Israeli Culture

Israel is a melting pot of cultures, blending East and West. Israeli culture encompasses the traditions of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and other smaller groups. Israel’s artistic, social, and culinary culture is influenced by Jewish immigrants from Morocco, Yemen, Iraq, South and North America, Ethiopia, Europe, and Russia.

Tel Aviv culture includes Habima, the national theater, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Israel’s dance culture spans the full spectrum from internationally renowned Batsheva Dance Company, and the Israel Ballet, to ethnic dance groups like Eskesta (Ethiopian) and Inbal (Yemenite). The culture of Tel Aviv can also be experienced in markets, at street food stalls, annual festivals, or live performances.

Museums in Israel cover all genres, from the Museum of Islamic Art and the Japanese Tikotin Museum to the Cartoon Museum and the Design Museum. Jerusalem is home to Israel’s largest and most important museum, the Israel Museum, as well as the Bible Lands Museum, Museum on the Seam, and the Tower of David Museum.  Jerusalem culture includes many sites related to Jewish history, such as the Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum.

Cultural events in Israel occur on a regular basis, from jazz performances, and festivals such as the LGBT Pride Parade, to live performances in Caesarea’s Roman amphitheater or Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park. Plan to include some of the cultural events in your Israel itinerary.

5 Must See Sights in Israel You Probably Didn’t Know about

Any tourist to Israel knows the obvious “must-see” sights like Jerusalem and the Dead Sea but if you’re looking for something special, visit these unique sights:1. Pundak (Kushi) 101101On the Arava Highway 101km from Eilat this roadside diner has grown into a local legend. The site now offers restaurants, exhibits of snakes, turtles, monkeys, crocodiles, and iguanas as well as the chance to get your photo taken on a camel or donkey. Peacocks roam freely and there is a kid’s playground and activities. The site is covered by bamboo roofing and wooden structures and is open 24 hours a day.2. Nachal AlexanderAlexander Stream meets the MediterraneanThis river runs for 45km and meets the Mediterranean Sea near Kfar Vitkin at Machmorit Beach. You can follow the river from the beach inland towards the Turtle Bridge and Turtle Park. The park gets its name from the softshell turtles which inhabit the waters here. They eagerly come to the banks of the river to greet visitors together with schools of catfish. The park has sitting and picnic areas as well as a playground.3. Machane Yehuda Witch DoctorMachane Yehuda marketIn Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market you can find Uzi-Eli Chezi, nicknamed the “witch doctor” he prepares and sells juices specifically designed to treat mental, spiritual, and physical ailments. In his small stall he concocts drinks according to your special request: do you need something to calm you, make you happy, help you find a husband, or treat your skin condition. In his colorful way, he will select the right fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables to combine into your juice. His concoctions are inspired by ancient Jewish writings and his most famous mix is one of etrog and gat (khat) juice. So if you are suffering from a broken heart, dandruff or impotence visit the witch doctor for a mix of date, ginger, pomegranate, yogurt, gat, or passion fruit!4. Bat Caves (Ma’arat Hateumim)Near Bet Shemesh, there are large Karst-formed caves inhabited by hundreds of bats. As you enter you may not even notice them until your look up. The bats seem totally used to the humans who stare up at them. Take along a flashlight to help you navigate the cave entrance.5. Tefen Open MuseumThe drive to this remote location will give you stunning views of the mountains. You may feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere but suddenly you’ll come across the Tefen Industrial Zone which is in fact a museum complex. The industrial area is spotted with interesting sculptures and installations on the lawns. There are also a number of indoor museums including an Antique Car Collection, a glass studio, the Art of Industry Museum, the Museum of German-Speaking Jewry, and a Ceramics Museum. The complex is between Carmiel and Ma’a lot on Route 854.
By Petal Mashraki

A Guide to Israel’s Holy Sites

The land of Israel (‘known as ‘Eretz Yisrael’ in Hebrew) may be the homeland of the Jewish people, but it is also home to Baha'i Faith followers, Christians and Muslims. Many of the ancient landmarks in the country are holy to them too, so let’s take a look at some of Israel's holy sites, and see what significance they have to their respective pilgrims:The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Christian Holy SitesMulti-denominationalChristian holy sites in Jerusalem1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Famous for being the place at which Christ was crucified, buried, and resurrected, this site was built by Constantine the Great in 326 CE. In the heart of the Old City, Its magnificent interior contains the tomb of Jesus, the anointing stone, and Calvary itself (with two chapels, one in which visitors can view the Rock of Golgotha). It is regarded by all Christian denominations as an extremely sacred site.2. Tomb of the Virgin Mary - Located in the Kidron Valley, at the bottom of the Mount of Olives, this is believed by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox to be the burial place of Mary, the mother of Jesus.3. Church of All Nations- The Church of All Nations (also known as the Basilica of Agony) is a prominent Roman Catholic church perched on the Mount of Olives. Its interior is lined with golden mosaics depicting the suffering of Jesus and it is said that this is the spot at which Jesus prayed, before his arrest by the Romans. Its distinctive dome and Corinthian columns hint at its Byzantine heritage.4. Dormition Abbey - Built in the 5th century, this Benedictine community lies on Mount Zion, just outside the Old City. It was on this spot - according to tradition - that the Virgin Mary died.5. Garden of Gethsemane - This garden has great significance in the Christian tradition, as it is supposedly the place where Jesus prayed before his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. Gethsemane (which means ‘olive press’ in Aramaic) has several olive trees in its garden.Church of all Nations, Mt. Olives, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Via Dolorosa - This processional route, known as the Sorrowful Way, passes through the Old City, tracing the path that Jesus is thought to have walked en route to his crucifixion. Stations of the Cross mark certain events along the route and each Easter, on Good Friday, thousands retrace the path. Eastern Orthodoxholy sites in Jerusalem7. Church of St Alexander Nevsky – this Russian Orthodox Church is built over the remains of what historians believe was the ‘Judgment Gate’ where Jesus passed on his way to Calvary.Oriental Orthodoxholy sites in Jerusalem8. Cathedral of St. James - This 12th-century Armenian church lies near the Zion Gate and was constructed in 1163 during the reign of Queen Melisende. According to tradition, in its walls is buried the head of St James the Great and the body of St James the Less.Protestantholy sites in Jerusalem9. Lutheran Church of the Redeemer - This Evangelical church is of part German heritage and was founded in 1898 in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The church has a prominent bell tower and visitors walking up the circular staircase are afforded astonishing views of Jerusalem at forty meters. 10. The Garden Tomb - popular with Evangelical and Anglicans, the Garden Tomb is a non-denominational site with a rock-cut tomb. Located just outside the Old City Walls, some Protestants consider it to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.To see the complete list of holy sites in Jerusalem feel free to read this article.The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Photo credit: ©Jenny EhrlichGalilee and Northern Israel Christian Holy Sites1.The Jordan River - The Jordan River has great significance in the Bible as it is the border of the land that God gives to the Israelites. Flowing through the Sea of Galilee and down to the Dead Sea, it is not just a boundary and a crossing but, in Christian terms, a metaphor for rebirth and salvation. Today, pilgrims around the world come to be baptized here (see Yardenitbelow).2. Nazareth - This famous town is home to the Church of the Annunciation, which was built on the spot where the Virgin Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel. This breathtaking Basilica is 50 meters high and home to the Grotto of the Annunciation and Mary’s Well, where Mary was told she was going to give birth to the son of God, Jesus.3. Cana - This small village in Galilee is the spot where, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage celebration of a poor couple.4. Mount Tabor - Mount Tabor is widely regarded as the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus as, according to the Gospels, this was the place that Jesus was ‘transformed into light’ and spoke to Moses and Elijah the Prophet.5. Tsipori - According to tradition, this spot - close to Nazareth - was the original home of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne. It is also the place at which Joseph and Mary settled with Jesus, on return from Egypt.Sea of Galilee. Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Sea of Galilee - This famous spot is where Jesus calmed a terrible storm, walked upon the water, and caught large numbers of fish. Jesus preached here for much of his adult life and recruited his disciples, who were fishermen, from the area.7. Capernaum - On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, this town was a center for the activities of Jesus and his second home - he performed several miracles here (including healing a paralyzed man) and also visited the synagogue.8. Tabgha - This ancient church dates back to Byzantine times and is full of astonishing mosaics that show plants, animals, and geometric patterns. It is famed for being the place at which Jesus performed a miracle, transforming 2 fishes and 5 loaves into food for 5,000 people.9. The Mount of Beatitudes - Situated on Mount Eremos, this is believed to have been the spot at which Jesus gave his Sermon on Mount. Its Roman Catholic Franciscan chapel has a marble veneer and gold mosaic in its dome. 10. Yardenit Baptismal Site - Yardenit lies on the banks of the Jordan River and some Christians believe that this was the site at which Jesus was baptized. Today, thousands of pilgrims come here to be ‘reborn’ in its waters.Capernaum, the town of Jesus.Photo credit: © ShutterstockJewish Holy Sites in Israel1. Tomb of King David - Located near the Zion Gate in the Old City, near the Abbey of the Dormition, this is one of the top Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem, as it is regarded as the burial place of King David. 2. Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery - The Mount of Olives is home to an extraordinary Jewish Cemetery, which is over 500 years old and contains somewhere between 70,000 and 140,000 tombs with many notable rabbis and zionist leaders buried there. It also contains the tombs of three prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, and pilgrims have come to pray there since the Middle Ages.3. Western Wall - The Western Wall (in Hebrew, the Kotel) is the last remaining wall dating back to the time of the Second Temple (the era of King Herod) and an extremely holy place for Jews, who come from around the world to pray and ask for blessings from God. Today it stands at 19 meters and its largest stone weighs 570 tonnes!4. Mount Meron - Mount Meron, in Galilee, is home to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Each year, at the time of the Jewish festival of Lag B’Omer, tens of thousands of Jews come here as part of a pilgrimage, to pray at his burial site. 5. Tomb of Rabban Gamaliel of Yavne - Yavne is home to the tomb of Rabbi Gamaliel who, according to Jewish philosophy, was a great sage whose greatest achievement was ending the theological arguments that distinguished the houses of Shammai and Hillel. Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery.Photo credit: © Dan Porges6. Mount Betarim - one of the peaks of Mount Dov (otherwise known as"Jabal Ross"), according to one Jewish tradition this is the site of the covenant of the pieces between Abraham and God.7. Katzrin Talmudic villageand Synagogue - This Jewish village in northern Israel contains an ancient synagogue that dates back to the 6th century but was destroyed around the time of 749, in an earthquake that struck northern Israel. The village and prayer house are now part of an open-air museum.8. Safed - According to Jewish tradition, Safed, a town in the north of Israel, was founded by one of Noah’s sons, after the Great Flood. It became a holy city after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and arrived here. Safed today is known as a center for the study of Kabbalah (a mystical Jewish philosophy) and has a cemetery of notable interest.9. Beit Alpha Synagogue - Situated in the Gilboa, this ancient synagogue contains a particularly beautiful floor mosaic, depicting different scenes, including a Zodiac Wheel, a synagogue scene, and the biblical scene where Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son Isaac. Inscriptions in Aramaic and Greek are above the entrance and on either side are a lion and buffalo (the ‘guardians;) of this prayer house. 10. Tiberias- Tiberias, with theTomb of Maimonidesand Tomb of the Matriarchs, historically, is one of Israel’s four holy cities (the other three being Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed). Founded in 20 CE by Herod the Great’s son, it sits at the edge of the Sea of Galilee and is the spot at which the Jerusalem Talmud was written.To see the complete list of Jewish holy sites in Israelfeel free to read this article.Remnants of Talmudic village in Katzrin.Photo credit: © ShutterstockIslamic Holy Sites in Israel1. Temple Mount - Also known as Haram al-Sharif, this Jerusalem site is home both to the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam.2. Al-Aqsa Mosque - Muslims believe that this was the spot the Prophet Mohammed flew over, on his ‘Night Journey’ en route to Mecca. Underneath it is the Al-Qibli Chapel, a Muslim prayer hall.3. Dome of the Rock - The Dome of the Rock is located on the Temple Mount and, as well as being a holy shrine, is one of the oldest examples of Islamic architecture. Its distinctive gold-plated Dome can be seen across Jerusalem. The Well of Souls or Holy of Holies is a partly natural, partly man-made cave situated inside the rock. 4. Dome of the Chain - This domed and free-standing building is located east of the Dome of the Rock and was built between 681-692 CE by the Umayyads.5. Mosque of Omar - Located next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, this mosque was built in the 12th century on the site where Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab accepted the city's surrender from the Byzantines. Its 15-meter high minaret was built in 1465 by the Mamluks.Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Dome of Ascension, Jerusalem - Situated close to the dome of the rock, in Islamic tradition this free-standing dome commemorates the Prophet Mohammed’s ascension to heaven.7. Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque - Situated on what was the former palace of the Latin Patriarch, this building became a mosque after the Crusader’s surrender of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1181. A minaret was added in 1417.8. Al-Yaqubi Mosque - Once the Crusader Church of St. James Intercisus, this building was transformed into a mosque when Jerusalem fell to Saladin. It is situated close to the Jaffa Gate.9. White Mosque - Built in the 8th century, in Ramle, by the Umayyads, all that remains of the White Mosque today is a minaret, According to Islamic tradition, this mosque contained the shrine of the prophet Nabi Salih.10. Al Jazzar Mosque, Acre - Archaeologists believe that the entrance door’s inscription means the mosque was founded around 1781 AD. Outside of Jerusalem, it is Israel’s largest mosque today and is also known as the Pasha Mosque.Bahai Holy Sites in Israel1. Baha'i Gardens, Acre - this site in Acre marks the tomb of the founder, Baha' Allah, considered to be a prophet of the Baha'i faith. As such, it is the holiest place for members of the Baha'i people.2. Baha'i Shrine & Gardens, Haifa - this shrine, and the fantastically beautiful gardens surrounding it, was built as a memorial to one of the Baha'i faith's martyrs, Bab Mirza Ali Muhammad, executed by the Persian authorities in 1850.Bahai Gardens, Haifa.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Sarah Mann

Muslim Sites in Israel

Thanks to the recent Abraham Accords, and warm relations with several Arab nations, Israel is rapidly becoming a hot vacation spot, and pilgrimage destination for Muslim tourists. Visitors from Arab nations like Morocco, Bahrain, and the Emirates can now take Israel Muslim tours.Jerusalem is the third most sacred Islamic site in the world (after Mecca, and Medina in Saudi Arabia). But there is much more for Muslim tourists to see in Israel besides Al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount. Israel has a plethora of Islamic heritage sites, as well as secular attractions that all tourists want to see. Here is a sample of the top Israel Muslim sites.The Arches Pool, Ramle. Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinIslamic Sites in JerusalemJerusalem has iconic mosques, and landmarks built by historic Muslim leaders. The most important Muslim sites in Jerusalem are concentrated on Temple Mount. On a Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock Tour, you can explore this sacred corner of the Old City. Or take a Private Tour of Jerusalem where you can pick and choose which sites to visit.Temple Mount with Dome of the Rock. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTemple Mount (Al Haram ash-Sharif) - For centuries Haram ash-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) has been sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Covering the mount is a raised plaza surrounded by retaining walls (including the Western Wall). The Jewish Holy Temple stood on Temple Mount until its destruction in 70AD, but today iconic Islamic landmarks dominate Temple Mount. Visiting hours for Temple Mount are Monday to Thursday, but the site can be closed without notice for security reasons. Temple Mount is closed to visitors on Friday and Saturday.Al-Aqsa Mosque - The third most sacred mosque in Islam stands on Temple Mount. It was built during the Umayyad period (705AD) and is associated with Muhammad’s Night Journey to the “Furthest Mosque”, as told in the Quran. The rectangular mosque covers 14.4 hectares (36 acres) and can hold up to 5,000 worshipers.Dome of the Rock- This magnificent structure is a symbol of Jerusalem. It was completed in 692AD and rebuilt in 1022AD. It is one of the oldest Islamic structures in existence. Beneath the dome is an octagonal-shaped structure covered with stunning mosaics. The structure holds the Foundation Stone which is sacred to all the Abrahamic religions. It is also where Muhammad ascended to heaven.Solomon’s Stables (Marwani Mosque) - At the bottom of the stairs leading to Al-Aqsa is an underground vaulted space featuring twelve rows of pillars and arches. This is thought to be the legendary stables of King Solomon.Dome of the Chain (Qubbat as-Salsalah) - This ten-sided structure was built in the 7th century and stands alongside the Dome of the Rock. In Islamic tradition, this is where the Last Judgement will take place at the “end of days.”Scale Arches (Qanatir) - Spanning the steps leading to the Dome of the Rock are a series of arched columns built during the Mamluk period and known as the Scales of Judgement. Legend has it that scales will be hung here on the Day of Judgement to measure the weight of souls.Dome of the Ascension (Zawiya of Rabi’a al-Adawiyya) - Built on the Mount of Olives, this mosque shares the site with a Christian Chapel of Ascension marking where Christ ascended to heaven. A burial crypt next to the chapel may have belonged to an 8th-century righteous Muslim woman, Rabi’a al-Adawiyya.Mosque of Omar - Alongside the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a mosque built to mark where Caliph Omar (579-644) prayed rather than entering the Christian church. The mosque has a distinctive 15-meter-high minaret.Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque - On the northern flank of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a mosque built in 1418, with a minaret mirroring that of the Mosque of Omar on the other side of the church.Al-Yaqubi Mosque - In 1187 the Crusader Church of St. James, at Jaffa Gate, was converted into a mosque by Saladin. The small house of worship is named after Sheikh Yaqoub al-Ajami and features a beautiful enamel name plaque.Muslim Quarter- This area of the Old City is rich with Islamic heritage sites and packed with mosques from every period of history. Wander the fascinating lanes of the bazaar and pick up some authentic souvenirs.Walls of the Old City - The thick stone walls surrounding the 1km² Old City were built in 1535, under Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I. You can walk along the ramparts of this 2.5meter (8.2ft) thick wall.The roof of Al Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinMuslim Sites in Acre Old CityAcre’s Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has seen Romans, Ottomans, Crusaders, Mamluks, and British come and go. The city is surrounded by thick Ottoman-era walls, and there are Crusader structures above ground and below. Within the ancient walls are historic sites built by iconic Muslim leaders. One of the best-known Muslim rulers of Acre was Jazzar Pasha (the butcher) who undertook ambitious architectural projects. To fully appreciate all that the city has to offer, join an Acre and Caesarea Tour.Entrance to Al-Jazzar Mosque, Acre.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAl-Jazzar Mosque (White Mosque)-At the entrance to the Old City stands one of Israel’s most beautiful mosques and the country’s largest mosque, outside of Jerusalem. Al-Jazzar Mosque houses Sha’r an-Nabi, a lock of hair from the beard of the Prophet Muhammad.Khan al-Umdan (Caravanserai of the Pillars)-The Inn of the Columns (Khan I Avamid) is the country’s largest and best-preserved example of an Ottoman-era roadside inn or caravanserai. It was constructed by Jazzar Pasha in 1784.Zawayat El-Shadlia - Sheikh Ali Nur el-Din el-Yisroti (el-Magrabi) founded the Order of Acre Dervishes in the 18th century. He had this zawayat built south of the fortress as a place for retreat and communion for the Dervishes and Sheikhs.Museum of Hamam al-Basha - The reconstructed Ottoman Turkish bathhouse is brought to life by the story of the last bath attendant. Statue figures “act out” scenes from the 19th-century bathhouse.Turkish bathhouse, Acre.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinTel Aviv-Jaffa Muslim Sites and AttractionsMuslim visitors will want to combine Israel Muslim sites with a stop in the throbbing metropolis of Tel Aviv. This liberal, forward-thinking city holds a few hidden gems for Muslim tourists. Tel Aviv is a joint municipality with neighboring Jaffa, one of Israel’s multi-cultural cities, where residents of all faiths co-exist.Old Jaffa Port. Photo credit: © ShutterstockJaffa Flea Market - Enjoy the hustle and bustle of this unique market, with its eclectic junk stores, antique dealers, and eateries selling mouthwatering delicacies. Take a Jaffa Flea Market Tour to get to know the area.Jaffa Clock Tower - The most distinctive landmark in Jaffa is the clock tower built in 1906 in honor of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.Jaffa Museum of Antiquities -The museum is housed in an 18th-century building, once used as the headquarters for Ottoman leader, Abu Nabout (or Nabbut).Great Mahmoudiya Mosque - Ottoman governor Abu Nabbut had this mosque built in Jaffa in 1812. A historic water fountain (Sabil Abu Nabbut) stands at the mosque entrance.Al-Bahr Mosque (Jami al-Bahr or Sea Mosque) - At the highest point in Jaffa stands the Sea Mosque that looks out across the water towards Tel Aviv. Its minaret has been a symbol of the city, since its construction in 1675.Minaret of Jami al-Bahr Mosque, Jaffa. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinHaifa and the Carmel Muslim SitesHaifa is a multi-cultural city that has been called a “model of co-existence.” Neighborhoods like Wadi Nisnas are known for their mixed Jewish and Muslim communities. It is the capital of the north, and a thriving city built on the slopes of Mount Carmel (Jabal el-Carmil), and along the shore of Haifa’s spectacular natural bay.Haifa bay view from Bahai Gardens.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAl-Jarina Mosque - Israel Muslim tours stop at Haifa’s most famous mosque. The 18th century Al-Jarina Mosque has a distinctive minaret that resembles a European clock tower.Istiqlal Mosque- This is Haifa’s largest mosque, built in 1926. It stands at the entrance to the city’s lively flea market.Bahai Gardens - Not a Muslim site but a gem not to be missed - the Bahai Gardens were created around the Shrine of the Bab, and cascade down the slope of Mt. Carmel to downtown Haifa, and the historic German Colony. The gardens are a UNESCO site recognized for their outstanding beauty.Cave of Elijah - On a Private Tour of Haifa and the Carmel you can opt to visit the cave inhabited by the Prophet Elijah. The cave is a sacred site for Christians, Jews and Muslims.Daliat-el-Carmel Druze Village - A short excursion into the Carmel Mountains, and you will reach this enchanting Druze village. Learn about the unique Druze culture and visit the Druze Heritage Center.Haifa flea market.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinMuslim Sites in the Galilee and Sea of GalileeThe Galilee in northern Israel is arguably the most beautiful part of the country. Its streams, waterfalls, woodlands, vineyards, and farmlands make it an idyllic setting. Nature lovers can enjoy hike trails and in winter you can ski on Mount Hermon. On a Private Nazareth and Sea of Galilee Tour you can include stops at several significant Muslim landmarks in the region.Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © ShutterstockNazareth - Israel’s largest Arab (Christian and Muslim) population lives in Nazareth. Visit the Mosque Quarter in Nazareth’s Old Market and see the splendid White Mosque which was completed in 1808.Ela-Nabi Sa’in Mosque - On the outskirts of Nazareth is this magnificent mosque built on a high ridge offering panoramic views across the Upper Galilee.Tomb of Nabi Shuaib - The tomb of Druze Prophet Shu’ayb (traditionally identified with the biblical Prophet Jethro), is located near Kfar Zeitim, close to Tiberias.Tiberias - The largest and most important city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias is a popular vacation spot with excellent fish restaurants and attractions on the waterfront. Recently, archaeologists uncovered a mosque dating back to 670AD located just south of Tiberias.Karnei Hattin (Horns of Hattin) - This is one of the most important Israel Muslim sites. See where the mighty Muslim warrior Saladin defeated Christian Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin in 1187. From Karnei Hattin there are spectacular views across Galilee.Nimrod FortressNational Park- the medieval Ayyubid castle graces the slopes of Israel’s highest mountain, Mount Hermon, above the Banias spring. Overlooking the forested dales and the magnificent Golan Heights, the castle was built with the purpose of guarding a major access route to Damascus against Crusaders.There are many more Islamic sites in Israel, as well as secular attractions that interest all visitors. When you book Israel Muslim tours be sure to include some of these top Islamic landmarks.Old City street, Acre.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki

The Red Sea Jazz Festival

The Red Sea Jazz Festival is an annual event held in the gorgeous beach resort city of Eilat, Israel on the edge of the Red Sea. Since its initiation the festival has grown in size and importance. The Red Sea Jazz Festival plays an important role in fostering Israeli jazz talent and has also earned itself a reputation in the international jazz scene. The event takes place over four days in August at the music-inspired Prima Music Hotel and other Eilat venues.jazz festival The Red Sea Jazz Festival hosts a special tribute to Israeli jazz with lots of performances spanning the full spectrum of the Israeli jazz scene, showcasing the multicultural tapestry of Israeli jazz. The festival includes Israel’s greatest jazz performers who have established careers both in Israel and internationally. At the festival, there are both veteran pioneer artists responsible for establishing the jazz culture in Israel and new up-and-coming Israeli artists. The festival follows a special format to salute the legendary Israeli jazz artists with original productions showing the development of jazz through the generations. In addition, usually, there are several big-name international acts including such artists as The Chick Corea Trio, Avi Lebovich and The Orchestra; Aharale Kaminsky; Albert Piamenta; Guy King; TATRAN; Quartet to Afrika; Shlomi Shaban; Shalom Hanoch and Maya Belsitzman among others.Few festivals manage to continue for 30 years and this is a testament to the strong legacy and unique character of the event. In addition to the live performances, the festival offers other special events like the Red Sea Jazz Festival Young Jazz Program. Young musicians will be able to join a workshop run by some of the festival performing artists. The festival hosts the Israeli Jazz Convention, discussion panels, lectures, master classes, workshops for the public, and in the mornings special jazz performances geared towards children aged 5-10 years. One of the traditions of the Red Sea Jazz Festival is the Jam Session held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel poolside. The jam session starts at 11 pm and the jamming continues into the night. Throughout the festival, there are usually sunset jazz cocktail events on Mosh’s Beach near the Eilat Port. Entrance is regularly free and the cocktails will be accompanied by a selection of young bands.Queen of Sheba hotel EilatEilat is the ultimate beach resort; during the festival, visitors will be able to enjoy the incredible Red Sea where there are natural coral reefs, schools of tropical fish, and even dolphins. There are water sports for the whole family, cruise excursions, dreamy beaches, and amazing malls. Eilat is a duty-free port city so you can shop-til-you-drop. Be sure to visit the Ice Mall which has an ice rink in the center. Visitors can also take excursions into the surrounding desert to places like Park Timna, the Dead Sea, and Masada. From Eilat, there are convenient day trips to Petra, Jordan, one of the seven wonders of the world. Eilat has wonderful restaurants, many specializing in seafood and you will find that Eilat hotels rival the best beach resort hotels worldwide. Visitors can enjoy the Red Sea Jazz Festival and a fantastic holiday.Practical Information:When: usually in August. Performances and events take place throughout the day from 10 are to 1 am.Where: At select Eilat venues including the Crowne Plaza Hotel; Jazz Cinema; Port arena; Red Note and the Sea Club.
By Petal Mashraki

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

Israeli Cinema

While on vacation in Israel you might want to see a movie so here is some useful information about Israeli cinemas.What is an Israel Cinema Like? Israeli cinemas are very much like the ones you would go to in the US or Europe. International movies dominate the screens with most coming from the US and the UK. Luckily for English speaking visitors international English-language movies are subtitled rather than dubbed. So you can enjoy the film just as you would in your home country.The one exception is animated children’s films. These are usually dubbed into Hebrew so ask at the box office if there is also an un-dubbed screening. Israeli cinemas also screen home-grown movies which are in Hebrew and with Hebrew subtitles most of the time. Israeli cinema is of a very high standard especially Israeli comedy. You would probably enjoy an Israeli comedy film even without knowing the language. Screening times are approximately from 10:00 in the morning to the last show at 22:00. Cinema complexes often have later showings including midnight shows. Cinema City complexes have a VIP cinema in addition to the regular cinemas. VIP tickets are more expensive but include an open buffet of movie food like popcorn, coffee, cold drinks, wine, chips, cakes, pretzels and ice cream. In the VIP cinema you get to sit on comfortable armchairs and can even have a blanket if you’re cold!Price of Israeli MoviesYou can book cinema tickets online (but the sites are in Hebrew only) or at the box office. Once you get to the cinema you can line up at the box office and purchase your tickets or use the automatic ticket machine. Tickets can be bought in advance or just before the show starts. Ticket prices are standardized and there is no children’s discount. A regular cinema tickets costs 38ILS, a discount ticket (for soldiers) is 26ILS, seniors 19ILS for Israeli films and 26ILS for international films. 3D movies cost a little more at 45ILS. VIP movies cost 129ILS. Purchasing your tickets online or over the phone cost slightly more and many credit cards offer 1+1 deals. Movies at Cinemateuqe Tel-Aviv cost 38ILS to 41.6ILS.Top Israeli Cinema ComplexesTel-Aviv the CinematequeIn Tel-Aviv the Cinemateque (2 HaArba’a St.)is the best known complex and screens mainly independent films, festival films, foreign language films, classic movies and artistic films. There are 5 cinema theatres at the Cinemateque complex. There is also a Cinemateque in Haifa and Jerusalem. The main cinema complexes in Israel are Cinema City and Yes Planet. Many of the cinema complexes have entertaining décor, life-size figures of famous movie stars and offer other activities in addition to the movies. The cinema complexes are often in malls. One of the most popular and fun complexes close to Tel-Aviv is Cinema City Glilot. The Cinema City Jerusalem (10 Yitzchak Rabin Blvd.) is the largest cultural and entertainment center in the city. It has 8 floors, 19 cinema theatres, restaurants, cafes, other kinds of indoor entertainment and a mall. The corridors of the complex are brightly decorated with film characters, posters and activities for kids.
By Petal Mashraki

International Festival of Puppet Theatre Jerusalem

For four days in August the Train Theatre presents puppet shows and performances from Israel and around the world. The performances range from modern to traditional puppet theatre and from internationally acclaimed puppet troupes to relatively unknown performers. The aim of the festival is to introduce the public to the many facets of puppetry and show the artistic complexity, communicative power and sophisticated aspects of puppetry for all ages and tastes. Performances take place both at indoor venues across Jerusalem and in the theatre courtyard so that many of the events are free. The festival promotes multi-cultural interaction and a chance to learn about the world of puppetry and have some fun at the same time. The event is geared towards adults and children alike, in fact there are even puppet shows for adults only. The festival is a major platform for up-and-coming puppet artists and the performances are unique, professional and of exceptional quality.In addition to the puppet performances there are puptrpetry workshops and a chance to meet the artists. Performances take place throughout the day from 10am to 11pm and are listed according to the ideal age of the audience. There are shows suited for 2-4 year olds, 4-9 year olds, 3-9 year olds, 3-8 year olds, 3-7 year olds, 5-12 year olds, over 8s, all ages and for adults only. Among the international performers at the festival this year there are artists from Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain and China represented by master puppeteer Yeung Fai.Special Festival Eventsfish puppetZoooo-There is no Animal like It – This event has been specially created for the festival; it will take place in the Jerusalem Liberty Bell Park. At this multidisciplinary event visitors can meet all kinds of “animals” created by master puppeteers. See puppet monkeys, giraffes, tigers and go on a safari. There will be live musical performances and activities for the whole family a the park becomes a zoo of puppets.a puppet showStory time – There will be story time for kids using puppets to act out the stories.Coffee with Puppets – Visitors are invited to enjoy a cup of coffee with the puppets while joining in the puppet technique workshop. There will also be puppet making and mask making workshops.Sing-along – There will be a public sing-along of well known songs using puppets.Animal Band – See a musical performance where the performers are puppet animals.Every evening at 10pm there will be musical performances, cabarets and parties for adults only in the courtyard Khan.Practical Details:Where: Train Theatre, Khan Theatre, Gerard Behar Center, The First Station and Beit Shmuel, JerusalemWhen: 15-18 August 2016Admission: 10ILS-100ILS depending on the performance.Contact: For more information call 02 5618514 or see the Train Theatre website.
By Petal Mashraki

Safed Klezmer Festival

Klezmer: a Yiddish word meaning musical instruments; it is an Ashkenazi and Eastern European Jewish musical tradition which originated in the 18th century among Hasidic Jews.saxophoneEach August the hilltop city of Safed welcomes thousands of local and international visitors to the biggest Jewish soul music festival in the world. This is one of Israel’s largest and most important festivals. At the festival there will be performances by numerous Klezmer groups and solo artists.The Klezmer musicians are mainly from Israel but there are also several international groups. Throughout the historic alleys and streets of Safed temporary stages are set up each year so that the festival can take place outdoors, on the streets for all to enjoy. Some of the performances will be given in Safed’s historic public buildings like the Red Khan. All of the performances at the festival are free.In addition to the musical performances of Klezmer music there will be other festival activities including “Klezmerim for kids” a workshop where kids can get involved creating and learning more about the Klezmer tradition. There will be workshops for professional musicians and Klezmer master classes conducted by leading artists in this field. There will also be tours of the city and workshops for those interested in Kabala, the mystical Jewish tradition which originated in Safed. Local artists will be selling their creations at market stalls and there will be food stands to provide delicious local delicacies. Visitors to Safed can come for one night or for all three of the festival days as there will be constant events, activities and performances. This festival is intended for both secular and religious visitors – so long as they like music!Practical Information: When: mid-August, annuallyWhere: Throughout the old city of Safed. If driving to Safed for the festival park your car at the designated parking lot outside the city and take the free shuttle.Admission: Free
By Petal Mashraki

The Unique Culture of the Black Hebrew Israelites

Israel is made up of a range of ethnic and cultural communities; there are Jews who immigrated from around the world bringing their traditional cultures with them as well as Muslim and Christian communities. One of the most fascinating and unique Israeli communities is the Black Hebrew Israelites.The Black Hebrews are a group which believes they are the descendents of the ancient Israeli Tribe of Judah. It all began when Ben Carter of Chicago had a dream in 1966 where the Angel Gabriel came to him. The angel told him that African Americans were the Biblical lost tribe of Israel and should return to the Holy Land. The group grew, Carter changed his name to Ben Ammi and more and more African Americans joined the group. The group began arriving in Israel via Liberia with their leader Ben Ammi Ben-Israel in 1969.At first the Hebrew Israelites were not welcome in Israel, they are not recognized as Jews by Israel’s Chief Rabbinical authority and so they could not settle in Israel under the Law of Return (which welcomes Jews from around the world to settle in Israel). The Rabbinate said that they could only stay if they converted to Judaism but they refused as they believe they are already Jewish. Their statues was in the balance for many years, but now after three generations of Hebrew Israelites have made Israel their home the government awarded them permanent residency status in 2006.Their religious observance of Jewish law includes keeping Shabbat and they believe in the Old Testament but incorporate elements of African American heritage in their observance. The Black Hebrew Israelites are vegans; they wear only natural fabrics; don’t drink alcohol or smoke; don’t use salt in their cooking; don’t believe in premarital sex; circumcise boys at 8 days old in accordance with Jewish law; practice organic agriculture and maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a holistic approach to medicine. Hebrew Israelite men can be seen wearing Jewish tzitzit, head coverings and African print shirts while the women wear brightly colored African tribal dresses. Many of the men have more than one wife in accordance with ancient Biblical law.In Israel their community of about 2,500 members is based in Dimona in Southern Israel, they have a tight knit community with their own school, place of worship and community facilities. The unique Hebrew Israelite community of Dimona has welcomed many famous guests including Whitney Houston and Steve Wonder.The Israeli community is famous for its gospel choir which tours internationally raising money for the community. They also create an income for their community through their soy food factory in Arad. Other members of the community are involved in producing and selling African cultural clothing made from natural fabrics. The group runs a vegan restaurant called Ta’am Hachaim in Tel-Aviv. A few hundred Hebrew Israelites serve in the Israeli Army and members of their group have represented Israel in international sports and academic events. In 1999 Eddi Butler, a members of the Hebrew Israelite community, represented Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest. The group lives in their community on the urban kibbutz – Shomrei HaShalom in Dimona. They are very much a part of Israeli society and they welcome visitors and the chance to educate people about their beliefs. To arrange a visit to the Black Hebrew community in Dimona call their public relations office at 972-8-655-5400.
By Petal Mashraki

A Unique Society to Israel, the Kibbutz Community

A kibbutz, a unique collective community, that exists for over 100 years in Israel only, was established during the pioneering era at the turn of the 20th century. Kibbutzim were founded for settling the land through agricultural co-existence, and with its resident members formed part of the diverse ideological base on which the state of Israel, for 40 years before its creation, was built. There were different ideological movements, that formed agricultural cooperatives which embraced different political affiliations.Such a community formed a fully economical, sustainable and socialist based society, “all for one and one for all”, as part of the foundation of the Zionist movement, and its dream of settling the land of Israel, creating and establishing the homeland for the Jewish people. This was made possible by Jewish immigrants from Europe, North Africa, Russia. Many who fled oppressive regimes, survived atrocities, lost entire families and came to build a new life in Israel.Kibbutz community, based on egalitarian and social cooperation, its values and ethos, takes care of its members’ needs for their entire lives, providing vocation, occupations, homes, health services, education, and sustaining a communal lifestyle built on the community and individual needs, mutual and reciprocal. Various ideologies, religious practice, traditions, values, vision and political entities differentiated between numerous kibbutz movements.The kibbutz today has adjusted to the 21st century – lots of communities are privatized, and considerably fewer exist in its original or economic communal form. In the 21st century, the kibbutz community has become privatized in many aspects, some have even completely ceased to exist, meeting member’s specific needs and re-examining the individual’s needs. Until 1970 children grew up fed, clothed, lived and slept in children’s houses seeing their parents for a few hours each afternoon, from immediately after birth. Since then, housing was adjusted in size to accommodate children living with their parents, and families as a nuclear unit, under 1 roof, redefining the family unit and its part in the collective.The needs of the individual and community are addressed by the elected governing body, but all kibbutz members still have the voting right for all issues that affect them personally and collectively. The kibbutz as a community caters to the needs of the aged, until their passing. Many of them have an elderly population of up to 20 % of the entire member population, who are no longer productive working members but have their needs catered for, by virtue of having been part of the kibbutz all their lives.In recent years, kibbutzim have also created small, adjacent outside housing communities to strengthen them with a younger population ensuring their future existence. Young couples can build and buy homes, which are privately owned, and can fully enjoy communal services education, etc and a countryside lifestyle which they would not be able to afford living in major cities in the center of the country.The kibbutz system has proven its ability to move through the ages and remain relevant in Israeli society, however varied and distant it may be from the original nucleus of its formation.
By Jenny Ehrlich

The Best Ways to Spend Christmas 2019 in Israel

Christmas 2019 is just around the corner, and in Israel, the land where the events of Christmas actually took place there is excitement in the air as decorations go up, trees are erected in city centers and churches prepare for special Christmas services. You won't see Christmas celebrated in all Israeli cities but in places where there are Christian communities you can experience the holiday season in the Holy Land, unlike anywhere else in the world. To help you plan your time in Israel as you celebrate Christmas here are some of the most popular and special 2019 Christmas events in Israel.2019 Christmas Events in JerusalemYMCA Christmas Concert: 24.12.2019, 19:30-21:30The traditional Christmas celebrations at the historic YMCA building in Jerusalem include a Christmas Eve concert featuring more than 80 performers. Among those performing will be the Jerusalem Street Orchestra; YMCA Academy Orchestra; the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir and the Jerusalem Youth Choir, with youths from West and East Jerusalem. You can expect to hear all the classic Christmas songs and enjoy a festive atmosphere at this annual event.Santa’s House: Throughout December 2019, 17:00-20:00Each year Santa’s House opens its doors to excited young visitors. Situated on St. Peter’s Street in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, Santa’s House is a non-profit attraction supported by donations with the sole purpose of delighting young visitors. The house belongs to a family whose generations have inhabited the Old City for over 700 years. Santa’s House is decked-out with traditional Christmas decorations and although it may not be the North Pole, families can enjoy the warm, cheerful atmosphere in Santa’s house.Dormition Church Christmas Concert: 2019: 21/12/2019, 11:00Attend a Christmas concert in the beautiful Dormition Church on Mount Zion. This year’s guest performer will be the French classic organist, Maurice Clerc. The concert will include a variety of arrangements on the organ. Enjoy the music of this world-renowned performer in the surroundings of one of Jerusalem’s most exquisite churches.The Dormition Church2019 Christmas Events in JaffaHappy Market: 20/12/2019, 10:00-16:00This lively market takes place at the Art Club at 9 Shach Street. The market stalls will hold hand-made goods such as ceramics, jewelry, glassware, clothing as well as flowers and a range of Christmas items. No Israeli market would be complete without some delicious food stalls and at the Happy Market, you won’t go hungry! Free admission.Jaffa Christmas Parade 2019: 27/12/2019, 17:30This annual parade includes music; decorated parade floats escorted by Santa figures and other holiday-themed participants. The parade will travel along Yefet Street stopping at a number of points along the way including the churches along the route where kids will be treated with sweets, small gifts and other surprises. Free admission.Scouts Christmas Carnival Parade: Friday 06.01.2020, 17:30 (there may be changes)Come join this annual parade presented by more than 550 scouts, members of Jaffa’s Orthodox Scouts Club. The parade will travel from Evn Rashd Street, down the length of Yefet Street to St. George’s Church on Louis Pasteur Street. This traditional carnival includes costumed participants, performances by the scouts’ orchestra ending with a brilliant firework display. Free admission.A Christmas treeScouts Christmas Carnival Parade2019 Christmas Events in Western GalileeChristmas Run in Mi'ilya: Friday, 20.12.2019, 08:00This will the 5th year that this fun run has been held in the beautiful Galilee to celebrate Christmas and the Festival of Lights, Hanukah. Each year this Christian village is decorated with colorful Christmas lights and Christmas trees for the holiday season. The run marks a coming-together of people of different faiths and cultures. People of all faiths, persuasions and communities are invited to join in for a run through the lanes of this magical Galilee village. You’ll have the choice of a 2km, 5km or a competitive 10km run. The run has been created to suit individuals as well as families with kids. There will be prizes for the winners in categories above 5km. A fee will be charged for Participation in the Christmas run.Western Galilee Winter Festival: Thursday-Saturday, 19.12.2019-21.12.2019 (times may vary)The Western Galilee Now Organization holds an annual Winter Festival with events and happenings spread across several villages. There will be an exciting schedule of Christmas-related events. Kfar Pasuta is considered one of the best festival villages where the celebrations include a wide range of activities; musical performances; Christmas carols; family activities and tours through the quaint lanes. Kfar Eilabun is another popular destination during the festival; here there is a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the village square and an adjacent Christmas market. The Kfar Eilabun celebrations include street performers, a parade and wonderful kid’s shows.Christmas Season in Mi’ilya:Saturday – Monday, 21.12.2019-23.12.2019, 10:00-24:00 - The traditional Christmas market in Mi’ilya has Christmas food stalls, artists’ stalls, Christmas candy stalls and sale of Christmas decorations. The market is also where you can see kid’s shows and towards nightfall musical performances for all the family.Tuesday – Wednesday, 2.12.2019-25.12.2019 10:00-18:00 – One of the most moving events in Mi’ilya during the Christmas season is the church service and choral singing held in the Greek Orthodox Holy Mary Church. Free admission.2019 Christmas Events in HaifaHaifa Holiday of Holidays Festival: Thursday – Sunday, 19.12.2019-28.12.2019, various hours throughout the day.The Holiday of Holiday Festival is one of the largest and most important festive season events held in Israel. 2019 will be the 26th year of this festival that takes place on weekends throughout December in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood and down to the German Colony at the lower end of the Baha'i Garden. The holiday of Holidays celebrates Haifa’s multicultural communities and the principles of mutual respect; cultural tolerance and diversity. The city is decorated with colorful decorations and lights; there is a wide range of special events, musical performances, lectures, parties and markets held throughout Haifa. Many of the festival events have free admission and most of the exhibitions will be open from 10 am to 8 pm.Among the events of the Holiday of Holiday festival 2019:Opening Ceremony, Beit HaGefen Theatre, 19.12.2019, 20:30 – Join locals and dignitaries for a festive opening ceremony where there will be game tables, tours, musical performances, stand-up performances and much more.Christmas Parade, Ein Dor Catholic Church, 21.12.2019, 17:00 – the traditional Christmas parade in Haifa will travel down Ein Dor Street and continues to Allenby Street via the German Colony and back again.Family Happening, Beit HaGefen yard, 26.12.2019, 11:00-15:00 – This fun-filled annual happening for the whole family includes creative workshops; make-up stations; food stalls; circus performances; fun games where everyone can participate and more.
By Petal Mashraki

June 2015 Events in Israel

With summer just around the corner the arts and cultural scene in Israel heats up. June brings with it festivals, music, gay pride, dance, opera and international star performers.3-11 June – Light in Jerusalem, Old City JerusalemLight in JerusalemThe Old City of Jerusalem is lit up along four routes through the meandering cobble streets. Each route is lit in a different color and as visitors pass along the routes there are performances of music, art work from around the world, video presentations, instillations and 3D displays.3-14 June – Opera Festival at MasadaFor the 5th consecutive year there will be an amazing opera performance at the foot of Mount Masada. You can enjoy Puccini’s La Tosca or Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana each with the cliffs of Masada as the backdrop. The large-scale open-air performances make use of huge sets, elaborate lighting, multimedia and a large cast of performers.5-6 June, Goovestock Festival, Ramat NegevThis will be the first Groovestock Festival, it will include top Israeli pop and Middle Eastern performing artists. The unique environment, in the heart of the Negev Desert will add an amazing atmosphere to the event. Together with artists like Dudu Tassa, the Eccentrics and Shai Tsbari there will be top DJs.10 June – Art Garfunkel, Bloomfield Stadium, Tel AvivArt GarfunkelIconic performing artist Art Garfunkel will be in Israel without his legendary partner Paul Simon but he will be performing the duos unforgettable hits like Bridge over Troubled Water, Mrs. Robinson and Mother Mary. The 6 time Grammy award winner’s concert will also feature songs from Garfunkel’s solo career.12-13 June – Sunbeat Global Beats Festival, Galil HaElionJoin hundreds of Israelis in a weekend of non-stop music, dancing and parties. The Global Beats movement takes you on a musical journey through the cultures of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Music from clubs and communities across the globe including Morocco, Berlin and the Greece. On the festival stage the traditional sounds of many cultures will join together. There will be live performances as well as DJs. The festival will be held in the picturesque surroundings of the Galilee.12 June – gay prideTel Aviv, Meir Park Tel AvivTel Aviv has become one of the hottest gay travel destinations in the world and the top event of the year is the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade. Pride week kicks off with speeches, activity booths and musical performances (including the Gay Youth Band of Tel Aviv) at the Gan Meir Gay Center. From here the parade sets out through the streets of Tel Aviv with parade floats, costumed dancers, music and lots of fun. The parade reaches Gordan Beach where the party really gets going. The beach party continues into the evening with top DJs providing the music.19-24 June – Tel Aviv Student Film Festival 2015Students of the Tel Aviv University film and television school present both local and international student films which compete for prizes. In addition to the screenings there will be workshops, master classes, lectures and panel discussions with guests from the film industry.24 June – Damian Marley, Rishon LeZionThe son of Bob Marley is becoming a legend in his own right performing reggae around the world. Jr. Gong, as he is also known, has won 3 Grammy awards and his single Welcome to Jamrock received accolades from Rolling Stone Magazine.24-27 June,Opera Festival L’Elisir D‘Amore,JerusalemThis festival features a performance of Donizetti’s operatic comedy L’Elisir ‘Amore as well as several other concerts which will be held throughout the city. Venues will include the Biblical Lands Museum, the Israel Museum and the Museum of Italian Jewish Art. There will be concerts geared towards children, liturgical music, chamber music and more.25 June – White Night Tel AvivWhite Night Tel AvivThe annual White Night celebration is when the whole city stays awake until dawn. Restaurants, cafes and stores open until the early hours and the municipality organizes live musical performances, dance performances, poetry readings, workshops and special events throughout the night. Many of the events are free and others have a minimal fee. Some of the White Night events are indoors and many are outdoors. End the White Night with yoga on the beach as the sun comes up.27 June – Dire Straits, Hall 2 Tel Aviv FairgroundsFormer member of the original iconic ban, Chris White will perform one concert in Israel. White will perform with six top musicians’ songs from the heyday of Dire Straits like Romeo and Juliet, Money for Nothing and Brothers in Arms.
By Petal Mashraki

Israel Summer Festivals 2013

During Israel’s summer season which lasts from June to the end of August there are a number of festivals and special events which are worth attending. Here are a few of the highlights of Israeli summer events and festivals.June 27 White Night International FestivalTel aviv white night 2013Spend the night in Tel-Aviv when the restaurants stay open all night and there are late night performances both in cinemas and on the streets. Craft markets and musical performances pop up on the streets of Tel-Aviv throughout the night and the main event is the International Marathon of Jazz and Avant-garde Music which is held in the Einav Culture Center.June 5-13 Jerusalem Light festivalThe streets and walls of the Old City are brought to life by displays of light sculptures, light designs, light statues, instillations, projected images and live performances. Entrance is free and visitors can wander the streets admiring the light displays,July 23-25 Karmiel Dance FestivalA huge gathering of over 10,000 dancers perform in 80 events in the town of Karmiel. Together with the performances there are audience participation dances, workshops, public folk dances where anyone can join in and other events like a market, food stalls etc. Over 25,000 visitors are expected to attend the annual festival in 2013.August 5-8 Israeli Wine Tasting festivalHeld at the Jerusalem museum the entrance fee gets you a wine glass for unlimited tasting, cheese tasting and entry to the museum galleries. The event takes place in the museum gardens and is accompanied by live jazz performances. The price is approximately 80NIS.August 15-28 International Arts and Crafts FestivalArtists and craft makers from around the world gather here to display and sell their creations. The event takes place just outside the Jerusalem Old City walls in the Jerusalem Arts and Crafts Art Amphitheater while concerts play in the nearby Sultan’s Pool. The festival takes place in the evening from 6pm to 11pm and is closed on Friday.August 6-8 International Klezmer Festivalklezmer festivalThis uniquely Jewish form of music is celebrated for the 23rd year in several venues throughout the country, the best known being in Safed where 45 performers showcase “Jewish soul music”. In Safed 8 stages are set up throughout the city and other events are held like craft fairs, tours and kid’s shows. Klezmer music is from the Hassidic tradition of Eastern Europe and groups of musicians play classical instruments to a unique rhythm. Entrance to all performances is free.August 22-23 Jerusalem Beer FestivalJerusalem is not just a holy city it is also a great city for the young who want a good party, for example the annual beer festival offers a chance to sample beers from around the world and enjoy the street party atmosphere. Both craft beers and mainstream beers are served from stands set up in the Old Train Station compound. There are food stands, live performances and stalls selling souvenirs and crafts. The beerfest takes place from 6pm until midnight and entry costs 30NIS which doesn’t include beer.August 22-25 Red Sea Jazz FestivalIf you happen to be in Eilat during this period you can attend this annual festival now in its 26th year. Each night there are about 8 concerts and during the day master classes, workshops and jam sessions. Artists are national and international and perform a range of jazz styles from Blues to Latin jazz in three Eilat venues. The exact dates for the 2013 festival have not yet been published.
By Petal Mashraki
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