What to do this Rosh Hashanah? Activites for all the family

Despite COVID-19, Israel’s national parks all over the country are offering festive activities for all ages. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most interesting ones.

LOOK OUT over the beautiful Kziv River (photo credit: IRIS ARBEL/SPNI)
LOOK OUT over the beautiful Kziv River
(photo credit: IRIS ARBEL/SPNI)
While it doesn’t seem this pandemic is going to dissipate any time soon, I am choosing to remain optimistic and thus am making fun plans for outdoor activities for Rosh Hashanah, just a week away. The celebration of the Jewish New Year is a fitting opportunity to pray that all the difficult times are behind us and to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings we’ve been gifted. Despite COVID-19, Israel’s national parks all over the country are offering festive activities for all ages. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most interesting ones.
The Einot Zukim Nature Reserve has extended its hours in honor of the Jewish New Year and will remain open until 6 p.m. The large pool will remain open to bathers until 5 p.m. Hikers and picnickers are invited to splash around in the wading pools and spread out their picnic in the shady areas. Visitors can join guided tours of this uncommon nature site at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. (pre-registration required), where they will hear stories about the Weaver Ant and the Middle Eastern Jewel Beetle that live on the shores of the lowest lake in the world.
Location: Einot Zukim Nature Reserve.
Dates: Friday to Sunday, September 18 to 20, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: NIS 18 to NIS 35 (free for Matmon card holders).
Many people consider Rosh Hashanah to be the “Holiday of Honey.” There are dozens of honey farms spread throughout Israel, and many of them are holding bee- and honey-related activities for the whole family over the holiday weekend. Of course, this year all programs strictly follow purple-tag health restrictions.
The Galil Dan Honey Farm, located in Kibbutz Dan, opened in 1935 and is one of Israel’s most veteran honey farms. It was formed by Kibbutz Dan members, who were among the earliest Jewish settlers of the Hula Valley. Over the years, the farm expanded, and they currently operate over 5,000 hives that are spread around the Galilee and stationed near flowering plants and running water. Galil Dan specializes in honey-based health products, which can be purchased in their store located in nearby Kibbutz Dafna. Guests can watch through the glass sides of the beehive as the queen bee and all the other bees scurry around working busily, and then continue on to the honey processing room and participate in a number of workshops.
If you happen to be in the Arava, I highly recommend stopping off at Porat Farm at Kibbutz Ein Yahav, where you will get to know the amazing story and pioneering spirit of beekeeping in the middle of the desert. Guests can take a tour of the honey processing center and of the bee museum that features close-up photographs and transparent hives. At the boutique store on site, visitors can purchase a wide assortment of honey products.
There will be two live shows in the courtyard: The first one, which will take place on September 10, will be a tribute concert to Bob Marley (tickets NIS 60); the second, which will take place on September 17, will be a tribute concert to Eric Clapton (tickets NIS 70). The Porat Farm Visitor Center is open from Sunday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (pre-registration required). Tours of the visitor center are NIS 20.
Details: Honey-related events throughout Israel, www.honey.org.il
Tour guide Yotam Dahan invites you to join an unforgettable tour of Klil, a community in the western Galilee that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. During the tour, guests will learn about this unique community and meet local growers. The tour begins at the home of Chagit Lidror, where participants will get to taste some of her vegan treats. Next, the tour will meet beekeeper Tuvia Dikman from Tzuf, who will explain how honeybees live in hives with one queen bee, thousands of female worker bees, and hundreds of male drone bees. Afterwards, the guests will be invited to a tasting of a variety of organic honeys. Next, the tour will continue on to Jara Studio for a short tour with artist Batya Margalit. The tour will end with a visit to Klil’s ecological house, where guests will hear what it’s like to live a 100% eco-friendly and sustaining way of life. If you’d like, you can go have lunch at the authentic Druze restaurant in nearby Kfar Julis.
Dates: Today, September 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Details:  050-923-5674, www.westgalil.org.il/
Price: NIS 165. Additional NIS 80 for lunch.
Ofir Honeybee Farm in Alon Hagalil is inviting guests to join them for a fascinating honeybee experience. Guests can join a tour of the bee farm, including an explanation from the local beekeeper about his daily work and the importance of the bee in maintaining agriculture, and viewing the busy bees inside a huge glass beehive. Visitors can don a beekeeper’s protective suit and head covering, taste honey and make candles from beeswax. At the end, you can bake pitot on a taboun and then dip them in the tasty honey. The adults among you are invited to end the visit with a wine tasting at nearby Yifatah’el Winery.
Location: Yifatah’el Winery, Alon Hagalil.
Date: Shabbat, September 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Details and reservations: 052-464-1849, 052-464-1850.
Price: NIS 45 (from age 2).
The Old Courtyard Museum in Ein Shemer will be holding its traditional Rosh Hashanah festival in accordance with purple ribbon guidelines. Starting Sunday morning, the museum will take on an aura of festivities, as children are encouraged to make old-fashioned New Year greeting cards that actually get sent by mail.
Visitors will hear about how honey is produced, see what a beehive looks like inside and learn why bees sting. Of course, there will be a honey-tasting session, following which visitors can browse through the kibbutz movement museum and learn about how the early pioneers lived. Guests can even try on work clothes kibbutz members wore in the olden days, bake bread in an ancient brick oven, and enjoy a ride in a wagon pulled by a tractor.
Date: Sunday, September 20. Activities take around three hours to complete.
To purchase tickets: www.courtyard.co.il.
Price: NIS 38 to NIS 46.
The Mount Gerizim National Park, in cooperation with the Shomron Tourism Association, will be offering a tour of Mount Gerizim led by the director of the site. During the tour, visitors will learn about the culture and traditions of the Samaritan community that resides in the area, including viewing the remains of the ancient Sacred Precinct of the Samaritans. From there, the tour will continue in a neighborhood in their community, where participants will hear about the festival of the seventh month, which Samaritans celebrate on the same day as the first day of Rosh Hashanah.
Location: Mount Gerizim National Park.
Date: Friday, October 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tour lasts three hours and is for advanced hikers.
Pre-registration required: 050-224-6747.
Price: NIS 22 (or NIS 19 for subscription holders).
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel will be offering a guided tour led by Sarah Rotenberg for experienced hikers age 15 and above this Rosh Hashanah in the western Galilee. The tour will begin in Mitzpeh Hila, where you will leave your car and set out on foot towards the Montfort Fortress. Hike participants will get to explore the remains of the fortress and look out over the gorgeous Kziv River running below. The path then descends toward the river, where you will pass underneath plane trees as you walk inside the cool river water.
Meeting point: Mitzpeh Hila parking area.
Date: Sunday, September 20, 11 a.m. Estimated finishing time: 7 p.m.
Price: NIS 58 to NIS 65.
Note: The nine-kilometer trail is for experienced hikers.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.