Holy Land Pilgrimage with Gila



                                                                            PSALM 84

What tour leaders say about Gila

“Known for her interactive guiding style, Gila combines knowledge with humor in a way that especially engages her groups.  Her rousing repertoire of Christian spirituals and Jewish folk tunes are used as sing-a-longs for some of the world’s oldest Bible highways and crossroads.  Her groups declare that her enthusiasm and excitement are contagious.  And her tour leaders appreciate her flexible approach which accommodates diverse backgrounds and expectations.  Bring her M&Ms and she will do almost anything.”  Dale Nystrom, President, IGM Tours, Castro Valley, California
"I’m convinced that Gila is one of the best Holy Land tour guides alive today!  Her knowledge of history and the Bible is phenomenal.  She went above and beyond our groups' expectations.  It wasn’t just an intellectual tour either.

We had a blast!  Lots of laughs along the way. You’ll consider yourself fortunate if you’re able to tour with her.  I just finished touring and can’t wait to bring another group -- with Gila, of course!"  Pastor Greg Bryan, Serving The Navigators  (February 2023)

Gila sitting on Pistachio by the Dead Sea February 2023

Photo: Gila's iphone

Gila sitting on Pistachio (fistuk halabi) at the lowest place on earth
February 2023 with Pastor Greg Bryan's group

"Having traveled to Israel on a number of occasions one thing is certain: the right guide will make or break the trip.  I am convinced that Gila Yudkin is the right guide.  Her knowledge and love of the Holy Land is unmatched.  Gila brings a historical and archeological perspective that will enhance every pilgrim's experience.  Not only does Gila possess the knowledge and insight that a high caliber guide needs, she provides a sense of safety, as well as a level of comfort, whether it be at various sites or during lunch breaks.

Gila has one of the most pleasing personalities one will ever encounter.  She is very much aware of the character of the group she is guiding and sensitive to its particular needs.  And, I have a friend that I love and trust!"  Jim Colledge, DMin., Christ Community Chapel, Hudson, Ohio  (February 2022)

Photos of Gila taken by participants of Dr. Jim's Jan/Feb 2022 Holy Land tour

Gila outside the Caesarea theater by the huge sculptured foot

Gila reading the Bible by the House of Simon the Tanner as the sun is setting

Photo courtesy of Julie Wise

Photo courtesy of Jim Love

Gila outside the Caesarea theater
showing her favorite sculpture

Gila reading the Bible by the House of Simon
the Tanner in Jaffa as the sun is setting

(and it was cold and windy!)

over the Mediterranean Sea behind her

"The BIG NEWS is that everyone of us thoroughly enjoyed your guiding and look forward to having you guide us once again.  Your insight and flexibility was most appreciated along with your delightful personality."  Rev. Merrill Kindall,
Stephen Ministry Leader, Little Falls, MN 
(March 2019)
"I believe this was the best trip yet. The combination of your encyclopedic knowledge of the places, customs, geography, along with my ministry focus is very effective. Many of our group were in tears at the airport, so thankful they came.  They were already asking, " when can we go again?"  Please accept our heartfelt thanks for a wonderful journey together!  Pastor John Bailey, New Life Baptist, New Wilmington, PA  (October 2017)
"You did a marvelous job navigating us through the twists and turns of the week.  Our men were especially impressed with how you were able to take charge in iffy situations without getting pushy or rattled.  Good job!"  Pastor Ken Sheppard, Frisco, Texas (14th tour, March 2017)

“My folks appreciated your heart, sense of humor and your knowledge.  And you made this trip a Great ‘Baptist’ Experience!”   Dr. Rob Zinn, Senior Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Highland, California

"Gila, you impart the excitement and joy of history, present and future of Israel.  Thanks so much for helping our group enjoy and treasure our common heritage.  You're a super guide!" 
Rev. Darrell Mount, United Methodist Church, Denver, Colorado

‘Thank you for your friendship, your sense of fun and above all for sharing your passion for the Holy Land with us.  It is something we will never forget.”  Father Michael Goonan, Victoria, Australia

Gila Yudkin on Mount Arbel

Photo:  Ellen Cherin
Gila guiding on Mount Arbel

“In the forty times I have brought adult groups or student excavation volunteers to Israel, Gila is the best guide I have worked with.  For the past eleven years, I have requested her annually, before I even leave the country.  Her knowledge, personality with groups and understanding of how to best live-out each day is beyond comparison.

This past February of 2008 we had snow in Jerusalem all night long and then the next morning as well, which was an oddity.  Gila found a way to make sure we did not miss even one of the sites on our itinerary by planning around and dealing with the snow.
She really knows what she is doing!”   Dr. Jimmy Albright, Pastor of Wyatt Park Church, St. Joseph, Missouri, Professor of Archaeology, Missouri Western State University and current archaeologist at Tel Bethsaida Excavations
"The determining success of any Holy Land experience is your guide.  During my 24 trips to visit this land, I have had no guide more dedicated to the people's safety, scheduling workable itineraries and giving truthful knowledge of biblical sites than my friend Gila Yudkin.  When I have Gila I can relax and enjoy the trip, a luxury often missed by those who host tours."  Dr. Bobby Clark, Missionary to Mexico

BOOK GILA for your customized private tour

“When we arrived in Tel Aviv and put ourselves in Gila’s capable hands, the trip just seemed to take care of itself.  From Newark to Israel and back we were never late, sick, anxious, or over-tired.  The pace was perfect, the weather super and the sites more than met the expectations of those who traveled with me.  In fact, our pastor on the trip, Rev. John Kruger, said that Galilee alone met all of his expectations for the entire trip!  And it only got better from there.

Our students came as dry sponges and left full of rich memories of experience and teaching.  As one student said to me as we left the airport for home,  ‘That was a great tour, Kevin, a great tour!’

Indeed it was.” 
Kevin Saunders, Bible Teacher, Logos Ministries, Chandler, Arizona

The road to Damascus and the Via Maris

Photo:  Darrell Mount

Gila showing "the road to Damascus" and the Via Maris on site

"Gila your incredible information, perfect scheduling and pleasant personality made everyone's trip the best it could be.  You are easy to work with -- more so than some guides.  You went the extra mile when several people misplaced items.  Finding Fran's camera was an exclamation point in service.  I have been on 7 trips to Israel -- and this was the most enjoyable of all!"  Roger Lawhon, Four Time Tour Host,
Cedar Park, Texas
"Nell and I both count your friendship and the joy of traveling with you in 1984, 1992 and 2000 as having been among the chief joys of our lives.  We thank you, and we thank God for you!"  J. Curtis Manor, Gospel Preacher, Searcy, Arkansas
Considering leading a tour to the Holy Land?  Everything you must know,
from A to Z!

“You made every landmark, building, every site, every rock, every hill and road, every mountain or body of water come alive for us.  We re-lived the Old and New Testament through your words.  We shared in your love of your country and your absolute dedication to your people and its remarkable history as a nation.”  Barbara Manderbach, Burlington, New Jersey
Gila helped us have a life-changing experience in the Holy Land!  She was an amazing and beloved tour guide for our group of 14 from the US.  We were able to glean key insights, which made our understanding of Bible stories more 3-dimensional.  I can't wait to read the gospels again with this new perspective (and really, all of the Bible)! Gila holds a treasury of Bible and historical knowledge from her own study, and also from her personal experiences in Israel and all over the world.

And we had so much fun!  Gila brought us to some places off the beaten track, and the whole trip felt like an adventure.  She said our group was "intrepid," so that became our team name.  Between the laughter and the tears, the awe and the deep stirrings of the soul, we encountered the living God in a new way in Israel, and we will never be the same.  Thank you, Gila! You're the BEST!  Jamey C. from San Antonio, Texas (February 2023)

Pastor Greg Bryan's group around Pistachio by the Dead Sea 2023

Photo: Gila Yudkin

Jamey (wearing black and white shirt) and her "intrepid" group led by
Pastor Greg Bryan after the Dead Sea float February 2023

"Gila, what a blessing you are!  You did a superb job!  You are a great teacher and story teller with good leadership skills!  You have a sense of humor!  You have a fantastic sense of direction!
AND you have the patience of Job!
I have been on many tour trips and would rate you:"
Carol Roth, West Middlesex, PA, with the Bill Rudge pilgrim group, April 2023
"Our trip with you back in 2010 was the last time we were physically in Israel.  But mentally and spiritually we are there nearly every day.  When we receive and read your emails, we can almost smell the olive trees and have to look to see if we need to kick the dust off our shoes.  So many wonderful memories instantly come flooding back!  Without a doubt, best trip of our lives.  Tony Harding, Seattle, Washington (January 2020, written ten years after his tour with Gila!)
"Every issuance of news that Israel is under attack brings you to my mind and heart.
My memories of our wonderful trip in Israel in 2007 and the time spent learning by your side are so vivid, I can imagine that I'm still there....Wishing [I] could go back.  Things are so unstable over there that a lot of folks I know are very hesitant to visit, but I tell them that I never felt insecure b/c of the military and police presence everywhere.
You added something wonderful to my life for which I will forever be grateful.  May God protest you and bless you wherever you are and wherever you go."  Lorraine Casanelli, Boeme, Texas (May 2021)
"Jerusalem was a spiritual journey for me.  A "feeling" I got walking the walk, being on the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, visiting Bethlehem. Imagining all that has taken place in that area.  Christianity was so much a part of my growing years: Sunday school, church choir, youth group, church camps each summer.... To actually be there gave me chills.  My mother was quite spiritual and I felt that I was carrying her with me while in Israel.
Gila, you made it all so special.  I still can't believe you got us in the back way to the grotto of the Nativity.  Your connections with people were astounding.  Having you there with us made all the difference.  Such a joy!!"  Karen W, Philadelphia
(February 2020)
"You have an uncanny ability to avoid the crowds and the rain.  We are overwhelmed by the depth of your knowledge.  We love your humor and your patience with us when we stray or are slow.  Thanks for a memorable trip of a lifetime.  God bless you!"  Barry and Sherry C., Streetsboro, Ohio (February 2019)
"I believe that I can speak for every one of us from First Baptist Saint Albans, we had the Holy Land Trip of a lifetime.  Your guidance and information were invaluable, you were an excellent guide and I could tell you have a deep passion for your craft and your country.  Along with, you gave us the insights of passing through customs, traversing check points, and making sure we made the next appointment.  Time management is very important to me, and you made it possible for us to see as much of the historical sites as day light provided.

The trip was absolutely GREAT !!! It was the most informative, educational, historical, and religious vacation I have ever had.  The educational and historical benefits will carry through the rest of my life.  And to think that we walked the path of so many of our religious fathers and of Jesus Christ himself!"  Dave De Hart,
St. Albans, West Virginia

Tour the Temple Mount with in the company of Abraham and Isaac, David and Solomon, Jesus and the disciples, the angel Gabriel and Mohammed -- and Gila.  Meet many other luminaries, both real and legendary.

Now available as a written 24-page PDF with a Temple Mount plan, guidelines for passing the security check and the ten best reads on the Temple Mount from Gila's bookshelves.

"I am so thankful for how God has knitted you together.  With a steady calmness and patience, your abundant knowledge and experiences have made the pages of God's Word come alive -- in living color with smells and tastes and history and stories.  Big things got bigger, and 'small things' gained more detail.

God has given you a mighty gift, Lady!"  Tampa Murphy, Hudson, Ohio

The day we visited where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, our pastor forgot his bible.  I had a bible and someone had to show me where to find the Beatitudes.  While I was reading, something special happened and I felt like I was being "set-up" for something else.  After returning home, our regular Sunday School teacher got sick and I was "drafted."  I have been teaching now for over a decade.

Your guidance through the holy land and your story telling talent inspired me to be a "story-teller" teacher like you.  You made the people of the bible 'real' and it doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob set in motion the religion that we follow today.

I am a very lucky fellow to be allowed to teach the bible.  Like you, I am very careful to let the stories speak, and not to put too much of "me" into it.  I believe God interprets the stories for us.  Bob Branson, Bible Teacher, Christ United Methodist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma
"Your knowledge, experience, and passion for Israel make you the ideal guide.  The trip was beyond amazing, in large part because of the superb organization beforehand and the teaching gifts that you willingly share with us pilgrims.  The trip was a blessing that I will cherish for the rest of my life and my ministry.  May God's peace
fill your heart."  Pastor Scott Killgore, St. Joseph, Missouri
"Your enthusiasm and love for your Mother Country was evident daily in everything you shared with us -- from songs, to archeological findings, to the Bible, to day-to-day living.  You made the trip full of awe at every turn.  May God richly bless you as you continue on your exciting journey of opening the hearts and eyes of pilgrims to experience our beloved Holy Land."  Patty Leepa, Ellicott City, Maryland. Member/singer with The National Christian Choir in Our Nations Capital
"We of Yellow Bus fame often talk of you and our adventures in the Holy land.  The memory of you tossing your chewing gum in the holy water [in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth] will remain in my heart forever.  It still makes me laugh to think of your facial expression the minute you realized what had just happened! (Probably made Him laugh too!  At least I imagine a little grin on His face.)"  Fred Wylie, National Christian Choir, Greater Washington, D.C.
"I am a Retired Naval Officer who spent my last tour as the Deputy Program Manager for the f-14 Tomcat fighter.  This duty took me on many official tours of aircraft plants and the various supporting contractors and I can't recall a tour more memorable than the one you led this past March.  I was more than impressed with your leadership and uncommon knowledge of the sites we visited.  You delivered it all with a most attractive, intimate and eloquent presence, that left us all in awe of your knowledge and abilities.

Thank you so very much for being you and projecting us all on the paths of Christ. God Bless you, dear Gila."  Marv Holgren, Capt. USN Retired, Del Mar, California
"Thanks so much for your excellent shepherding of our group in Israel.  You did a great job!  And for the extra personal touches like the lunch on the Dan River away from the main tourist lanes, and at our farewell in the Yemenite quarter of Tel Aviv, and in the fishing boat cruise (versus standard commercial vessel) on the Sea of Galilee.  I've since talked to a number of people who've been to Israel -- none of whom walked the wall ramparts or waded through Hezekiah's tunnel."  Jack Odgaard, Portland, Oregon
"A few people that we meet during our lives we won't forget...and you are one of those special people.  You made the history of Israel come alive and your patience with our questions made us feel special.  You always made us feel comfortable and safe.  Thank you, Gila."  Mike Stonehouse, San Jose, California
"Thank you for bringing us safely through the rushing water of Qumran, for guiding our tour ship through the ups and downs of making connections and giving us our first taste of the Holy Land.  Thank you for arguing our case before several shop owners, guides and others.  We owe you a great deal of appreciation and respect for your courage and commitment.

Not only your expect guidance, your patience under pressure, your clear directions, and your understanding of our needs and wants but also for your commitment and dedication which are an inspiration!"  Sister Clare Sweeney, Tempe, Arizona
"Wow, words cannot even begin to express my gratitude and love that you blessed me with.  Your knowledge and wisdom about Israel, both historically and biblically is truly amazing.  Thank you for sharing what I imagine is just a drop in the bucket of your wealth of information on Israel, your love for Israel, your own personal experiences and all the laughter."  Robin Gemoya, Grand Junction, Colorado

“You gave to us more than we could have hoped for.  Your knowledge seems endless. You have charm and true wit.  You see irony portrayed in many ways.  We saw through your eyes and received not just a few days, but many years of living.”  Don and Mary Schmidt, San Diego, California
"At age 69 I have been blessed to visit the Holy Land and had the best guide there to lead us through this experience.  Your knowledge of the Bible and history is amazing.  I wish I had the capacity to remember all that you shared with us.  I prayed all through the trip for the strength to experience all that was offered and amazingly God blessed me with the ability to do things that I could not imagine I was able to do."  Patti Spear, Farmerville, Louisiana
"What I admire most is your passion for the archeology of the area and the abundance of interesting details you share that make history come alive.  Each new day was as intriguing as the last.  Even now, if I close my eyes, I can see you telling us about the sites we saw and hear your voice and expressions.  Thank you for instilling these lasting impressions."  Anne Askay, Long Beach, California

Coming to Jerusalem this year?  Are you coming from very far away and want every minute to matter?  Would you like to experience both the authentic and the traditional sites, yet you are most interested in finding the venues where you can quietly be transported back in your imagination to the time of Jesus?  David?  Abraham?

Make every minute matter while you "Explore Jerusalem's Soul" with Gila's Unorthodox Guide.  The up-to-date PDF (Adobe Acrobat) 46-page guide gives you the Top Ten places to meditate on the Bible, the Top Ten lesser-known churches worth visiting, the Top Ten most rewarding roof-top views and the top Ten places for sampling Middle Eastern food.  More...




Copyright © 2005-2024 Gila Yudkin. All rights reserved.
Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin