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  • Talma Gotteiner

Haifa: A Preview of the 'Festival of Festivals'

Hi there!

A quadranscentennial ago, someone in the multicultural city of Haifa, had a brilliant idea to celebrate all the major religious holidays together since chronologically they all occured within a few days of each other. The "Festival of Festivals" has grown since then into a celebration of outdoor walking tours, street performances, christmas parades and delicious food from the city's finest! I am happy to share with you a taste of the planned events.

WHEN: Throughout December. Most events take place surrounding the weekends Thurs - Sun.

Festival of Festivals, Haifa

Festival Highlights

  • An urban nature tour 'From Black to Green'

  • Beit HaGefen Theater

  • The House of Grace

  • Lunch at 'Garden' and Dessert at 'Douzan' in the German Colony

Urban Nature Tour 'From Black to Green' Two years ago, the neighborhod of Romema in Haifa suffered from a wave of fires that turned all the open space in the neighborhhod from green to charred black. Today, I am happy to say that the municipality of Haifa together with consultants and local residents where able to revive and reshape the area into a urban walking path amidst the mediterannean forest with views of Haifa's bay. The festival of festivals is hosting a new premiere tour led by agronomists Hanoch Burger and Khaled Hamoud through the lovely urban grove telling the story of the restoration.

The 'Black to Green' Tours will take place on Fridays 7,14 & 21 Dec 2018 at 10:00

Black to Green Tour, Festival of Festivals, Haifa 2018

Above: To the left in the vest, Hanoch Burger a consulting agronomist and to the right in black, Eli Alkabetz from the Municipality of Haifa.

Beit HaGefen Theater 'Beit HaGefen' is an Arab - Jewish Cultural Center that was founded in 1993 in the heart of the German colony. During the 'Festival of Festivals' it will be hosting three free lessons of Arabic all accompanied by music played on a Kanun/Qanun (a string instrument) led by Avshalom Farjun. The first lesson will present the interaction between Hebrew and Arabic (7.12). The second will be dedicated to holding an introductory conversation in Arabic (14.12) and the last will discuss the Hebrew in the Bible in light of the Arabic language (21.12). Each session will last for two hours.

Beit HaGefen Theater, Festival of Festivals, Haifa 2018

Clockwise from top right: Hila Goshen, Artistic Director of the Festival, Yael Messer, Beit HaGefen Gallery Curater and Asaf Ron, CEO of Beit HaGefen.

Also, this year 'Beit HaGefen' will inaugurate a new space of activity, "The Third Space: A Space for Art and Education". The space is the new wing of the Beit Hagefen Gallery, which will offer the audience experiences that combine works of art and activities focusing on life skills in a multi-cultural society. In general, aside from the gallery, several concerts will be held at Beit HaGefen as well as three free Arabic lessons accompanied by music played on a Kanun/Qanun (a string instrument) led by Avshalom Farjun. Some of the events will be open to the public for free and others require advance purchasing of tickets. Also, 'Beit HaGefen' will be included in some of the festival tours.

Festival of Festivals, Haifa 2018

Above: The christmas tree at 'Garden', a day view of the German Colony and a selfie from the 'Black to Green' tour so you know I was there.

The House of Grace The 'House of Grace' is a hidden gem in the heart of the German Colony. Located in the first Greek Catholic cathedral dating back from 1862, is a social project that was envisioned by an Arab Christian family for rehabilitation of released prisoners before they return to society. The main hall of the cathedral still serves for prayers and concerts, but the back end has been turned into a hostel. The father of the family and founder of the project, Kamil Shehade has recently had a plaza named after him in honor of his important contribution to society. Fortunately, the family continues his work. We met his son Jamal as well as one of the tour guides, Ulfat Haider who will be leading a women's tour that will pass through the 'House of Grace'.

House of Grace, Festival of Festivals, Haifa 2018

Clockwise from top left: Jamal Shehade son of Kamil and Ulfat Haider, tour guide.

Lunch at 'Garden' and Dessert at 'Douzan' If you like trying modern updates to traditional food, you'll enjoy these two neighboring restaurants on Ben-Gurion Avenue Haifa, the main street of the German Colony where all the action will be.

Our meal at 'Garden' consisted of delicacies such as meat or cheese filled giabettas, kebabs baked in a pan under a pita blanket and grilled cauliflower salad with Tahini and Amba sauces. The owner Tair Halifa welcomes you.

Garden, Festival of Festivals, Haifa 2018

Above: Tair Halifa, owner of 'Garden'

Our desserts at 'Douzan' consisted of a few mouth-watering desserts: a chocolate cream cake, a raspberry cheesecake and owner Fady's take on Malabi. Everything vanished within 2 seconds without my assistance. Fady also welcomes you.

Douzan, Festival of Festivals, Haifa 2018

Above: Padi, owner of 'Douzan'

The best news is that all the information is available in English on the Festival Website.

Have fun and Season's Greetings! Talma

P.S. You can see some of my related trip posts in the strip below. Also, if you're interested in travel-related offers, you're welcome to view my 'best deals' page. Subscribers also have 'members only' benefits such as my updated events bulletin. To subscribe go here.

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