Happy almost New Year! In our last visit together, we learned all about disability access in Israel, and had a whirlwind tour of some of the accessible travel options around the country. This time we’ll be zooming in and talking specifically about wheelchair accessible attractions, mainly in Jerusalem, one of the world’s holiest sites. Let’s go explore …
Last time, I pointed out the range of disabled travel experiences shared at The Jerusalem Post’s Israel Travel Guide. This is an awesome resource, but it only scratches the surface of some of the great, proactive things being done for disabled travelers in Israel: not just for mobility impaired access, but also the hard-of-hearing and those with visual impairments. According to YNet News, efforts are being made to expand accessibility in Jerusalem’s Old City, including expansion of wheelchair accessible pathways, vocal signs, visual transcriptions, and other helpful accommodations.
The list of places to be improved include a number of iconic historical and cultural sites, though thankfully, many others have already had disability access options in place for years. At the Tower of David Museum, most areas already boast full accessibility, with special parking also available nearby. Jerusalem Archaeological Park is still lacking in any info for disabled travelers that I could find, but there are wheelchair accessible areas around the Western Wall – the ancient remains from the Second Temple period also known as the Wailing Wall. And luckily, there is a growing number of tour guides available to help visitors with special needs navigate the Old City.
This guide to the Jewish Quarter includes information on independent tour guides and the Larry and Leonore Zusman Visitors Center for People With Special Needs, a handicapped organization that helps to maintain the signage, trails, and other features related to accessible travel. A few more general guides on travel in the Holy Land include Travelujah, which includes articles and contact info for group tours, and Sacred Destinations, which focuses on cathedrals, temples, and various other holy sites, and has great info on Jerusalem and other places worldwide. Though not focused specifically on disability access, this website includes awesome illustrations, history, and all kinds of other resources you can use if famous places of worship are on your travel agenda.
Outside of the Old City, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Israel’s culture and history. Jerusalem Botanical Gardens has wheelchair accessible pathways and roll-in restroom facilities. The Herzl Museum, devoted to one of the architects of the modern Israeli state, is accessible and often includes exhibits that the deaf and blind can enjoy. The Israel Museum has railings and accessible elevators. Handicapped travelers can also enjoy the Jerusalem Mall, which currently lacks an official website. Last, but certainly not least, is the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, a huge complex especially designed to be accessible to all visitors.
Next time we’ll be moving on from ancient Jerusalem into Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s modern marvels. From there, I’ll be sharing some general disabled travel resources I know you’ll love no matter where your travels take you. Until then, adventure on!