I have launched a new site.
Updates cooming soon.
The site was created by design-studio
Itai Tours was started by Itai Tennenbaum in the early 1990’s with the goal of creating a unique Israel experience. We believe that a successful trip to Israel is one that integrates learning, adventure, fun and spirituality. But, most of all a trip to Israel involves discovering oneself in relation to this amazing land. Israel is not and never was just a place to site see! At the sites the visitor discovers that the story of Israel both ancient and modern is a story that belongs to him/her.
We specialize in making the story of Israel come alive. Our talented guides create an extraordinary experience revealing Israel. The visitor will not only discover Israel but will also experience it by simulating historical and modern events, Scavenger hunts, meeting people such as journalists, politicians, culture, army, sports and more. For families and those that desire the outdoors, hiking, rafting, 4 wheeling, zip lining, camel riding and more will also play an exciting role in experiencing the Land of Israel. Throughout the trip a very sophisticated mosaic of Israel will emerge full of meaning.
Years of experience guiding Jews and non Jews, families and adult group trips we feel we have perfected an Israel trip that is truly transforming and life changing.
Just go to our testimonial page to see what people say.
Visiting a necropolis (city of the dead) sounds eerie. This site possesses multiple caves with multiple sarcophagi (coffins) that date back 1800 years. Walking in the caves gives a feeling of being on a Hollywood set or in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie.
But this site also tells us the story of one man, Rabbi Judah the Prince, that
revolutionized the Jewish world by writing down the Oral Law and thus saving it from vanishing. “Rabbi” broke the prohibition calling for the Oral Law, believed to have been giving to Moses at Mount Sinai, never to be written down.
Why did he do it?
The Valley of the tears is a 1973 Yom Kippur War battle site in the Golan Heights. In October of 1973 shortly after the start of the war Moshe Dayan, Israel’s minister of defense and a war hero, had cried out that this would be the end of Israel. We were surprised by our enemies and were doomed.
The Israeli soldiers thought differently. Even though outnumbered by at least ten to one they fought tenaciously held their ground and ultimately pushed back the invaders. What made these boys age 18 not give up against all odds?
In the first century B.C.E lived a king named Herod. Herod the Great. During his reign he built and rebuilt a great deal. The Second Temple, Jerusalem, Masada, Jericho, Herodian to name just a few. Herod was also known for his great paranoia resulting in killing many of his rivals and even loved ones. What was this guy about?
Alongside with Jerusalem Caesarea was Herod’s greatest achievement. Building a city from scratch with incredible palaces, Hippodrome for chariot races, and a great port that would shame modern day ports.
What was this guy about?? I am convinced Herod wanted to immortalize himself! Or in short, for people to still be talking about him thousands of years after his passing.
In the country of Turkey there is an archeological site that for years was labeled as the richest Roman Byzantine city in the world... that is until the discovery and excavation of Beit Shean (Scythopolis).
This site with over eighteen levels of civilizations takes us on a historical journey from the ancient Egyptians, via the Israelite tribes of Menasseh and Asher, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims and to a present day vibrant town.
Walking through the ancient streets, bath houses, shops, fountains, theater and much more is the closest one can travel back in what feels like a time machine.
Walking into Independence Hall gives one an immediate feeling of the great drama that unfolded here. It was the eve of Shabbat, the year 1948. David Ben Gurion, soon to be the first prime minister of the new state took to the podium.
“I hereby declare the Jewish State ….” His word thundered in the room. Outside thousands celebrated. Two thousand year after loss of sovereignty the Jews would have their own state. Several hours’ later five Arab nations invaded the young state in what became known as the war of independence.
More than six decades later Israelis are still struggling with the meaning of the Jewish state.
A battle site from the 1967 Six Day War Ammunition Hill is full of trenches and bunkers. It was the site of ruthless fighting between Israeli paratroopers and the Jordanian Legion. Currently it is a memorial.
The Six Day War shaped the face of the Middle East and defined the Arab Israeli conflict of modern day. It also shaped the way Israeli society perceives itself both internally and externally. Major issues arise as a result of this war which Israelis still deal with on a daily basis.
If someone asked me to only see one site in Israel that would teach them about their ancient identity as well as their present identity I would take them here.
The two thousand year old street with its ancient arches, shops, cisterns and mikvas (Jewish spiritual cleansing) is captivating. An even closer looks exposes the most exciting find. Rubble of Western Wall stones that were thrusted down by the Romans marks the attempt to destroy ancient Judea and its Jewish society. As we stand by these stones watching Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies we grasp that the Romans did not succeed. How is it that the mighty Romans disappeared from the world and a powerless people, the Jews, persevere without sovereignty or even a physical spiritual center?
Masada is the most visited archeological site in Israel. Yet it only offers one level of civilization. Sites such as Caesarea, Beit Shean, Zippori and others present almost twenty levels of civilizations making them a great deal richer in history.
So what is the big deal about Masada?
During the first years of modern Israel parallels were drawn between the ancient story of Masada, the last stand against the Romans, and the Jewish state fighting for its survival. A new slogan was coined “Masada shall not fall again.” However as Israeli society matured it took a look at the story of Masada and it how it impacts modern Israel – the findings were fascinating.
Sde Boker is a Kibbutz in the Negev Desert. It was founded in 1952 exactly four years after the establishment of the State of Israel. The idea of the pioneers was to settle the arid desert and make it bloom. A year after its founding David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, settled in Sde Boker. A visit to his humble home and to the Kibbutz allows a peek into the hearts and mind of early Israeli society, its motives and persistence in the new creation called Israel.
Hundreds of millions of years ago the Negev Desert was covered by an ocean. As the water receded it left behind mountains. The mountains made of lime stone with a base of sand stone eroded from rivers that eventually swept away the sand stone causing their collapse and creating a very large crater shaped like an elongated heart.
It is here at the Ramon Crater that one appreciates the power and beauty of nature. One hundred million year old fossils, prehistoric volcanoes, animal life as well as Bedouins expose a world that is very different than modern society.
Western and Southern Wall (Davidson Center)
Living the Dream: Israel at 50 is a book I co-authored with Abraham Silver (tour guide/educator). In our writing, similar to guiding Israel, we relate the stories of our choices of the most significant events in each year in the life of Israel. The reader encounters dramatic photographs and poignant narratives which creates a history that both informs and illuminates.
On this site you may see and read only several pages of the book. If you would like the full book please contact me.
Interactive Educational Discs:
The Story of Modern Israel: Connecting people with Israel without an actual visit to Israel is very challenging. After spending four years as an emissary in Minneapolis teaching Israel within the Jewish and secular communities, I found that there is a thirst for knowledge about Israel but a severe lack of inspirational programming. So, I created educational discs providing educators with specific lesson plans that offer interactive Israel education experiences for the students bringing important issues to life. This is accomplished through highly visual, turn-key, multi-media presentations that incorporate active role playing, thereby engaging and impacting those who are involved in the program. It tells the story of modern Israel through sites, people and history.
You are a teacher and you have a gift. Your passion for what you give makes learning a pleasure. As a voracious reader I would compare the experience of spending time with you to reading a phenomenal novel, perhaps one of the classics. You savor the book and dread coming to the end because you know you will then cease to be involved with the characters that you've grown attached to. That's life of course but it's always a challenge. That's the best analogy I can give.
I've spent a lot of time studying Asian and East Indian cultures and virtually no time looking at Israel, even being Jewish and knowing we would be there. I did not have the traditional American Jewish childhood in any way so I struggle with this identity. After our trip I feel an intense attachment to the country that was much more than I expected, and am missing being there as I resume life here.
There is a tour of Israel and then there is the Itai Tennenbaum Israel experience. Our family hooked up with Itai for the B''not Mitzvah of my daughter and her cousin. Our clan of a dozen thirteen to twenty year olds, along with another 15 adults, were lucky enough to engage Itai to show us a country that is both historically fascinating and politically and culturally challenging. Aside from great planning and access and a sense for the must sees and the rarely seen what set Itai apart was the level of engagement he elicited from everyone in our group.
Whether it was a spirited discussion of the wisdom of the emerging wall protecting Israel from its Palestinian "neighbors" or the historical controversy over the martyrs of Masada Itai''s knowledgeable perspective and willingness to discuss the many sides to most issues brought the sites and historical context to life. His knowledge of the varying perspectives on history is superb and while a true Israel, Itai is not one to merely follow the conventional story if there is controversy or intrigue to be discovered.
In addition the inclusion of unique experiences mixed in to the usual and customary sites kept everyone interested. All in all I can''t imagine another Israel experience as rich and unique as one led by Itai.
In April 2008, we were fortunate to go on an interfaith mission to Israel, where Itai was our guide. There were 19 of us from Minneapolis on the trip, many whom had never been to Israel before. We had a very eclectic group of people, and Itai never missed a beat. Itai is extremely knowledgeable about ALL religions, and he is an expert in history and the background of the new and Old Testament. We traveled from the south to the very north. In addition to his brilliant deliverance, he is extremely witty, fun to be around, and we can definitely say he is the best guide we have ever had. The next time we return to Israel, we hope that Itai will be available to show us around this remarkable country.
I''d always wanted to go to Israel, and in February of ''08 finally decided to travel there with my son, age 18 and my daughter, age 20. Because of school and work commitments, the time we could spend together in Israel was briefer than we would have liked--five days, total. But thanks to our guide, Itai Tennenbaum, the trip was beyond magical in every way. We saw more of the history of the country, as well as its vibrant, diverse cultures, people, landscape and natural gifts than we could have possibly imagined. And as he got to know us over the week, he calibrated the visit to suit our preferences and collective energy. He was also of critical help in our planning of the trip--well before our plane left JFK for Ben Gurion, we felt in expert hands.
Perhaps best of all, Itai is smart, funny, knowledgeable, articulate and relevant, able to impart important facts and information fluidly and effectively to a multi-generational group.
We still remark to each other that our trip to Israel in 2008, as guided by Itai, was the "best we ever took."
My wife and I have been to Israel three times. All were special in their own way, but only one was truly memorable. That trip was the one with Itai Tennenbaum as our guide. Itai has charisma, he makes Israel come alive. We could not wait to be in his presence every day, and truly did not want any day to end. His insight, and in depth knowledge of Israel its past and present are astounding. Itai is truly mesmerizing in the way he weaves his stories into your trip. We cannot wait to go back to Israel, but it will only happen if Itai is our guide.
Itai made our Israel touring experience nothing short of magical! His intensive knowledge-base of Israel and its history, coupled with the insight he was able to give us about Israeli politics, internal and world-wide, added immeasurably. Itai's warm personality and ability to connect with people of all ages made us feel that much more excited about what we were learning.
I have known Itai for over twenty years. His in-depth knowledge of Israel, its history, politics and people is unsurpassed. More importantly, Itai is simply wonderful with people. He is extraordinarily intelligent, enthusiastic, warm and caring. I count knowing him among my life''s blessings.
We were so fortune to spend the week touring with and learning from Itai. His vast knowledge of Israeli history, politics, anthropology and culture is extraordinary. He imparted this knowledge to our three school aged children with tremendous skill and care. He has a keen sense of how children think and learn and he gave our kids the tools to absorb a wealth of information about both biblical Israel and the modern Israel of today. His passion and creativity made the trip an incredible educational adventure. I continue to see Itai''s impact on my children in the thoughtful, sophisticated questions they raise about our discussions with Itai and the way in which they use the tools he gave them to search for the answers. Itai is an exceptional educator of all things Israel.
Wow, is Itai a great guide! He has a profound knowledge of Israel''s history and is a fabulous teacher and story teller. His enthusiasm? Boundless. His energy level? Formidable. Itai quickly understood which areas of Israel''s culture and history were of the greatest interest to our mini-group and steered our activities to emphasize those interests. He led us in spirited discussions - and each day introduced us to special aspects of Israel.
Itai Tennenbaum has stunning command of history, passion, energy -- and a wonderful sense of humor -- that made our trip meaningful and fun!
For five memorable days, Itai led us through ancient and modern Jewish, Christian and Muslim sights, connecting with each member of our family and drawing us ever closer to the land and people of Israel.
As we walked together in the footsteps of the most storied heroes and villains of history, Itai would often ask us to imagine that we had stepped back in time -- that we were King Herod, or an inhabitant of Masada, or perhaps Golda Meir. What decisions would we have made? And how might those decisions have changed the course of history? A gifted storyteller with a keen understanding of his material and audience, Itai quickly makes it clear that history is not a collection of static factoids but rather an evolving multi-ethnic progression of human decisions and profound consequences.
On a personal level, Itai is exceedingly warm, patient, and responsive. He recommended flexible itineraries according to our interests and stamina, and cheerfully made adjustments as needed. We explored the Old City, trekked through caves, floated in the Dead Sea, drove up the Golan Heights to peer over the Syrian border, walked along the Mediterranean, and visited crowded markets, artist communities and a British detention camp for Jews who tried to escape to Israel during WW2. Logistics were always well planned, and Italic's air-conditioned, licensed vehicles were always comfortable and immaculate.
We certainly were privileged to have Itai guide our visit to Israel and become our friend.
I have been to Israel over 20 times and Itai is by far my favorite guide. I have had him as a guide, both as part of a large group and just for my husband and me. It's not just that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of Israel and Jewish history (which he does), but also he has a unique way of imparting his knowledge that makes history come alive. He's just as adept at explaining the ins and outs of present day Israeli politics and culture—which is no easy task. He makes everything interesting, from ancient sites, to modern sites, to just walking down the street. You don't just have a guide for the sites, you have a guide for everything that makes up Israel today.
I have seen him with young adults, middle-agers, children, older adults, Jews and Christians. Everyone is mesmerized when he's talking. He never talks down to you or lectures. He involves you so that you are an active listener and participant.
Best of all are his warmth and sense of humor. It's not classroom time touring Israel with Itai; you have such a good time, you forget you're learning. When you're with Itai, you don't just have a guide, you have a friend—albeit the smartest friend you ever had!
Itai''s passion, preparation and patience are the qualities that make him so extraordinary at his profession and made our family trip to Israel so memorable and fun. Itai was our tour guide in Israel this past summer. I was responsible for organizing our trip, which was an extended family group of 24 people ranging in age from four to 72. From planning the itinerary and coordinating our bar/bat mitzvah service to making hotel and restaurant reservations, Itai could not have been more responsive to my questions and concerns. He made tons of suggestions but never pushed his own agenda and he was extremely patient and flexible in accommodating any and all last minute changes.
The true testament to Itai''s success however, is that we were all excited to start each new day of the trip. Itai''s ability to schedule the days so we were never "dragging" kept every member of our group motivated and excited the entire 12 days. Though half of our group was repeat visitors and half was first timers Itai was consistently able to lead the discussions so everyone felt engaged. The kids particularly loved the combination of interactive discussions and hands-on experiences. The adults augmented their understanding of Israel''s economic, social, and religious dynamics due to Itai''s wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for both historical and modern day Israel. His ability to share the perspective of other faiths and cultures gave us a deeper understanding of the basis for modern Israel''s conflicts, challenges, and opportunities (something that is rarely explored in US hebrew schools).
Over the course of a 12 day trip, you get to know someone pretty well. In addition to his expertise as a guide, Itai is just a really great guy to be around. He is upbeat, intelligent, and a good listener. There is a fair amount of travel related downtime on the trip and from the four year old to the 72 year old, we all enjoyed spending extra time with Itai individually and in smaller groups.
Our trip was more informative, interesting, enjoyable, and ran smoother than I could every have envisioned. I couldn''t imagine planning another trip to Israel without knowing Itai would be there to guide us through.