Many who visit Israel, do so with a tour group and spend most of their time staying in hotels, thus missing prime interaction with people who live in the Land. There are some who take the ‘road less traveled’ and adventure on their own. These souls who wish to drink in the fulness of the Land and experience the richness of Divinely guided interaction, often seek lodging in apartments, bed and breakfasts or even, when opportunity presents, with a family, open to interaction.
I want to share a couple places that generally only get passed along by word of mouth, special places where the fellowship is sweeter and you are treated like family. If you need a ‘base camp’ for a few days in Tiberius, Jerusalem or a nice retreat for a medium sized group in the Judean hills, keep reading.
Tiberius – There are not many places on the shore of the Galilee that have a better view than Avi’s three bedroom home with expansive patio. Perfectly tricky to find and only available through direct contact, we have enjoyed this gem for a weekend with several other couples. Our Shabbat fellowship was wonderful and the late night chats were priceless. The sweet hostess is a wealth of information and a dedicated watchman, called to this particular perch.
Avi, originally from the US, has lived in the Land for about 25 years, if I remember correctly, and been in the Tiberius area for at least 10, hosting travelers from the northern house. She sets a daily scrumptious breakfast, included in the recommended 170 NIS/person/night donation. Fruit, fresh eggs, yoghurt, dates, nuts and lots of fresh delicious coffee and juice.
If you plan to spend a few days exploring northern Israel and the Golan, Avigail’s home is the perfect base to set out from each morning and return to in the evening, or simply while away the day basking in the sun on the patio watching birds, flowers, the Sea of Galilee and whatever else fancies you. You will not be disappointed if you spend a few days with Avigail!!
Judean Hills – Situated about 20 minutes outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown Jerusalem in a small Yemenite moshav is Tzemach ben Aharon’s Top of the World. This well appointed home with multiple small apartment subdivisions can easily host from 2 to 20. This, up to, five bedroom, four bath house with huge great room/salon that has couches and trundle beds can easily and comfortably accommodate various group sizes.
We originally found Tzemach on Airbnb, however, he no longer lists there and reserves exclusively through word of mouth and his social media connections. Popular with the nationals, he has an enclosed and heated pool as well as a private jacuzzi tub for those so inclined. (We’ve used neither as there is so much to explore and do…. but the locals love these amenities.)
The kitchen, gas stove, oven and multiple refrigerators as well as 40 cup water heater make it very convenient for staying as a larger group and cost sharing the well situated house with terrific views. My very favorite past time is lounging on the couch on the patio and enjoying coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening. The second favorite is grilling on the patio and feeling the cooling breezes of the hilltop location.
Tzemach is a wonderful host who loves to dance and interact with his guests. Well spoken in English he enjoys sharing his art and telling myriad stories about the neighborhood, the Yemenite immigration and his family. Prices vary based on season and how much room you need, but this is a bargain when factoring proximity, seclusion, interaction and amenities.
Email him at
email@example.com for details and arrange for a few days on your next trip to Israel.
Jerusalem – Beit Chai, situated in the middle of Jerusalem is within sight of Zion Square, a scant 700 meters to the shuk and a short 10 minute walk to the Old City. This House of Life is indeed that, a bed and breakfast shining light for all who stay here to enjoy the Holy City.
Beautifully appointed with a wonderful host family that has a vision for touching hearts and being a respite in the midst of the noise. Special Shabbat dinners, times of prayer and fellowship as well as open arms makes this a very special place to spend a few days while in Jerusalem.
Access from Ben Gurion Airport has recently been made so much easier with the high speed train that arrives just a few blocks away. Put Beit Chai on your ‘must stay’ list, but book really early at feast time. They fill quickly!
Certainly, there are many wonderful places to stay in Israel, but the key to really beginning to experience the people, connect with fellow sojourners and taste of the rich work Avinu is doing in our day, get off the beaten path and try a couple of these special places to stay in wonderful Israel.