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  • Talma Gotteiner

Jerusalem: A Preview Trip for Hannukah 2019

Hi there!

I was invited to visit some of the sites in Jerusalem that are planning holiday activities for tourists and visitors.

Trip Itinerary

  • The Menachem Begin Heritage Center

  • Plugat HaKotel Museum (i.e. The Museum of the Western Wall Platoon)

  • The Jerusalem Botanical Garden

  • Beit Mazia Theater Jerusalem - The International Jewish Festival for Contemporary Art

Trip Details

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center offers an unconventional multi-sensory audiovisual experience that takes visitors on a fascinating time journey into the life of one of the most prominent leaders in the country's history who played a major role in some of the most dramatic and exciting moments of the State of Israel. The experience appeals to all the visitor's senses through rare films, interactive touch screens, accompanying soundtrack, dramatic lighting, multiple restorations as well as original items.

The museum tours are an experience for the whole family and can be visited only as part of a guided tour with prior coordination. They take about 75 minutes with a half hour break between each two.

In addition to the audio-visual museum, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center has a lovely archeological garden, the "Hinnom Shoulder" that is part of a Necropolis, surrounding ancient Jerusalem.

For more details on the museum and archeological garden, you are welcome to read my previous article.

Jerusalem: A Preview Trip for Hannukah 2019
The Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Lastly, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center serves as a vibrant cultural and tourist center in Jerusalem offering a range of activities for individuals or groups of varying ages including: lectures, singing evenings, educational workshops and even tours.

This Hannukah (22-30 Dec 2019), you are welcome to register for the following activities:

  • Guided Tours of the Begin Museum - at a cost of 25 NIS for an adult, 20 NIS for a child / soldier / veteran citizen / student. Special prices for families and discounted prices for participants in the past news quiz (see next bullet).

  • A Past News Quiz - A competitive, award-winning interactive quiz that brings participants to the State of Israel through the history of the life of 6th Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The quizzes will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Sundays and Mondays on Hannukah (December 24, 25, 29 and 30) at 11:00 and 13:00 at a cost of 10 NIS per person.

  • Pitcher Creation Workshops for children up to the age of 10. Children visiting the museum are invited to create their own small pottery urn decorated with mosaics at the cost of 10 NIS per child or free for participants in the tour.

Plugat HaKotel Museum (i.e. The Museum of the Western Wall Platoon)

The Plugat HaKotel Museum is also run by the Begin Heritage Center and is located within a walking distance, inside the Jewish Quarter. The museum reveals the story of the Western Wall Platoon, a group of pre-state Betar revisionist movement youth that volunteered to maintain the jewish presence at the Western Wall, during the tempestuous period of British mandate.

The museum was erected on the actual location site of the platoon's former barracks and includes an audio-visual describing the activities of the platoon and the risks that they undertook. The display is 35 minutes long.

Registration is through the Begin Heritage Center's office.

Both museums are included in the J-Ticket, a combination discount ticket of the attractions and sites in the Old City that I wrote about previously.

Jerusalem: A Preview Trip for Hannukah 2019
Plugat HaKotel Museum

The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are owned by the Hebrew University and are adjacent to the Givat Ram campus in Jerusalem. They are the largest botanical garden in Israel, covering an area of ​​150 hectares, with the largest living plant collection in the Middle East, growing over 6,000 species and varieties of plants from around the world.

The gardens are a spectacular, pastoral gem of nature in the heart of the city and offer several educational activities year-round.

Our tour came to see the new tropical greenhouse that was opened to the public a few weeks ago, after a year and a half of preparations costing 7 million NIS.

Jerusalem: A Preview Trip for Hannukah 2019
The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

In order to get to the greenhouse and enjoy all the abundance that the garden has to offer, we took the children's garden train. The train provides a guided world tour since the garden is divided into six geographical plots that simulate the vegetation landscapes of each region. You can see spectacular blooms throughout the year originating from South Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, Southwest and Central Asia and the Mediterranean respectively. The train is included in the entrance ticket, and is available to visitors on Sundays through Thursdays at any hour on the hour at the garden entrance.

The greenhouse is divided into two areas: a tropical region and a desert region. Both are characterized by rich vegetation adapted to the climate. The display is not of potted plants, but of ecological environments that show a large range of habitats.

In the tropical area, we were exposed to the special rain forest with tall trees, climbs and plants growing on the trees. These are all at eye-level and include colorful orchids, special ferns, coffee bushes, huge clusters of bananas and more. In the greenhouse you can touch, smell and sometimes even taste the plants and their fruits. About 350 different plants are already thriving in the greenhouse. In addition, there is a large pool with aquatic plants and even remnants of ancient columbarium carved in the rock that was exposed at the site during construction and is dated to the Second Temple period.

In the desert area, we discovered some of the world's special plants and their adaptations to extreme uncertainty and dry conditions, including the Jericho rose who can serve as a rain gauge since it releases seeds only after 10 mm of rain and several fragrant family bushes that produce the world's best perfumes.

The greenhouse is open to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays from 14:00 to 15:30 and there are guided tours.

We also heard about an educational campaign led by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens to save extinct wildflowers in Israel. The campaign is dedicated to Nechama Rivlin, the late First Lady of Israel and a true nature lover, who contributed greatly over the years to Israeli society and nature conservation. The botanical garden workers, along with dozens of volunteers, recently completed the collection of 12,000 wildflower seed bags that they are distributing to visitors. The purpose of the venture is to enable everyone to integrate the wildflowers into their home gardens, thereby making them accessible and encouraging the love of Israeli nature.

Beit Mazia Theater Jerusalem - The International Jewish Festival for Contemporary Art

In light of the upcoming International Jewish Festival of Contemporary Culture Produced by the Jerusalem Theater Group, that I wrote about previously.

The festival is taking place between Dec 3-10, 2019. My previous article details the schedule of events and all the festival highlights.

During our visit we met with Osnat Gispan, the festival's artistic director, who reviewed this year's highlights. She explained that the festival has celebrated a particularly successful three years, due to the integration of theater, film, music, dance and literature creators. Its examination of Jewish origins as sources of inspiration for this festival makes the Jerusalem theater group a pioneer in its field.

Additionally, we got a taste of the rehearsals for the opening performance of "Rega, Rega" - a theatrical musical world premiere by director Shahaf Berger and musical artist Ronit Roland based on Sasha Argov's songs.

Jerusalem: A Preview Trip for Hannukah 2019
Clockwise from Bottom Left: Festival's Artistic Director Osnat Gispan, actors and musical artist Ronit Roland.

Food & Accomodation

Refer to one of these two previous posts for suggestions.

My Timeline

I spent a full day in Jerusalem (yay!).

This is what it looks like on the map:

Jerusalem: A Preview Trip for Hannukah 2019



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