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Sukkot Suggestions for Family Activities in Israel

Chol HaMoed is family outing time in Israel. A7 details some options: Hevron, Beit Orot, City of David, Gush Etzion, IAF base, more.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 10/14/2011, 8:07 AM

Sukkot kids with Lulav and etrog
Sukkot kids with Lulav and etrog
Ben Bresky

The intermediary days of Sukkot, called Chol HaMoed in Hebrew, are not like regular weekdays but have less halakhic obligations than Yomtov (festival) days.

This means that many activities that are not allowd on the first and last festival days are permitted by Jewish law, but prayers have special holiday additions, the Four Species are used and the Sukkah is still "home".  Many Israeli families take advantage of this time period, when they and the children are on vacation from school, to drive to the various happenings around Israel.

Chol HaMoed Sukkot in Israel starts this year on Friday, October 14 and ends on Wednesday, October 19.

Here are some of the special events taking place throughout Israel on Chol HaMoed Sukkot, not including October 15, Sabbath Chol Hamoed, which is subject to all Sabbath laws.

Visit to Hevron and prayer at the Cave of the Patriarchs
The Jewish Community of Hevron is organizing a trip to Hevron on Sunday and Monday, October 16 and 17. The trip will feature a visit to the Cave of the Patriarchs.

On Monday, October 17, a Carlebach-style prayer service will take place in the Cave of the Patriarchs, led by Shlomo Katz. The service will take place at 8:30 a.m. (Israel time).

The same day, a special holiday celebration featuring some of Israel’s best Jewish musicians will take place. The celebration will begin at 1:00 p.m. (Israel time).

Rides are available. Register online at www.2hebron.co.il or call the following Israeli number: +972-2-9965333.

Jerusalem Comes to Life
The Beit Orot Yeshiva on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is organizing family activities that will be held between Sunday, October 16 and Tuesday, October 18.

Thousands of people are expected to participate in the activities, which will take place on the Mount of Olives Ridge. The activities include guided hikes, inflatable rides, Segway tours, zip-line, rappelling, archaeological sifting, street theater, arts & crafts and more.

The main event will be held on Monday evening, October 17, when Hasidic musician Chilik Frank hosts Simchat Beit Hashoeva at Mitspe Hamasuot. The stated objective is to connect the public at large with the pioneering Jewish communities on the Mount of Olives via a unique Yerushalmi atmosphere for the entire family.

Simchat Beit HaShoeva, literally “water pouring event,” celebration, is a traditional festivity which harkens back to ancient times, when the Holy Temple was standing. In Temple times, the rejoicing was connected to the libation of water on the Temple altar, which took place during the week of Sukkot. Water would be drawn from the Gihon spring and brought to the Temple. The process was accompanied by dance and song throughout the streets of Jerusalem.

The event runs from Sunday through Tuesday, October 16th through 18th, from 11:00am to 5:00pm.

The hikes and tours will be guided by Beit Orot’s new Midrasha launched earlier this year. Midreshet Beit Orot has a staff of twenty guides who are all graduates and students of Yeshivat Beit Orot that have been professionally trained in Jewish history, guiding, Jewish identity development and the connection to Jerusalem.

Sukkot at the City of David
The City of David in Jerusalem is offering tours and attractions in the Old City of Jerusalem during the holiday of Sukkot.

These tours include a guided tour of biblical Jerusalem, which offers participants a chance to follow the kings and prophets and see the places where many Biblical stories took place. Participants will walk through underground passages, visit the hidden spring in which Israel’s kings were crowned, and visit Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The tour lasts three hours.

Also available is an archaeological experience for the entire family in the Tzurim Valley National Park. Participants will filter ancient earth from the ancient buildings on the Temple Mount, and study the findings with archaeologists and expert guides. The activity lasts two hours.

A new feature this year is a guided tour of the city of David of the Second Temple period. Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period was known as a grand city and now, for the first time in 2,000 years, visitors will be able to walk in it, feel it and get excited about it. The fascinating tour follows the city’s architects and builders, enables visitors to touch recently discovered sites, marvel at the Shiloah pool and climb up to the Western Wall in an underground tunnel 700 meters long. The tour lasts about two and a half hours.

Municipal and Regional Festivals These include a three day Gush Etzion Music and Theatre Festival (http://www.festigush.co.il/ is in Hebrew, but has phone numbers for English information), as well as the Netanya World Jewish Festival, a happening in Holon and events in other cities. A harp festival will be held in Jaffa.

The Gush Katif Museum on 5 Shaarei Tzedek St. (off Yaffo St., the Old Shaarei Tzedek Hospital building) is open from 9a.m. t0 9p.m. and till 2p.m. on Fridays, with a new exhibit called "Longing for Home", a Gush Katif Sukkah and more.

The open-air Air Force museum at the Hatzerim base near Be’er Sheva. features old two-seater planes that were used in the first days of Israel’s modern history, as well as helicopters, tanks and other weaponry that children can climb on. There also is a large passenger plane in which an action-packed video relates the history of the Air Force. It is open Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the afternoon before the Shmini Atzeret-Simchat Torah.

Hareidi ascension to Temple Mount
The Association of Hareidim who Ascend to the Temple Mount is inviting the public to visit the Temple Mount during Chol Hamoed Sukkot.

Participants are required to visit the mikveh before ascending the Temple Mount. A certificate of identity is required by the police in order to be able to enter the Temple Mount area. Cameras are not allowed.

The event is open to boys, girls up to the age of 12, relatives, and friends. For details regarding visit times, call one of the following Israeli numbers: +972-52-7672658, +972-54-8463471, or +972-50-4142425.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Sukkot in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)