WJT - The ultimate Jewish trip advisor!

Israel’s Top 100 Ethnic Restaurants, the most popular eBook in WJT's Travel Library (photo credit: World Jewish Travel)
Israel’s Top 100 Ethnic Restaurants, the most popular eBook in WJT's Travel Library
(photo credit: World Jewish Travel)

Most Jews define themselves as  ‘cultural Jews’, so when they travel, they seek out sites and events related to their Jewish ‘cultural identity’. This is not an easy task as the internet lacks a go-to place to plan your trip, which is where a new website just launched by an NGO called World Jewish Travel (WJT) comes in very handy. It is a one-stop shop for Jewish cultural travel, a ‘Jewish Trip Advisor’.

Jack Gottlieb, the founder of WJT, tells the Jerusalem Post, “WJT’s mission is to market Judaism through cultural travel. That is not to say the website does not contain religious and  kosher aspects, but that is not our emphasis”.

WJT’s crowdsourced digital platform is the perfect way for a prospective traveler  to research  the Jewish story of a city (e.g. Jewish Amsterdam), province or country. This story is told not only through iconic sites (e.g. The Anne Frank House) but also key trails and thematic cultural routes. WJT’s Service Partners bridge the remaining gaps. Pick a city and find the best guides, tour operators, hotels and restaurants. What this all adds up to is the best local authentic Jewish experience!    

The Wannsee House in Berlin, the most popular city in WJT's destinations (Credit: ESB Professional via Shutterstock)The Wannsee House in Berlin, the most popular city in WJT's destinations (Credit: ESB Professional via Shutterstock)

“WJT not only allows a person to travel but also to discover something new about themselves, something Jewish, and to connect with other people in a Jewish way, especially if it's Sabbath (see their Sabbath page on the homepage).”

WJT is now working with close to 50 European cities to help curate their significant Jewish cultural sites and events. The challenge in Europe, home to two of the most cataclysmic events in the history of Judaism, the Holocaust and the Inquisition, is to help  travelers understand how these tragedies evolved. Equally important is what Jewish life looked like before and after these tragedies. To make it easier for the traveler to get a quick overview, WJT has a ‘Jewish Story’ button on every city page.  

Gottlieb believes, “Before traveling to Europe, WJT’s platform allows users to gain quick insights into the dark (as well as positive) aspects of our history,  about historical events, famous people and interesting sites-all from the comfort of their own home!

When WJT launched the Israeli portion of their website in April, they were delighted to use the JPost Travel Podcast as a vehicle to get their message across. The Podcast entitled “5 Stories About Israel” gave the audience a taste of the diversity and depth of the Israeli experience and can be found on the JPost’s Travel Podcast page for April 26. These stories ranged from museums (like The Anu Museum), to boutique hotels (like The Norman) to crusader cities (like Acco), each story portraying a different but important aspect of Israel. Now that the COVID pandemic is over, use WJT to take your next ‘revenge’ trip to Israel, home to many holy sites of all the major religions!

Gottlieb declares, “In  Israel the focus of the website is different. Here you can find sites and events related not just to the Old Testament but also to the New Testament. It is a much richer tourist experience reflecting the fact that Israel is a much more complex country and has a more complex history.”

The Anne Frank House and Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, the most popular site on WJT (Credit: Dennis van de Water via Shutterstock)The Anne Frank House and Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam, the most popular site on WJT (Credit: Dennis van de Water via Shutterstock)

The key to traveling is not only knowing what to see but also when to go. Hence, WJT also has created the first Jewish Cultural Calendar with days and events marked off so you can travel at the right time to the right place; You can use this calendar to identify national and international cultural days like International Holocoust Day, or religious holidays like Sukkot. Just as important you can also use the calendar to locate upcoming shows, film festivals, exhibitions and more to ensure your vacation is fun-filled.

“Our cultural calendar is truly unique in providing Jewish days and events in one place so you can optimize your trip experience for your whole family,” says  Gottlieb.

Looking for inspiration? On the Homepage of the WJT website, you can also find a ‘Get Inspired’ section to discover interest groups and themes. These interest groups, like  “Kosher Travel'' and Social Bonding”, help facilitate traveling with other like minded people. Their Kosher Travel section, for example, contains cruises, Passover getaways and even safaris. Other  travel ideas revolve around themes, like Jewish Heritage Tours or Holocaust Trips.  

“Our Get Inspired section allows people to ‘stay in or get out’ of their comfort zone, to open up new worlds they never before experienced or imagined,” says  Gottlieb.

If you like planning your trip way in advance, WJT has the answer. WJT has the largest eBook collection with hundreds of free eBooks on different geographical areas and themes. Read about cities (like Jewish Venice) or countries (like Jewish Germany) before you travel. And for the best culinary experience, especially check out their  most popular thematic eBook (soon to be updated), The Top 100 Ethnic Restaurants in Israel curated by WJT with Gil Khovav, noted Israeli restaurant critic.

Gottlieb remarks, “ You can use our free eBook travel collection to get in depth knowledge about a particular location and in Israel that includes a rich culinary experience.“

After you travel, you can contribute to the cause by writing and uploading a blog about your experience. WJT has the largest number of Jewish travel blogs in the world. With their immense collection of blogs you can read about The Jewish story of known and unknown cities and gain insights about  interesting  tours, museums and monuments. The blog “ The Top Ten Jewish Quarters in Spain” and “The Hidden Jewish Gems of New York City'' are fan favorites.  

“Our blog section allows users to write about their experiences and share them with the community.  Help WJT build  a like-minded community that enjoys traveling to places far and near to their hearts,” says Gottlieb.

The WJT website  is an outstanding resource for finding out where to plan your vacation, for Jews and non-Jews alike. Now that the COVID restrictions have been pulled back and travel is getting back to normal, make sure to make the most out of your vacation time and use WJT!

This article was written in cooperation with WJT