Meet The Experts
When you are ready to plan a group tour for your community or your family, there is no better first step than to talk to an expert at Ayelet Tours. Travel involves an infinite number of moving pieces – hotel rooms, guides, rentals, reservations, meals, flights, insurance, special requests, program logistics and more. Booking your group tour with the experts at Ayelet Tours will save you hours of bottomless internet research and connect you to a network of trusted travel professionals. You will also gain access to guidance throughout the pre-tour planning process and during the tour itself. We are here to help make certain that your dream becomes a reality!
Founder and President Diane Rubtchinsky, began her professional life as a teacher for troubled youth. After many challenging and rewarding years in education, while still raising her 3 children, Diane needed a change. In the mid-1980s (aka ancient times), she began planning tours for family and friends. Soon she connected with a local travel agency to print tickets and use an extra desk in the office. While there, Diane planned and escorted her first Israel tour in 1984 – an interfaith journey led by Rabbi Martin Silverman and Bishop Howard Hubbard from her home-town of Albany, NY. It was on this tour that Diane’s dream of an agency specializing in Israel and open to every faith and nationality was first conceived. Working from her kitchen table, she took a leap of faith and founded a start-up, focusing on religious-based travel to Israel. The rest is history! Ayelet Tours moved out of the kitchen and into real offices in 1986. For over 3 decades, Diane has fostered a reputation for integrity and innovation in the Israel and Jewish heritage travel market. She was one of the first to offer B’nai Mitzvah tours to Israel, created tours behind the iron curtain before the fall of the USSR, and was early to act upon the interest in travel to Cuba as relations with the US improved. Diane continues to offer her visionary leadership at Ayelet Tours, and her warm and caring guidance to congregational leaders and private families, planning unforgettable travel experiences to Israel and beyond. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her husband to visit with their eight grandchildren!!
Ayelet Tours’ CEO Jeff Rubtchinsky, grew up in Albany, NY and spent many a grade school afternoon at the Ayelet office stamping or filing brochures, the travel world equivalent of starting in the mail room. After graduating university, working in finance, and staffing a year-long around-the-world bicycle tour, Jeff returned to Ayelet Tours full time in 2001. Jeff has traveled to over 60 countries, including dozens of trips to Israel and Europe and multiple trips to South America and Cuba. He has created meaningful congregational and family tours for hundreds of congregations to these destinations and beyond. When Jeff isn’t traveling or helping plan transformative travel experiences, he can be found enjoying time with his wife and two children in their home city of San Diego, or working on improving his backhand slice.
Seffie Epstein has been working in Israeli tourism for more than 30 years. He began as a hotelier in Jerusalem, continued his career as an Israeli tour coordinator, and in the early 1990s moved his entire family to Albany, NY to help manage day to day operations at Ayelet Tours. He returned to Israel in 2015 to act as Ayelet Tours’ on-the-ground coordinator for all Ayelet groups in Israel as together we meet new challenges and continue to grow. In addition to coordinating groups in Israel, Seffie creates all Hadassah National Missions to Israel, and coordinates many of our largest specialty programs. Working hand-in-hand with Cantor Nathan Lam, Seffie has executed the amazing Cantors Assembly Musical Missions of 300-500 participants to Poland, Germany and Spain, and is currently actively planning CA in Italy 2020! Seffie’s guidance to congregational leaders in planning unforgettable travel experiences to Israel and beyond, as well as his mentorship to many of our own staff, is invaluable. He is a certified Israeli tour guide, and is well known in professional Jewish circles for his creative solutions to touring challenges, and his innovative approach to program coordination. When not at work, Seffie enjoys traveling with his wife to explore the world, and visiting their five children and growing number of grandchildren!
After completing nearly 2 decades as the Missions Manager for the Philadelphia Federation, Pam joined Ayelet Tours as a Travel Expert in 2015. Pam is passionate about connecting people with communities around the world through meaningful travel experiences, and is known for her dedication to ensuring her groups receive the highest level VIP experience! In addition to organizing family, synagogue and community trips, Pam has led Jewish communal trips and missions to Israel, Eastern Europe, Morocco, Cuba and exotic places like Siberia, India, Harbin & Shanghai. Pam’s love of the Jewish world, accompanied by years of experience, make her the perfect person to plan your next group or family trip!
For over 25 years, Tour Leader Bill Cartiff has dedicated himself to leading Jewish groups around the globe. Following his passion, and living by the adage that “Not all who wander are lost,” Bill has led thousands of Jewish travelers to over 60 countries touching all seven continents. Bill never underestimates the meaning of helping people explore the world. He is committed to providing a carefree travel experience with personalized attention, action-packed itineraries, a warm & welcoming environment and meaningful memories meant to last a lifetime. Bill knows that each trip is unique, but what remains consistent is a commitment to making certain that all guests enjoy an unparalleled travel experience. Bill’s passion and expertise, along with his years of leading groups around the world, makes him the perfect person to help plan or host your next group tour.
An Israeli native, Doron moved as a child with his family to Albany, NY. There, his father helped run Ayelet Tours for close to 2 decades, and Doron grew up as an Israeli in America. With high school graduation, Doron returned to Israel to join the IDF. Upon completing his mandatory service, Doron continued through the IDF officer training course, then spent several years commanding troops in Gaza and elsewhere, including during operation Pillar of Defense. After the IDF, Doron followed his father’s footsteps into the tourism field, working in our Israel sister office, where he operated groups including Federations, universities, interfaith and congregational tours to Israel. During that time, he also completed the Israel guide course and became a licensed Israeli guide. Today Doron lives in the Czech Republic as Ayelet’s full time European representative. He divides his time between crafting Israel touring programs for our clients, and traveling around Europe to help coordinate our groups, keep in touch with the various European Jewish communities, and search for the next “big thing” in European Jewish travel. Doron’s knowledge and experience, along with his fresh and innovative way of looking at things, makes him the perfect person to plan your next trip to Israel, or throughout the Jewish World.
As Ayelet’s Conference Services Manager, Susan brings to Ayelet over 24 years of Meeting and Conference Management experience. She has experience running national conferences of all sizes for many of the leading Jewish organizations including the Jewish Federations of North America, JSTREET, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Cantors Assembly, the American Conference of Cantors and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. She is excited to help you plan your next meeting or conference. Susan lives with her husband and two daughters in Dallas, Texas.
Our program development experts are backed by our outstanding operational and customer service team, many of whom have been at Ayelet for well over a decade (or two…or even three!). All of us are dedicated to providing our tour participants with personalized attention, making sure their travel experience is first-rate not just during the trip, but throughout the planning process.