The short list

The forthcoming Pessah festival lineup has something for everyone.

Rishon Lezion Eco Festival 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Rishon Lezion Eco Festival)
Rishon Lezion Eco Festival 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Rishon Lezion Eco Festival)
There has been an explosion of festivals in this country over the last 15 years, or so. At one time, there was the Israel Festival, a couple of jazz events, and maybe a handful of others dotted around the national calendar. These days there hardly seems to be a week when there isn’t some festival devoted to music, dance, movies or wine tasting, and the like.
Naturally the festival barometer hits stratospheric proportions when there’s a religious holiday in the offing, and the forthcoming Pessah festival lineup is chock-full of practically every cultural, entertainment and hands-on item imaginable. And you don’t necessarily have to burn up precious fuel to get there, as the geographical spread covers the entire length and breadth of the country, with events tailored to all tastes, interests and age groups.
Love is in the air
One of the longstanding features of the Spring cultural scene is the Ahava Festival Rock Gathering, which will take place at various locations near the Dead Sea between April 7-11. As usual, the event organizers have accumulated an impressive roster of acts including the likes of Beri Saharoff; Yehuda Poliker; Shalom Hanoch and Ehud Banai; with veteran rock band Mashina, making one of its periodic one-off reunion appearances.
There will also be plenty to do during the day, with all-family trips and Xtreme activities lined up around the beautiful natural environs. For those looking to chill out in a more passive fashion, there are alternative treatments and spa facilities available at local B&Bs and spots along the seashore. Accommodation is available for all pockets, from hotels to sleeping-bag arrangements.
For tickets and further information:, 02-9400285, 03- 6045000 and *8965.
Days of song
Shalom Hanoch evidently will not exactly be taking it easy over the holiday period, as he is also on the performer list of the annual Yemei Zemer Festival in Holon, which will happen at the Holon Theater, over four days, starting April 8. Yemei Zemer always attracts a heavyweight clutch of artists, and there are generally customized synergies in there, too.
The latter include Efrat Gosh’s guest spot in Assaf Amdursky’s show, Hanoch hosts Nynet and songwriter-satirist Yehonatan Gefen will have singer-songwriter Shlomi Shaban as his sidekick in what promises to be a highly entertaining and thought-provoking evening.
There will also be a couple of blasts from the past at the Cyclamen Bouquet concert dedicated to the compositions of late iconic song-smith Moshe Vilensky, while fans of Greek music should dig the Remembering Aris and Aliza show, which marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Greek singer Aris San, who was very popular here, and the third anniversary of the passing of San’s partner, singer Aliza Azikri.
Female rockers also get some of the spotlight in Holon, with Ruti Navon and Sheri presenting a program of some of their hits, in their “This Is the Time for Love” show. Hanoch’s fellow Ahava Festival performer, Beri Saharoff, is also on the Yamei Zemer guest list, when he presents a new acoustic show.
For tickets and further information: 03-5023001/2/3 and
Kids’ theater festival
Haifa will also offer plenty in the way of junior entertainment over the Pessah period, with the 22nd edition of the annual Haifa Children’s Theater Festival (April 8-10). The Haifa Theater-produced event features includes dozens of productions, from Israel and abroad, for children aged 2- 10, and for all the family, including indoor performances and street shows.
For tickets and more information about the Haifa Children’s Theater Festival: 04-8600500 and
Pessah is also the time when Givtayaim celebrates its birth, and this year’s fifth edition of the Song of the Sea Jewish Music and Culture Festival marks the city’s 90th anniversary. The event will take place at Givatayim Theater between April 8-11, with plenty of big-name performers across the musical spectrum. Beri Saharoff will be there, as well as fellow rocker Shlomi Shaban and a host of ethnic acts, including veteran Yemenite singer Gila Beshari; the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra; violinist-oud player Yair Dalal; and gypsy-music violinist Mirel Reznik.
There will also be a program of lectures and discussions on all sorts of hot topics, culled from the themes of faith; Judaism; democracy; spiritual leadership; political leadership; and the exclusion of women. There will also be a musical discourse by Rabbi Menachem Froman and musician Ariel Hotowitz, and a symposium moderated by Sarah Blau, entitled “Gender or Fence? Jewish Men and Women in 2012.”
For tickets and more information: 03- 7325340, ext. 2 and
Quiet time
If you want to get away from the urban sprawl and, no doubt, the Pessah traffic jams, you may want to head south to the Negev where the Ramat HaNegev Birdwatching Center is offering ornithologically-oriented jeep trips, walking tours, bird-ringing slots and creativity events for the whole family.
The events will take place at various locations across the Negev, including the Ben Gurion Academy Activity Center near Sdeh Boker (April 9), and Nitzana Activity Center (April 10).
For more information: (Sdeh Boker) 08-6532016 and 052-3689608, (Nitzana) 08-6561435/68, or
Desert magic
The Negev also has some dance and other family entertainment lined up, at the Pessah Adama Festival (April 9-11) at the Adama Hangar Center in Mitzpeh Ramon. The Merage Foundation-supported program includes the Adama company’s new “Up Chi Down Chi” show, with some outdoor entertainment provided by the Netto dance group, as well as singersongwriter Eric Berman’s acoustic show.
Inside the hangar there will be a varied program of movement, music, artistic and alternative healing activities.
For tickets and more information: 08- 6595190
Stage One
The English-speaking Stage One Theater Festival returns to Beit Avi Chai for a third year, between April 8-10.
The shows feed off an eclectic range of themes and sensibilities, including “Talk,” by the Winnipeg Jewish Theater from Canada, which looks at the thorny issue of whether friendships can survive political differences. The locally-based JEST group will put on “The Tenth Man,” in which an old man decides to hold a Jewish exorcism in a synagogue, with unexpected romance developing in the process.
The festival also hosts the English-language premiere of “Passion Killer,” by British-born award-winning writer and performer Hadar Galron and TV presenter Aharon Feuerstein. “Passion Killer” takes a satirical look at the strengths and weaknesses of women from Biblical times, to the present day.
Religion and romantic matters are examined in Amy Holson-Schwartz’s comedy, “Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulka?” While the Improve comedy troupe presents its Hahafuch comedy sketch and improv show, which pokes fun at life in Israel – from aliya to daily life, and much in between.
For more information:
Eco Conscious
And if you’re looking for some wholesome green fun you’d do well to get over to Rishon LeZion, where The Ball’s in Our Hands Festival has a whole program of entertainment and activities based around a miniature sustainable city for kids. The free two-day program (April 11-12) at Neot Hashikma Park features workshops and all manner of ecological items all taking place in little streets, stores, a park, a bank and town squares in the junior-urban environment.
For more information: 03-9650063 ext. 201 or