A Festival of Freedom and Fun: AACI Pesach Walking Tours

NOTE: There is a glossary at the bottom of this post for those who know even less Hebrew than I do.

Pesach is on its way and everyone is dreaming of freedom. What does that mean to you? For me, freedom is the leisure to smell the spring flowers, to walk in the sunshine, to visit the beach – Dead Sea or Mediterranean. Either sounds good. Or maybe both? It’s a five-day Chol Hamoed this year.

As you can tell, playing outdoors in this beautiful land occupies a big role in my vacation plans.  I think this urge comes from too much Israeli daily life. Too much going to work every day; too much struggling to pay my bill from the chevrat chashmal; too many dealings with shiputznikim who show up at my door and ask me to throw all my money into the bag they are conveniently holding, then disappear for months on end … no, I’m actually exaggerating … a little. But it’s been a long cold winter and I’m ready for some fun.

In other words, I’d like to act like a tourist in Israel. There are so many little-known buildings and byways in Jerusalem alone that I’ve never explored, so much history in the streets I walk through every day. How can I find out more?

Well, the AACI Pesach Walking Tours would be a good place to start.  These tours, taking place from April 4-15, 2012, offer an intimate look at some of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods and lesser-known historic sites. A couple venture further afield to explore Gush Etzion. Reasonably priced and led by English-speaking professional guides, the walking tours are a great way to see the sights and learn something new about our surroundings.

The interesting thing is that there are indeed many tourists on these walks, people who have come from chutz l’Aretz for the chag, who are also interested in finding out more about our country. Funnily enough, they tend to want to act more like Israelis. Navigating one’s way around the shuk; getting along in Hebrew; knowing where to go, what to buy, what to do – all of those seem to be deep-rooted desires in most of the visitors I’ve met.

And it seems to me that one of the nicest aspects of these tours is that they bring us together, we Israelis who wanna be tourists and tourists who wanna be Israelis, and give us a chance to meet on common ground. We can give the visitors a sense of what it’s like the day after, or thirty years after,  aliyah and share our feeling of connection to the Land. (Even as we complain amongst ourselves that “Israelis do this” and “Israelis act like that,” we know that we ourselves are Israelis and ein lanu aretz acher.) In turn, the not-yet-Israelis can remind us of what it’s like when someone has only a couple of weeks or so a year to feel that connection, and uses those precious days to – well – connect, by playing, visiting, shopping, touring, dining out, enjoying .

Chag kasher v’sameach l’kulanu! Wishing you a Pesach that’s the most fun ever!


Pesach                                                            Passover

Chol Hamoed                                                intermediate days of a festival

chevrat chashmal                                           electric company

shiputznikim                                                    renovator, repairperson

chutz l’Aretz                                                     outside of Israel

chag                                                                   holiday

ein lanu aretz acher                                        we have no other land

chag kasher v’sameach l’kulanu                 a kosher and happy holiday to all of us


April 4-15, 2012

For a detailed list of walking tours (including phone numbers to reach the tour guides directly) click here.

AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman Family Center (02)566-1181.



No Fuss, No Muss: AACI’s Pesach Walking Tours

Mount of Olives

Not sure what to do with your kids while they are off from school?

Need a breather from family members coming to visit?

AACI is pleased to announce once again our very comprehensive list of Pesach walking tours.


Whether you are a long-time resident, oleh chadash, or you have extended family coming for a visit, AACI’s walking tours provide a great opportunity to get out for a bit of exercise and learn about our historic, holy city in the comfort of a group with a knowledgeable guide.

Each tour is tailored to a theme that will explore the incredible history behind each site or neighborhood, with an emphasis on understanding the importance that these sites continue to play today.

Temple Mount

Understand the role that King Herod played in expanding the Temple Mount, and see the magnificent tile work and gold dome up close in the comfort and safety of a group during the April 17 Temple Mount Tour.

Hinom Valley

Learn the history of the Hinom Valley and the role that the City of David played as the original settlement in Jerusalem on the Gihon Spring over 5,000 years ago during the the April 21 Hinom Valley & City of David Tour.

City of David

Machane Yehuda

Did you know that Nachlaot was one of two of the original Jerusalem neighborhoods outside of the Old City walls, founded by Moshe Montefiore at the end of the 19th Century? Come and see one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the heart of Jerusalem on the April 26 (Isruchag) Nachlaot & Mahane Yehuda Tour.

Machane Yehuda

See Ein Kerem, a site whose history dates back to the reign of King Hezekiah (716-697 B.C.E). Venerated today by Christians as the site of John the Baptist, Ein Kerem is a quaint village filled with cafes and art galleries in the heart of the Jerusalem Valley. Take a break from hectic pace of Jerusalem on the April 26 (Isruchag) Ein Kerem Tour.

For more details on this and other tours, please see the complete tour listings:




All tours last 2.5-3.5 hours. The cost is NIS 35 for AACI members, NIS 45 for non-members (unless stated otherwise). Children aged 5 and under are free, and there is a family discount price of NIS 120/150 for families of 4 or more. Participants pay entrance fees, if any. Responsibility for each tour is in the hands of the individual tour guide leading that tour. No reservations are required, but a tour will not take place if there are fewer than 3 participants.

For further information about a particular tour, please call the guide listed in the tour details directly. Tours are subject to change.

Thanks go to Katie for this post.