Susan and I worked closely to plan the itinerary and she was able to accommodate our special requests. For example, I wanted to be at the Wall on Friday night, my son and his family wanted to go to Bethlehem as a side trip, and she and my daughter were in constant contact about arrangements for my grandson’s Bar Mitzvah on Masada. Susan included activities that would interest us all, given the differences in ages and physical abilities.
Inon, the guide Susan selected for us, was wonderful. He was interesting, knowledgeable, and obviously passionate about his country, yet he was honest and forthright when discussing current issues. Most important for us was that he was able to understand our family dynamics. He was flexible enough so that we were able to make changes to the itinerary at the last minute, and often at his suggestion when he had something special that he wanted us to do. He managed to squeeze Safed into our schedule because he thought it was important. He also took us to the ruins of a 13th century fortress because my family loved to climb and explore, and we went through an actual Israeli bunker on the Golan Heights overlooking Syria. He even took us to the kibbutz on which his wife grew up so that my grandchildren could understand what kibbutz life was like.
Then on to the Dead Sea, floating when we usually sink, a unique experience made even more enjoyable because Susan rented 2 private changing rooms for us. Each came with bathrobes, slippers, refreshments and packs of “mud”, which we took to the beach and smeared on ourselves (and others.) What a happy crew we were!
Of all of the wonderful things that we did, I think the one that was most meaningful was going to the Israeli/Lebanese border to meet with young IDF soldiers, some of whom were my granddaughter’s age, who were actually on patrol there. They allowed us to go in and on their armored vehicles. Then, accompanied by their group leader, my family walked to the Lebanese border and my grandson planted a tree at the border in honor of his Bar Mitzvah. He will never forget that! And he will never forget his beautiful Bar Mitzvah service held in the ruins of Masada, surrounded by history and drama, when he became a Jewish adult.
Taking my family to Israel was a dream come true, and my husband and I have to thank Susan and Inon for making it so memorable and so special. Shalom Israel! You will ever be in our hearts.