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Visiting the known — and unknown — in Israel

The Jaffa seaportSummer, winter, spring or fall — Israel is a wonderful place to experience.

Regardless of the season, it’s all good.

Our trip — a tour group of a couple dozen writers and editors representing the American Jewish Press Association — happened to go in the heart of winter, late January.

It wasn’t quite cold, but often cool.  The famous landscapes of the Galilee and Golan Heights were, more often than not, shrouded in mist rather than bathed in sunlight.

Jerusalem was warm by day and chilly by night. Tel Aviv, when it welcomed us, offered a smorgasbord of drizzle, faint sunshine, even a serving of thunder and lightning.

All good.

Simply put, Israel is a panoply of visual, sensory and spiritual delights, whatever season happens to prevail.

The recent AJPA tour was sponsored by El Al Airlines and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, which arranges such trips for some 1,500 journalists a year, representing the secular press, Jewish and Christian publications, travel writers, anybody who can spread the word.

The ministry’s motive is clear — to encourage ever more tourists to make the trek to the Holy Land. To achieve that, they herded this group of writers around the country on a dizzying schedule — a task not unlike trying to herd cats — ensuring that all the hotels, restaurants, resorts and other attractions were comfortable and interesting.

They all were, as it turned out.  So were the many other sundry places we visited, many of which were unu

sual and unique. We scooted through ancient tunnels beneath Jerusalem, sampled biblically-inspired cuisine from one of Israel’s top chefs, experienced personal massages in a spa surrounded by a picturesque organic farm.

It was an eclectic, sometimes eccentric, even — when the storms raged over Tel Aviv — electric journey.

Following is a description of some of the high points, designed for both the tourist who has been to Israel many times and the traveler who has yet to make the big leap.

If you’re among the latter, our advice is straightforward and simple: Do it.

Read about Chris’ travels to Jerusalem, the Galilee, Safed, Acre, Tel Aviv and Jaffa, in the IJN’s print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email

Chris Leppek

IJN Assistant Editor |

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