Any day of the week, family chatter and the happy shouts of children fill the air at Mini Israel. In its eleventh year of popularity, the park offers a tour of Israel in miniature. Conveniently situated in the foothills near Jerusalem, and just a half hour from Israel's tourist hub, Tel Aviv, the venue is accessible by car and by bus.
The layout of the park is in the shape of a Magen David (Star of David). Each triangle represents a different geographical area of Israel and exhibits historical, cultural and religious sites on a scale of 1:25 that are of importance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The models include miniature garden landscaping, action figures, sound and light. Signs are in Hebrew, English and Arabic. Recently, a 3D MiniMax aerial movie of Israeli sites has become an added attraction. A restaurant, coffee shop and kiosks offer refreshments, and gift shops sell souvenirs.
What more could an Israeli child want on a summer vacation day? But add up the return busfare for the typical larger Israeli family; the entrance fee, one price on tourist level for five years old and up; refreshments, even if these are prepared and brought from home; souvenirs – hard to refuse a little one's longing plea – and even a day's outing can make a significant dent in the average family's monthly budget. Recreation, however educational and family-oriented it may be, is an unaffordable luxury for too many children in Israel today.
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