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A tour following the trail of Delila, instigator of the original honey-trap, and her unsuspecting sweetheart Samson, may not seem an ideal prospect for couples looking to revitalize their relationship this Tu B'Av. But despite the story's dubious outcome, the spectacular views and alluring chocolate workshop featuring at the Tzorah Forest excursion are sure to kindle the flames of romance.
The tour is just one of a number of Tu B'Av events running as part of this year's Bible Festival at national parks and kibbutzim throughout the picturesque Yoav-Yehudah region from Sunday through next Friday.
Other biblically-inspired romantic options include "Tales of Love," a musical performance in Nataf depicting famous biblical love stories, and Neot Kdumim national park's ashashot-baking workshop. The recipe for this pancake-style snack made of lentils, which are referred to in the Bible as the food of love, can be found in the Talmud. Ashashot are also sited in the Song of Songs as a delicacy certain to woo a prospective lover. "Samson's Curls," an evening at Kibbutz Tzorah exploring different means of adapting the legend for theater, includes a lecture by Prof. Shimon Levi entitled "The Biblical Text as a Forum for Theater," and "Song of Songs," a performance by the Imbal Dance Theater.
The festival also provides ample opportunity for those hoping to bypass the Tu B'Av cheer, in the form of an impressive array of events designed to appeal to both religious and secular visitors, a lineup which reflects organizers' desire to showcase the Bible's appeal beyond the scope of religion.
"Songs of the Levites," a nighttime world music concert featuring Avihu Medina, Ariel Zilber, Eviatar Banai and others takes place against the atmospheric backdrop of Beit Guvrin's impressive Roman Amphitheater. The event also features workshops and food stands. Other musical performances include Yoni Rechter's "Nature Concert" at Ein Hemed, Chaim Moshe's musical interpretation of the story of Creation and a sing-along with Israel Prize winners the Gevatron choir also taking place at the Beit Guvrin Amphitheater.
Those looking for an academic approach can sign up for tours organized by the Ya'ackov Herzog Center. Literature and nature expert Mushku Rom refers to a range of contemporary and ancient sources, both Jewish and secular, to provide insight into traditional biblical tales while also enlightening participants to the historical, archaeological and geographic features of the Yoav- Yehudah region. "Authors Discuss Biblical Love Stories," a nighttime discussion panel at Beit Guvrin's Danny Bedyun Cave features novelist Gabriella Avigdor-Rotem and poet Agi Mishol.
A variety of family-orientated hikes and bicycle tours include visits to the Tel Shachar vineyards where participants can try their hand at wine-making, theatrical tours in the orchards of Kibbutz Tzuba featuring encounters with biblical characters and treks in the footsteps of Joshua in the Ayalon Valley, which include stops at ancient wells and Roman baths.
For details, visit www.touryoav.org.il or call (08) 850-2240 or (02) 534-2741. Some of the events require advanced booking.