Simhat Torah: Fun activities in Israel for the long weekend

Take advantage of the elusive autumn; go on nature tours and take part in festivals and activities for the whole family. 

 Paprika Festival (photo credit: Derech Hatavlinim Farm)
Paprika Festival
(photo credit: Derech Hatavlinim Farm)

Even if much of the holidays have passed, the celebration continues – with another long weekend and Simhat Torah events that invite us to rejoice. Take advantage of the elusive autumn; go on nature tours and take part in festivals and activities for the whole family. 

1. Paprika Festival

A great way to mark the holiday of Sukkot is a hop to the traditional Paprika Festival of the Derech Hatavlinim Farm. Now in its 13th year, this colorful festival will provide you with an authentic agricultural experience and a glimpse of the red paprika fields. There will also be workshops and creative activities, a tractor tour, paprika picking, a riddle for the whole family, a water activity complex and soap bubbles for the little ones.

When: Until Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (holidays and Friday until 4 p.m.)Age: From two years oldPrice: Tractor tour, NIS 30 per person; workshops (making a paprika necklace, a paprika plant workshop for home cultivation, the secret paprika mixture workshop) – NIS 45 per person, 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.Details: (04) 953-3405

 Iza Pziza dairy farm (credit: Lior Abulafia) Iza Pziza dairy farm (credit: Lior Abulafia)
2. Iza Pziza dairy farm

During Hol Hamoed, the visitor center of Iza Pziza will hold guided tours of their goat pen, where visitors will be able to the goats, nibble on cheeses made on the farm, and take part in guided cheese-making workshops, where visitors will learn how to make cheeses.

Where: Iza Pziza, Tel ShaharPrice: Depends on activityDetails and registration: www.izapzizadairy.com or (08) 610-2876

3. Hol Hamoed in Acre

During the intermediate days, Acre’s Old City will be filled with tourists meandeirng through the narrow alleys and markets. If you want to experience the city in a slightly different way, you can join a guided tour given by the Economic Society’s tourism department, in collaboration with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and the Tourism Ministry.

“The City Above and the City Below” tour starts in a magical garden and continues to the Crusader city below the earth and above it, the wonderful halls and the streets of the Crusaders. Guides will discuss the two periods when the Crusaders were in Acre, their defeat by Saladin in the Horns of Hattin and their return in the Third Crusade – as a result of which Acre became the capital of the Crusader Kingdom.

The tour will end in the Ottoman city, the Great Market of Acre, the Templar Tunnel and the Lighthouse area.

When: October 14-15 from 1-3:30 p.m.Tour departure point: Cannon Square, in the plaza of the new information centerPrice: NIS 30 per person, all ages Pre-registration: INPA website (en.parks.org.il/)

4. Building with mud and making an arch of bricks

Kibbutz Lotan invites travelers along the Arava Highway to stop for a special activity where you can try your hand at building with mud (mud and straw) and making an arch with mud bricks – which the brave among you can climb.

Building with mud is nothing new, but in the modern world it has pretty much been set aside. At Kibbutz Lotan, which advocates ecological activities, you can become builders for a few hours, mix sand with water and make your own bricks. From all the bricks, you will be able to build a big arch. Of course, the whole activity is accompanied by explanations about building with mud and the correct way to construct a stable arch.

When: October 15 and 18 at 10:30 a.m., with advance registrationPrice: NIS 40 per person from the age of 3Registration: www.bookit.fun/product?productID=GpbzWxpr&affiliateid=Fp1Hzxv

5. The wind turbine farm

The Gilboa and Emakim area is a wonderful place to spend Sukkot. Rich in water attractions, it also contains a fascinating ecological experience – the wind farm in Kibbutz Ma’aleh Gilboa, where you can see up close what renewable energy is, all in a festive atmosphere and good spirit. Situated on Mount Gilboa, the farm houses 14 wind turbines at a height of 75 meters, reservoirs, shafts, tunnels and solar systems. On Hol Hamoed there will be tours where you can briefly learn what renewable energy is, how to use free natural resources, how to make electricity from the wind, and why 6 km. of shafts and huge tunnels were carved deep in the Gilboa.

When: On Hol Hamoed, tours leave every half hour. First tour every weekday at 10:30 a.m. Last tour, on October 14 and 16 at 12:30 p.m.Price: NIS 35 per participant from age 5Details: 052-811-4645 Tickets: windfarm.co.il

6. Sports history in Maccabiah Village

The first Jewish sports museum in the world is open to visitors in the Maccabiah Village. The museum, which will remain open throughout Hol Hamoed, covers a 1,500-square meter area and presents the story of Jewish athletes from the 19th century to the present day, through various periods in history.

You can see about 1,000 rare items such as Gal Friedman’s surfboard, the European Championship trophy of Maccabi Tel Aviv from 1977 and Sandy Koufax’s baseball mitt. Visitors may also enjoy an inflatable complex, a Gymboree for toddlers and a variety of sports activities.

When: The museum will be open until Oct. 17. Tours of it leave every 45 minutes and are suitable for children from age 8. Other sessions are suitable for all ages. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday and holiday eve: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.Museum entrance fee: NIS 79 single ticket; family package of four tickets, NIS 297.

7. Adi in the kitchen: Chocolate workshops

Traveling in the Golan Heights? If you want to add a sweet aspect to the experience, you can stop by for a chocolate workshop at the studio of Adi the Chocolate Artist.

For about an hour and 15 minutes, you will create a personal set of chocolates that you can snack on in the sukkah or in traffic jams on the way home. The kit that you will prepare during the explanation and training includes pralines, chocolate on a stick and other flavors. In the process, you also learn to paint with chocolate, roll truffles and make a crunchy nougat confection.

Where: Hispin, Golan Heights When: Hol Hamoed, by appointmentPrice: NIS 95 per person, ages 2 and upDetails: Adi 054-977-2524, theadi.co.il/

8. Tours and olive picking in Tzipori

In the Tzipori National Park, visitors are invited to take part in guided tours in the heart of the pomegranate orchards of Givat Tzipori, where all Seven Species grow. In addition to visiting the national park and the orchards, you can pick olives, crush and season them, and pack them in a jar to take home. And the children will be able to make an oil lamp like the ancient lamps used in the olden days.

When: October 14-17 at 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; October 14 and 16 also at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; October 15 and 17 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.Price: Free of charge in addition to the entrance fee, with the exception of the crafting and harvesting workshops, which cost NIS 10 each.Tour details: Suitable for all ages, about an hour and a half long.

Translated by Tzvi Joffre.