Seven Reasons to Come to Israel
Meet One of Our Past Showtime Israel a.k.a. Entertainment Participants
Jeremy Lowe works on the Brand, Marketing and Digital Strategy team at Dick Clark Productions in Los Angeles. Due to his career and love of the Entertainment Industry, Jeremy chose the Showtime Israel trip with Israel Experts and enjoyed it immensely! Read about his thoughts and observations from his Birthright Israel trip here:
On my flight back to the United States, I decided to write down a set of observations while my Israel experience was still top of mind.
1) We stayed in Bedouin tents for one night and something about the simplicity was beautiful. It was a cathartic experience. We arrived in the dessert, rode camels, ate amazing food Bedouin style, laid on the ground outside the tent and took in an amazing view of the stars. The following day included trips to Masada and the Dead Sea. It may have been the most exhausting 36 hours of my life but I didn't even feel the exhaustion. However, I did sleep really well after that two day period.
2) The restaurants, cafes and bars are consistently busy. I was walking around in Tel Aviv on a Tuesday night and every restaurant was packed. There was even a one hour wait at a bar I walked into. In Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda street was full of people celebrating Hannukah and headed out for a meal, post Shabbat. To that point, being in Israel for Hannukah was so powerful. You don’t see any mentions of Christmas and there is a huge menorah on Ben Yehuda street which is lit using a crane-like device. That's a statement.
3) The country has incredible scenery. On the first day of the trip we visited the Golan Heights and went to Gamla and the views were unreal. During the trip, we also saw a beautiful sunset in Tel Aviv where the sun melted into the ocean. Our visit to the Salad Trail showed Israel’s beautiful fruit and vegetable products and how Israel's agriculture methods are leading the way for the rest of the world. The Baha'i Gardens stunned as always.
4) The arts in Israel are thriving. Our trip included many professionals from the Entertainment Industry so the arts related sections of the trip were particuarly important to the group. We watched the impactful film, Rock in the Red Zone, which is about the city of Sderot, in a Sderot movie theatre that doubled as a bomb shelter. This screening was followed by a Q&A with the director and one of the subjects featured in the film. New Spirit in Jerusalem is bringing artists from the city together and giving them a space to gather and create. We also visited the Keshet TV network, which is putting the best programs on TVs not just in Israel but worldwide. Israel's art and media culture rivals any other major country in the world. Also, the music is great (one of my favorite Israeli acts is A-Wa, a trio of Yemenite sisters)
5) On our trip, we traveled with a group of Israelis in our age group as well. Some were current soliders and some were already out of the army. Many would think that because Israelis live so far away from the United States that we would have vast differences. Most of the Americans had the same interests as the Israelis. We like the same music and enjoy the same foods. The main difference between us is that the Americans had not been in the army or grown up in a country that was threatened with countless terror attacks.
6) The food and goods in Israel are unparalleled. The wine in the Golan Heights was amazing and it’s sold in the United States. There are numerous markets with a plethora of spices, bakeries, fresh foods and candies. I especially enjoyed the iced coffee from Aroma, Sabich sandwiches, gummy candies and sufganiyot! (photo 4) The market in Jerusalem (Mahane Yehuda) comes alive at night and it was especially bustling on the Thursday night we were there with lots of young people starting their weekends and preparing for Shabbat. Also, the markets are packed with so many people you have to unleash your inner Israeli and be a tad pushy to get through.
7) This piece wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the older cities we visited, including Tzfat, Jerusalem and Jaffa, as well as the Jewish history we learned about. Tzfat remains very authentic while Jerusalem and Jaffa have adapted to more modern times - Jerusalem with the stone evident in all buildings and in Jaffa with popular retail in a historic setting. We went to Mt. Herzl and heard stories from the Israelis on our trip about soldiers they personally knew who were killed in battle. We experienced Yad Vashem and learned about the Holocaust as a group. We were also given time to do a personal prayer and experience the Kotel (Western Wall).
So there you have it, Jeremy Lowe's Seven Observations of Israel! How about you go on a Birthright Israel trip this summer and see what observations you come up with?