For those of you located in Israel, August is the month of the Israeli festival. There are several events being held around the country dedicated to Israeli and Jewish culture including music, beer, films, and art. If you are looking for an Israeli summer of fun and variety, look no further than World Jewish Travel’s guide below. This list was personally organized by a Jerusalem local.
The Felicja Blumental International and Israeli Music Festival
The good times start in Tel Aviv at the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival. This festival has been taking place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art since 1999 and features a 5-day long musical program of classical, jazz, and ethnic music. This year, the event will take place from August 3rd to August 7th so you have plenty of time to fit it into your plan while exploring the city.
A History of Jewish Comedians
Tel Aviv is known for its beautiful beaches and colorful culture. The city has some of the most highly-reviewed museums in the country with temporary exhibitions that you don’t want to miss. The newly renovated Museum of the Jewish People has a new exhibit, Let There Be Laughter. It looks at the origins of Jewish humor and the contributions of Jewish comedians to the history of comedy. The Eretz Israel Museum is another highly rated museum with exhibitions of local nature, glass artifacts, and pottery. If you find yourself needing a break from the August heat, these museums are worth adding to your Israeli festival itinerary.
Sunset in the Jewish Quarter
From Tel Aviv, head over to the Holy City of Jerusalem just in time for Shabbat. You’ll want to make sure to stop at the Machane Yehuda market to see the pre-Shabbat hustle and bustle. Taste the fresh halva, nuts, tahini and knafe from the local shops. There are also several restaurants located in or nearby the market where you can grab a bite to eat. Once Shabbat has started, take a walk to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. you’ll find a peaceful atmosphere that you don’t usually get with all of the tourists who visit during the week. Don’t forget that public transportation doesn’t run on Shabbat, so you may want to find a hotel near the old city.
Hutzot Hayotzer: The Potters Section
After a relaxing weekend, you will be ready for the international arts and crafts festival, the Hutzot Hayotzer Fair. The festivities begin on August 8th in one of Jerusalem’s most iconic locations, the Sultan’s Pool, an ancient water basin located in the valley of Hinnom on the west side of Mount Zion. Wrapped in the pines of Jerusalem underneath a sky of stars, visitors can view a variety of handmade goods and art from hammocks to paintings. This is also a spot to catch some of the hottest rock and pop stars in the Israeli music industry. You can also catch dance performances and scheduled workshops.
Klezmer, Kabbalah, and Israeli Art
From the Jerusalem Central Bus Station you can hop on a bus to the mystical birthplace of Kabbalah, Safed. Here the 35th annual Safed Klezmer Festival invites patrons to experience three nights of Klezmer performances starting on August 17th. Don’t miss dozens of Israeli and international bands. During the festival, performances are held throughout the alleyways of the Jewish Quarter and Artist’s Quarter at 9:00 and going until midnight. During the day we recommend attending the festival’s numerous workshops and activities. There is glass blowing, ceramics, tours of the city, or visit the artisans selling their art. If you need a bite to eat during the festival, be sure to check out our recommended restaurants, and visit Safed’s other must-see sites.
The Jerusalem Film Festival
After you’ve had your fill of Klezmer, make your way back to the Holy City just in time for the 39th Jerusalem Film Festival on July 21st. This festival screens a number of Israeli cinematic masterpieces. Additionally, it features films by internationally acclaimed directors and actors with past contributors including Wong Kar Wai, Tsai Ming-Liang, John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Stephen Frears, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jane Fonda, and Robert Dinero; the star-studded list is endless. The opening event will also be held in the Sultan’s Pool. The remaining screenings take place around the city. Featuring the presence of 5000 viewers with 200 films from 50 different countries.