AACI wishes you a Chag Pesach Sameach!

From all of us to all of you…Happy Passover!

Please note that AACI offices will be closed from March 22nd through April 1st, reopening on Isru Chag, Tuesday, April 2nd.

Join AACI for Walking Tours during Chol Hamoed (intermediate days). For more details about walking tours, check out our website. click here


Come Join Us: AACI’s Succot Walking Tours

Well, here it is – the end of September and the beginning of a new year according to the Jewish calendar. Summer is ending, the season is changing, and I for one am delighted … although I must admit I do feel a little off kilter. I still associate autumn with the splendid displays of red and gold and orange foliage of my old North American home (although some leaves do turn color in the Israeli autumn, the preponderance of evergreens tends overshadow them). I remember the brand new first apples of the season appearing on the trees and adding further to the glorious color scheme. The pleasure of these magnificent sights was somewhat allayed by the anticipation of winter, which in eastern Canada is not to be taken lightly.

In Israel, fall means something entirely different to me. The cooler days of autumn signify to me, not that snow will soon be falling, but that I can finally breathe.

And that is why I feel out of step.

The children of my neighborhood are heading off to school dressed in jackets and hats, while I am at last feeling comfortable going for a walk in my summer clothes … in the middle of the day! I no longer have to plan to get to the supermarket the minute it opens in the morning to make the long trek home, schlepping my shopping cart, somewhat bearable.

I remember years ago in my old neighborhood in Beit Shemesh, where the weather is much warmer even than in Jerusalem, being amused when the Israeli-born mothers began to dress their infants in snowsuits. It usually happened when the temperature plummeted from 40 down to a frigid 28 degrees C (that’s from 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to about 82).  My kids were still running around in shorts at that point, because I knew what snowsuits were for – to bundle up babies when the weather was below freezing, and the snow was too thick to push a stroller through, so instead we used mini baby sleds pulled by polar bears … hmm, wait, I think I’m getting carried away here.

Anyway, my point – and I do have one, as the comedian said – is that autumn in Israel, in addition to a whole holiday season, brings the loveliest weather. Perfect weather for all us, tourist or local, olim chadashim or vatikim, to get out, walk around, and enjoy this amazing country of ours. And what better way to do that than by taking part in one or more of AACI’s Succot Walking Tours?

Explore some new sights or revisit favorite sites. The tours are generally more walks than hikes, and last only a few hours, allowing all members of the family to participate. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is relaxed yet festive. Come join us. And enjoy the beauty of Israel in the fall.

You will be welcome whether you choose to wear a short sleeved T-shirt or a full-length winter coat!

AACI’s Succot Walking Tours are offered from September 28 through October 10, 2012. Click here for details and a full schedule. Please call the tour guide for confirmation of the tour and to find out the meeting place.

Chag Sameach! Happy Fall!

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.

AACI Sukkot Walking Tours – Don’t Miss Out!

Where was Jerusalem’s first tennis court? Who is buried in the ancient cave tombs from the time of the First and Second Temples? Where did Theodor Herzl stay when he visited Jerusalem? Who hung out on Emek Refaim before the current patrons of the cafés and restaurants? What does Jerusalem look like from the Bridge of Strings?

Sukkot is the perfect time to get to know Jerusalem intimately by walking the stones, pavements, streets and alleyways of this magnificent city. AACI offers 24 walking tours guided by English-speaking licensed tour guides beginning Erev Sukkot, Wednesday, Sept. 22nd and continuing through Isru Chag, Friday, Oct. 1st.

Discover or rediscover Jerusalem neighborhoods and historical sites in both the old and new city. Whether you’re visiting Jerusalem for the holiday, a new immigrant or a long time citizen of the city, there’s something of interest for everyone and for all ages. Even if you know the city and its history well, there are tours that provide a unique perspective. You can “Follow in the Footsteps of the Women of Jerusalem” who added to the richness of life in the city or join the “Jerusalem Medicine Tour” and learn about the development of Jerusalem’s health care system through historic, geopolitical and anecdotal stores along Hanevi’im Street.

Carol Kaplan, a tour guide and one of the program organizers, explains that an added advantage of an AACI walking tour is the chevrah (group or congregation). Olim chadashim (new immigrants) can mix with vatikim (long-time residents). AACI members can connect with one another, and tourists can meet English-speaking veteran Israelis.

The complete list of tours with a detailed description of the itinerary can be found on the AACI website. The tours last 2 ½- 3 ½ 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. Tours are subject to change.

A tour will not take place if there are fewer than 3 participants so it’s best to call ahead and tell the guide that you are planning to participate. The guide’s name and telephone number is listed after the description of each tour.

So put on your comfortable walking shoes, bring water and your enthusiasm! For more information or questions, call Carol Kaplan 054-522-1665, 02-671-3770.

Chag Sukkot Sameach!