Southern Coastal Region
Israel's southern coast region stretches from below Tel Aviv down towards the Gaza strip. Hugging the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea, this coast is known for its many wonderful beaches. As you continue south, the land changes to sandy areas more sparsely populated than the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area. Tracts of agricultural farm land, kibbutz and moshav settlements as well as smaller cities inhabit this area. Don't let this description fool you as there are many wonderful sites to visit in this region.
The Ayalon Institute is an awesome tour of one of the best-kept secrets from pre-State Israel. Literally, under everyone's noses a clandestine factory manufactured illegal, but crucial ammunition which aided in the success of the War of Independence in 1948.
Nearby The Weizmann Institute, ranked among the top 10 research institutions in the world, has a number of stimulating places to visit. The Levinson Visitors Center has interactive and multimedia exhibits, the Clore Garden of Science (now under renovation) is an outdoor science experience with almost 90 hands-on exhibits related to water, energy, planetary science and communication, and the Weizmann House, home to the first President of Israel, is an exceptional architectural structure designed by architect Erich Mendelsohn. Make sure to check out the Royal Ford Lincoln Cosmopolitan given to Chaim Weizmann as a gift by Henry Ford in 1950. Only 18 of these cars were made and this one is on display next to the house.
Chaim Weizmann was an innovative and brilliant scientist. He developed acetone for military use which helped the British win WWI. According to the Partition Plan of 1947, the Negev was not planned to be part of the Jewish state, but Weizmann persuaded President Truman to let Israel have it and we have continued to make it bloom.
Mazkeret Batya and Rishon LeZion were founded by brave observant pioneers from Russia in the early 1880's. Tours of the first synagogues, school rooms, homes and other historical buildings give us a glimpse of the hardships the first settlers faced in finding water sources, farming complications and diseases. The first Hebrew speaking kindergarten was started in Rishon LeZion.
The first Israeli flag was sewn in Rishon LeZion in 1885. Inspired by the talit (tallis) it was made of strips of blue cloth with a Magen David (Star of David) in the middle, much like the Israeli flag of today. It was flown in honor of Rishon LeZion's 3rd anniversary festivities.
Leket Israel is a outstanding place to volunteer with the largest food rescue organization in Israel. Picking fruits or vegetables in season, making sandwiches or helping pack up care packages, this is a wonderful opportunity to help those in need. This is a great activity for your Bar or Bat Mitzva visit to Israel.
The Igudan located near Rishon LeZion in the Shafdan Plant, is Israel's largest wastewater treatment center. Sounds kinda gross, but they have a fascinating tour with exciting interactive activities for the kids and adults to learn about recycling water and protecting the environment. Producing the most water from a single source, the Igudan does much to help the Negev bloom.
Ashkelon is now a large and modern bustling city, but in the Ashkelon National Park we'll see many layers of ancient civilization from close to 4000 years ago, Bronze age, Biblical, early Muslim, Crusader and Mamluk times! The Carlsberg Visitor's Center in Ashkelon has unique museum about the history of beer and a tour of the brewery.
Ashkelon comes from the word 'scallion' a wild green onion that grew in this area in ancient times. Or was it the other way around? Was the onion named for the city? We'll never know.
Holon is home of the Israel Children's Museum including the extraordinary Dialogue with Time exhibit creating inter-generational dialogue about old people and aging, Dialogue in the Dark exhibit where blind leaders guide the visitors for a unique experience about ourselves and the world around us and Invitation to Silence where you experience non-verbal communications with a deaf guide.