Annual Tisha B’Av Walk

The annual Tisha Be’av walk, organized by the Women in Green organization, in held each year in Jerusalem and unites thousands of people from around the country. The walk typically begins at Independence Park with a reading of Megilat Eicha, which is traditionally read on Tisha Be’av every year. Following this, the walking route leads participants to several notable historic sites along the way until ending near the Lion’s Gate in the Old City.

Historian Aryeh Klein has led the walk for many years, and tells several stories of the unique history of Jerusalem along the way which include anecdotes from the Roman era and more recent stories from the Six Day War. Every year, the walk concludes with the singing of “Hatikva,” Israel’s national anthem, and “Ani Ma’amin,” before its participants pray at the Western Wall. The walk is the continuation of the ancient Jewish tradition that ceased during the British Mandate period, but was renewed in the ’90s by Women in Green.

Shavout in Safed

Shavouth/Shavous is one of Judaism’s most important holidays. It is one of the three pilgrimage holidays (the others are Succot and Passover) for which Jews once traveled to Jerusalem and the Temple to bring offerings. Historically, Shavouth commemorates the day when God gave the Torah to the Children of Israel at Mt. Sinai and religiously marks the end of the Counting of the Omer. One of the most widely-observed customs of Shavouth involves staying up throughout the night to study Torah. This tradition was instituted by the ARI, Rabbi Isaac Luria, when he lived in Tzfat in the 16th century.

There are additionally a wide range of English classes on Shavouth night throughout Tzfat neighborhoods.

Local accommodations are available throughout the city, including the Old Jewish Quarter, the Artist Quarter, and the newer Tzfat neighborhoods.

Lag B’Omer

When the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria, came to Tzfat in 1570, he instituted several new customs linking Jewish mysticism with conventional Jewish rituals. Among them included a Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Tsfat, located a 4-hour walk from the tomb of the “Rashbi,” was the logical point from which pilgrims would set off on their pilgrimage. Since the 16th century, Tsfat and Lag B’Omer have been intertwined.

Today, under Knesset law, formal celebrations for Lag B’Omer begin with the Torah procession that begins in Tzfat’s Kikar Abu erev (the day before) Lag B’Omer.

Bonfires are lit throughout the city to commemorate the soldiers of Bar Kochba who fought against the Romans in the 2nd century C.E. The central bonfire is on Mt. Meron. However, throughout Tsfat neighborhoods gather to light their own bonfires. Some of the largest and most active bonfires occur in the Hassidic neighborhoods of Kiryat Chabad (Canaan northern neighborhood), Meor Chaim (Darom-Southern neighborhood), and Kiryat Breslev (just below the Old Jewish Quarter on HaAri Street).

Holiday of Holidays

The Holiday of Holidays Festival will run for its 27th year in Haifa, city of religions, cultures, food, and views.

The festival is an initiative of Beit Ha’Gefen – Arab-Jewish Cultural Center, and the Haifa Municipality, which was founded in 1993 and takes place in Beit Ha’Gefen and Wadi Nisnas and the German Colony in Haifa.

The aim of the festival is to promote and foster tolerance and mutual respect through culture and art.

The festival presents art exhibitions, artist meetings, and various performances with an emphasis on cultural diversity in Haifa and Israel.

The works are displayed both in the public space – the alleys of the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood coming to the German Colony, Haifa, and in the Beit Hagefen Gallery and this year also on billboards throughout the Hadar neighborhood – a special exhibition by Haifa artists!

This year we will celebrate together from 10-20 December – and due to this year’s unique circumstances we will have most of our events On Line.

The Holiday of Holidays festival is the culmination of the year of activity at Beit Ha’Gefen, and is designed in the spirit of the values of Beit Ha’Gefen.
Our activities are based on the belief that interpersonal acquaintance and encounter with another culture, its stories, cultural and spiritual assets, are important for breaking down barriers and building trust between different nationalities, ethnic and religious groups in Haifa and Israel.

Photo credit: Shaula Haitner Pikiwiki Israel

Hanukkah Cooking Class

Hanukkah is almost here! As days grow cold and dark, everyone begins to dream of comfort food. How about adding homemade kreplach to your repertoire?

Back by popular demand, Chef Andrea Quinn will show us how to make these delicious Jewish dumplings. There will be meat and cheese fillings to choose from (or try both if you’re feeling ambitious). Kreplach can be fried to fit the Hanukkah theme, or served in soup. This will be a fun and cozy way to spend an afternoon together.

Get your recipe and shopping list with ticket purchase, and come cook with the Jewish Gateways community. All levels of experience are welcome.

QUESTIONS: Contact Jewish Gateways at info@jewishgateways.org or 510-545-9977.

Chef Andrea Quinn is a Bay Area native with over twenty years of experience as a pastry chef, small business owner, and most recently Resident Chef at Sur La Table.
She has owned and operated bakeries specializing in custom cakes in California and Hawaii and worked in restaurants large and small. Chef Andrea’s core principles are her commitments to quality, sustainability, and team leadership. Her satisfactions working in the industry range from the simple to the grand — from creating a perfect dessert to improving ethics related to food.

We so enjoyed her Rosh Hashanah baking class with Jewish Gateways that we are continuing a holiday-related series of classes with her.

Virtual Israeli Cultural Evening and Chanukah Celebration

Although Chanukah begins Thursday the 10th, tonight the celebrations begin with a special cultural evening.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or even just New Year’s Eve, tonight we are embracing the Holy Land and celebrating the holiday season with a virtual visit to Israel.

On December 9th, embrace the historic spirit of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Tel Aviv in a multi-faceted cultural Israeli evening.

VIRTUAL HISTORIC TOUR OF CHANUKAH

An expert tour guide will join us for a historical tour of the origins of Chanukah.  The Festival of Lights this year begins on the evening of December 10 and runs through the evening of the 18th. This eight-day celebration commemorates the Dedication of the Temple after Judah the Maccabee and his comparatively tiny army led a revolt against the occupying Syrian-Greeks forces.

Through images and discussion, we will revisit the times of the  Maccabees and the miracle of the eight nights. We also get a special virtual tour of how the Jewish people celebrate the holiday in Israel and different parts of the world.

ISRAELI COOKING DEMONSTRATION

An Israeli chef will demonstrate how to make special dishes in time for the holidays.

ISRAELI WINE VIRTUAL DEMONSTRATION

An Israeli wine expert will showcase some special brands, discuss their origins, the proper way to enjoy them, and will offer secrets on how to best get them.

ISRAELI MUSICAL AND DANCE PRESENTATION: 

Get off your chairs and dance along to an Israeli musical presentation and dance presentation from native performers. (Pre Recorded from the Embassy of Israel).

IMAGES FROM ISRAEL

Discover the historical and artistic highlights of Israel– the more you see, the more you’ll seek!

VIRTUAL TOUR OF BETHLEHEM:

Our virtual guide will rejoin us for a tour of modern Bethlehem and show us the sites relevant to the upcoming Christmas celebration.

CHANUKAH CELEBRATION

We will finish the evening with some virtual games, traditions, and mingling.

Tu B’Av

Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av) is undoubtedly a most mysterious day. A search of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun (confession of sins) and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers, and that one should increase one’s study of Torah, since the nights are growing longer, and “the night was created for study.” The Talmud tells us that many years ago the “daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards” on the 15th of Av, and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride.

Tisha B’Av

Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av, is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, on which we fast, deprive ourselves and pray. It is the culmination of the Three Weeks, a period of time during which we mark the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Tzom Tammuz

The fast of the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, known as Shivah Asar B’Tammuz, is the start of a three-week mourning period for the destruction of Jerusalem and the two Holy Temples.

Shavuot

Shavuot, the feast of weeks, is celebrated seven weeks after the second Passover seder. Although Shavuot began as an ancient grain harvest festival, the holiday has been identified since biblical times with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

The word Shavuot means “weeks”, and it marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer. Its date is directly linked to that of Passover; the Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, beginning on the second day of Passover, to be immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the giving of the Torah. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot, they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.

One of the biblically ordained Three Pilgrimage Festivals, Shavuot is traditionally celebrated in the Land of Israel for one day and for two days in the Diaspora. While there is more awareness of the festival in Israel among secular Jews, generally Shavuot is widely ignored by non-practicing Jews.

The practice of staying up all Shavuot night to study Torah – known as Tiqun Leyl Shavuot – is linked to a Midrash which relates that the night before the Torah was given, the Israelites retired early to be well-rested for the momentous day ahead. They overslept and Moses had to wake them up because God was already waiting on the mountaintop. To rectify this perceived flaw in the national character, many religious Jews stay up all night to learn Torah.

Any subject may be studied on Shavuot night, although Talmud, Mishnah, and Torah typically top the list. People may learn alone or with a chavruta (study partner), or attend late-night shiurim (lectures) and study groups. In keeping with the custom of engaging in all-night Torah study, leading 16th century kabbalist Isaac Luria arranged a recital consisting of excerpts from the beginning and end of each of the 24 books of Tanakh (including the reading in full of several key sections such as the account of the days of creation, the Exodus, the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Shema) and the 63 tractates of Mishnah, followed by the reading of Sefer Yetzirah, the 613 commandments as enumerated by Maimonides, and excerpts from the Zohar, with opening and concluding prayers. The whole reading is divided into thirteen parts, after each of which a Kaddish d-Rabbanan is recited when the Tiqun is studied with a minyan. Today, this service is held in many communities, with the notable exception of Spanish and Portuguese Jews. The service is printed in a book called Tiqun Leyl ShavuotThere exist similar books for the vigils before the seventh day of Pesach and Hosha’ana Rabbah.