Gelmond Geo Tours – Alaska trip planning and travel services

Let the experts help you put together a once-in-a-lifetime trip and explore Alaska, one of the most special places in North America

Ofer Gelmond’s first visit to Alaska was on a backpacking trip, right after his military service. “I think it had something to do with a TV nature documentary…” says Ofer, who’s been coming back to Alaska ever since: once as a traveler, then as a dog handler for a professional dog musher, and finally, as a graduate student at the University of Anchorage, where he earned his master’s studying the impact of earthquakes on the evolution of fish in the Gulf of Alaska. Today, Ofer is the owner of Gelmond Geo Tours, a Tel-Aviv based travel business which specializes in customized private trips to Alaska and West Canada (Canadian Rockies and Vancouver). "We have a team of seven employees, all of them are well travelled in Alaska and very knowledgeable about the region.  We organize trips for the independent traveler and also offer guided small-group tours in Hebrew (up to 12 travelers). Our guided trips start in Seattle and end in Anchorage, or vise versa." read more

BreakInbox – Challenge your brain

My son is obsessed with escape rooms, a fun and trendy yet expensive pastime, where participants must solve a series of challenges to retrieve keys or secret codes and escape a locked room. The combination of riddles, puzzles and the actual opening of locks and doors is captivating for both children and adults. It’s very satisfying to hear the click of a lock that opens and reveals a solution, and this is exactly what happens in BreakInBox's escape boxes, only without leaving the comfort of your home and at a fraction of the cost.

A mystery box arrives

The package that arrived at our house contained a red and white square box, with mysterious symbols all around. I placed the box nonchalantly on the kitchen table and said nothing. Soon, the questions began. What is it? How do you open it? What's inside? The small three-digit lock was the main eye-catcher. Wait a moment, the sharp-eyed among us began to say, you must find out the secret code to unlock the lock! Although we felt like Einstein, it turned out that this was the easiest part of the challenge.

Try again and you shall succeed, maybe

To solve the puzzles, you can use any resource at your disposal. Junior did not waste a single second and was already on the phone and Internet in search of clues. Before I could say BreakInBox, he had already cracked the first digit and was on his way to the second and third. I was a bit skeptical when it came to the moment of truth. We started to enter the secret code into the little lock. As I suspected, it did not work. We were disappointed, but Junior did not despair and tried the numbers again. Suddenly, with a little click, the lock snapped open! Excitedly, we opened the box and discovered a new, even nicer box inside, with a new puzzle and a new lock on it. Thrilled and motivated, we continued our quest.

We are stuck – can we get a little hint please?

Like traditional escape rooms, the puzzles are minimalist and contain complex symbols or drawings. You must put on your thinking cap, tap into your creativity and imagination and think outside the box. If you get stuck, you can use the hint option. The hints get easier and easier, so you can progress at your own pace and find the solution by yourself. Admittedly, we also used the hints once or twice to avoid frustration, as Junior is 10 years old and his patience level, like many of his peers, is close to zero.

The BrekInBox challenges are a great gift for curious minds and recommended to ages 16 and up, younger kids will require parent’s assistance. An original team-building challenge for work or a game-night attraction for family or friends. Check out the reviews and praise from professional gaming websites. The boxes are proudly developed and built in Israel and are now available for purchase and delivery to your doorstep, here in the US.


Ronen Tverya doing Stand-up in Seattle

Up until Recently he was known as the Real-estate Master, selling properties in Tel-Aviv, but now he is here in Seattle, pursuing a career in Stand-up comedy. Let’s meet Ronen Tverya.

When did you start doing stand-up?

My love for the stage started a few years ago when I started doing improvisation. Going on stage without any ready material, working the crowd, it made me open up and discover myself. After that I went to Anat Barzilai acting school, where we held a comic show in the Tzavta theater. I also performed in bars and clubs and even in English stand-up nights in Tel-Aviv, hosted by Shahar Hason (coming to Seattle!) I decided this is what I love to do. read more

Chabad Hebrew School – Bellevue’s ETC

Tradition! Photo by Alyssa Braunstien

Going to school on a Sunday morning? Most kids would say no thanks. But how about baking challah? Or crafting your very own menorah? Or meeting friends and learning how to read Hebrew together through songs and games? Now this sounds like fun!

Chabad Hebrew School or CHS in Bellevue offers a full morning of Jewish and Hebrew learning with interactive activities that will boost your child’s sense of belonging to the tribe. The group classes are age appropriate and the lessons are fun-filled, with songs, games, arts and crafts and special holiday surprises. Parents can also join a class and learn too or enjoy some quiet time, grab a coffee or catch up on errands. read more

Hagar Levi – Esthetician Peach & Harmony SPA

Me-time? Yes, please! Photo by Hagarr Levi

When I was little I never quite got it when my mom said she was going to get a facial. Why do you need to go to an esthetician to apply moisturizer? Now that I’m all grown up I know better. A facial or a visit to the esthetician or SPA is a special gift to ourselves, the ultimate me-time and an oh-so needed break in our hectic daily routine.

Hagar Levi, licensed esthetician and owner of Peach & Harmony SPA in Redmond, provides this break and so much more. The cozy SPA is the perfect place to relax and enjoy pampering facials that will leave you glowing inside and out. Both men and women will enjoy Peach & Harmony treatments and there is also acne treatment especially for teenagers.

In addition to pampering facials featuring imported products from the NBC and Anna Lotan line, the SPA offers hair removal, brow shaping services, and led therapy – an innovative anti-aging treatment that will literally light up your skin.

Hagar or as she defines herself “Esthetician on a Mission”, has a constant smile and tons of positive energy that she transfers to her customers. She designed and decorated the SPA herself and her personal touch shines through. Try Hagar's styling services as well. Got a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear? Hagar will help you sort and keep your best pieces and then take you on a fun shopping spree that will amaze you with great finds in even greater prices.

Peach and Harmony, Photos by Dana Berenson and Hagar Levi


Clients with glowing skin are happy to share their experience at Peach & Harmony:

״Great place! Very professional treatment and extremely nice and welcoming place. I was extremely happy with the results and the great value for the price. Highly recommended״.

Hagar is very friendly and explains the treatment very well, she also gave tips on how to take care of your skin. Her parlor is well equipped and she loves what she does. I already see the difference in my skin. Thanks Hagar I'll surely visit again

Great little spa to relax and to take care of your skin. I really enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere and the good conversation too. Felt pampered and didn't have to pay a fortune. Definitely coming back read more

Camp Solomon Schechter

Ready for an unforgettable summer? Photo by CSS

Overnight summer camp is an All-American tradition. Imagine a clear lake, surrounded by reeds and water lilies, with a private sandy beach and all the amenities: diving board, pedal boats, kayaks, water trampoline, and SUPs. To get to the beach, you walk through a large lawn shaded with beautiful trees. Now add a soundtrack to this idyllic scenery – laughter and joyful cries in Hebrew and English of kids having the time of their lives in an unforgettable summer. Welcome to Camp Solomon Schechter, one of the oldest and largest Jewish summer camps in the state of Washington.

Camp Solomon Schechter started operating in 1954 on Whidbey Island and moved to its current location, a green private campus near Olympia, in 1968. The camp was founded by a group of independent conservative rabbis that wanted to create a Jewish summer camp that combined love of nature, Jewish values, and a deep connection to Israel. Kids from all over Washington and Oregon come to camp, as well as kids from Canada and Israel. Many return every summer and then continue on to become counselors.

The Summer Camp Experience

Sam Perlin, the camp’s director, knows firsthand about the addictive nature of the camp. Sam himself started as a basketball coach and physical education teacher at Schecter, and returned summer after summer. 

“I mentor many young adults that were campers at Schechter and they often say that camp was the most defining Jewish experience for them; one that they cherish and remember. Spending time away from parents, socializing, learning to get along with others. . . These are the things you learn at camp and not anywhere else…” read more

Chabad Issaquah Summer Camp

Sail into a summer of fun, Photo by Chabad Issaquah

Spring is here, a sense of hope and optimism fills our hearts as the sun shines, and the flowers begin to bloom. But then we recall that spring is followed by summer and summer contains the time of year busy parents fear most – Summer Vacation.

Summer camps seem like the best option but can have their own set of challenges. Most of the camps in the area have weekly sessions. So, each week is basically a new camp. This is great if your kids like variety and constant change but may require some adjustment for others. Another challenge is the cost. Summer camps are expensive, most will cost hundreds of dollars per week. Multiply that by 2-3 kids and you end up with quite an expense.

Chabad of Issaquah Summer Camp, also known as Camp Gan Israel or Camp Gan Izzy, takes parents and the challenges they face when looking for a summer camp, very seriously. Chabad summer camp runs consecutively for over a month, with different activities and attractions every week. The water park is one of the highlights but there are other exciting activities like horseback riding, beach outings, hikes, and specialty activities galore: sports, arts and crafts, knitting, robotics, mad science, cooking and more.

And the cost of all this? Parents agree that Chabad camp is one of the most affordable camps in the Seattle area. Keren from Sammamish, mother of Ori (11) and Elli (7) says “Personally, I loved the camp’s price which didn’t require a mortgage… this is a great solution for a long summer. My girls really enjoyed the special homey atmosphere, the activities and of course being with all their friends. The camp has a rich schedule with tons of activities and yet, I was pleased to see flexibility as well, if the weather changed they took it into consideration and planed accordingly.”

Outdoors and nature and fun with lots of friends, Photo by Chabad Issaquah

Nechama Farkash read more

Jordan River Moving

Photo by Sharon Joseph

In Seattle’s gray weather, Jordan River’s bright yellow trucks are a ray of sunshine in a cloudy day. You can see them crossing the local highways, on their way to Oregon, California or any other state, filled with people’s lives and hopes, on their way to a new beginning.

Owners, Sharon Joseph and Kobi Bracha, arrived to the US in the 90’s as part of their post-army big trip. After traveling they started working in the east coast moving industry, a must-stop for any IDF veteran. The moving industry suffered from a bad reputation at the time. “Unfortunately, I still hear stories even today. This just makes us work harder and be committed to high standards” says Sharon.

Sharon believes in quality service and excellent customer care. “When we opened our business, we knew that the customers will be our focus. There are no shortcuts and we do whatever it takes to make a customer happy”. The company is managed with army-like discipline combined with a warm, family atmosphere. The experienced drivers and professional workers consider Jordan River as a second home. Even the temporary workers that come from Romania and Lithuania, return every summer. On Saturday evenings, the grill is cracked opened for a late BBQ fiesta.

No job is too small or too big for Jordan River moving. Local house moving in the Seattle area or long-distance moves anywhere in the lower 48 states or Canada, and even oversea relocation to Israel or any other destination around the globe.

The company has 2 branches, in Kirkland and Portland with over 30 trucks in various sizes. Jordan River is also a sub-contractor for bigger companies that rely on its capabilities and reputation, along with its advanced processes like electronic inventory and tracking numbers for trucks location. The drivers are constantly available on their cellphones and even on Twitter. In the future, the company is considering opening an East coast branch and expanding into the commercial storage field.

Jordan Rover received the ultimate seal of approval a few years ago, when it became an approved supplier for the army and the defense office. 800 companies tried to get into the approved list, only 50 made it to the first stage and only 12 to the final stage. Jordan River was one of only 7 finalists that joined the prestigious club of moving companies that can work with the army. The army has very strict standards and requirements that are checked each year. In addition, army personal fill out customer satisfaction surveys after each move. Jordan River is ranked in the Tier 1 level, the highest possible, for several years in a row.

“It’s not simple. It’s very challenging and that is the beauty of it all” says Sharon. Sharon recognized long ago that the direct Israeli mentality may not rub well on American customers. He leaves all the customer related sides to his professional local staff and concentrates on management. Sharon loves his job and misses his “moving” days. From time to time he even goes out with the movers and gives them a hand in loading the trucks. He shares a secret only with us, Israeli customers receive VIP treatment that includes a special discount and even free moving boxes. If you are pressed in time, Jordan River also offers packing and un-packing services.

Photo by Sharon Joseph

Walking into the company’s offices, you immediately encounter a huge glass display of various awards and recognitions. Among them, catches the eye an impressive, decorative Shofar. The Shofar, a traditional Judaica item, is the work of a local artist and it was purchased as a donation to the local Chabad synagogue. Jordan River is also the official sponsor of the Kirkland dance team. One of the employee’s girlfriend used to work there and the tradition remains ever since. They also support the local high school sports team and provide free moving services when needed. Sharon refuses to elaborate more on donations and volunteering and just adds “We are a part of the community and we do whatever we can”.

“Jordan River”, what is the origin of the name and the bright yellow logo?

Although the immediate connotation of the name Jordan River is to the land of Israel, Sharon explains that it actually comes from one of his daughter’s names: Yarden, Jordan in Hebrew. Customers from all nationalities and religions find special meaning in the name and the company is happy to serve them all. And the bright yellow color? “Maccabi Netanya!” says Sharon and proudly shows us his office, housing a display of soccer balls and the team’s jersey, fully autographed by all the players. “The team is working on advancing to the next soccer league right now” says Sharon. We wish them good luck!

Jordan’s River tips for an easy house move:

Don’t wait till the last minute – A house move can be an emotional and stressful event. An easy move requires planning and preparation. Start by getting an estimate on the move size and price. A good estimator can provide an almost exact estimation and it’s free. After shopping and getting a price you like, book the move date as soon as possible and start packing.

Finish packing on time – Leaving unpacked items around the house creates clutter and blocks the way for the movers. They must spend extra time collecting the loose items and moving them out of the way. Remember, time is money, your money. All the items must be packed in flat boxes, with nothing sticking out, for easier packing in the truck. No time to pack by yourself? Ask about packing services. A professional team can pack an entire house in a matter of hours.

Label your boxes – Clearly label each box with its content and appropriate room. This will allow the movers to place it exactly where it belongs. You can even get color-coded labels tapes, blue for bathrooms, yellow for the kitchen etc. Just tape the box with the correct tape and you are good to go.

Placement in the new house – Plan and know in advance where each item is going in the new house. Clear instructions to the movers will save you time and money.

Communication – Keep in touch with the moving company throughout the moving process. This is extremely important with overseas relocation that involves customs and logistics. Ask questions and update the company with any change.

And finally, congratulations on the new house!

Jordan River Moving and Storage


Photo by Matt Campbell photography


Meital Golan-Schwartz – Makom Bamoshava Real-Estate

Just a little over two years ago, Meital Golan-Schwartz and her family packed their Kirkland, WA home and moved back to Israel after more than a decade. They replaced Mount Rainier snowy peaks and the clear waters of Lake Washington with the green slopes of Mount Carmel and the sunny Mediterranean waves. Today Meital is the proud owner of Makom Bamoshava, a local real-estate agency specializing in the picturesque area of: Binyamina, Pardes-Hanna, Karkur, Zikhron Yaakov and Caesarea.

Meital, how did you become a real-estate agent?

I have always found real-estate to be fascinating. I love the combination of fast-paced negotiating and supporting people in one of the most meaningful moments of their life, purchasing a home. I really missed the Israeli warmth, interpersonal connections and the open landscape. Being a real-estate agent allows me to feel that vibrating pulse and energy every day.

Makom Bamoshava, what is unique about this business?

As an owner of a small, boutique, business, I know all my clients and their needs very well. They receive my personal attention throughout the entire property search process, until they find exactly what they are looking for. Makom Bamoshava is connected to the best local professionals: Real-estate attorneys, building inspectors, interior designers, contractors and handymen. In addition, as someone that experienced a relocation myself, I understand the specific needs of families in this phase and know which areas will provide for a better landing experience as far as schools, services etc.

What are the advantages working with a real-estate agent in Israel?

A good real-estate agent conducts a thorough research on each house they sell. In Israel, one can often find irregularities and exceptions in building codes and permits in private properties. These issues may result in unpleasant fines and retroactive taxes to the buyer. It is best to know what you are getting into in advance and work with an experienced professional that can provide guidance. The realtor is also familiar with any future municipal plans that may affect property value and taxes, which is especially important for investors.

What is so special about the area of Binyamina, Pardes-Hanna, Karkur, Zikhron Yaakov and Caesarea?

Every place you listed is unique and special in its own way. In addition to the amazing Hummus places and the cool little cafes, there is a different energy that sets this area apart. Maybe it’s the proximity to the beach or something else in the air, but you can find many spiritual healers in the area. The area is also a magnet for many artists like the actor Shai Avivi, the singer Avraham Tal and others. Nature is all around you here, every house you visit has fruit trees, fragrant lemons and oranges, figs and olives, herbs and spices all growing in the garden, 100% organic, of course.

What do you like most about this area?

I live in Binyamina and I really like the community spirit, and that you can always count on your neighbors. My children can safely ride their bike to school every day and everything you need is just a short 10-15 minutes’ drive. I especially like the open green fields and amazing scenery. On Saturdays, you can see bicycle riders from all over Israel enjoying the designated biking trails we have here.

Green fields and an open view to the Mediterranean, Photo by Meital Golan-Schwartz

Tell us a bit about your personal experiences coming back to Israel after many years read more

Dafna Chen – Psychotherapist


Listening and guiding for action, Dafna Chen

I met with Dafna Chen, a licensed mental health psychotherapist and substance use counselor, for an interview. I ended up experiencing a mini-session, and left with new insights about myself and some useful advice. Dafna has a practical and direct approach to therapy. More than nodding sympathetically, she pushes and motivates for action and change.

“We all have challenges and difficulties and we deal with them daily to the best of our ability. Often talking and sharing with another person can help and offer a different perspective. Being heard and understood provides strength in the ability to cope. Patients keep saying to me: “I never thought of this like that, until I said it out loud”, “It helped to get this of my chest”, “Discussing this made me see it in a different light.”

There are many therapy theories and tools and Dafna tailors a specific treatment for each client. Sometimes the focus is on the here and now and strategies to deal with present challenges. Other times past experiences are discussed and how they influenced the current state of mind. read more

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