IS­RAEL Hot hap­pen­ings for Suc­cot IS­RAEL Time to get down to the booth club

There’s plenty to lure you away from the pool­side in Is­rael this month, says Ly­dia Weitz­man

The Jewish Chronicle - - Travel -

IT CAN BE tough go­ing to Is­rael for Suc­cot. Firstly, you have to pull out those sum­mer clothes that you have packed away hav­ing hardly worn them this year. It may be mid-Oc­to­ber, but in Is­rael you can be pretty sure of warm days, al­beit cooler nights in the suc­cah. Then, you have to get over any lin­ger­ing guilt feel­ings about fly­ing off to the sun while the top­ics of the day with friends and fam­ily are the im­pend­ing chilly Bri­tish win­ter and the credit crunch.

And fi­nally, once you ar­rive, you’ll find so much to do — from in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­vals to lo­cal hap­pen­ings, from na­ture hikes to cir­cus per­for­mances — that you will have the prob­lem of carv­ing out some time to sim­ply laze on the beach or by the pool.

The fes­tive spirit in Is­rael kicks off with the suc­cah fairs held in al­most ev­ery town square, with (mostly) young yeshivah stu­dents tout­ing the Four Species — sold sep­a­rately and much more cheaply than at home — and booth af­ter booth sell­ing what looks like the re­mains of last year’s Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, all glit­ter and fairy lights for dec­o­rat­ing those quintessen­tially Is­raeli, build-your-own booths.

Jerusalem is the beat­ing heart of Suc­cot ac­tiv­i­ties — the fo­cus, for mil­len­nia, of the three-times-a-year Jewish pil­grim­age. The city struts its Yom­tov best, with make-your­self-at-home suc­c­ahs in ev­ery café, restau­rant and on ev­ery street cor­ner. Ho­tels are at near­full oc­cu­pancy. In­deed, if you haven’t al­ready booked one, you will prob­a­bly have to stay in one of the five-star kib­butz guest houses on the out­skirts, or go to Tel Aviv and com­mute.

The city also has the largest suc­cah in Is­rael — this year with an en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly green theme — lo­cated at Safra Square in the heart of West Jerusalem, and an­tic­i­pat­ing more than 100,000 vis­i­tors over the fes­ti­val.

Mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupo­lian­ski will host the an­nual Suc­cot re­cep­tion for tourists and lo­cals on Oc­to­ber 15 at 5.30pm and there will be free Klezmer per­for­mances in the square on Oc­to­ber 15, 16 and 18 at 8.30pm. The Open House in the Pres­i­dent’s Suc­cah at Beit Hanasi will take place on Oc­to­ber 16 from 9am to 12 noon

The West­ern Wall re­tains its sa­cred at­trac­tion through­out the hol­i­day, with the tra­di­tional Priestly Bless­ing (Oc­to­ber 16 at ap­prox­i­mately 9 and

10am), and the beat­ing of the wil­lows on Hoshana Rabba (Oc­to­ber 20) — both draw­ing tens of thou­sands of worshippers and spec­ta­tors.

On Oc­to­ber 15 at 2.30pm, some 8,000 Chris­tians from more than 100 coun­tries are due to join thou­sands of Is­raelis and tourists on the colour­ful, an­nual Jerusalem March from Sacher Park to Lib­erty Bell Park.

If you’re feel­ing fit, you can join the five, 10 or 20 km walk which pre­cedes the march. The short­est of the walks leaves the Sherover Prom­e­nade in East Tal­piot be­tween 7.30 and 8.30am on a route that takes walk­ers through Re­havia and Tal­biye to the Sacher Park, just in time for the ex­trav­a­ganza there from 10am.

The big theme this Suc­cot in the Jerusalem area would ap­pear to be the cir­cus and all things re­lated, with the Vir­tu­oso Fes­ti­val of street art in Lib­erty Bell Park close to the In­bal Ho­tel (Oc­to­ber 15 and 16, 4 to 10pm) fea­tur­ing trapeze artists, jug­glers and acro­bats; and the Cau­casian Cir­cus per­form­ing in a 12-me­tre high big top. The de rigueur arts and crafts stalls, live mu­sic and food fair all con­trib­ute to the car­ni­val at­mos­phere.

The old rail­way sta­tion com­plex is home to an­other big top, this one be­long­ing to the multi-dis­ci­plinary, multi-na­tional, no-per­form­ing-an­i­mals Dorola Cir­cus, with shows three times a day.

And just 15 min­utes out­side the cap­i­tal — at the Ein Hemed Na­tional Park with­it­sCru­sader­fortress­re­mains—you can try your hand at jug­gling and stilt­walk­ing at the Jug­gling Fes­ti­val, which in­cludes per­for­mances and work­shops (Oc­to­ber 17 to 19, from 11am to 3pm).

Other peren­nial Jerusalem favourites worth a visit this Suc­cot in­clude the Bib­li­cal Zoo, where the ac­cent is on wild an­i­mals, with work­shops, tours and guided feed­ings; the Tower of David Mu­seum, with its mu­si­cal ex­hi­bi­tion Sound­scapes and the stun­ning new Night Spec­tac­u­lar — a new son et lu­miere — and the City of David, with its amaz­ing arche­o­log­i­cal park, guided tours in English (at 11 am, 1pm and 3pm) and sub­ter­ranean wa­ter walks.

Mu­sic lovers will en­joy the se­ries of su­perb con­certs at the Abu Ghosh Vo­cal Mu­sic Fes­ti­val held in the churches and crypts of this pretty vil­lage in the Jerusalem hills (Oc­to­ber 18 to 21) on the out­skirts of the city.

For some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, head for the ses­sions of more con­tem­po­rary Is­raeli mu­sic at the an­nual Ta­mar Fes­ti­val in the Dead Sea. This fes­ti­val in­cludes three sun­rise con­certs on Masada (on Oc­to­ber 14, 15 and 16) fea­tur­ing David Broza, Avi­tar Banai and Shalom Hanoch re­spec­tively.

Other pop­u­lar Is­raeli per­form­ers in­clud­ing Moshe Ben Ari, Ehud Banai and Ye­huda Po­liker are play­ing on the evenings of Oc­to­ber 15 to 19 at Na­hal Zo­har, lo­cated just south of Ein Bokek, one of the main Dead Sea re­sort ar­eas.

The Is­raeli Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Ris­hon le Zion, just south of Tel Aviv, also show- cases Is­raeli stars, in­clud­ing free con­certs at 8.30pm with the IDF or­ches­tra and Ye­ho­ram Gaon (Oc­to­ber 16) and the win­ners of A Star is Born, Is­rael’s home­grown Pop Idol (Oc­to­ber 15 and 16).

At Neot Ke­du­mim, the bib­li­cal land­scape re­serve half-way be­tween Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, you can hike the Bi­ble-in­spired trails where 25 suc­c­ahs have been built ac­cord­ing to ex­am­ples given in the Mishna and Tal­mud. There is also the op­por­tu­nity to take part in bas­ket-weav­ing work­shops, trea­sure hunts and other child-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties (Oc­to­ber 15, 16 and 19, from 9am to 5pm).

Suc­cot co­in­cides with the grape har­vest and spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, work­shops and tast­ings are tak­ing place in the dozens of bou­tique winer­ies in the Tus­cany-lite Yoav Ye­huda re­gion out­side Jerusalem as well as in the area around Is­rael’s other wine-pro­duc­ing re­gion of Zichron Ya’acov and Binyam­ina, just south of Haifa.

If you are head­ing down south, then you could stop off in Sderot for some home-made, eth­nic fare made by lo­cal women at the be­lea­guered town’s first “Feel at Home” Culi­nary Fes­ti­val (Oc­to­ber 15 to 17). It is a laud­able at­tempt to bring vis­i­tors — and money — into a town un­der fire from Ha­mas rock­ets un­til June’s cease­fire.

The UNESCO-des­ig­nated Mamshit Na­tional Park, south of Beer Sheva and lo­cated on the an­cient Spice Route, will once again host the ever-pop­u­lar Na­batean Mar­ket, where stalls of­fer a colour­ful eth­nic blend of spices, em­broi­dery, jew­ellery, mu­sic CDs and lots

more (Oc­to­ber 14 to 20 from 10 am, with a spe­cial moon­lit event un­til mid­night on Oc­to­ber 16).

If you plan to be in Ei­lat for Suc­cot, take time out from the pool­side or beach to visit Timna Park, just 30 min­utes drive north. The skies above the dra­matic Arava desert scenery will be adorned with the bright colours and strange shapes of the Hot Air Bal­loon Fes­ti­val (Oc­to­ber 16 and 17). Timna Park will also be open in the evenings, with the re­cently in­stalled il­lu­mi­na­tions al­low­ing vis­i­tors a novel — and much cooler — ex­pe­ri­ence than a day-time visit al­lows, even in au­tumn.

Head­ing north, the weather may be cooler than Ei­lat, but there are so many spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, in ad­di­tion to the nor­mal at­trac­tions such as hikes, kayak­ing in the Jor­dan and ex­treme ad­ven­tures at Ma­nara Cliff, that it is worth a trip.

In Cae­sarea, on the Med coast be­tween Ne­tanya and Haifa, horses pa­rade in the Ro­man hip­po­drome on Oc­to­ber 15,16, 18 and 19 at 11.30am and 2pm; while at Bet She’arim, in the south­ern Galilee, there are night-time tours of the un­der­ground caves (Oc­to­ber 16 at 8 pm).

A sound and light show (Oc­to­ber 14 to 21) at the spec­tac­u­lar Ro­man re­mains at Beit She’an, is a good rea­son to re­visit the Jor­dan Val­ley.

Court jesters, knights and clas­si­cal mu­sic await vis­i­tors at the Re­nais­sance Fes­ti­val at the Cru­sader fortress of Ye­hiam (Oc­to­ber 14 to 16, 10am to 6pm), while the Haifa In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val — which will screen 170 films from more than 40 coun­tries, from Oc­to­ber 14 to 28 — opens with Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And over at Acre — an­other UNESCO-des­ig­nated World Her­itage site — the al­ley­ways and citadels of the old city host street the­atre par ex­cel­lence, for the 29th Acre Fes­ti­val of Al­ter­na­tive Is­raeli The­atre, fea­tur­ing groups and per­form­ers from all over the world (Oc­to­ber 15 to 19).

And in ad­di­tion to all th­ese fes­ti­vals, there’s a host of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties — hik­ing, tours and spe­cial events — or­gan­ised by KKL-JNF, the So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Na­ture in Is­rael and the Is­rael Na­ture and Na­tional Parks Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity.

And, on the evening of Oc­to­ber 21, when you think all the Suc­cot cel­e­bra­tions are over, city squares burst into life, as re­li­gious and non-re­li­gious dance with the To­rah scrolls for the sec­ond hakafot — an act of sol­i­dar­ity with Jewish com­mu­ni­ties around the world as they cel­e­brate Sim­chat To­rah.

Ital­ian clowns sched­uled to per­form at the Acre Fringe Fes­ti­val over Suc­cot

Jerusalem’s Old City: site for the Priestly Bless­ing at the West­ern Wall

Haifa, where the In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val runs for two days

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.