Soul-stirring slihot tours

This year, the slihot tours will continue until the middle of September right up until Yom Kippur.

HEAR THE call of the High Holy Days in the Old City’s narrow alleyways. (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
HEAR THE call of the High Holy Days in the Old City’s narrow alleyways.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
As we bid goodbye to the summer and immerse ourselves in the month of Elul, which leads up to Rosh Hashanah, the time has come for some serious soul searching. In recent years, many more religious as well as non-observant Jews have begun participating in tours, workshops and concerts in Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberias to help prepare us spiritually for the coming High Holy Days. Many of these visits include the recitation of (or listening to) slihot, prayers that provide us with a soul-stirring introduction to the Days of Awe.
This year, the slihot tours will continue until the middle of September right up until Yom Kippur. These trips are a great way for people to learn about the customs of Elul and hear the wonderful tunes used to recite the slihot prayers. Some of the tours include singing accompanied with musical instruments and the telling of mystical stories, all of which help us get into the spirit of the High Holy Days.
Here’s a list of some of the slihot tours open to the public this year:
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the most awesome place to experience a slihot tour is the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The narrow alleyways fill with curious people who are searching for a powerful experience. Some tours are led by actors who act out a number of scenes as you make your way through the streets of the Jewish Quarter.
The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City offers a tour that begins at the Jaffa Gate and from there continues through the Arab shuk. One of the stops is at the ancient Moroccan synagogue Tzuf Dvash, where you’ll meet the synagogue’s sexton (played by an actor) who will welcome everyone while singing the slihot prayers. From there, the tour will continue on through the narrow alleyways to the Cardo and the Hurva Synagogue, where you’ll have a view over the entire quarter and hear the unique and moving story of the multiple destructions of the synagogue.
When: Tours will take place Sundays through Thursdays, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Length: 2.5 hours
Price: NIS 65
Pre-registration required: or *4987
In a little village in the Western Galilee called Peki’in, people from four different communities all live in harmony. The public is invited to participate in a slihot tour of Peki’in organized by Otzrot Hagalil in which they will visit the Zinati House – the Jewish Heritage Center in Peki’in. Tour participants will use the light of lanterns to move from place to place on this family-friendly tour. Visitors will meet the captivating Margalit Zinati, the last Jew living in the village, who lit a torch in this year’s official Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem. During the tour, guests will get to visit the cave where according to tradition Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai hid.
Dates: September 6 and 12 at 7 p.m.
Length: 2.5 hours
Meeting Point: Main road where it descends to Rashbi Cave (there are signs)
Price: Adults NIS 60, children NIS 40
Details: or 077-996-4430
During September and right up until Yom Kippur, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation organizes dozens of nightly slihot tours. Jerusalem’s Old City – especially the Kotel area – fills up with people coming from all over the world to pray or visit the holy site. If you’d like to join a special musical slihot tour, in which renowned musician Daniel Zamir will perform, this is the tour for you.
Length: 2 hours
Price: NIS 54 to NIS 98
Registration: or *5958
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel will be conducting a slightly different slihot tour this year, which will take place in the ancient city of Shilo. During the tour, participants will learn about the meaning of forgiveness and engage in soul-searching as they hear stories about Shiloh, which was the first capital of ancient Israel. Guests will be invited to share their thoughts about the ability of human beings to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others their transgressions.
The tour will be guided by the Ofra Field School.
Open to participants from age 18.
Date: Thursday, September 13
Price: NIS 73 to NIS 88
Details: or (03) 638-8688
In the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Nahalat Shiva you’ll find The Museum of Jewish Music, which specializes in the music of the Jewish people related to hisorical periods and regions. During the weeks leading up to Yom Kippur, there will be family-friendly experiential tours in the museum that include musical performances, storytelling and the singing of liturgical poems that are traditionally sung during the High Holy Days. Visitors will be introduced to various musical instruments that were played in Jewish communities in ancient times, and at the end of the tour will be treated to a delightful slihot concert.
Location: 10 Yoel Salomon Street, Jerusalem
Date: Until September 17
Length: 75 minutes
Price: NIS 70
Pre-registration required: (02) 540-6505
During the weeks that lead up the Ten Days of Repentance, the city of Safed is ensconced in a veil of mysticism as people fill the narrow streets of this ancient holy city. Every day as the sun sets in Elul and in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, dozens of people take to the streets and hop from one ancient synagogue to another where learned rabbis will be waiting to engage visitors and blow the shofar for them.
Some of the interesting stops on this magnificent tour include the Abuhav, Alsheikh and Ha’ari synagogues, which were built in the 15th and 16th centuries. All of these synagogues still operate as active places of worship, so you can go there and hear the slihot prayers being recited in the days leading up to Yom Kippur.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.