It’s only the second week of July and let’s be honest, it’s already too hot to spend too much time outside.
That said, school’s finally over, summer vacation is in full throttle and we’re all looking for some entertainment that doesn’t involve a large screen or an iPad.
Well, at least part of the time.
So the search is on for active indoor options, or after-sundown outdoor activities, that are engrossing and not too expensive. Free is even better.
1. The 20th Maccabiah is in town, if you haven’t noticed, with 10,000 athletes participating in 40 sports in four categories all over the country. You could just ignore this massive athletic event going on under your nose, but here’s the thing: There are dozens of events every day, through August 16, and they’re all free. In fact, some of them are inside cool, air-conditioned spaces that are just perfect for spending a hot July afternoon.
Try watching some ice hockey being played on IceLand, the newly laid ice rink on top of the basketball court at Jerusalem’s Pais Arena stadium. The floor’s frozen but the game keeps you warm as you root for Israel against Russia (or USA against Canada). (If you don’t make it to the Maccabiah, there will be ice skating available July 18 through August 10 and an ice show, “Acrobatics on Ice” from August 16-20.)
As for other indoor Maccabiah events, try gymnastics in Tel Aviv, fencing in Acre, taekwondo in Jerusalem, wrestling in Beersheba: Matches, dates and times are available at the Maccabiah website.
2. It’s okay to go to the movies if they’re part of the Jerusalem Film Festival, right? In fact, this year’s film celebration includes a host of free screenings and activities, most of them held on July 16-20, in the midst of the July 13-23 festival.
One of the coolest efforts in the citywide film fest is the festival’s moving theater, coming to eight neighborhoods throughout the city with top-of-the-line screens, comfortable seats and popcorn, nearly every night of the festival.
There’s “Newton” in Pisgat Zeev, July 13, “Gaza Surf Club” in At-Tur on July 14, “The Red Circle” at Sacher Park on Saturday night, July 15, at 9:30 p.m., “One Week and a Day” at Selisburg High School in Armon Hanatziv on July 16, “Gaza Surf Club” again in Sur Baher on July 17, “Menashe” on July 18 at the Adam School in the German Colony, “Holy Air” at the Beit HaKerem Community Council on July 19 and “Scaffolding” in Mexico Park in Kiryat Menachem on July 20.
The Safra Square train stop will become a hub of augmented reality for several days, July 16-20, with a screen that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, providing a composite view. Head to Moon Square, the courtyard of the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art on Hillel Street, and learn how to make sound for films. July 16-20, 4 p.m.-11 p.m.
The Clal Building on Agrippas Street will be another site of film experimentation, with a video mapping screen on the side of the building, July 12-20, 8:30 p.m.-11 p.m. and screenings of student films, video art and experimental film on the roof with Muslala, the artistic cooperative group. July 16-20, 8 p.m.-11 p.m. At the nearby Beit Alliance, in the parking lot adjacent to the Mahane Yehuda market, visitors can help create, film and edit movies, July 16-20, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
There are outdoor screenings as well. The classic “Cinemo Paradiso” will be screened in the Old City’s Muristan Square, with Arabic subtitles, and served with pizza and gelato on July 19, 8 p.m. Head to Jaffa Gate on your way out, to experiment with music and animation on the walls of the Old City, July 16-20, 4 p.m.-11 p.m.
3. Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Science Museum opened the summer season with “2 x 200,” a new exhibit celebrating the 200 years since the invention of the bicycle. The exhibit, which fills the majority of the museum’s main galleries, is a look into the history of the bicycle, as well as plenty of hands-on activities about the two-wheeler and its status in today’s society.
The options for moving around on bikes are myriad. Visitors can ride historic bicycles, including monocycles, tandem bicycles, hand-powered bicycles for people with disabilities, and even historic bone shaker bicycles.
Kids can make spinners, using ball bearings, the essential element of these fidget gadgets and of bicycles, of course. They’ll also learn about inventors of bicycles, and about social initiatives involving two-wheelers. There will be demos of riding bikes in unusual positions, studying wheels and learning how to repair flat tires, and an outdoor cycling area for children and adults. (There’s also a very comfortable lounging area in the exhibit where you can veg out on bean bag chairs and watch a nice, long 45-minute video about biking.)
The month of August will bring performances from Tararam, a music and motion show with artists who combine drumming and dancing with bike parts on stage. The exhibit is a collaboration with three other science museums in Ottawa, Canada, Bremen, Germany and Naples, Italy and will travel on to the other museums when it closes at Bloomfield in May 2018.
4. If you prefer the beach in the evening hours when it’s significantly cooler, consider heading to Michmoret for a tour of the Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The center — which is near the Alexander River and its population of soft-shelled turtles but is distinct from it — offers medical care for sea turtles who are injured in their long, solo travels and land on Israel’s shores.
Visitors are welcome for pre-arranged visits through a portion of the center with a guide. In the summer, there’s also the opportunity to take a guided walk along the beach to learn about the world of sea turtles and in August, the possibility of witnessing newly birthed turtles make their way into the sea from their nests on the beach. You can sign up for visits and tours through the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel website (only in Hebrew).
5. Speaking of sea turtles, we’ve already written fairly extensively about the soon-to-be-opened Israel Aquarium at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, but if you’re looking for air-conditioned sites, there’s no better option than the aquarium once it opens.
One of the best corners of the aquarium is its spacious, dark gallery for viewing the aquarium’s largest tank that will be home to sharks and their sea-loving friends. It’ll be worth visiting the aquarium when it first opens, as tickets will be less expensive at NIS 40 apiece, and with timed entrances so as to avoid big crowds.
Keep your eye on the Israel Aquarium site for updated information about the official opening.