The first time I went to Israel, I fell head over heels in love.
I was sixteen.
It was the last thing I expected to happen.
Because honestly? I didn’t even want to go all that much.
Why? Because at that point, Israel for me was an abstraction. Just a place on the map.
(Even if it was the center of the world)
But, my mom made me go. She wanted me to experience Israel.
So I went.
And in a delicious series of moments, I fell in love.
I fell in love with the nuanced history of this place, the rhythm of the streets, the colors in the shuk, the sounds in the holy spaces, the adventure of it all… the people… and the stories that tie it all together.
And I told the woman at passport control I would be back within a year – and one day, I might even live here!
(She told me to go back to New Jersey. I told her I was from LA. She popped her Orbit gum.
And that little exchange enhanced my own personal Israel story.)
And guess what? I did come back the following year, and then the next.
I craved Israel.
I craved sunsets like these:
And bright mornings like these:
And in between times like these:
I craved the rain:
I craved the sun:
I *had* to be in Israel.
I was lucky. I came back again and again and eventually, I moved here, and I’ve been living here for ten years now – a decade of adventure, of discovery, and of part of Israel’s story.
Anyway, I know many of you feel the same way – you feel that longing. Israel is more than just a sound bite or a place on a map for you. It’s awake, dancing in the streets, and singing full-throated in the middle of the desert.
It’s your family.
Maybe you even had plans to visit this year, but then, well, you know.
COVID-19 shut us down.
(This sucks, because we were supposed to hang out in Jerusalem and get coffee!)
And all of this is just so difficult, and depressing, and a real slog, and not only are you longing to visit, but our tour guides – the people who bring the stories to life here! – are suffering tremendously.
But here at Times of Israel, we’ve figured out a way to help you experience Israel twice a month – WITHOUT THE JET-LAG!!! – and help the tourism industry, as well!
We have wonderful experts who will take us through the calendar and cycles of Israeli history in a moving virtual experience – from root to tip, through the streets of Tel Aviv, to the sweeping expanse it desert, along the rolling hills of the north, and through Jerusalem – the hottest piece of spiritual real estate in the world
And here’s the best part: you can bring your friends! Or your kids! Or your grandkids! (After all, I was sixteen when I fell in love with this place!) because we are offering a special Hanukkah opportunity right now so we can feel connected to Israel and to each other.
And while obv coming to Israel in person is the best, until we can do that safely, ToI is here for you with this fun and really fascinating alternative that will help make the stories here come to life and tide you over until we can get a cup of coffee together.
For more info on our virtual travel adventure, click HERE
And to learn more about giving a Hanukkah gift that connects, click HERE
And if you have any questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I am here to help, and I would love to connect and bring you to Israel on this virtual adventure.