In A Place Where There Are No Men

Israel Tour Guide Joel Haber guiding in Even Yisrael

Guiding a group in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood

In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man. — Ethics of the Fathers 2:5

I’ve always appreciated the above quote, taken from Pirkei Avot, a book from the Mishnah, full of useful proverbs to live by. And while I think a better translation of the word ish here might be (the non-sexist) “person” instead of “man,” my preferred translation lacks oomph. Essentially, this is a charge to stop looking around and pointing fingers about what needs to be done. If you see something that needs to be done and no one else is doing it, get off your butt and do it!

What does this have to do with Israeli tourism and/or tour guiding here? As you know, even from the start this blog was not just focused on tourism in Israel, but also on the profession of tour guiding here (and in particular, the tour guide training course, while I was in it).

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Why You Should Hire a Tour Guide in Israel – Part 2

Car in front of our jeep in the Golan Heights

Even when you go off-road in this country, you might hit traffic!

In Part 1 of this post, I highlighted two of my top five reasons you should hire a tour guide for your visit to Israel. I spoke about a tour guide’s ability to take you to places off the beaten track — places you would probably never have visited on your own, but which were still well worth the visit. I also mentioned our constantly up-to-date knowledge of what is happening in this country.

Here are three more types of added value that tour guides in Israel can offer you.

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Why You Should Hire a Tour Guide in Israel – Part 1

Greek Orthodox Viri Galilaei Church, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel

Inside the Viri Galileai Greek Orthodox church on the Mount of Olives.

A lot of people travel all over the world and explore new places on their own, planning their trips with the help of guide books, websites and friends’ advice. So why should you hire a professional licensed tour guide for your trip to Israel? Certainly a tour guide is an expense that could bump your trip into a different budget range, so what is the added value that you will get for your dollar (or Euro, Pound, Shekel, etc.)?

As a licensed guide here in Israel, I believe that the service I provide (and the service provided by my many excellent and talented colleagues) gives my clients an unparalleled experience in Israel, whether they are first-time visitors to Israel, or seasoned tourists here. This post will highlight two of the my top five reasons why you should hire a tour guide for your trip to Israel, and I’ll give you the other three in Part 2 of this post.

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On the Licensing Exam – Part 4 – Good Preparation Tool

Biblical Backgrounds. Geobasics in the Land of the Bible. Israel Tour Guide.

The Geobasics book from Biblical Backgrounds, Inc.

Way back in the first installment of this series, I promised that I would write a post about a specific study aid that I had come across and which I felt was an excellent tool. Actually, however, this post is about a whole suite of products that are available for sale from a small company called Biblical Backgrounds, Inc.

You won’t find much about the company on their website, though who they are is not the important thing. Rather, what they have created is an in-depth and rather unique way to understand the Land of Israel. Using their tools, you gain a deeper understanding of the events of the Bible (seemingly the main goal of the company), but you also can better learn and comprehend the extra-Biblical history and archaeology of the Holy Land.

So what do they offer?

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On the Licensing Exam – Part 3 – How I’m Preparing

Title Page of the Israel Ministry of Tourism licensing exam for potential tour guides

The cover page of the written licensing exam

In this edition of this mini series of posts, I want to discuss a little bit about my strategy in preparing to take the Ministry of Tourism exam to become a licensed tour guide in Israel. Hopefully this will be helpful to others who are going through the course, which was always one of my goals when I started this blog.

As most of you probably don’t know, I used to work in the test prep field, teaching GMATs and LSATs for The Princeton Review. I did that for many years in both New York City and Los Angeles, and have continued to do a bit of that here in Israel, also moving on to other tests such as the GRE and SAT. So whereas I recognize that this licensing exam is vastly different than those highly standardized tests, I still feel that I have some insight into test preparation methods. And hopefully I’m also correct that it has made me fairly good at taking tests!

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On the Licensing Exam – Part 2 – What’s On It?

Title Page of the Israel Ministry of Tourism licensing exam for potential tour guides

The written part of the licensing exam

I’ve spoken many times about the licensing exams that we all need to pass before we can become licensed tour guides here in Israel. But I realized that I never have really discussed much about what is actually on the exams! So as part of this little series on my preparations for the exam, I wanted to summarize for you what is on the two licensing exams I’ll be taking over the next few months.

By the way, I say licensing exams, in plural, because there is both a written exam and an oral one. I’ll fill you in on both in this post.

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IMTM Report

Brazilian capoeira and samba at IMTM to promote travel there.

Ever been to a trade show of any kind? Auto show, food industry convention, hotel and hospitality conference or energy industry gathering? Well, the International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) is a fairly standard example of this type of event.

I say this only because I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect before I attended it last Wednesday. I mean, I knew it would be a trade show, but I’d never been to one in Israel before. Plus, with a name like that, I wasn’t sure how much would be related to Israel travel in particular and how much would be geared towards tourism to other countries in the region. I also had no idea how relevant it would be for me, as a specifically Israeli tourguide-to-be.

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What’s This All About?

The Kotel / Western Wall at Birkat HaChama - the once-in-28-year commemoration of Creation

The Kotel / Western Wall at Birkat HaChama - the once-in-28-year commemoration of Creation

I’m glad you asked! Or, if you didn’t, then allow me to put a few choice words into your mouth — in particular the above words.

Although a bit of this information is already covered on the About page, I wanted to give a bit of an intro here, explaining why I am writing this blog now. And also perhaps tell you a bit about what you can expect to see in these “pages” in the future.

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