Sunday, 21 October 2012

Weekdays of the Festival

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which we celebrated recently, commemorates the years that the Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Sukkot is also known as the 'Feast of Tabernacles' or the 'Feast of Booths', because we literally build a booth, or Sukkah, in our gardens or on our balconies to celebrate the festival and to commemorate the Sukkahs in which our forefathers sat when they came out of slavery in Egypt.
The essential thing about the booth is that it should have a roof of branches and leaves through which you can see the sky, and that it should be a temporary thing. Below you can see what our Sukkah looked like this year. I have collected the decorations that the boys have made over the years and, whilst they cringe when they see them, I love seeing their different creations and how their crafting has changed over time.
The six days between the festivals of Sukkot and Simchat Torah are referred to as Chol HaMoed, or "weekdays [of] the festival". Many activities which are forbidden on the festival days are permitted on the days of Chol HaMoed (except if it is also Shabbat) such as using electricity or driving a car. Hard work is ruled out and so the days become a time to have fun and relax. We made sure that we did!
Our first stop was at The Olympic Experience in Tel Aviv. This relatively new museum is sectioned into five parts to correspond with the five interlocking Olympic rings. We took a guided, one-hour tour which included a bit of historical background, the Israeli experience and highlights of sporting achievements. We all had a great time.
Afterwards we took a picnic into the nearby Yarkon Park. It seemed that the wildlife was out in force that day and the youngest son and I enjoyed a little duck-spotting and a coypu, an animal we have only previously seen up north at the Hula Lake, graced us with his, or her, presence too.
The next day we joined friends on a short hike in the area of Mount Horesha and the Talmon Spring (the name Talmon comes from the family name of the family of gatekeepers of the Temple in Jerusalem). We crawled through a series of underground caves and the youngest son splashed in the spring. The olives trees were heavy with fruit and the sun was shining. Our hike was a little too short for my liking but we were in good company. Another lovely day.
That same evening we went to the circus! The city where I live, Modi'in, hosted an International Circus Festival with loads of free performances. We watched acrobats and clowns, and a tightrope act from Switzerland and Finland dancing on thin steel rope. The Dream Engine aerial show, below, had an acrobat suspended beneath a helium balloon, spiralling and spinning and generally thrilling the audience. Our favourite? The 'Salta Mortale' flea circus where the somersaulting fleas were shot from miniature cannons and performed circus acts. Who wants to discuss with my boy whether the fleas really existed or not? 
The eldest son came back from his youth group camp two days into the holiday and together we went back to Tel Aviv to visit The Israeli Museum at The Yitzhak Rabin Centre. The museum presents two parallel stories: the history of the State and Israeli society, and the biography of Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's fifth Prime Minister who served two terms in office, from 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995.
The high-tech museum is built on a downward spiral, with exhibition halls connected to the main corridor. We spent a good couple of hours watching documentary films and examining photographs and memorabilia. It really required a lot of patience and concentration but was an important history lesson for all the members of my family, young and old alike.
Below, you can see a great view of Tel Aviv's skyline, taken from the balcony of The Israeli Museum, and below that, the sun setting at the end of the day at Tel Aviv Port, where we went after our museum visit, to consume delicious Max Brenner chocolate desserts. Yum!
A round of applause to those of you who got to the end of this post! Believe it or not, I have another delightful place to tell you about but I am going to keep it for another time. We really did have a busy, but very enjoyable, few days. Bring on the next Chol HaMoed on Passover.


Miss Val's Creations said...

Beautiful pictures Lisa! I wish we had a celebration like this in the US where we actually take some time to relax. The decorations remind me of my family's Christmas tree as a child. My parents would always hang the ornaments my brothers and I made over the years. I would cringe the same way your boys do!

The birds wonderful. I love those bright orange feet on the top left one! The outdoor circus acts must have been a delight to see.

Additionsstyle said...

Looks like it was a lovely event, and a lot of fun. What amazing photos! It must have been a fun way to spend a holiday. Your last photo of the sunset is spectacular.
Everyday Inspired

Wendy ten Hove said...

Such lovely photos! Great to see what's going on in your part of the world! Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Wendy

Denise Kiggan said...

Thnaks for the applause!
It makes me realise just how much more there is for us to do and see on our next trip! [Whenever that might be.] How lovely that you've kept your children's decorations.