Friday, January 28, 2022

For those of us who yearn to be in Israel, as I do, there is a new website that will take us each week on an engaging, enjoyable and inspiring visit. The site is called www.Israelisbeautiful.com and was created by a dear friend and tour guide par excellence, someone whom many of us know personally, Peter Abelow.

Mordechai and I had the privilege of having Peter guide a tour that we led several years ago with a group from Montreal. Never have we encountered someone who had as much knowledge and ability to extend his love and passion for every pebble that we walked on while in Israel as Peter.

The site is unique in its approach and is designed to provide families, schools and institutions the opportunity to experience the beauty of our homeland through Peter’s eyes and the eyes of a number of his tour guide colleagues. But Peter, realizing that for many it is not easy to sit in front of a computer for an hour or an hour and a half, which many guides are now offering online, has produced weekly tiyulim, which are 10-12 minutes in length.

The site launched only two weeks ago and will be posting a new video every Thursday. The first three videos (Jaffa, The Haas Promenade in Jerusalem and Caesarea) captured my interest from the first moment and held it throughout. The videos are professionally edited and are of a very high quality.

The launch event, which can be viewed from a link on the Israel Is Beautiful Facebook page, featured Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, who addressed the dire needs of the Israel tourism industry during these times and encouraged people to sign up and visit Israel virtually via the Israel Is Beautiful site.

What makes this site particularly unique and special is that for each tiyul, Israel Is Beautiful is also posting a downloadable four-page PDF activity sheet for children and families, all included in the price of membership. Although conceived as a way of providing parents with meaningful Israel activities for their children who are stuck at home during COVID-19, I truly believe that adults will enjoy these activities and puzzles as well—even without their children! These activities, which the site calls the IDZ (Israel Discovery Zone), are being produced weekly for Israel Is Beautiful by Tali Kaplinsky Tarlow, creator of the popular Israel Scaventures.

Each week’s videos and IDZ activities are being archived in the members section and are always available to members of the site.

Peter’s enthusiasm for this project, along with the sincerity and love that he brings to the endeavor, shines through every time he talks about it. For those who know him personally and who have had the privilege of having him as a tour guide in Israel, this is no surprise. He genuinely wants to bring the beauty of Israel into the forefront of our thoughts and minds on a regular basis, and has produced a convenient and reasonably priced way of doing it. As a lifelong Jewish educator, Peter realizes how important it is that our children are engaged and inspired by “all things Israel.” He emphasized that the price of a monthly membership for the entire family, $25, is less than the cost of movie tickets (remember when we used to go to the movies?).

Peter wants people to feel that in joining the website, they are investing in something very meaningful, impactful and worthwhile. The website is offering a live Zoom, “Meet the Guide of the Week,” every Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. our time. This is an opportunity to ask questions about the previous Thursday’s tiyul and to schmooze with the guide and other members across the globe.

Peter also hopes, as the site grows, to begin hiring other guides and producing and posting two videos per week. In this way, there will be increasing opportunities to connect to places in Israel on an ongoing basis as well as a means of supporting the tour guides and beleaguered tourism industry.

Pay a visit to the www.Israelisbeautiful.com  so you can, at least temporarily, feel and taste the wondrousness of Eretz Yisrael until you are able to, once again, walk the streets in person.

By Nina Glick

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