As is the case every year, wine and cheese festivals take over the country for the Shavuot holiday (this year, from sundown June 11 through nightfall June 12). Every farm and boutique winery seems to offer the “best fruit of the land” to mark this harvest festival.

If you’re looking for a bit more movement in your holiday plans, KKL-JNF Shavuot hikes could be the answer.

Volunteers from Israel’s largest green NGO have organized three family hiking routes that relate to the holiday’s symbols and traditions. In ancient times, Shavuot was the day to bring offerings to the Holy Temple from the first fruits of the harvest and the first animals born to the flocks.

“One of the most important goals of KKL-JNF is to bring the love of nature to children and youth,” said KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar.

The following hikes are led in Hebrew, but most KKL-JNF volunteers can answer questions in English.

The First Fruits of the Seven Species (“Shivat Haminim”) nature hike in Ayalon Canada Park (June 10, 10am and 1pm) introduces walkers to the seven species with which the Land of Israel is blessed according to the Bible — wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

The second hike option relates to the Shavuot tradition of dairy cuisine. One possible reason for this custom is that after Moses handed the Torah to the Israelites in the desert on Shavuot, they decided to celebrate with a dairy meal until they could master the laws of kosher slaughter.

A variety of goat cheeses made at Kibbutz Tzuba near Jerusalem. Photo by Kayleigh Rappaport/FLASH90
A variety of goat cheeses made at Kibbutz Tzuba near Jerusalem. Photo by Kayleigh Rappaport/FLASH90

Participants in the “Children cook dairy” hike in the Valleys Park (Amakim Park) on June 11 at 10 am will learn about the environment and gather materials to help cook a meal at the end of the hike.

The one-day holiday of Shavuot  – which is celebrated as a long weekend in Israel this year – is also marked with water fights and water hikes, as the Torah is often likened to water.

The KKL-JNF’s Wet hike at Springs Park at the foot of Mount Gilboa (June 12, 10am) takes hikers through the Tzvika Force wet trail in Ein Shokek, a magical fountain and pool in the heart of Springs Valley. There’s also a new water route that connects Ein Shokek with the Park’s Mill Pond.

Hikers relax by a spring in the Golan Heights. Photo by Louis Fisher/FLASH90
Hikers relax by a spring in the Golan Heights. Photo by Louis Fisher/FLASH90

After the hikes, a visit to one of the country’s many wine and cheese festivals could be the perfect rest stop.

The White Wine Festival returns to Herzliya Marina (June 8-9); Jacob’s Dairy  in the community of Kfar Haroeh in Emek Hefer is hosting its annual Shavuot dairy smorgasbord (June 8-9); and Vitkin Winery, Golan Heights Winery and Dalton Winery  are parading their Israeli wines  in separate June 10 events.

All KKL-JNF hikes cost a nominal fee (NIS 10-NIS 25) and must be booked in advance: 1-800-350-550.