April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Winter Break in Jerusalem—New Ideas for Returning Visitors

Right before sitting down to write this article, I passed by a bustling waffle factory on Emek Refaim. It is so uplifting to see so many tourists enjoying Jerusalem with their kids, especially after a quiet few months of tourism.

As the creator of the family tourism site Fun In Jerusalem (www.funinjerusalem.com), one of the favorite parts of my job is to find new activities to recommend to returning visitors.

Jerusalem tourism is constantly reinventing itself with customized workshops, tours and tourist attractions blending history, heritage and fun. Historic sites are using modern interactive activities like iPad scavenger hunts at the Tower of David or laser tag in the bunkers of Ammunition Hill to keep visitors engaged.

For sports enthusiasts, Jerusalem and Israel have become a place where they can choose an extreme sport activity that will challenge them and connect them to the land and its history at the same time. Biking near historic ruins, rappelling overlooking the Old City, even horseback riding in the Jerusalem hills.

The following activities are some of my favorites to recommend because they are so unique to Israel and Jerusalem.

Adventure and Sport

One of our most popular activities for tourists, especially for teens, is the VIP Hapoel Basketball Experience which can include a Hapoel Jerusalem basketball game at the new arena in a VIP suite and/or a basketball workshop with Tamir Goodman, the “Jewish Jordan.”

Spend winter vacation with your kids at one of Jerusalem’s historic sites, Ammunition Hill. This unique adventure will combine learning about the historic site, the battle for Jerusalem that took place there and fun adventure activities—laser tag and a ropes course. The event takes place each Monday and Wednesday during winter vacation.

For the adventure seeker, I would also recommend Snappling (Rappelling) in Gei Ben Hinom overlooking the Old City. The activity take place in a historic location and can be enjoyed by adults and kids ages 4+.

Looking for an indoor or night activity for older kids and teens? Take the Puzzle Quest Challenge and try to Escape the Nazir within 60 minutes. This escape room is unique because participants have to avoid the Nazir in the room while they solve the puzzles and look for clues.

Fun Food Workshops

For those of you who love to visit the shuk at Machane Yehuda, there is a tasting tour and cooking workshop. The chefs at Shem Tov restaurant will guide you through the market to pick the best herbs and produce before you sit down to learn to cook a gourmet meal. No need to plan lunch since you will be eating a three-course meal after you learn to cook it.

Galita chocolate workshops—not only is this activity absolutely delicious, but it is also great for families with kids of all ages. Younger kids can enjoy decorating chocolate while older kids learn to make truffles and pralines. Galita is located in Kibbutz Tzuba, which also offers the Kif Tzuba Amusement Park, Tzuba Winery Tour and beautiful hikes through the hills to ancient Tzuba.

Volunteer Tourism

IDF Army Base Tour and BBQ—take time out on your trip to give back to the soldiers who protect our country. Take a tour of an army base, meet the soldiers and host them for a BBQ. All the details are taken care of by IDF Connections and you can teach your kids an important lesson, while providing a much-needed “treat” for the soldiers.

Pantry Packers has become a “must-do” activity for families visiting Jerusalem. Take an hour to pack bags of rice, peas and beans for needy families. The warehouse is set up in stations and each member of the family gets to participate while wearing an official apron and hat.

Susan’s House offers art workshops for families in their Talpiot art studio. The organization teaches troubled teens skills in art and business in order to train them for success in the outside world. The Susan’s House youth lead workshops for families in glass blowing, jewelry design, 3D wooden puzzles and ceramics. Don’t miss the factory store which is the perfect place to find unique Jerusalem souvenirs.

Want to go behind the scenes of one of Israel’s most well-known jewelry brands and see how they are helping the community? Take a tour of the Yvel Jewelry Visitors’ Center and see first-hand how a special school set up by Yvel is teaching Ethiopian olim the trade of jewelry design. The tour includes two movies, walking through the design center and a visit to the factory store. This is located 10 minutes outside Jerusalem in Motsa and is open to people ages 12+.

Day Trips from Jerusalem

Adumim—If the weather in Jerusalem is not what you expected, then head out for the day towards the desert to enjoy a fun factory tour of the Adumim area. Tours are led by Shelley and include a halva factory with tasting, handmade guitar factory, agricultural rooftop, Castel Museum and a mosaic museum.

New in Gush Etzion—You can visit the Zomet Visitors’ Experience and learn how elevators can work on Shabbat. Learn about the technology local doctors use to write on Shabbat, and more.

Then head over to a biblical bread workshop at the Pat Ba’Melach Bakery in Rosh Tzurim. Run by David Katz, a Cleveland native, this new bakery has been open for less than a year and their bread workshops sell out quickly. Learn about the grain cycle in Israel and about bread in the Tanach and Mishnah.

Beit Shemesh—If you are looking for a day out with art, sports and nature then head out to the Beit Shemesh area. There you can enjoy a hands-on wood-painting workshop at the Kakadu Studio, followed by a bike ride and caving experience at Nekudat Motsa (right next door) and then end the day with a tour of the new Biblical Museum of Natural History where you will learn about animals in the Land of Israel, in Tanach and in Jewish history.

I hope that I have given you some new ideas to explore. In addition to these, don’t miss some of the classic activities like Dig For A Day, Old City Scavenger Hunts, Israel Museum Tours, Jeeping Trips, Horseback Riding and ATVing.

To stay informed about Tu B’Shvat events and new activities when you are in Jerusalem, make sure to join our newsletter and to join our Yeshiva Break in Jerusalem facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/yeshivabreak2016Jerusalem/). To make it as easy as possible for you to reserve the activities you want, we have created a special reservation form for Jewish Link readers. www.funinjerusalem.com/jewishlink.

By Joanna Shebson

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