Tourism and Social Enterprises in Israel

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Possibly one of the most significant lessons we have learned during COVID is the importance of slowing down and appreciating the basics. In tourism, this often means shifting from the big and fancy to the small and more authentic. With so many small businesses impacted by COVID, there’s a strong desire to support these businesses and local entrepreneurs, and incorporating an element of purpose into travel is becoming more and more important today. These principles are something that have been woven into the very fabric of Via Sabra from our inception – way before we were all swept up into this new, (and hopefully soon-to-be) post-pandemic world. Partnering with hundreds of small businesses and social enterprises, we are lucky to be able to take part in some of the best experiences Israel has to offer in a socially conscious way.

Israel has challenges that are worthy of exploration, and using the power of grassroots organizations, community activism, and social entrepreneurship, we can show you a whole new side of Israel all while experiencing the land, people, and culture of this amazing land. 

Here we share some of our favorites with you so you can experience Israel in a whole new way!

Northern Israel

The Kamah Association in Kibbutz Harduf presents a unique model for social change – proposing the best possible integration of people with special needs in a rural community. Beit Elisha, on Kibbutz Harduf, is a community for adults with special needs who live in Kibbutz Harduf and Kiryat Tivon. Members carry out creative, productive work every day in various employment areas– an organic vegetable garden, kitchen, bakery, a practical crafts center, and a coffee shop open to the general public, which is wholly run by Beit Elisha members. A visit to Kibbutz Harduf gives you a chance to not only see the workings of a modern-day kibbutz (yes you can even feed the chickens!), you can also have a very tasty meal and buy some amazing crafts in the shop and café!

Southern Israel

The typical “Bedouin Experience” that travelers looked for in the past generally meant sitting in a touristic tent where a guy in a long robe (who may or may not have been a Bedouin) invited you in and made pita with you. But there is so much more to see, taste, feel and learn. The Bedouin in Israel no longer exclusively lives the nomadic lifestyle that we have come to believe. The Bedouin population as a whole, and Bedouin women in particular, is in the midst of a significant transformation. You can meet women like Amal Abualkom, a member of the Bedouin Women for Themselves (BWFT) community in Segev Shalom. Amal openly shares her personal story of perseverance in the face of many obstacles and how she started her own non-profit and social business to give Bedouin women a voice and a better future. You can speak with Amal, hear her story, sip some coffee or tea, or even share a Bedouin meal prepared by women in the community.  

Jerusalem (and elsewhere)

We can learn so much from our children who are paving the way for the future. Hand in Hand (Yad B’Yad), an organization founded in 1998 by two Israeli entrepreneurs, one Arab and one Jewish, promotes a collaborative, peaceful coexistence from a young age through education. Its nationwide network now boasts a student population of nearly 2,000, with a substantial waiting list.

Organizations like Yad b’Yad are especially important in a country where the Ministry of Education operates separate schools for every sector to serve Arab, Muslim, Druze, Christian, Orthodox and secular Jewish populations—a departure from traditional systems in Europe and the United States.

A visit to any one of the schools can provide a real window into what is surely a positive sign for the future!

Tel Aviv

KitePride is an Israeli, Tel Aviv based fashion social enterprise co-owned by Israeli NGO Hope Center and German NGO GlowbalAct. It all started with an impossible idea: end human trafficking and forced prostitution.  Every bag is designed and sewn in a safe working environment by someone who has exited human trafficking and/or forced prostitution. They create functional, one-of-a-kind bags from up-cycled kitesurfing kites, sails, parachutes, and wetsuits. Through each bag sold, continuous jobs are created, and fabric is saved from landfill. Tabea Oppliger started GlowbalAct, an overarching NGO and founded KitePride as an umbrella for-profit.  We invite you to visit KitePride, speak with the founders, and even design your own bag! You will walk away not only with a new bag, but with a sense that you have made a difference in someone’s life.

Tourism in Israel is finally reawakening.  So, if you are traveling to Israel, we encourage you to go where there is no path and leave your own trail. Eat with intention. Learn new customs. Meet Israel’s next generation. Buy souvenirs that have meaning.  Travel with Via Sabra and contribute to a better, more equitable, sustainable Israel for future generations. What could be better than that!

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