Israel First Hand Tours’ Story

When you have a great experience it’s natural to want to share it with others. That’s how we feel. We have visited Israel as kids, tourists, volunteers, students, residents and parents. Each trip was a unique adventure that deepened our connection to the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

That’s how Israel First Hand Tours was born. We needed a way to share Israel, and we knew that the cookie cutter, prepackaged one size fits all tour plans offered by most agencies weren’t gonna cut it. So we created an alternative – a boutique travel services company offering a personalized Israel travel experience. We are focused on helping people have the most amazing time over here, and have created a full line of concierge services to make sure it happens!

We know that no matter what your interests are, Israel has something to offer. We love Israel. We invite you to come visit, and see why for yourself.

Looking forward,

Aryeh and Leah Kaplan
Owners, Israel First Hand Tours

Aryeh's Story

Born and raised in Chicago, Aryeh has been searching for the Israeli version of a Chicago-style hot dog for years. After university he skipped the trip to Europe and ended up spending a decade in Israel developing his spiritual side. Something clicked and he decided that becoming a Rabbi would be more fun than continuing on the med school track. Back in the states he worked as a Rabbi and Educational Director of a Washington DC area synagogue. But his love for Israel kept calling him back, and after a few years, he packed up his wife and kids and headed to Israel (okay, she did most of the packing). He now lives with his family in the center of Israel, where he enjoys traveling about the country, leading tours and teaching Israelis how to grill a proper dog.

Aryeh is the heart and soul of Israel First Hand. Sharing the uniqueness of Israel and its transformative power with Jews from all over the world is his passion. A Ministry of Tourism licensed tour guide, Aryeh brings together his experience as an educator, Jewish professional, father and Israel enthusiast, to give his clients the most amazing Israel First Hand experience they can imagine.

Aryeh Kaplan

Owner, Lead Tour Guide


Cracking himself up

Knowing little known facts about all things Israel

Remaining calm when everyone around him is in a
panic or throwing up

Clocking over 22,000 steps on an average day

Juggling (that comes in handy more often than
you’d think)

Leah's Story

Just before her 12th birthday Leah’s family spent the summer touring around Israel. Too young to fully understand the spiritual or geopolitical significance of the country, Leah still had a great summer. She and her family enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes of a culture that was so different from her own – yet somehow felt like home. Thankfully the connection she felt never faded and she kept returning to Israel every chance she could get. When she met and married Aryeh she had hit the jackpot, not just because he’s such a great guy, but because he shared her love of Israel. Together they decided to make it their home.

Leah is the strategist behind Israel First Hand, driving the brand and creating the vehicles that carry Aryeh’s vision into reality. Check out the IFH blog for her take on how to get the most out of traveling through this amazing land of ours.

Leah Kaplan

Owner, Director of All the Things


Pretending to multitask

Remaining calm – as long as no one throws up

Having a plan

Laughing at Aryeh’s jokes