“Oh the Places You’ll Go” in Israel on Sukkot

Sukkot - Feast of TabernaclesSukkot—the Feast of Tabernacles. OK, so nobody actually knows what a Tabernacle is… but to many Jews all over the world, preparations for this festival include such activities as building outdoor huts where they will take their meals during the holiday. This will be followed by praying that the huts don’t collapse for at least eight days. Jews may also be rushing out to purchase the Four Species (see more about that below), while others are deciding what type of fun activities to plan so they can enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

From VIP events to free activities, there is something for everyone in Israel during the holiday of Sukkot. Even if you can’t be there this year, it’s not too soon to start thinking about joining the festivities the next time around…

Four Species Shuk

Four Species Shuk - SukkotYou can feel it in the air – Sukkot is coming!
“The Arba Minim Shuk was an amazing experience. There’s nothing like it!”
That’s one tourist’s take on the sight of the Four Species Shuk, where multitudes of etrog sellers display their precious wares on long tables arranged throughout an open square. Customers stroll up and down the aisles viewing the merchandise.

Purchasing an etrog is nothing like your ordinary business transaction. The consumer often spends a lot of time perusing the merchandise. He may even take a couple of specimens over to one of the rabbis who are stationed there to offer their expert advice about the quality of the citron and whether it is kosher. At that point, the customer either purchases an etrog or goes back to square one, perusing and choosing. In fact, some customers spend hours and hours deliberating, until they reach their final decision. And then, of course, there’s the typical Israeli price haggling… all part of the fun.

International Storytelling Festival

Storytelling Festival - Givatayim IsraelThe International Storytelling Festival takes place in the city of Givatayim, next to Tel Aviv, each year during the festival of Sukkot, and has become one of the world’s largest such festivals. Over 100 performances, featuring 800 performers, will take part in the festival. The performances cover a range of topics, and feature storytellers from Israel and around the world – including prominent performers from Romania, Holland, and Poland. The International Storytelling Festival takes place at the Givatayim Theater from September 19-28, 2013.

Simchat Beit Hashoevot, Birkat Kohanim, and Kotel Tunnel Tours

Birkat Kohanim - Jerusalem IsraelSukkot is called the “Time of Our Rejoicing”, in the Bible. A tangible symbol of this joy was the Simchat Beit Hashoeva, which is still celebrated today, although not in the same fashion as in the days of the Temple. There are celebrations all over the city of Jerusalem featuring lively music and enthusiastic dancing – and no entrance fee!

Another event that one may attend free of charge is the Birkat Kohanim – a ceremony that takes place during prayer services. The Kohanim, descendants of the priests who served in the Temple, stand facing the congregation, covered by tallitot (prayer shawl), and bless the people. Birkat Kohanim will take place this year on Thursday, October 20th at approximately 9:00 a.m. and then again at about 10:00 a.m.

If you’d like to take part in a really unique VIP experience, check out the Brachot BaShamayim event held high above the Kotel on Aish HaTorah’s breathtaking panoramic rooftop. There you can observe Birchat Kohanim and the entire scene below, where throngs of Jews flock to this Kotel to be blessed. The Brachot BaShamayim program also includes an opportunity to meet the new Ashkenazy Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Israeli Ambassador, and to enjoy live entertainment.

And while you are at the Kotel, one “must-do” activity is taking the Kotel Tunnel Tours: Explore the hidden layers of the Western Wall as revealed underground. Here, the walls do speak; they tell the tale of Jerusalem of yesteryear and the Jewish Nation’s yearning for those days of old. And don’t worry… this isn’t a crawling-through-tight-damp-dirty-spaces kind of experience; it’s simply a walk through your history.

Weizmann Institute Science Festival

Weizman Institute - Rehovot IsraelThe Weizmann Institute Science Festival is a yearly fiesta of science and technology. Visitors can enjoy various competitions, workshops, demonstrations, and tours. A fun and vibrant celebration of science, music, culture and technology, this festival is intellectually stimulating for all age groups. Music, games and shows are just a few of the dozens of activities that will keep your whole family entertained! The Weizmann Institute Science Festival takes place this year on Wednesday, Oct. 3rd and Thurs. Oct. 4th, in Rehovot, with activities running from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

Tell us about your favorite holiday destinations in Israel in the comments below. And Contact us, so we can help you find your way to the best celebrations out there!

Chag Sameach and Happy holidays!

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3 Comments on “Oh the Places You’ll Go” in Israel on Sukkot

  1. Wow – I never knew about the Arba Minim Shuk! It sounds interesting – I’d love to check it out if I ever make it to Israel for Sukkot.

    • Chanan Kaufman says:

      It’s a really great experience!
      Check it out at the Schneller complex on Rechov Malchei Yisrael in Geulah, or across from Machane Yehuda on Rechov Yaffo.
      Chag Sameach!

  2. I just might do that! Thanks, Chanan!

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