Daniel Sokol and Aliza Stiebel (both alumni!). We talked to Daniel about the the tour company he started in Israel where they live with their two children. Read below to learn more about them.
Hi, we heard you were in town and wanted to catch up with you. You graduated in 2001 from the Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh, part of Hillel Academy, right? And Aliza graduated from Hillel Academy in 2003? Yes
What was the most important lesson you learned while in high school? You don't have to be the tallest to be the best in basketball- prime example Rabbi Sammy Weinberg!
Can you share a favorite memory from Hillel? Getting off the Mesivta bus each morning and getting a hug from Rabbi Weingot.
SokolTours is one of the major tour guide companies in Israel. Tell us about it. I moved to Israel in 2005 with my wife Aliza. I have a degree in Political Science, love history, and am passionate about Israel. Becoming a tour guide was a perfect fit for me! I had to go through two years of intensive training and testing in order to get my license, and need to take yearly courses to maintain it. Thanks to my Hillel education, that is no problem. SokolTours is all about making your trip to Israel the best experience possible. I specialize in families of all ages and love bringing the country to life for the newbie
tourist to the seasoned traveler. We tailor-make our itineraries to fit each family's needs and interests, and no two trips are the same! I love the excitement that I see in my tourists' eyes when they experience something new during their trip here.
Where is your favorite location to tour in Israel? That is a tough one. I love all parts of the country, but I'd have to say that my favorite spot is Ir David, the City of David. Not only are archeologists constantly finding huge new discoveries there, but it is also a place that I find deeply connects myself and my tourists to the people from the times of the Tanach.
Have you had any celebrities? Oh yeah! I've taken out Shwekey's family and J.K. Rowling's lawyer/agent, but I think the most famous celeb that I've given tours to must be Danny Kraut! (See if you can name the current and former Hillel Academy families visiting with Avraham Avinu at Eretz Bereishit with SokolTours.)
You went to Derech Etz Chaim (DEC), do you maintain a connection to them? Totally! For the first many years that we lived here, my wife and I davened at DEC for all of the chagim. I'm also the yeshiva's tour guide, so I get to take the guys out on trips about once a month.
True or False: I heard that tour guide school in Israel is really hard? True! It really is tough- once you finish the two years of training, you have to pass both a written exam AND an oral exam. And even then, only 25% of the students actually pass on their first try and go on to get their tour guide license.
Can you offer some advice to our current students? Never drink six cans of Surge before lunch.