Festivals countrywide: Alluring alternatives to sitting in the sukkah
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Festivals countrywide: Alluring alternatives to sitting in the sukkah

The eight days of Sukkot provide multiple opportunities for towns to throw parties, with events including film and music festivals, art, dance and comedy

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Finding out all the secret spaces and alleyways of Jaffa, during a week of tours around the city (Courtesy of City of Tel Aviv-Jaffa)
Finding out all the secret spaces and alleyways of Jaffa, during a week of tours around the city (Courtesy of City of Tel Aviv-Jaffa)

With the solemnity of the High Holidays behind us, the joyous festival of Sukkot is right around the corner.

Beyond the temporary huts under construction outside many Israelis’ homes (the sound of hammering having filled the air at all hours of the day and night), and the traditional citron, palm fronds, myrtle and willow available for purchase from corner stalls, the eight-day festival and school vacation brings a surfeit of events to choose from.

Museums are offering special activities, Haifa hosts its (35th) annual film festival, Jerusalem opens the fourth Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art and the list goes on.

Of course, you could just head to the beach to bask in the autumn sunshine, or “take a hike” out in nature — the Israeli national pastime. Whatever you choose, enjoy the holiday.

The Jerusalem Orchestra will perform at the Tower of David Museum during Sukkot (Courtesy Ilana Silverman Richter)

1. The Tower of David Museum hosts The Band’s Visit event on October 15-17, when the Jerusalem Street Orchestra appears for a special Sukkot performance. The classical chamber orchestra aims to make classical music accessible to new audiences, often performing in public spaces and offering a different spin on classical and popular music.

Order tickets online (NIS 30 per person, NIS 120 per family of two adults and 3 kids, each addition child costs NIS 20).

Andi Arnovitz’s ‘I’m Not’, at the YMCA for the Jerusalem Biennale (Courtesy Ido Noy)

2. While in Jerusalem, visit the 4th Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an art event with more than 200 Israeli and international artists, which runs through November 28 and has English guided tours on October 15-18. The theme of this year’s event is “For Heaven’s Sake!” and the various tours will take place each day at 10 a.m.:

A work by Chani Cohen Zada, ‘Crossroads,’ at Heichal Shlomo for the Jerusalem Biennale (Courtesy Ido Noy)

Tuesday, October 15, at the Wolfson Museum of Jewish Art, Heichal Shlomo.

Wednesday, October 16, King David Street tour including the YMCA, Hebrew Union College and the North African Jewish Heritage Museum.

Thursday, October 17, Center of Jerusalem tour at Muslala Urban Art Group in the Clal building and Mahane Yehuda Market.

Friday, October 18, Along the Old City Walls tour, including the Begin Heritage Center, Mishkenot Shaananim and Kol Ha’Ot

Advanced registration and tickets are required.

3. If you’re heading out of Jerusalem, try the Abu Gosh Music Festival through October 21. Concerts to look out for are “An American in Berlin” on October 18 with opera singers performing works by George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin, and the October 18 performance of the Kolan Quintet, singing Hasidic, Hebrew, Russian, Georgian and Ladino songs.

Tickets available at the music festival website.

At the Givat Haviva art festival Under the Street Lights, held during Hol Hamoed Sukkot (Courtesy Givat Haviva)

4. Farther north, south of Haifa, is an arts festival at Givat Haviva, an education campus that is now an international school. Next week, it hosts the Under the Streetlight event, a free festival of art exhibits, tours of the campus, live music, dance and art installations.

5. Jaffa is hosting a marathon of tours October 14-20, sponsored by the city and the local hotel association, taking a look at lesser known haunts and pathways. The tours include tastings along Jerusalem Boulevard, a look at design in the flea market, walking around Jaffa at night, the book nooks of Jaffa, a peek at Arab life in town, and a tour of the area’s mosques and churches. The tours range in price from NIS 60 to NIS 100, although hotel guests can participate for free.

Hiyoli, a piece by Vertigo Dance Troupe, that will be performed at the troupe’s Eco-Art Village over Sukkot (Courtesy Natasha Shanches)

6. Get groovy on Sukkot with the Vertigo Dance Troupe, which opens its Eco-Art Village in Kibbutz Halamed Hey on October 16-18, with premieres of four dance performances, activities for kids, and fresh hummus and bread on sale for visitors.

7. If you missed out on tickets for the Elon Gold — Comedy for Koby tour this Sukkot, you’re in luck, because a third Jerusalem date was added: Saturday night, October 19. The New York comedian is known for his impressions, and has appeared in several TV series and comedy specials.

8. The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem hosts its Festival of Writing, focusing on secret scripts and ancient languages, and teaching visitors to write cuneiform and hieroglyphs. All activities are available October 15-17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entry is free for first graders and members, and there are discounted entrance tickets for families.

9. The 35th Haifa Film Festival kicks off during Sukkot and includes the Culinary Film Fest, an adjunct film festival celebrating all things food-related. Besides the films being screened, which include “In the Bottle,” “Breaking Bread,” “The Wandering Chef” and “A Taste of Sky,” there will be talks about food, tasting events with chefs and food luminaries, and food tours around Haifa’s best restaurants and culinary alleys. More information at the Haifa Film Festival website.

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