JEWISH Jerusalem

Jerusalem is an Israeli city in the Middle East sitting on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and is considered holy according to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, a place where Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions, while the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power. However, neither claim is widely internationally recognized.

The History of Jerusalem

Throughout its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, and attacked 52 times. The segment of Jerusalem known as the City of David shows the first signs of settlement in the 4th millennium BCE in the shape of encampments of nomadic shepherds. In the Canaanite period (14th century BCE), Jerusalem was named Urusalim on ancient Egyptian tablets, probably meaning "City of Shalem" after a Canaanite deity. During the Israelite period, significant construction in Jerusalem began in the 9th century BCE (Iron Age II). In the 8th century, the city developed into the religious and administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah. In 1538, the city walls were rebuilt for the last time around Jerusalem under Suleiman the Magnificent. Today those walls define the Old City, which has been traditionally divided into four-quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters. The Old City became a World Heritage Site in 1981, and is on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Since 1860, Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City's boundaries. In 2015, Jerusalem had a population of some 850,000 residents, comprising approximately 200,000 secular Jewish Israelis, 350,000 Haredi Jews, and 300,000 Palestinians. In 2016, the population was 882,700, of which Jews comprised 536,600 (60.8%), Muslims 319,800 (36.2%), Christians 15,800 (1.8%), and 10,300 unclassified (1.2%). Some of the top sites to see in Jerusalem include the famous outdoor market, Shuk Machane Yehuda, the City of David, and Mount Zion. According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, while his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple. Modern scholars argue that Jews branched out of the Canaanite people and culture through the development of a distinct monolatrous – and later monotheistic – religion centered on El/Yahweh, These foundational events, straddling the dawn of the 1st millennium BCE, assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people. The sobriquet of holy city was probably attached to Jerusalem in post-exilic times. The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, conserved in the Septuagint, which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus's crucifixion. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. In Islamic tradition, in 610 CE it became the first qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer (salat), and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran. As a result, despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometres (0.35 sq mi), the Old City is home to many sites of seminal religious importance, among them the Temple Mount with its Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Outside the Old City stands the Garden Tomb.

Famous Figures in Jerusalem

There is no lack of renowned and well-known people originating from Jerusalem. It has produced several famous actresses, emperors, kings, historians, political leaders, and a variety of other personalities from multiple spheres. While some might be from different eras, or currently reside in other locations, these people will always have inherent Jerusalem roots bringing them back home to the Land of Israel. One of the most renowned and respected people originating from Jerusalem - Yitzhak Rabin, the 5th Prime Minister of Israel who served the country from 1974–1977 and from 1992 until his assassination in 1995. While in office, Rabin implemented the daring operation to rescue the Israeli hostages at Entebbe. Two other major events that took place during Rabin's second term were the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and the peace treaty with Jordan. These achievements fetched him international accolades, as he was honored with International Nobel Peace Prize (1994) and The Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. On November 4, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish right-wing extremist in Tel Aviv and became the only Prime Minister to be assassinated in the history of Israel. We must not forget about all the successors who came before us. King Solomon ruled the United Monarchy of Israel for an unprecedented 40 years. Also referred to as Jedidiah, he was born in Jerusalem and reigned from 970 BC as the third king of the United Monarchy. According to the Hebrew Bible, he constructed the First Temple in ancient Jerusalem, also called the Solomon's Temple around the 10th century BCE. During his monarchy, King Solomon built many significant buildings in Jerusalem. He built the infrastructure to provide water supply in the city and constructed the Milo as a defense for the city. He was additionally a prolific author and created a large array of works. His writings include, ‘The Book of Proverbs’, ‘Ecclesiastes’, ‘Song of Solomon’ and ‘Book of the Wisdom of Solomon’.

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Old City Christian Quarter

The Christian Quarter is one of the four quarters of the walled Old City of Jerusalem, the other three being the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. The Christian Quarter is situated in the northwestern corner of the Old City, extending from the New Gate in the north, along the western wall of the Old City as far as the Jaffa Gate, along the Jaffa Gate - Western Wall route in the south, bordering on the Jewish and Armenian Quarters, as far as the Damascus Gate in the east, where it borders on the Muslim Quarter. The Christian quarter contains about 40 Christian holy places. First among them is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Christianity's holiest place. Most of its residents are Palestinian Christians, despite their dwindling numbers. The Christian Quarter was built around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the heart of the quarter. There is a cluster of churches and monasteries surrounding it. The quarter contains few residential houses, which are mostly concentrated in its southern-eastern part. Most buildings are religious, touristic, and educational in character, such as the Terra Sancta High School, the Lutheran School, the St. Pierre School, and the Collège des Frères at the New Gate. The quarter contains souvenir shops, coffee houses, restaurants and hotels. The shops are concentrated in the west–east market street, the David Street, and along the north-south Christian Quarter Road, or simply Christian Road. Some of the hotels, such as the Casa Nova Hotel and the Greek Catholic hotel, were built by the churches as places for visitors to stay. Others are private hotels. The quarter contains some small museums, such as the museum of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. In the southwestern part of the quarter there is a pool called Hezekiah's Pool or Patriarch's Pool that was used to store water for the area.


Israel Museum

The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. In nearly seventy years, thanks to a legacy of gifts and generous support from its circle of patrons worldwide, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing the full scope of world material culture. In November 2017, Prof. Ido Bruno took up his role as Director of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. To Prof. Bruno's Welcome Address In the summer of 2010, the Israel Museum completed the most comprehensive upgrade of its 20-acre campus in its history, featuring new galleries, entrance facilities, and public spaces. The three-year expansion and renewal project was designed to enhance visitor experience of the Museum’s collections, architecture, and surrounding landscape, complementing its original design by Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad. Led by James Carpenter Design Associates of New York and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects of Tel Aviv, the project also included the complete renewal and reconfiguration of the Museum’s Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing, Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, and Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life. Among the highlights of the Museum’s original campus is the Shrine of the Book, designed by Armand Bartos and Frederick Kiesler, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world, as well as rare early medieval biblical manuscripts. Adjacent to the Shrine is the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, which reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the city as it was prior to its destruction by the Romans in 66 CE, and provides historical context to the Shrine’s presentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Museum’s celebrated Billy Rose Art Garden, designed for the original campus by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, is counted among the finest outdoor sculpture settings of the 20th century. An Oriental landscape combined with an ancient Jerusalem hillside, the garden serves as the backdrop for the Israel Museum’s display of the evolution of the modern western sculptural tradition. On view are works by modern masters including Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and David Smith, together with more recent site-specific commissions by such artists as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mark Dion, James Turrell, and Micha Ullman. The Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education, unique in its size and scope of activities, presents a wide range of programming to more than 100,000 schoolchildren each year, and features exhibition galleries, art studios, classrooms, a library of illustrated children’s books, and a recycling room. Special programs foster intercultural understanding between Arab and Jewish students and reach out to the wide spectrum of Israel’s communities. In addition to the extensive programming offered on its main campus, the Israel Museum also operates two off-site locations: the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, an architectural gem built in 1938 for the display of archaeology from ancient Israel; and Ticho House, which offers an ongoing program of exhibitions by younger Israeli artists in a historic house and garden setting.


Western Wall

The Western Wall, otherwise known as the Wailing Wall, often shortened to The Kotel, and known in Islam as the Buraq Wall, is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small segment of an ancient retaining wall, originally erected to expand the Second Jewish Temple. Herod the Great initiated this construction, resulting in the enclosed, natural, steep hill that today, Jews and Christians refer to as the Temple Mount. It is a large rectangular structure topped by a flat platform, creating additional space for the Temple itself, auxiliary buildings, worshippers, and visitors. The Western Wall's holiness in Judaism is a result of its proximity to the Temple Mount. Because of the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though the Foundation Stone, the most sacred site in the Jewish faith, lies behind it. The original, natural, and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for an ever-larger Temple compound to be built at its top. This process was finalized by Herod, who enclosed the Mount with an almost rectangular set of retaining walls, made to support the Temple platform and using extensive substructures and earth fills to give the natural hill a geometrically regular shape. On top of this box-like structure, Herod built a vast paved platform that surrounded the Temple. Of the four retaining walls, the western one is considered closest to the former Holy of Holies, which makes it the most sacred site recognized by Judaism outside the previous Temple Mount platform. Just over half the wall's total height, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, and is commonly believed to have been built by Herod the Great starting in 19 BCE, although recent excavations indicate that the work was not finished by the time Herod died in 4 BCE. The very large stone blocks of the lower courses are Herodian, the courses of medium-sized stones above them were added during the Umayyad period, while the small stones of the uppermost courses are of more recent date, especially from the Ottoman period. The term Western Wall and its variations are mostly used in a narrow sense for the section traditionally used by Jews for prayer; it has also been called the "Wailing Wall", referring to the practice of Jews weeping at the site over the destruction of the Temples. During the period of Christian Roman rule over Jerusalem (ca. 324–638), Jews were completely barred from Jerusalem except to attend Tisha B'Av, the day of national mourning for the Temples, and on this day the Jews would weep at their holy places. The term "Wailing Wall" was thus almost exclusively used by Christians, and was revived in the period of non-Jewish control between the establishment of British Rule in 1920 and the Six-Day War in 1967. The term "Wailing Wall" is not used by religious Jews, and increasingly not by many others who consider it derogatory.[5] In a broader sense, "Western Wall" can refer to the entire 488-metre-long (1,601 ft) retaining wall on the western side of the Temple Mount. The classic portion now faces a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter, near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, while the rest of the wall is concealed behind structures in the Muslim Quarter, with the small exception of an 8-metre (26 ft) section, the so-called Little Western Wall. The segment of the western retaining wall traditionally used for Jewish liturgy, known as the "Western Wall" or "Wailing Wall", derives its particular importance to it having never been fully obscured by medieval buildings, and displaying much more of the original Herodian stonework than the "Little Western Wall". In religious terms, the "Little Western Wall" is presumed to be even closer to the Holy of Holies and thus to the "presence of God" (Shechina), and the underground Warren's Gate, which has been out of reach for Jews from the 12th century till its partial excavation in the 20th century, even more so. Whilst the wall was considered Muslim property as an integral part of the Haram esh-Sharif and waqf property of the Moroccan Quarter, a right of Jewish prayer and pilgrimage existed as part of the Status Quo.[6][7][8] This position was confirmed in a 1930 international commission during the British Mandate period. The earliest source mentioning this specific site as a place of Jewish worship is from the 17th century.[9][10] The previous sites used by Jews for mourning the destruction of the Temple, during periods when access to the city was prohibited to them, lay to the east, on the Mount of Olives[5] and in the Kidron Valley below it. From the mid-19th century onwards, attempts to purchase rights to the wall and its immediate area were made by various Jews, but none was successful. With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish and Muslim communities, the latter being worried that the wall could be used to further Jewish claims to the Temple Mount and thus Jerusalem. During this period outbreaks of violence at the foot of the wall became commonplace, with a particularly deadly riot in 1929 in which 133 Jews were killed and 339 injured. After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War the eastern portion of Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan. Under Jordanian control Jews were completely expelled from the Old City including the Jewish Quarter, and Jews were barred from entering the Old City for 19 years, effectively banning Jewish prayer at the site of the Western Wall. This period ended on June 10, 1967, when Israel gained control of the site following the Six-Day War. Three days after establishing control over the Western Wall site, the Moroccan Quarter was bulldozed by Israeli authorities to create space for what is now the Western Wall plaza.[11]

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TOURS OF Jerusalem



 WELCOME TO EASY ISRAEL TOURS Our niche tours are especially designed for slow walkers or seniors at a relaxed and sensible pace. The comprehensive itinerary has minimal standing, steps, slopes or rough ground. You won't have to worry about struggling to keep up with a regular fast-paced tour. We run our exclusive tours in spring and fall, the most comfortable seasons to visit Israel. The temperature is around 70F.  Our aim is to provide you with a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime vacation and experience in the most special place on earth. It would be an honor for us if you joined us on tour! The hotels rooms have air con, TV and ensuite bathrooms with a walk-in shower. Hotels we use are frequented by locals for their own vacations, family celebrations and business meetings. If these hotels don’t give good service and food, it will be around Israel on social media within days and give them a bad name. We all want quality as well as comfort, don’t we? Not the big soul-less tourist hotels. Huge buffet breakfasts and evening meals are included in the tour price. Fresh from the kibbutzim, there are plenty of delicious choices for everyone’s dietary requirements. Top, licensed, Jewish guides inform, inspire and lead us to authentic, interesting and often less-known sites as well the most desired places to visit. Legends Tours & Travel, our agent in Jerusalem, book the hotels, transportation, entrances to sites, etc. Between the guide, Trish and Legends we have over 100 years of experience. Starting in Tel Aviv with drinks, dinner and a good night’s sleep, we travel up to Caesarea and beyond for three nights in the Galilee/ Golan Heights, two nights over Shabbat at Ein Bokek on the Dead Sea and of course the jewel in the crown, Jerusalem for four nights. The full itinerary can be viewed on the ‘Jewish Tours’ page on EasyIsraelTours.com Keep scrolling down here for a summary…. While you are on the website, please check the ‘Reviews’ page to see what past guests have to say. For more information contact Trish Duke, Founder and Tour Director on [email protected] Cell phone: +61 414 543 843 (Our head office for EasyIsraelTours.com is in Australia, 12 hours ahead of EST) Many guests like to arrive a day early to wander around Tel Aviv, enjoy the Mediterranean beaches and get over the jetlag. Adding one day in Jerusalem at the end of the tour is popular. You won’t want to go home anyway!  Visit the shuk, explore parts of the Old City not included in the tour, have lunch at the King David hotel… Possibly with new tour friends. We can book the pre and post hotel nights for you to save another hotel change. Talking of changing hotels… There are only 3 hotel changes on our tours and a full porterage service, so you don’t have to move luggage from your room to the bus. The luxury bus has air con, Wi-Fi and speakers so you can hear the guide. Instead of giving us the information at each site while we stand for 15 minutes or so, our guide give us most of their information while we are traveling in-between places. Saves time…and our bodies! There are more seats on the bus than we need so you can move around.    Seniors sometimes bring an adult son or daughter. The slower pace is not frustrating as they also enjoy the relaxed itinerary. There are opportunities for the more active guests to walk further in some places or have a swim or walk before the evening meals.    It would be an honor for you to join us! For more information contact Trish Duke, Founder and Tour Director on [email protected] Cell phone: +61 414 543 843 (Our head office for EasyIsraelTours.com is in Australia, 12 hours ahead of EST)

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World Jewish Travel Official July 31, 2022

5 Virtual Tours That Will Connect you to Israel

Virtual Tour in Israel = A Stress-Free Travel Experience Can I travel to Israel? The answer is unfortunately no for many. However, you will be able to scratch that Israel travel itch with an Israel Virtual Tour. For the last two years, there has been a lot of back and forth when it comes to the subject of international travel and Covid-19. As if the regular pattern of air travel weren’t already stressful and exhausting enough. These countless questions have turned international traveling into a cesspool of nerves. The interaction between Israel and the rest of the world is still halted even after two years. You might still be wondering: Birthright Interactive Tour The best part of the Birthright interactive tour is that the trip suggestions are optional. Unlike an actual Birthright trip which is scheduled down to the second. Tour guide Navee Cohen takes you through all of the iconic Birthright sites letting you choose your own adventure. The tour also calls on the expertise of local and specialized guides. These guides explain everything Israeli from tech innovations to historical sites and then some.   Not only do they take you to some of the most iconic Jewish heritage and historic sites but the tour also gives you food options. Every sort of food experience from the fine dining of Tel Aviv to the Arab cuisine is to be found in Nazareth. You can taste the homemade hummus through the screen. Delicious Israel Virtual Tour Speaking of delicious cuisine there is plenty to be had in a country that can be covered by car in nine hours. The famed abundance of Israeli Shuk restaurants as well as the history of food assimilation and acceptance in the larger narrative of Israel. The name of the game here is diversity. It is one of the main themes of the tour filtered through the lens of the Israeli breakfast table. Incorporating some staple Israeli breakfast dishes but also staying true to specific cultural Jewish roots.  The Delicious Israel Virtual Tour also sought after the guided advice of local food and wine experts. If there is a specific area of food interest that you would like to know more about, reach out. Let the guides know and they will do their best to give you a customized food experience. This tour is ideal for families looking to connect. Perhaps even parents looking for a fun out-of-the-box activity to do with their kids or as a couples date night. Kibbutz Sde Boker: BTS with David and Pola Ben-Gurion David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s mythic first prime minister, model Zionist, and all-around mensch was obsessed with the desert. He believed the desert to be the intellectual birthing ground for the Jewish people. On a trip to the south in 1952, Mr. and Mrs. Ben-Gurion passed by Kibbutz Sde Boker. They were so enthralled with the small community they asked their driver to pull over for a quick tour. Ben-Gurion adored the hopeful mission of the kibbutz. He requested to become a part of the community and made Sde Boker his home. Today you can take a virtual tour of the Ben-Gurion hut and surrounding gardens. This tour allows you to experience what first enchanted the Prime Minister. A humble yet rich community. The tour is 45 mins and answers any and all sorts of questions one might have about the life of one of Israel’s greatest leaders. Are you curious to see what Pola Ben-Gurion kept in her kitchen drawers? How did they organize the bathroom? What did Ben Gurion keep on his desk?  Masada: A Virtual Hollywood Story If you do not know the story of Masada, get ready for a movie to come to life. In the Second Temple Era, around 70 CE, there was a community of Jewish rebels taking refuge at the great palace-fortress of Masada. King Herod had originally constructed for himself the most elaborate summer palace on top of a mountain in the desert. The entire complex is 1.6 million square feet. It includes storage facilities, a palace complex, and elaborately frescoed Roman baths. The Romans overtook the fortress and all the rebels committed suicide but still, this 2,000-year-old ruin remains. Now you can take a virtual tour of Masada so that you do not have to miss one bit of this amazing history. It’s like the google maps of tours, taking you through a 3D model of the entire complex.  Jerusalem: City of Gold Stone   The jewel in the crown of Israel tourism is without a doubt the city of gold herself, Jerusalem. In the last few months, however, the city has been lonely. Jerusalem is so used to being toured and admired by people from around the world. Now you and Jerusalem can reunite through virtual tours offered at Jerusalem.com on all the significant monotheistic sites. Although you will not be able to touch the stones of the Kotel or walk in the plaza of the Dome of the Rock, there are benefits to taking a virtual tour. One benefit is that the tour is on your schedule. You don’t have to worry about what hours of the day non-Muslims can visit the Temple Mount. Not even getting your clothes wet and dirty when visiting the tunnels under the Kotel. Virtual Connection  These virtual tours can provide a point of connection for Olim and their family overseas who can’t partake in the experience together. Israel is once again shutting its doors to more and more nations. However, people are generating new and diverse solutions to close that gap. World Jewish Travel has curated these virtual Israel tours to help keep the connection between Israel and the world. 

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World Jewish Travel Official July 31, 2022

Christmas in Israel: Decking the Halls of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa, and Nazareth

Experience the Story of Christmas in the Holy Land Christmas in Israel is a far less commercialized event than in most other countries. Don’t get it twisted there is still plenty of Christmas festivity to be had during the entire month of December. From Bethlehem to Jaffa and everything in between. However, Christmas in Israel is unlike anywhere else in the world. The history and miracles of Jesus that are celebrated by millions all went down right here. A history that you can see, touch, and celebrate all in one.    Bethlehem: Beginning with the Birth  Although Bethlehem holds a special place in the heart of all three major religions, its worldwide fame has undoubtedly grown from the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, the city does not disappoint when it comes to its yuletide festivities. Most ceremonies are set to take place right next to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, with the lighting of the Christmas tree taking place on December 4th. However, this is just one event in a series of December long parades, masses, and the ever-important Christmas Market.   Even heading into the first week of January there is a litany of events in Bethlehem that cater to a wide diversity of Christians. The Christkindlmarkt Christmas Market at Lehigh Valley is open again this year. Most Christmas services are offered in both Latin and Arabic culminating in a Christmas Eve Mass. There are also other holy ceremonies held at other sites of significance such as the tomb of the matriarch Rachel. Every year his eminence, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal, is greeted by the Latin Parish Priest of Bethlehem. A symbolic rejoining of the two major Christian cultures in the birthplace of Jesus.    Nazareth: All About the Merriment Christianity is a religion that enjoys its landmarks. Housing the femur of a saint within a space makes that space holy. Life events and places that have experienced great feats of faith are always of high relevance to Christians throughout the world. So naturally, the next stop on our Christmas tour of Israel is in the city of Jesus' upbringing, Nazareth.  The Christmas vibes in Nazareth are far more relaxed compared to Bethlehem. They often edge more towards a cultural bent, although there is still that historic component. There is a wonderful Christmas Market with all sorts of classic and locally made bits and bobs perfect for those last-minute present needs. Also, save some room for the endless array of freshly made baked goods and other tasty eats. Another important celebratory date to mark on your calendar is the Christmas Eve parade that starts around 15:00 but we recommend getting there early to claim your spot. All this and more wraps up with a special midnight Christmas mass held at the Church of the Annunciation starting at 19:00.      Jaffa: Santa Makes a Trip to the Old Port Jaffa is the underdog city in the history of Jesus. It does not receive the same worldwide recognition for its historic link to Christianity, but bible studying Christians will know that Peter, Jesus’ disciple did perform miracles in Jaffa. One of these miracles, known as the healing of Tabitha, took place during the days that Peter stayed in the ancient city with Simon the Tanner. The miracle was commemorated by the Franciscan order with the consecration of the Church of St. Peter in the 17th century.  Jaffa also turns up the gas on its Christmas decorations with a stunning and large tree right in the center circle opposite the clock tower. Just like every other city, there is a huge weekend Christmas Market the whole month of December with the best funky Jaffa fair you can find. The Christmas Parade rolls down Yefet street on December 27th with Santa leading the charge starting promptly at 17:30. One additional festivity that seems to be a singular sensation of Jaffa is the Winter Festival on the 22nd and 23rd. Be sure to also check out what other Christmas events are going on in the general Tel Aviv area. Oftentimes bars and restaurants will be open and serving on Christmas and they will for sure be in theme.   Jerusalem: The Rock of the Christian World Finishing our Christmas in Israel list is the big kahuna herself, Jerusalem of gold. God’s kingdom here on earth and one of the most talked-about and visited cities in the world. Christmas in Jerusalem takes place almost exclusively within the ancient Ottoman walls of the Old City. For the entire month of December, both the Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter are lit up and decorated with literally hundreds of lights and several different trees all of equal grandeur and opulence. Also don’t forget to head down to the Via Dolorosa to catch a glimpse of the Christian pilgrims who come every year to rewalk the steps of Jesus’ passion.  Also be sure to check out the Christmas Market December 2-4, complete with crafts made by local East Jerusalem artisans all culminating with the YMCA Christmas Eve Orchestra performance on the 24th. The orchestra is giving its first live performance after two years away! Christmas services are held the entire month of December at the Church of the Nativity, so be sure to head down that way to experience the more faith-based side of Christmas in Jerusalem.    Experiencing Faith First Hand Here in Israel, at the epicenter of monotheistic faith, Christians of all denominations gather in these cities to celebrate the birth of the new king. The history and belief in Jesus Christ's origin tale celebrated and told by Christians around the world began right here in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem. If you are able to make it into the country or live close by, we highly recommend stopping off at more than one location.  

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World Jewish Travel Official July 22, 2022

Your Ultimate Israeli Festival Guide for August 2022

For those of you located in Israel, August is the month of the Israeli festival.  There are several events being held around the country dedicated to Israeli and Jewish culture including music, beer, films, and art. If you are looking for an Israeli summer of fun and variety, look no further than World Jewish Travel’s guide below. This list was personally organized by a Jerusalem local. The Felicja Blumental International and Israeli Music Festival The good times start in Tel Aviv at the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival. This festival has been taking place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art since 1999 and features a 5-day long musical program of classical, jazz, and ethnic music. This year, the event will take place from August 3rd to August 7th so you have plenty of time to fit it into your plan while exploring the city. [caption id="attachment_27638" align="alignnone" width="640"] Let There Be Laughter exhibition at the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv[/caption] A History of Jewish Comedians Tel Aviv is known for its beautiful beaches and colorful culture. The city has some of the most highly-reviewed museums in the country with temporary exhibitions that you don’t want to miss. The newly renovated Museum of the Jewish People has a new exhibit, Let There Be Laughter.  It looks at the origins of Jewish humor and the contributions of Jewish comedians to the history of comedy. The Eretz Israel Museum is another highly rated museum with exhibitions of local nature, glass artifacts, and pottery. If you find yourself needing a break from the August heat, these museums are worth adding to your Israeli festival itinerary. [caption id="attachment_27639" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Hutzot Fair in the Old City of Jerusalem - Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/hutzot-hayotzer-intl-arts-and-crafts-fair/[/caption] Sunset in the Jewish Quarter From Tel Aviv, head over to the Holy City of Jerusalem just in time for Shabbat. You’ll want to make sure to stop at the Machane Yehuda market to see the pre-Shabbat hustle and bustle. Taste the fresh halva, nuts, tahini and knafe from the local shops. There are also several restaurants located in or nearby the market where you can grab a bite to eat. Once Shabbat has started, take a walk to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. you’ll find a peaceful atmosphere that you don’t usually get with all of the tourists who visit during the week. Don’t forget that public transportation doesn’t run on Shabbat, so you may want to find a hotel near the old city.    Hutzot Hayotzer: The Potters Section After a relaxing weekend, you will be ready for the international arts and crafts festival, the Hutzot Hayotzer Fair.  The festivities begin on August 8th in one of Jerusalem’s most iconic locations, the Sultan’s Pool, an ancient water basin located in the valley of Hinnom on the west side of Mount Zion.  Wrapped in the pines of Jerusalem underneath a sky of stars, visitors can view a variety of handmade goods and art from hammocks to paintings. This is also a spot to catch some of the hottest rock and pop stars in the Israeli music industry. You can also catch dance performances and scheduled workshops.     [caption id="attachment_27640" align="alignnone" width="600"] Band playing at the annual Safed Klezmier Festival - Credit: https://www.secrettelaviv.com/tickets/safed-klezmer-festival-2016[/caption] Klezmer, Kabbalah, and Israeli Art From the Jerusalem Central Bus Station you can hop on a bus to the mystical birthplace of Kabbalah, Safed. Here the 35th annual Safed Klezmer Festival invites patrons to experience three nights of Klezmer performances starting on August 17th. Don't miss dozens of Israeli and international bands.  During the festival, performances are held throughout the alleyways of the Jewish Quarter and Artist’s Quarter at 9:00 and going until midnight. During the day we recommend attending the festival's numerous workshops and activities. There is glass blowing, ceramics, tours of the city, or visit the artisans selling their art.  If you need a bite to eat during the festival, be sure to check out our recommended restaurants, and visit Safed’s other must-see sites.  [caption id="attachment_27641" align="alignnone" width="770"] Jerusalem International Film Festival - Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/international-film-festival/[/caption] The Jerusalem Film Festival After you’ve had your fill of Klezmer, make your way back to the Holy City just in time for the 39th Jerusalem Film Festival on July 21st.  This festival screens a number of Israeli cinematic masterpieces. Additionally, it features films by internationally acclaimed directors and actors with past contributors including Wong Kar Wai, Tsai Ming-Liang, John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Stephen Frears, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jane Fonda, and Robert Dinero; the star-studded list is endless. The opening event will also be held in the Sultan’s Pool. The remaining screenings take place around the city. Featuring the presence of 5000 viewers with 200 films from 50 different countries. [caption id="attachment_27642" align="alignnone" width="640"] The Old City of Jerusalem[/caption] Design Your Own Israel Guide for Next Time In case you wanted to add some extra stops to your agenda there are a ton of great options. Now that Shabbat is over and the city is back to life you can take a guided tour of Jerusalem at one of the many historic sites. Besides tours you can visit one of the city’s many unique museums, archeological sites, historic cemeteries, and synagogues. You will find that you could spend weeks in Jerusalem alone so you may have to save some of the sites for your next trip to Israel.   There is no better way to end your summer than with a trip around Israel. This is definitely one of the easiest countries to navigate and explore. On top of this the nation hosts some of the worlds top cultural events and sites. Whether you’re a local or thinking of making Israel your post-pandemic vacation destination, don’t hesitate to attend these Israeli festivals. You will get to experience Israel’s culture, creativity, and love of life.

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World Jewish Travel Official June 19, 2022

5 International Jewish Cultural Festivals Happening This Summer

For the past year, we have been unable to gather in large numbers in order to make new memories and celebrate life. As we slowly return to life in a post-pandemic world, we are able to rekindle one of the long forgotten staples of summer, the festival.  Below are five Jewish cultural festivals happening this June around the globe that celebrate the diversity of Jewish culture and Jewish history.  If you’re in the area, or able to travel this summer, consider this is your official invitation to attend.   30th Jewish Culture Festival June 24th-July 3rd The Jewish Cultural Festival in Krakow has celebrated the diversity of Jewish cultural life since 1988.  Today, the festival focuses on celebrating the contemporary dynamic world of Jewish life both within Israel and the diaspora.  Patrons can attend all night jam sessions and concerts in the main tent, sip mint tea and eat hummus at the festival café, or partake in any of the other numerous workshops, lectures, discussions, guided tours, and art exhibitions.  This year’s main festival project, “Kumzits,” focuses on eight public art projects in Kazimierz, the historical Jewish quarter of Krakow; this project is a collaborative effort between artists in Berlin, Jerusalem and Krakow. [caption id="attachment_25440" align="alignnone" width="640"] Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FestiwalKulturyZydowskiejwKrakowie[/caption] Jerusalem Jazz Festival  July 5th-7th For those who enjoy taking in the sounds of jazz while wrapped in the ambiance of art, the Jerusalem Jazz Festival is your scene.  The festival began as a joint collaboration between the Israel Festival and the Israel Museum to create a dialogue between art, music, and festival visitors.  The festival is held in the sculpture garden of the Israel Museum and the artist’s original compositions are inspired by the artworks found in the museum.  This festival engages its audience in a visual and audible feast for the soul.  This year the festival will feature solely Israeli musicians from a wide array of contemporary styles that fuse Jazz with other musical traditions from classical to hip-hop.   [caption id="attachment_25436" align="alignnone" width="640"] Avishai Cohen, the co-founder and artistic director of the event, performs on stage during the Jerusalem Jazz Festival in Jerusalem on September 8, 2020. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP) https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-jazz-dares-jerusalem-festival-adapts-to-pandemic/[/caption] 29th Toronto Jewish Film Festival June 9th-26th Since its debut in 1993, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival has sought to exhibit the diversity and contributions of Jewish culture through film.  Their selection represent a wide scope of Jewish cultural identity, innovation, and achievement.  The 2021 selections include Israeli Academy Award Winners, groundbreaking documentaries about marrying against one’s sexual orientation in Orthodoxy, ethnographic retrospectives, and even the first Torah to make it to outer space.  Unfortunately, this year’s festival will not be in person but rather virtual so you need not be in the Toronto area to attend; just go to their website and sign up! [caption id="attachment_25438" align="alignnone" width="600"] https://tjff.com/lineup-2021/[/caption] Sababa Music Festival  June 16th-19th The 5th annual Sababa Music Festival will be taking place this summer in Bethel, New York, just down the road from the site of the legendary Woodstock music festival.  This event is the ultimate Shabbat weekend uniting Jews of all denominations and backgrounds from the tri-state area in a celebration of Jewish culture and tradition.  The itinerary includes camping, bonfires, morning yoga, minyanim, and a headlining performance by the world-renown Israeli born international music ensemble, Yemen Blues. This festival combines the great outdoors with Jewish music, culture, and religion, a must for anyone trying to experience their own Jewish version of Woodstock.  [caption id="attachment_25435" align="alignnone" width="640"] Photo; Shimon Lindenblat, https://www.sababafest.com/2019-shimon-lindenblat[/caption] 16th Festival des Culture Juives (Festival of Jewish Culture) June 12th-27th Le Festival des Cultures Juives, held in Paris, is the premier festival for international Jewish culture in France.  After the long year of separation between families due to the pandemic, this year the festival was curated around the concept of family entitled “Airs de Famille” (Family Resemblances).  Memory, heritage, and the transmission of culture are key pillars in each event and exhibition. There are twenty events that festival patrons can attend including film screenings, poetry readings, tours, and concerts, as well as conferences and debates on a wide variety of Jewish cultural traditions from around the world. [caption id="attachment_25437" align="alignnone" width="640"] DAFNÉ KRITHARAS : DE RHODES À TANGER[/caption] These festivals gather together people from all walks of life to absorb and commemorate the Jewish experience, past, present, and future.  In addition to a good time one can expect to learn a great deal about the diversity of Jewish life and appreciate the wide spectrum of culture that is Am Yisrael.  Whatever your preference, be it dancing the night away with a beer in your hand in Kazimierz, joining the havdalah drum circle at Sababa Fest, catching a Jazz trio at the Israel Museum, or taking in a documentary about a space Torah these festivals will certainly deliver.           

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