On the Radio This Friday

Logo of the Nachum Segal Network

I’ll be in the Nachum Segal Network this Friday

I am pleased to announce that I will be interviewed as a call-in guest this coming Friday (January 9th, 2015) on the Nachum Segal Network. I will have the pleasure of “appearing” on the show “Table for Two with Naomi Nachman” to discuss culinary travel in Israel. The show starts at 9 AM, Eastern Time.

In particular I will be discussing my tours of Machane Yehuda Market, but we will obviously discuss many other things as well. So I hope you will all tune in to listen. And I am fairly certain the show will be archived later, so if you miss it live, look for it afterwards. I will be the first guest of the show.

“Table for Two with Naomi Nachman” is a weekly show hosted by Naomi, the Aussie Gourmet. Naomi interviews many personalities from the kosher food world, and I am excited to be one of her guests this week. As it turns out, though we’d lost touch, Naomi and I knew each other in our younger years, so it is nice to be able to reconnect with her via food!

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Helping Tourists Say Thanks

IDF soldiers guarding Iron Dome, on a visit by American tourists

The Frumer’s Visit an Iron Dome Installation

While a number of tourists cancelled their Israel visits this summer due to the Gaza war, many others would not let the upheaval ruin their plans. I had the pleasure of guiding one such family, the Frumers of New Jersey, late in August. And since they were coming, and valued the amazing work of the IDF’s Iron Dome, they asked me to arrange a visit to an Iron Dome facility so they could thank the soldiers who were stationed there.

Since I too love the Iron Dome and all it has done to protect us, and since one of Judaism’s major values is hakarat hatov (showing appreciation), I knew I had to help this kind family with their request. So I started doing some research, making some calls and sending some emails.

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Israel Mystery Photo #20

Statue of a man on a horse

Who is this gentleman, and why is he here?

Time for another of my Israel Mystery Photo posts — a series of photos in which you as tourists try to recognize where in Israel each photo was taken, and I as tour guide explain and give more information on the previous mystery photo! I knew the last one would be a bit tough, since it is fairly new and not in a big tourist destination. But I wanted to use the photo to create an opportunity for me to tell you about a cool project.

But before I tell you about it, leave a guess about the current picture that you see to the left. It should be a fairly easy one for many of you, as it is in a well-trafficked area. But even for those who recognize it, I might still be able to give you a bit more info about it in my next such post!

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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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Israel: Land of Diversity

Hedge arch in Akko Baha'i Gardens. Israel.

Take a seat and enjoy the view in the Baha’i Gardens in Akko, surrounding the Shrine of the Baha’ullah

I just finished guiding an American family for the past two weeks, and we traveled all over Israel. We left out the Negev (south) because it is too hot in the middle of August, but beyond that, we pretty much hit the rest of the country and got at least a taste of all of its diverse regions. I designed the itinerary, and when planning an itinerary of this nature, the main guiding principle is going to be geography, i.e. we visit things that are close together on a single day, and move from region to region in logical sequence. In this case, we basically made a circular route, heading from the airport to Tel Aviv, then up the coast, across the Galilee to the Golan Heights and Kineret region, down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea, and then to Jerusalem and the Shefelah/Lowlands.

Of course, in designing such a tour, I also aim to present things that show various aspects of what this country has to offer. No one wants to spend two weeks seeing the same things over and over. But it wasn’t until I was on the tour with this family, a few days in, that it hit me just how diverse were the sites we were visiting. I know I’ve discussed Israel’s diversity before, but I was still impressed that we literally visited almost no sites that were redundant with each other.

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ONLY in Israel – Top 5

View Across the Dead Sea. Fun Joel Haber. Israel Tour Guide.

A View Over the Dead Sea from Mount Sodom

Frequently, you hear people comment “Only in Israel,” in response to various things they overhear or see here. Often, it is meant to try to capture some of the unique aspects of the character of the Israeli people. But as we all know, these things don’t only happen in Israel, even if they are somewhat demonstrative and capture the spirit of the country.

For that reason, however, I wanted to write a post about the things that you truly can only see in Israel. Nowhere else in the world. Tour guides typically speak in hyperbolic extremes. I know that I am certainly “guilty” of this at times. We’ll tell you how a spot is the highest, largest, newest or furthest south of its kind. But while those extremes may be interesting, and can be mildly significant, they rarely are very important. They are typically little more than gimmicks to maintain interest.

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Why Visit Israel?

Israeli flags and Jerusalem String Bridge. Fun Joel Israel Tour Guide.

Sun, Flags and the String Bridge - Jerusalem

On this Yom HaAtzmaut / Israel Independence Day, I’d like to write about something that might seem obvious to some of my readers. But it is far from obvious to all. Why visit Israel at all? Seems that as a licensed Israeli tour guide, it is something that I should think about and have an answer to.

Lucky for you, I do!

I raise the question, because yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by a university student from the Netherlands who is writing her thesis on tourism in Israel. Among other things, she asked me an interesting question.

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International Tourism Conference – Jerusalem – Part 1

Israeli Prime Mininister Binyamin Netanyahu addressing the International Tourism Conference - Jerusalem 2011

PM Netanyahu: We need more tourists than people who live here.

This week I am attending the first International Tourism Conference being held in Jerusalem’s Binyanei HaUmah Convention Center. Focusing both on the changing opportunities and challenges in the global tourism industry, as well as on the unique attractions of Israel (and Jerusalem in particular) as a tourist destination, the conference has drawn hundreds of participants from around the world.

With panels on topics such as “The Role of Media in Generating Tourism,” “The Impact of Technology on the Tourism Industry,” and “Branding Cities,” the conference features politicians such as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat alongside media personality Chris Matthews (“Hardball with Chris Matthews”), MTV International founder Bill Roedy and museum directors from around the world.

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Israel Tourism News Roundup

Israel Ministry of Tourism logo. Tour guide. Eshkol. grapes.

Logo of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

I’m going to try to start doing regular posts where I summarize recent news stories with relevance to the tourism industry in Israel. These might have to do with plans the Tourism Ministry is making, events or news about hotels or airlines, or anything that might affect the tour guiding business directly. If any of you come across relevant news stories that you think I might not have seen, please feel free to forward my way! Thanks! And as always, I’d love to hear any responses or opinions in the comments section.

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