Out and about for Shavuot

Off the beaten track, there are a number of offbeat activities being offered around the country.

basket weaving_521 (photo credit: courtesy)
basket weaving_521
(photo credit: courtesy)
The naked truth
As the religious holiday that marks the harvesting of the first fruits, Shavuot may be a good occasion to try things out for the first time. If you have never stripped off in public before – along with several dozen or hundred others – and you think that might help you unwind and commune with yourself and nature, the Pashut (Simple) Festival at the Ashram in the Desert in the Arava might be just for you.
The organizers of the annual four-dayer (June 8-11) are offering patrons the opportunity to shed some emotional and, if they so wish, some physical layers and get into a cleansing “community experience.” They stress, however, that there is no obligation to go “au naturel” and that nudity is optional.
The Ashram site will be divided into four areas relating to four different avenues of activity: the tribal site, the body art compound, the movement site, and the body awareness area. Experienced professionals in the respective fields will run workshops, and there will be music shows and Shavuotrelated events as well.
The festival menu is strictly vegetarian, and visitors are asked not to bring fish or meat to the site.
For tickets and more information: www.desertashram.co.il, desertashram@gmail.com, (08) 632- 3463 and 052-544-3349
Out of this world
Elsewhere down south, Sapir Park in the Arava is offering a somewhat offbeat dairy approach to the holiday with a chance to get a closer look at the Milky Way, the moon and several other of our better known celestial bodies. Just in case you still believe that the moon is made of green cheese, you might want to check that out for yourselves, between June 7 and 11, with the help of veteran astronomer Yonatan Alikis, who will be at the park with his mobile observatory unit. The unit contains a range of telescopes, and Alikis will provide layman-term explanations for children, youth and adults about some of the stars and planets we can see from Earth.
There will be two sessions per evening – from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for families with small children, and from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. for adults and youths of 16 and over. For more information: 054-686- 9582 and www.astrofun.co.il
Bible and Love Festival
The ninth annual Bible and Love Festival will take place at the Beit Govrin National Park between June 8 and June 12. There is a rich entertainment program laid on for the occasion, with stellar lineups including the likes of Din Din Aviv, Etti Ankri and Hemi Rudner singing material from the repertoire of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach at The Bible in the Soul show. There will also be some merry Hassidic music available at the Hassidic Song Festival Salute slot, which features veteran performers Miri Aloni, Hanan Yuval, Oshik Levy and Shuli Natan, as well as a choir and an instrumental ensemble.
There will be something of a regional ethnic flavor at the Hai Peimot concert spearheaded by internationally acclaimed percussionist Zohar Fresco, who will perform with Greece-based lyra player Ross Daly and fellow Crete-based lyra player Kyle Toma, and Israeli singer Keren Hadar. The players will perform material inspired by the legacy of ancient Jewish culture.
The main item in the festival program is a tribute to chansonnier-actor Yossi Banai, who died five years ago. The star-studded lineup for the If We Can Just Love concert includes actor Moshe Ivgy, singer-songwriters Shlomi Shaban and Corinne Alal, and actor-comics Tiki Dayan, Keren Mor and Menashe Noy.
For more tickets: (03) 604-5000 and (08) 850-0724/5. For more information: (08) 850-2240 or www.touryoav.org.il
Cool and cooler
Despite last weekend’s brief but welcome precipitation, water is not always a readily accessible item in our natural surroundings. However, a visit to the Springs Park near Beit She’an, where spring water flows right year round, should help to keep the brow cool. Electric-powered vehicles are available for hire for a tour of the park. Visitors going for that option on Wednesday morning between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. will be given a free, well-stocked picnic hamper in the bargain. For more details: (04) 688-1427
While you’re in the area, you can mix your entertainment pleasure with some wholesome outdoor activities as part of the Shavuot in the Valley of the Springs program.
The highly varied agenda includes a family excursion to Naharyaim in the Jordan Valley, where the Yarmuk River and Jordan River meet. Between June 8 and 10 there will be guided tours of the site, sound and light shows, and a chance to dress up as the first pioneers who came to the area in the early part of the 20th century. For more details: (04) 675-2685.

Basket weaving and cooking workshops
Staying in the north, you can join the fifth Basket Weaving Festival at the Spice Route (Derech Hatavlinim) in Beit Lehem Haglilit. Weavers from around the country will compete and fill the place up with baskets of many shapes and forms. Visitors will be invited to participate in weaving workshops (NIS 25-35). There will also be baking workshops (NIS 50), spice mixing and gourmet cooking workshops, kids’ activities and tasting corners. June 8-9.
Call (04) 953-3405, www.derechhatavinim.co.il
As the dove flies
On Thursday night, at the tail end of the holiday, Dimona residents can benefit from this year’s Israel Festival decision to includes a number of events in their city. At 8:30 p.m., the Gaon Hall in the southern town will host a performance of Maof Hayonah (The Flight of the Dove) by Ruth Kenar’s theater group. The production is an adaptation of the Yuval Shimoni book of the same name, which tells the tale of a tourist couple and a single woman in Paris. The couple’s and the woman’s life trajectories intersect when they all go out one night to the Notre Dame Cathedral, but with very different intentions.
For more information: (08) 655- 4950