TV’s globe-trotting grandmas explore Israel

The hosts of “Grannies on Safari” filmed two episodes in Israel as guests of the Tourism Ministry.

“Granny Regina” and “Granny Pat.”

“Granny Regina” and “Granny Pat.”

“Grannies on Safari” co-hosts Regina Fraser (77) and Pat Johnson (68) were recently in Israel for six days, by invitation of the Tourism Ministry, to shoot two episodes of their popular Public Broadcasting System TV program.

The African-American bubbies from Chicago reported being especially moved by “A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews,” a photo exhibition at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum through December 1, 2012. Prior to her television debut, Johnson was the founding director of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

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On their second trip to Israel – the first was nearly 15 years ago – they rode a cable car to the crest of Israel’s most-visited paid tourist site, Masada, and toured iconic modern-day institutions such as the recently expanded Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Yad Vashem World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration.

They even rode horses along the Sea of Galilee and stopped to sample Israel’s cuisine and wines.

The globe-trotting pair had been in Egypt last year, just in time for the “Arab Spring” protests, emerging unscathed if a little scared. Their Israel trip was quite tame by comparison.

Though the well-traveled grannies and their production crew attempted to explore a range of urban and rural areas of the Holy Land, they sacrificed quantity for quality, Fraser told a Haaretz reporter.

“There just wasn’t enough time to really do the country justice,” said the former marketing, media and communications strategist. “Otherwise you’re just doing a ‘drive-by’ and you miss the opportunities to truly focus on little parts that make this region so unique.”

But Fraser said she hoped to convey the sense that “Israel is a very developed country.” The two episodes are to air next spring.

Ironically, though the Emmy Award-winning show is available for viewing in 117 countries, Israel is not among them. However, clips will be posted to YouTube.

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About Abigail Klein Leichman

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.