With more than 4.5 million tourists from across the world estimated to arrive in the Holy Land, 2020 was expected to be a banner year for tourism in Israel.
And then the coronavirus crippled air travel, and those record numbers quickly vanished like a distant memory.
“Virtually overnight, we saw businesses that thought they were going to have record years see their entire year’s worth of business disappear,” said Uri Steinberg, former Israeli Commissioner for Tourism in North America.
At a time when most Christians cannot physically visit the places where Jesus walked, a new direct-to-consumer company stepped in to fill the void by offering to bring a piece of the Holy Land to them.
Artza, Hebrew for “toward the land,” offers a quarterly subscription box that delivers a mix of artisanal food, hand-crafted gifts and inspirational content specifically geared toward Christians across America. The box received early praise from those who got a sneak peek in July - including ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg and his wife Lynn.
"Lynn and I love this gift," Rosenberg said. "We think it’s a great last-minute gift idea – and we are ordering some this week to give to our friends who so desperately want to come to Israel but can't."
The name Artza was inspired by Genesis 12:3-5, when Abraham is instructed to take his family "artza Canaan” (toward the land of Canaan). The subscription box experience is specifically designed to follow the path of Jesus throughout Israel. Each quarter, the company chooses a city to highlight, including Nazareth, Jerusalem, the Galilee and Bethlehem in time for Christmas.
Here’s what’s inside each box:
A welcome note introducing the history, city, products and artisans
Original photography of people and places
A recipe featuring the items within the box
Shareable postcards of holy sites with accompanying descriptions
A short tutorial of basic Hebrew phrases
Artza’s first-of-its-kind subscription box not only brings the Holy Land to doorsteps throughout America, the company also provides an avenue of critical support for Israeli artisans in the process.
The Nazareth box, for example, featured products from local Nazareth-based artisans, such as Teresa, a young mother of three who recently fulfilled her dream of starting a hand-made soap business. In addition, the company has partnered with charitable organizations like Susan’s House, a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth in Israel by teaching them artistic expression and creative initiatives, to provide items that will be featured in the box.
The idea, according to the company, is to deliver an assortment of gifts that people will not find anywhere else, all the while supporting local small businesses and strengthening peoples’ connection to the Land of the Bible. Each box includes seven to nine items and is priced between $68.99 and $89.99, depending on whether a customer chooses a “basic” or “premium” option.
“I saw what the company was doing and thought it was an exceptional idea,” said Steinberg. “Especially at a time like this, I think it’s a great way to bring the experience of Israel to those who can’t travel here while supporting the local economy.”
Jennifer Weaver, an early customer, agreed.
“I love visiting Israel – it’s probably my favorite place on earth – and had a trip planned for February that unfortunately got canceled. When I learned about Artza, I couldn’t wait to get a small taste of what I was missing out on,” Weaver said.
FOR A LIMITED TIME, ARTZA IS OFFERING A 18% DISCOUNT TO ALL ISRAEL NEWS READERS. JUST ENTER THE CODE ALLISRAEL18 WHEN YOU SIGN UP AT ARTZABOX.COM.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.