Tiberias says, Aye to Scotland

The Scottish festival at the Scots Hotel brings Scotland to Israel.

bagpipe 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
bagpipe 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
They say William Wallace was seven feet tall. And were he here today, that he'd save us all with fire balls from his eyes. Alas, Wallace is long gone and it seems that someone else will have to teach us the way of the Scots. (Ah, to be a Scotsman. The kilts, the whiskey, the soccer, the passion, the cry for freedom.) Enter the Scots Festival - which begins this Sunday at, aptly enough, the Scots Hotel in Tiberias where their slogan is, "There is no other hotel like it in Israel." Indeed there isn't. Built in 1894 by Dr. David Watt Torrance, the hotel originally functioned as a medical center. The young Scot's mission was to heal the people of the Holy Land, and he headed the Scottish Church in Israel as well. Torrance - and subsequently his son - ran the hospital until it closed in 1953, after which, the Scottish Church re-opened the building as a guest house for pilgrims and visitors. In 1999, the Church decided to give the structure a major renovation, re-opening it as a unique hotel. Within the framework of the original architecture, first class facilities were constructed and the hotel's doors finally opened in 2005. The renovated establishment's mission, according to the hotel's website, is to provide "first-class service in a place of reconciliation for all people including Jews, Christians and Muslims - a tranquil multi-cultural and multi-racial retreat." Since its reopening, the hotel has organized a Scottish festival, the purpose of which is "to expose people to Scottish culture," says Rachela Nisanov, the hotel's cultural manager and festival producer. "Each year we choose a theme that is an integral part of Scotland. This year's focal point is food and whiskey," she says. As such, the festival includes a whiskey seminar (NIS 200) , a night of whiskey and chocolate tastings (NIS 200), a gourmet whiskey dinner by Scottish chef Steven Gilroy (NIS 280) and a cooking workshop with Tzachi Bookshester and Eyal Lavi along with Gilroy (NIS 300). Scotland, of course, is a bit more than just food and whiskey. All through the festival the wait-staff will don ever-so-revealing kilts and, at the opening cocktail reception (NIS 120 for non-hotel guests) a band of seven bag-pipers will perform. Called Blue, they will play a sampling of Scottish music and will host the Ra'anana Symphony for all four days of the festival. Beyond the indulgence of food, drink and music, festival participants will have the chance to participate in various lectures with topics such as, "Days of Whiskey and Roses" and "Monsters and Lakes." Also, a treasure hunt is planned that will focus on the subject of Scottish cinema and is to be run by movie critic Gidi Orsher. The winner will receive a night at the hotel. "When people come to our hotel they feel as though they're in Europe," Nisanov says, adding that they've designed the festival to build on that. William Wallace would have been proud. Mel Gibson was unavailable for comment. The Scottish Festival, begins on Sunday, May 25 and runs through the 28th at the Scots Hotel in Tiberias. A night at the hotel during the festival costs NIS 875 per person for a double room with a minimum 2 nights stay. Non-hotel guests must make reservations for the events. For more information call (04) 671-0710 or visit www.scotshotel.co.il