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Celebrate Bar or Bat Mitzvah in Israel

bar and bat mitzvah western wall women side israel jerusalemWestern Wall in Jerusalem

The splendor and pomp of Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations in North America are a wonderful testament to the prosperity of the Jewish community. But there is an entirely different joy to be had in celebrating a young man or woman’s coming of age in the Jewish homeland.

We at Gil Travel offer four decades of expertise in making Jewish travel to Israel a memorable and moving experience that speaks to the living laws and vibrant traditions of Judaism.

bar and bat mitzvah western wall israel jerusalem

Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem

Our Bar and Bat Mitzvah planning service incorporates every detail of this most important of personal commitments. We have already helped thousands of young Jews assume the responsibilities of adult life joyously, amidst family and friends and close to the holiest sites in the Jewish tradition.

Our services begin with connecting the Bar or Bat Mitzvah candidate with a rabbi to establish a personal connection that deepens the ceremony. Next, our expert agents will aid parents or guardians in choosing the perfect location. The locations range from the dignity and resonance of the Western Wall to more festive settings like the Israel Tennis Center and the Tzfat Bat Mitvah Center. This means that most budgets and guest lists can be accommodated.

We take over the details of the reception, from planning the menus to hiring a photographer, which leaves the young man or woman and his or her family the freedom to appreciate the historical landscape that surrounds them, and to reflect on the full meaning of assuming adulthood in the Jewish community. So spend your time marveling at Masada or the Dead Sea with your Bar/Bat Mitzvah party, rather than attending to the minutiae of modern event planning!

bar and bat mitzvah israel tel aviv biking family vacation memorable

Biking in Tel Aviv

Bar/Bar Mitzvah tours can be easily combined with family or private tours of Israel, which can be extensively customized around the needs of the family celebrating. Allowing our expert travel agents here at Gil Travel to tailor-make your pre- or post-ceremony travel around Israel will enhance the meaning and atmosphere of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah like nothing else, and will mean that this day that comes only once sees the family at its closest after a period of immersion in the poignant monuments of Jerusalem or Masada or the simpler delights of the Dead Sea.

Booking your son or daughter’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah starts as soon as you call Gil Travel and join the thousands of happy Jewish men and women who can look back on the day they started their journey in front of rabbi and family, literally surrounded by the physical backdrop that has shaped Jewish history for centuries.

If you do not seek to celebrate your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel, but you are interested in connecting with your Jewish heritage, we organize many Jewish Heritage Tours around the world. Contact Gil Travel today to connect with your Jewish roots!

Senior Trip to Israel

One of the special dinners

One of the special dinners

Susan returned this week from leading the Senior Israel Tour, and it was a huge success! Everyone had fun and made lasting memories. Check out our Facebook for some photos of the trip. If you missed the March tour, want to return, or want to have a friend or relative have this wonderful experience, we have another Senior Tour of Israel scheduled from October 29 to November 11. Come join us and find out why Gil Travel are the leading experts in travel to Israel.

Having been in the Incentive Travel business myself (this author) for over 35 years I have learned a thing or two about people, travel and how the two converge and sometimes not. I have learned that like-minded people really do enjoy traveling together. I have had groups all over the world, sometimes groups of several hundred, and people have a tendency to seek out those they feel most comfortable with. The bond and the trip becomes that much more special. The more mature of us (me included) may prefer to travel at a more relaxed pace to enjoy the sights and to spend quality time at sites.


Plenty of time for fun and rest

We designed the Senior Israel tour to run at a comfortable pace that will cover the highlights of Israel in 11 days. We kept in mind that this is a vacation and for some, the trip of a lifetime so we have a good balance of touring and relaxing. Pacing is important to have the full experience of both Israel’s culture and history. While 55+ is not adolescent, it is not decrepit either. Those with serious special needs can certainly be accommodated by Gil Travel anywhere in the world but this program is best suited for the ambulatory.

It has wisely been said in the promotion of the country that “There is a little bit of Israel in all of us. Come find the Israel in you”. Gil Travel knows that not only is this true but also that Israel means totally different things to different people. In a very real sense, Israel is the genuine “Embarrassment of Riches” as in a very real sense much of what fascinates people began here and is still very much alive and thriving here.


Quite a thrill to go camel riding!

I personally do not believe that Israel set out to be the birthplace of much of the world’s religion. Religion simply chose to be born in Israel. Not many cities in the world match the splendor of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and they are less than an hour apart! You will see the Dead Sea and experience its unbelievable, magical healing qualities, the picturesque Sea of Galilee, it’s really several exciting trips to Israel rolled into one.

Gil Travel’s program includes: Direct, Non-stop, Round-trip air from Newark via El Al Airlines (Israel’s National Airline), airport assistance by private Gil Travel Hosts, all accommodations (11 nights) at carefully selected, first class hotels, full Israeli buffet breakfast daily, private dinners each evening, including gala welcome and farewell evenings. There is even a special lunch in Eretz Beresheet (Abraham’s Tent) during one of the 9 days of continuous touring with tax and gratuities inclusive with the program as well. Also in the program are all appropriate group transfers and all tours will be conducted on state of the art, air conditioned coaches with chilled mineral waters.


The date and honey chicken is superb!

The Bottom Line: This tour was designed for healthy men and women age 55 and up who are interested in a country without parallel. For Jews and Christians alike Israel really is “home” and as I always say, biting into an Israeli Orange that thrives in this tropical, desert climate is like biting into the “Sweet joy of a summer day with people you love”. To me that alone is worth the trip.

For more details and better information, pricing and other particulars, this very special program is managed by Gil Travel’s Israel Department Manager Susan Blum: Susan is quite experienced with her product (Israel) and will be happy to answer all of your questions and secure your space. She can also be reached at 215-568-6655 ext: 238 or 1-800-223-3855 ext: 238.

You can contact Gil Travel as well with any questions or concerns.

Archaeological Digs to Enhance Your Israel Trip

Archaeological Dig in Israel travel vacation jewish heritage Hirbat Beit Loya fun to do

Hirbat Beit Loya
By Shlomi Chetrit [CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

If you have a passion for discovering the past, an archaeological dig in Israel is an experience you’ll never forget. Considering the millennia of history, there are many undiscovered wonders beneath the ground. There are many archaeological digs conducted year round in Israel and many ways to find ones that are open to visitors. Both the Biblical Archaeological Society and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs compile a list of current digs.

Here are some options to consider on your visit. Note that some digs require days or weeks of commitment.




Dig For a Day

Archaeological Seminars Ltd., offers this program for visitors to go into their current excavation site to participate in an archeological dig. Participants are invited to dig, sift through rubble, examine pottery and tour the National Park of Beit Guvrin during their archaeological dig. There are a few stops during the day and a fair amount of walking and exploring caves so don’t forget your comfy clothes and shows. This is a not far from Jerusalem, many past participants claim that it is highly recommended and worth a visit to anyone living in or visiting Israel. This dig is suitable for visitors of all ages; older children would find it rewarding and fun, while younger children would be entertained for the whole day.

Temple Mount Sifting Project

Archaeological Dig in Israel travel vacation jewish heritage fun to do aerial temple mount dome rock jerusalem

Aerial View of Temple Mount
By Godot13 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This archaeological project started in 2005 in order to recover artifacts from topsoil removed from the Temple Mount which is one of the most sacred sites for Judaism. It is also the third holiest mosque in Islam and holds importance to Christianity. Despite the amount of history and importance, no one thoroughly conducted archaeological digs there. The site exists to use wet sift techniques to discover as many artifacts as possible with the support of Bar Ilan University. These 2-hour sessions include hands-on exploration, as well as participation in talks with archaeologists at the site. Past volunteers say it is an incredibly rewarding and informational experience where two hours was not enough for them. Although there is no age limit, participants must be at least 3 feet tall. They also advise wearing comfortable work clothes and shoes because the work is done outside with water and mud. During the summer, one would work under shelter and inside a greenhouse during the rainy season. Do not let bad weather deter you from this wonderful learning opportunity!


Archaeological Dig in Israel travel vacation jewish heritage fun to do jerusalem jug find

Part of a jug
By Dr. Mordechai Aviam [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Under the direction of Professor James Riley Strange, of Samford University, this month-long dig will take place near Sepphoris from May 23 to June 23. This year, the team will work in the synagogue discovered by last year’s team with a focus on the pottery production area and the domestic quarter. There is a two-week commitment for this dig.

Dig Mount Zion

This excavation takes place from June 14 until July 11 within sight of Jerusalem’s Old City. Shimon Gibson and James Tabor lead the digs to uncover Roman-era homes that were preserved under fill dirt when the area was artificially lifted. They prefer volunteers who can make a two-week commitment to the dig.


Archaeological Dig in Israel travel vacation jewish heritage fun to do hippos sussita sea of galilee

Hippos overlooks the Sea of Galilee
By Ákos Nagy [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Michael Eisenberg, of the University of Haifa, will lead an excavation of a Roman-era basilica and of the Roman-Byzantine southern bathhouse, as efforts to preserve all exposed sites continue. Entering its 15th season, the excavation at Hippos is now accepting applications. The entire season goes from June 29 to July 24. Volunteers are asked to participate in one session of the dig which lasts for two weeks; the minimum stay is five days. However, preference would be given to volunteers who can commit the full season. Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age in order to participate.



Archaeological Dig in Israel travel vacation jewish heritage fun to do bensaida shards artifacts

Various shards of pottery
By Nazareth College [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via flickr

Professor Rami Arav of University of Nebraska at Omaha will lead this excavation of Bethsaida, located in the north Sea of Galilee. There are 3 sessions for this season, which ranges from May 18 to July 5. Volunteer registration is now live and open to volunteers of all ages and physical level, as there are many different kinds of positions available. The organization requires a minimum of one week stay.

Archaeological digs are fun and satisfying but not for those weak of heart or physical condition as many of these digs take place out in the open for long hours under Israel’s summer sun. Should you decide to participate in one, please register immediately as spaces fill up quickly. These digs highly recommend light clothing that is loosely fitting and easily laundered, long pants that cover the shoes, and durable working shoes.

Volunteer work typically involves digging and sifting dirt, washing, sorting, and cataloging artifacts. The prices typically include accommodation, meals, and transportation to the site (not airfare). Participants typically travel and relax on the weekends. However, each dig has different rules and policies so research the one that fits you and your travel plans the best. Many of these excavations take place annually, and have been going on for many years, so if you missed the registration deadline or if a session is full, there is always next year.

Gil Tours is a great place to start when you’re planning a trip to Israel. We offer a range of services and can help you plan the perfect family vacation around your archaeological interests. Contact us today to learn more.