Monthly archives "April 2014"

Honoring Israeli Pioneers

In Honor of Israel’s Independence Day

The days between Holocaust Memorial Day, the Memorial Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism and Independence Day, allow us to reflect and commemorate those who have paved the way to the foundation of the State of Israel.

Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present and Future – Ideas for the Yom Ha’atzmaut season, 5775!

Many museums and sites are dedicated to Israeli  pioneers and give us a glimpse into their world and their heritage.

Hashomer Museum – Kfar Giladi:

Tel Hai Hashomer museum

Tel Hai Hashomer Museum courtesy of:

In 1907, a group of Olim who arrived in Israel in the second wave of aliya, Israeli pioneers gathered together in Jaffa and decided to open a small military underground organization called “Bar Giora” (so named for the warriors who fought the Roman Empire during the 2nd Temple Era). Within a couple of years, this group of young people challenged the status quos and brought about a change of thinking. They realized that they need to expand the organization, which lead to the foundation of  “Hashomer” – “The Guard”, in Hebrew. The organization’s purpose was to build a large-scale, institutionalized security organization designed to keep and protect the Land of Israel.

The museum is located in Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, just north Kiryat Shmona in the Upper Galilee.  Sitting in the foothills of the Naftali Mountains, there is a breathtaking view of the Hula Valley and on the mountain side, it is overlooked by the Golan Heights and Israel’s tallest mountain, Mount Hermon.

The new permanent exhibition display was renewed in 2008 by the Ministry of Defense in collaboration with museum curators, commemorating 100 years since the founding of the Shomer–-Bar Giyora Organization by Israeli pioneers.

The exhibition is designed in a pioneering manner and is accompanied by an audio-visual show. The exhibition is primarily designed and geared for young adults and includes photographs, a multi-media presentation and videos, as well as art from the pioneers’ time period, depicting the pioneers.

The museum focuses on more than just the security angle of “Hashomer”, but also shows the wider context of the Bar Giora and Hashomer organizations’ actions to settle  and rebuild the Jewish Homeland. It also discusses the transformation of society from one where women who emigrated to Israel from Russia, advocated the equality of women and fought for their place in the organization as combatant.

Hashomer and its pioneer warriors faced enormous challenges. and Visitors stand in awe of the how well the organization was run, and most importantly learn about the bravery and valor of the pioneers whose dream it was to rebuild the Jewish Homeland after 2000 years in the Diaspora. Hashomer laid the foundations upon which the IDF and the State of Israel were built.

Special attention is also give to the hero, Joseph Trumpeldor.The rifle given to him by the Organization Guard to protect Tel-Hai is on display.

Hashomer Museum, Kfar Giladi, DN Upper Galilee



Museum of the Underground Prisoners – Acre (Akko)

The Underground Prisoners Museum, built in the second half of the 18th century is a fortress – including a moat! – located in Old Akko. During the Ottoman rule, it was used as the palace of the

View of the old city of Acre - Akko Israel

Photo: Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of

ruler of the region; during the British Mandate, it served as a prison against the underground Israeli pioneer prisoners of the Irgun, Lehi and Haganah.

In this prison gallows, the British hung nine warriors and nine others died while coming to release their prison comrades in the great prison escape.

Advanced booking is required and the visit takes about 90 minutes.

Address: Hahaganah 10, Old Acre



Etzel Museum – Tel Aviv

Etzel Museum

By Ori~ (אני צילמתי) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The museum tells the story of the 17 years of the Irgun-Etzel underground organization through the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel and its integration into the army – the IDF.

The story focuses on the emerging underground defense and its reprisals against the Arab rioters, as well as the fight against the British Mandate which prevented the immigration of Jews to Israel.

The main exhibition profiles the battle for Jaffa during the War of Independence in 1948, accompanied by an audio-visual presentation, views and press clippings, etc. of the period and includes a computerized exhibit.

The museum has a memorial display honoring  41 Irgun fighters who were killed in the campaign to liberate Jaffa.

Nahum Goldmann Street 2, Tel Aviv (Charles Clore Garden)



The Palmach Museum


Palmach Museum , Tel Aviv, Israel

Palmach Museum , Tel Aviv, Israel By Ori~ (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

The Palmach was the striking force of the Haganah: The underground military organization of the Jewish community and the Zionist Movement prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. The Palmach was founded in 1941 (WWII), to help the British defend the country (then, Palestine) against the approaching German army.

The Palmach Museum is an experiential museum, describing the Palmach legacy in an innovative and “live” presentation of the stories of individuals Israeli pioneers and groups.

There are no displays or documents, but rather an account of a fascinating personal story accompanied by three-dimensional decor, films and various effects incorporating documentary materials. The visit correlates with the structure of the presentation, set out as a series of events and symbolizing the Palmach team spirit.

The tour commences and ends in the memorial hall for Palmach warriors who died fighting for establishment of the State of Israel. The tour is by appointment only and lasts about 90 minutes.

Address: Levanon Street 10, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv



Museum of the Underground Prisoners – Jerusalem

Museum of the Underground Prisoners – Jerusalem, Israel

Museum of the Underground Prisoners – Jerusalem, Israel By בית השלום (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The museum is in a building originally built for housing Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem.

During the British Mandate in Israel, the building was converted to the central prison of the mandate.

From 1920-1948 this building imprisoned hundreds of inmates from the Haganah, Irgun and Lehi underground defense forces, who were arrested for the “crimes” such as protecting Jews in Israel and fighting for Jewish immigration and statehood.

The museum is actually a reconstruction of the prison and contains: Inmates’ rooms, a dungeon and torture chambers and a room that was converted into the gallows. It has a synagogue that served the prisoners, craft workshops and other rooms for various uses. There is also a display of “hopes and disappointments”, which actually illustrates the struggle of the underground in the White Paper” and the reasons for the struggle. There is also a display of crafts made by prisoners and prisoners in the underground during the British mandate .

The tour and the movies focus on the number of prisoners and prisoners of Etzel, Haganah and Lehi defense undergrounds and tells their story .

Address: Underground Prisoners Museum (Jerusalem ) in the Russian Compound, Jerusalem,


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Bar Mitzvah Trip to Israel

Celebrating a Bat or Bar Mitzvah in Israel

Celebrate a Bar Mitzvah trip in Israel at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Courtesy of:

A Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah is a seminal event in the life of Jewish adolescents, and a Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel is an ideal way to celebrate it. The transition from childhood to adulthood is celebrated as festive Jewish tradition. In recent years, many Jewish families from all denominations, tend to add more ideological content to the event, as opposed to showcasing superficial parties that have little or nothing to do with the wisdom and responsibility associated with this special event. Instead, the youngsters celebrate their tradition, heritage and history with their families in a more meaningful way. This value is amplified when the event takes place in Israel. There is no more significant way to celebrate a Bar or Bat Mitzvah than on a trip to the Land of Israel; witnessing firsthand, its landscapes and breathtaking sites.

Themes of Bat Mitzvah or Bar Mitzvah Trip to Israel

A journey to Israel is a symbolic way of marking the transition from childhood to adulthood;  the landscapes of Israel strengthening ties with our homeland and heritage. A Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel can be designed and customized in so many ways, depending on the interests of the family and the adolescents celebrating this very important rite of passage. For example, the journey in Israel can be:

A Bible Tour 

Having the Bible stories that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah youth have learned or read about come to life is a feeling not to be missed! The firsthand experience of walking in the paths of their forefathers  allows them to connect to the history of their people and their land – here and now and in the future.

Historically oriented

Both from the Bible perspective and Modern Israeli History. For the Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl who is interested in Jewish history, witnessing Israel ‘s history and major events in the past, through a visit to Masada, Jerusalem or Latrun can be the highlight of the trip.

Adrenaline Challenged

Celebrate a Bat Mitzvah trip in Israel, bonding with your family and hiking around Israel.

Courtesy of:

Find physical  stimulation and excitement with an adrenaline rush: There is rappelling, rock climbing, hang-gliding, zip lining, hiking, scuba diving, ATV riding, horseback riding, camel riding, sailing, surfing, rafting, etc.

Special Projects

Special projects can be prepared in advance by the Bat Mitzvah girl or Bar Mitzvah boywith their parents or independently. They can meet special women and men in Israel. The Bat Mitzvah girl or Bar Mitzvah boy can interview them and film the interviews. War heroes and heroines, leaders in education or social activities, etc. For example, one can create a special itinerary for a Bat Mitzvah girl which combines a tour of places in Israel, following the paths of special women of the Bible such as the prophetess Deborah, or more modern heroines, such as Chana Senesh.

Mother and daughter bonding on a Bat Mitzvah trip in Israel.

Courtesy of:

Family Genealogy

Itineraries can be built around a central idea connected to their family’s history or specific family ancestor(s).

Intellectual Challenges

If you’re looking for intellectual challenges, the entire trip can be built around challenging riddles. For the competitive ones, it can be done in the format of a Treasure Hunt or a competition in the style of the Amazing Race between groups.


A Culinary Journey

A Culinary Journey could be ideal for families who enjoy cooking (and eating!). Visiting various sites in Israel focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and of course, sampling an assortment of Israeli restaurants.


There are many variations, but virtually all Bar/Bat Mitzvah trips to Israel typically include visits to one or both of the following sites:

  1. The Western Wall
  2. Masada

Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel – The Western Wall

Kotel- The Western Wailing Wall is an ideal place to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah on a trip to Israel.

Photo: Noam Chen – curtesy :

Every Jewish boy who reaches the age of 13 or a girl reaches the age of 12 celebrate a Bar or Bat Mitzvah with family and friends. According to Jewish tradition, becoming a man is celebrated by being called to the Torah where he accepts upon himself the yoke of the commandments of the Jewish religion.

The Western Wall, is the second holiest place of worship for the Jewish nation after the Temple Mount. The Wall is a section of the Western Wall that surrounded the Temple and the Temple courtyard in ancient times, over two thousand years ago.

Many families choose to have the ceremony at the western walls as the highlight of  their  Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony itself often takes place at the Western Wall for both religious and non-religious Jews alike. (Many choose to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah at Masada as well – see below). Such an event is emotional and empowering. The nature of this once-in-a-lifetime experience enables the Bar Mitzvah boy, his family and guests to connect to the roots of the Jewish people, as well as experience the sanctity of the holy place and the occasion.  The Western Wall is a place of historical and religious value that connects the Bar Mitzvah boy to thousands of generations of tradition and history of the Jewish people.

Celebrating the Aliyah LaTorah – Being Called to the Torah – at the Western Wall for a Bar Mitzvah is recommended on Mondays and Thursdays in the mornings, when the Torah is read and Torah scrolls are available to read from. In general, you do not have to reserve a Torah in advance, but it is advisable to arrange it in advance with your guide ensuring that the Torah will be available. If you need assistance for a guide who can arrange such an event, please contact us and we can make introductions to great Israeli guides.

Tips for a Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel – Western Wall:

  • Plan the day, not just the morning event. The Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel will take place in the morning (usually prayers end no later than 9:30 AM). You then need to arrange meals and activities for your guests.
  • Hire a Guide for the day – If you need assistance to find a guide who can arrange such an event, please contact us and we would be happy to recommend some great Israeli guides who specialize in such activities.
  • Plan the event in advance, arrange transportation, drinks, meals, etc. Bring your own prayer shawls (Talit) and of course don’t forget the Tefillin (although, there’s usually a stand at the entrance that provides them for those who need it). Such arrangements can be made at the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
  • Take your time, the Kotel can be busy at times and the security lines can take a bit of time. Be patient and plan a time buffer, just in case.
  • Remember to bring cameras to record the event. You can also Skype the event – live – to those relatives who could not come to Israel, using NES Mobile’s Unlimited Data plan for tourists.
  • It is recommended to enter through the Dung Gate as it is the nearest place to the Kotel where a bus can bring the passengers.
  • Some families plan a lively colorful procession of a team of drummers and Shofar that seem to get a smile and lots of attention from tourists and Israelis alike. They accompany the family friends all the way to the Wall.

Bar Mitzvah at Masada

The historic fortress of Masada, located at an altitude of 450 meters above the Dead Sea, has magical desert landscapes and fresh air. It is worth timing your visit so you don’t miss the sunrise or

Celebrate your Israel Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah trip at Masada.

Masada- photo credit: Andrew Shiva

sunset. It is undoubtedly one of the most unique and exciting sites in the world and it can hold a wide variety of private events for any purpose, including unforgettable Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

To celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Masada, it is advisable to learn the history of the place, to better connect to it. Keep in mind that there are a couple of theories. While virtually all historians believe that there was a great battle and a brave resistance and defiance of the Roman Empire, many tend to doubt the mass suicide narrative.

When you celebrate such an event, you can connect to the astonishing account that happened at Masada and teach the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and your guests a lesson of heroism and sacrifice . It’s also a great chance to teach them that reaching the age of 12 or 13 is more reaching a certain age – it comes with rights as well as obligations. Of course, any event at Masada is an experience in and of  itself, which will never be forgotten.

General Tips for the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah Trip to Israel:

  • Plan ahead and save money.
  • Hire a guide in Israel who can plan and orchestrate the trip. Be sure to check that the guide is licensed by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.
  • Combine several areas of interest remembering to put the boy or girl who is celebrating in the center of the celebration and the trip you plan.
  • Incorporate the Torah portion of the Bar Mitzvah reading during the trip incorporating it into the Israel trip and the ceremony as part of the journey.
  • Book in advance and SAVE money. The same applies to many of the attractions and hotels. Don’t forget to order SIM cards or rent Israeli phones ahead of your trip to avoid high roaming charges.
  • Accommodate participants and make sure they are well prepared for the trip with required equipment, keeping in mind the weather conditions and the level of difficulty of the trip or trails. Some trails may have a high level of difficultly.
  • Relax – allow family members and participant travelers some down-time, and give them the chance to fill the time with their own their own interests and activities.
  • Work with your guide to arrange transportation in advance. Be sure to ensure the quality of the bus, in terms of comfortable seats, air conditioning, etc. so that everything is up to par. You might find some very cheap offers from certain bus companies, which do not meet the standards. Make sure you use a reputable licensed guide who will plan accordingly.
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