Israel Travel Blog

10 Rainy Day Activities in Israel - Having Fun Inside

The fact that Israel has such a warm and pleasant climate for much of the year is a huge reason it sees so many tourists. Like many Mediterranean destinations, it's blessed with beautiful sandy beaches, clear blue waters, endless cafes with outdoor seating, and plenty of sunshine. Indeed, between May and November, it’s rare for the entire country to see a drop of rain. View through the rain-specked window, Israel.Photo byRaimond KlavinsonUnsplashHowever, whilst rainy days aren’t common in Israel, they do still exist, and so if you are visiting in the winter and there’s a sudden downpour, what should you do? Well, you might not be able to hike, swim or cycle around but the good news is this is a country with plenty of indoor activities to keep you amused for hours.Below, we’re looking at things you can do that are amusing, entertaining, educational and will keep you dry whilst the wind blows and the rain pours. Whether you’re in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa or one of the small villages in the Negev or Galilee, we’re sure you’ll enjoy them. Hey, you won’t just learn something new but you might get so hooked on it that you’ll try it again. And then you’ll be thankful for the bad weather because if it hadn’t rained, you might never have headed indoors in the first place…A girl watching the rain. Photo byJorge RomanonUnsplash1. Visit a Planetarium in IsraelReady for an experience that’s ‘out of this world?’ Well, look no further than a trip to Israel’s most well-known planetarium, in Tel Aviv. Situated inside the Eretz Israel Museum, you’ll enjoy a fantastic show, whilst sitting in revolving seats! Learn about different galaxies and enjoy a ‘flight’, where you can explore the universe, each one with its billions of stars (which live, die and then are born again).English performances are available (check ahead of time).The venue also offers a show on Galileo and the modern telescopes.The planetarium accepts children over the age of 6, so it’s a great family attraction. There’s also ‘Madatech’ in Haifa, which is perfect for science lovers. Inside, you’ll find all kinds of hands-on experiences including a planetarium, interactive exhibitions, a robotics centre, 3D science films and even an innovation centre, that combines science with art.Starry sky.Photo byJoshua OhonUnsplash2. Crack the Code at an Escape Room in IsraelEscape Rooms are a global phenomenon - they’re perfect for any age, have clever designs and are wonderful if you want a bit of intellectual stimulation, as well as a fun day out. Since they’ve taken off in Israel, you’ve got so many to choose from, but here are three we’d recommend:‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp‘- located in Haifa, kids will love searching for clues in the Sultan’s Palace and finding the magic lamp!‘Trapped’ - perfect for those who don’t scare easily, this Jerusalem escape room finds you in a blood-soaked lab, and with just an hour to save the lives of you and your friends.‘Mossad’- For aspiring secret-agents, there’s no better place to head than Tel Aviv where, in groups of 2-6, you’ll be put through your paces, with some serious assignments, to find out of you’ve got what it takes to takes to be an Israeli ‘James Bond’. Red escape room neon sign. Photo byZachary KeimigonUnsplash3. Defy Gravity with some Indoor Skydiving in IsraelA short drive from Tel Aviv is the city of Rishon LeZion and there you’ll find ‘Flybox’. It’s a new attraction in Israel which is becoming increasingly popular and it’s nothing short of indoor skydiving! Thought up in the 1990s, it is an ‘extreme sport’ but in a controlled and safe environment and, even better, it’s not just for adults - kids can try it out too.How does it work? This gravity-defying activity works by letting you hover over a wind tunnel - you enter by a lift which is generated by fans installed at the top of the tunnel that lifts the air. The tunnel compresses the air and increases the speed up to 275 km (170 miles) per hour. The tunnel you ‘fly’ in is see-through and 13.5 km here, meaning others can watch you as you soar through the air.As ‘Flybox’ says, it’s a perfect activity for couples, families and small groups alike and suitable for anyone aged 5 and up. You don’t need any experience or skills - there’s an instructor there to advise you, and ensure your safety and comfort and someone else will be keeping an eye on your airspeed. Get ready for take-off! Skydiving at Flybox, Israel.Photo from: Take Up Indoor Rock Climbing in IsraelIf you’re the sporty type but don’t want to get soaked, then try I Climb, which is the largest indoor climbing group in Israel. They have six locations in Israel, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. Their gyms give you the opportunity to lead climb, boulder, top rope and use an auto belay and, additionally, they offer a special climbing experience for kids.There’s also ‘Performance Rock’ in Tel Aviv, which is the first climbing wall in Israel devoted just to the bouldering method. The wall has more than 100 climbing routes (‘bouldering paths’ or ‘problems’) and there’s a wide range of levels and steps to discover. You don’t need any previous experience - just show up and progress through the ranks!A girl on a climbing wall. Photo byJonathan J. CastellononUnsplash5. Attend Cooking Classes in IsraelThere’s nothing more satisfying than learning to cook a new dish, and Israel’s full of cooking experts who are ready to share their expertise with you. Galilean Cooking Workshops - nestled in the Galilee, in northern Israel, this company offers you a chance to experience some real Middle Eastern hospitality, in a local’s home. Whether you want to be the guest of Druze, Christian or Muslim hosts, you’ll be assured of a warm welcome - the programme involves two hours of a cookery workshop. There you will get hands-on instruction in how to prepare traditional dishes before a sit-down lunch, where you try what you’ve made. It’s a great way to spend a few hours and not only will you improve your cooking skills - learning how to make food with fresh ingredients - but you’ll also get an idea of how locals live in the Galilee.Cooking workshop.Photo byMax DelsidonUnsplashLehem Zeh (‘This Bread’) - situated in Yeroham, in the Negev Hills, and just a 20-minute drive from Beersheba, this venture was established by Ariel Pollock Star, who moved to Israel from Cincinnati, USA and couldn’t find bagels in her local bakery so began making her own. The enterprise took off and she then established a collaborative cooking workspace, which she shares with other women-led ventures. Join her workshop and you won't just learn how to make these New York delights, but you’ll take six of them home with you (plain, sesame and onion - something for everyone!)Dan Gourmet in Tel Aviv -fantastic if you’re more than a beginner - they offer all kinds of food classes including Asian, Italian, pastries and the popular ‘Who’s Afraid of Fish?’ Nor will they be offended if you ask them questions about traditional Jewish cooking! Cooking with garlic. Photo byokeykatonUnsplash6. Enjoy a Ceramics Workshop in IsraelDown in the Dead Sea, you’ll find the studio of Estee Barak, who’s been making ceramics for over 30 years. Not only does she exhibit but she also offers workshops both in decorating ceramics and pottery throwing. Learn how to decorate a plate with Japanese firing methods or make your own pot on a wheel! Workshops last around 2 hours and can also be combined with a day trip to Masada and Ein Gedi.There’s also Keren Or’s lovely studio in Zichron Yaakov, close to Mount Carmel and Haifa, which offers workshops for couples, families, groups and individuals. Try your hand at ceramic sculpting, painting on plates/pots already fired, or have a ‘pottery for two’ afternoon tailored to your specific requirements. She also offers ‘team building’ days, for anyone who’s in need of workplace motivation!K-Clay ceramics studio, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin7. Ice-Skating in IsraelUp high in northern Israel sits Metula, which is a charming little town right next to the border with Lebanon (on a clear day, you can see for miles). In 1995 an activities and sports centre opened here and as well as swimming pools, a bowling alley, saunas and a shooting range, it offers an Olympic-size skating rink. Yes, and one that actually meets international standards) and with seating for over one thousand people.So for anyone who wants to have fun on the ice, this is the place to come - you can bring your own skates, rent a pair or simply sit and watch professionals practising with their trainers. (And if skating whets your appetite, and it’s a really cold winter, then take a short drive over to Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights…ok, it’s not inside but when snow falls, it’s a wonderful place to come and ski!Ice Peak, Holon - just 20 minutes drive from Tel Aviv, this skating rink is very organised and makes for a great family activity in Israel. Modern, clean and well-maintained, your ticket gives you access to the ice for 45 minutes at a time (your time slot will depend on the colour of the bracelet you’re given).Girl tying skates on.Photo by Matthew Sichkaruk on Unsplash8. Book a Chocolate or Candy-Making Workshop in IsraelHow many of us don’t like a sweet treat, now again and again? Well, if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make some delectable sugary creations for yourself, attending a chocolate or candy-making workshop is the perfect rainy-day activity in Israel. Sarina Chocolate - about an hour’s drive north of Tel Aviv, on Moshav Ein Vered, feel free to indulge yourself. Childrens’ workshops take 2 hours and include making lollipops and chocolate paintings; adult workshops take around 3 hours and include learning how to create pralines, truffles and chocolate fondue! ToMoCandy - also not far from Tel Aviv - in Raanana - check out ToMoCandy. Here you can learn how to make vegan-friendly, gluten-free rock candy, at one of their fun and interactive workshops. Create your own personalised candies, and take home lollipops and two jars of your own handcrafted sweet treats. Perfect for birthday events as well as rainy days!Making chocolate cakes .Photo byToa HeftibaonUnsplash9. Indulge at a Spa in IsraelOn a grey and gloomy day, everyone deserves a treat, so why not indulge yourself at a spa? Israel has so many good ones but the two we’d recommend are in the north and south of the country. Carmel Forest - this little slice of paradise is nestled up in the Carmel, and offers one of the best spas in northern Israel, if not the entire country. For anyone who wants to escape the rain (and also anyone who’s stressed, tense or overloaded with life’s responsibilities) this is the place to head. Not only will you enjoy hospitality in a luxurious session but you’ll eat incredibly well. Carmel Forest offers wet and dry saunas, treatment rooms, a solarium, Turkish bath, swimming pool and jacuzzi and in addition to a range of spa treatments there are all kinds of health and wellness workshops on offer too, led by experts.Bereshit Mitzpe Ramon - with its spectacular location, overlooking this extraordinary Makhtesh Ramon Crater in the Negev desert, Bereshit is one of Israel’s top hotels. Not only does it have fabulous desert views, gourmet restaurants and beautifully-designed rooms, it also boasts a luxury spa. Like the Carmel Spa, it’s owned by the Isrotel group so you’re assured of high-quality service here.A woman getting a relaxing massage in a spa salon. Photo byengin akyurtonUnsplash10. Hang Out at a Bowling AlleyFinally, how could we miss out on the ultimate, fun rainy-day activity that everyone loves? Yes, it’s bowling. Israel has plenty of modern bowling alleys, well-designed with huge display screens and shiny alleys, so why not head off to one of them for some fun? It’s a great activity for the family, for groups and even for ‘date night’ (with a little alcohol thrown in). Arbel Bowling, in Netanya, is perfect for a fun night out and they also have an arcade, mini bumper-car area and laser tag activities.There’s also ‘Good Lanes’ in Maale Adumim, close to Jerusalem, which offers events for children’s birthdays, including pizza and refreshments and a special gift for the birthday boy or girl. And fear not adults, their bowling alley is also available for a private hire - enjoy pool tables, a lounge area, karaoke, a large projector screen and your choice of music. WIth ten electronic lanes, you can make a real party of it.Bring on the rain!If you are not afraid of the rain, join a day tour in Israel operated by Bein Harim. Bein Harim tours depart every day, rain or shine!Two sets of bowling pins. Photo byKarla RiveraonUnsplash
Par Sarah Mann

5 Best Winter Hikes in Northern Israel

Most tourists miss out on the incredible landscapes of Israel but in fact, the Holy Land is crisscrossed with numerous interesting hike routes and has over 60 national parks and nature reserves. Each season nature paints the land with different colors and you can see animals and plants unique to each season. Winter is no exception. Israeli winters are extremely mild compared to Europe or the US and you can easily enjoy hikes across the country and especially in Northern Israel. Not only that but with the winter comes rain and hikers can enjoy abundant waterfalls flowing streams and lush vegetation and wildflowers that come alive after a thirsty summer.The Hula Lake, Israel.Photo credit:© Oksana Mats1. The Hula Lake (Agamon HaHula)Winter is the perfect time to visit Agamon HaHula (the Hula Lake). Israel is a stopover point for thousands of migrating birds each winter and the Agamon HaHula happens to be one of the most frequented spots for visiting birds. In fact, it is one of the top 10 bird-watching places in the world. For the best birdwatching, it is best to arrive very early in the morning or just before sunset. You can hike around the lake following an 8.5km path; cycle or rent a golf cart. You could spend 2-3 hours hiking around the lake. You'll enjoy the sight of huge flocks of cranes and the sound of thousands of wings flapping as they take off. On the route are several lookout huts and areas where you can see turtles, fish, beavers, water buffalo, wild boar, and other species of birds. Once this was a mosquito-infested marsh but it has been drained and rehabilitated into an idyllic park. The lake and surrounding area are beautiful even without the birds!Cranes at the Hula Lake, Israel.Photo credit:© Eli Orr2. Nahal AmudNahal Amud is one of the most popular hike destinations in Northern Israel; located near Safed the hiking route takes you east following the Amud Stream from Mt. Meron in the west to the Sea of Galilee. The hike route takes 2-4 hours to complete and can be started at either end. If you start at Mount Meron you will encounter more downhill stretches and have to follow a steep path from the nature reserve entrance to the water's edge. The route is mostly under the shade of beautiful trees and you can choose to walk in the stream or on the banks. Winter is the perfect time to follow this popular hike route which gets crowded during the summer. Some points of interest along the way include historic water-powered flour mills and natural pools. There are several points where you can cut the hike short if you want to. You could also take the shortest route and double back to the parking lot.Amud Stream, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana Mats3. Nesher ParkThis trail is within Nesher Park not far from Haifa and is not as frequented as some of Israel's more popular hike trails so in winter you may have it all to yourself. Highlights of the hike include the two 70m-long steel hanging bridges crossing Katia River which only flows in the winter. From the bridges, there are panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and gully below. Within Nesher Park are sports facilities, footpaths, scenic lookout points, and the trail itself. The landscape includes pine and oak tree woodlands; strawberry trees and an old stone bridge. Enter the park and access the trail from Heharuv Street.Nesher National Park, Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana Mats4. The Banias National ParkThe Banias is definitely one of the most beautiful areas in Israel and especially in winter when the brilliant green of lush vegetation comes alive. Like a fairy forest out of a children's book, this corner of the country is so idyllic it has been suggested that this was the site of the Garden of Paradise.The Banias National Park is home to several streams and the longest hike trail in the area stretching for 4 hours. Some visitors to the Banias come for the scenery while others are on a Christian pilgrimage to see the place where Peter told Jesus he was the Messiah and Jesus gave Peter his blessing to lead the church. Highlights include the ancient temple ruins; the streams, rivers, and waterfalls. As you enter the park you can pick up a free map and choose which route to follow.Banias Nature Reserve, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin5. Carmel Scenic RouteThe Carmel Scenic Route or Derech Nof HaCarmel can be followed on foot; by bike or by car. The route travels through orchards; pine tree forests; hills; valleys and farmlands stretching for about 25km (15.5miles) onMount Carmel. Along the route, there are views of Jezreel Valley and the Galilean Hills. Hike up from the Nesher Highway to the Carmelite Monastery Deir al-Muhraka where you can take in the views from the monastery balcony. You'll see the Carmel Ridge Forests, carpets of wildflowers, scenic lookout points, rivers, dramatic cliffs, and woodlands. The Carmel Forest stretches from Ramat Menashe in the south to Haifa Bay in the north. There are several routes you could follow in this area including the Cyclamen Trail which comes alive with colorful cyclamens in the winter.Winter Hikes in IsraelNorthern Israel is a wonderful place for winter hiking although the entire country offers hiking opportunities from hikes near Jerusalem to desert hikes in Israel. No matter when you visit there are hikes to follow. Each hike in Israel has its own highlights – from the waterfalls of the north and the ancient ruins of the Jerusalem area to vineyards, natural springs, and expansive desert vistas.The Shaar HaCarmel Recreation Area, Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana Mats
Par Petal Mashraki

Holidays in Israel - A Short Guide to What, When and Why?

The Jewish calendar has a surprising number of holidays and they are observed today in Israel in a wide variety of ways. Whilst some of the population are more observant of religious tradition than others, there is a cultural element even to the most solemn holidays and, across Israel, you will find families and communities coming together to celebrate them in their own different ways.Pomegranates, traditional Rosh Hashanah fruit. Photo byDelfina IacubonUnsplashIn the Home, in Schools and in the Street….Celebrations!Holidays in Israel aren’t just celebrated in the synagogues either - in the home, families raise glasses to them, in schools children learn about them and in the streets, people dance to celebrate them. Such holidays are woven into the fabric of everyday life, and it’s worth remembering that many of them have been practiced for over 2,000 years! Each one has its own traditions and special quirks and here’s a short overview of what they are, when they happen, and why Israelis love them so much…Shabbat, the Day of RestThe Jewish Shabbat is celebrated weekly and always begins on a Friday night (when dusk falls). It is just as important as any other holy day in the festival calendar and, many argue, the cornerstone of Jewish tradition. Jews who observe Shabbat diligently will not use electricity, write, travel other than by foot, and will spend the day at prayer, eating celebratory meals (including the famous Friday night dinner), and resting.The Jewish Shabbat, as a tradition, is observed in homes across Israel (whether religious or not) with families coming together to catch up after their hectic weeks. If you are invited to one, you are sure to enjoy it.Traditional Shabbat Challah. Photo byEvgeni TcherkasskionUnsplashRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New YearRosh Hashanah (in Hebrew, literally, ‘Head of the Year’) celebrates the Jewish New Year and is a joyous festival. The festivities include prayers at synagogue (where a shofar - ram’s horn - is blown), a large meal (including challah bread and apples dipped in honey - to symbolize the hope for a sweet new year), and - in Israel - the exchanging of gifts. The ancient ceremony of ‘tashlich’ is carried out on the first afternoon - it is traditional to go to the sea, or any body of water, and throw breadcrumbs or pebbles in - this symbolizes the ‘casting away’ of one’s sins. For religious Jews, all of this is a chance for ‘spiritual renewal and great contemplation. Indeed, the days beginning with Rosh Hashanah and culminating in Yom Kippur (see below) are known in Hebrew as the ‘Yamim Noraim’ - the Days of Awe.Apples and honey, traditional Rosh Hashana treat. Photo byVladimir GladkovonUnsplashYom Kippur, ‘Day of Atonement'Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar and, in Israel, all life comes to a standstill. Every business and school is closed, airplanes do not take off or land, and the streets are deserted by cars. Religious Jews will fast for 25 hours (no food and no water), wear white, and spend large parts of the time in synagogue, praying for forgiveness from God for their personal sins. According to Jewish belief, this is the day in which God will pass judgment on every individual for the coming year - so it is seen as a chance to repent and ask for a chance of forgiveness. Less observant Israelis take the opportunity to enjoy the silence, in the streets and highways or simply sit at home, quietly, with a book. It really is astonishing to be in Israel at this time and watch the entire country grind to a halt.Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv. Photo byYoav AzizonUnsplashSukkot, ‘The Festival of Tabernacles’Another fun festival, especially for children, is Sukkot which follows Yom Kippur and lasts 7 days. Historically, it was one of the three pilgrimage festivals where the Israelites were commanded to travel to the Temple. Today, Israelis celebrate by building a succah - a temporary, free-standing structure with three walls which they decorate with palm leaves. It is traditional to eat meals inside and decorate the interior with the ‘four species’ (four different plants, mentioned in the Torah). These are a lulav, etrog, hadass, and aravah. At the synagogue, people walk around carrying these four plants and recite special prayers known as ‘Hoshanot’. In Israel, families often take vacation time and travel around the country there are many attractions, concerts, and activities for kids to enjoy.A man holding etrog. Photo byEsther WechsleronUnsplashSimchat Torah, Rejoicing of the TorahSimchat Torah immediately follows Sukkot and is a festival of unbridled joy. Jews dance around the synagogue holding Torah scrolls, to mark the reading cycle of these holy manuscripts, and, in Israel, it is common to see Israelis dancing in the street. This is a major religious holiday so, like Shabbat, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, religious Jews will not work, drive or watch TV.Hanukkah,‘Festival of Lights’Hanukkahis celebrated in the winter and commemorates the ‘miracle of the oil’ at the time of the Second Temple. It lasts for eight days and each night, candles are lit on a special candelabrum (similar to a menorah). Two special foods that are eaten are latkes and sufganiyot. Latkes are potato pancakes, fried and served either with apple sauce or sour cream. Hanukkiyah, the Hanukkah Menorah. Photo byElement5 DigitalonUnsplashSufganiyot are donuts with jelly inside (although, in the last few years, all kinds of creations have hit the bakeries in Israel, including those with creme patisserie and chocolate inside!) Children spin a ‘dreidel’ (a toy with Hebrew letters on the side) and it is traditional to give them ‘gelt’ (chocolate money) and small gifts. Truly, a holiday loved by kids and dreaded by adults for the weight that can be put on!Tu B'Shvat, the New Year for TreesThis holiday of tree planting for trees is fun for all the family but especially young children. Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL or the Jewish National Fund) was established in 1901 and to this day remains committed to developing the land by planting trees.Fun fact: Israel is one of the few nations in the world that began the 21st century with more trees than it had 100 years previously. KKL is committed to sustainable forest management and planting greenery in arid parts of the country. Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai, is also a huge advocate of tree planting, and the boulevards, like Rothschild, are testimony to his commitment.Olive trees in Latrun.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinPurim, the Feast of LotsPurim commemorates the bravery of Esther who saved the Jews of Persia from being wiped out. It is a festival of enormous merriment in Israel and it is a great tradition both for children and adults to dress up and attend parties. Jews also attend synagogue in costume, where they read from the Book of Esther and shout and boo at the name of ‘Haman’ (Esther’s enemy) and drink a lot of wine! Attending an adloyada (carnival parade) is a wonderful tradition, as is the eating of ‘Hamantaschen’ cookies (triangle-shaped, to look like ears) filled with poppy seeds. Religious Jews also send ‘mishloach manot’ (baskets of food) to family, friends, and charities.Yom haAtzmaut, Independence DayYom haAtzmaut is a fantastic national holiday, loved by all Israelis, it celebrates Israel’s independence day. The evening kicks off with torch lighting in Jerusalem and fireworks displays all over the country. There are parties that continue late into the night and the following day, it’s a time-honored tradition to attend a barbeque and eat until you can’t move! If you’re at the shoreline at around midday, make sure to watch the flyovers that the Israeli Air Force carry out - their daring skills bring shouts of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from every child who dreams of becoming a pilot!Israeli flag over Masada Fortress. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinThe Eight-Day Festival of PassoverThis joyous festival falls in the spring (March/April) in Israel and commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Israel, who fled slavery under the laws of the cruel Pharaoh. It is a real holiday of freedom and loved by everyone. It is traditional at this time of the year to hold a ‘seder’ (in Hebrew ‘Order’) where the ‘Haggadah’ book is read, recounting the story of the Jews flight, including the miraculous parting of the waves of the Red Sea. At Passover, bakeries in Israel close because it is a religious commandment to eat only ‘matzah’ (unleavened bread) for the holiday. This lets Jews remember that their ancestors fled Egypt in such haste that their bread had no time to rise. In the Haggadah, the matzah is called ‘the Bread of Affliction’ but the festival is also a reminder of liberty and the fact that, after 2,000 years, with the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews became a free people in their own landThe Read Sea. Photo byFrancesco UngaroonUnsplashShavuotShavuot, ‘Festival of Weeks’, falls seven weeks after Passover. It is a pilgrimage holiday that marks the end of the spring harvest and also the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai and is much loved in Israel. It is traditional to eat dairy produce (Israelis love to serve cheesecakes and blintzes) and wear white clothing, with flowers. Shavuot is celebrated in earnest on the kibbutz, with the tradition of ‘bringing forth the first fruit’. Historically, this was an opportunity for the farmers to display their achievements, after a year of hard work in the fields. Today, families take their children there to enjoy the produce, and youngsters often even have a chance to ride a tractor! Cheesecake, a traditional treat for Shavuot.Photo byChinh Le DuconUnsplashTu b’Av, the Israeli Version of Valentine's DayCelebrated as the ‘Day of Love’ this is the ‘kosher’ alternative to Valentine’s Day! In ancient times, young Jewish men and women would go out, dressed in white, and dance in the vineyards of Judea. Early zionist writers (such as Y.L Gordon and Mapu) tried to breathe new life into the tradition, but Tu B’Av didn’t really catch on again until the 1990s when merchants in Israel suddenly realized the economic benefits of selling flowers and chocolates!Where’s the Best Place to Spend Some of These Holidays?The other good question is where in Israel should you try to be over some of these holidays, in фorder to get the most of the experience? Well, at Purim, there are parties all over the country but don’t miss the opportunity to see an adloyada. These ‘carnivals’ are so much fun, with floats, music, and dancing. The two most popular take place in Holon (near Tel Aviv) and Sde Boker, in the Negev desert. If you’re in Israel over ‘the Day of Love’ then why not take a romantic escape to a guesthouse in the Galilee, wander in a nature reserve (Banias or Tel Dan), or simply watch the sun go down on Tel Aviv’s Mediterranean coastline, before enjoying a good meal?Banias Nature Reserve, Golan Heights.Photo credit: © ShutterstockShabbat, of course, comes around weekly, and, after a short Friday night service at the synagogue, is celebrated in the home. Israelis are very hospitable so it’s quite possible you’ll be invited as a guest to someone’s home for a meal.There is also aGet Shabbatprogram running where you can be paired with a host family, and we’d highly recommend it. Most of the families are traditional and observe Shabbat customs, so you’ll see blessings made over candles, wine and bread too and really get a feel for the whole experience.For Passover, you’ll feel the spirit of freedom everywhere but, of course, if you want to see more of the religious traditions then head to Jerusalem, and in particular the Western Wall, for the ‘Birkat Kohanim’ (Priestly Blessing). In terms of being a tourist, the only day you really will be limited is Yom Kippur, so if you’re visiting at this time make preparations in advance (or with your Israeli tour operator) for a ‘day off.’ In the meantime, as we say in Hebrew ‘ Chag Sameach’ or ‘Happy Holiday!’Jerusalem Day Celebration at the Western Wall, Jerusalem. Photo credit:©Western Wall Heritage Foundation
Par Sarah Mann

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.
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Top 9 Attractions and Activities in the Negev Desert

The magical Negev Desert in southern Israel takes up about 60% of Israel but is sparsely inhabited due to the harsh desert climate. When the State of Israel was established one of the goals set was to make the desert bloom and in many places that has been achieved.Mamshit Archeological Site, Israel. Photo credit: © Manu Grinspan. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks AuthorityThe Negev also has a history dating back to the ancient trade routes and it is home to unique flora and fauna. The Negev is unlike any other area in Israel and shouldn’t be missed. The Negev Desert flows into the Judean Desert where you can also visit Masada, the Dead Sea and the Yotvata Bar Hai Nature Reserve, and Timna National Park in the Arava Desert.1. Jeep excursionsOn a Negev jeep tour, you can go deep into the desert, far off-road to places most people don’t get a chance to see. A guide will explain to you about the local fauna and flora and you will be able to race across the dunes, drive through dry desert valleys and stop to boil up a pot of coffee in the wilderness. There are “wet” jeep tours that take you to desert springs; jeep tours where you can learn about following animal tracks; night jeep tours; survival jeep tours; tours that take you to Nabataean ancient sites and jeep tours that visit Bedouin villages. Tours leave from several points in the Negev including Mitzpe Ramon and Kibbutz Sde Boker.2. Camel Riding ExcursionsIf you want to take things at a slower pace and retrace the steps of ancient camel caravans then take a camel riding excursion into the desert. The “ship of the desert” is a great way to enjoy the scenery, learn about the unique desert environment and gain an understanding of what it was like to travel across the Negev hundreds of years ago. There are a number of places where you can join a camel tour including Mamshit Camel Farm, Kfar Hanokdim, and the Negev Camel Ranch. There is no prior experience needed and camel riding tours are suitable for all ages. There are tours lasting 1-4 hours.Safari Jeep Tour.Photo credit: © Shutterstock3. Ramon CraterThe Ramon Crater or Makhtesh Ramon is a huge naturally formed crater 38km long, 450 meters deep, and 6km wide. It is best reached via the town of Mitzpe Ramon where there is a Visitors Center overlooking the crater. From here you can take hiking tours, jeep tours into the crater, and abseiling excursions where you get to climb down the side of the steep crater.4. Alpaca FarmThere is a welcoming alpaca farm in the heart of the Negev where you can learn about the creatures, pet them, feed them and even stay the night. You can also meet other animals which live on the farm like angora sheep, llamas, donkeys, horses, and camels. There are walking trails on the Alpaca Farm which meander through the untouched desert landscape. Kids can have a ride on the alpacas and you can learn about the alpaca wool production process.5. Negev Wine TastingThe ancient Nabataean civilization cultivated vineyards in the Negev thousands of years ago using a sophisticated irrigation system. The first modern-day winery in the Negev was planted by Carmel Winery in the Ramat Arad area in 1988, then other wineries and vineyards have sprouted up across the otherwise barren landscape. There are now several wineries so that it is possible to follow a Negev wine tasting route along Route #40. Wineries that welcome visitors include the Yatir Winery, Midbar Winery, Sde Boker Winery, Neot Smadar Winery, Carmel Avdat Winery, Rota Winery (where there is also a fruit farm where you can do your own fruit picking in the summer), and Kadesh Barnea Winery.Alpaca farm in the Negev Desert. Photo credit: © Shutterstock5. Sand SurfingThis unique desert experience takes you out to the Negev sand dunes in a 4X4 jeep. Once there you get to slide down the soft dunes on specially designed boards that resemble snowboards but without the footholds. The activity is suitable for those over 2 years old and you don’t need any prior experience. Sand surfing is usually combined with a jeep tour, a historical site, or a desert village for lunch.6. Kibbutz Sde BokerThis kibbutz is famed as the former home of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel who moved here in 1953. Today Ben Gurion’s former home has been turned into a museum where the original furniture, mementos, and personal items of Ben Gurion and his wife have been preserved. Ben Gurion had a passion for the Negev and the small community. He lived here until his death and over the years he welcomed many dignitaries and world leaders. While at Sde Boker you can visit Ben Gurion's tomb, the Sde Boker Winery, and the Sde Boker Field School.The archeological site of Avdat, Negev Desert, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock7. AvdatThis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it was one of the most important Nabataean, Roman and Byzantine sites settled in the 3rd century BC along the Incense Route. Here you can see the ancient remains of a Nabataean tomb, a Roman-era residential area, and the remains of a Byzantine fortress, Byzantine bathhouse, wine press, cistern, and ancient Sacred Precinct. There are also two 4th century churches nearby. Perhaps the most important ancient remains are of the Nabataean Temple of Oboda.8. HikingThere are many marked hike trails through the Negev for those of all levels of ability. The trails are color-coded to keep hikers on track. Many of the trails take you to the oasis where there are deep canyons, waterfalls, and hidden natural spring pools. Some of the most popular routes are the Mamshit Loop, passed the Nabataean city; Mt. Ardon, with a challenging climb; Zin to Ramon, a six-day trek passed mountains and springs; Wadi Shua, with hidden gems; Wadi Mamshit; Ramon’s Tooth passed beautiful rock formations and the Hemet Cistern Loop with great views of the Ramon Crater.9. Bedouin HospitalityThe Bedouin people still live in the deserts of Israel with several communities in the Negev. They have a unique and fascinating culture and there are several places in the Negev where you can be a guest in a Bedouin tent and experience their traditional hospitality. Bedouin hospitality includes traditional food, musical performances, tea, coffee, camel rides and even sleeping over in the Bedouin tent under the desert sky.Сamel riding with Bedouins in the Negev Desert.Photo by Greta Schölderle Møller on Unsplash

Camping Around the Sea of Galilee

When you camp around the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) you are literally camping “around” the Sea of Galilee as you can see from the campground names which are usually identified with the name of the beach they occupy. Israelis love to camp and you can find campgrounds suited for families and others more suited to youngsters. Here we have listed some of the facilities on offer at each site but there may be more facilities.Camping Around the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Adam Sherez on UnsplashTake into account that during the Israeli school holidays the campgrounds get very full and very noisy with individual sound systems and all-night gatherings around a BBQ. But another thing about Israelis is they love to include all those around them so you won’t be left out. Camping is a great way to meet the locals. There is no ideal location to camp on the Kinneret as the total distance around the Sea of Galilee is 55 km so everything is pretty close. Whether you want to be close to Tiberias would perhaps be the only factor to consider in terms of location. Otherwise, choose the style of campground you prefer and the one with the facilities you need.Jordan Park CampgroundThis campground is run by the JNF (Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael or KKL) and is within Jordan Park which covers 250 acres northeast of the Kinneret alongside the eastern channel of the Jordan River. It is one of the area’s largest campgrounds. The campground is free to enter if you walk in but there is a fee per car. At several points in the park, there are streams from the Jordan River, and some deep enough to swim. Here you can find electricity outlets, lighting, restrooms, showers, water coolers, camping tables, a small amusement park, mini-market, lawns, and a place to pitch your tent. Uba Kayak, a popular kayak rental business is located in the park. You can kayak on the Jordan River from here. Nearby there is an opportunity to go horseback riding. This is considered a unique campsite and is operated from April to November.Tiberias. Photo by Thalia Tran on UnsplashAmnon BeachLocated near Kfar Nahum at the northern end of the Kinneret this campsite has many facilities and is popular with Christians who recognize this site as Capernaum. Tents and caravans can use this site and there are picnic tables, benches, shaded areas, showers, restrooms, and parking.In the summer there are water sports and attractions for the kids. You can enjoy a buffet breakfast from the beach cafeteria and if you keep Shabbat you can pre-order food for the Sabbath. You can rent mattresses and chairs from the cafeteria as well. The beach is not serviced by a lifeguard. Price of camping (at time of publication) 150ILS per car for 24 hours.Bereniki BeachStretching for over 2.5 km to the west of the Sea of Galilee this is a quiet beach near Tiberias which is popular with Israeli families and youths. It has shady trees, night lighting, showers (cold water only), restrooms, cafeteria, tables, umbrellas, chairs (no charge), BBQ stands, and campers are allowed to play music.There is a small area which is serviced by a lifeguard and swimming is only allowed in this area from 9 am to 5 pm. The rest of the beach is an unofficial beach and swimming is at your own risk. The beach is wheelchair-friendly. Here as with many of the camp beaches, you pay for the parking rather than the camping. It costs 5.9ILS for each of the first 3 hours and 2.1 for each hour after that so 24 hours camping would cost you 61.8ILS.Shores of the Sea of Galilee, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockDugit BeachThis campsite is located on the northeastern side of the Sea of Galilee and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches surrounded by a picturesque forest. Here you can canoe, sail and partake of other water sports. There is room for tents, a mini-market, cafeteria, and restaurant. There are cold water showers, restrooms, lighting, and lifeguard service. Playing loud music and even bringing loudspeakers into the area is strictly forbidden. Here (like most of the Sea of Galilee campgrounds) you pay for the parking (62ILS for 24 hours) and can then camp. The fee is by the hour. The campsite is wheelchair accessible and chairs and tables can be rented.Gofra BeachOffering room for up to 300 tents this campground on the eastern shore of the lake 2km north of Ein Gev has restrooms, showers, a mini-market, cafeteria, camping equipment, small refrigerators for rent, playgrounds, and moorings for boats. The facilities and accommodation options are expansive. The site only operates during the spring and summer.There is daily cleaning of the beach, lifeguard service, BBQ stands, and a beautiful 1,500-meter long beach, and a small forest. Access to the beach is only on foot. This campsite is suitable for caravans or you could rent one of their caravans for 250ILS for 24 hours. You can even rent a tent which has 6 mattresses, chairs, and tables.View of the Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © ShutterstockGreen BeachThis is a Blue Flag beach and one of the most beautiful in the area. This beach-park campground is 3km north of Nof Ginossar on the northwestern side of the Sea of Galilee. It is a well-kept beach with lawns up to the sand and shady trees. There are parking, showers, restrooms, camping tables, lighting, and a convenience store.The park operates year-round. Animals, jet skis, sound systems, and generators are prohibited. It is possible to rent tents, mattresses, tables, and chairs. One tent, a table, and 4 chairs will cost you 245ILS for the night. You can bring your caravan to this campsite or rent one (750ILS-1799ILS). The campground offers several deals like tent, mattress, chair, table, and breakfast for 119ILS per person.Haon BeachThe campsite is next to the Haon Holiday Village, south of Kibbutz Haon and the beach is shared by guests of the Holiday Village and campers. The beach runs for 1km and there is a lifeguard service. There are restrooms, showers, tables, benches, umbrellas, refrigerator rental, electrical outlets, and BBQ stands. There is wheelchair access to the campsite but no organized wheelchair access to the water.Camping supplies.Photo by Brina Blum on UnsplashJordan-Kinneret BeachThis beach runs for 0.5km and is a family beach campground. For this reason, it is a quieter beach than others and amplifying sound systems are prohibited. Playing music (not using an amplifier) is allowed from 8 am to 11 pm. There is no lifeguard service. The campground offers restrooms, showers (with 24 hours hot water), picnic tables, a mini-market, refrigerator rental, lighting, and a place to recharge mobile phones. The campsite is not suitable for wheelchair access.Lavnun BeachThe Lavnun Beach is a string of three beaches together with Halukim and Kursi so there are three areas for pitching a tent. The site offers water sports (kayaks, water skiing, paddle boats, etc). You will find drinking water, a place to wash your dishes, ball courts, a restaurant, cold water showers, a place to recharge mobile phones, and an exciting, young atmosphere.This beach is popular with the young Israeli crowds so expect plenty of noise especially during the Israeli holidays. Israeli teens like to camp here and bring their karaoke machines, so expect an all-night party. There is a lifeguard service but limited wheelchair access. Cost is approximately 70ILS for 24 hours for parking and camping.Water sports at the Sea of Galilee. Photo credit: © ShutterstockSussita BeachJust north of Ein Gev this beach is about 0.5km long on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and is managed by the Ein Gev Kibbutz. It is named after a car that used to be produced in Israel and has sentimental significance for a lot of Israelis. This is an unofficial beach so there is no lifeguard service and swimming is not allowed.The campground operates from April to the end of October. Groups camping on the grass area near the beach should be pre-arranged but you can pitch your tent on the beach as well. There are tables, restrooms, shade, lighting, showers, and a cafeteria. The beach is not wheelchair-friendly as there are 11 steps down from the parking lot to the beach. The cost of camping here is 100ILS per car.Tzinbari BeachThis is one of the Kinneret’s most famous beaches and campsites, it is a venue for many summer festivals. The beach runs for 1km and there is a lifeguard service in a small central area from 9 am to 5 pm. Here you will find water slides, a baby's pool, electrical outlets, lighting, a place to pitch your tent, indoor lodging, beach umbrellas, shade, chairs, locker rooms, cold water showers, a place to recharge mobile phones.There are also restrooms, water sports, lighting, a restaurant, loads of parking, and wheelchair access is limited due to stones and pebbles plus reaching the water requires going down several steps. Amplified sound systems are not allowed in the southern part of the area which is indicated by signs.Sunset view at the shores of Kinneret. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
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Don’t Miss These Israel National Parks

You’re probably familiar with Israel’s most famous national parks – Masada, Ein Gedi, Ramon Crater and Caesarea but did you know there over 150 nature reserves and national parks? Some of the lesser known parks and reserves are amazing and offer a completely different insight into this beautiful country.Birdwatching on Hula Lake. Photo credit: © ShutterstockGan HaShlosha National ParkAlso known as Park Sahne this is an amazing park with lush greenery and a natural warm water spring pool where you can swim and enjoy the natural jacuzzi under the waterfall. Thanks to the warm water this bathing spot stays open year-round and is perfect for family outings. There is a lifeguard on duty, showers, a playground, and shaded areas. On the edge of the water, there are picnic tables and lawns. You can also see a restored water-powered mill and see a model of Tel Amal, a Jewish tower and stockade settlement built in 1936 under the British Mandate. Here you can see everyday objects from that era, a short film on the 1936-39 Arab Revolt and the restored living quarters and dining hall. There is also a Mediterranean Archaeological Museum displaying rare tools from ancient Greece, excavated items from Beit Shean, and artifacts uncovered in Israel from ancient Egypt and Persia. The entrance is 40ILS (12,5 USD) for adults and 24ILS (7,5 USD) for children.Gan Hashlosha (Sahne) National Park. Photo credit: ©Manu Grinspan. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks AuthorityBeit Guvrin National ParkBeit Guvrin is one of the hidden gems of Israel as the most exciting sites within the park are below the ground! The park encompasses the ruins of a First Temple-era town, Maresha-Beit Guvrin National Park itself was an important Roman-era town known as Eleutheropolis. In the park, there are a Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, Roman public baths, mosaics, a Byzantine church, and a network of caves beneath the ground. There are incredible Sidonian burial caves with vivid paintings on the rocks of animals, birds, and mythical creatures. In the tomb of the musicians, there are paintings of a man playing the flute and a woman playing the harp. Thousands of years ago people started cutting into the limestone rock, quarrying out the rock for construction, and creating spaces for use as storerooms, burial caves, dovecotes, and hideouts. There are about 800 bell-shaped caves and passageways connecting a group of about 40 caves. Visitors to the park are given a map showing where the entrances to the caves are located and then you set out following well-maintained paths across the countryside to each cave. Each of the caves has been made accessible with railings and stairs where necessary. See an underground columbarium (dovecote), a cistern system, and the maze cave. Some of the caves are over 18 meters high and these simply have to be seen to believe! Entrance is 29ILs (9 USD) for adults and 15ILS (5 USD) for children.Bell Cave, Beit Guvrin. Photo credit: © ShutterstockAkhziv National ParkIf you’re looking for paradise on a beach this could be it! Here you’ll find sea-pool bathing beaches, rocky crevices, blue bays, lagoons, and 5km of sandy beaches. There are also picnic areas, BBQ areas, and camping areas. Bird watchers can spot the nesting seagulls on Nahli’Feli Island just off the coast. Here loggerhead sea turtles and green sea turtles come to lay their eggs. Achziv is the site of an ancient port city where there have been numerous archaeological findings. Since the Iron Age Achziv has been inhabited and it is mentioned in the Book of Joshua. During the Mishnah era, it was a thriving city and under the Crusaders it was gifted to one of the knights. When the Mamluks conquered the city they established a fishing village called Az-Zeeb which remained until the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Not far from Akhziv National Park is Akhzivland – a micro-nation founded in 1971 by an innovative Israel war veteran, Eli Avivi. He moved into the remaining buildings of the former fishing village and now has a hostel, camping ground, and museum in the former home of the Az-Zeeb mukhtar. The story of this unusual mini-country with one self-elected president is fascinating. After years of court battles on charges of “creating a country without permission” the State of Israel leased Avivi the land for 99 years. Entrance to the national park is 35ILS for adults and 21ILS for children.Akhziv National Park. Photo credit: © Doron Nissim. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks AuthorityPa’ar Cave Nature ReserveThis is a karstic sinkhole in Upper Galilee. A karstic sinkhole is formed when soft rock beneath the surface of the ground is eroded by constant underground drainage systems so that the waterworks away at the rock until it collapses forming a hole or cave. The Pa’ar Cave was formed by water flowing from the Pa’ar stream underground. In the winter you can see the water seeping through the rock beneath the ground. The nature reserve covers 3.5 acres and is free. Above ground, the reserve has some rare flora and fauna.Avshalom National Nature ReserveAvshalom Cave also known as Soreq Stalactite Cave is a stalactite cave covering 5,000m² on the slopes of Mount Ye’ela in the Judean Hills. The cave was discovered by accident in 1968 following quarry explosions. Today there is a spectacular lighting system that illuminates the stalactite formations and also protects them from erosion. A path takes visitors through the cave past the gorgeous formations.Some of the stalactites are more than 4 meters long and date back 300,000 years. Some of the formations have been given nicknames according to what they resemble. Above ground, there is an information center, souvenir store, and kiosk. You can also explore the beautiful landscape of the park above ground where there are some beautiful flowers and rare plants. Entrance is 29ILS for adults and 15ILS for children.Stalactite Cave, Israel. Photo credit: © Daniela Turgeman. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority
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Kid-Friendly Attractions in Haifa

If you’ll be spending time with your family in the beautiful city of Haifa then you happen to be in one of the most kid-friendly cities in Israel! There are plenty of things to see to keep you busy. Here are some of the best kid-friendly attractions in Haifa, Israel:Cable CarFor a thrilling ride (and a way to get up the mountain) take the cable car from the Bat Galim Promenade all the way to Stella Maris Monastery on the Carmel Ridge. Apart from the thrill of the ride there are gorgeous views across the city and sea.BeachThe Dado Beach and Zamir Beach along the Hof HaCarmel to the west of Haifa are two of the most popular beaches in the country. It is possible to relax, play in the sand, sunbath and even try out water sports. There are restaurants, cafes and stores along the beachfront.National Museum of ScienceThis large museum is full of interactive and hands-on exhibits which explain the basic principles of science and technology. The 400 exhibits cover the topics of sound, the human body, water, electricity, motors and there is a Hall of Mirrors and visual illusions as well as 4D films. The building which houses the museum dates back to 1910 and was originally the Technion Building and once visited by Einstein himself!M. Stekelis Museum of Prehistory and ZooThis zoo will entertain young and old. There is the full range of animals from lions and tigers to the smaller creatures in a petting zoo. In addition to the usual animals you can visit the zoo’s stuffed animal museum and the Botanical Garden section. The zoo is set amid lush plants and tall shady trees.X-ParkThis action park is the largest of its kind in the country. All members of the family can take part in physical challenges like the giant omega, paintball, skating, a climbing wall and a rope bridge park.Clandestine Immigration and Navy MuseumThis museum focuses on the history of Israel’s navy and the clandestine immigration of Jews during the 40s when the country was first being established. However for kids who are navy and ship enthusiasts will find this a thrilling attraction. There are hands-on exhibits and visitors can go onboard a submarine and explore. There is a video presentation of the history of Israel’s navy, naval maps, historic photographs, documents, war medals, model ships and paraphernalia from various vessels.
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Top Water Parks in Israel

The Israeli weather is so good that you can virtually visit a water park in Israel at any time of year – well almost! There are parks throughout the country from the north to the south; here is a list of some of the best!Shefayim ParkMay-October, 09:00-17:00/18:00, Kibbutz Shefayim, 106ILS for all visitors over 2 years, check your credit card company and the Shefayim website for discountsMarketed as one of the best water park in the country, the site covers 24 acres and includes water activities and pools, a motor park complex and a paintball complex. On site are restaurants and booths selling a number of water-related products. The park offers a photo service where candid shots are taken of visitors splashing in the water and then sold at a kiosk at the exit. Shefayim has a large wave pool, open and enclosed water slides, inner tube rides, a regular swimming pool and a large kid’s pool with mini-water slides.MeymadionGanei Yehoshua Park Tel-Aviv (opposite the Luna Park), 31st May – 27th September,09:00-16:30/17:00 closing times vary, 109ILS or 93ILS when entering after 13:00, all visitors over 2 years old require a ticketThis large water park covers more than 25 acres and includes perhaps the widest variety of water activities in the country. There are pools in all shapes and sizes and for all age groups. There is a meteor slide, slalom slides, inner tube slides, a wave pool, toddler’s pool area and a lazy river. In addition there are a number of dry activities like basketball courts and beach volleyball courts. There are restaurants and a small store. There is a games arcade with about 30 video games for those who are tired of the water.Gai Beach Water ParkGai beach Water ParkGai Hotel Tiberias, Sea of Galilee, Open from Mid-March (Passover) – end of October, 09:30-17:00, free for Gai Hotel guests and visitors under 3 years old, 70ILSThis water park is part of the Gai Hotel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee but non-hotel guests can also visit the park. Visitors to the water park also get use of a private sandy beach on the Sea of Galilee. In the park there are 7 water slides, a unique wave pool, loop-the-loop slides, 70° slide, kid’s slides, playgrounds and expansive lawns.
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Sound and Light Show at Travel Destinations in Israel

Like all major travel destinations in the world Israel also has several Sound and Light shows. These are multi-media shows using images projected onto historic buildings accompanied by a narrative and atmospheric music. The Sound and Light Shows serve to bring history alive and make it more accessible and easier to understand.Tower of David, The Night Spectacular Show, JerusalemIn the Tower of David at Jerusalem’s Old City Jaffa Gate, ancient walls are used as a backdrop for the projected images which come from 20 projectors. The 45 minute show retells the history of Jerusalem starting with the Israelite kings and going on to King David, the Romans, Muhammad, the Crusaders, Suleiman the Magnificent and more. This is an incredible history lesson accompanied by an orchestral soundtrack with dramatic classical music to match the historic events.Caesarea, Travel Through TimeYou could call this a mini-Sound and Light Show, the Travel Through Time experience is divided into three stations chronicling the history of the city. The Caesarea Experience is a 10 minute film taking you through the history of the port; Caesarea Stars uses 3D images of leading historical figures to bring you face-to-face with them and the last station is The Tower of Time in a recreated fortress where computerized animation overlooking the city recreates the ancient buildings and allows you to take a virtual tour. Beit Shean National Park, She’an NightsThis is a large archeological site with 20 layers of different civilizations, the most dominant being the well preserved Roman city. The Sound and Light Show is the 4th biggest in the world and cost 3 million USD to produce. The show begins with a 10 minute multimedia presentation and then there is a guided tour of the city. During the guided tour images are projected on the Roman columns, walls, and in the amphitheatre. This makes it a unique kind of Sound and Light Show as the audience needs to walk around. The visual is accompanied by sound effects (Roman chariots, horses, crowds etc) and music. To book call +972-4-648-1122.Masada The show takes place on the western side of Masada and tells the story of the people who lived and died in the mountain top fortress, the battles and the historical events that took place here. The shows are from March to October on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9pm. Tiberias Fountain ShowNot exactly a Sound and Light Show but this is a spectacle of light, sound and fountains. Situated on the southern end of the promenade, fountains shoot up into the air moving to the music together with shows projected on giant water screens. The shows are about the history, art and Tiberias. The effects include shooting flames, lasers and colorful lights. The show lasts 15 minutes and plays three times a night depending on the weather and season.
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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.
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Ice-Skating in Israel

Although Israel is a hot country you can escape the heat and have some fun at several ice rinks spread throughout the country from the extreme north to the extreme south.Canada Center, MetullaThis is Israel’s oldest and best known ice rink; it is where the professional skaters train. All of the professional skating competitions in Israel are held at this Olympic standard rink. It is possible to take ice skating lessons here or just come for fun. The center has other sporting facilities including a great indoor pool.Open Hours: 10:00-16:00 Monday to SaturdayPrice: 85ILS or 75ILS online for entrance to the rink, skate rental and entrance to the center’s indoor pool.ISkate, Gate 8 Luna Park, Tel-AvivThis 500m² rink is attached to the Tel-Aviv Luna Park amusement park. The rink provides lockers, protective gear and skate rental. The rink is attractive with winter-themed decoration. Private lessons are available.Note: Only people over 6 years old and taller than 3.7 meters can skate here.Open Hours: 15:00-22:00 Monday to Friday and Saturdays 10:00-22:00Price: 67ILS for the first hour, 35ILS for the second. You can “freeze” your time and use the remaining time on your ticket at a later date within the same month.Ice Park EilatEilat’s ice rink is at the center of a huge mall under a large domed ceiling. The upper level of the mall is open to the rink so that you can look down on the ice from above. This is the largest complex of its kind in the world. The Olympic size rink is 1,800m². Throughout the open hours there is music and even ice skating performances every couple of hours. Alongside the rink are other attractions like a mini-amusement park, video arcade and a “snow-globe” play area for little kids. The rink surpasses the Metulla rink and will probably become the venue for future competitions. There is a skate school where you can take lessons.Open Hours: Sunday to Friday 10:00-23:00 and Saturdays and holidays 10:00-24:00Price: 76ILS
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Top Science Museums in Israel

The Jewish people are known for their scientific talent with great names like Albert Einstein, Robert Aumann and Konrad Emil Bloch. So it is not surprising that Israel has several top science museum. The museums are primarily geared towards children but the exhibits have been made to appeal to the whole family.Science Museum. Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe Clore Garden of Science, RehovotThe Clore Garden of Science is located on the grounds of the famous Weizmann Institute of science. The entire museum is outdoors so in hot weather bring a hat and water. The museum is run by the Davidson Institute of Science Education. The museum is completely hands-on with displays set up where kids can do experiments to see how different laws of nature work and prove them for themselves.The garden covers 10,000m² and the interactive exhibits focus on the laws of physics, solar energy, water power, and the role natural elements play in the world. Among the exhibits are a Solar Furnace, Pipes of Pan, a Resonant Pendulum, and a wave pool where the science of waves is demonstrated. In addition to the outdoor exhibits, there is an EcoSphere, a dome-shaped greenhouse where ecological principles are demonstrated. Young high school-age guides are on hand to give brief demonstrations, explain the various exhibits and give short tours.Address: Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Sunday-Thursday 09:00-17:00, Saturday 09:00-19:00, Friday closed Family 220ILS, Children 5-18 50ILS, Adults 60ILSBloomfield Science Museum. Photo credit: © Maria MurashovaMadatech Museum, HaifaThe science museum is housed within a historic building that dates back to 1912. During WWI the building was used by the German Army as a slaughterhouse; in 1917 it became a military hospital for the Turkish Army and in 1918 came under the British. In 1923 Albert Einstein visited the building which had become the new Technion. Einstein became the president of the Technion Committee.Today the building houses Israel’s most famous science museum; there are more than 20 sections, 12 labs, 6 demonstration halls, and over 600 hands-on exhibits. Kids learn through the many games and by pressing buttons, pulling levers, and operating equipment. The exhibits are presented in themed sections so that all the energy-related exhibits are together etc. There is an outside area with more hands-on exhibits. The museum has a multi-sense 3D cinema where science-related movies are shown. The museum’s slogan is “explore, experience, discover and learn through play and fun.” There is an area for toddlers where they too can experiment in a safe play area.Address: The Israeli National Museum of Science, Technology and Space, Historic Technion Building, 25 Shmariyahu Levine St., Haifa Sunday-Wednesday 10:00-15:00, Thursday and Saturday,10:00-17:00, Friday 10:00- 13:00 Family (up to 4 people) 260ILS, Children 5-18, 65ILS, Adults 75ILSBloomfield Science Museum. Photo credit: © Katya SavinaBloomfield Science Museum, JerusalemThe museum exhibits are mostly hands-on and divided into thematic groups. There is an indoor and outdoor exhibition area. Although the themes are science-oriented there is a broader spectrum of exhibits that takes in technology, society, and art. Most of the exhibits have been created in-house in collaboration with the Hebrew University. The museum sections include Waterworks, Electricity, Discovering Levers, Games in Light and Shadow, CAPTCHA (about computers), Illusions, Flashlight in the Dark, Amusement Park, Testing and Measuring, and Water. Kids get to build apparatus and take part in regular activities. There is a Resource Center where you can read, see movies, use the Internet, and just hang out. The museum has a 3D cinema and films are an extra fee. There are daily guided tours, free talks, workshops, and science demonstrations.Address: Museum Blvd., Givat Ram, Jerusalem Sunday-Wednesday and Saturday 10:00-18:00, Thursday 16:00-22:00, Friday 10:00-16:00 Family (up to 4 people) 220ILS, Children under 5 free, All visitors over 5 years old 79ILS
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Top 10 Israeli Museums

1. Israel Museum, Jerusalem This is the country’s national museum and is also the largest museum in the country. Here you’ll find exhibition halls focusing on a wide range of subjects, genres and medium. Some of the museum highlights include the children’s wing, fine arts and archeology. Other attractions within the museum grounds are the Art Garden and a model of the Old City of Jerusalem in 66CE during the Second Temple Period. Another highlight is an ancient female figurine which is thought to be the world’s oldest art work. On the museum grounds is the uniquely shaped Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls can be seen.2. L.A. Mayer Memorial Institute for Islamic Art, JerusalemIslamic ArtHere you can see examples of Islamic pottery, painted ceramic tiles, glassware, weaponry, jewelry, religious artifacts and traditional cultural objects. The museum is named after a former scholar of Islamic art at the Hebrew University. The artifacts come from across the globe and represent several historic periods from the 7th to the 19th century. Each exhibition hall is according to the historic Muslim dynasty and the geological location they include the Umayyad Caliphs and the Ottoman period. One of the most important collections in the museum is of rare antique clocks and watches. The museum holds exhibits of art by contemporary Arab artists.3. Madatech, HaifaChildren and adults alike will enjoy this interactive museum where you can touch and play with the exhibits and try your hand at various experiments to prove scientific laws. There is a section for toddlers where they can play and learn. The exhibits cover green energy, flight, chemistry, the mysteries of light, scientific engineering, visual deceptions and puzzles and games. There is a 4D cinema where the wonder of science is revealed further through films about the solar system and other subjects.4.Tel-Aviv Museum of Art Tel-AvivMuseum of Art Tel-AvivTel-Aviv Museum of ArtThis museum covers a wide range of genres and historic periods but the emphasis is on modern art especially Israeli and European contemporary art. There is an impressive collection of impressionist and post impressionist art. There are collections of Old Masters, photography, prints and drawings and architecture and design. Among the highlights are works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Gutman, Marc Chagall, Pissarro, Kandinsky and Pollock. The museum is also known as a venue for performances, events and temporary exhibitions.5. Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum, JerusalemThis award winning museum uses multimedia, historic video footage, authentic artifacts, documents and art to tell the story of the Holocaust. The museum takes the form of an elongated triangular shaped building which takes visitors chronologically through the events of World War Two. At the end of the museum the building opens up to a view over the hills of Jerusalem. Other sites on the museum grounds include the path of the righteous commemorating righteous gentiles and a special memorial to the children who died in the Holocaust. One of the most moving exhibits of the museum is the Hall of Names, a memorial to all the Jews who died in the Holocaust, it is a circular hall with a cone shaped ten meter high center displaying 600 photos and pages of testimony.6. Design Museum HolonThis relatively new museum which opened in 2010 has quickly become one of the country’s leading museums. This is a forward looking museum focused on modern culture and contemporary design. There are temporary exhibitions as well as permanent collections which display design objects from around the world. There is an Experience Archive which is an interactive exhibit used for research. On display are furnishings, wall art, textiles and object d’art. The unique architecture of the museum building, designed by Ron Arad, is an attraction in itself.Design Museum Holon7. Children’s Museum HolonA must-see attraction if you are traveling with children. A visit to the museum must be booked in advance and there are exhibits for different age groups and each follows a specific theme. The most famous of the exhibits here is the Dialogue in the Dark where blind guides take groups of visitors through a completely dark exhibit. The visitors experience the museum as a visually impaired person would, thus heightening their use of the other senses. The Invitation to Silence is an experience where a deaf guide takes visitors through a series of exhibits while they wear headphones blocking out all sound. Once again the exhibit opens visitors up to a new sensory experience.8. Eretz Israel Museum (Land of Israel Museum), Tel-AvivThis museum is home to several separate museums as well as a planetarium. The multi-disciplinary museum exhibits all relate in some way to the Land of Israel and its culture and history. Folklore, Judaica, ethnography, the Israeli postal service and traditional crafts are on display. Take into account that the various sections of the museum are spread over a large area and to move from one to the other you need to leave the air-conditioned halls and walk under the hot sun. There are also outdoor exhibits like the Crafts Arcade where a number of antique working tools are set up in recreated workshops such as a cobbler, tanner and cooper.9. Tower of David Museum, JerusalemHoused within the Tower of David’s medieval guardrooms, an iconic symbol of Jerusalem’s Old City, this museum presents the city’s history in chronological order highlighting the most significant events. There is a film outlining Jerusalem’s history and exhibition rooms covering the Canaanite Period, 1st and 2nd Temple Periods and the Roman Period. Apart from the exhibits on display visitors can also see a nightly Sound and Light Show where images telling the story of Israel’s history are projected on the ancient stones of the Old City.10. Tiktin Museum, HaifaTiktin MuseumThis museum is home to the largest collection of Japanese art outside of Japan. Apart from being a fascinating museum it brings to the country a totally foreign culture and offers a break from most of the Israeli museums which focus so closely on the nation’s heritage. The Japanese culture, art and traditions are presented and this is the only museum of its kind in the Middle East. There are over 7,000 works of art on display including ceramics, textiles and paintings as well as metal work and miniature carvings. Both traditional and modern Japanese art is on display.
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