Events in Israel

Israel’s events calendar is packed with exciting things to see and do. Some of the best events Israel has are held during national holidays like Hanukkah in December, Purim in March, Passover in April/May, and Sukkot in September/October. Special holiday events include costume parties during Purim and the lighting of an eight-candle menorah during Hanukkah week.

Annual events in Tel Aviv include the exciting White Nights when there are street parties throughout the night; the Tel Aviv Eat culinary festival, and the art and design festival, Fresh Paint. If you’re interested in events in Jerusalem, check out the Festival of Lights when the Old City is lit up with light installations; the Jerusalem Wine Festival, and the multi-disciplinary Israel Festival. Other top events in Israel include the multi-faith Holiday of Holidays in Haifa, and the Karmiel Dance Festival.

Sports enthusiasts will love the Tel Aviv Night Run; the Dead Sea Marathon, and the Jerusalem Marathon. There are regular basketball games and football matches in large venues. Music events in Israel include the Jazz Festival in Eilat; the Midburn Festival in the Negev, and the Klezmer Festival in Safed. Christians can enjoy the Palm Sunday Procession, and the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. Jewish visitors should attend services at the Western Wall, and Muslim tourists can experience the Eid al-Fitr celebrations and prayers on Temple Mount.

Chol HaMoed and What to Do in Israel over Passover

Spring has arrived in Israel, in earnest, and with it comes the festival of Passover, one of the most beloved and most celebrated festivals in the Jewish calendar. However, Passover, unlike other festivals, does not last one or two days - it lasts an entire week - only of which two of these days are actually religious holidays! Complicated? Well, maybe, but let’s try and explain it here in terms that don’t have you scratching your head!People praying at the Western Wall. Photo bySnowscatonUnsplashWhen you know it’s spring, you know it’s PassoverAll Jewish festivals begin and end at sundown since the Jewish calendar is lunar. Of the seven days of Passover (in other communities around the world, Passover is celebrated for eight, but that’s another story) only the first and last day in Israel are days where observant Jews obey many aspects of Jewish law. Chol HaMoed - the ‘secular’ days of the festivalThe middle five days are referred to as ‘Chol Ha Moed’ - the ‘weekdays’ of the festival. The literal Hebrew translation is ‘application of the consent’ or ‘the secular part of the occasion’ and these days apply both to the holidays of Passover and Sukkot (which falls every year in the autumn, after the Jewish Day of Atonement).In Israel, Passover is a much loved holiday, celebrated both by secular, traditional, and Orthodox Jews, in different ways. Almost all Israelis attend a ‘seder meal’ on the first night of Passover where, along with friends and family, they celebrate their freedom, telling once more the story of Exodus in the Bible, when the Israelites fled slavery in Egypt and became a free people.A counter with spices at Jerusalem shuk.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHow to celebrate Passover over Chol HaMoedHowever, even though the days that follow are not religious, all schools are closed and many people take time off from work, to be with their children or to travel, in Israel or abroad. Not all work is forbidden, according to Jewish law, but generally, if you are in Israel at this time of the year, you will notice that people are out and about, enjoying themselves and it’s quite common to find that businesses are closed for the entire week.Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the things that are going on in the Holy Land this Passover, over Chol HaMoed. And, trust us, there is plenty to do, and not just for the kids either. The weather is good, everyone wants to be out, taking advantage of the best beaches in Israel, hiking trails, and desert scenery, but there are plenty of cultural attractions too. Best of all, many of them open their doors for free at this time of the year, so a day out won’t necessarily be hard on the pocket. So, pack yourself a matzah sandwich and some fruit, and enjoy yourself, wherever you choose to go… A Jewish man eating matzah. Photo bycottonbroonPexelsWhat’s going on in Jerusalem over Passover?1. Ice Eat Complex Offering food and music and workshops, this is a great place to bring the kids. They can learn to make Passover muffins with a yummy chocolate frosting, enjoy storytime sessions and join in their ‘cooking hour’ with top chef Chen Koren. The entrance is free.2. Passover at Train TheatreClose to Liberty Bell Park and offering all kinds of puppet performances, both in English and Hebrew, there are storytelling sessions with music and daily shows here too, including ‘Goldilocks and the Three Pandas’, ‘Toto and Friends’ and ‘Yuka the Doll’. 3. Bloomfield Science MuseumWith free entrance for kids toBloomfield Science Museum, this is a fantastic day out in Jerusalem, giving the whole family a chance to learn about Leonardo da Vinci, Hypatia the mathematician, electricity, levers, and why buildings don't fall down! What a way to make science fun.4. Passover at the Tower of DavidIf you want to learn more about the history of Jerusalem, you should visit the Tower of David. Take part in a ‘Hide the Afikomen inside the Box’ and crack the riddle or Climb to the top of the tower and enjoy magnificent panoramic views of the city. Or come at night for the ‘King David’ performance, and learn - through lights and music - about the boy who became King and founded this amazing city.Bloomfield Science Museum. Photo credit: © Katya Savina5. Passover at the Israel MuseumThe world-famous Israel museum is hosting a special Children’s Exhibition over Passover, as well as ‘Family Tuesday’ photography sessions, recycling workshops, and storytime in the illustration library. You can also enjoy the sculpture gardens, and the Dead Sea Scrolls area and tour the model of the Second Temple.6. Jerusalem Botanical GardensOffering free entry, this wonderful oasis offers a glimpse of plants from around the globe, and the opportunity to learn about biodiversity too. Wander from garden to garden and continent to continent, and escape the hustle and bustle of the capital for a couple of hours in Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. 7. The Bible Lands MuseumThis is the place to go if you want to engage in some ‘Pharoah Mania’. The Bible Lands Museum is hosting a special exhibition for kids called ‘Egypt Here We Go’ where you can unravel the mysteries of Egypt, play online games and puzzles, enjoy crafts workshops and theatre performances and learn about the great Pharaohs!8. Ramparts WalkThe best place to see Jerusalem? From above, on the ramparts of course! Not everyone knows about this tour but it;’s fantastic….and two different routes are included in the admission ticket. From the north side, you’ll go from the Jaffa Gate to the Lion’s Gate, close to the Dome of the Rock. The south side (easier for kids) begins at the Tower of David and ends at the Western Wall. Put on your walking shoes!Ramparts Walk, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinWhat’s going on in Tel Aviv over Passover?1. ‘White City’ Architecture TourRun by the Bauhaus Center, and recommended by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, if you’re a fan of this German design style, you can’t miss this. Each Friday, beginning at 10 am at 77 Dizengoff Street, their two-hour tour of the ‘White City’ architecture of historic Tel Aviv takes you through Rothschild Boulevard, Ahad Ha’am, Montefiore Street, giving you a chance to see how many of these classic buildings have been lovingly restored. There are also family tours and private tours available. 2. Yitzhak Rabin CenterAssassinated in 1995 by an Israeli extremist, Rabin’s memory - as a brilliant soldier, much-loved Prime Minister and ‘typical Sabra Israeli’ has been honored at this museum, which is wonderfully designed. As you walk through the passages of Yitzhak Rabin Center, on one side you’ll learn about Rabin’s life, whilst on the other side - concurrently - you’ll see what was going on in Palestine/Israel at the very same time. Moving and emotional. Free entrance.Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective, Tel Aviv Museum of Art.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin3. Food Tour of the Carmel MarketThe Carmel Market typifies everything that is Tel Aviv - it’s chaotic, bustling, and sends your senses into overdrive with all of the sounds and smells on offer. Either walk around there alone or take a food tasting tour there, where you’ll mix with locals, learn about the history and the culture of the market and hopefully come away with some goodies for your pantry! 4. Tel Aviv Museum of ArtShowcasing modern art from both Israel and around the world, entrance to Tel Aviv Museum of Art is free this Passover. Not only can you wander their permanent collections, but there are also activities for kids such as ‘kaleidoscope’ (inspired by the Japanese artist Kusama’s work) and Shai Ignatz’s ‘Goldi’ portraits.5. Jaffa Flea MarketJaffa is the kind of place everyone falls in love with - wandering the narrow alleyways of the Artist’s Quarter, wandering down at the historic port, overlooking the Mediterranean, enjoying hummus at local eateries, and, of course, poking around at the flea market. It’s a treasure trove - bric-a-brac, vintage, furniture, second-hand clothes, and piles of toys on the floor. And if you’re really curious about the market’s history, then sign up for a Shuk to Chic tour!Jaffa Flea Market, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhat to do in Haifa and Northern Israel over Passover1. Haifa ZooA great day out for the entire family, this lovely little zoo has more than 100 species, including lemurs, meerkats, anacondas, Griffon vultures, camels, and the rare Persian fallow deer (who live almost exclusively in the Upper Galilee). All of the animals are in specially-designed habitats, and once you’ve had your fill of animal watching, you can enjoy their botanical garden and the Prehistory Museum in Haifa.2. Madatech Museum of ScienceA leading science and technology museum in Israel, Mada Tech offers more than 20 interactive science and technology exhibitions to its visitors. Learn about binoculars and microscopes or Leonardo da Vinci. Check out the solar system or discover what green energy is (steam, wind, solar), and don’t miss the exhibition ‘Smile’ where you can learn all about the teeth inside your mouth!Hi-Bar Carmel National Park. Photo credit: © Manu Grinspan. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority3. Carmel National ParkPacked full of walking paths, bicycle lanes, dedicated nature reserves, and endless archaeological sites, Carmel National Park is Israel’s largest national park and you can easily spend an entire day there. There are scenic views both of the Mediterranean and the mountains, and hiking trails of all lengths and difficulties. Look out for jackals and eagles, and enjoy peace and tranquillity, even though you’re very close to Haifa. 4. The Old City of AcreThe extraordinary Crusader City of Acre has much to offer the visitor, including the Knights Halls, Templar's Tunnel, the traditional market, and the historic Acre port. Home, over the years, to Romans, Byzantines, Mamluks, Ottomans, and the British, it is steeped in history and actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. After you’ve explored the Turkish baths, mosques, and citadels (all built on top of Crusader ruins), eat lunch by the sea (the fish is excellent), and you can even take a boat ride (for a small fee) and see the city from the water.5. Tour the Sea of GalileeArguably one of the most lovely areas of Israel, Galilee is a large area but a drive around the sea area is a fantastic day out. Explore the historical sites - the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Multiplication, the ruins of a fourth-century synagogue…then head onto Ein Gev, where your kids can explore the kibbutz on a train and you can eat a good fish lunch, whilst overlooking the sea.The route of the Old Akko walls, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhat to do in the Negev Desert and Southern Israel over Passover1. Mitzpe RamonIf you wanted to capture the spirit of beauty and silence in the desert, there’s no better place to do it than in this small town, which is home to an enormous Ramon crater. Here, you can hike, climb, abseil or just sit by the edge and enjoy the stunning views of Mitzpe Ramon. There’s also an Alpaca Farm nearby, which the kids will love, as well as the opportunity to spend the night at a Bedouin camp, complete with a bonfire and traditional dinner.2. Ein Avdat CanyonClose to Kibbutz Sde Boker, the burial place of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, this hidden gem of a hiking trail boasts springs, hiking trails, and a marvelous canyon, with steps carved out of the rock itself. Set within the striking landscape of the Zin Valley, the Ein Avdat canyon stretches for over 60 km and is home to all sorts of flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you might even see an eagle soaring high above you!3. The Negev Wine RouteDespite all the odds, there are a growing number of wineries in the Negev so why not explore them on this route? These include Nana Estate, Ramon, and Sde Boker wineries, all along Route 40 between Beersheba and Mitzpe Ramon. It’s a great opportunity to meet the owners who, in true pioneer spirit, have overcome the many challenges of working in such an inhospitable climate and are excelling in their trade.Ein Avdat National Park, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana Mats4. Timna National ParkAbout 25kms north of Eilat, in the Arava desert, lies Timna National Park, which affords the visitor extraordinary hiking and biking trails. Once home to a copper mine, dating back to 4500 BCE, it is home to extraordinary rock formations, in hues of pink, orange, red and brown. And if you’re really adventurous, you can actually descend down one of the ancient mine shafts…affording you relief from the heat of the ground!5. Eilat over PassoverIt might be a bit of a cliche, but who can resist Eilat at Passover? It’s a holiday resort, with all kinds of attractions - restaurants, bars, the famed Dolphin Reef, and Underworld Observatory. And because it’s on the Red Sea, you can snorkel, dive, jet ski, swim, or just hire a sun lounger and lie on the beach all day, looking out at the Gulf of Aqaba! Wherever you end up going this Pesach, however, enjoy yourself, both at seder night and on Chol HaMoed and if you’d like to book a day trip in Israel with us, just contact us - we’re here to help. EilatAquapark, Israel. Photo byMichal IcoonUnsplash
By Sarah Mann

Events and Festivals in Israel in June 2022

As spring turns to summer each year, Israel comes into its own, which is why June can be a great month to visit the country. The weather is already very warm but not as roasting hot as it often is at the height of summer. And while the rains are long gone, evening strolls are utter perfection - in Israel you can eat outside, take long walks along beaches and seafronts at night (grabbing a drink at the endless cafes and bars on the sands) or just sit around and people watch.Beach at Rishon LeZion, Israel. Photo byAviv Ben OronUnsplashIn a Mediterranean Mood?And if you’re less in the mood for a city break, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Haifa, there are ample opportunities to explore the country - it’s not yet high season which means the roads won’t be too jammed and you can still get off the beaten track and head to nature reserves and waterfalls, which will be a lot more crowded the following month. Yes, we can say without hesitation that June is an ideal month for a trip to Israel.June in Israel - a Holiday with a Bit of EverythingThe fact is that Israel has a bit of everything, which means you can ‘pick and mix’ on a break here. In Jerusalem, arguably the world’s most holy city, you can spend days exploring religious and historical sites, wandering the tiny backstreets of the Old City, before heading to dinner at the famous Mahane Yehuda Market.In Tel Aviv, you can take a Bauhaus tour, learning more about the extraordinary architecture of the ‘White City’ as you walk the boulevards. Or hire a bike and cycle all the way from Tel Aviv Port (Namal) in the north to the Jaffa Port in the city’s south, taking in a tour of Jaffa Flea Market, visiting the Artist’s Quarter, and then grabbing some local food - hummus or fish - whilst you watch the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.In June of this year, there are plenty of cultural events and festivals, as well as musical performances, in the big cities - a huge draw for culture vultures.Hiking by the Dead Sea. Photo byJonathan GamburgonUnsplashAnd for the Adrenaline Junkies?In the Negev, although hiking is not recommended in the hottest hours of the day, you can bask in the silence, enjoy the tranquillity of early morning sunrises, or explore the Ein Avdat canyon, Timna Valley Park, or the breathtaking crater at Mitzpe Ramon later in the day. And in the north of the country, there are all kinds of adventures for adrenaline junkies - from 4x4 jeep tours in the Golan Heights, discovering Crusader castles and fortresses, and kayaking trips on the Jordan River - perfect for those who don’t like to sit still.So if you’re looking to take a break and want a holiday destination that gives you a bit of everything, look no further. Whether you want to sun yourself on a beach, cool off periodically in the Mediterranean, explore archaeological sites in Jerusalem, hike in the Golan, or learn more about wine from some of the many boutique vineyards in the Galilee, you won’t be disappointed.And, as we said before, the weather is perfect - it will be warm, but not too hot, with cool breezes as day turns to night. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s going on in Israel this June 2022…all over the country!Vineyards in the Golan. Photo byLevi Meir ClancyonUnsplashEvents in Israel in June 2022. The Jewish Festival of ShavuotShavuot is a Jewish festival that commemorates one of the most important events in Jewish history - when God gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai. But it’s also a harvest festival, marking the wheat festival in the land of Israel, according to the Hebrew Bible.Shavuot is a holiday that everyone in Israel loves to celebrate - there are events going on all over the country. The main traditions are to eat dairy foods (think cheese, blintzes, and hummy cheesecakes) and, for Orthodox Jews, to attend synagogue where you sit up all night at a learning group (‘Tikkun Leila’).Shavuot is especially popular on kibbutzim and moshavim in Israel (agricultural settlements) where the ‘first fruits’ of the harvest are gathered. Locals love visiting these places and tourists will enjoy the activities, traditional Israeli folk dancing, and tractor rides for the younger members of the group!Shavuot this year is from 4th-5th June (since the Jewish calendar is solar-lunar in nature, all holy days begin in the evening). And, just to bear in mind, there is no public transport at this period, so if you want to get out of the city, you will have to rent a car in Israel.Cheesecake, traditional Shavuot food. Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on UnsplashEvents in Jerusalem in June 2022Design Week - Held at the Hansen House, this year between 23rd and 30th June, the Jerusalem Design Weekis now in its eleventh year. Considered to be the country’s leading public design event, it’s expecting over 40,000 visitors and 40 events, showcasing the work of both Israeli and international designers. Each year, there is a central theme, looking at unique aspects of Jerusalem and Israel, incorporating the idea that the unusual cultural landscape in the country lends itself well to the idea of exploring important global issues. This year, the subject is time! The week promises all kinds of shows and events, as well as musical performances and ‘pop up’ food and drink offerings. An event to inspire!Hanan Ben Ari Concert in Jerusalem, June 2022On 22nd and 23rd June this year, the Israeli singer and songwriter Hanan Ben Ari will be performing at two concerts in Israel, both at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. And Ben Ari is an unusual guy - because he is from an orthodox background (he studied in a religious seminary, married young, and had six kids!) but performs in front of co-ed crowds and even writes songs for female songwriters!Moreover, his own music transcends stereotypes - it’s a fusion of rock, soul hip hop, and religious pop and his lyrics deal with a wide range of subjects, including literature, religion, pop culture, and social commentary. Hanan Ben Ari preaches tolerance and empathy and is making a real name for himself, so why not grab yourself a ticket and see for yourself what all the fuss is about?Shop in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel.Photo byChristian BurrionUnsplash‘Divine Food’ exhibition at the Israel Museum, JeruselemJune is your last chance to catch the ‘Divine Food’ exhibition that’s been running at the world-famous Israel Museum for a while now. Showcasing unique pieces from the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec civilizations from Central America, all highlighting the way maize, cacao, and agave became food staples, you can also see an astonishing reconstruction of a Mayan Temple. It’s a great way to learn how these crops were cultivated, and something extra about the Gods of that era. Included in the price of the ticket is entry to the entire museum, giving you the chance to explore the Second Temple model, enjoy some beautiful fine art, wander in Sculpture Garden, and - of course - marvel at the Dead Sea Scrolls, housed in their own bespoke building. Events in Tel Aviv in June 2022Gay Pride Week - Pride week in Tel Aviv is, arguably, one of the highlights of the month, taking place every year in early to mid-June. After a long-drawn-out pandemic, with crowds forbidden or kept low, Pride is back - and it’s going to be big! Tel Aviv is unofficially known as the gay capital of the Middle East and the Pride parade here is one that people from all over the world flock to.Throughout the week, which runs 5th to the 10th of June, there will be events all over the city, culminating on Friday morning, when tens of thousands of people will take to the streets, waving flags, dancing, singing, and cheering on the guys and gals on the many floats. The parade begins at the LGBTQ center in Gan Meir and is very family-friendly - kids aren’t just welcome but loved! And, of course, expect a few after parties!Gay Pride in Tel Aviv, 2018.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinTLV International Student Film Festival (12-18 June 2022)Tel Aviv International Student Film Festivalis one of the largest festivals in the world for student films and is attended by many from around the globe. Each year, in June, hundreds of lecturers, students, and well-known persons in the cinema industry descend on Tel Aviv for a chance to see new films and meet up-and-coming producers. Run since 1986 by film students from the University of Tel Aviv, this Israeli project includes premiere screenings, workshops, films, special events, and conferences taking place each day, all at the Cinematheque, just a three-minute walk from the Sarona Complex, historically settled by the German Templars and today a popular area to eat and drink. Tel Aviv Vegan Festival (7-9 June 2022)Tel Aviv’s unofficially known as the vegan capital of the world, due to its ever-growing number of vegan restaurants serving only plant-based produce. So for anyone that follows a vegan diet, taking a holiday here is really very easy - whether you’re looking for traditional Israeli street food, light bites, or high-end cuisine, you’ll find it in this city.The annual Vegan Festival in Tel Aviv this year takes place between Tuesday 7th and Thursday 9th June, at the Sarona Complex in the heart of the city. It’s a veritable paradise for vegans and foodies alike - last year, there were over 100 stalls from restaurants and stores across Israel and, now Covid has waned, over 50,000 people are expected to attend this free event. So whether you fancy some non-dairy ice cream, a yummy poke bowl, or just the opportunity to learn more, put this date in your diary!Bread toasts with avocado, banana, tomato.Photo byElla OlssononUnsplashMovement Archery and Zen Acrobatics (23-25 June 2022)From 23rd to 25th June this year, in Tel Aviv, Tom Weksler and Roser Tutusaus will be holding a Movement Archery workshop. Having established ‘Wonderground’ in 2019, the partners focus on creations that deal with movement, dance, and other art forms.At this workshop, you can learn about posture, balance, imagination, and space. The two of them have taught all across the world and between them have years of experience in art and dance forms, working with companies such as Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak and Guy Nader & Maria Campos.Laila Lavan, aka ‘White Night’ (1 July 2022)Technically it's not June, but we can't help mentioning ‘White Night’, one of the biggest nights of the year in Tel Aviv, with the city coming to life as the sun sets, and events continuing on through the night until the sun rises again. Yes, things really do go on through the night - but then what would you expect from Tel Aviv which is aptly named the Non-Stop City?Many stores and restaurants that would normally close at 10 pm will be open much later. All over the city,Tel Aviv museumswill be free to the public, as well as musical events - think jazz, opera, klezmer, rock, and plenty of cover bands, who’ll perform up and down the famousRothschild Boulevard.In keeping with past events, there will also be activities for kids, dancing at the beach, street artists performing in the Jaffa Flea Market vicinity, and yoga at the Namal port, as the sun rises. The fact that all these events won’t cost you a penny means you’ve no reason not to pick a few that take your fancy (and make sure you’ve had a long afternoon nap before you head out into the 24/7 atmosphere…) If you are interested in Jerusalem tours or Tel Aviv excursions, feel free to contact us.Lifeguard station on the Tel Aviv waterfront. PhotobyGuy TsroronUnsplash
By Sarah Mann

Sports in Israel

Sports in ancient Israel are mentioned in the Bible although some practised by Egyptians and Greeks were condemned by the sages for involving pagan practises. But others were definitely ‘kosher’ e.g. running. Although sport was not supposed to detract away from the idea of studying the Torah (Jewish Bible), there are dissenting ideas. Rabbi Kook, for instance, argued: "When the holy people will be physically firm and strong, holiness will prevail in the world.” The theatre in Caesarea is also evidence that sports were popular, back in the day.Kitesurfing in the Red Sea, Israel. Photo by Raimond Klavins on UnsplashMajor sports in Modern Day IsraelThe sports tradition in more modern times has continued, particularly with football which first came to the Holy Land under Ottoman rule. In 1928, the Palestinian Football Association was formed and the British Mandate of Palestine national team played Egypt in 1934 in a World Cup qualifying game (they lost - and badly!) After the creation of the State of Israel, they were renamed as the national team of Israel and their first match as an independent nation was against the US Olympic Team. So what are the most popular sports in Israel? Well, we’d have to say football and basketball for starters.Israel’s Premier League was started in 1999, and today is a member of UEFA. The national stadium, first located in Ramat Gan, was where games were originally held but today games are usually played at Bloomfield Stadium, in Tel Aviv. Football (soccer), arguably, is Israel’s national sport today, just edging out basketball in the popularity stakes. ‘Ligat Ha Al’ - the Israeli Basketball Premier League - makes up the top 12 basketball teams in Israel and was set up in 1954. It is well-known in Europe and in recent years they have had more links with the NBA in North America.Surfers at Alma Beach in Tel Aviv.Photo by Zoltan Tasi on UnsplashThere are also many other sports that are popular in Israel - swimming, rowing, tennis, chess, boxing, figure skating, and gymnastics. Golf is a relatively new sport in Israel but there is a full-sized course in Caesarea. Baseball became more popular in the 1990s, and today there’s a very successful ‘Baseball for All’ program running in Israel, which encourages Jewish and Arab Israeli students in 6th grade to play together three times a year. Indeed, Israel was only just pipped to the post (by the Netherlands) in the European Baseball Championship in September 2021.Martial arts are very much enjoyed, particularly Krav Maga (a self-defense and fighting system, developed by the Israel Defence Force). There’s also Kapap - a ‘fusion of different fighting styles like boxing, judo, jiu-jitsu, and knife combat. Extreme sports in Israel are also becoming more popular. Whether you want to rappel down the side of the Ramon Crater, a canyon in the Golan Heights, or sandboard in the dunes of the Negev desert, there’s a tour for it. The bicycle race Giro d'Italia in Israel.Photo by Yoav Aziz on UnsplashWater Sports in IsraelWith its fabulous Mediterranean coastline, the Sea of Galilee, and the beautiful Red Sea besides. Israel is a paradise for anyone who loves water sports. Diving - there’s no better place to dive than Eilat, with its clear waters, stunning coral reef, and shoals of brightly colored tropical fish. For beginners, there are authorized PADI courses available and for more experienced divers Eilat Coral Beach is a great spot to explore. For those nervous about going underwater, it’s also fun to snorkel. Jet skiing - available both in Eilat and the Sea of Galilee, either take a trip out with an instructor or rent your own! Trust us, it’s an extremely exciting experience. Stand Up Paddle Boarding - this sport is growing in popularity - these boards look much like surfboards but are infinitely more stable, so you move around without tipping over precariously. Ideal for exploring on flat water, you’ll see both locals and tourists out on the Mediterranean, enjoying themselves in this way.Sea Kayaking - If you want to go out on open waters such as lakes, bays, or the Mediterranean Sea in Israel, Because they are long and narrow, they’re great for negotiating waters. Sailing - it’s easy to hire a yacht in Israel and spend a few hours on the sea, topped off with a wonderful sunset. Clubs in Tel Aviv and Herzliya rent out vessels from a few hours to a get set!Swimming in the Jordan River, Israel. Photo credit:© Jenny EhrlichBeach Sports in IsraelMatkot - this is, unofficially, Israel’s national beach sport and much loved by the locals. It’s a wooden paddleboard game, where two players smash the ping pong-sized ball back and forth and observers hope they don’t lose an eye when the ball goes astray!Beach Volleyball - also very popular in Tel Aviv.On summer Saturday mornings in particular, at Gordon Beach, you’ll see plenty of young, attractive people (dressed in very little) getting fit, by way of the free courts there.Sports Events and Festivals in IsraelThere are so many to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin but here are a few we can’t resist mentioning...The Maccabiah Games are held every four years - essentially it’s a quadrennial Jewish Olympics, bringing together the most promising Jewish athletes from around the world. First held in 1932, It is the third-largest sporting event in the world, with 10,000 athletes competing and hosts open, junior, master, and disabled events.The games were named after Judah Maccabee, a Jewish leader who defended his country from King Antiochus. Today, the torch that lights the flame at the opening ceremony takes place in Modiin, his birthplace. The Maccabiah Games recognizes all 28 current Olympic sports, as well as chess, netball, and cricket! Women in Yoga Project, Israel. Photo by Mor Shani on UnsplashTel Aviv MarathonUsually taking place in February, this is a huge event, both for locals in Tel Aviv and runners around Israel. Over 40,000 people have been participating in the last years and because Tel Aviv is quite compact, the marathon passes through many parts of it. Starting in the north, at Yarkon Park and culminating in the south, in Jaffa, it’s a great day out, either as a participant or just a spectator.Jerusalem MarathonTaking place a month after Tel Aviv’s marathon, in March, back in 2013 Women’s Running Magazine this was chosen as one of the top 10 international spring running events worldwide. And whilst Tel Aviv is very flat, Jerusalem is incredibly hilly so this is a very challenging marathon, even for experienced runners. The good news is you can choose the length of your run - and the astonishing views of Jerusalem are to die for. Because it takes place at the beginning of spring, weather conditions are also good. Have a look at this video, to see for yourself.Beach volleyball in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo by Kai Pilger on UnsplashFrom North to South - Marathons Across IsraelThere are also many more marathons in Israel, held in all parts of the country. There’s one in the Dead Sea, where you’re literally running the lowest race on earth! The Sea of Galilee event is the oldest of its kind in Israel (45 years old) and has a flat course. The Crane Race, in the Hula Valley, offers a variety of marathons (half, 19k, 5k, and family events) around Hula Lake, where you can see thousands of cranes migrating. And let’s not forget the ‘Volcano Run’ in the Golan Heights. Beginning in Mount Hermon and ending at the Yarmuk River, you can enjoy running up and down five peaks, past a dormant volcano and breathtaking views. Probably not for the fainthearted! The desert marathon is held in Eilat, beginning in the desert and ending on the shores of the Red Sea. The Bible marathon recreates a run mentioned in the Bible, with its starting point at Rosh Ha’ayin (once Eben Exer) and ending at Shiloh (an ancient Сity of the Tabernacle). And let’s not forget the Arad-Masada race - beginning in the desert and ending at the foot of Masada, it’s renowned for its ‘afterparty rave’. After all, isn’t a dance party the perfect way to end this kind of race!People exercising on sports ground in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: © Jenny EhrlichTel Aviv Night RunHeld annually in October, this 10k race is fantastic fun - and unique in Israel because it’s held at night. It’s a tradition for anyone who runs to wear neon clothes (pink, yellow, green), and anyone over 14 can sign up. The route is completely urban and with thousands of people cheering on the runners, it’s a fantastic experience. It begins at Rabin Square, Rothschild Boulevard, down trendy Dizengoff, and into the finish area at Yarkon Park. Oh - and then there’s an all-night celebratory party with music and dancing - Tel Aviv style!Sail Tel AvivSail Tel Aviv is Israel’s largest maritime sports activity, and runs from between two to four days, usually in the spring, celebrating all things to do with the sea. Held next to the beach, it’s free for the public and involves many different kinds of competitions and activities. Come and look at the sand sculptures and the photography exhibitions, grab a bite, listen to some music. If you’re brave, you can even sign up for the open experience day with SUP, kayak rowing, and boat sailing! Israman Eilat and Ironman TiberiasA full & half Iron-Distance Triathlon takes place in Eilat, in January and another arduous one in Tiberias, by the Sea of Galilee, in November. So if you’re up for swimming, biking, and running, you know where to go!Skaters in Tel Aviv. Photo byYoav AzizonUnsplashSovev Tel Aviv Bike FestivalUsually taking place in October, around the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Sovev Cycle Tel Aviv offers the participant three different routes - the 8km (for beginners and family), the 21 km (for anyone in good shape), the 40 km route (if you’re experienced) and the 60km (for masters of the sport!) Bara Epic IsraelTaking place in northern Israel, between the Crusader city of Acre and the Sea of Galilee, this event is designed for avid mountain bikers! The race routes change annually, to make sure long-term participants never get bored (!) and range from 75 to 100 km per day. It’s all very challenging, with the idea to finish within a designated time limit. If you like spectacular scenery and something to test your stamina, this is an ‘epic’ choice! Here’s a short video, to give you a taste of how exciting it is.Israel RideThis great fundraising ride, where all proceeds benefit environmental charities, takes place in the Arava desert and lasts 5 days. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or want a more ‘recreational’ experience, there’s a route for you. The crew supporting you organize local accommodation, hearty food, and a chance to learn about the ecology of the area, and the challenges environmentalists there face. Shabbat is a day off too, so you’ll get to spend some quality time with your fellow riders. Old and young are equally welcome too.Skiing in Mount Hermon, Israel.Photo credit: © Evgeny BrizeliWheels of LoveThis charity cycling event takes place in southern Israel, often in the Arava desert, and whether you choose the three or four-day routes (the offroad is a little more challenging) the monies you raise will help an incredible cause - ALYN, which is a Jerusalem Hospital caring for children and adolescents. Mud Run Tel AvivFor those who are looking for a bit of levity, there’s nothing more fun than the Mud Run. Beginning at Ganei Yehoshua in Yarkon Park, you can challenge each other in an obstacle race of either 2, 5, or 10 km, and very few finish in a clean state. As the organizers say ‘Get Ready to get dirty!’Among other major sports in Israel are martial arts, sport fishing, and sky sports.Finally, Bein Harim is happy to help if you want to join a private or group day tour, whilst taking part in a sports event in Israel. Feel free to contact us, by phone or mail, to talk more about your needs. We’ll be delighted to help.
By Sarah Mann

Historical Events in Israel: From the Byzantines to the British

The history of the Land of Israel, from ancient times, through the centuries, and up until present day, is incredibly rich and fascinating, full of twists and turns - no wonder there are no end of books on it. But if you don’t have time to read tomes when planning your perfect vacation in Israel, then let us do some of the hard work for you and give you a ‘potted history’ of the Holy Land.The Knights Halls in the Hospitaller quarter, Acre, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockIn Part One of our series on major historical events in Israel, we took a look at certain ‘stand out’ events in the Bible, recorded in the nation’s first thousand years - from Abraham and Moses at Sinai to the eras of Kings David and Solomon, followed by uprisings against the Romans and the life and times of Jesus.Following on from this, today we’re taking a look at thousands more years of Jewish history, beginning with Byzantine Rule and ending with the British Mandate and plenty in between. From Persians and Crusaders to Arabs and Ottomans, we’ll do our best to give you a timeline on what, when and how in the Holy Land, from 313 to 1948. Ready? Then read on…1. Byzantine Rule in ancient IsraelBetween 313-636, ancient Israel was controlled by the Byzantines. Ruled over by Emperor Constantine, Christianity became widely practised in the Holy Land and churches were built in Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Galilee. The conquered territory was divided into three provinces: Palestina Prima, Palestina Secunda and Palestina Tertia and these provinces were part of the Diocese of the East.The Byzantines practised Orthodox Christianity but, compared to other periods in time, Jews fared well under their rule, at least the early part. This is because they occupied a legal position that was somewhat in ‘no man’s land’. They were not regarded as pagans, nor were they expected to convert to Christianity.Byzantine Cardo, Jerusalem, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockInstead, they were granted citizenship (i.e. legal equality with other citizens) and, for the most part, allowed to worship as Jews. They were not forced to violate Shabbat or Jewish holidays and synagogues were their recognised prayer houses. (However, the ritual practice of circumcision was banned, since it was considered barbaric by the Byzantines).Unfortunately, by the beginning of the 5th century, Emperor Theodosius ruled that Jews were perfidious (since they had rejected Jesus) and forbade them from holding public office and increased their taxes. Intermarriage was forbidden, as was the building of new synagogues. Luckily for the Jews, the Byzantines had other problems within their Empire so enforcement of the last restriction was lax. Consequently, Jews continued to build, and in old synagogues across Israel today, you can find beautiful mosaic floors, depicting Byzantine-style art. Some of the best examples can be viewed at archaeological sites such as Tsipori, Tiberias, Beit Shean and Beit Alpha.2. Persian Invasion to Ancient IsraelAt the tail end of Byzantine rule came an invasion of ancient Israel by the Persians. They were helped by the Jews (who hoped to be ‘delivered’ from their lowly status) and, as a reward for the help, the Persians decreed that they could administer Jerusalem. Unfortunately for the history of Jews in Israel, this ‘halcyon period’ only lasted three years after which the Byzantine army reconquered Jerusalem and expelled its Jewish population.Beit Shean Roman Theatre, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Arab Rule in Ancient IsraelBetween 636-1099, ancient Israel was conquered by the Arabs, who would rule ancient Israel for the next 450 years or so. Events began with the Siege of Jerusalem in 636, four years after the death of the Prophet Mohammed when the Rashidun army conquered the territory. In the next four centuries, a number of Caliphates would rule, first from Damascus and subsequently from Egypt.Initially, Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and settle there. They were granted the status of ‘dhimmi’ (non-Muslims protected by law) and this gave them security over their property as well as freedom of worship. Of course, this came at a price - special taxes that they paid - but it certainly safeguarded their lives.However, as time passed, the Jews began to suffer more economic and social discrimination and, as a result, many of them left the country. By the end of the 11th century, the number of Jews in the land of Israel had decreased quite substantially.In the meantime, under the Umayyad Empire, caravan stops, bathhouses and places of worship were constructed, the most famous of which is the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. Built by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in 691, this Islamic Shrine is one of the best examples of architecture and, today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed on the Temple Mount, its golden dome makes it the city’s most recognisable landmark and, of course, it continues to be a focal point for Muslim prayer.Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount, Israel. Photo byThales Botelho de SousaonUnsplash4. The Crusaders Arrive in the Holy LandBetween 1099-1291, the Crusaders dominated the landscape of the Holy Land. Christian knights and peasants from across Western Europe heeded the call of Pope Urban to take up arms and aid the Byzantines in their struggle to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim control.The Crusades (or ‘holy wars’ as they are also known) were met with an extraordinary response from all sections of society. Military Orders were particularly well represented, including the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights and the Hospitallers, who made it their business to protect pilgrims travelling to and from the Holy Land.All in all, there were four major Crusades, the first of which culminated in the fall of Jerusalem and the slaughter of hundreds of its inhabitants, even though the leader Tancred had promised they would be spared. Today, if you visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, you can still see endless crosses carved into the stone walls, left behind by Knights who took shelter there.As a result, Christian rule was established in the Holy Land. Castles were built in Acre and the Galilee and Crusader states were established far north of ancient Israel. Only in 1181 did Saladin (the first Sultan of both Egypt and Syria) reclaim Jerusalem. In front of the Damascus Gate and the Tower of David, Saladin's army bombarded the ramparts with arrows but only after six days, when he moved to the Mount of Olives, was he victorious.Jews fared little better than Muslims in the Crusader era - thousands were murdered (beheaded or thrown in the sea) and their synagogues. The Crusades set the tone for many more centuries of antisemitism, not just in the Holy Land but throughout Europe.Ruins of Yehiam Teutonic Fortress, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin5. Mamluk Rule in PalestineBetween 1291-1516, it was the Mamluks who ruled the region. In Arabic, Mamluk means ‘one who is owned’ or ‘slave’ and these non-Arabs (who had, historically, served Arab dynasties in the Muslim world) came from a number of regions including Caucasia, Turkey and from Southeastern Europe.The Mamluks' years in power were marked by a major eradication of Crusader culture in the Holy Land. Not only did they prevent the Mongols from advancing into Syria but they were also extremely cultured - today, in Israel, and especially in Jerusalem, you can still see many of the buildings they designed.Initially, as with the period of Arab rule, Jews were once more granted ‘dhimmi’ status but as time passed, the Jewish community began to shrink. Where Jews continued to live, they were discriminated against in legal matters and forced to pay taxes on all manner of things, including the drinking of wine. Even so, despite these restrictions and laws, the legal position of Jews in the region was still far better than most of their fellow Jews in Europe. Mihrab (prayer niche) cut in the wall near Damascus Gate, Jerusalem. Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin6. Ottoman Rule in PalestineLife for the Jews improved considerably between 1517-1917, when the Ottomans conquered the region - in fact, many of the Jews driven out of Europe fled to the Holy Land, since they knew their chances of surviving there were better. Under the Ottomans, there were fewer restrictions for Jews in their daily lives and professions (even though they still had to pay a ‘head tax‘) but many decrees against them were not enforced and some Jews even rose to power in the Ottoman Court, as physicians and economists.Both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews settled in the Ottoman Empire and many became successful in business enterprises. The Jews were allowed to be responsible for their own courts and schools and held a wide variety of political opinions - some were extremely loyal to the Ottomans, others were ardent Zionists.Ottoman building in Acre, Israel. Photo byShalev CohenonUnsplash7. First Aliyah to Palestine‘Aliyah’ in Hebrew means ‘to ascend’ (or ‘go up’) and is a term traditionally used when referring to the immigration of Jews from around the world to Israel. The First Aliyah (also known as the ‘agriculture aliyah) was a large-scale arrival of Jews to Palestine. Many of them arrived from Russia since waves of nationalism and antisemitism had led to pogroms (organised killings) in their birthplaces. Since immigration to Palestine has occurred before, the use of the term "first aliya" is controversial.The Jewish Virtual Library says that almost half of the settlers (3000 persons) did not remain in the country as they faced financial problems and did not have any experience in farming.A majority of the immigrants did move to cities, such as Rishon LeZion (‘First in Zion’). However, some of them - pioneers as they are now known - established agricultural settlements, particularly with the financial support of Baron Rothschild. These includedZichron Yaakov(nearHaifa), Metulla (in northern Israel) and Rosh Pina (in Galilee).Ohel Ya'akov Synagogue, Zichron Yaakov, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockLife wasn't easy for the pioneers - when you factor in disease, lack of infrastructure, hard physical work and the hot climate, in retrospect it is astonishing how much they achieved with their labours. Nevertheless, the founding of these ‘yishuvs’ (agricultural communes) only served to strengthen their resolve to create a new kind of Jew - one who was both physically and mentally resilient, both a warrior and a farmer!The First Aliyah was also responsible for a resurgence in the cultural life of the Holy Land. Much of this can be credited to Eliezer Ben Yehuda, born in Vilna in 1858 who, after having moved to Jerusalem, vowed to transform Hebrew into a modern language, spoken by the majority of people arriving (at the time, it was only used for prayer).In this period, the National Library was founded and today houses books, photographs, maps and pamphlets and even poems written in the revived Hebrew language(now known as ‘Ivrit’). Incidentally, Ben Yehuda not only wrote the first-ever Hebrew-English dictionary but realised his dream - today, it is the national language of the State of Israel and spoken by almost nine million people! Quite some achievement.Old fashioned farming in the Biblical Garden in Yad HaShmona, Israel.Photo byGeorg Arthur PfluegeronUnsplash8. Second Aliyah to PalestineThe Second Aliyah took place between 1904-1914 when approximately 35,000 immigrants arrived in Palestine. The vast majority were from Eastern Europe (many fleeing pogroms in Poland and Russia) but some were from Yemen. Many of them were pioneers who joined the ‘old yishuv’ i.e. traditional Jewish communities based in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron and Safed and this brought with it considerable urban development (most notably in Tel Aviv, which was founded in 1910).Although a minority of them were ideologically committed, without a doubt they left their mark. They were committed to the establishment of ‘Hebrew settlements’ (run as co-operatives) and many eventually became involved in politics - including Ben Gurion and Beri Katznelson. The framework they created would, undoubtedly, set the groundwork for the establishment of the future state of Israel.9. British Mandate Period in PalestineOttoman rule came to an end after 400 years when the British arrived in town and established the Mandate. The period of their rule lasted from 1918-1948 (from the moment General Allenby walked through Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City (becoming the first Christian in hundreds of years to control the city). The British Mandate was a critical period in Jewish history for a number of reasons, maybe one of the most important being that it set the scene for the “Balfour Declaration.” In essence, this was when Lord Balfour, Britain’s Foreign Minister, pledged his support for the establishment of a ‘Jewish national home in Palestine’.The house of Paula and David Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: © Jenny EhrlichThough Israel would not be ‘born’ for some decades, this declaration had a major effect - Jewish migrants began arriving in earnest to Palestine and Jewish institutions began to take shape. However, as violent clashes between Arabs and Jews, unfortunately, became more common, support in England for the Mandate began to wane.Whilst the Mandate survived World War II, support for it was at an all-time low and after Jordan was given independence in 1948, Britain declared they would terminate their Mandate in Palestine on 14th May 1948. In that respect, they did accomplish one of their goals - hours earlier, the Israeli Declaration of Independence was issued. This leads us onto number 10…!10. The State of Israel is ProclaimedOn 14th May 1948, on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, David Ben Gurion read out a proclamation, declaring the birth of the State of Israel. Today this building is a museum and is called the Hall of Independence. Just eleven minutes later, the USA would recognise his decree, soon followed by the USSR. Jews everywhere danced into the street, celebrating joyously, even though they understood that a war with the Arab world was almost inevitable. Although the British army had withdrawn their troops earlier that day, the State of Israel officially came into being at midnight on 14th May 1948, when the Mandate was officially terminated. And then began a whole new era, with the first-ever Jewish state established. Watch this space for Part Three, when we’ll look at some of the major historical events in Israel from 1948 to the present day.Independence Hall where is The Israeli Declaration of Independence was made on 14 May 1948, was the Tel Aviv Museum.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann

Events in August 2022 in Israel

Well, summer is back with a vengeance and whether you love or hate the hot weather, the fact is that unless you’re going to hide away in the air conditioning, you’ll be looking for things to do in Israel. And in this respect, you won’t be disappointed because, post-Covid, there’s plenty going on in the country, whether you’re looking for music in Israel, art, performances, or just chill-out time.Exhibition "Art of Enchantment", Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinAugust 2022 in Israel promises to be busy - Ben Gurion Airport is seeing thousands of tourists arriving every day, heading for the miles of white sandy beaches, the Old City of Jerusalem, the lush green hills of the north as well as the ever-popular Petra excursion in Jordan. We’ve put together a few ideas for things you can do this summer, whether you’re having a chillout vacation in Tel Aviv, exploring the beauty of the Galilee and Golan, or star gazing whilst camping at the breathtaking crater in Mitzpe Ramon. Enjoy yourself! Events in August 2022 in Tel AvivShlomo Artzi in concert - 5th August, Charles Bronfman Auditorium. Shlomo Artzi is, for sure, up there with some of Israel's greatest singers. He’s been around for a long time now - close to five decades - but still packs out auditoriums and outdoor theater in Caesarea with his timeless songs. This summer he’s performing in Tel Aviv on 5th August at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium, close to Rothschild Boulevard.If you manage to snap up a ticket you’re in for a special time because he never fails to charm audiences with his music and lyrics. And if you can’t pick up a ticket, don’t worry - he’s performing the following week in Kiryat Motzkin, north of Haifa, so you can take a weekend break, see the Maestro and enjoy Mount Carmel too.Converted Roman Theater in Caesarea, Israel. Photo byJoshua SukoffonUnsplashTuesday Blues - every Tuesday at 6 pm, Jaffa Flea Market - There’s no better place to spend a summer’s evening than in Jaffa, the beautiful - and ancient - city which you can walk to easily from the center of Tel Aviv. As well as the promenade, port and Artists Quarter, a tour of the Jaffa flea marketis a must.And every Tuesday night in August, at 6 pm, there are free blues performances in the market area, which is also full of cafes, bars, and small boutiques - a great place to mingle with old friends and new, enjoy a cold beer or a fresh juice and generally kick back.Events in August 2022 inJerusalemPuppet Theatre Festival - throughout August - Back by popular demand comes the Train Theatre who are going to be given a number of wonderful performances at their annual Puppet Theatre Festival in Liberty Bell Park, in Jerusalem, between 18th and 22nd August. This is a great family event and one that both kids and adults can enjoy. Whether you’re at ‘A Dot of Light’ (telling the story of braille), ‘The Hungry Sandwich’ (which incorporates elements of clowning into the performance), or ‘Puppet Jam’ which is a kind of edgy cabaret event, you’re going to come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling.View of the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem.Photo byAnton MislawskyonUnsplashHutzot Hayotzer Fair - 15th to 27th August - Unlike the coastal plain of Israel, Jerusalem (which is high in the hills) gets a delicious breeze on summer nights, which makes it a delightful place to wander when the sun goes down. So why not head over to one of Jerusalem’s most beloved venues, the Sultan’s Pool, between the 15th and 27th of August and enjoy their annual arts and crafts fair. There, you’ll find all kinds of creations for sale (indeed, Hutzot Hayotzer, translated from Hebrew to English, actually means ‘The Creator Steps Out’). Enjoy nightly musical performances, have a glass of wine, and breathe in some fresh Jerusalem air as you stand at the foot of the two-thousand-year-old city. It really doesn’t get much better than this.Events in August 2022 inHaifaNorthern Wind -Israeli Art from the Museum Collection, Haifa Museum of Art - A northern wind is blowing through the collection of Haifa’s Museum of Art this August, where you can check out a number of works based in Israel’s biggest city in the north of the country, as well as the surrounding areas around the Carmel area.Haifa has a unique identity - as a port city, many immigrants arrived by ship, before and after the creation of the State of Israel. Historically, it’s also a city steeped in activism - it has a long history of supporting workers' rights and is also very mixed, a place where Jews and Arabs live and work side by side.The Baha'i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. Photo byShai PalonUnsplashEvents in August 2022 in GalileeSafed Klezmer Festival - 9th to 11th August 2022 - The Safed Klezmer Festival is back - and it’s a fantastic opportunity to hear young musicians from around the world play this very unique kind of Jewish music, which began in the shtetls of Eastern Europe and was often played at weddings or joyous Jewish holidays such as Purim and Simchat Torah. Klezmer has really made a comeback in the last decade and in the beautiful and mystical town of Safed in the Upper Galilee, between Tuesday 9th and Thursday 11th August over 90 bands will be performing in the narrow streets and alleyways. Head north and discover your inner joyfulness!Events in August 2022 in the Negev DesertMitzpe Ramon Film Festival - 23rd to 26th August. Mitzpe Ramon might be a small town in the Negev, but it’s home to a mighty fine crater Makhtesh Ramon, which affords splendid hiking and rappelling opportunities, as well as nights spent under starry skies. This desert center is also attracting more and more young creative Israelis, who’ve moved there to be part of a small but vibrant community.As a result, their annual film festival is now in its third year and taking place between 23rd and 26th August. Take a trip down to the desert, reconnect with the elements and enjoy some of the screenings on offer…And if you’re looking for something particular, feel free to contact us by email or telephone - here at Bein Harim we’ve been in business for over 30 years and offer organized tours, day trips, and private tours customized to your needs.A sunset over Ein Yorkeam Wadi. The Negev Desert, Israel.Photo byAvi TheretonUnsplash
By Sarah Mann

Music of Israel

Israel is a long way from its 100th birthday but in the last century, all kinds of influences have combined to create a very diverse and unique musical culture in the country. From enthusiastic amateur singers, cabarets, and small choral societies in the 1920s, to the establishment of the Israeli Philharmonic after the state was created, stretching onto the 1990s, when almost a million Russians emigrated to Israel, many of them excellent musicians, the music scene has been popular!Amusician playing bass guitar at a concert, Israel.Photo by Anton Mislawsky on UnsplashToday, Israeli opera, jazz, and pop music are also forces to be reckoned with, so if you’re traveling to Israel, you can be sure of finding a ticket to something very exciting. Moreover, not just Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa but many other cities and small towns sponsor their own choirs and hold annual music festivals in Israel. Whether it’s a small recital, a full-scale symphony performance, Madonna performing in Yarkon Park,an Israeli folk singer giving a concert in the restored Roman theater at Caesarea, you can be sure of finding incredible musical performances the length and breadth of the country.What Defines Israeli Music?So, what are the characteristics of Israeli music? That’s a hard question to answer! There are all kinds of global influences, for sure - including Russian folk songs, Eastern European Klezmer band traditions, Yemenite ballads, Hasidic melodies, and, of course, the enormous influence that Arabic music has had. And that’s before you even begin to factor in Greek, Ethiopian, central European, and Latin American influences. Of course, that’s to be expected - after all, if Israel is the ultimate melting pot, then why should its musical heritage be any different? Since immigrants began arriving in the Holy Land at the turn of the 20th century, they have been looking for ways not just to express themselves but also to define the ‘national spirit’. This has resulted in a wealth of talent - whether it’s classical, jazz, folk ballads, or pop and rock, the music scene in Israel is incredibly diverse.Beautiful old violin on a red tablecloth, Israel. Photo by Leonid Portnoy on UnsplashNational Musical Instruments of Israel:The history of musical instruments in Israel is a long and rich one. It is fair to say that music played an integral part in the local culture - cymbals and tambourines were used to celebrate joyful occasions, lyres and harps were played at royal concerts, and trumpets were sounded to remind people of momentous events and to celebrate victories.Several musical instruments in ancient Israel are specifically mentioned in the Bible, whilst others are referenced in historical manuscripts. These include: kinnor - this ancient Jewish lyre is also known as King David’s harp since it is the instrument the famous Israelite played. It is Israel’s national instrument and a spiritual instrument for Christians. The Roman Jewish historian Josephus describes the kinnor as having 10 strings, constructed out of a sheep's small intestine, and played with a plectrum (pick). However, the book of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible states that David played the kinnor "with his hand".Shofar - shaped like a horn, this Hebrew trumpet was blown to summon people to prayer, war, or solemn ceremonies. It was also blown by the Cohen priests to mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the tradition continues in synagogues around the world today, each Rosh HaShanah.David Playing the Harp Before Saul, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe shofar is mentioned several times in the Bible. These include the book of Joshua, where the blowing of the shofar was part of the battle to capture the city of Jericho, and in the book of Judges, where it was sounded by Gideon and his warriors in order to terrify the opposing army. Shofars are made out of ram’s horns and, indeed, make a powerful sound (almost like a blast) when blown.Oud - this stringed musical instrument was played regularly in medieval times and is still popular today, in Islamic culture. It is the parent of the European lute, usually with 11 strings grouped in six courses. It has a deep, pear-shaped body, a relatively short neck, and a fretless fingerboard. In Arabic, it means something close to ‘wood stick’ or ‘flexible stick’. It is still played today at traditional music concerts in Israel and the Middle East.Kanun - this stringed instrument can be played either solo or as part of an ensemble and its origins go back to before the birth of Christ. Also part of the lute family. Arabic kanuns are usually made with five skin insets that support a single long bridge, resting on five arching pillars. They have ornamental sound holes called kafes and are played sitting or squatting, plucking the strings with tortoiseshell picks.Darbuka - this goblet-shaped percussion instrument is still widely played in Islamic classical and folk music throughout North Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Lutes, flutes, and bells were also commonly used in biblical times. Daniel, the prophet of Jehovah, wrote of the orchestra of King Nebuchadnezzar - their instruments actually included the pipe, the zither, and the bagpipe!Oud, the traditional musical instrument of Israel, similar to modern lutes. Photo by Youssef Abdelwahab on UnsplashThe History of Music in IsraelMusic has always been an integral part of the country, beginning with the pioneers who arrived from Russia and Europe. As they built the land, they were encouraged to sing - and in groups. Public ‘sing-a-longs were a popular pastime, especially in the kibbutz, because many of the leaders of the day thought it would promote the ‘national spirit.’Today, Israelis young and old still love to sing these songs - particularly out on hikes and sitting around bonfires. This mixture of patriotism and nostalgia for the early days of the state is something many visitors to the country really do find fascinating and touching.Musical cabarets in the 1920s and Aliyah in the 1930sCabarets became popular in British Mandate Palestine in the 1920s and were responsible for the fame of quite a few artists, including Shoshana Damari (a famous Yemenite singer who began her career at ‘Li La Lo’ in Tel Aviv - a cabaret that revolved around drama and satire.By the 1930s, the political tide was turning and the rise of fascism meant Jews were no longer safe in Germany and wider Europe. Many fled and some of them arrived in Palestine - and the country gained an orchestra as a result. In 1936, the Israeli Palestine Philharmonic made its debut, under the leadership of Arthur Toscanini. (Shortly after, a radio orchestra was set up (today it is known as the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra) and the concerts it broadcasted were soon attracting tens of thousands of listeners).Since 1948, the Israeli Philharmonic has gone from strength to strength and is now recognized on the global stage. It even rises above politics from time to time - in the 1980s it performed on the Israel-Lebanon border, playing to audiences on both sides of the fence, who had come to enjoy the concert!Evgeny Zlatin, an Israeli pianist, Jerusalem Academy of Music. Сourtesy photoThe Israeli Conservatory of MusicOne of the oldest and most prestigious institutions in Israel, this Tel Aviv Conservatory was founded in 1943 and serves today as a center to nurture the talent of young musicians in Israel. It boasts a music library, a state-of-the-art concert hall, and a separate wing for opera and chamber music classes.The Jerusalem Academy of Music and DanceThe Conservatory is one of three institutions that make up the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. It offers all kinds of educational programs in music for students from preschool through to graduate level in Israel.What Kind of Music Will I Hear in Israel?If you travel around Israel, you’ll hear all types of music - in the open-air markets, in restaurants, on the local and intercity buses (Israeli drivers love to sing and play music whilst they’re on the road!), in religious services, national ceremonies and just on the streets in different neighborhoods.These musical genres range from ‘Eastern’ (meaning that which originated in Arab-speaking societies), Hasidic (religious music which has its origins in Eastern Europe, especially Poland), Iraqi Jewish music, Ladino songs (which began in Spanish-speaking societies), Yiddish (secular in origin, and often part of ‘Klezmer’ bands) Israeli-Arab (with an emphasis on long, melodic notes) and modern-day Israeli pop.Daria Zlatina, an Israeli pianist, Jerusalem Academy of Music. Сourtesy photoMizrahi - in Hebrew ‘mizrach’ means ‘east’ and this kind, of music, is associated with Sephardic Jews. The movement began in the 1950s, with performances by locals in neighborhoods in which Jews from Arab countries mainly lived. They performed songs in Hebrew but in an Arabic style (on traditional instruments). By the 1970s, Mizrahi musicians like Avihu Medina and Zohar Argov had become very popular and, today, Mizrahi pop is the most common and prominent form of pop music in Israel.Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish music - the Hasidic movement began in the second half of the 18th century in Eastern Europe and placed a great emphasis on expressing joy through song and dance. Today, Hasidic music can be heard at simchas (celebrations) such as weddings and bat mitzvahs, as well as at the Rabbi’s table {the ‘tisch’).Hasidic music has a number of genres including niggunim - religious Jewish songs (or tune) sung in groups, often quite repetitive, using sounds such as “lai, lai, lai”, “bim-bim-bam” or “ai, ai, ai” instead of actual lyrics. Some can be woeful and others very joyful. Niggunim are central to worship in Hasidic Jews life, and a soulful reflection of how mystical intense prayer can be.Iraqi Jewish musicin Israel - in the 1930s, Iraqi musical groups were almost always Jewish! Today, in Israel, this continues in the form of beautiful Arab music, including love songs, folk chants, and traditional music.Tamar Eisenman, Israeli rock and folk singer and songwriter. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinLadino music in Israel- Ladino was the language of the Spanish-speaking Jews, throughout medieval times, with music in the form of ballads sung by women in a dramatic style, either in private or during celebrations. Yiddish music in Israel - this kind of music is sung in the language of the Jews from the tiny villages of Eastern Europe - Yiddish, It includes songs from Yiddish theatre, Klezmer bands, and songs modeled on French melodies and German lieder. Klezmer dance tunes, ritual melodies, and virtuosic improvisations were often played at weddings. Today, Klezmer is making somewhat of a comeback and, in fact, an international Klezmer festival is due to be held in August 2022 in Jerusalem, featuring musicians from around the globe.Israeli Arab music - these melodious songs have become increasingly popular in the country in the last 20 years. One of the most popular on the scene is Ziv Yehezkel, who seems to have captured the hearts of Arabs in Israel. Now, after Israel’s signing of the Abraham Accords with Bahrain and the UAE, it’s quite likely to mean new inspiration for Arab music singers in Israel. Sarit Hadad, an Israeli mizrahi singer.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinSecular music in Israel - in recent years, many modern artists and pop singers from Israel have broken onto the scene, not just within the country but the wider international stage. Some of the more famous include: Etti Ankri - Born of Tunisian parents, this singer has become famous for her moving and emotional songs and is also called the ’contemporary voice of Israel’. Ofra Haza - an icon in Israel and known in the west as ‘the Israeli Madonna’ Haza became famous for her Yemenite songs and after representing Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest, her song ‘Im Nin'Alu’ itself became a Top 20 hit in the UK.Dana International - after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988 with her hit song ‘Diva’, this once Drag Queen and proud transexual singer shot to fame and her songs were soon being played at every dance venue in Israel and every gay bar across Tel Aviv! Netta Barzilai - well known simply as ‘ Netta’ this singer shot to fame after winning an Israeli tv competition - her prize was to compete at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon. There, in May 2018, she won the contest with her song ‘Toy.’Musicians performing atJerusalem Knights Festival, Israel. Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin
By Sarah Mann

Easter in Jerusalem

For Christians, there is no doubt that Easter is the most spiritual holiday in their religious calendar - yes, it even trumps Christmas in the sacred stakes! Why? Because this is the time of the year that the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the son of God, is commemorated and celebrated. They last for a period of time known as ‘Holy Week’ commemorating the events before and after the crucifixion.Easter celebration.Photo by freestocks on UnsplashIn late March or early April each year (depending on the calendar), thousands of pilgrims from all denominations descend upon Jerusalem for a period like no other. Taking place within the walls of the Old City, and at the Garden Tomb (which is open for visits throughout Holy Week (8:30 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 5:30 pm) they recreate scenes from the last week of Jesus’s life, culminating in a solemn procession on Good Friday and a great celebration on Easter Sunday. Let’s take a look at how the week unfolds and some of the rituals the make Easter in Jerusalem so special and moving for Christians…Palm SundayPalm Sunday always falls one week before Easter. It is the first day of’ ‘Holy Week’ and is a festival that commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. According to all of the Gospels, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was greeted by his followers who all waved palm branches to celebrate. Historically, the palm branch may have been a symbol of victory and triumph and the donkey seen as an animal of peace (not war, as would have been a horse).Today, in the Old City, pilgrims recreate this scene as part of the Jerusalem Palm Sunday Procession Tour Beginning at the Mount of Olives, descending into the Kidron Valley and Gethsemane Garden, pilgrims walk solemnly through the Lions' gate and into the Old City. They proceed along the Via Dolorosa where Jesus walked his last steps before arriving at the cross. All along you hear cries of ‘Hosanna’ from the crowds. The procession is led by leaders of the Catholic Patriarchate (in brown robes), the Latin Patriarch (in purple robes) and the Greek Archbishop (in black robes). All along the way, the route is lined with Christian pilgrims (both local and those who have travelled from across the world) reciting blessings and singing songs. It is a very colourful and interesting ceremony, which culminates at St. Anne’s Church.Palm Sunday Procession. Photo by Brady Leavell on UnsplashMaundy ThursdayMaundy Thursday is also known as Holy Thursday and its name derives from the Latin ‘mandatum’ which means ‘command’. This ties up with Jesus’ commandment to his disciples “Love one another, as I have loved you.” This day, in essence, commemorates three major events:1. It is the day Jesus and his disciples sat down to eat the Last Supper. During this meal, Jesus took bread and wine and shared them with everyone at the table. Today, Christians around the world of all denominations continue to use bread and wine in their services of worship (such as the Eucharist and Mass). 2. Furthermore, on Holy Thursday, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. This act has different meanings - to show that as an important person, Jesus practised humility and love to others. Some Christians also regard it as a way of seeking reconciliation with someone before taking communion. Today, there is a traditional Washing of the Feet ceremony carried out in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.3. Finally, this is the day in which Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, after being betrayed by Judas. This was, for sure, a pivotal moment in Christianity.Today. In Jerusalem, pilgrims celebrate Maundy Thursday at the Room of the Last Supper (the Upper Room), located on Mount Zion. Some even hold an all-night vigil there, remembering Jesus’ hours in Gethsemane. In terms of the churches themselves, a Pontifical Mass (Supper of the Lord and Mass of the Chrism) is held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre early in the morning. In the afternoon, in and around the Old City, there are pilgrimages from one church to another followed by services of the Washing of the Feet. Typically, the route of procession passes by the Church of All Nations, through the Lions' Gate, into the Old City and along the Via Dolorosa. All along the way, pilgrims sing songs in a number of languages and pray. Room of the Last Supper. Photo credit: © ShutterstockGood FridayGood Friday (also known as Holy Friday and Great Friday) is a very solemn - and incredibly important - day in the Christian calendar, marking the death of Jesus by crucifixion at Calvary (Golgotha). Many members of the various Christian denominations attend church services, abstain from eating meat and even fast. In the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican tradition, there is a service held between 12 and 3 pm, called ‘The Three Hour’s Agony’ (alluding to the hours Jesus was on the cross).In Jerusalem, each year, thousands of pilgrims descend on the Old City early in the morning, either to be part of the procession itself (tickets are numbered, limited and much sought after) or to pack the streets for a view. The procession itself is a recreation of the route Christ took, retracing his final steps on his way to the cross.The procession begins at the Mount of Olives, entering through the city walls and tracing its way along what is known as the Via Dolorosa (in Latin, ‘The Path of Sorrows’). Known as ‘the Way of the Cross’ it begins at 11.30 am at Station.1. The Stations of the Cross (14 in all, 8 en route and 6 in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) refer to various images relating to Christ’s journey and his suffering as he walked this path.Mount of Olives. Photo credit: © ShutterstockIn the Old City, many pilgrims carry wooden crosses, sing hymns as they walk and often stop to recite prayers at each station. This is to symbolically offer ‘reparations’ for the insults and suffering that Jesus had to endure on his last journey which is estimated to have lasted 1.5 km (from Gethsemane to Calvary). The atmosphere is solemn and charged - many Christians, afterwards, describe it as one of the most moving moments of their lives. At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the service is broken down into several parts: the Liturgy of the Word (carried out in silence). The Great Intercessions, the Adoration of the Cross, Communion (or Mass). Within this time, the liturgy will also include readings of the Gospel Passion narrative. After the ‘Three Hour’s Agony’ service - between 12 midday and 3 pm - vespers are read, to commemorate the time Christ’s body was taken down from the cross.Traditionally, on Good Friday, many Christians in Jerusalem will not eat meat or even fast entirely (to show their sorrow), will not perform any work, including washing clothes, breaking ground or playing with children. Since сhurches of the Old City of Jerusalem are open for the entire day, some pilgrims will spend much of the evening or night in contemplative prayer.A pilgrim in Via Dolorosa. Photo credit: © ShutterstockHoly SaturdayFor Orthodox communities, this day is known as Holy Saturday (‘Saturday of Light’) and each year in Jerusalem, it is commemorated with a ceremony named the Holy Fire Ceremony. This is held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - it is a popular ritual that is well attended by Christians from across the denominations.According to Orthodox tradition, at this time a blue light emanates from the tomb of Jesus and rises up from the marble slab (upon which his body was placed for burial). It is believed that the light forms a column of fire and, as a result, candles can be lit from it, both for the clergy and pilgrims in attendance. It is also thought that this ‘Holy Fire’ will not burn them and can be used to spontaneously light other candles and lamps in the church.In the darkness, the Patriarch kneels in front of the stone, and the crowd waits anxiously. When he emerges, with two candles lit, his audience breaks into applause and cheers with joy. The dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.Photo credit: © ShutterstockEaster SundayThe final day of the Holy Week culminates in enormous celebrations - commemorating the day that Christ rose from the dead. In Jerusalem, celebrations begin early - at 7 am - with the entry of the Latin Patriarch into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. An hour later, the Mass of Resurrection is held and this includes a procession around the Rotunda. The service begins in darkness and one by one candles are lit. The Priest will state ‘ Christ is risen’ and the congregation will respond "He is risen indeed". All heads of the various Churches in Jerusalem will wear their brightest robes, in celebration, and bells will peal out. People pray individually and collectively. Protestants celebrate with an Easter sunrise service at the Garden Tomb.The week following Holy Week the Orthodox Christians (including Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Syrian and Russian Orthodox) celebrate Easter with similar ceremonies and services. Without a doubt, if you are thinking of making a trip to Israel, a visit at this time of the year is highly encouraged. Springtime is beautiful in the Mediterranean and, combined with the rituals enacted in this special week, you will have the opportunity to witness something quite unique in Jerusalem - something that is sure to stay with you for the rest of your life.The best wat to visitholy Christian sites in Jerusalemis to join one ofChristian Day Tours.Inside the Church of Holy Sepulchre.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann

Food and Drink Festivals in Israel

Food is always a highlight of any trip to Israel; the country has delicious locally created dishes and many international imports brought to the Holy Land by immigrants. Wine has been produced in Israel since Biblical times and the rich soil and varied terrains provide nourishing earth for the local vineyards. If you are lucky enough to be in Israel during one of these food and beverage festivals then you will have the opportunity to sample some of the country’s best cuisine.Chefs for Peace Food EventThis festival was established by a group of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish chefs who want to promote peace by bringing people together over a meal. Using food as a common language they hold events throughout the country and sometimes internationally. At these events, you can taste dishes prepared by the chefs and help support their worthy cause. The aim of the Chefs for Peace is to promote understanding and coexistence between the different cultures in the region and hopefully reduce conflict. The chefs see food as the universal means of encountering new cultures. In the past Chefs for Peace events have been held in many countries like Norway, Canada, Italy and most often in Israel. Check out their list of upcoming events on the Chefs for Peace website.So French So Good, FebruaryFor the fourth year running So French, So Good is putting the spotlight on French cuisine with the help of 28 restaurants and 4 bakeries from around the country. This culinary festival is presented by Israeli chefs and bakeries in collaboration with French chefs to create French/Israeli fusion dishes. The festival is run by the French Embassy in Israel and is held at the beginning of February (February 8-10, 2016). For the 2016 festival one of the participants was Chef Laurent Azoulay, a Michelin-star chef from L’Ekrin restaurant in Meribel, ski resort in the French Alps who joined Meir Adoni of the BlueSky restaurant and judge on one of Israel’s cooking reality shows. Other chefs who have joined together for the festival are Chef Michel Sarran (Michelin rated) from Toulouse who worked together with Israeli Chef Moran Yanai who has his restaurant in Hotel Montefiore. By pairing up French chefs with Israeli chefs many amazing new creations are produced. The ideas and culinary customs of the French and Israeli culture come together to create a unique food. In the 2016 festival chefs came from Acre, Tiberias, Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv. While the international side of the equation was filled in by chefs like Ridha Khadher of the Au Paradis du Gourmand in Paris, Guillaume Gomez, head chef of the Presidential Palace Elysee and Stephane Leger of Archange restaurant in Saint Raphael. The festival will be held in restaurants across the country where the specially created menus will be on offer. In addition to the French culinary delights there are also screenings of food-related films at the French Institute in Tel Aviv, cookery classes at the Sheraton Tel Aviv and French alcohol tasting.Shokoland Chocolate Festival, FebruaryTel Aviv’s chocolate festival is held for three days at the historic Old Station complex – HaTachana. The country’s top chocolatiers come together to present a huge range of chocolates At the festival there are also cooking demonstrations, chocolate making demonstrations, chocolate displays, chocolate tastings, chocolate ice-creams, chocolate sculptures, chocolate fondue and even chocolate beer. The countries chocolate boutique stores will treating you to delicious chocolate in all shapes, flavors and colors.Diner en Blanc , Junehe concept behind this culinary event is to bring people together across a table to share a meal. The dinner is held the night before Tel Aviv’s famous Tel Aviv White Nights when the city’s restaurants, clubs and some stores stay open until the early hours of the morning. 2016 will be the 3rd annual Diner en Blanc event and about 500 people will take part. The location of this pop-up event is only announced an hour before the dinner to people who have previously registered online. Participants need to bring their own white table, white chairs and picnic basket full of delicious food. Dinner in White is an elegant and sophisticated event held in up to 60 locations around the world. The whole event is decorated in white with white table cloths, decorations and balloons. The participants are asked to attend wearing only white clothes. While eating their dinner there is live entertainment and dancing. The event is quiet exclusive with “friends bring friends” so you can’t really get an invitation unless you know someone who is already involved. There are also quite a lot of rules about etiquette and decorum at the event.Taste of Tel Aviv Food Festival ,JuneTel Aviv has literally thousands of restaurants from gourmet fine dining establishments to hole-in-the-wall humus places. You won’t be able to sample all that the city’s restaurants have to offer but you can do pretty well if you attend this festival held in the spring. Some of Israel’s most renowned chefs participate as well as many restaurants from the city. Each restaurant sets up a stall in the festival and offers a selection of food from their menu all at a drastically reduced price. The idea is to bring gourmet food to the general public at affordable prices. The festival is the largest food festival in the country and is visited by over a million people each year (making a profit of over a million dollars). Restaurants offer a tasting menu for a set discount price. Dates for the next festival have yet to be announced but it is usually held in Ganei Yehoshua (HaYarkon Park), Tel Aviv.Herzliya Marina Beer Festival ,JulyThe Herzliya Marina is a great place to visit even if you miss the festival; a large up-market mall faces the marina where yachts are docked along the edge of a wide expansive deck and plaza. This is where the festival is held, out in the open on long summer nights. The festival presents a wide variety of beers as well as a beer-brewing competition. While sipping beer and enjoying the sea breeze visitors are entertained by live performances by top Israeli artists.Chef, Eat!JulyUnlike other food festivals this one does not have one location or even one date; it is held in several restaurants across Jerusalem a number of times a year. Participating restaurants offer a two course meal at a discount price. Guests get a starter and main course for under 100ILS plus they can add a few extra shekels for dessert.Jerusalem Wine Festival, August2016 was the 13th year for this annual festival. It is Israel’s largest wine festival and features wine tastings, food stalls, workshops and live musical performances. The Israel Museum hosts this beverage event which feels a lot more cultural because of its surroundings than other alcohol festivals do. The event is held in the grounds of the museum where there are several sculptures and works of art. The festival celebrates Israeli wines and snacks are on offer while live music plays in the background. Approximately 60 Israeli wineries are represented offering over 100 different types of wine. In 2016 20,000 people are expected to attend. At the festival you can buy bottles of the Israeli wines to take home.Jerusalem Beer Festival, AugustThis is perhaps the biggest and most important annual beer event in Israel. Over the course of two days the festival is open from sundown until midnight and sees about 20,000 guests. 2016 will be the 11th year for the annual festival. In the past it has been held in the historic Old Train Station complex and at Gan HaAtzmut. At the event Israeli breweries set up stalls offering a taste of their brew. There are over 150 beers offered each year from large and micro-breweries including international labels. You have the opportunity to sample beer from Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Japan and more. There are even some unusual beers like banana infused beer. In addition to the beer guests will be entertained by live musical performances and the beer is accompanied by a great selection of food. There will also be beer making demonstrations and an arts and craft market. In 2015 tickets cost 40ILS.Around the World in Rishon LeZion, AugustThe world food fair (Yarid Colinari, Ta’am Olami) offers a taste of cuisine from countries around the globe and entrance is free. The festival is held in the 140 dunam Shikma Park along the avenue of palm trees and on the lawns of the park. Ten zones of the world are created featuring large models of the country’s landmarks; the country or region’s traditional foods as well as other cultural elements like national costume, traditional folk dancing and the local music. On the lawns of the park will be a Greek-style tavern selling beers, cocktails and wine from around the world. In the same area here will be a special section for cheeses from around the world and those entering the area where alcohol is sold will have to show ID to prove they are over 18. In the past the countries represented were America, France, Italy, Lebanon, China, Morocco, Greece, Russia and India.The Kosher Taste of the City, AugustIsraeli cuisine faces the unique challenge of contending with kosher law – no mixing of meat and milk; no seafood; no fish without scales and fins; meat must be from specific animals, slaughtered in a specific manner and prepared in a specific way. This is one of the rare festivals where kosher-observant Jews can enjoy the food on offer. The event is held on the Hof Argmon promenade in Natanya where kosher restaurants present their dishes for a small price (usually under 80ILS). Kitchenware is sold at the festival and there are a number of activities including kid’s entertainment and life musical performances. The festival lasts 10 days and about 50 kosher gourmet restaurants participate.Taste of the Galilee Food Festival, September/OctoberThis annual event is held in the Galilee region of northern Israel at Montfort Lake Park and select locations in the region usually during the Sukkot holidays. The festival features music, workshops, shows, children’s activities and foods produced and grown in the Galilee region. Cafes, restaurants and kibbutzim will be participating and presenting themed menus. The festival highlights the culinary world of northern Israel, the rich farm produce and cottage industry food products as well as the Galilee’s famous wines. Entrance is free to Montfort Lake Park where you can relax on the lawns between meals, rent pedal boats on the lake and enjoy the live performances in the evening. The festival opens in the park at noon and continues until sundown when the shows begin.Taybeh Oktoberfest, OctoberTaybeh is a small Christian village in Palestine’s West Bank surrounded by the majority Muslim communities. Although the Muslim majority prohibits alcohol for religious reasons the Christians of Taybeh have managed to keep one of the oldest trades in the Holy Land alive. Here the municipality has collaborated with the local brewery since 2005 in holding the West Banks only beer festival. The festival has gone from strength to strength and draws in approximately 16,000 visitors each year for the two day festival. The event boosts the local economy and has put the small village of Taybeh on the international map. The Taybeh Brewing Company’s beer is drunk in countries around the world and they have recently added wine to their product list. The wine is called “Nadim” and is produced in the company’s new winery which is beneath a boutique hotel built specifically to accommodate visitors to the brewery, winery and festival.Visiting the festival supports local businesses and helps to bring stability to this area of the country where life always seems to be in flux. The festival is usually held on the first Saturday and Sunday of October but exact dates for 2016 have not yet been announced. At the festival local music groups perform as well as international guest artists. Performances are in several venues and there are also local arts and crafts on sale as well as village tours, a small museum, a Taybeh beer tour and exhibitions held at the Society for the Preservation of Christian Heritage Historical Center of Taybeh. At past festivals there have been street hockey games, Henna body painting, prayer services in the three local churches, folklore dancing performances, stand-up comedy performances, a children’s program, karate demonstrations and a lottery. You can also buy local products like olive oil and honey. The festival helps to promote a different side of Palestine to that perceived on the international news.A-Sham - Arab Food Festival of Haifa, December2016 was the first year for Israel’s Arab Food Festival. The festival looks to become an annual event and features 25 chefs, Jewish, Christian and Muslim from across the country. Arabic delicacies are created by chefs of all faiths in Israel, there are no borders or political conflict when it comes to Israel’s culinary community. Haifa is the perfect city to host this festival as citizens of all faiths share the city and mostly live in harmony side-by-side. The Holiday of Holidays is an annual event when Hanukah, Christmas and Eid al-Fitr are celebrated together by events held throughout the city. The Arab Food Festival is now a part of the annual Holiday of Holidays events. The festival was the idea of Arab Israeli chef Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, the winner of Israel’s 2014 reality show Master Chef (and also a microbiologist). The festival highlights traditional Arabic cuisine which is fast disappearing from the local culinary landscape. The Levantine kitchen is presented in a number of variations to show the cultural context of these dishes and the traditional lifestyles. Many of the traditional Arabic dishes are very labor intensive and many are associated with specific events like religious festivals, weddings and celebrating a new born. Among the traditional Arabic foods on offer there is hilbe, commonly eaten by Yemeni Jews and made out of fenugreek seeds; habisa, a black and white dessert sweetened with carob juice and haroumanieh, eggplant and green lentils prepared in pomegranate juice. Those wanting to enjoy the amazing Arabic foods on offer only need to pay 35ILS (2015 price); you then receive a map of 25 restaurants offering the festival dishes and you can set off to taste them at the various eateries. There are a number of additional festival events including a workshop given by Christian Orthodox Arab women of how to prepare traditional Christmas cookies; tastings of Galilee olive oil, honey, almonds and carob syrup and panel discussions.
By Petal Mashraki

Purim in Israel

If you’re lucky enough to be in Israel during Purim you will enjoy the festive atmosphere, parties, fancy dress and parades. Purim is perhaps the most joyous Jewish holiday. Purim in Israel occurs in March or April – the date changes each year as it is determined by the Hebrew lunar calendar and not the Gregorian calendar. Although Purim is a Jewish holiday it is not observed like a Shabbat in Israel and businesses and attractions have regular open hours. Purim is a normal working day in Israel although it is a school holiday. Purim in Israel is celebrated by secular and religious Jews alike.What is Purim?Purim Purim celebrates an event in Jewish history which is told in the Biblical Book of Esther. In about 357 BC the king of Persia, Ahasuerus scoured the land for the most beautiful women to make his wife. The woman chosen was Esther, cousin and ward of Mordechai. Esther was forced to marry the king but she hid the fact that she was Jewish. Shortly afterwards Mordechai heard of a plot to assassinate the king and he had it reported and stopped.Meanwhile the villain of this story, Haman was appointed Prime Minister and he undertook to get rid of all the Jews. He had them draw “lots” (Pur in Hebrew, hence the name of the holiday) to decide the day of their annihilation. Hearing of Haman’s plansMordechai sent a message to Esther asking her to appeal to the king for mercy for the Jewish people.That night the king could not sleep and so he sat up reading from the Royal Chronicles. Here he read of the time Mordechai saved him from an assassination attempt. In the meantime Haman had decided to haveMordechai hung for not bowing before him. So Haman had gallows erected and went to the king to ask permission to hang Mordechai. The king asked Haman how such a loyal man should be honored. Haman, thinking the king was referring to him said the man should be dressed in fine clothes and led on horseback through the streets. The king ordered Haman to give Mordachai this honor. Although furious Haman had no choice but to follow the king’s orders.How is Purim Celebrated in Israel?Next Ester appealed to the king, told him of Haman’s plan and asked for mercy on her nation. The king ordered Haman hung from the gallows that had been built for Mordechai and Mordechai was made Prime Minister. Although the king’s decree could not be rescinded he gave the Jews permission to defend themselves. The Jews killed their enemies on the 14th of Adar and on the 15th they rested and celebrated. A holiday was established in memory of this historic victory.The religious community fasts on the day before Purim. At the end of the fast, after nightfall Jews gather in synagogues to hear the reading of the Book of Ester. After synagogue and the following day there are celebrations, parties and parades. The parades take place in almost all Israeli cities and are often before the actual day of Purim or a few days later, depending on the weather and day of the week.Purim Traditions in Israel Purim Foods- Hamantaschen (also called oznei Haman or the ears of Haman in Hebrew) are triangular cookies filled with poppy seeds, jam or chocolate. In Israel you will see these delicious cookies on sale at every bakery and supermarket.Gift Giving- It is traditional to give food hampers (mishloach manot) to friends, family and those less privileged than ourselves. These hampers usually hold wine, cookies, chocolate, nuts and other goodies.Fancy Dress- Kids and adults in Israel dress up in fancy dress during Purim. There are Purim fancy dress parties in bars, pubs, night clubs and private venues. The symbolism of the costumes is to show that God was behind the Purim miracle but his involvement was masked.Getting Drunk- Believe it or not it is even a Purim tradition to get drunk! This originates from a passage in the Talmud which states:” A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between “cursed by Haman” and “blessed by Mordechai.” So it is a “mitzvah” or good deed when you drink too much during Purim!Things to See and Do in Israel during PurimThere are many special events in Israel during Purim. Purim is one of the most exciting holidays for nightclub. There are many fancy dress parties held in top nightclubs across the country. The main attraction during Purim is the Adloyada or Purim Parade. Parades are held in most cities but the most famous Purim parade takes place in Holon, a short drive from Tel Aviv. The parades include parade floats, costumed performers, dancing and music. Be’er Sheva also holds a great Purim event in the streets of the Old City.Purim in Tel AvivThe main Purim event in Tel Aviv is a street party held in Kikar HaMedina. It is a huge event with live musical performances, market stalls, dancing , singing and great food. Tel Aviv is also the site of the Purim Zombie Walk. Locals (and visitor) dress up as zombies and walk through the streets starting on the corner of Ben-Zion Blvd and King George Street.Purim in JerusalemPurim is celebrated a day early in Jerusalem and other “walled” cities but the celebrations continue throughout the Purim week. To enjoy Purim in Jerusalem head for Safra Square for family-friendly events like circus acts, a costume competition and arts and crafts workshops. There will be performances by top Israeli musicians and TV stars. In Jerusalem’s Sacher Park there will be a fun event with food stalls, music and live shows from 10am. Special Purim events are held at a number of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv museums including the Israel Museum, Bloomfield Science Museum and the Tower of David Museum. Although most of the Purim parties have yet to be announced you will probably find Purim fun at Jerusalem’s Nachalot Street Party. This street party is on Nisim Bachar Street, Jerusalem and entrance is free.
By Petal Mashraki

Pesach – The Jewish Pilgrimage

The Jewish religious calendar is full of events and holy days, most of which commemorate historic biblical events. Each religious holiday comes with its own traditions and religious ceremonies. However only three religious holidays require Jews to make a pilgrimage – Pesach (Passover), Sukkot and Shavuot together they are called Shlosh HaRegalim. Of the three pilgrimages Pesach was the most important as it marks the birth of Israel as a free nation.Seder Pesach, aritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover.Photo byPhil GoodwinonUnsplashIn ancient times the pilgrimage was to the Temple which stood on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem up until 70CE. Pilgrims would come to the Temple and bring a sacrificial offering. Today, because the Temple no longer stands, prayer has replaced the sacrifices and the pilgrimage is no longer a Torah obligation. However many thousands of Jews choose to make the annual journey to visit the City of Gold during the pilgrimage festivals.As the Temple is no longer standing the pilgrimage is made to the Wailing Wall, the last remaining wall of the Temple where pilgrims come to pray. There is a point within the Wailing Wall Tunnel which is the closest point to where the Holy of Holies of the 2nd Temple once stood. Many pilgrims go to this point to prey. Other less religious Israeli Jews make the pilgrimage during Passover but turn it into a fun day out in the country’s capital without the religious implications.Pesach is a celebration of freedom, from slavery into independence from a foreign land into their own. Pesach lasts for 7 days (8 days outside of Israel) it begins on the 15th Nissan (usually in March and on the eve of 25th March in 2013) with Seder Night, a celebratory meal when the family comes together. At the Seder meal symbolic foods are eaten and the Hagadah, the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, is read.The first and last days of the holiday are observed like a Shabbat so no work is done and most businesses are closed. The intermediate days (Chol-ha-Mo’ed) are like a regular holiday, businesses may open half-day and schools are on vacation. For the entire holiday of 7 days, Jews abstain from eating bread or anything containing fermented grain. This is a reminder of the hasty exit from Egypt when the bread didn’t have time to rise.The Pesach Pilgrimage in the New TestamentChristians will recognize the Passover pilgrimage as an event in the life of Christ when Jesus traveled to Jerusalem with his parent for the Passover pilgrimage. At the time Jesus was only 12 years old, on this visit, his parents lost him and finally found him preaching in the Temple (Luke 4:43). Many years later when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem in the days preceding his crucifixion it was also leading up to the Passover pilgrimage.
By Petal Mashraki

Hanukkah in Israel

Each year Jews celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah which is often called the “Jewish Christmas” because it occurs in December. If you happen to be in Israel during Hanukkah you will be lucky enough to share in this special celebration. Unlike Christian holidays the date of Hanukkah changes each year because of the Jewish lunar calendar. In Israel Hanukkah is a week-long school holiday but there are no days observed like Shabbat so all top attractions in Jerusalem and other cities as well as stores remain open as usual. There are many special events put on to keep Israeli school kids busy and to entertain locals and visitors alike.Hanukkah menorah against the background of Tanach page. Photo byDiana PolekhinaonUnsplashWhat is Hanukkah?The Hanukkah holiday celebrates an event that took place in the 160 SBC. During that time Palestine was ruled by Greek-Syrians and Jews were persecuted. Jews were forbidden to worship, many were murdered, scrolls were burnt and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated. A small group of Jews rose up against their oppressors and fought back in the “Maccabean Revolt.” The Jews were victorious and proceeded to restore the Temple and rededicate it. Part of rededicating the Temple was lighting the Menorah (a seven-lamped candelabra which had to remain lit eternally. When the Maccabees came to light the Temple’s Menorah they found that only a small jug of the required pure olive oil remained. The oil should have been sufficient only to light the lamp for one day. However, a miracle occurred and it remained lit for eight days by which time more oil had been found.To commemorate the events of Hanukkah Jews light candles on an eight-armed candelabra (called a Hanukkia). On the first night of Hanukkah one candle is lit and each successive night an additional candle is lit until all eight are lit. In addition, there is the 9th candle in the middle of the Hanukkiah which is used to light the others. The symbols of Hanukkah are light, oil, the hanukiah, and the dreidel – a spinning top.Two Hanukkah menoras with lit candles. Photo byshraga kopsteinonUnsplashHow is Hanukkah Celebrated in Israel?Bearing in mind the symbols of Hanukkah you will see a lot of fried foods (commemorating the miraculous oil) in Israel during Hanukkah. The most famous Hanukkah food is the doughnut or sufgania. This is a round doughnut with no hole in the middle but instead, it is filled with jam. Every café, restaurant, and kiosk will be selling sufganiot. These days there are many different kinds of sufganiot, from chocolate to alcohol flavored! An estimated 24 million sufganiot are eaten in Israel each Hanukkah. The symbol of light and the hanukkiah can be seen in Israel during Hanukkah. Each Israeli household displays a hanukkiah on the windowsill.Special Events in Israel during HanukkahHanukkah ShowsDuring the Hanukkah holiday in Israel, there is a plethora of theatrical productions, musical shows, concerts, and dance productions geared towards families. The most famous of these Hanukkah shows is the Festigal, a spectacular extravaganza of bright costumes, comedy, music, and dance. Top Israeli performers often appear in the Festigal. The Festigal is held annually in Tel Aviv. A more recent addition is Motek Shel Festival which is the same idea but geared towards a younger audience.Hanukkiah with 5 lit candles. Photo byRobert ThiemannonUnsplashHanukkah ToursSpecial walking tours of Jerusalem and the religious city of Bnei Brak are organized so that you can see the many hanukkiot displayed in the windows of private homes. This kind of Hanukkah tour takes place at night and includes walking through neighborhoods where many hanukkiot are displayed.The lighting of the HanukkiahEach city has a large hanukkiah set up in a public square. The hanukkiah is ceremoniously lit on the first night of Hanukkah. On the subsequent nights of Hanukkah, the city’s hanukkiah is often lit automatically. The most famous candle lighting ceremonies you can see take place next to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. Each year on the first night of Hanukkah a torch Relay starts in the city of Modi’in and travels to the Western Wall in Jerusalem where the giant hanukkiah is lit.Museums during HanukkahMost museums hold special themed exhibits or workshops during Hanukkah. Science museums often hold demonstrations of light experiments. Other museums display artistic variations on the hanukkiah or hold kids' workshops where they can create their own hanukkiah, spinning top, or candles. Savivon, or dreidel. Photo byTetiana SHYSHKINAonUnsplashYou will definitely find special events and activities relating to Hanukkah at the Children’s Museum in Holon; the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv; the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and at the Tower of David Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Bloomfield Science Museum holds an annual MakeLight exhibition.In addition, there is the Museum of Edible Oil Products in Haifa which naturally ties in with the Hanukkah theme. The Hasmonean Village recreates the Hanukkah story each year; the Ein Yael Oil Festival is held in Jerusalem.Hanukkah Parties in IsraelOf course, the Israelis party whenever there is a good excuse! And Hanukkah is no exception. You will find bars, pubs, and clubs across the country holding Hanukkah parties throughout the holiday.Holiday of Holidays HaifaThe Haifa municipality holds special events on weekends throughout December. The Holiday of Holidays activities and shows celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Eid al-Fitr.
By Petal Mashraki

May 2022 in Israel - What's Going On?

Springtime in Israel, particularly the month of May, is an absolutely fantastic time to visit the country. The rainy season has long passed, the sunshine is plentiful but it’s not terribly hot yet, in the way it can be in the high summer. With endless opportunities to enjoy the beach, explore the country and eat dinner outdoors on cool, breezy evenings, some would say it’s the perfect month to plan your perfect vacation in Israel.Sunset in the south of Israel. Photo byShai PalonUnsplashVisit Israel in the Spring!It’s also the ideal season for swimming in the Mediterranean Sea (the water is very pleasant), hiking inGalilee or Golan Heights, where flowers are blooming, visiting some boutique vineyards, or spending a few days in Jerusalem. If you’re there, why not wander the narrow alleyways of Nachlaot before grabbing a bite in theMahane Yehuda Market? There are also endless special events in Israel taking place - concerts, exhibitions, festivals, and one-off performances. If you’re down in the party city of Eilat, after a day of jet skiing, hanging out at the Dolphin Reef, or exploring nearby Timna Park, enjoy a cocktail by the Red Sea in Eilat, with breathtaking scenery in the form of desert mountains behind you.Here are a few of our recommendations for things to do in Israel in May - there’s something for everyone, trust us, so take a look at the list and get packing.Gray Dolphin in Eilat, Israel. Photo bySilviu GeorgescuonUnsplashJerusalem events in May 2022Jerusalem is the world’s most holy city for three major religions and a place packed full of historical sites, archaeological digs, and cultural treasures. And there is plenty going on there in May 2022.Jerusalem International Book ForumRunning from 15th to 18th May in the charming neighborhood of Mishkenot Shaananim, a stone’s throw from the Old City, Jerusalem International Book Forum is a week of professional and intellectual gatherings, with people from all different backgrounds across the world showing up in the capital. The forum offers workshops, panel talks, interviews, and social gatherings, looking at subjects such as podcasts, audiobooks, literature for young adults, and how to publish in a post-Covid world. With almost every event held in English, it’s the perfect event for anyone who loves books.Where: YMCA (26 King David Street) and Mishkenot Shaananim Conference Centre Flag of Israel at the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem. Photo byIvan LouisonUnsplashInternational Museum DayInternational Museum Day falls this year on the 19th of May and those participating in Israel (specifically in Jerusalem) and offering free entrance include the Bible Lands Museum, Bloomfield Science Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the world-famous Israel Museum.Established with the intention of exposing the public to the cultural wealth of museums, it’s a great way to raise awareness of the place of the museum in our society, and not just for adults but for children too. The Israel Museum, in particular, is bursting with treasures, including the Model of the Second Temple, the beautiful Sculpture Garden, replicas of ancient synagogues, and the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, housed in a dedicated building.There are also free guided tours that take you through the four wings - Archaeology, Fine Arts, Jewish art and life, and the Youth Wing for Art Education, as well as a chance to see current exhibitions on masks, food, and castles! Fun fact: Did you know that there are more museums, per capita, in Israel than anywhere else in the world?Where: In museums across Israel (check website for details)The Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Day, all across the City of Jerusalem (28th-29th May 2022)Jerusalem Day(‘Yom Yerushalyim’ in Hebrew) begins on the evening of 28th May and ends the following evening. Commemorating the reunification of the city, after the Six-Day War in 1967, today the capital takes center stage. There’s plenty in store for anyone visiting Jerusalem, including Jerusalem tours, tastings, live music, workshops, and an enormous parade (complete with floats, featuring veterans, local Yerushalmis, and Christian supporters of Israel).It’s a wonderful thing to see, with stages set up in city parks, old-time singers belting out the classics (including Naomi Shemer’s ‘Jerusalem of Gold’) and the kids will love it too since there’s plenty of face-painting on offer! And if you want to learn more about the history of Jerusalem, from the time of King David, head down to the Jaffa Gate - the parade always goes past the walls.Where: Across central Jerusalem and outside the walls of the Old City, at the Jaffa GateEntry of a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo byLevi Meir ClancyonUnsplash“Which Came First? The Story or the Egg?” Exhibition at the Israel Museum, JerusalemRunning at the world-famous Israel Museum in Jerusalem, this exhibition focuses on prize-winning children’s books illustrator Hilla Havkin. Now she’s painting stories - on ostrich eggs! - and more than 20 of them are on display in this exhibition, each one focusing on a different story - including giraffes, bats, balloons, and kites. As the eggs rotate, surprises abound. What a wonderful exhibition!Where: The Israel Museum, Ruppin Boulevard 11, JerusalemSovev Cycling Event, Jerusalem (Friday 13th May 2022)If you love cycling, love Jerusalem, or love both, then Sovev is for you! This May, to celebrate spring, the city’s largest cycling event takes place, with routes that will take you through pastoral scenes, urban landscapes, and astonishing historical sites. There are three routes - 10km, 40km, and 50kms - and thousands of participants will join. Make sure to register early!Where: The gathering point for everyone is at the First Station in the German Colony.A palm tree in Jaffa, Israel. Photo byReiseuhuonUnsplashTel Aviv events in May 2022After a day at thebeach in Tel Aviv, stroll on itspromenade,learn about Bauhaus architecture in the White City or rent a bicycle and cycle toJaffa. You can also join one of the Tel Aviv special events listed below.DocAviv, Tel Aviv (26th May - 5th June 2022)Beginning on 26th May and running for 10 days, Docaviv in Tel Aviv will be showcasing a range of documentaries, many being their world premieres. Whether you’re interested in history, art, language, family, or politics, there’s going to be something there to intrigue you. This year’s opening film is ‘The Devil Speaks; Eichman’s Lost Confession’ which shows reels of footage of the infamous Nazi, talking to a journalist in Argentina, before his celebrated capture by the Mossad.Where: Cinematheque, 5 Ha’arba’a Street, Tel AvivEat Tel Aviv - A Tel Aviv Food Festival(8th May 2022)The ultimate festival for foodies, Eat Tel Aviv brings together many of Israel’s top chefs in one place, all attempting to woo visitors with their creations. For several days, down at Charles Clore Park, close to the Neve Tzedek neighborhood, you can enjoy live music, fantastic food trucks, and innovative dishes. Some of the top restaurants in Tel Aviv participate here, including Manta Ray (seafood), Vicky Cristina (tapas), and Dixie (burgers) as well as plenty of celebrity chefs. Tastings and street food. What’s not to like?Where: Charles Clore Park, Tel AvivJaffa port area. Photo byShai PalonUnsplashRooftop Yoga at City Hall, Tel AvivEvery Thursday beginning at 6 pm, at City Hall, next to Rabin Square, yoga lovers gather together, to enjoy an hour or two of free yoga classes and sessions on the roof of the municipality. Apart from the fact that there are great views over the city, it’s a good way to meet new friends.Where: Tel Aviv City Hall, Rabin Square, 66 Ibn Gvirol StreetWhite City Bauhaus Tours, Tel AvivEvery Friday at 10 am, beginning at the Bauhaus Center on trendy Dizengoff Street, a classic Bauhaus Tour takes place, beginning with an introductory movie and a map. You’ll then set off with your guide, and also armed with stereo headsets, connected to their microphone.You’ll be taken around the oldest boulevards and streets in the city - including Rothschild, Ahad Ha’am, and Nahmani - and learn about the history of the White City’s most prominent buildings in this style, built in the 1930s and ’40s by German Jews, who arrived in Tel Aviv just before World War II. The cost is 80 NIS (25 USD).Deep Purple Concert, Tel Aviv (Sunday 22nd May 2022)Founded in 1968, Deep Purple is truly a pioneer of the heavy metal scene (they also won a Guinness Record award for being the world’s loudest band). Next month, they will be performing at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, to the delight of their many fans in Israel. So get ready for a night out, with a bunch of hard rock lovers.Where: Menora Mivtachim Arena, Tel AvivBlack horse carriage in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo byAvi TheretonUnsplashEvents in Northern Israel in May 2022Whether you’re hiking in Galilee, tasting wines and cheeses on the farms of the Jezreel Valley, or kayaking down theJordan River, the Holy Land is waiting for you!Shivat Roim Dairy, northern IsraelBefore Shavuot arrives (in early June), why not head north to Shirat Roim (‘Shepherds Song’) up in the Galilee. It’s a boutique dairy, making fantastic sheep and goat cheeses, all without preservatives! It’s so good, it’s won prizes in Europe for its fabulous products. At their dairy on Kibbutz Lotem (near Karmiel), you can see the entire process (the making and the ripening), attend a workshop, and taste some samples. The ‘House of Cheese’ which is next door is open to the public on weekends and holidays. Yum! Where: Shirat Roim Dairy, Kibbutz Lotan, Western GalileeKayaking on the Jordan RiverThis is a really good activity for May because the weather is fantastic - not too hot and not too cold. It’s also a great experience for adults and kids - and the Jordan River is perfect for kayaking. Slide over small cascades, as your guide directs you through thick vegetation. Enjoy the fabulous views - the river banks are green and peaceful and if you’re lucky, you might even see a turtle!Where:the Jordan RiverView of the Golan Heights from Mount Bental.Photo credit: © ShutterstockYom Ha’Atzmaut (aka Israel Independence Day)Taking place this year on 4th-5th May, this is one of the most joyful days of the year, with celebrations that kick off at dusk and last through the night, followed by more celebrations the following day, in the form of a traditional Israeli ‘mangal’ (barbeque) at the beach, or in your friend’s back garden.All towns and cities in Israel have festivities, which include fireworks and concerts. In Jerusalem, there is the traditional torch-lighting ceremony atMount Herzl, attended by dignitaries, and in Tel Aviv, there’s a huge gathering atRabin Square(the square named after the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) with dancing and music.The following day, if you’re not a fan of barbeque, you can enjoy free entrance to certain museums, includingYad La Shiryonin Latrun (Israel’s official memorial for fallen soldiers) and theHall of IndependenceonRothschild Boulevard, where David Ben Gurion read out the famous Declaration of Independence in May of 1948.Where: Events all across the countryFireworks at the end of the 70th Independence day ceremony on Mt. Herzl. Photo byLavi PerchikonUnsplashJeep Tours, Golan HeightsThere are plenty of jeep tours you can take in Israel, but one we’d highly recommend is run by the company ‘No Other Land’ up in the Golan Heights, based on Kibbutz Merom Golan. It’s not just a great chance to explore northern Israel but really to see how locals, especially on kibbutzim, live in this part of the country.Guided by Ilan Shurman, who not only served in the IDF as a paratrooper but also holds a degree in Israel and Middle East Studies, he’ll give you plenty of history and geopolitics, with trips out to Qunietra (today a ghost town) and a stop outside one of the Israeli bunkers close to the border with Syria. This is a perfect family attraction and teenagers in particular, tend to love it!Where: Kibbutz Merom Golan,No Other Land Jeep Tours.International Yoga Festival in Israel, May 2022Israelis love yoga (seriously!) and this year, between 12th-14th May 2022 an enormous festival is taking place in the north of the country. Featuring teachers, lecturers, musicians, and workshops, people will gather together to learn and practice their skills for a long weekend, in the most pastoral of environments.A woman doing advanced yoga pose. Photo byARA CHOonUnsplashThe ‘yoga village’ at which it will take place is atGan HaShlosha National Park, one of Israel’s most beautiful nature reserves, which is located close to Mount Gilboa. The surrounding streams and astonishing waterfalls lend themselves to an atmosphere of happiness and tranquillity…and the festival is even promising a special ‘water compound’ with special sessions.The International Yoga Festival, along with all of the usual the ‘yogie’ activities, will feature music shows, a kid’s compound (complete with fun activities and shallow swimming areas), food stands (many of which are promoting vegan food), and a great artist’s fair, where you can purchase jewelry, clothing, and art.Wine Tours in the Carmel MountainsIsrael’s full of fabulouswineriesand what better thing to do than to take a tour of one, whilst enjoying the astonishing scenery? The Carmel Winery was founded by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1892, with the aim of helping farmers earn a long-term living, rather than relying on more simple crops.The Centre For Wine CultureinZichron Yaakovprovides guided tours and this includes a wine shop, restaurant, two specialist-tasting rooms, a small cinema, and a barrel room in an underground cellar. And Zichron itself is a lovely little town, so take a stroll afterwards on its midrachov (main pedestrianized street) or even head off toHaifa, which is just 30 minutes away.Where: Carmel Wintery, 2 Derek Ha Yekev, Zichron YaakovInterested in special events in Israel, private orday tours in Israel?Feel free to contact us!Flam Winery, Eshtaol, Israel. Photo by Eli Levit on Unsplash
By Sarah Mann

Visiting Israel during Shavuot

This year Shavuot will be celebrated from sundown on Tuesday 3rd to sundown on Thursday 5th of June. Shavuot is also called the Festival of Weeks, First Fruits, Harvest Holiday or Pentecost. This religious and traditional Jewish holiday is a celebration of the first harvest. When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem this would have been the time when the first fruits were brought as an offering to the Temple. This agricultural holiday is one of three major Jewish holidays which requires religious Jews to make a journey to Jerusalem. In ancient times the Jewish people would make the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem on Passover, Sukkoth (Feast of Booths), and Shavuot. Shavuot also marks the end of the Counting of the Omer, a 50 day period starting on the first day of Passover. An Omer was the Biblical measure of a quantity of grain and at the end of the counting of the Omer, an offering would be made from the first wheat harvest of the year. Because of the holiday’s association with agriculture, the symbols of Shavuot are the seven species of Israel – wheat, grapes, barley, pomegranates, dates, olives, and figs. The holiday also marks the day when the Torah was given to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai.What to Expect When Visiting Israel during ShavuotYour trip to Israel will only be slightly affected if you are here during Shavuot. On the one hand, there are many fun events, parties, and a holiday atmosphere and on the other hand, Shavuot is a national religious holiday and you may find some sites closed for two days. During Shavuot Israelis traditionally wear white clothes, young children often are asked to wear flower wreaths in their hair to school and the stores are overflowing with an abundance of fruit.It is traditional to study Torah throughout the night during Shavuot so the Western Wall will be alive with visitors and worshipers night and day. Religious Jews attend synagogue on Shavuot and hear the reading of the Book of Ruth which is associated with the holiday. It is traditional to eat dairy products on Shavuot so you’ll find restaurants offering delicious meals made with Israel’s wonderful dairy products. Religious and non-religious alike tend to keep the tradition of dressing in white and enjoying delicious dairy meals. If you have the opportunity to visit a moshav or kibbutz on Shavuot you could attend the Shavuot ceremony of Bikkurim (first fruits) when the harvest fruits and grains are displayed in festive parades. In Jerusalem, you will find special happenings at many museums, malls and lots of activity, and a festive atmosphere in the Old City.
By Petal Mashraki

Christmas in Israel 2017

People are often confused about how and even if Christmas is celebrated in Israel. On the one hand Israel is a Jewish country and on the other hand Israel was the setting for the nativity. Israel is home to the landmarks and locations mentioned in the Bible including those of the first Christmas. Christmas in Israel is a magical and once-in-a-lifetime experience for any Christian traveler. However Christmas celebrations in Israel are different to the ones you may be used to. While Christians celebrate the birth of Christ in December, Jews celebrate Hanukah. Often these two religious holidays coincide and visitors can enjoy the celebrations of both events.Christmas in IsraelChristmas is not an official national holiday in Israel. You won’t see streets, stores or homes decorated with Christmas decorations unless you visit one of the few Christian communities. The Israeli city with the highest number of Christian residents is Nazareth. Other Christian communities can be found in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter; in Jaffa; Haifa; Ramla and a small community in Southern Tel Aviv. Only in the large cities will you see Christmas lights. Christians (and all other faiths) are free to worship and express their beliefs in Israel.Where to Experience Christmas in Israel?Christmas in JerusalemIf you are in Jerusalem you will find many churches in the Old City celebrating the holiday. The most important of these churches is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Throughout the Christmas season there are special religious services held in the Holy Sepulchre and other Jerusalem churches. Some of the churches present carol singing and concerts. The Christ Church in the Old City holds an annual Christmas concert. The Jerusalem YMCA hosts special Christmas events for the whole family in the week running up to Christmas Day. At the YMCA there are concerts, markets, kids’ activities and workshops. Try to catch the Armenian Christmas procession through the Old City in January (they celebrate Christmas later than most denominations). In the village-like community of Ein Kerem you can also see signs of Christmas.Christmas in NazarethChristmas is most evident in Nazareth where there is an annual Christmas Market, special celebratory events, church services, Christmas lights and a huge Christmas tree in the city center. The municipality holds a Hanukah-Christmas concert the week before Christmas in the Nazareth Industrial Park. On the day before Christmas there is a parade through the streets of Nazareth (3:30 p.m.); a firework display in the evening (5:30 p.m.)and Christmas mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in the evening(7 p.m.).Christmas in RamlaRamla is usually overlooked by tourists but it is a city shared by Jews, Muslims and Christians. You can find churches and Christmas services in Ramla; the largest Christmas service in Ramla is at the Franciscan Parish Church of St. Joseph.Christmas in Tel AvivIf you want to party on Christmas Eve the place to be is Tel Aviv. Most pubs and nightclubs in Israel hold Christmas Eve parties even though those celebrating are almost all Jewish. As the Israelis say “any reason is a good reason to party…” In Jaffa Christmas is celebrated with a Winter Festival and Christmas Market at the Jaffa Port. A large Christmas tree is erected and you may see firework displays. The market runs from 15th December to 8th January. There are often Christmas parties and events at the Armenian Church of St. Nicholas. There is an ever-growing refugee and immigrant community in South Tel Aviv. Most of these immigrants are Christians and have small but strong church groups.Christmas in HaifaHaifa is home to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The municipality celebrates the Jewish holiday of Hanukah, the Christian holiday of Christmas and the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr with their Holiday of Holidays events. There is a packed schedule of special events throughout the city celebrating the different cultures and their traditions through art, theatre and music. Holiday of Holidays is held on the weekends in December. The Haifa municipality also decorates the streets with Christmas lights and erects a Christmas tree in the city center.The First Christmas in IsraelAs most Christians know about 2017 years ago Mary and Joseph made their way from Nazareth in the Galilee to Bethlehem where they had to register for a national census. Mary was pregnant at the time with the future Christ. On arrival in Bethlehem they found all available accommodation full. An inn keeper took pity on them and offered to let them stay in his manger. In those days the manger would have been a cave near the inn where animals were kept. It was here in Bethlehem that Jesus was born on the first Christmas Eve.Other New Testament locations in Israel include the sites of Jerusalem – the Mount of Olives; the Temple Mount where the Holy Jewish Temple stood; the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus took bearing his cross to his crucifixion and the site of his crucifixion and burial. In Northern Israel there are more Christian sites including Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Mt. Tabor, Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum and more. If you spend Christmas 2017 in Israel you can take the opportunity to see these Christian sites as well as those in Bethlehem.Christmas Israel ToursIf you are coming to Israel specifically to experience Christmas “where it happened” then the best thing to do is join an organized tour to Bethlehem. There are organized tours which include sightseeing in Jerusalem on the day before Christmas. In the evening the tour continues from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. On route you will see the setting for Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. As you near Bethlehem your tour guide will point out the fields where shepherds would have watched their sheep all those years ago on the first Christmas Eve. On arrival in Bethlehem you can join Christians from around the world in Manger Square. Alongside the square is the Church of Nativity which encompasses the Holy Grotto believed to have been the “manger.” Inside the church a Midnight Mass is held and in Manger Square the service is shown on large screens.If you would rather tour the sites of Bethlehem, Jerusalem or the Galilee before or after Christmas Eve you can do that too. As Christmas is not an official national holiday in Israel there are organized tours on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and even New Year’s Day. Tours to Christian sites including Bethlehem are held every day of the year except on some Jewish holidays. On a Bethlehem tour you would see the Holy Grotto in the Church of Nativity; the Church of St. Catherine and the Milk Grotto. Christmas tours to Israel include Jerusalem and take you to all the Christian sites of the city.
By Petal Mashraki
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