People, we have a crisis on our hands.  No, it’s not my Photoshopping skills.  We’ll address those later.  Right now we are in triage mode.   The issue at hand is that Mr. B has never been to Israel.  You would think that living with Golda Meir-lite would have alleviated this situation for him, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened, because I am too busy maintaining a Mapai majority coalition.

Additionally, I don’t necessarily think that Birthright is a good situation for him.  This logic would not happen to spring out of other Israel experiences on Birthright-related trips that I’ve heard about, where someone wakes up at two in the morning to the smell of Marlboros in their hostel room,  Russian-Israeli soldier’s feet hanging out on the bunk above them and Absolut Limon in their shoes. This has not personally happened to anyone I know.

So, we are finally going to Israel. As soon as I get this coalition campaign wrapped up.  My question to you:  what places that you have been to in Israel have had the most impact on you, that you would suggest for someone to visit? Kotel and Yad Vashem are a wrap. I’m looking for both must-sees and less obvious places, like Abulafia bakery in Yafa or the Hasmonean caves near the Kotel , that really capture the essence of what Israel is about, only I’m too lazy to look for them myself.  Suggestions for restaurants are also important.  Food is a deeply emotional experience for both me and Mr. B.  Once, we saw a challah shaped like Moses. So, restaurant recommendations are welcome.  From what you may know of me by now, we definitely do not keep kosher/will go to a special circle of Hell reserved for Yaakov Smirnov, so are game for anything.

I guess what I’m really trying to do is give Mr. B a genuine Israel experience without kitschy tourist sentiment and show him why I love Israel.  Also, I’m tried of trying to make real falafel myself.  What are the places that really make you love Israel?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and discussion.  In appreciation, I will sing you a song. Or make you a Photoshop image.

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  • I’ve been to Israel 3 times, but I’ve always been on touristy or community service trips, so my suggestions might be a little Birthright-esque.

    – Gotta get ruggela (sp?) from Marzipan off Ben Yeduda street in Jerusalem. Best chocolate ruggela ever!
    – Ben Yeduda/Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. Lots of fun shops
    – Masada, but def at sunrise. It’d be nice to know the details of the history, but it’s still a great sunrise to remember
    – If you’re looking for an American refuge, there’s an “American” place called Mike’s in J’lem off BY Street as well.
    – I’m sure others can give you some more ideas, but I still think that if you’re gonna be in Israel, you gotta learn some history! That’s what makes it so special and builds the connection to Israel. Have a great trip!

    PS: go on some hikes… the Negev is great and pretty even though it’s so dry.

  • I got sort of tired of seeing grave after grave after grave. But! The boardwalk in Tiberius I really enjoyed. Floating around in the Dead Sea and getting covered with mud in the nekkid section was awesome. Going to the shopping malls and getting searched on the way in is a memory of Israel that is sort of “Israel”, you know? Rifles and soldiers are everywhere. There is actually a tour bus that goes into Hebron if you dare. I’m glad I went. My totally favorite place was Nitanya. I want to move there. The sea is warm, and it sort of reminds me of Carlsbad, CA, in the 70s. It is an Awesome little city.
    The most shocking part of Jerusalem was walking down the street and running into people I knew!
    Enjoy your trip. It changes you. 🙂

  • Rosh Pina. Not on the typical tourist trail but one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Not only is beautiful there, it also has a lot of history – being the first modern Zionist settlement (yes, it beat Petach Tikva by 3 weeks).

    The north is practically littered with B&Bs (although summer is high season). You know how to contact me if you want help finding a place there, or just more info about Rosh Pina.

  • The Italian restaurant just a few doors down from where ck lives. I can’t remember its name but it was incredible. they have this fig dish that should win some foodie award.

    Go spend a couple of hours in Ein Kerem and then take a drive to Tzur Hadassah, just to get a sense of the forests surrounding Jerusalem.

    Go to the caves near Beit Guvrin.

    Spend an afternoon at the beach in the port of Caesaria. They have a private beach with a small restaurant and if you go on the right days, they show movies in the amphitheater at night. It’s quite special.

    Drive through the Lower Galilee past Mount Tavor to Vered HaGalil and stay there overnight. Next day witness the amazing view to the Sea of Galilee and drive down the mountain until you get there. Drive around until you get to Ein Gev. Eat fish. You can stay overnight. There are a couple of kibbutzim in the area with massive waterslides if you like.

    Then drive to the Golan Heights until you’re close to the Hermon and there you’ll find a village called Majdal Shams. Ignore it. Instead, climb up the mountain nearby to Nimrod where you will find a restaurant called The Witch and the Milkman’s Cauldron. Eat there. Try to time it for late afternoon before the sun sets. Then step outside and walk away from the restaurant and the road that carried you up there and check out the view. Die from beauty and amazement.

    Arise from your stupor and continue to a Druze h/motel where they prepare breakfast the next morning. Sleep well and have amazing breakfast with friendly Arabs next morning.

    Drive around Golan. Do not walk in fields alone! Keep driving down the mountain and you have a choice:

    Go to Beit Shean and check out amazing antiquities nearby. Food sucks in Beit Shean so move along. Do not drive down through the Jordan Valley because you still have to get to Tel Aviv.


    head over to the Hula Valley. Be sure to stop at the Naot factory store. Buy reasonably priced sandals. Consider going to Safed, but skip it for lunch at Rosh Pina.

    Then make your way over to Zichron Yaakov and drive around some of their beautiful ocean-view neighborhoods. Dream of living there.

    Head down to the coast road and drive south to Tel Aviv. Find a hotel near the beach and hang out for a couple of long days and nights. Eat, drink, check out the beaches, check out S. Tel Aviv, buy cool jewelry and clothes. Feel like you’re young all over again.

    Then head back to Jerusalem and let ck take you on a couple of trips around town.

  • when i was in israel in april, i went to this restaurant in Nimrod called The Witch and the Milkman. best dining experience of my life. and the house wine… delish. you must go there!

  • You probably won’t hear this from anyone else, but I’m in love with the Palmach Brigade Memorial in the desert overlooking/in Be’er Sheva. It’s literally surrounded by nothing (although they were building a neighborhood below last I was there) and from a distance doesn’t look like much. It’s made up of several large cement pieces, and is a memorial that you can literally climb, sit and walk on.

    There’s a sense of “peace” I experience there that I haven’t anywhere else, and I’m always dragging everyone I know to it…