Things to do in Jerusalem over Chol Hamoed Sukkot

By: Samantha Hulkower

After the thoughtful, and oftentimes somber, mood that could be felt around Israel and Jerusalem during the period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the mood just a few days later for Sukkot is nothing but joy and exceitment. It is known as Zman Simchateinu - the Time of Our Joy! If you are fortunate enough to be in Israel for this special time of year, we have some suggestions for what to do over Chol Hamoed (or ideas for your trip next year!):

Birkat Kohanim: Twice a year, during Chol Hamoed Sukkot and Pesach, seemingly the whole country flocks to the Kotel Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem for the ceremony of Pristley Blessing of the Jewish people. It's a very special time, and must be experienced by everyone at least once! The best bet is to get there early. Two blessings occur one at 9:00am and one at 10:00am, followed by an opportunity to meet the Chief Ashkenazi and Sefardic Rabbis of Israel. This year it will take place on Wednesday, October 19th.

Moshav Fest: Another Chol Hamoed tradition takes place on the Kibbutz that was once home of Rabbi Shlomo Carelebach. Since it was where the famously musical Rabbi once dwelled, it should come as no surprise that the cornerstone of the festival is live music all day long. There are also food vendors, things for sale, and a special area just for women's activities. Check out their facebook page for more information.

Simchat Beit Hashoeva: When the Temple stood, during Chol HaMoed the Kohanim would perform a special water drawing ceremony, that the whole country flocked to see. Then everyone would celebrate together with dancing and other festiveness. The tradition of joyous dancing is still carried on today. There are Simchot Beit Hashoeva (literally Rejoycing at the Place of Water Drawing) all over Jerusalem. You can walk down to Mercaz HaRav on Thursday night, October 20 at 8/8:30 pm (the Rav Kook Yeshiva in Kiryat Moshe) and see the dancing inside projected outside on a huge wall of the building. Inevitably, the dancing spills out of the yeshiva and on to the streets. Basically, you can walk down the streets of Geula or Meah Shearim and follow the music to find an event to watch.

Check out all the cool Sukkahs!: One of the main reasons to spend Sukkot in Israel, and especially Jerusalem, is the opportunity to see (and eat in!) so many different sukkahs. Not to be missed is the World's Largest Sukkah in Kikar Safra, by City Hall. There is lots of fun things to do just check out their website Fun in Jerusalem. Another event unique to Israel, is that every year the President opens his sukkah to the public. The Sukkah will be open during the intermediate days of the Festival (Tuesday through Friday) between 8:30 AM and 12:30 PM is on Hanasi Street. A tuda'at zehut or passport is required for entrance, which is free.  Also, just walk around, look around, and look up! There are many unique and interesting sukkahs all over the place. 

This is really just a taste of what Israel has to offer. We hope this provides you with a good start. Chag sameach to all!.   

No comments:

Yashar LaChayal

The majesty of the Western Wall

Nefesh B'Nefesh