Category Archives: Travel



Held of writing anything until the entire family had successfully left the country. We had a wonderful time in Israel. I think each family had their own special experiences. We learned a lot, experienced new cultures, ate new foods, rode camels, and celebrated a triple bar mitzvah of 3 awesome kids all the while watching updates on JPost as soon as they came across our phones.

Prior to arriving and upon arrival, we had felt the underlying anxiety of the 3 missing boys, seeing demonstrations in Tel Aviv then came the sad news that the bodies were found. We then learned of the killing of the Palestinian boy by Jews! How horrible and embarousing to our people. Things then became very tense. We were told not to go to open markets or go to the Arab section including The shook or Ben Yehuda street. the cab driver told us of kids throwing stones at soldiers at the Dome if the Rock and to be cautious. Fights with the Arab cab drivers for picking up fares at the hotel were apparent.

We had an amazing bar mitzvah. The kids were great. Rabbi Mari did a beautiful job. The custom siddurs were beautiful, personal, and meaningful. The setting at Robinson’s Arch was incredible. Peaceful, quiet, private, and authentic. We heard sounds of bar mitzvahs, drums and shofars marching bar mitzvah kids in, shrills of the sefardic women doing that noise, and songs. After the ceremony, we had a kiddish and then went to the kotel. Put our notes in the wall, said some prayers for health and peace.

We then jumped on the bus and went to the Ticco house for a celebration lunch. Delicious food, music, and A tiny bit of dancing. The bar mitzvah boys went up on the chair.

We later went to Ben Yahuda street that evening. It felt tense but we wanted to walk around and do some shopping for souvenirs. Bennett got wrapped in tefillin by a Chabad rabbi and 2 police officers. We continued with eyes open. All of a sudden we saw a spontaneous gathering of young kids screaming “am yisrael chai”. Police were running there in minutes. Don’t know what happened as we walked the opposite direction. Rockets become heavier. We packed our bags assuming we were going to continue to Eilat/Petra. The next morning we hear 40,000 troops called up and the operation had a name. We made a plan to talk at breakfast with the adults and the tour operator. We decided that since the bar mitzvah was over we were done touring. We didn’t want to be in the south, further from the airport or being in an Arab country having issues at a border entering Israel, justified or not. We then had the next stage of changing tickets. The prices ranged all over the place. We had to fly through London bc we had British airways so we are here now till tomorrow making the best of our vacation. Everyone left except Erik&Deena and family were able to get out of Israel on Tuesday. They had to stay an extra day. During the day, they had to get shelter at the Carlton hotel in Tel aviv when the sirens went off as Hamas rockets approached. Iron dome took care of them. Our guide Odelia said a few landed near their home. They spent the night with their baby in their shelter. I hope he wasn’t scared. My kids are obsessed with JPost wanting updates on the country they fell in love with. Bennett said, “don’t worry about Petra, we can go back for Brett’s Bar Mitzvah. ” Sounds good to me.


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The dovekeepers

I wish I could have finished the book before we reached Masada but… when I do, I will have a better perspective. The last time I was at Masada it was 1985, nothing has changed except there is beautiful new visitor center and a lot of shade structures. I remember we climbed it with Ramah. Now they have a high speed cable car the size of the bus.

It is so special to experience places of significant history of your people. We have learned a lot about the zealots of the time of the destruction of the 2nd temple. Zealotry is the topic of Bennett’s Dvar Torah this coming Monday at his bar mitzvah.









Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Israel, Jewish, Travel, Uncategorized


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What an amazing day touring the old city of Jerusalem. We walked through the Jaffa gate though the Armenian quarter to the Jewish quarter. Went to the Burnt house, toured the western wall tunnels, saw the kotel, ended in the Muslim quarter. They had soldiers to escort us back to Jewish quarter but Odelia, our guide had some specials things for us to do instead. We had falafel and salads at an old restaurant in the Arab section. We went to the roof top of the Austrian hospice. Incredible views from the rooftop. We then went to see the Christian sites walking the via Delarosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We then went to The City of David and walked the ancient water tunnels from 2000 years ago. Very cool day! Tonight we will walk the city walls. 20140703-182839-66519343.jpg











Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Travel, Uncategorized


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Bridge to nowhere

We have spent a lot if time on the borders lately. Atv’ing on the Lebanese border, overlook of Syria at the Golan heights, and touring an old kibbutz overlooking a defunct hydroelectric plant now in Jordan. They are restoring one if the bridges but why? I can’t imagine the train from Damascus to Haifa coming back soon? The man who crated this masterpiece of technology was named Pinchas, how fitting for next weeks Torah portion. On the way down to Jerusalem we saw where the parsha took place (from the window of the bus). Lila tov



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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Israel, Jewish, Travel, Uncategorized


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Chadar ochel

I haven’t spoken Hebrew for almost 30 years. We are in Israel right now and I can’t help myself wanting to throw out some evrit. It is amazing what the brain retains. I was sitting at the bar with David in tel aviv and I needed a napkin. I remembered the word mapeet immediately. I wish I could remember more important things in my daily life. Today we were fortunate to be able to visit an army base on the Israeli/Lebanon border. The soldiers let us climb on the tanks check out their guns and then we are lunch with them in the chadar ochel, food hall. We all spread out and mixed with the 18-21 yr old soldiers. I sat with the girls. It was really nice to talk and ask questions. The word chadar ochel is meaningful to me because we are there 3x a day at camp ramah. Today a new association.



Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Israel, Jewish, Travel, Uncategorized


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Tonight completes a vision of a project thought up close to a year ago. We had a vision of starting a chess charity and merging the mitzvah project between Phoenix and our destination bar mitzvah in Israel. After the Tempe sister cities run, Bennett looked up who our Phoenix sister cities was and found out we were connected to Ramat Gan, Israel. We did a lot of research and found the Etude chess club of Ramat Gan and started corresponding with FIDE master Dan Drori. Tonight, we went to Etude as they hosted a blitz tournament welcoming Bennett. It was so cute, the kids were saying in Hebrew, “who is the American.” Bennett said a few words at the start. It got translated with applause! So amazing! David and Bennett are there still playing he will present the check for $1000 at the end of the tournament. Soooo nice! The remainder of the money raised is going to pay for the chess club at the UMOM homeless shelter for families. We have 20 kids coming regularly to the club. How wonderful it is to see your son smile and be proud of his good deeds. 20140629-224125-81685240.jpg20140629-224124-81684900.jpg




Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Bar mitzvah, Travel, Uncategorized


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First day if touring in Israel. Our guide Elan picked us up and we want to the Ayelet bullet factory. This was a kibbutz that was to teach other pioneers how to live and run a kibbutz during the British mandate (prior to 1948). The Haganah (prior to the IDF) came up with an idea to have a top secret bullet factory under the laundry and bakery. We toured the 300 sq yard space where 45 young volunteers risked their lives every day making the bullets used for the war of Independence. Check it out.


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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Israel, Travel, Uncategorized


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