It’s Tu B’Av, Judaism’s day of love, commemorating the celebrations in Talmudic times, when young women dressed in borrowed whites would dance in the vineyards, looking to catch a young man’s eye. Times have changed, and the 15th of Av has become more of a typical Valentine’s Day, replete with the type of hoopla that surrounds the February version commemorated in the Western world.
Herewith we offer six ways to mark the moment:
1) Jerusalem’s 10th Gay Pride Parade takes place Thursday, starting at 5 p.m., with an expected 5,000 people marching through the center of the city. Considering the holy city’s take on anything even slightly controversial, it’s quite remarkable that this event is happening. To mark the event, the “Bruchim Habaim,” the official welcome sign at the entrance to the city, was painted over in gay pride colors, but not by the municipality. Looks like someone’s in trouble, but check it out while you can.
2) Beit Tefillah Yisraeli, the open-minded, feel-good Tel Aviv synagogue that holds Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services at the port during the summer, is inviting anyone and everyone to a special Tu B’Av Kabbalat Shabbat service Friday night. It’s an opportunity to experience the Sabbath Queen’s loving spirit while feeling the sea breezes blow. And be sure to wear your whites, as they did back in the old days.
3) If you’re in Tel Aviv Thursday night, head to the recently renovated Dizengoff Square and fountain for a costume and swing party. Starting at 7 p.m., with lessons at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. If you’re just in it to enjoy the show, be there at 8 p.m. for a performance by The New Orleans Function Band.
4) Do something you love to do, whether it’s for five minutes, an hour or an entire day. Read a book, or an article. Buy something that moves you, eat something that makes you stop and taste the flavors. Be good to the people you love, and let them know what they mean to you.
5) Some people like to recreate the celebrations of yore, which is what 2,000 women are planning to do at Meholelot Bakramim, or Dances in the Vineyards, a dance and music festival in Shiloh, now a settlement in the West Bank that was once the capital of ancient Israel. The dance workshops, street fair and performances in the vineyard are for women only, secular and religious, celebrating shared cultural experiences and unity. For a taste, a video of Ronit Shachar, one of the performers, singing “Ahuv Yakar” (Dear Love).
6) Down in Beersheba, it’s Laila Lavan, or White Night, an all-night festival of events celebrating Tu B’Av. Taking place in Beersheba’s Old City, choose from an array of activities and performances including fringe theater, a zumba party, art events at local galleries, and a series of concerts including Balkan Beat Box, Danny Sanderson, Liran Danino and others.