Jerusalem Ice City

The Jerusalem Ice City exhibition runs through the end of April. What is Ice City? It’s a collaborative effort of Israeli and Chinese artists who have created an unbelievable display of ice sculptures, including an Old City Walls landscape.

The Ice City has been created at the Old Jerusalem Railway Station near Liberty Bell Park. Below is a video that may draw your interest in attending.

More information and tickets are available here.

Too Good to be True Rental Phones

Discipleship Travel LLC is happy to announce a new partnership with TalknSave to provide our travelers with mobile phone service in Israel.

Below is a blog post that details our personal experience with TalknSave. It was published May 25, 2012 on Craig Dunning’s personal blog and clearly illustrates why Discipleship Travel LLC decided to partner with TalknSave.

Too Good to be True Rental Phones

Shortly before my recent trip to Israel, I was made aware of TalknSave, a company that rents phones to tourists for an unbelievable [to me] price of $5 per day. That $5 per day provides unlimited calls to/from phones in Israel, Canada and the United States.

Having lived as long as I did in Israel, I was skeptical of the offer as being too good to be true. However, rather than dismiss it altogether, I contacted the company and started an interesting “you gotta prove it” relationship with Elie Mamann, the company rep.

I explained my reluctance, which was based on typical Israeli marketing of large promises followed by zero customer service. Eli had heard the same reluctance by others, and he confided that he, too, was skeptical before he began working with this company. He assured me that the service was everything promised or he would not work there. Of course, that sounds like all the other “trust me” sales pitches I have heard in Israel. However, he said one thing that gave me enough confidence to give it a try: “I’m from North America, so I know what you have in mind regarding customer service.”

He convinced me, … sorta. I’m afraid I’ll be eternally skeptical of salesmen from that region. But, I told Elie that I would give him a try … and if the service is all he’s made it out to be, I promised to be his biggest supporter. On the other hand, if the service was fluff, I would be a megaphone warning others to stay away.

The result of our group’s use of TalknSave was total satisfaction. Elie provided all the personal service he promised, including meeting the group at the airport to deliver the phones at the bus. They also provide pre-paid mailer envelopes and a drop box at the airport for ease of return on the way out of the country.

We had 15-18 people rent the phones (a few different plans), and all were completely satisfied. We also had a few bring their home plans for various reasons. Some were happy with the home plan decision, even though they likely paid more. Those that brought Verizon service were sorely disappointed. Verizon agents may tell you that they provide service in Israel, but members of my group (and a previous one, too) found out that isn’t true.

I know that some will wonder, “what’s the use/need of having a mobile phone while touring Israel?” Here are some of the benefits:

  1. A growing number of tourists are on vacation, but still managing things back at the office because of the instant contact culture (calling, texting, surfing) that we are moving toward. These phones offer unlimited, instant contact at a very low price.
  2. Most tourists’ families are unaware that when they hear news of rockets coming into Israel, those rockets aren’t landing in every location. These phones offer unlimited calls that might be helpful in assuring folks back home that things are okay.
  3. In the case that something serious – like war, or the Arab Spring, or hospitalization – happens, these phones are an inexpensive way to be in touch with people back home. That might be helpful for the tourist and their families.
  4. As the group leader, my phone gave me an inexpensive way to be in touch with the guide, driver, and other people I needed to reach.
  5. Tourists aren’t always where they are supposed to be. Those that had phones were easily located.

Be aware that there are different plans available, including data and text plans. For those that want to take their own “Smart Phone,” a SIM card is available in this plan.

If this recommendation interests you at all, whether you are a single or group traveler, please click on the banner below to see the options and sign up.

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Want to Live in Israel?

Artichokes ready for harvest.

Artichokes ready for harvest.

Have you ever thought about living in Israel, but didn’t know how you could do so? Ever thought of volunteering on an Israeli farm, working the “Land of Milk and Honey”? WWOOF ISRAEL provides a framework to do just that?

Through WWOOF you can access a list of farms that accept volunteer help from two day to six months. Each volunteer is required to work 5 days per week and will receive room and board in return, as well as the opportunity to live in Israel for a period of time.

A registration fee is required (NIS 160/270 single/couple) to join WWOOF, after which you can get the listing and contact details for participating farms.

If you are interested and/or have more questions you may want to check out their FAQ page.

NOTE: This information is offered for informational purposes only. No guarantees of any kind are offered or implied by Discipleship Travel LLC.

Tu b’Shvat: Israel’s Arbor Day

Almond Blossom

An Israeli almond tree in blossom.

While many people imagine that Israel is a desert with no trees (and it is like that in some areas), there are many places in the country (particularly in the center and north) that have beautiful forests, which are being expanded and/or replanted by citizens and tourists.

Each year on Tu b’Shvat, the 15th of the Hebrew month Shevat, Israelis observe the “New Year of the Trees” by planting new trees. However, since Tu b’Shvat falls on Saturday, January 26, this year, schools and other groups will plant trees on Thursday and Friday, January 24 and 25.

Planting trees isn’t restricted to Tu b’Shvat, though. If your group would like to plant trees in memory/honor of someone or to simply help beautify the land, Discipleship Travel LLC can arrange for that to be part of your tour. Simply let us know your desire.

Can we have a baptismal service?

For groups that desire a baptismal service, a visit to the Yardenit baptismal site at the Jordan River will be included in the itinerary. This is a beautiful setting at the south end of the Sea of Galilee where the Jordan River exits the lake.

The facility requires the use of a rental gown/robe.* Included in the $10 rental fee** is use of the changing room and warm showers, a towel, hair brush and a baptism certificate suitable for framing. Other services that are available for purchase*** include a videographer that offers a video of the group’s baptismal service, a professional still photographer is usually on site, a full service restaurant, a snack bar, and an extensive gift shop.

Our guides and teachers do not lead the baptism service or perform any baptisms. Those responsibilities are left to the group leader who is typically a pastor.

* If you think you may get baptized, for reasons of modesty, you should bring a swimsuit or other suitable covering to wear under the baptismal robe.

** The rental fee is not included in the tour price. Only those using this service are required to pay the fee.

*** The cost of any additional services are not included in the tour price and are the responsibility of the user.