July 20, 2024
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Celebrating the Spring Holiday in Jerusalem, an Ancient and Modern Cultural Oasis

JERUSALEM—“Guard the spring month and bring a Pesach to G-d, for in that month of spring, G-d took you out of Egypt…” (Devarim 16:1)

With the annual celebration of Pesach rapidly approaching, but the onset of spring in the New York area all too far away, many more are expected to adopt the custom of the over 400,000 tourists who decided to spend hag ha’aviv (the spring festival) in Israel last year. Aside from the obvious weather differential (latest weather reports predict sunny skies and temperatures over 70 degrees Fahrenheit for the first day of Pesach in Jerusalem), Israel, and more specifically Jerusalem, has always been a traditional destination for Jewish tourists during Passover, a tradition of pilgrimage predating the First Temple. Luckily, the capital city of the Holy Land has grown into a dynamic modern city full of many different Jewish and multicultural activities for tourists and locals of all ages, ensuring that even repeat visitors never run out of entertainment. This year, in response to the expected record-breaking Passover tourism, the businesses and attractions of Jerusalem have outdone themselves with new and unique activities in the days preceding the holiday, as well as during Hol Hamoe’d (the intermediate days). The Jewish Link of New Jersey has put together a short guide to some of the new upcoming attractions in and around Jerusalem over the next few weeks:

Multicultural Pesach Experience Tour of Jerusalem

When? Wed. April 1, Mon. April 6, and Tue. April 7, 10:00 am (tour is around four hours)

Where? Near Jaffa Gate, Old City

In honor of Pesach, a new special tour of Jerusalem’s old city is being offered. What sets this tour apart from the other ones in the capital city’s ancient tourist hotspot? It is aimed at showing modern pilgrims how ancient pilgrims used to travel to Jerusalem, and what they used to do in Jerusalem during the holiday. The tour begins with a walk on the walls and through the alleys of the Old City, just as the pilgrims used to. Tour guides will tell stories of ancient Pesach in Jerusalem, to get visitors into the spirit of the holiday. Along the way, the group will stop at the Old Yishuv Court Museum, a fine example of the comfortable accommodations that pilgrims used to enjoy in ancient times, as well as a selection of ancient Hagadot and other religious artifacts.

In the spirit of multiculturalism, the tour also includes stops at several Christian sites in honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, but the tour is mainly geared towards Jews, and is highly recommended for any who would like a historical Jerusalem Pesach experience.

This unique activity costs 80 NIS per adult, or 70 NIS per child ages 5–18. For more information, and to make a reservation, please contact Efrat Assaf- [email protected] or +972 (0)52-3953329. Please note that this tour is only offered in Hebrew.

Spring Festival at Ein Yael

When? Mon. April 6–Wed. April 8, 10:00 am–05:00 pm

Where? Near Malha

Keeping with the theme of the ancient Jerusalem experience, Ein Yael, a museum of craftsmanship from simpler times, is offering an extensive crafts festival throughout Hol Hamoed of Pesach. During these days, visitors will relive different day-to-day activities from ancient times, such as clay making, building musical instruments from natural materials, and creating artistic frescoes and mosaics. Ein Yael’s location on an ancient Roman road on the outskirts of Jerusalem also lends to the feeling of reliving a Jerusalem from older times, and the option for visitors to wear clothing common to that time only completes the effect of traveling back 2000 years.

In honor of Pesach, the Spring Holiday, Ein Yael is offering even more extensive experiences, such as presentations on sandle making, weaving, and pottery, as well as special magic shows and sing-alongs for children. For the full ancient Jerusalem experience, Ein Yael’s Spring Festival is the place to be.

Entry to Ein Yael’s Spring Festival is 40 NIS per child and 35 NIS per adult. For more information, please visit http://einyael.co.il/ (Hebrew), or contact +972 (0)2-6451866

Building Exhibit at the Bloomfield Science Museum

When? March 30–May 30, 10:00 am–06:00 pm

Where? Giv’at Ram

In the spirit of a more contemporary Jerusalem, the Bloomfield Science Museum of Jerusalem will be offering a special experience for young visitors throughout Pesach. Dubbed Mehonot V’hiyuhim (Machines and Smiles), the exhibit will help children understand the intricate workings of different machines. Several times every day, there will be a race of tools, where day-to-day household items, adapted to move on their own with speed, will race across the exhibit.

Also featured in this exhibit is the Mehona Ha’enoshit (human machine) show, an acrobatic display by a local group, displaying the secrets of balance and equilibrium of the G-d-made machine that is the human body. A less serious presentation by clowns follows, showing that not all “human machines” are built equal. This show also takes place several times each day in the Museum’s courtyard.

The main attraction of this exhibit, however, is Gil-Gola (marble installment), where children and adults alike work together to build a huge maze out of wooden skewers boards and other household items. Afterwards, visitors get to send marbles down the path to see the result of their hard work, a creative activity guaranteed to put a smile on every visitor’s face and make this year’s Spring Holiday even more special.

For more information, please visit https://www.mada.org.il/information/passover2015.

By Tzvi Silver, JLNJ Israel

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