The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is celebrating the Sukkot holiday by looking back — way, way back — with a variety of fun and interesting historical re-enactments at national parks around the country.
The site of the ancient city of Sepphoris (also Tsippori), “the glory of the Galilee”, is home to Israel’s longest-running reenactment experience and visitors are invited to walk through the site, meet with players, listen to a musical performance, take a guided tours, or participate in art workshops and food stalls. During Sukkot, Tsippori will open its gates to dozens of artists and artisans in the spirit of Roman times.
The Ancient Celebrations at Caesarea will present public performances of theater inspired by arts common in the Roman period: acting, singing and dancing; circus arts, acrobatics and fire shows; stage battles, and musicians playing period instruments such as the harp, lute, flute and drums.
Street performers will re-enact daily life in the commercial harbor of ancient Caesarea, discussing issues of the day. There will also be a Roman open market featuring traders, craftsmen and artisans in the spirit of the times, such as potters, shoemakers, weavers, jewelers, painters and sculptors, with handicrafts for sale.
The Nabataean city of Mamsheet was an important station on the Incense Road during the 1st century BC. Today, it is one of Israel’s best-restored archeological sites with intact streets, buildings, courtyards, terraces and alleyways — all of which will come to life during Sukkot with a real street market.
The 16th annual Shuk Mamsheet features carpet-sellers, tool-makers, spice vendors, glass blowers, potters, carpenters, storytellers, musicians and dancers. There will also be a nighttime music and dance performance, illuminated by the light of lanterns, stars and fire jugglers.
The Asphalt Theater group brings their unique brand of outdoor fantasy theater to ancient Masada in a new show that combines acting, circus skills, combat, live music and innovation. The action takes place at the top of the Masada National Park, a World Heritage Site.
Moving up through history is the Yehiam Renaissance Faire, now in its 22nd year. The festival site, the Crusader fortress at Yehiam Fortress National Park, invites knights and ladies into a fascinating world of costume and decor. Performances include medieval Jewish, Arabic, Italian and Spanish music music played on period instruments as well as classical music concerts. There will be street performances, an arts and crafts fair, and guided tours of the fort detailing its history from Crusader times on through Israel’s War of Independence.
For those who prefer the prehistoric to the historic, there is the Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve at Mount Carmel (also known as the Wadi el-Mughara Caves), a UNESCO World Heritage Site that indicates prehistoric settlement. Visitors are invited to dress and make themselves up like their ancient ancestors, build instruments and create cave art from natural materials.
At Apollonia National Park, the Chevalier Jacques de Avance presents the five elements necessary for every child to be a knight, prince or princess through a variety of puzzles and tasks.
At Tel Megiddo, a one-man show presented by “adventurer-archaeologist Yerachmiel Jones, the man who’s seen everything” — is a humorous journey into the past. And at the Hof Dor Pirate Festival on October 11, everyone gets to be a environmental buccaneer for a day, fighting danger and protecting the sea turtles at the Dor Habonim Beach Nature Reserve. This colorful festival for the whole family includes tours, treasure hunts and crafts using recycled materials.
These and more national parks around the country will be celebrating Israel’s history this Sukkot. The full schedule (Hebrew only) is available on the Israel Nature and Parks Authority website.