Slihot tours

Slihot tours originated in the Old City of Jerusalem, but nowadays you can also find tours in Safed, Peki’in, Tiberias, and Bnei Brak.

Safed (photo credit: TALI BEN-AVRAHAM)
(photo credit: TALI BEN-AVRAHAM)
Slihot tours take place in Elul, the last month of the Jewish year, when we recite the slihot prayers in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. These tours, which have become quite trendy over the past few years, are a great way to connect with your spirituality while you visit meaningful Jewish heritage sites. The month of Elul is meant to be a time of introspection, when we look deep inside our souls in search of ways to improve ourselves.
Slihot tours originated in the Old City of Jerusalem, but nowadays you can also find tours in Safed, Peki’in, Tiberias, and Bnei Brak. Some guides offer fascinating stories about mystical events, while others sing beautiful liturgical prayers. If you’re lucky, you might get to experience a little of both. Here is a list of some of my favorites.
Tower of David Museum
The Tower of David Museum is once again offering slihot tours that take participants back in time to show them how Jews lived in the Old City of Jerusalem in the years before they ventured outside the protective city walls. The tour begins in the Phasael Tower, which is the tallest tower in all of the Old City, and offers an incredible view of the Old City, as well as the more modern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The next stops are the Hafir Fortress, which was built in the Middle Ages, and the Kishle Prison, which was used by the Ottomans and later the British. During the tour, guests will be treated to a musical workshop led by David Cohen Nehemia. The tour culminates at the Kotel.
Dates: September 23 & 25, 10 p.m.
Length: 2 hours.
Price: Adults NIS 50, students NIS 40.
Safed has always been a magnet for Jews in search of mystical answers. During the month of Elul, the public is invited to partake in the Safed Slihot Festival in this holy city in northern Israel, which involves guided tours, lectures and lots of great storytelling. From now until Yom Kippur, special musical evenings will take place every Thursday starting at 21:30 at the Ma’ayan Haradum outdoor amphitheater in the Safed Artists’ Quarter. Afterward, guests can join guided magical musical tours of the Old City, which culminate with slihot prayers at 12:15 a.m. at the Abuhov, Avritz and Ashkenazi Ari synagogues.
Dates: Thursday nights: September 26, October 3 & 10.
Tower of David Museum (Credit: ITAI MONIKANDAM)Tower of David Museum (Credit: ITAI MONIKANDAM)
The Otzrot Hagalil initiative wants to help visitors connect with their Jewish roots on a special nightly slihot tour led by the light of oil lamps in the village of Peki’in. The tours are led in conjunction with the Zinati House and Heritage Center. Jews have lived in this village in harmony with their neighbors of different religions for more than 2,000 years. The tour starts at the Rashbi Cave, where participants will be welcomed with a guitar serenade and be handed oil lamps.
From there, the tour will continue on to the Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai Cave, where the participants will be encouraged to talk about their spiritual connection with the Jewish holy days. Next, the tour will continue on to the spring, after which guests will meet with local Druze residents, who will offer them juice, coffee and tea. The highlight of course is a visit to the restored Zinati House, where they will hear stories from Margalit Zinati herself, who has lived in Peki’in her entire life.
Meeting point: Main road of the village, where it leads down towards the Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai Cave.
Date: October 7, 7 p.m.
Length: 2 hours.
Price: Adults NIS 60, children NIS 40.
Nebi Samwil
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is inviting visitors to enjoy a musical outing in nature at the Nebi Samwil Park. During this unique slihot tour, visitors will discover the roots of ancient prayer, hear about renewal at Hannah’s Spring, and learn about a number of ancient communities in the area. And if you climb up to the roof, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the entire region. The day will end with a lovely songfest, which will be accompanied by musicians playing kamanjas and darbukas.
Date: September 26, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. (The tour begins at the entrance to the site at 5 p.m., slihot concert at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Nebi Samwil Park.
Caesarea (Credit: MERAV LAZAR)Caesarea (Credit: MERAV LAZAR)
Bnei Brak
A city that never sleeps – Bnei Brak – is the perfect locale for a slihot tour. Dorit Barak, who was born and raised in the city, and identifies as National-Religious, is intent on explaining to outsiders that it’s possible for everyone to live together in harmony.
Note: Participants must come in respectful attire.
Dates: September 25, October 7 & 15, 6 p.m.
Length: 3 hours.
Price: NIS 100.
Pre-registration required: 052-758-8666
Eshkolot Tours is offering the public wonderful slihot tours in Caesarea in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Guests will hear fascinating stories about historical characters who lived on the site in ancient times, and will be treated to an enjoyable sing-along of Israeli folk music.
Dates: September 26 and October 3, 8:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Price: NIS 20.
Moshav Givat Koah
The Modi’in Region is home to a unique Jewish Cochin community at Moshav Givat Koah. A number of families from Chendamangalam on the southwest coast of India immigrated to Israel and built their homes and the Heichal Nehemia Synagogue on the moshav. The impressive synagogue includes pieces that were a part of the original 200-year-old structure back in India. Guests will hear stories about the community and get to taste some of the fabulous Cochin delicacies that are traditionally prepared in honor of the Jewish New Year.
Length: 75 minutes.
Price: NIS 20 (minimum 10 participants).
Registration: 052-429-8972.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.