About Marty Friedlander

I am an American-born Israeli, having moved to Israel at age 18. I have lived my entire adult life in Jerusalem. I am a graduate of Hebrew University, where I majored in historical geography with minors in Jewish history and archaeology. Served in the IDF, first in the Paratroops and then, after recovering from an injury, in the Education Corps as a tour guide for soldiers(!) Following my complete recovery, I went on to serve as a combat medic in the reserves for the next 20+ years. I am married (to Rena Fredman) and we have four kids, the youngest of whom is 21  and still living at home part-time while he’s in the army. I consider myself a Modern Orthodox Jew, and love to learn Tanach in the land where it happened. I try to get on the bike a few times a week, for off-road biking in the Judean Hills; I am one of the founders of the Alyn Ride, Israel’s largest sports charity event.

For about 20 years I guided an average of only 4-5 weeks a year. The full-time profession was writing, translating, and journalism – I’ve worked for the daily newspaper Haaretz for something like 18 years. But as of about 12 years ago, I became a full-time guide, and have been loving it ever since. In a conscious effort to stay fresh, I mix up the groups that I guide – individuals and families (Jewish and Christian and multi-faith), youth (I go to Poland once a year to teach Holocaust), college kids (a couple of Birthright groups each year), churches and synagogues of all sorts, and Federation groups (the last one focused on high-tech in Israel).

I love to bring the Bible alive by placing the verses and stories within the geographical and political context in which they took place. To that end, I completed an intensive month-long course in 2017 specifically on the guiding of biblical sites throughout the country.

People ask me why I moved to Israel. That’s an easy one: I feel that the most exciting page of Jewish history is currently being written here in Israel. In my guiding, I often juxtapose the past and present. I crave controversy, and I never sugar-coat reality. You could say that I love Israel, warts and all. Special passions include archaeology of the Second Temple period, development of the Land of Israel by the Zionist movement, arrival of the European presence in the late 19th century, and Holocaust studies. Above all, I am enthralled by the dejas vu nature of the Jewish People’s reinvention of itself in its homeland.

Am I at times concerned that we Israelis are a bit intoxicated by our own impressive story? Frankly, yes. There are minorities that live among us, and they each have their own fascinating story. I am interested in hearing it, embracing the human element of it, getting to know and respect the people that form that story.

I also love to have fun, hike whenever feasible, explore nature, make a pretty decent Turkish coffee out in the field when the time is right, swim in natural pools and streams. A few months ago, left in charge of a couple of young people while their grandfather gave piano masters classes in Jerusalem, we camped out in the Golan Heights (where the big payback was waking up and picking as many cherries and berries as I could eat).  But sometimes the guide needs to just be quiet and allow the aura of our surroundings to take front and center.

What are people around the world saying about me?

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