No holidays on the calendar? No problem. Autumn’s got cultural festivals
Top Five

No holidays on the calendar? No problem. Autumn’s got cultural festivals

5 events around the country over the next 6 weeks celebrate the piano, jazz, documentaries, dance, and animation

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

From the DocAviv-winning documentary, 'Family in Transition,' which will be shown at DocAviv Maalot-Tarshiha in November 2018 (Courtesy Roy Rot)
From the DocAviv-winning documentary, 'Family in Transition,' which will be shown at DocAviv Maalot-Tarshiha in November 2018 (Courtesy Roy Rot)

The holidays are over, Hanukkah isn’t coming for weeks, and there’s a chunk of time to celebrate the cultural benefits of jazz and piano festivals, animation and documentary film events, as well as dance appreciation during November weekends.

Head to the north for DocAviv, to Tel Aviv for piano and jazz, and Jerusalem for animation and dance. You may have to double up on festivals, but not to worry, your schedule should remain fairly light.

1) DocAviv Galil takes place in the town of Maalot-Tarshiha during the weekend of November 13-17. More than 30 documentary films from Israel and abroad will be screened during the five-day festival, with a performance by Yasmin Levy, meetings with directors and filmmakers, an exhibit of local artists, workshops, under-the-sky screenings and tours of the area.

The festival’s opening film is “Family in Transition,” the winner of the Israeli competition at last year’s DocAviv festival in Tel Aviv.

For more information and to order tickets (NIS 30 per film) and check times, go to the DocAviv website.

2) The now annual “Between Heaven and Earth” dance festival returns to Jerusalem for its ninth year, October 22-25, directed by choreographer Ronen Itzhaki.

Dancers in the 2018 Between Heaven and Earth dance festival (Courtesy Tomer Appelbaum)

The festival ties together the world of dance with the Jewish world, looking to meld the traditional and the modern, Jewish sources and Israeli culture. This year’s subject is utopia, channeling the thoughts of Bezalel founder Boris Schatz in his 2018 book about Jerusalem, and the four-day festival includes performances at the Gerard Behar Center, with free performances in Mahane Yehuda market at 4 p.m. on October 23, and women-only performances on October 23 at Gerard Behar.

On the morning of October 24, the festival will host a Gaga dance workshop, featuring the free movement style created by Batsheva Dance Company director, Ohad Naharin.

Find tickets at

3) A wide array of Israeli musicians focus on the keyboard at the 20th Piano Festival, performing in 53 events October 20-27, with 300 artists, musicians, singers, dancers and actors participating in this year’s lineup.

Tel Aviv 20th Piano Festival performers will include Rami Fortis (center) and Eviatar Banai (right) (Courtesy Yael Tsur)

This year’s performers include Shlomi Shaban with the Jerusalem Camerata and guest punk rocker Rami Fortis, cousins Eviatar and Ehud Banai, Yoni Rechter, Danny Sanderson in an acoustic performance with Tom Aaron, new-to-Broadway star Shiri Maimon, Berry Sakharov, Shai Tsabari and Mark Eliyahu, Daniella Spector, and a host of younger musicians and performers, such as Maya Isacowitz, spoken word artist Jimbo J and Phototaxis Neverland.

Tickets that are still available can be purchased through Zappa. There will also be free events outside two of the main venues, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, on the evenings of the performances.

4) Heard some jazz at the Piano Festival and hankering for more? The Israeli jazz scene comes this way with dozens of performances during the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival on November 28-December 1, taking place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Abraham Hostel.

Bassist Nik West is one of the visiting musicians at the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival in November (Courtesy Nik West)

The performances range in type from original to experimental as well as more traditional, all exploring the genre. There are also free jazz evenings in the front space of Habima, and a Friday afternoon show in the same space. Head to Zappa for tickets and there’s a discount for Tel Aviv Digital card holders.

5) Animators, wannabe animators and anyone interested in animation should sign up for the AniNation Festival, October 31-November 2, and the accompanying Jerusalem Film Fund’s Hop, Skip and a Jump animation workshop, October 24-28.

The Hop, Skip and a Jump workshop hosts visiting mentors from Netflix, eOne, Mattel and MGA Entertainment, who will work with locals developing animation TV projects.  A few days later, animators can attend AniNation, which fosters professional networking and meetings between local animators and visiting producers, distributors and other animation professionals from Europe and North America.

The three-day event hosts pitching sessions, one-on-one meetings and screenings and offers exposure to budding animators and their projects.

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