Bar Mitzvah prompts Latts family trip
[by Phyllis Shaikun]
Kate and Allan Latts’ recent trip to Israel was their second as a couple, but their first as a family. While their 13-year-old son Jake’s upcoming bar mitzvah was a motivating factor in their decision to visit, they felt it was a good time to share the country and their heritage with Jake, 10-year-old daughter, Lindsey, and Kate’s parents, Ellen and Max Shapira.
“Our intimate family trip was great for us,” said Kate Latts. “It was a fabulous family vacation, and since we knew what we wanted to get out of the trip, we planned accordingly.”
The year-long preparation for the trip began with a call to Jewish Community of Louisville Senior Vice President/COO Sara Wagner, who suggested they get in touch with Da’at, a full-service travel agency the JCL often uses to plan Israel trips. Da’at representatives interviewed them to determine the type of trip they had in mind and the family worked with an agent in the United States and an on-the-ground person in Israel to work out the details.
For the Lattses, it would need to be a kid-oriented, outdoorsy and experiential trip led by a guide with a sense of humor and the ability to adjust the itinerary to suit the mood of the crowd at any one time. Da’at provided the information they needed – even down to restaurant recommendations – to make their visit a memorable one, and they appreciated Da’at’s service and attention to detail.
The family arrived in Tel Aviv and spent the first part of their vacation in the north of Israel. They met Kate’s parents in Jerusalem for the second part of their journey.
“It was such an educational trip for all of us,” said Allan Latts. “We gained so much from stops at Independence Hall, Caesarea and Sfad, and from exploring the Old City and the Tower of David. Jake and Lindsey really loved the archaeological dig, rafting on the Jordan River and swimming in the Dead Sea. Jake particularly enjoyed the ruins and captured everything he saw on Instagram play by play while we were there.”
“We learned a lot about the Jewish people’s biblical and political history,” Kate added, “and gained a better understanding of modern day Israel and the lives of the different types of people who live there. Observing everyday life gave us a better understanding of the relationships between Israelis and Arabs and between Orthodox and secular Jews. It was amazing to think there were so many layers of culture and history in such a small place.”
The family was impressed with modern day Israel’s thriving, technologically-advanced business climate and pointed with pride at Google, Pfizer and many other high tech companies with massive facilities in Israel. They found it fascinating that after so many years of supporting Israel through philanthropic contributions, they could finally see a thriving, seemingly self-sufficient nation in their midst.
“There are so many ways to experience Israel,” Kate concluded, “and each one is different. While our trip was great for us, other families have to figure out what they are looking for in order to achieve their goals. It is also important to find a guide whose skills can greatly enhance their entire experience.”