JERUSALEM—As Pesach approaches, Israelis prepare for the impending flock of tourists and pilgrims coming for the festival known in Hebrew as Chag Ha’aviv (the Spring Holiday, in Hebrew). It is truly a gorgeous time to be in Israel, with all of her natural beauty, her nature and fauna, revealing itself after a long winter as the land prepares for an even longer summer. Nowhere is this more apparent than in capital city of Jerusalem, which traditionally hosts pilgrims during Pesach—it is not for naught that the Talmud (Sukkah) teaches, “Whoever did not see Jerusalem in all of her glory, never saw a beautiful city.” For those who are planning to visit Jerusalem for Pesach, to see her in her spring, pilgrim-filled glory, the JLBC has compiled a short guide to a few special Pesach programs and events in and around the city:
Western Wall Heritage Foundation Special Pesach Tours
Where? The Western Wall, Old City
When? Wed. April 16 – Thurs. April 17, 2014
In addition to the biannual communal Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing), taking place on Thursday, April 17 (Shacharit at 08:45, Blessing at 09:30 and 10:30), the Western Wall will be playing host this year to something new, at one of the holiest sites in the world. The Western Wall Heritage Society has unveiled a special new tour, exclusively during the intermediate days of Pesach. The tour, billed “Hachavaya Hayerushalmi” (the Jerusalem Experience), begins in the Western Wall tunnels, including the new “Metzag Sharsheret Hadorot” (Presentation of the Generations) multimedia exploration of Jewish history. The tour then continues into the Muslim quarter of the old city with a visit to the Ohel Yitzchak synagogue, which was destroyed by the Jordanians in the 1948 Independence War. In the spirit of freedom, redemption and rebuilding, the shul was purchased back by American donors in the late twentieth century, and was rebuilt back to its original glory in 2008. The tour concludes here with a deeper history of the synagogue, view of the Temple Mount from the roof of the building and special singing and dancing in the shul. This special extended tour has limited availability and is given only in Hebrew. For the less adventurous, the usual Tunnel Tour, including The Generations Center, is available as well. For more information, please visit http://english.thekotel.org/VisitorInfo.asp (English tour) or http://tours.thekotel.org/tour?cat=1&proj=22&id=124 (Extended Hebrew tour).
Pesach 2014 In City Of David
Where? Ir David (City of David), Jerusalem
When? Wed. April 16 – Sun. April 20, 2014
The City of David, the ancient settlement originally built in the times of King David, is located just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. The archeological site plays host to a tour of the ancient city, a sifting project finding artifacts in the excavated dirt, Segway tours of the city and even a walk-through of an underground aqueduct dating back to Hasmonean times. In honor of Passover, Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, is sponsoring admission to the Hasmonian aqueduct tour and the Temple Mount sifting project, making them both free of charge during Chol Hamoed. In addition, there will be extended hours for the City of David’s well-known tour of the Shiloah, the ancient water cisterns dating back to the time of King Hezikiah, which run underneath the Old City and Temple Mount, for the non-claustrophobic among us. Virtually all of the City of David’s tours and programming are available in English.
For more information, please visit http://www.cityofdavid.org.il/en.
Ahava Dead Sea Festival
Where? The Dead Sea
When? Wed. April 16 – Shabbat April 19, 2014
For those who are more adventurous and would like to stray further from the capital city, the annual AHAVA Dead Sea Festival is the place to be. Every year, during Chol Hamoed Pesach, the Israel-based beauty company hosts a culture and music festival in the area around its Dead Sea headquarters. The usual array of Dead Sea treatments and mineral baths will have extended availability for the expected onslaught of guests. Special hikes and 4x4 tours are available, and unique Pesach menus in local eateries will leave even the most Ashkenazic (non-Gebrokts) customers satisfied. This year, in addition to the usual mineral baths, desert hikes and unique dining opportunities, the festival will be hosting several famous Israeli musicians, including Ivri Lider, Bery Sacharov, Dudu Tassa and Karolina. While much of the programming will be in Hebrew, all of the other activities should be perfectly accessible for even the least competent foreign-language speakers. So, for those who would like to try a different take on Chol Hamoed Pesach, the AHAVA Dead Sea Festival 2014 is the way to go. For more information on the special events and activities, please visit http://www.dead-sea.org.il/?section=385 (Hebrew).\
By Tzvi Silver, JLBC Israel Correspondent