JEWISH Jerusalem


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Upcoming events

Family Day (Yom HaMishpacha)

While the United States and other countries around the world celebrate Mother's and Father's Day individually, Israel is celebrating its annual Yom HaMishpacha, or Family Day. This day, which originally began as Mother's Day in 1947, was established to honor the family unit and its centrality to Israeli life. It was decided around the year 2000 that Yom HaMishpacha would be celebrated on the 30th of Shevat, the day of Henrietta Szold’s death. Though Henrietta Szold never had any kids, she was known as “the mother of all children” and was extremely active in creating the framework for Jewish immigrant children from around the world. Yom HaMishpacha has evolved into a day of love and celebration for mothers, fathers, and children. It is particularly popular in Israeli schools and kindergartens where children create art projects and bring photographs of their families to be displayed at school. After school, many families celebrate by going on hikes, picnics, or playing games together. Yom HaMishpacha is a special day in Israeli society when families celebrate and remember the importance of cherishing those closest to them.

Hebrew Language Day

Eliezer Ben Yehuda is known as the father of spoken Hebrew. He came to Palestine in 1881 with a dream to recreate Hebrew as a spoken language, a language which had not been spoken in almost 2,000 years. Every year on the birthday, Israel celebrates Hebrew Language Day to remember Eliezer and his dream to bring the Hebrew language to the Jewish nation. The Hebrew language remains a fundamental element for Israel society, which unites people from around the world who make Aliyah to the Land of Israel. Even though Eliezer died in 1922 many years before Israel's Independence, his dream came true and today Hebrew is the official language in the modern State of Israel.

Tikkun Leil

Shavuot is a one-day festival which is celebrated on the 6th of Sivan. There are no specific Biblical commandments relating to this Festival, but many different customs have arisen over the centuries. Orthodox Jews stay awake the entire night, engrossed in the study of Torah. This custom originated in the 16th Century, when Rabbi Yosef Kairo revealed that an angel had instructed him to do the same. This custom is regarded as a preparation for receiving the Torah on Shavuot. Many different communities and synagogues host annual all-night events on Shavuot, known as a “Tikkun Leil.” The most hotly anticipated Tikkun Leil is held annually at the David Citadel in Jerusalem. Participants are treated to a night of lectures, discussions and learning. The lectures are given by acclaimed academics, historians, scholars and community leaders, where they discuss issues facing modern Jewish society and the messages behind the festival of Shavuot and the Book of Ruth. The night concludes with a breathtaking performance by a local choir or cantor, which includes beautiful renditions of different psalms and prayers. The event takes place in Hebrew and it’s held outdoors in the hotel courtyard where admission is free and refreshments are served. In many communities, the night of Shavuot is a time to reflect, to discuss and to grow. Events such as the Tikkun Leil at the David Citadel are times when people from all different communities come together and discuss common issues and goals.

Jerusalem Day Events

Jerusalem Day is an annual national holiday in Israel that’s widely celebrated by Jews and Israelis around the world; it commemorates the establishment of Israeli control over the old city and the Western Wall. Jerusalem Day is also regarded as a religious holiday in some communities while the Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared that it should be a day of thanksgiving and praise to God. The UN designated Jerusalem as an “International City” under the 1947 partition plan. In practice, this would have meant that neither the Israelis or the Arabs would have control over the city and its holy sites. However, this plan did not come to fruition and the Jordanians seized control over Jerusalem in 1948 and forcibly evacuated the Jewish residents. In 1967, the Israelis defeated Jordan in the Six-Day-War and successfully seized the old city. The day when it was recaptured, the 28th Iyar, was designated as an annual holiday. In modern time on this day, many concerts take place throughout the city, as well as street parties, parades, marches and tours of the Old City and the Western Wall tunnels. The Knesset also holds a special ceremony reaffirming the Jewish connection to the Old City. The Western Wall and Temple Mount are the holiest places in the Jewish religion. The Jews did not have sovereignty over the Wall for almost 2,000 years, and Jews worldwide rejoiced when the IDF conquered the Old City. Ever since, the Western Wall has been a major attraction for Jews and non-Jews all over the world. Each month, close to one million people visit the Old City and the Western Wall, and it has become a focal point for Jews of all denominations. Many centers of learning were set up in the Old City and today it has become a vibrant hub of Jewish life for the first time in thousands of years.

Pesach Birkat HaKohanim

The Priestly blessing (Birkat Kohanim) is recited daily throughout the land of Israel during the morning prayer services. The priests (male descendants of Aharon Hakohen) ascend the platform at the front of the synagogue, adorn themselves with a prayer shawl (tallit) and bless the entire congregation. During the 1970 War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gaffner created a celebration for the masses at the Western Wall, whereby hundreds of priests would recite the blessing. He cited an ancient Rabbinic legend which stated that a ceremony, where more than 300 priests blessed the nation at the Western Wall, held unique spiritual powers. The ceremony is held during the Pesach Festival and close to 100,000 people flock to the Western Wall to receive this special blessing. The ceremony is traditionally led by the Rabbi of the Western Wall and eager worshippers line the Kotel plaza and the rooftops of the Old City. For millennia, the priestly blessing has held a deep significance for the Jews. The Bible states that priests have a special power of prayer, and the annual event is a powerful and spiritual experience.

International Agunah Day

International Agunah Day was established by the International Coalition for Agunah Rights (ICAR) in 1990 to raise awareness to the difficulty of the Agunah. It is observed on the 13th of Adar which in the Jewish calendar is the Fast of Esther. An agunah literally means "anchored" or "chained" and describes when a Jewish woman is stuck in her religious marriage due to Jewish law that prevents a women from getting a divorce without her husbands permission. Not only does this happen when a man disagrees, but also if he is unable to grant her the divorce. Sometimes a man would leave on a journey and not return or went to battle never to come back. A special document known as a get is needed for end a religious marriage and according to Jewish law, a man must grant his wife this get out of his own free will. Without the get, no new marriage will be recognized and any children from the new marriage will be seen as illegitimate. Those who initiated this day believe that it is a violation of human rights to not grant a religious divorce. It also goes against modern views of equality, personal freedom, and happiness. Every day and especially on International Agunah Day, ICAR works to have this issue recognized by the public and advocates for change through media coverage, political lobbying, and public information campaigns.

The Siyum HaShas for Women

Join thousands on 9 Tevet, 5790 (January 5, 2020) at the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma) for the first global Women’s Siyum HaShas, an unprecedented learning experience. The event will be live-streamed to an international audience. The Hadran Siyum will bring women together to inspire a new generation of learning for all.

Sigd Festival

The Sigd Festival is a national holiday for the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel, known as the Beta Israel. For thousands of years, Sigd was a holy and somber day for the Jews of Ethiopia; it was day where they would pray to God for the ability to return to Israel. It was also a day of atonement and repentance and now the festival is held exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur. The Sigd Festival celebrates the receiving of the Torah and the creation of the Jewish people. ‘Sigd’ literally means ‘to prostrate’ and many Ethiopian Jews prostrate themselves before God and fast. After the Ethiopian Jewish community made Aliyah to Israel, the promenade in the Eastern Jerusalem neighborhood - Armon Hanatziv - has become the center for the communal prayers and celebrations. According to Ethiopian tradition, God showed Temple Mount to Abraham from this exact promenade. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from all over Israel travel to Jerusalem, many wearing their traditional robes and carrying Torah scrolls and psalms. The leaders of the community, the Kessim, recite psalms and read from the scrolls and lead the prayer services. In 2008, the Knesset officially recognize the Sigd Festival and it became an official Israeli state holiday. The Beta Israel have many unique customs and holidays which are not shared by other Jewish communities. This is because the community had very little contact with the wider Jewish world until they moved to Israel. Ethiopian Jews are very proud of their customs and traditions and the official recognition of Sigd marks a major step towards greater universal recognition of the Beta Israel.

Old City Food Festival

In mid-November, Jerusalem will host its annual Open Restaurants Festival. Many of the city’s finest restaurants will open its doors and share the secrets behind their scrumptious recipes with the public. Famous chefs from all over the world will travel to the city to help prepare a fantastic, mouth-watering array of culinary delight. The event also features workshops, where you can learn from the very best in the business how to cook a world-class meal or run a successful restaurant. You can also join one of the food tours, led by top tour guides who will take you through one of Jerusalem’s old neighborhoods and explore its rich, food history. At last year’s event, participants were able to explore the amazing Mahane Yehuda market, as well as the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim. Participants can also enjoy cook-offs, food lectures, food-related art galleries and much, much more delicious fun! Food is a big part of the Middle Eastern culture, and the culinary scene in Jerusalem has grown tremendously over the past few years. Local restaurant owners and chefs are very proud of their unique, cultural foods and this festival gives them a chance to share their secrets with the world.

The Kristallnacht Pogrom Exhibition

Kristallnacht began in Hanau, Germany. During the pogrom 91 Jews were killed, more than 1,400 synagogues across Germany and Austria were set alight, and around 7,000 Jewish-owned shops and businesses were destroyed. Jews were forced to pay "compensation" for damage that they had not caused. In addition, approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Sukkot Jerusalem March

The Jerusalem Sukkot march is an annual march which commemorates the uniqueness and rich heritage of Jerusalem. The spectacular march attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the world. The parade begins in Safra Square and continues to Sacher Park and is filled with delegations from many different countries, walking together waving both their own and the Israeli flags. The march has been an annual event for over six decades. The concept for the march is based on a passage in the Old Testament which says that all nations should gather in Jerusalem on the festival of Sukkot. Every facet of Israeli society is present at the march, including representatives from the IDF, the Israeli Police Force, the Fire Department, several Israeli youth groups and Israeli politicians and delegates. The march includes street performers and bands, and there are many stalls serving refreshments along the route. Sukkot is a week-long Jewish holiday and this celebratory march is one of the highlights of the week. The City of Jerusalem is the most sacred place in the Jewish religion. The march allows residents to showcase the magnificent city and share its heritage with the world.

Sukka Open House at the President's House in Jerusalem

The Sukka Open House at the Israeli President's House is an annual event which takes place during the festival of Sukkot. On Sukkot, it’s customary to erect makeshift booths (Sukkot), covered by leaves or bamboo and to live outside for 7 days and nights. The week of Sukkot is a joyous and festive occasion and there are many events taking place throughout the city. Each year, the President of the State of Israel opens his doors and receives members of the public in his own Sukkah at the President’s official residence in Central Jerusalem. Israeli citizens and tourists from all walks of life line up to greet the President and shake his hand. The President of the State of Israel is the head of state and a respected ceremonial figure. Unlike in the US, the President does not have any executive or legislative duties, but the President is regarded as a non-political figurehead who represents Israel on the world stage. Visiting the President is seen as a special privilege and honor, and many Israelis excitedly take advantage of the yearly open house to meet the leader of the country. Make sure to check online for this year's dates and opening hours!

Day of Jewish Unity

On the Day of Jewish Unity, over one million people gather around the world or a day of peace and prayer in hopes of ending global hostility and destruction. In cities around the world from Israel and France to Canada and United States, this day is filled with prayer for hope.

Shabbat of a Lifetime

The Shabbat of a Lifetime program offers tourists from all backgrounds to experience an authentic Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath). This celebration takes place at the home of a host family in the holy city of Jerusalem. All participants receive an informative introduction to Shabbat during a five-course meal with their host families. <div id="simple-translate"> <div> <div class="simple-translate-button " style="background-image: url('moz-extension://d7514391-53d6-4fb3-934a-2b17a33c8eee/icons/512.png'); height: 22px; width: 22px; top: 10px; left: 10px;"></div> <div class="simple-translate-panel " style="width: 300px; height: 200px; top: 0px; left: 0px; font-size: 13px; background-color: #ffffff;"> <div class="simple-translate-result-wrapper" style="overflow: hidden;"> <p class="simple-translate-candidate" style="color: #737373;"></p> </div> </div> </div> </div>

Jerusalem Chesed - Machlis Shabbat

Since 1979, Jerusalem Chesed – Machlis has hosted spiritually uplifting and meaningful Shabbat meals in the holy city of Jerusalem. <span class="header">These Shab</span>bat meals are formed into masterpieces by Rabbi Mordechai Machlis. The Rabbi's inspirational Torah thoughts on the weekly portion, his singing of Shabbat songs, and his clear explanations of the Jewish ritual create warmth and acceptance for all attendees. There is plenty of homemade food to go around that is prepared and served under the supervision of Rebbetzin Henny Machlis. Each week, the food flows out of a tiny kitchen to delight the body &amp; soul – all in honor of the Holy Shabbat.

Selichot at the Kotel

Each year, Jews around the world recite Selichot (supplications) during the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah. These prayers are recited before the morning service (Shacharit) and include messages of repentance and forgiveness. The first Selichot are said on the Saturday night prior to Rosh Hashanah and are traditionally recited at midnight. Many communities gather in their local synagogues, accompanied by a cantor, to pray for divine mercy in the upcoming Day of Judgement. At the Kotel (Western Wall), over one hundred thousand people gather to recite the Selichot together on the day before Yom Kippur. The site is quite the spectacle with thousands of people swaying, crying and beating their chests in prayer. Many famous Rabbis and cantors are chosen to lead the services which typically last over an hour. The Chief Rabbis and the Rabbi of the Western Wall also attend the service, as well as many Israeli politicians and dignitaries. The highlight of the service is during the Sephardic recital at midnight. Tens of thousands of people sing the famous Chatanu Lefanecha (we have sinned before you) song, and the echoes reverberate around the Old City. The Selichot have been an integral part of the High Holidays for millennia. All the songs and poems are related to divine mercy, repentance and introspection.

Tisha B'Av at the Kotel

The 9th of Av commemorates the destruction of the Holy Temple. The first Temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar II in 587 BC, and the second was destroyed by Emperor Titus in 70 ACE. As well as the destruction, hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered when the invading armies ransacked Jerusalem. According to the Talmud, both Temples were destroyed on the same day in the Jewish calendar - the 9th of AV. Each year on the 9th of AV, Jews worldwide fast, sit on the floor, recite lamentations and cry over the destruction of the Temples. The main event of the fast takes place at the Kotel (Western Wall). Since it was recaptured in 1967, tens of thousands of Jews travel to the Kotel on the eve of Tisha B’av to pray and lament over the destruction. There, the worshipers read the book of Eicha (Lamentations), which was written by the Prophet Jeremiah after the destruction of the First Temple. Mourning the destruction of the Temple at the site of the ruins themselves is a powerful and spiritual event. Many Jews travel to the Western Wall to fully experience the impact of the destruction and the exile.

Jerusalem Season of Culture

The Jerusalem Season of Culture Festival is a three-week-long event which showcases all of Jerusalem’s incredible art, history and vibrant culture. The festival was launched two years ago by Itay Mautner and Naomi Bloch Fortis, two artists who wanted to share the magnificence of Jerusalem with the world. For three weeks in the Fall season, the Jerusalem city center is transformed into an incredible art display. The art exhibitions depict Jerusalem’s past, present and future and draw upon the city’s secular and religious culture. Several major venues in the city host an array of events, including music concerts, plays and artistic performances. The festival also organizes tours of Jerusalem’s historic Old City and the surrounding picturesque urban valleys. The Season of Culture Festival hosts discourses and intercultural healing discussions about Jerusalem’s troubled past and the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Artists from all around the world are also invited to share their own cultural music and stories. Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel and the heart of the Jewish nation; it’s also known as the front line in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the center of religious-secular divide. The festival’s organizers hope to capture both the happiness and hardship of the city and display it through art, music and dancing. Because of this, the festival has a strong focus on interfaith dialogue and multiculturalism.

Jerusalem Film Festival

The Jerusalem film festival is known for handing out various renowned awards over its ten-day period. The festival shows the best of Israeli and world cinema, and some of the most prominent films of the year are premiered, along with tributes to esteemed figures in film across the country. Some 150-200 films are screened at the infamous event. The film festival also displays up and coming talent, with a host of live music performances and workshops available. Traditionally the festival makes its entrance at Sultan’s Pool, just outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, opposite the Cinematheque. The majority of films are screened in the Cinematheque with a few in other locations scattered about the city. A ten-day international film festival has been taking place year upon year in Jerusalem since 1983. The festival was introduced by Lia Van Leer, who previously, serving as a judge at the Cannes film festival, imagined a very similar festival taking place in the holy land of Israel. She later made that dream a reality. The Wolgin Prize was later introduced in 1989 by American philanthropist Jack Wolgin, who set up a competition in his name. The prize is now the country’s most prestigious film award.

Jerusalem Wine Festival

This festival offers hundreds of wines to sample freely throughout the evening, as well as sides of cheeses, chocolates, jams and olive oils. Entrance to the opening night costs around 150 ILS per person for unlimited tastings and performances from popular artists. Tickets to the following nights are also slightly less at around 100 ILS per person for unlimited tastings and music from different artists. This year will be the festival’s 16th year running, marking 32 years of steady growth for the Israeli wine industry. Today’s Israeli wine culture is an extension of ancient customs in the Holy Land. Wine was a prevalent part of society as early as the 7th century BCE, not only due to its role in Jewish practice, but also due to the perfect climate in the Golan Heights for the farming of grapes. Different regions in the country produce different grapes, with wineries currently located in five distinct regions: the Galilee, the Negev Desert, Samaria, Samson and the Judean Hills. Together, 40 different wine grapes are farmed across the country to produce unique wines and flavors - many of which will be available to taste at the festival itself.

Israel Festival Jerusalem

The Israel Festival is a two week long celebration of Israeli music, dance and arts culture. The festival was started back in 1961 by Aaron Zvi Propes and it was originally held in the Roman theater in Caesarea. Over time, interest in the festival grew and the country decided to host the Festival in the nation’s capital - Jerusalem. The main shows are performed at the Sultan’s Pool, an open-air theater located just outside the Old City of Jerusalem. There are also many other shows and street performances, including dance performances, stage productions, music concerts, light shows, art displays and more. The festival’s organizers and founders view it as a means to promote Israeli and international music and dance culture. The organizers encourage collaboration between Israeli and foreign artists to help produce multi-cultural performances and shows. The festival is also a platform for lesser-known artists to shine on the big stage and for international artists to showcase their talent to the Israeli people.

Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival

Since 1984, Jerusalem has hosted the annual Jewish Film Festival - an event which explores Jewish faith, practice and history through film. The festival travels through eight different neighborhoods across the city and screens over 50 different films by amateur directors and producers. The festival is the flagship event for Israeli cinema, and it showcases the most significant Israeli films of the year. Audiences are treated to a fascinating array of documentaries and short films which examine themes like the Arab-Israeli conflict, human rights, Israeli society and Jewish history. In addition to Israeli films, the festival screens movies by international directors from Hong Kong, Taiwan, the USA, Turkey and many other countries. Two years ago, world-famous and internationally acclaimed film director, Quentin Tarantino, attended the festival and screened a newly restored version of his cult-classic film, Pulp Fiction. The highlight of the festival is the presentation of the annual Haggiag Family Awards for major contributions to Israeli film. The festival opens at the Sultan’s Pool theater, where a crowd of over 5,000 spectators celebrate Israeli cinema with a magnificent opening ceremony. The festival screens over 200 films and provides a meeting place for Israeli and international producers, directors, actors and film enthusiasts alike. Israeli films and documentaries are a vital part of Israeli society and culture. The Jerusalem Film Festival grants a platform for up-and-coming producers to showcase their talents and spread their message to the world.

Kaparot at Machane Yehuda

‘Kapparot’ is an ancient Jewish ritual which is performed each year between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The ritual has dubious origins and is not observed by all Jewish sects; it involves taking a chicken and waving it around one’s head while reciting various prayers. The chicken is then ritually slaughtered, the blood is covered up and the dead chicken is traditionally donated to charity. Most Orthodox Jewish communities observe this ritual with money, rather than with a live chicken. However, for those who do wish to use a chicken you can do so at the famous Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Every year, truckloads of live chickens are delivered to the market and each evening people line up to purchase a chicken and perform the ritual. The chickens are slaughtered on site, so this is certainly not an event for the squeamish. Local charities are on hand to collect the chickens immediately after they are slaughtered and deliver them to needy families. An important part of the ritual is to cover up the blood after the chicken is slaughtered and to recite a blessing. The Kapparot ritual is one of atonement and repentance. During the buildup to Yom Kippur, it’s customary for Jews to engage in acts of repentance and charity. The chicken symbolizes the person who waves it, with the idea that they are ‘transferring’ their sins onto the chicken.

Jerusalem International Oud Festival

The Jerusalem Oud Festival is an annual celebration of oud music. The oud is a pear-shaped string instrument which is widely used in North Africa, Southern European and Mediterranean countries. The Oud Festival was Founded in 2000 to promote cultural diversity and the strengthening of local music and sounds. Each year, the festival features many original productions and special performances by various artists from Greece, Spain, India, Israel and many other countries. The music styles range from folk to jazz to rock ‘n roll. The festival has a strong focus on intercultural dialogue and exchange. It also features workshops, lectures and historical examinations of different types of music, comparing their similarities and differences. The festival also provides a platform for up and coming musicians to gain wider exposure and recognition. The event takes place throughout November, with different concerts taking place several times a week. Audiences are treated to an impressive variety of ‘Oud’ specials as well as unique collaborations and famous compositions. The event is hosted by the Confederation House along with the Beit Shmuel Hall and the Jerusalem Theater. Israeli society is comprised of many different types of people from all different cultures and backgrounds. The Oud Festival is the only one of its kind that focuses on this unique oriental music and explores the rich history behind the oud instrument and its different sounds.

Piyut Festival

The Piyut Festival is an annual celebration of the history and beauty of Jewish liturgical poetry and psalms. For over a thousand years, piyyutim have been part of Jewish prayer tradition. They were written by sages and scholars over many centuries and they include heartfelt prayers and commemorations. Many Jewish composers have created melodies to accompany the beautiful and innovative language of the Piyyutim, and these tunes have been sung by cantors, choirs and prayer leaders in Jewish communities around the world. The four-day festival is hosted by Beit Avi Chai, a cultural center in Central Jerusalem. The program includes musical performances by famous cantors, musicians, artists and orchestras. Modern composers perform their own tunes and melodies, and artists from all different communities and backgrounds take to the stage to share their own culture and heritage. The event also includes lectures and discussions by various historians who explain the meanings and references behind the lyrics and the differences between different Piyyutim from different eras. Piyyutim are a major part of Jewish prayer, especially on the High Holidays and the Selichot period. The Piyut festival encourages dialogue between different communities and gives people a platform to share their own stories and culture.

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You may simply know this building as the @teatro_real, one of the most respected opera houses in Europe. But, this site is the location of the oldest Jewish community in Madrid - dating back to 1085. Go see an acclaimed ballet or walk around the grounds and feel the years of history surrounding you. 🎼🎊 🇪🇸. #madrid #spain #jewishtravel #jewishspain #jewishmadrid #opera #music #ballet #wjt #wjh #wanderlust ...

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