An 8-Day Trip to Israel for Gay Dad Families
Organized by OUTstanding Travel in Collaboration with Gays With Kids
This once-in-a-lifetime trip offers the best of Israel in a vacation designed specifically for gay dad families. Based on feedback from dads, we've improved on the original itinerary. Highlights include: one hotel (in Tel Aviv) for the entire trip, a flexible agenda that allows you to relax on your own or enjoy pre-planned tours, and the opportunity to meet with local gay dad families.
Nadav Peretz, the founder of the Israeli gay travel company OUTstanding Travel, met Brian Rosenberg, one of the founders of Gays With Kids, in New York City last summer. It didn’t take them long to come up with a great idea: an 8-day trip to Israel especially for gay dad families!
When Brian told Nadav he had not been to Israel since 1985, Nadav felt that he just had to arrange for Brian and one of his kids a visit to the Middle Eastern LGBT oasis that is Israel. This past November, Nadav hosted Brian Rosenberg and his 6-year-old daughter Sadie in Israel, to plan the gay dad family trip. Below you’ll find the exciting itinerary. Check here for more information about accommodations and rates.
Nadav Peretz, founder of OUTstanding Travel
Itinerary for the Gay Dad Family Trip July 30 – August 6, 2017
Day 1: Sunday, July 30 – Tel Aviv
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport your family will be greeted by an OUTstanding travel rep, who will assist you with your baggage and escort you to the transfer that will take you to the hotel. That night you'll have a chance to meet with the other gay dad families on the trip at a special welcome reception and dinner just for our group.
Sadie, Nadav and Brian in Old City, Jerusalem
Day 2: Monday, July 31 – Old City Jerusalem
Following an authentic delicious Israeli breakfast, your family will see history come to life during a fun, family-friendly walking tour of the beautiful Old City. Historical marvels and spiritual landmarks abound, including: the Western Wall, the Tower of David and King David’s Tomb, the room of the Last Supper, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Via Dolorosa, the Arab market and more. We'll leave time for you to wander on your own through the charming Armenian, Jewish and Christian quarters.
In the afternoon you can join our tour of the underground wonderland of the City of David or remain at the hotel for refreshing fun in the pool.
Back in Tel Aviv, we’ll enjoy a group dinner at our hotel.
Day 3: Tuesday, August 1 – Tel Aviv
If the kids let you sleep in, start your morning at leisure, with a bountiful breakfast and some time on the beach – splashing in the waves, building sandcastles or playing Israeli "matkot" paddle game.
Time will be set aside to meet with a few local Israeli families to learn about life as gay dads in Israel. We hope you'll forge new friendships that last well beyond the trip!
Brian and Sadie with Arnon Angel, Dan Goldberg and their kids at their famous Tmol Silshom Restaurant in Jerusalem
Day 4: Wednesday, August 2 – The Dead Sea: Where Everyone Floats!
Grab your swim gear and hop on the bus as we venture to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea!
We begin with a family trek to the Ein Gedi Falls where, if we are lucky, we'll spot local ibex and hyrax hanging out on the cliffs surrounding us. Time and water depth permitting, you can even take a plunge into the crystalline waters of the falls.
Then it's just a quick drive to the Dead Sea, where everyone floats! This is an experience like no other, one that kids of all ages will recall for the rest of their lives. Afterwards, we'll have lunch at the Lot Hotel, we're even the pickiest of eaters will find something at their large buffet!
Sun-kissed and bellies full, we'll head back to Tel Aviv.
Day 5: Thursday, August 3 – An Adventure in the Carmel Region
After breakfast, we'll leave Tel Aviv and travel north to visit the ancient city of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great and once the seat of Roman rule. Tour highlights: the excavated Roman Theater and aqueduct once used for conveying water to the city, and the awesome Hologram room.
Then we're off to visit the beautiful old port city of Haifa, where the kids will love running up Mt. Carmel. Dads will enjoy the incredible panoramic view of Haifa Bay and the breathtaking Bahai Gardens with its impressive Shrine and gorgeous world-famous gardens.
In Haifa, we'll stroll through the old German Colony neighborhood built in the mid 19th century by the Templers. We'll even stop at a Druze village for some classic local Druze hospitality and learn about this great community that lives in Israel and serves in its army.
Day 6: Friday, August 4 – Tel Aviv…The City That Never Sleeps!
After breakfast we invite you to get caught up in the excitement at the Carmel Market with its traditional Friday shopping rush, and the adjacent Nahalat Binyamin Arts and Crafts Fair. We'll explore the White City of Tel Aviv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while strolling along the renowned Rothschild Boulevard – a mix between a commercial center with major financial institutions, a cultural center with a theater and concert hall, and a culinary center with dozens of top restaurants. Our journey includes a walk through Neve Tzedek, built in 1887 and known for being the first neighborhood of Tel Aviv. But your kids will enjoy the area's delicious ice cream!
Explore the historical sites of Old City Jaffa, one of the oldest port cities in the world; walk along the ancient cobbled streets along the Artist's Quarter, and stop for a bite at one of the local hummus joints.
Afterwards head on down to enjoy the beach and the glistening Mediterranean waters or take a dip in the pool; basically its time to relax.
As the the sun sets and the city slows down, we will enjoy a truly special Shabbat dinner with local gay families.
Tel Aviv: Beach
Day 7: Saturday, August 5 – R&R; Tel Aviv Style
Free day to enjoy the day as you and your family want.
Day 8: Sunday, August 6 – Departure Day
Following breakfast, check out from the hotel and transfer to Ben Gurion International Airport for your flight back home, taking with you everlasting fond memories of your family trip to Israel.
Goodbye and Le’Hitraot (till we see you again)!
Brian and Sadie with members of the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers
Nadav Answers Some Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Israel a great place for families?
Nadav: "Israel is a small country, and that makes it ideal for family vacations: The short distances between locations make traveling with children very easy. Despite that small size, it offers a great variety of things to do: You can snorkel in the clear waters of the Red Sea in Eilat. You can float on the salty blue waters of the Dead Sea; ride a Jeep in the sand dunes of the Negev desert or through the hills of Judea. You can delve into the incomparably rich history of Jerusalem, a city holy to people of many faiths; or visit the spectacular museums, but I suggest that you make time to check out Jerusalem’s world-class shopping as well, and to discover its many cafés and restaurants. You can swim in the Mediterranean Sea while you’re in Tel Aviv; kayak in the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias or, if you prefer, just take it easy and relax on a beautiful beach instead: The weather in August is going to be beautiful. You may like it so much, you may want to come back next year!”
Brian and his daughter Sadie near the Western Wall in November 2016
What makes Israel so special to the LGBT community?
Nadav: "First off, Israel on the whole is a very gay-friendly country. Tel Aviv in particular has a very large and visible gay community. Its annual Gay Pride Parade attracts more than 200,000 people! Gays are everywhere in this beautiful city on the sea. It also has a gay beach, Hilton Beach. The city is one of only a handful of cities in the world that has a monument dedicated to LGBT people persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.
“Israel is also progressive in the way it treats LGBT people. Gays and lesbians serve openly in the military; an increasing number of gay recruits do full military service, often in combat units. Unit 8200, an elite intelligence unit is known for its large number of openly LGBT soldiers. In 2013, the Israel Defense Forces even announced that a transgender woman would be allowed to serve in the army as a female soldier, something only very few countries allow. Basically, Israel is an amazing place for the LGBT community, both for those who call it home and for those who are here just for a visit.”
What is so special about this trip in particular?
Nadav: "This trip is an opportunity to see Israel in the company of families like your own. This family trip to Israel is the first of its kind, with gay families from all over traveling together in Israel, a gay-friendly country like no other. So this isn’t just a trip to a gay locale like San Francisco or Toronto, or a trip for gay families in just any other vacation spot, but rather a true mixture of the two, giving you and your children an opportunity to travel this beautiful land with its rich history and to really see Israel from the perspective of those who call this place home.”
Light Festival: Jaffa Gate
Will there be an opportunity to meet Israeli gay dad families?
Nadav: "Gay dads from all over Israel will be joining us on various parts of the tour. Whether it is on the tour in the Old City of Jerusalem or during beach time in Tel Aviv, you and your children will have the opportunity to spend time with them and make new friends on the way. These joint activities will allow you and your kids the opportunity to experience Israel from a local gay perspective.”
Over 2 years ago, we spoke with experienced filmmaker Carlton Smith about his documentary featuring gay dad families created through foster-adopt. It was a heartfelt project that shone a light on the number of children in foster care (roughly 400,000 as referenced at the time) who desperately needed a home. And the large population of same-sex couples, many newly married, who were interested in starting families of their own.
"Let's skip," my daughter said on our way to school the other week. She took my hand and started skipping along, pulling me forward to urge me to do the same.
Wouldn't it look, well, gay, for me to skip down the street? In public? I wasn't willingly going to make myself look like a sissy.
As part of our ongoing #GWKThenAndNow series, we talk to dads who have gone the distance and been together a great many years. Terry and Michael have been together 15 years, have two children, and live in Orlando, Florida. We find out how it began, and what they look for in a partner in life, love and fatherhood.
Johnathon and Corey, both 29, met in 2011 working for the same employer. And since their first date, they've been inseparable. Johnathon is a full-time student pursuing a degree in Human Services, and once he completes his degree, he will return to his Native American tribe to help fellow Native American families in need. Corey is a stay-at-home dad. Together they adopted 6-year-old twins, Greyson and Porter, from foster care on June 1, 2017. We caught up with the first-time dads to see how fatherhood was treating them.
The Long Island Adoptive Families support group was created by parents going through the adoption process or who had already adopted. It was a great way to help members navigate the path of adoption whether it be private domestic, international agency, domestic agency or foster care. We spoke with Chemene, one of the founders, and found out how this group is supporting local gay men interested in becoming fathers.