Rosh Hashanah: Special holiday slihot tours in Israel for the holidays

In honor of the Jewish New Year, a number of national parks around the country will be offering festive activities and special guided slihot tours.

 Ein Keshatot (photo credit: AMIR BUCHNIK)
Ein Keshatot
(photo credit: AMIR BUCHNIK)

Rosh Hashanah, which will begin Sunday night, is a wonderful time to visit historical and nature sites all around Israel. A hike or educational outing to a national heritage site will add a special dimension to the holiday season. 

In honor of the Jewish New Year, a number of national parks around the country will be offering festive activities and special guided slihot tours, which traditionally take place in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Ein Keshatot

The Ein Keshatot National Heritage Site will be holding festive slihot tours on the upcoming two Fridays. This is a great way to visit Ein Keshatot, which was revamped this past year, and hear fascinating stories about the lives of the people who lived in this community in ancient times. Live singing accompanied by musical instruments will be incorporated into the tour. 

During the tour, visitors can view artifacts from the Talmudic era found in the ancient synagogue. One of the highlights of the visit to the synagogue is seeing the Torah ark, which has been so well preserved. 

The tours at Ein Keshatot, which are run by the Tourism Ministry, include a short film that encompasses the history of the Jews who lived in this ancient village.

Tours are appropriate for the whole family.

Dates: Friday, September 30, at 11 a.m. Tours last 90 minutes. 

Details and ticket purchase:

 Apollonia National Park (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Apollonia National Park (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
2. Apollonia National Park

This Rosh Hashanah, the public is invited to celebrate the festive holiday at Apollonia National Park. Here you can view the beautiful natural surroundings, feel the marvelous sea breeze and visit the intriguing historical sites. Plus on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, guests at the national park will have a chance to participate in a festive kite launching. 

Come celebrate the Jewish New Year by creating a kite with your kids (or you can buy one on-site, or bring your own from home) and then launching it up into the sky near the ancient fortress as the wind from the sea lifts it toward the heavens. What a great way to think about your wishes for a happy, sweet New Year! In addition, there will be guided tours of Apollonia National Park.

Date: Monday, September 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 

No additional cost on top of the entrance fee.

3. Gan Garoo

Just in time for Rosh Hashanah, Gan Garoo has reopened its doors after four months of renovations. Gan Garoo, the Australian-style zoo located at the foot of Mount Gilboa, recently planted more than 1.5 acres of new grass, as well as more than 40 trees to provide shade for the kangaroos. Guests can enjoy the waterfalls, aesthetic rock formations and benches in shaded rest areas – and feed the kangaroos.

September and October dates: Sunday, September 25 (Rosh Hashanah eve) until 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, September 26 & 27, until 5 p.m. Price: NIS 60 (from age 2 and up)

4. Jezreel Valley Museum

The Jezreel Valley Museum at Kibbutz Yifat will be conducting special tours of its honey house. During the tours, participants will be treated to fun activities, such as a beeswax workshop or watching bees go about their business in a beehive. You can also join an intuitive and creative game using recycled materials in which you can create anything your heart desires. 

In addition, visitors are welcome to walk through the museum and learn about the lives of pioneers who worked the land and lived on kibbutzim and moshavim in the pre-state years. 

Dates: Monday and Tuesday, September 26 & 27, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Price: NIS 30 (from age 2).Details: (04) 654-8974

5. Havayama 

If your family enjoys swimming and boating, you might want to check out a new app called Havayama. It provides audio directions and an interactive map that will help you navigate and find your way to lots of hidden gems in and around the Kinneret. When you rent a motorboat (no special sailing license required), you can use the laptop included to find your way around. 

Location: Nof Ginosar Beach (Write “Beit Yigal Alon” in Waze).Dates: Sunday, September 25 (Rosh Hashanah eve) and Tuesday, October 4 (Yom Kippur eve), 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.Details: 

6. Kaveret Honey Factory in Beit Horon 

This is the perfect time of year to visit the Rosner Kavaret Honey Factory and café in Beit Horon, where you will get a glimpse of the fascinating life of bees. Guests can watch the bees busy at work inside a synthetic hive with clear plastic walls. 

There’s also a short film to explain the process, and candle-making and pita baking workshops. And if you time your visit properly, you just might be there when the beekeeper collects the honey from inside the hive. 

Visitors will learn about the important role bees play in pollination, the structure of beehives and the beekeeper’s protective clothing. At the end of the day, all the guests are welcome to collect a complimentary jar of honey. 

Dates: School vacation days; pre-registration required Price: NIS 40Details: 052-423-9010. [email protected];

 Kochav Hayarden National Park (credit: YUVAL MORAN/SPNI) Kochav Hayarden National Park (credit: YUVAL MORAN/SPNI)
7. Kochav Hayarden National Park

In case you haven’t noticed, many types of birds have begun their yearly migration from Europe over Israel to their wintering grounds in Africa. If you are an avid or amateur bird watcher, you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of festivals in Israel scheduled around the biannual migration of birds over Israel, as well as birds that make Israel their home every winter. There are a number of spots in the country where you can see migrating birds up close. 

One place is Kochav Hayarden, where families and visitors can join in activities and games in which you learn about the different birds and their migration patterns. Each day at 10:30 a.m. guests can join informational sessions; at 1 p.m. watch as birds of prey that were injured and rehabilitated in the animal hospital are released back into nature. 

Dates: Every Shabbat during September, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.Price: No additional cost on top of entrance fee

8. Masada 

When was the last time you climbed Masada? If it’s been a long time, you are invited to join a guided tour that will take you up to this hilltop that has become a symbol of the Jewish people’s determination to be free from oppression within the land of their ancestors. 

During this program, run by the Tourism Ministry, participants will view firsthand the remains left from King Herod’s palace, with its three terraces, as well as water cisterns, huge warehouses and an observation deck overlooking the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert. 

Participants can walk up the Roman Ramp Path, which takes about 20 minutes to complete, or on the Snake Path, which takes about 75 minutes. Alternatively, visitors can take the cable car one or both ways.  

Location: Masada National ParkDates: Every Shabbat in September at 6:30 a.m. Price for hiking on the walking paths does not require an additional payment on top of the entrance fee.

Translated by Hannah Hochner. ❖