Once the sukkah is up and those decorations are hung, it’s time to figure out what to do over the rest of the eight-day holiday. It’s safe to say that nearly every museum and historic site in Israel offers a host of special tours, activities and workshops throughout Sukkot.
If you’re not afraid of crowds, there’s Pablo Picasso at the Israel Museum, as well as “Venetian Splendor,” a new exhibit looking at the cultural heritage of the Italian Jewish community, dating from the establishment of its ghetto some 500 years ago.
There is free entry for kids to the Israel Museum from October 18-21, as well as the annual kite festival on Tuesday, October 18, with kite-making workshops (NIS 30-NIS 40) and kite flying, with the help of kite experts, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
At the Eretz Israel Museum, kids also enter for free (up to age 18) from October 18-20, for the museum’s Ceramics Biennale event. There are workshops with ceramic artists for the whole family, ranging from ages 4 and up, for a fee. For those who are less willing to work with clay, the museum has a digital game using smartphones around the museum, appropriate for kids ages 6 and up.
Looking for another kind of indoor activity? The Tel Aviv Cinematheque is screening “Behind the Lens,” Tal Avitan’s documentary about the lives and work of photojournalists from Israel’s south, on Friday, October 21. The film shows the life stories of photojournalists from the beleaguered southern region, who talk about the struggles to do their work and live their lives. The 50-minute film has English subtitles, and will be simultaneously screened in cinematheques around the country.
Sukkot also brings the Israel premiere of “Comedy Road,” the documentary made by funny guy Avi Liberman, host and producer of the bi-annual Comedy for Koby stand-up tours, in which American comics come to Israel twice a year as part of an annual fundraiser for the Koby Mandell Foundation. Jerusalem Cinematheque, October 20, 8:30 p.m., NIS 50.
If you want to get your hands dirty or are envisioning a world using different building materials than the standard cement and plaster, go to the Admaya Conference in Jerusalem, from October 19-21, where architects, builders and creative types will discuss the opportunities for building with earth, that stuff underneath our feet.
The first two days of the conference will focus on panels, lectures and conversations, but there is an open day on Friday, October 21 that is appropriate for the whole family, with workshops, techniques and displays of earth building. The entire event is sponsored by Muslala, the alternative creative organization whose urban headquarters are at the top of the Clal Building, in downtown Jerusalem. Call 02-999-6016 for more information.
For more films and a chance to check out Haifa, head to the northern city’s annual film festival, October 15-24, which features more than 200 new films, including 85 new Israeli films and free events for kids. Local Israeli musicians Dana Berger and Asaf Amdursky will be giving free concerts in the city’s hip downtown neighborhood, and there are tours of the city, looking at the culinary flavors, architecture and character of the seaside city.
While in Haifa, head to a competition for the title of Strongest Person at the BIG station in the Checkpoint intersection on Thursday, October 20, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Go to the Haifa tourist website for more details, times and places.
If you want to stay outside, know that Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael (JNF) has erected dozens of sukkot in many of its parks from north to south. The parks organization is also opening olive harvests to the public, at Sade Levi Center in the north, at Ayalon Canada Park in the center, and at KKL at Gilat in the south. Call 1-800-350-550 for parks and places.
Jerusalemites can stay close to home and seek out some urban wildlife at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, just next to the Knesset and across from the Wohl Rose Garden. There is a night safari in search of wild animals in the center of the city on October 19, afternoon bird walks in Givat Ram and discovering ecological systems in the Rose Garden. For more information and registration, call 02-653-7374.
Want to listen to live music? Head to the Dead Sea for the annual Tamar Festival, from October 17-21, in and around Masada and Kibbutz Ein Gedi. Headlining musicians include Yehudit Ravitz with Hadag Nachash, chanteuse Ester Rada with Kutiman and his YouTube muse Princess Shaw, along with Dudu Tessa and Balkan Beat Box. There’s also Beri Sakharoff with Mosh Ben Ari, Avraham Tal, Shalom Hanoch, Eviatar Banai, David Broza, Shlomi Shaban and a host of others. Go to the festival website for information and tickets, or call *3977.