Blogs about Jerusalem

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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World Jewish Travel Official August 3, 2022

4 Ways to Escape the Summer Heat of Jerusalem

Depending on when you visit Israel, you may want to have a few activities to help cool off from the sizzling summer heat. Though the days are hot, it cools off at night making it the perfect time for walking around the city and exploring the vibrant nightlife. Here are a few activities and place to visit if you need to cool off during the day. Play in The Fountain at Teddy Park Boaz Dolev Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons Teddy Park is a public park situated opposite Jerusalem's Old City and David's Citadel. The park was developed by the Jerusalem Foundation in memory of Jerusalem's long serving mayor, Teddy Kollek and opened to the public in 2013. The park complex includes  structures, landscaping, and a splash water fountain which is enjoyed by people of all ages during the summer months. Water shoots from the fountains in sync with music every 30 minutes; in the evening a light show plays while during the day children run among the water spouts. The fountain is said to be  a place where people from every segment of Jerusalem's ethnically and religiously varied population mingle with visitors from around the globe. Visit Yad Kennedy Wilson44691, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons In the breezy Jerusalem hills of the Match Yehuda Region lies the 60-foot high Yad Kennedy, or Kennedy Memorial. This memorial is for John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States who was assassinated in 1963. The shape of the memorial is that of a stump of a fallen tree to symbolize his life that was cut short and inside the bronze memorial is an eternal flame which burns in the center. The memorial is made of 51 concrete columns, one of each of the 50 states and an additional one for Washington D.C., the United States capital. Not only are these breezes from the mountains great for summer hikes, but there are breathtaking views and natural springs with cool water. Go Biking at the Train Track Park User:אלאר, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons The Train Track Park is a rail trail urban park in West Jerusalem with 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) of walking and biking trails. The park follows the route of the original Jaffa–Jerusalem railway from the Jerusalem Railway Station near the German Colony to Teddy Stadium in Malha. The pedestrian path is a raised boardwalk made from molded concrete planks with an imitation wood finish, laid directly over the original railroad tracks and ties. To the side of the tracks is a paved bicycle path which you can take to the Biblical Zoo and Ein Lavan. If you don't have a bike, you can rent one at the First Station complex and start your journey from there. Indulge At The City's Top Rated Ice Cream Parlour, Mousseline Next to Shuk Machane Yehuda lies the Mousseline ice cream parlour which greets visitors with a variety of ice creams and sorbets. Along with traditional flavors this shop offers unique and vegan-friendly flavors of ice cream and sorbet such as black sesame, Matcha, wasabi, saffron, chai masala, lemon mint, and basil grapefruit. This shop has been highly rated by visitors and is a great place to stop during the hot summer for a refreshing treat.

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World Jewish Travel Official August 3, 2022

Purim Foods and Recipes

The most commonly known Purim food is the hamantaschen (Yiddish for “Haman’s pockets”), also known in Hebrew as oznay Haman, meaning “Haman’s ears.” These delicious triangular pocket cookies have Ashkenazi roots and are often filled with prune jam, chocolate chips, berries, and apricot filling. In addition to hamantaschens, there are several other purim foods such as the extensively braided Purim challah, known as keylitsh, which is a reminder of the braided rope used to hang Haman. Kreplach, another purim food, is commonly eaten whenever a “beating” takes place. Though these beatings are uncommon in modern times, they traditionally took place before Yom Kippur, on Hoshanah Rabbah, and on Purim when Haman was beaten. During purim, it is also common to eat bean dishes such as salted boiled beans or chickpeas. This tradition reminds us of the many beans and peas Esther ate at the court of King Ahashuerus because she would not eat unkosher foods. Nosher, by My Jewish Learning, offers a variety of unique hamantaschen and purim recipes. Whether you prefer a classic hamantaschen or want to spice yours up with sprinkles, chocolate, and creme filling, there's a recipe for everyone! Purim Recipes Hamantaschen Cannoli Hamantaschen Rocky Road Hamantaschen Chocolate and Sprinkles Dipped Hamantaschen Milk and Cereal Hamantaschen Triple Chocolate Hamantaschen Rosewater and Pistachio Hamantaschen Tagalog Hamantaschen Rice Krispies Treats Hamantaschen Speculoos Hamantaschen Coconut Cheesecake Hamantaschen Chocolate Hamantaschen With Irish Creme Filling Fassoulyeh b’chuderah Kreplach Debla Candy Infused Vodka Link to original article printed on MyJewishLearning: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/purim-foods/

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World Jewish Travel Official August 3, 2022

Celebrating Mimouna

Mimouna is a traditional North African Jewish celebration dinner, held annually the day after Passover and marking the return of the chametz. Though the tradition originated in North African countries like Morocco, cities around the world with a Maghrebi Jewish population now celebrate the holiday. In Morocco, on the afternoon of the last day of Passover, Jewish families prepare flour, honey, milk, and butter to be used to prepare post-Passover chametz celebration dinners. Historically, Jewish congregations would walk to an orchard in order to recite Birkat Ha'Ilanot, and following the conclusion of Passover, would recite passages from the Book of Proverbs and the Mishna. The celebration begins after nightfall on the last day of Passover. In many communities, non-Jewish neighbors sell chametz back to Jewish families as a beginning of the celebration. Moroccan and Algerian Jews throw open their homes to visitors, after setting out a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes and sweetmeats. One of the holiday favorites is Mofletta. The table is also laid with various symbols of luck and fertility, with an emphasis on the number "5," such as five pieces of gold jewelry or five beans arranged on a leaf of pastry. The repetition of the number five references the five-fingered hamsa amulet common in both Jewish and Muslim North African and Middle Eastern communities from pre-modern times. Typically all those in attendance at a Mimouna celebration are sprinkled with a mint sprig or other green dipped in milk, symbolizing good fortune and new beginnings. Early in the day of the Mimouna, families go to the sea, splash water on their face, and walk barefoot in the water, to replay the scene of the miraculous crossing of the Reed Sea, which is believed to have taken place on the last day of Passover. In Israel, Mimouna has become a popular annual happening with private parties, outdoor gatherings, picnics and BBQs. One of the most notable Israeli celebrations takes place in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, drawing about 100,000 people each year, often including the president and prime minister. Israeli law now requires employers to agree to grant an employee unpaid leave for Mimouna if asked. It has been estimated that in 2012 nearly two million people in Israel participated in Mimouna festivities. Other cities in Israel such as Tel Aviv and Ashdod are also known for their Mimouna celebrations as well. In Tel Aviv, many of the bars and clubs hold special events for Mimouna, and Ashdod is known for hosting former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, at a Mimouna celebration in 2014. Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel will often seek out these public celebrations or join family's of Moroccan friends who hold large celebrations at home.

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World Jewish Travel Official January 5, 2022

36 Hours in Jerusalem

Visiting Jerusalem in a short amount of time can be a real challenge. Every corner is a testimony to the history that forged the city. I moved to Jerusalem 20 years ago after emigrating from Gibraltar and I continue to discover the city's secrets each day. On a chilly but sunny morning in Jerusalem, the first step would undoubtedly be the Old city. Divided into four quarters - Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim - surrounded by a magnificent fortress, walking around is a must to feel the depth of its history. You can enter the Old City through the Jaffa Gate welcomed by the Tower of David Citadel, dating back more than 3,000 years and subsequently rebuilt by the Mamluk during the Ottoman period. Numerous street food booths, quaint cafes and souvenir shops await your arrival. Once through the Armenian Patriarchate, you would be amazed by the beauty of the St. James Cathedral built to commemorate the first bishop of Jerusalem - St. James Minor. It is one of the rare remaining cathedrals from the Crusades. A few metres away you can visit St. Mark's Chapel, a fascinating Syriac Orthodox church. Then, you head to the Jewish quarter and pass by the Hurva Synagogue and the Katros House - testaments to the history of both Temples of Jerusalem. After continuing your way downstairs with a stop at the artistic shops in the Cardo byzantine, you will arrive at the Western or Wailing Wall (Kotel), the only remaining wall of the Second Temple. Near the Western Wall, you will find a gate to ascend to the Temple Mount and visit the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa. There pilgrims can visit the beautiful mosques, pray and walk around the most expansive plaza in the city. Walking across the Temple Mount will lead you to the heart of the Muslim quarter, with an indulgent market filled with spices and products. Leaving the market up Via Dolorosa, you will enter the Christian quarter. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre hosts the Tomb of Jesus and bears witness to his journey. Around the courtyard of this Church, you could also visit the Mosque of Omar and the Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque, adorned with almost identical minarets equidistant to the door of the Tomb of Jesus. With all of this walking around, you're probably hungry. I suggest you head over to a delicious gourmet breakfast at Mahane Yehuda Market which is our shuk (souk). Now it's time to delight your taste buds! Jerusalem cuisine is a fusion of Middle Eastern and Western cuisine. I would strongly recommend stopping by the "Atelier" where Chef Tali Friedman will invite you to cook a feast with the high-quality ingredients you will pick yourselves in the market, and eat in her restaurant overlooking the hustle and bustle of the market. In the evening, stroll through the market to enjoy live bar music, and once again enjoy the contrasts from the traditional to the modern. On the second day, book your breakfast at the legendary five-star King David hotel. Opened in 1931 under the British Mandate, the hotel hosted heads of state and famous personalities - among them King Abdullah I of Jordan, Margaret Thatcher and Madonna. Following breakfast, head to the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum. In the first one, you will receive a complete glance of the history of Israel and precious objects including the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are 2,000 years old ancient manuscripts of the Bible discovered near the Dead Sea as well as a model of Jerusalem during the Roman Empire. The Bible Lands Museum allows you to explore the early Canaanite civilisations. From this hill of museums, snap a few photos of the view of Jerusalem and the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. While your 36 hours in Jerusalem might be finished at this point, there is so much more to see and experience. As you leave the city, you will most likely already be planning your next visit and we can't wait to see you again soon. What makes our city unique is a combination of the history rooted here, the modern economy being built here, and our people. We're very excited to welcome you. Written by Fleur Hassan-Nahoum on January 18, 2021 Original link: https://www.khaleejtimes.com/business-and-technology-review/36-hours-in-jerusalem 

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World Jewish Travel Official August 3, 2022

The Jewish Story of Jerusalem, Israel

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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