ט׳ בתשרי ה׳תשע״א (September 17, 2010)
There is no better place in the world to spend Jewish holidays than Israel. In no other place the spirit of the holidays can be felt more intense. The shopping fever, house preparations, talks over where to spend it and with whom. You can feel that in every corner of Israel.
Ubiquitous vibrating voice of shofar, as the sign of more or less successful attempts of preparation to the month of Tishrei, Motzei Yom Kippur, just an hour or two after the last tones of shofar, the sound of hammering all around – there is a mitzvah the beginning of the sukkah construction just after the end of the Yom Kippur. Then common meals with these or the others or in public sukkah by the restaurants or even fast food places. Nothing tastes better than shawarmah be’lafa eaten in sukkah in a September evening.
If you’re spending this year’s holidays in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Tzfat I suggest loading your iPhone with a few applications which definitely dulcify the travel, help in business and facilitate the stay in The Holy Land. Not only in the period of holidays, by the way.
Before the departure
“The Israel Weather” app can be really handy during packing – the most comprehensive weather app for Israel. Get a detailed sea shore forecast including sea temperature, wind direction, wave height and sea status. Get animated satellite images and rain radar (rain radar only operates when there is significant weather) and detailed synoptic maps. On the other hand, at this time of year it is very difficult to experience any weather suprises in Israel (to read more/download app, click on the icon).
If you’ve chosen EL AL, you’ve made the right choice. EL AL, Israel‘s national airline, offers the most nonstop flights between New York (JFK/Newark) and Israel and the only nonstop service from Miami and Los Angeles. For a start you could use “EL AL Check-in” – this app saves you time: enables online check-in from 24 hours up to 1 hour before departure, allows you to choose your preferred seat in advance, etc.
“FlyTLV” app can be handy as well. “FlyTLV” is a straightforward-no-fuss app that will easily track your flight and alert of any change. “FlyTLV” covers the schedule of all carriers in every airport in the world and hence it will update you online of any time changes made to your flight. The data source is flightstats.com.
Welcome on board
A few hours flight to Israel can be spent in many different ways.
A good fun is the app called “Taki” – an Israeli game which is an expansion of Crazy Eights. The game takes about 20 minutes, is for 2-10 players, and is for ages 5 and up. It is very popular in Israel. It is similar to the American game Uno.
You will have no problem to communicate in English in Israel. Nonetheless, it is in a good taste to know at least a few expressions in Hebrew. These few hours on the plane can be used, then, to study some Hebrew.
Turn your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a personal interpreter for 23 languages. The “Travel Interpreter” is a talking, illustrated phrasebook which translates English words and phrases into 23 languages (Hebrew incl.). The programme offers you the unique opportunity to communicate abroad without any special language skills, as it can simply speak the translation as required.
Welcome to Israel
Ben Gurion Airport is beatifull, spacious and works like a dream. The souvenir places, restaurants, McDonalds (kosher), jewellery stores etc. Using the free of charge WiFi and made in Israel app “Fring” you can let the family know that you have landed in Eretz Ha’Kodesh, and if you have iPhone 4 you can show them the air port while you talk. “Fring” is a mobile application that lets you make free voice calls, free video calls and live IM chats directly from your iPhone and iPod touch.
Although, you can spend hours at the airport not boring yourself to death, let’s approach the exit.
From my point of view, the only right means of transport in Israel is a car. To rent it go to Eldan – great service, good cars and low rent prices. Checked by me many, many times. As the leading car rental firm in Israel with branches throughout Israel, Eldan offers the most attractive online prices in the industry – use the “Eldan”‘s app.
Instead of renting an expensive GPS download “iGO My way 2010″. “iGO My way 2010″ for the iPhone offers a trendy and entertaining navigation solution at your hands. The software can be easily learned even by first-time users, who have never tried GPS navigation before – the app may not be the cheapest but you can use in during the consecutive visits in Israel.
The taxi can get you out of the airport as well – app “Who’s available” will change the way you used to search for taxies, this app identify your location and display stations nearby. All you have to do is click and order a taxi.
Optionally you can use train as well – “Next Train app” – easiest and quickest way to see next train information! One touch – and you got all the info about the train you need. Departure time, direction, platform – all of it. No searching through time-tables. One touch – and it’s like you’re at the station you need. Just choose the station and see all relevant data.
The most popular destinations in Israel are, of course,
Jerusalem (with your iPhone in hand, take “Touring Jerusalem” app guided tour of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, replete with up-to-date maps and full-color photos. The guide gives detailed descriptions of more than 50 historical and archaeological sites)
Tel Aviv (“VisitTLV” – The Tel Aviv Jaffa Guide provides users with images and accurate descriptions of Tel Aviv- Jaffa’s most popular attractions, including museums, city tours, restaurants and bars, sights and hotels).
It’s not the most fortunate idea to carry a load of cash with you. The densely spread ATMs facilitate the access to your account. Use the app “iCleumi”. This application locates branches and ATM machines of Bank Leumi in Israel. It has an option of GPS and allows you to see openning hours of the nearest branches to you.
Israel has great food. The best food. Most people are probably familiar with falafel. Meat eaters will love shawarma. You will need the following two apps:
“Rest” – rest.co.il, Israel’s online restaurant guide, has the most up-to-date information on restaurants, bars, cafes and kosher restaurants in Israel. “Rest” provides an advanced search-engine with as many as 6,000 Israeli restaurant business listings;
“ClickATable” – new in Israel. Now you can make reservations for selected restaurants easily and quickly using your iPhone. “ClickATable” is the only service in Israel that allows you to make reservations for restaurants from iPhone.
Even if you’re on a tour, you may have some free days and you’ll need a place to stay. Check out “iTsimer”.
“iTsimer” gathers the best B&B in Holy Land and puts them in an attractive interface. In the application there is a photo gallery and detailed information about B&B in Israel. Fast search by areas and settlements. Raod map to the exact destination to the B&B.
Israelis are wonderfully accommodating and if you have long-lost relatives, they’re more than likely to be excited to meet you and offer you a bed.
If you don’t have friends or family in Israel, it is usually possible to find people who will take you in for Shabbat. “Shabbat Shalom” application will allow you to quickly check the candle lighting times, havdalah times and parshah for the week in any location in the world.
Depending on the destination you can use many other applications. There are loads of them out there.
“POXI” – this app enables iPhone users to discover places and businesses around them, to see their friends location right now and to “check in” to venues while posting their location, reviews and photos directly to Facebook.
If you are fluent in Hebrew the priceless source of business information is “Calcalist” a leading source in Israel for business and financial news. This valuable application brings you the latest stock market news and data, 24/7.
And if you’re planning Aliya and if you started looking for a job download “Jobs Israel” app. Get all job positions in Israel. In this app you can create Zentric iGents that will work non stop to find the jobs position you are looking for. You will get instant information of your search and notifications in your handset whenever a position that fits you has been made public.
If you are a parent and your kids tired with a long journey (should not be bored) starts to be very nasty to you switch game “Look-Up – Alien Invasion” (made by Israeli developer). Tell them that they are contemporary Maccabees and that they are to defend Jerusalem, Haifa or Eilat (wherever you are) against the outer space invasion. “Look-Up” makes use of the iPhone camera and compass to create a unique alien invasion experience where the player fights UFOs that attack in the player’s real surroundings! The guarantee of the peace of mind.
If you run out of time for more attractions, visit , at least in virtual world, two more places:
“Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem” – this app it’s an interactive exhibition guide combines archaeology, folklore and superstition in an all encompassing display of amulets, khamsas, jewelry, manuscripts, books of spells and other mystifying objects.
* * *
Forget what you’ve read in the papers or seen on TV. Israel is a very safe place to visit. You are far more likely to run into trouble in any major cities of U.S., Australia, Canada, France than anywhere in Israel. Just be smart.
You are in Israel to have fun, make friends, experience different cultures and learn about your heritage. It is a trip of a lifetime.
Robert Pass (Mati Szmidt contributed to this review)