Israel, one of the most challenging and interesting ways to do so is on a bicycle. Israel cycling tours are different from cycling tours in any other country for so many reasons, here are the top seven according to Puzzle Israel and thier partners at Rent a Bike Israel!

You can cycle from north to south in entirety in just one week

Israel is jam packed with culture and history, but it is still a pretty small country geographically speaking. That fact makes it possible to cycle from Metula to Eilat in just seven days (or even less if you skip visiting sites along the way). It also means that you don’t need to take too long off of work or school to fit in Israel cycling tours, so it is a great option for short active vacations or breaks.

Photo: Ronen Chernyak 

 

You will pass through every type of landscape

From the north to the south, cycling routes pass through roads, meadows, mountains, valleys, desert, forests, cities, villages and more. The variety is endless so you will never get bored from the scenery as each moment will be new and exciting!

Photo: Ronen Chernyak 

Perfect weather throughout most of the year

The weather is almost always perfect all year round! The spring and autumn are just perfect for cycling and while the summers can get very hot, it is possible to cycle early in the morning and avoid the heat. The winter is mild and cool, with little rain. So while hard winters elsewhere in the world prevent cycling enthusiasts to venture outdoors, here in Israel you can just come and enjoy a lovely active winter break, cycling in great cool weather. That’s one of the most unique reasons of going on Israel cycling tours – you can come almost any time of year, and you don’t have to choose between the north or the south, the mountains or the valleys because you can have it all.

You can combine Israel cycling tours with Israel food tours

One of the best parts of Israeli culture is the culinary scene. After a day of cycling, you will surely be hungry. Instead of eating trail mix and energy bars, sit down to eat meals at the best restaurants in the country, or at special authentic Druze and Bedouin hospitality, enjoying local delicious homemade cuisine. If the day ends in a rural area without a restaurant, a countryside or desert picnic can be arranged. Don’t just cycle, cycle in style with the best foods and wines Israel has to offer when you combine Israel cycling tours with Israel food tours.

You don’t have to bring your bike, but you can

If you take a cycling tour that is an organized trip to Israel, bikes can actually be provided for you. There are bicycles of all kinds that can be rented, and logistical help can be provided on organized cycling trips to Israel. You can have a bicycle and a road team on Israel cycling tours which is a pretty sweet deal! If you do decide to bring you bike, many airlines that fly to Israel will allow you to check your bike at minimal cost. Your local bike shop will know the best way to package for air travel. Organized trips to Israel will take this into account when picking you up from the airport, too, so no need to worry about that.

Family members can enjoy other activities during the day

If you come to Israel for a cycling tour but your family doesn’t cycle, tours and activities can be arranged for them separately. While you are cycling, other members of the family can explore the area, participate in workshops, and enjoy touring by hiking, jeep rides and other exciting ways. Then in the evening, you can all meet at the accommodations, whether they be a five star hotel, a glamorous camp site, or a fun cabin.

Safety and comfort above all

Cycling on roads, especially in areas not familiar, can be a dangerous adventure. A cycling tour in Israel is accompanied by an escort car at all times, allowing the cyclists to cycle safely along the roads and not worry about getting lost. And best of all, when you get tired, you can just hope into the car for a rest.

There is no doubt that Israel has become one of the best locations in the world for cycling. When considering your next destination ride, keep the glorious landscapes of Israel in mind!

A Taste of Traditional Arab Food

Camla Musa is an Arab Chef from the Galilee, Israel. She lives in Dir El Asad, an Israeli Arab village in northern Israel. She takes great pride and joy in cooking traditional Arab food for Israeli diners. In her cooking, Camla regularly uses natural ingredients that she herself prepares or picks from a nearby field. She avoids cooking with milk and eggs, not out of health reasons, but simply because these are not necessary ingredients for preparing her healthy and delicious dishes.

Although Camla started cooking at the age of twenty, following family recipes that were passed on from generation to generation, she only kicked off her career as a chef at thirty. “I’d been working as a cleaner for seven years when one day the chef of a rural resort asked me to help him prepare a few of the dishes on the menu. I gradually started cooking more and more of my family’s authentic Arab dishes. The people who came on vacation to the resort were very enthusiastic about my cooking. To increase the number of dishes I prepared, I started calling my mother to ask for additional recipes.”

Many may think that both the Israeli and the Arab cuisine are similar, but Camla points out that the latter is unique and quite different than the former: “Both kitchens are completely different as they use very different spices and ingredients. Each kitchen regards health issues differently and that affects the elements used in the cooking as well as the outcome.” She also explains that there are differences in the palate preferences of both cultures. For example, the Israeli palate is accustomed to eating something sweet at the end of a meal while the Arabs don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

Arab cuisine is made up of a rich diversity of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and even Indian food. It was originally based on vegan cooking with no eggs, plenty of olive oil, no yeast, and very little butter. On the other hand, Israeli cooking is very much based on milk, cream, and butter. “We do not avoid eggs because we think they are not healthy, but simply because we have no need for them. In addition, we do not deep fry, except for one dish called Kibbeh (a torpedo-shaped fried bulgur croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb). However, these days some modern Arab recipes use non-typical Arab ingredients such as mayonnaise, but these trends did not originate in the Arab cuisine.”

Israeli cuisine in comparison is a blend of local dishes created by native Israelis together with dishes brought to Israel by the Diaspora Jews. Over the past decades, it has also adopted many aspects of the Arab cuisine: “The Arab salads are definitely a big hit in the Israeli kitchen — take the Tabbouleh for example (an Arab salad traditionally made of bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion, and garlic and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt). In addition, different leaf salads and stuffed vegetables are very popular in the Israeli kitchen these days.” Camla adds that she has noticed that over the past several years there has been a shift in the Israeli cooking. “I now see that they are starting to follow recipes that resemble the original Arab cooking techniques and ingredients.”

Camla specializes in preparing dishes that are a delightful combination of Israeli and Arab cuisine, specifically dishes made with the local Galilee leaves. “I also enjoy making a dish called Maqluba; a dish you may say represents the Galilee cooking. I prepare it with whole grain rice, meat, and vegetables. This is a completely balanced meal. No one leaves the table hungry!”

Camla goes to great lengths to make sure that her ingredients are fresh and organic. She picks her own leaves from the fields because they are not sprayed with pesticides, even though the leaves are smaller and she must pick more to have enough for a dish. “If I cannot go and pick the leaves myself, I buy them from the local shops.” Camla also makes her own bulgur and freekeh (a cereal food made from roasted green wheat). “My sister and I take wheat from the field and cook it in the yard for 6-7 hours in large barrels. After that we put the barrels on the roof for the wheat to dry. Then we wash and clean the wheat and send it to be ground for the different types of dishes.”

Camla takes great pride in being an Arab Chef who specializes in Arab-Israeli cuisine: “I am lucky to be able to pass on to my daughter my recipes so she too can continue the authentic traditional Arab cuisine, the kind that is not mainstream. There are recipes and menus that can be adjusted to the liking of a specific audience and yet still preserve the qualities of the Arab kitchen.”

We hope you will get the chance to meet Camla on your next Israel journey!

Try cooking one of Camla’s favorite recipes:
Maqluba with chicken or meat
Ingredients:
• 3 glasses of Jasmin rice
• A whole medium-sized chicken
• 0.5 kg cauliflower (split into pieces)
• 8 small onions
• 3 cut carrots
• 100g of pine-nuts
• 2 liter of oil for frying
• A mixture of Ba’ha’rat (cinnamon, Cardamom and Bay leaves)
Preparations:
• Fry the chicken on all sides and strain the oil well
• Fry the onions, cauliflower, and carrot till they turn brown and strain the oil
• Lay the chicken in a cooking pot and stack the vegetables around it.
• Mix the rice together with the pine-nuts, season it and add salt, then add to the pot over the chicken and vegetables. Pour 1 liter of water over it all and cover the pot.
• Place on the stove till it boils and then lower the fire and cook for 45 minutes on a low fire.
• When ready, turn the pot over on a large serving dish and serve for everyone to enjoy!

Organized Trips to Israel for Teens and Young Adults

For many teens and young adults, going on tours in Israel is a life-changing experience. Jewish Israel tours for teens and young adults help to shape both a Jewish identity as well as a relationship with Israel that lasts a lifetime.

There are many options out there for tours to Israel for teens and young adults, and many are organized trips to Israel. It is important to choose the right organized trip to Israel for you so that you can enjoy Israel in a way that will have a lasting impression. Here are some of the best types of organized trips to Israel for teens and young adults!

Volunteer tours in Israel
Often times, Jewish young adults will do volunteer work in the US for different organizations. However, it is incredibly substantial for every young adult to do volunteer work during tours in Israel. It gives a new perspective to the charity work done for Israel from abroad. There are many organized trips to Israel that offer volunteer opportunities, such as volunteer work on a kibbutz, volunteering with youth in danger or with Holocaust survivors. Think of it as an “alternative and meaningful spring break”!

Active tours in Israel
Teens and young adults are the perfect groups for active tours in Israel. Israel has hundreds of hiking, rappelling, spelunking, and canyoning opportunities that are great for the young and brave. This is also a great way to discover the country from north to south, and to see the beautiful views and landscapes from vantage points that you won’t find anywhere else. Other types of active tours include cycling tours, yoga tours, and camping.

LGBT tours in Israel
Israel has a booming LGBT scene, with one of the largest pride parades in the world, and Tel Aviv as one of the gay-friendliest cities in the world. There are many organized trips to Israel that take groups to discover this vibrant scene. LGBT tours in Israel are a new way to enjoy a wonderful side of the culturally rich country.

Jewish teen and young adult tours in Israel
Jewish Israel tours are a great option for teens and young adults. Teens and young adults are at a point in life where they can and should be forming a Jewish identity and a relationship with Israel. Jewish Israel tours for teens are created to do just that – help show the many sides of Israel, from culture to food, to religious sites, to beautiful nature, in order to help each teen and young adult form a well rounded and informed opinion. Also, spending time with other Jewish teens and young adults is a fun added bonus that will create lifelong friendships!

Explore the Old and New Tel Aviv

By: Brennan Caruthers Photos: Aaron Hoffman

Puzzle’s interns spent a day in Tel Aviv, visiting historically rich locations such as the home of Israel’s deceased national poet, Tel Aviv’s old town hall building, one of the most active outdoor markets, and a small coffee shop with a very interesting owner.

The sun warmed our exposed necks as we admired the gorgeous architectural styles displayed in Bialik Square, Tel Aviv. Home to edifices such as Beit Bialik and Beit Ha’ir, the Bialik Complex was designated a World Heritage Site and is a leading center for Israeli and Hebrew culture. The name “Bialik” refers to Israel’s now deceased national poet, Chaim Nachman Bialik. History, Poetry, and Culture enthusiasts must visit Beit Bialik, the beloved poet’s old home which was restored in the spirit of the building during Bialik’s lifetime. Beit Bialik now serves as a museum, archive, and cultural center, brilliantly showcasing Bialik’s writings and authentic artifacts.

For those who are more intrigued by modern rarities, political history, and urban culture, Beit Ha’ir, the old Town Hall building, is definitely worth your while. Keeping with the city’s name “Tel Aviv” (old-new land), this Urban Culture Museum was renovated with the goal of combining the old and the new to reflect a city on the move, successfully navigating the border between preservation and innovation. We were lucky enough to visit during the Video Game Culture and History display, which boasted interactive retro throwbacks alongside modern gaming, screened on the walls, ceilings, and floors using projectors and colossal flat-screen TVs. Phenomenal. The building’s historical significance, however, is never left in the shadows. Step upstairs as we did and experience firsthand a day in the life of Tel Aviv’s first leader, Mayor Meir Dizengoff (pronounced “Mayor!”).

The exhibition represents the famous author Theodor Herzl’s book Altneuland, which means old to new. “Tel Aviv” is actually the Hebrew translation for the name of the book. A fascinating way of exploring Tel Aviv is to do as we did and keep with the theme of the book, beginning in some of the most ancient locations and moving through the city to more newer locations. Our next stop was Shuk Ha’Carmel, Tel Aviv’s large open-air market, and my personal favorite spot to hang out in Tel Aviv. The atmosphere is by far the most enticing aspect of the Shuk, that is if you enjoy active and lively surroundings. All the food is authentic and fresh (and need I say DE-LICIOUS), take for example the Burekas – a warm Turkish puff pastry filled with salty cheese/meat/potatoes. Aside from the food, you can find anything here, from touristy trinkets to fresh groceries and household necessities. The prices are cheap, but if you’re American or look American, go ahead and try your hand at haggling: chances are that the 50 shekel item you’re purchasing is actually sold to Israelis for around 30 shekels.

While you’re at Shuk Ha’Carmel, stop by Cafe Cohen, a small coffee shop located on Yishkon street in between YichYeh Kapach Street and Yom Tov Street. Sure, the coffee’s great, but ask the owner to sing for you and that’s where you’ll get your treat. Shlomo Cohen, the store owner, is a Hazzan (a Jewish musician who leads the congregation in songful prayer). His rich, creamy voice mirrors the taste of his freshly brewed coffee, epitomizing Israeli culture in an experience unparalleled.

Undoubtedly there is so much more to see and do in Tel Aviv, but if you have some free time and are looking to enjoy something a bit more unique, you should definitely add these sites to your itineraries.

About the Author:
Brennan Caruthers, Puzzle Israel’s intern from San Diego, explored Tel Aviv with his fellow interns and came back with new recommendations on what to see and do in Tel Aviv.

Why Travel Israel?

Looking for your next adventure around the world? Somewhere exotic, exciting, spiritual, with breathtaking views, to visit? Well, don’t think twice, Israel IS THE PLACE TO GO!

Whether or not this is your first time in Israel, we guarantee that you will easily discover something new and special to do during your visit. This amazing country is so diverse in its cultures, religions, scenery, fauna, and flora, everyone will find their own piece of the puzzle to enjoy.

So here are some interesting facts about Israel that will help you make up your mind…

1. Weather – looking for sunshine all year round? You are sure to find it here in Israel. Yes, it can get cold, even VERY cold in the winter, but it is sunny on most days of the year. And if you need to defrost properly, Eilat resort city on the shores of the Red Sea in the south of Israel is truly warm (if not HOT) all year round…

2. A religious experience – Jerusalem is significant to all major religions. But you don’t need to be religious in order to appreciate the beauty and spirituality of the Temple Mount, Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, The Via Dolorosa, Mt of Olives, Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. If you want to follow Jesus’s path, you will start in Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee in the north and work your way south visiting all the main sites along the Jordan River and the Judean Desert, finishing in Jerusalem.

3. A small country with a huge geographical diversity – perhaps it is only 8,019 square miles, 8 hours by car from north to south, and about 1.5 hours west to east, but such a diverse beauty all cramped within…the green mountains in the north with the Galilee sea, streams and waterfalls, the Tuscan scenery of the hills south of Jerusalem, the desert in all its glory with special oases and craters, and of course the Med, Dead and Red seas, and sooooo much more!

4. An interesting diversity of ethnicities – Bedouins, Druze, Muslims, Baha’i, Jews with different heritages from the diaspora, and born & bred “Zabar” Jews, all offer you a peek into their culture, food, hospitality, and traditions.

5. Looking to do some sports while traveling? Israel has some of the best roads and off-road routes for cycling. You can see Israel on the saddle of the bike, running along its off-road trails or city streets, diving in the Red Sea, abseiling, skydiving, workout on the multi-trainers on the beaches or join a triathlon/running/swimming/cycling race on the weekend.

6. Accessibility for the disabled and handicapped – Israel’s awareness of the need to provide sufficient access to people with different kinds of disabilities has grown over the years. You can find easy access to most restaurants, public transport, special paths in nature reserves and sites and even adventurous activities such as abseiling, horse-back riding, and other exciting things to do.

7. Archaeology and history – Israel has such a rich past, going as far back in time as the prehistoric days with remains of Neanderthals and hominid artifacts dating even close to 1 million years old. A must-see site is Masada, where King Herod, during the Roman period, built a magnificent castle complex on the top of a secluded mountain in the Judean Desert. You shouldn’t miss out on the ancient Roman harbor city of Caesarea, Crusader remains in Acre, the Old City of Jerusalem with all its historical layers dating back to the biblical days of King David and Solomon during the 10th Century BC, Megiddo, Capernaum, and the list can go on forever…

8. Tel Aviv, definitely the coolest city EVER – from the packed beaches with youngsters sunbathing and playing beach sports, to the best shopping areas, art venues and exhibitions, historical sites, a variety of restaurants and amazing nightlife, Tel Aviv offers the ultimate fun package in one city.

So, when are you booking your flight?

The Neshama: Israel Summer Yoga Retreat – A Soulful Adventure

Puzzle Israel and Rachelle Tratt of The Neshama Project have partnered up to offer yoga fans from Israel and abroad a special and unconventional way to experience Israel. This coming June, Rachelle will be arriving in Israel to lead a ten-day soulful adventure in the country’s most beautiful locations.
We met Rachelle during her last visit in Israel and asked her to tell us about herself, The Neshama Project, and about her plans for the upcoming yoga retreat, she will be leading together with Puzzle Israel.

Rachelle currently lives in LA but has visited Israel numerous times over the past five years. Several of these visits were part of the Taglit – Birthright youth group trips, and others were to focus on developing and expanding her business — The Neshama Project — a socially conscious jewelry company that gives back to the community.
Rachelle began her yogic journey approximately eight years ago. Upon attending her first yoga class she felt at peace and at home. Intuitively, she knew that yoga was destined to be a prominent element in her life’s journey. Her personal triumphs over the adversities she experienced throughout her life enable her to teach yoga from a place of compassion and understanding.

Rachelle believes yoga to be all about creating peace in the mind, body, and heart.
“When we align our body physically, there is more room to be aligned mentally and emotionally. Yoga teaches us how to be more present with our bodies and our surroundings.”
Rachelle has a special connection to Israel. It started even before she was born, when her parents met on a kibbutz in 1973, and fell in love. As a little girl, Rachelle always knew that Israel would become a big part of her life, especially after her mom passed away when Rachelle was only nine years old. “My first trip here was in honor of her, with intentions of following her footsteps. Now, I have been able to create my own love story with the land, and create meaningful ways to share it with others.”

Rachelle’s personal connection to Israel has a tremendous influence on her business — The Neshama Project. “When I was given a special blue ‘hamsa’ from an Israeli yoga student over five years ago, I intuitively knew that one day I would share it with the world. Every day, someone would comment on the necklace, and it became a conversation starter for something greater. It became a way of sharing my story, my connection to Israel, my outlook on overcoming love and loss, and my desire to share principles of yoga and mindful living with others. I always knew that I wanted this to be more than just another product on the shelves, so I asked myself, ‘How can this special stone give back and inspire?’ Two summers ago I partnered with Innovation Africa, where 10% of your purchases go to support this special organization that brings Israeli technology to African villages.”

Rachelle has set out to lead a yoga retreat in Israel believing that Israel is the spiritual mecca for all walks of life. “Israel is rich with culture, politics, varying ideologies, and a contagious spirit that exists among its people. There are many yoga retreats around the world, but no one travels to Israel.” Rachelle added that the uniqueness of the Neshama: Israel yoga retreat model is the added value the retreat offers by volunteering and giving back while traveling. “This is what we call a ‘soulful adventure’ and I hope to continue to share this special place with people, and make Israel a meaningful destination to travel to.”
Rachelle strongly recommends that Israelis join the Neshama: Israel journey as well so that they can take a few meaningful days of vacation to practice yoga with people from all over the world. “Take this as an opportunity to re-open your eyes to the beautiful country that you live in. Sometimes, all it takes is taking a few days to step outside of your routine in order to find the magic of life again.”

Even though Rachelle has visited Israel many times, she always discovers something new. To conclude our conversation, we asked her to tell us about one new thing she experienced this time around, and one old comforting and familiar experience she picked up on her previous visits. “One new thing: I discovered that I can run a marathon!!!! At the last minute, I decided to take part in my first marathon ever, which took place in Jerusalem a week ago! And one old thing: That I am in love with hummus.”
Rachelle and Puzzle Israel invite you all to join us on a special soulful journey through Israel’s captivating sites.

Haifa – More Than Meets the Eye

By: Brennan Caruthers Photos: Aaron Hoffman

Brennan Caruthers, Puzzle Israel’s intern from San Diego, spent a day learning more about Haifa and the surrounding areas with his fellow interns. Here’s what he recommends to do in the city that he’s living in this Summer

The waves of the Mediterranean Sea swayed, acting as a visual for Aaron, Geoff, Jon, and myself as we listened to Tamar from Puzzle Israel tell the story of the Dakar Submarine. The INS Dakar was purchased from the British in 1964, and when it didn’t return back from its first voyage, the search for the Dakar and its crew became the nation’s greatest mystery. Fifty years later, we admire the INS Dakar in Haifa and hear its story: how Israel grieved at the loss of their boys, how the country searched relentlessly for 31 years, and how the Dakar was finally found at the bottom of the ocean. You can now find the Dakar in the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum at the base of Mount Carmel, alongside Af-Al-P-Chen, a ship that brought illegal Jewish immigrants to Israel when Israel was under British rule and many other amazing findings explaining the role of the sea in the founding of the Jewish state.

Halfway up the Carmel Mountain lies the Baha’i Gardens, where we travel to next. The Baha’i religion is grounded in symmetry. If you visit the famous Baha’i Gardens, a mausoleum for the Bab (the founder of the religion) in Haifa, the focus on symmetry will become expressly clear. Nine ridges rest above the mausoleum and nine ridges lie below, which add up to a total of 19 ridges (19 being a holy number in the Baha’i religion). If you were to stand directly on the line-of-symmetry in the Baha’i Gardens, you would notice that the symmetry continues down Ben Gurion Street, all the way to the ocean across. Also, if you look closely at the gardens, you will notice that the center is well manicured and the further sideways you look, the vegetation becomes wilder, with plants representing the natural flora of the Carmel. Baha’i played a large part in developing Ben Gurion

Street and the surrounding German Colony in order to capitalize on the effect of the symmetry displayed in the Baha’i Gardens. Not coincidentally, the neat line-of-symmetry points directly at the Baha’i’s holy city of Akko, which lies directly across the bay from Haifa.
If you enter The Baha’i Gardens from the top on Yafe Nof Street, you will get a view of the Eastern side of Haifa, which makes the Baha’i Gardens a prime location to learn some Haifa history. You can see the changes made by Daher El Omar, the autonomous Arab leader that moved Haifa into a safer location in order to decrease the number of pirate attacks and protect the city from invasions. You will also be able to see the German Colony in the context of the surrounding areas, which provides perspective into how the German Colony developed in relation to the rest of the city. The terrace will also provide you with a perfect viewpoint of the lower city if you’re interested in finding fun locations to eat and drink.

When climbing further up the formidable Carmel Mountain, we arrive at the most West Northern tip of the mountain, at the site of the breathtaking Stella Maris Monastery. The entire compound belongs to the Discalced Carmelites who decided to build it in this specific place based on the belief that this is where Elijah the prophet visited and in fact is buried. At the entrance to the church, stands the monument to Napoleon’s soldiers who have been said to have been sick with the plague and left there to rest while Napoleon ceased Akko in 1799. Unfortunately, these soldiers were slayed by the Turks but their story is not forgotten.

In terms of food, you will find the most authentic dishes close to the large, rocket-shaped government building (you can’t miss it). Shwarma and falafel shops litter the streets, meaning you can’t go wrong when it comes to which stand you choose (just for reference, note that if you’re wrapping your main food in a pita, then falafel should never cost more than about 20 shekels and shwarma should never cost more than about 30). If you’d like a nice sit-down restaurant and an easy-going atmosphere, just head down to the German Colony and roam around Ben Gurion Street until you find an outdoor eatery that interests you.

Finally, we come to the nightlife. Us Americans here in Haifa usually take the two-pronged approach on the weekends. Our main event is usually this bar called Ha Sifriya, or “The Library.” The Library feels reminiscent of a college spring breakers trip, with loud, mixed American/Israeli House music blasting out of the corner, shots being poured off the bar into patrons’ mouths, bartenders frequently interacting sexually with customers and each other, and a carbon dioxide gun that shoots white compressed air into the crowd. Technically, Ha Sifriya is a bar. But The Library feels like a club. Oh, did I mention that you pay a fixed price for unlimited alcohol?

Our final stop is Barki, a medium-sized bar in downtown Haifa, halfway in between the rocket-shaped government building and the German Colony. Barki operates out of a dingy alleyway and provides a relaxed, secluded atmosphere that makes it a great place to cap the night, hang out with friends, swap stories, or just relax on a weekday. Try the half-liter of Barki! Barki proudly brews their own beer and affordably sells half-liter glasses for 25 Shekels.
There is so much more to do and see in Haifa and this is no doubt just a little description of what this beautiful and interesting city has to offer.
If you want to learn more about the city, just wait for the next article…

About the Author:
Brennan Caruthers, Puzzle Israel’s intern from San Diego, lived in Haifa for 2 months with his fellow in-terns and has worked for Puzzle Israel during that time.