I moved with my family to Israel in August, 2004. In my spare time, I have tried to conquer Israel and I have seen the good, the bad and the ridiculous. I often am asked for tips about Israeli restaurants, movies, shows and cultural events. Please join me on my adventures!
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We recently went to Hachtzer, a meat restaurant in Jerusalem, for the second time. Contrary to the usual experience, our second visit was as satisfying as the first visit. The restaurant is simple in decor - warm and comfortable. The food has mediterranean and middle eastern influences but cannot be pegged down to a particular style. Somehow, the chef combines interesting spices and flavors to make each dish truly delicious and special. Both times we opted for the tasting menu which I highly recommend. The waiter will ask if there are any particular dislikes (such as intestines or other parts of an animal) and subject to that limit, the dishes served are meant to give the diner a true sense of the restaurant. Both times I left completely stuffed and thoroughly satisfied. It is not an inexpensive meal but one you will dream about for days! Hachatzer - 7 Derech Bet Lechem, Jerusalem - 02-671-9922
The person who answered the phone at the Waffle Bar refused to take a reservation when we called earlier in the day promising that there would be room when we arrived; of course, when we showed up, we were asked why our party of seven had not made a reservation. And, yes, this is not the place to go if you are looking for intimate dining or an extensive menu of "real food." But the Waffle Bar with its booths and stools and big screen tvs reminds me of a modern day version of a 1950s teenage diner (think Happy Days). The waffles with endless choices of toppings, the French crepes and the chocolates in a variety of interesting flavors will make anyone with a sweet tooth happy - both adults and children. There is enough choices of pastas, toasts and focaccias to buffer the stomach before getting to all the desserts. Not sure I would rush back but a fun place to take the kids if you are in the neighborhood. Waffle Bar - 41 Bet Lechem Road - 02-673-0760
During this past Chanukah, our family joined a Hebrew tour that explored the Chanukiot found in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was lovely to walk through the Jewish Quarter in the evening hours and see the various outdoor chanukiot on display and even join in some Chanukah singing. While we probably could have wandered through the Jewish Quarter ourselves, our tour guide clearly knew all the nooks and crannies.The tour was offered by Beit Shmuel which is affiliated with the World Union of Progressive Judaism. While I enjoyed what we saw on the tour, I felt that the tour was clearly geared towards secular Israelis, and as such, the tour content was a bit too basic for me. More upsetting, however, was that the tour guide made us feel a bit out of place among the other families, who were all Israeli, despite that we did not request any help with the language nor did we have trouble comprehending. I plan to do some of Beit Shmuel's other interesting Jerusalem …
The Jerusalem time elevator is a virtual reality experience meant to condense the 3,000 years of Jerusalem history into approximately thirty minutes. It is an interactive show with moving seats and large screens that create a feeling of passing through time and space. Chaim Topol narrates the show and fiction is mixed with non-fiction to make it interesting. I would not make a special trip to Jerusalem for what is clearly a tourist trap that could use some refreshing; however, even tourist traps can be fun. And my kids and I found it entertaining and even informative. Jerusalem Time Elevator - Beit Agron - 37 Hillel Street, Jerusalem - Tickets can be ordered through www.time-elevator-jerusalem.co.il or 02-624-8381 One can buy tickets at the door but pre-ordering avoids the lines AND is actually cheaper
This is the first time that I am posting something on my blog that I did not experience personally. But I am deferring to my children on this one. They went ice skating at the indoor rink located in the Luna Park in Ganei Hata'aruha (Tel Aviv). According to my children (who have skated at some of the best rinks in New York) the rink is small and the ice does not get cleaned often enough. However, sometimes even a taste of things back home is enough and it is nice that now there is something not too far away. ISkate - www.iskate-lunapark.co.il - 03-642-7080. Pre-reservation not required though there may be a wait.
From the late 1800s until 1948, the Templers (German Christians) lived in an agricultural settlement right in the heart of Tel Aviv (next to what is now the Kirya). The settlement has been slated for preservation and is currently undergoing renovation for what will become a combination of historical buildings, cafes and shops. One can wander the grounds alone and even have a lovely picnic there, but a guided tour will be more informative. While no buildings are currently open, our tour guide provided a lot of information regarding the area, the grounds and the individuals that lived there. In addition, we were able to enter the underground tunnel that connects the two wineries on the settlement. It was fascinating and I look forward to what will be there when the preservation is completed. Sarona - see www.sarona.ahuzot.co.il for information (in Hebrew) or call 03-516-6188 to schedule a tour (in Hebrew) NOTE: I hope to obtain a list of tour guides who give English tours of Sarona …
NeveTzedek, established in 1887, received "protected area" status in the 1980s which means that all structures must be renovated or rebuilt in keeping with the existing style. Thus, NeveTzedek, with lots of charming residences, shops and cafes, has retained an old world feel (and dare I say it - a very non-Israeli feel). But, of course, beyond the superficial appearance, this is a place with lots of interesting stories and tidbits. It is only recently that I took an actual tour of NeveTzedek where I actually learnt about the history of NeveTzedek and its well-known inhabitants. On the tour, I visited many of NeveTzedek's memorable sites, such as ShimonRokach's house (see 3/24/09 blog entry) and the Suzanne Dellal Center. Our fantastic tour guide, Paule Rakower, was informative and enjoyable. NeveTzedek is a great place to wander about but it is even better appreciated through a tour. Paule Rakower - firstname.lastname@example.org - 03-546-4917 You can ask to be put on the m…
I have been to Genesis Land, better known as EretzBeresheit, twice already with visiting tourists. Both times my children have come along. EretzBeresheit, located in the Judean desert, takes the visitor back to biblical times. Eliezer, Abraham's servant, greets visitors at the entrance and takes them on camels to Abraham's tent where biblical stories, along with light refreshments, are served. And, of course, Abraham comes to visit. On the day we attended, we also made pitas and baked them in a fire - one of the many activities that can be arranged. Did I find it a bit kitschy as we all adorned ourselves with robes in the spirit of biblical shepherds? Of course. But was it tons of fun for the kids and even the adults - absolutely! Genesis Land - EretzBeresheit - www.genesisland.co.il - 02-997-4477 - advance reservations required