N ame: Sruli

Age: 15

Country: Israel

Last year we went on a family vacation like no other! My family, together with all my uncles and aunts and cousins (about 20 kids in total), rented a small bungalow resort in the Galil, in the north of Israel, Ohr HaGanuz, near Meron. The owners of the resort prepared all our meals, so my mother and aunts were able to relax with the rest of us. We spent our days outside, hiking and biking and playing on the grounds. We kids liked to sneak into the kitchen to get some treats. Because we were the only ones in the resort, we did what we wanted, wore what we wanted. No getting dressed up for anyone!

For me, the best part of the vacation was our early-morning hike. Every morning, the older kids woke up at dawn to go hiking with one of my uncles. It was amazing to wake up with the singing of the birds, to breathe the clean morning air, and smell the fresh scent of the pines. By the time we got back at around nine, the others were just starting their day.

Name: Chayale

Age: 12

Country: Belgium

Every summer, my family spends ten days in the Alps. We enjoy going to a different place each year, so I’ve been to the French, Swiss, Italian, and Austrian Alps. My parents don’t like staying in hotels, plus it can be very expensive, so we rent an apartment near a hotel that’s been taken over by a Jewish tour group. This way, we get to keep our privacy and my father and brothers can daven with a minyan. A lot of families choose to rent apartments near Jewish-run hotels, so many resorts have a small pop-up shop just for the summer that sells basic kosher products like bread, milk, grape juice, tuna, dairy products, and snacks. In the middle of the week, you can give the store your order for challos and they’ll make sure you have what you need for Shabbos.

Even so, we still need to schlep meat, chicken, pasta, and rice (which we’re makpid to eat with a hechsher) plus pots, pans, and a kettle from home. The first thing we do when we arrive at our apartment is kasher the kitchen and cover all the surfaces with aluminum, just like on Pesach! Then we go to the local supermarket to stock up on fruits and vegetables, and fish. Of course, we make sure the fish have fins and scales.

One year, the kosher store in the resort we stayed in didn’t sell milk. Instead, every morning we took an empty bottle and walked down the road to a farm where we watched the farmer milk his cows. It was our very own chalav Yisrael milk!

We spend the day hiking in the mountains. We like to take a cable car or chairlift up the mountain and hike down. My brothers have a funny little tradition of stopping at every stream or river and pulling logs across to make a dam. We usually stop at a lake to eat lunch, and like to skip stones across the water. If there’s no one around, we’ll even go swimming.

We also take lots of trips to see famous places in the region we’re staying in. Some of the interesting places we’ve been to over the years include Troyes, France (pronounced “Twa”!), where Rashi was born; Worms, Germany, where Rashi studied in yeshivah; and some world-famous ski resorts like Gstaad, Zermatt, and Grindelwald. We’ve also been to famous European cities like Paris, Zurich, Milan, and Salzburg. One year, we even made a long detour to spend a couple of days in Venice. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 672)