Joe Yudin owns Touring Israel, a company that specializes in “Lifestyle” tours of Israel.

There is a saying in Hebrew: “Yom Kef”. The literal meaning is “Fun Day”. This comes from the belief that we all need a complete day of fun activities every once and a while and it can work wonders.

It doesn’t happen during every tour. Some people, kids and adults alike, want to take in as much history and Bible as possible during their short stay in Israel. However, some people aren’t always totally absorbed by history and archaeology, especially during these hot summer days. I always try and work at a site with a water activity or two during each day, but some people really just want to see the sites they have heard so much about in Sunday school, synagogue or history books. This isn’t always enough and it’s sometimes more than okay to take a rest from the rocks, religion and history and just have plain fun.

Just this week I was touring with a family from Connecticut and the parents of the children aged from eleven through fifteen seemed tired. Their goal was to give their children as much of a Jewish, cultural and historical education as possible in a short amount of time. I threw in some fun activities, but apparently not enough as a heat wave took hold across the country. Although the kids now knew the basic history of the Jewish people’s first 2,000 years of existence, I thought it might be a good idea to get to know the land and the people of Israel.

“So Joe, tomorrow we head off to Acre, Safed and Rosh Hanikra right?” said the father from Connecticut. “What exactly are all those places?”

“I think I’m going to change it up a little tomorrow. Why don’t we meet at 8 a.m. sharp and wear your bathing suits, water shoes and bring a change of clothes.”
“Why? What are we going to do?” he queried.

“Do you trust me?” I said with a giant smile. After a week of touring with me 24/7 I believe I knew the answer to that and of course he responded in the affirmative.

“Great, don’t forget to fill your water bottles, have a nice breakfast and bring hats and sunscreen. See you tomorrow.”

We set out for Nahal Gilabon early the next day. The parking lot was empty when we arrived at 8:30 a.m.The ascent down to Gilbon Falls was pleasant with not a soul in sight. The only noise we heard was the chirping of the birds. We descended steeply and took some time to enjoy the view of the falls; Israel’s second highest perennial waterfall. They snapped some pictures, uploaded them to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and descended into the stream-bed.

Nahal Gilabon (Courtesy)

We hopped over rocks in the stream, through beautiful pink oleander and made our way to the large pool of water under the exquisite waterfall. The only other beings there were a couple of fresh water crabs. After about forty-five minutes of splashing around the cool waters, climbing behind the waterfall and into the small crevice in the rock and then diving through the waterfall, other people started to show up. Time to go.

We hiked up and out and twenty minutes later we were dry, a bit winded and starting to get hot. Luckily the ice cream woman had just pulled up…along with six buses of Birthright participants. We had our ice cream and were back into our van. Next stop: The Jordan River.

We stopped for two things along the way: Lunch at the famous fish restaurant Dag al HaDan and to go shopping for Israeli made sandals at Naot Mordecai. After another ice cream we were off to Kfar Blum for some inflatable kayaking, rock climbing and zip-lines. The best part of this side trip though was the water fights we had between boats and the rope swings into the river from the tree lined shade. After our third ice cream of the day we headed back to the van.

The kids took a nap as we made our way back to Lake Kinneret towards the hotel, but I had one more surprise for them: the Galita Chocolate Workshop at Kibbutz Deganiya Bet.

Galita Chocolate Factory (Courtesy)

What better way to end a day of fun than by making various kinds of chocolate bars, candies and cookies for a good hour and a half, and then gorging ourselves with our homemade treats!

Galita Chocolate Factory (Courtesy)

“So guys,” I asked before dropping them off at Deck’s Steakhouse in Tiberias for a fabulous dinner over the lake as the sunset, “What was your favorite part of the day?”

“Joe, it was all so good, I can’t even begin to choose.”

The smiles on everyone else’s faces gleamed with agreement.

“Tomorrow, Safed and Caesarea, so bring your thinking caps.” And with that I bid them farewell for the night.

Joe Yudin became a licensed tour guide in 1999. He completed his Master’s degree at the University of Haifa in the Land  of Israel Studies and is currently studying toward a PhD.

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