Holidays Observed in Jerusalem

I have had the opportunity to experience and observe a variety of holidays here in this historic and culturally rich city, but I do realize that other expats sometimes get confused about what goes on here – it seems the city is always buzzing, and it can be difficult – on occasion – to figure out why. Here’s a little bit of info about each of the ‘main’ holidays celebrated in Jerusalem.

Israeli Secular Holidays

These holidays are typically Jewish in nature, but are primarily secular and nationalistic days of observation in which the Israeli public will often have government-enforced days off from work and school, at least partially.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Dates:

  • 2023 – April 17-18
  • 2024 – May 4-5
  • 2025 – April 23-24
  • 2026 – April 13-14
  • 2027 – May 3-4
  • 2028 – April 23-24

Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, is observed in Israel on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which usually falls in April. It is a national day of mourning for the six million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust.

On Yom HaShoah, a two-minute siren is sounded throughout the country, and all places of business and entertainment come to a standstill as people stand in silence to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Many communities hold memorial services and candle-lighting ceremonies, and there are also ceremonies at Holocaust memorials and museums throughout the country.

In Jerusalem, the main ceremony is held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, where a torch-lighting ceremony is held in memory of the victims. The ceremony is attended by the President of Israel, the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries.

Additionally, many schools and educational institutions hold special programs and classes to educate students about the Holocaust and its lessons. It is a day for the country to come together to remember the victims and honor the survivors, and to reaffirm the commitment to tolerance and human rights.

Memorial Day

Dates:

  • 2023 – April 24-25
  • 2024 – May 12-13
  • 2025 – April 29-30
  • 2026 – April 20-21
  • 2027 – May 10-11

Yom Hazikaron, or Israeli Memorial Day, is observed in Israel on the day before Israeli Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut. It is a solemn day of mourning and remembrance for the soldiers and civilians who have died in service to the State of Israel, and for victims of terrorism.

On Yom Hazikaron, a siren is sounded across the country at 8 p.m. the night before and again at 11 a.m. on the day of the commemoration, and all Israelis stop what they are doing and stand in silence to honor the memory of the fallen. Many places of entertainment and leisure are closed, and radio and TV broadcasts are devoted to memorial programs.

Throughout the day, ceremonies and memorial services are held at military cemeteries and at monuments to the fallen in cities and towns across the country. Families of the fallen often lay wreaths and light candles in their memory.

Public transportation stops running for two minutes during the morning siren, and the roads come to a stop, as well.

Yom Hazikaron serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made for the country and the ongoing importance of national security.

Israeli Independence Day

Dates:

  • 2023 – April 25-26
  • 2024 – May 13-14
  • 2025 – April 30-May 1
  • 2026 – April 21-22
  • 2027 – May 11-12

Israeli Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut in Hebrew, is observed on the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in April or May. On this day, Israelis celebrate the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

The day is marked by official ceremonies, parades, and cultural events, as well as private celebrations such as barbecues and parties. Many Israelis also fly the Israeli flag on this day. Some cities and towns hold large public celebrations and fairs, and there are often fireworks displays in the evening.

The day is also marked by a moment of silence, followed by the singing of the national anthem, “Hatikvah,” at 8 p.m.

Jerusalem Day

Dates:

  • 2023 – May 19
  • 2024 – June 5
  • 2025 – May 26
  • 2026 – May 15
  • 2027 – June 4

Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday celebrated annually on the 28th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in May or June. The holiday commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli control during the Six-Day War in 1967.

On Jerusalem Day, there are a variety of events and activities that take place in Jerusalem, including a national flag parade, ceremonies, speeches, and performances. The main event is the Flag March, a large parade that starts at the city center and ends at the Western Wall in the Old City. The parade is attended by thousands of Israelis, including soldiers, students, and families, who march through the streets of Jerusalem carrying Israeli flags and singing patriotic songs. These are often very volatile and can easily spark protests, riots, mob attacks on Palestinians, and other dangerous situations.

Additionally, there are also events held at the Western Wall, including a ceremony to mark the reunification of the city, speeches by government officials and other dignitaries, and a special prayer service. Jerusalem Day is also marked by the lighting of the Tower of David in the Old City, and by the opening of the city walls to visitors.

It is worth noting that Jerusalem Day is not a universally celebrated holiday, as the Palestinian population of Jerusalem and the West Bank consider it as a day of mourning and Naksa Day, marking the Palestinian displacement and dispossession during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Other Secular Holidays

There are a number of holidays that are not recognized by the Israeli government, due to political and religious reasons. That’s not to say, however, that they are not represented or observed by the population.

Nakba Day

Date: May 15

Nakba Day, or “Catastrophe Day,” is observed on May 15th by Palestinian Arabs and some other Arab communities, to commemorate the displacement of Palestinians that occurred during the 1947-1948 war surrounding the establishment of the State of Israel. The Nakba is a term used by Palestinians to describe the events of 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee or were expelled from their homes and villages as a result of the fighting.

In Jerusalem, Nakba Day is observed primarily by Palestinian residents and organizations. Some events that take place include rallies, speeches, and marches. There might also be gatherings at Palestinian refugee camps, as well as cultural events such as poetry readings and plays.

It’s important to note that the Israeli government generally does not recognize Nakba Day as an official national holiday, and the commemoration of the day is often met with tension and clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.

The Israeli government has a different narrative of the events of 1948, which is that the Palestinians left their homes and villages due to the urging of Arab leaders to make way for the invading Arab armies who intended to destroy the Jewish community in Palestine.

Naksa Day

Date: June 5

Naksa Day, also known as the Day of the Setback, is a day of remembrance for the Palestinian people, who commemorate the displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that occurred during the 1967 Six-Day War. It is observed on June 5th each year. The day is marked with protests, rallies, and other events in Palestine and in Palestinian communities around the world. Additionally, Palestinian flags are flown at half-mast to commemorate the losses of the Palestinian people. Some Palestinians also hold marches and processions to remember and honor those who were displaced during the war.

Halloween

Date: October 31

Halloween is not an official holiday in Israel and is not widely celebrated in Jerusalem. It is not a traditional holiday in the country, and its observance is limited to some expats and international communities who live in the city. There is even trick-or-treating and other celebrations that are organized by expats. Be sure to plan well in advance, as you’ll find that it’s necessary to order costumes and decorations from overseas.

However, in recent years, Halloween has started to gain popularity among some Israelis, especially among the younger generation, and as a result, some businesses and shops in Jerusalem may decorate with Halloween themes, and some parties and events may be organized.

New Year’s Eve/Sylvester

Date: December 31/January 1

New Year’s Eve, also known as Sylvester, is not an official holiday in Israel and is not typically celebrated as a major event in Jerusalem. However, some people in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel do mark the occasion with private gatherings, parties, and fireworks.

Jerusalem is a city with a diverse population, and the way New Year’s Eve is celebrated can vary depending on the community. For example, the secular Jewish and Christian communities may celebrate the occasion with parties and fireworks, while the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community may not mark the occasion at all.

The city of Jerusalem does not have a central celebration for New Year’s Eve, but some hotels and restaurants may offer special events and parties to mark the occasion, particularly in Russian and Christian circles.

Christian Religious Holidays

Jerusalem is a city with a rich religious history, and as such, it is home to a diverse array of Christian sects. The three main Christian sects represented in Jerusalem are:

  1. Eastern Orthodox: This sect is the largest Christian community in Jerusalem and is represented by several churches, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is considered one of the holiest sites in Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox Church is the main Christian denomination in the Middle East and has a strong presence in Jerusalem.
  2. Roman Catholic: This sect has a strong presence in Jerusalem, and it is represented by several churches and institutions, including the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which is the seat of the Catholic bishop of Jerusalem.
  3. Protestant: Protestant denominations are relatively small in number in Jerusalem, but they are represented by several churches and institutions, including the Anglican St. George’s Cathedral and the German Protestant Church of the Redeemer.

Additionally, there are also smaller Christian communities present in Jerusalem, such as the Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic Orthodox communities.

santas house jerusalem

Christmas in Jerusalem (Eastern Orthodox)

Date: January 7

Celebrated in Jerusalem by the Eastern Orthodox community, which includes Greek, Russian, and other Eastern Orthodox churches. The day is marked by religious services and celebrations, including the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Many Eastern Orthodox Christians also participate in traditional customs and practices, such as fasting and special meals, and may also attend processions and other events.

 

Easter in Jerusalem (Eastern Orthodox)

Dates:

  • 2023 – April 16
  • 2024 – May 5
  • 2025 – April 20
  • 2026 – April 12
  • 2027 – May 2

Eastern Orthodox Easter is also known as Pascha. The celebration begins with Holy Week, which includes Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, and Great and Holy Friday, with special liturgies and services held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

On Great and Holy Saturday, the traditional service of the Holy Fire takes place at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in which many Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that a flame miraculously appears from within the tomb of Jesus, symbolizing the resurrection.

Easter Sunday, or Pascha, is the main day of the celebration, and is marked by the Divine Liturgy, which is celebrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and other Orthodox churches in Jerusalem. After the liturgy, the faithful walk in a procession around the church, carrying lighted candles and singing hymns of the resurrection.

In addition to the religious services, many Eastern Orthodox Christians also participate in traditional customs and practices, such as fasting and special meals, and may also attend processions and other events.

Easter Sunday in Jerusalem (Protestant + Roman Catholic)

Dates:

  • 2023 – April 9
  • 2024 – March 31
  • 2025 – April 20
  • 2026 – April 5
  • 2027 – March 28

Protestant Easter is celebrated in Jerusalem by Protestant denominations such as Anglicans, Lutherans, and other non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christians. The celebration is similar to how it is celebrated in Protestant communities around the world, with services and sermons focused on the resurrection of Jesus.

Protestant churches in Jerusalem typically hold special services on Easter Sunday, with hymns, prayers, and sermons that commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. Some churches may also have special events such as sunrise services, egg hunts for children, or Easter brunch gatherings.

Roman Catholic Easter is celebrated in Jerusalem by the Roman Catholic community, which includes Catholics of various nationalities and ethnicities. The celebration begins with Holy Week, which includes Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. During this time, special liturgies and services are held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as well as other Roman Catholic churches in the city.

On Good Friday, a procession is held from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the nearby Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross, which commemorates the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is the main day of the celebration and is marked by the Mass, which is celebrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and other Catholic churches in Jerusalem. After the mass, the faithful may walk in a procession around the church, carrying lighted candles and singing hymns of the resurrection.

In addition to the religious services, many Roman Catholics in Jerusalem also participate in traditional customs and practices, such as fasting and special meals, and may also attend processions and other events.

Christmas in Jerusalem (Protestant + Roman Catholic)

Date: December 25

Protestant Christmas is celebrated in Jerusalem by Protestant denominations such as Anglicans, Lutherans, and other non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christians. The celebration is similar to how it is celebrated in Protestant communities around the world, with services and sermons focused on the birth of Jesus Christ.

Protestant churches in Jerusalem typically hold special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with hymns, prayers, and sermons that commemorate the birth of Jesus. Some churches may also have special events such as carol singing, Nativity plays, or Christmas brunches.

The celebration is marked by religious services and special liturgies at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, as well as other Catholic churches in Jerusalem.

On Christmas Eve, a midnight mass is held at the Church of the Nativity, which commemorates the birth of Jesus. The mass is typically led by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and attended by Catholics from around the world.

On Christmas Day, a mass is held at the Church of the Nativity, as well as other Catholic churches in Jerusalem, which is attended by Catholics from around the world.

In addition to religious services, many Roman Catholics in Jerusalem also participate in traditional customs and practices, such as special meals, and may also attend processions and other events.

Druze Religious Holidays

The Druze are an Arabic-speaking minority group that follows a unique religion that combines elements of Islam, Christianity, and other ancient religions. The Druze observe several holidays throughout the year, which are based on their religious beliefs and practices.

Ziyarat al-Nabi Shu’ayb

Dates: April 25-28

Ziyarat al-Nabi Shu’ayb is a religious pilgrimage made by the Druze community to the tomb of Prophet Shuayb (also known as Jethro), who is considered a prophet in Islam, Christianity and Judaism. He is also considered one of the five major prophets in the Druze religion. The tomb is located in the city of Hittin in the northern region of Israel, near the Sea of Galilee.

The Ziyarat al-Nabi Shu’ayb is typically observed by the Druze community on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rajab. The pilgrimage is a time for spiritual reflection and devotion, and it is believed that visiting the tomb of Prophet Shuayb brings blessings and spiritual benefits. Many Druze will make the journey to the tomb to pay their respects, perform prayers, and make offerings.

During the Ziyarat, people will participate in processions and parades, and they will sing hymns and recite prayers. They also listen to speeches by religious leaders and scholars of the community.

Eid al Adha

Dates:

  • 2023 – August 22
  • 2024 – August 11
  • 2025 – July 31
  • 2026 – July 22
  • 2027 – July 11

The Druze community celebrates Eid al-Adha, also known as the “Feast of the Sacrifice,” in a similar way to how it is celebrated by Muslim communities. Eid al-Adha is a major Islamic holiday that commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Isma’il (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God.

On the day of Eid al-Adha, the Druze will typically attend special prayers at their local mosque or community center. After the prayers, they will slaughter animals, typically sheep or cows, in accordance with the Islamic tradition, and distribute the meat to family, friends, and the less fortunate. This act is also known as “Qurbani” and is considered a way to follow the example of Ibrahim and share blessings with others.

On Eid al-Adha, the Druze will also typically dress in their best clothes and celebrate with family and friends. They will exchange greetings and well-wishes, and may also prepare special meals and sweets to mark the occasion.

It’s worth noting that the Druze community is a small and tight-knit one and different communities may have different ways of observing this holiday.

Islamic Religious Holidays

This is the largest branch of Islam and is the dominant sect in Jerusalem. The majority of the city’s Muslim population belongs to this sect and they follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the principles of the Quran and the Hadith.

dome of the rock jerusalem

It’s worth noting that Jerusalem’s Muslim population also includes a number of different ethnic groups, including Palestinian Arabs, Palestinian Bedouins, Palestinian Circassians, Shia Muslims, Ahmadiyya, Alawites, Sufis, and Palestinian Kurds. These groups may have their own unique customs and traditions, which may influence the way they practice Islam.

Isra’ and Mi’raj

Dates:

  • 2023 – February 17
  • 2024 – February 6
  • 2025 – January 26
  • 2026 – January 15
  • 2027 – January 5

Isra’ and Mi’raj, also known as the Night Journey, is a significant event in Islamic history and is commemorated by Muslims around the world.

According to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was transported from Mecca to Jerusalem on the back of the winged horse Buraq, and then taken on a journey through the seven levels of paradise. This journey is known as Isra, and the ascent through the levels of paradise is known as Mi’raj. The event is considered to be a miraculous journey and is an important event in Islamic history and theology. It is celebrated by Muslims on the 27th day of the month of Rajab.

In Jerusalem, the event is observed through special prayers and recitations of the Quran. Some individuals may also make a pilgrimage to the city to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is believed to be the location where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began his journey.

Ramadan

Dates:

  • 2023 – March 22 – April 20
  • 2024 – March 10 – April 9
  • 2025 – February 28 – March 30
  • 2026 – February 17 – March 18
  • 2027 – February 7 – March 8

Ramadan is a major religious observance for the Muslim community in Jerusalem and is observed with a combination of religious devotion, fasting, and charitable acts.

During Ramadan, Muslims in Jerusalem will abstain from food, drink and other physical needs from sunrise until sunset. They will also perform additional prayers and read from the Quran. At sunset, they will break the fast with a meal called Iftar, which typically includes dates, water, and traditional Palestinian food.

In Jerusalem, many mosques and community centers hold special evening prayers and lectures called Taraweeh, which are attended by many people. Ramadan is also a time for charitable giving and many Muslims in Jerusalem will donate money and food to the less fortunate.

In addition to religious observances, Ramadan is also a time for community and family gatherings. Many people will invite friends and family to their homes to break the fast together, and some families may also host large community iftar meals.

During Ramadan, there are other observances, including Laylat al Qadr, which roughly translates into Night of Decree. It is when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and is held within the last few nights of the month.

Eid al Fitr

Dates:

  • 2023 – April 20-21
  • 2024 –  April 9-10
  • 2025 –  March 30-31
  • 2026 – March 19-20
  • 2027 – March 8-9

Eid al-Fitr, also known as the “Feast of Breaking the Fast” is a major Islamic holiday that is celebrated by the Muslim community in Jerusalem at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

On the day of Eid al-Fitr, Muslims typically wake up early in the morning and perform a special prayer called the Eid prayer. After the prayer, people typically visit their family and friends, exchange greetings and well wishes, and give gifts to children.

In many Muslim-majority countries, people also give money to the poor as a way of fulfilling the Islamic practice of Zakat al-Fitr, which is a charitable donation made before the end of Ramadan.

Eid al-Fitr is also marked by festive meals, sweets, and traditional clothes, and many people also organize gatherings and parties to celebrate the occasion.

It’s also a common practice to decorate the houses, streets, and Mosques with colorful lights and flags, and also to have traditional dances, music, and parades.

Eid al Adha

Dates:

  • 2023 – June 28 – July 2
  • 2024 – June 16 – 20
  • 2025 – June 6 – 10
  • 2026 – May 26 – 30
  • 2027 – May 16 -20

The holiday is also known as “The Feast of the Sacrifice,” a celebration of the covenant made between Abraham and God, as the former prepared to sacrifice his son Ismael in honor of the latter. It is marked by special prayers, the slaughtering of animals, and the distribution of meat to the less fortunate.

On the day of Eid al-Adha, Muslims in Jerusalem will typically attend special prayers at one of the city’s mosques, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque or Dome of the Rock. These prayers are usually led by an Imam and attended by many people. After the prayers, Muslims will slaughter animals, typically sheep or cows, in accordance with the Islamic tradition, and distribute the meat to family, friends, and the less fortunate. This act is also known as “Qurbani” and is considered a way to follow the example of Ibrahim and share blessings with others.

On Eid al-Adha, Muslims in Jerusalem will also typically dress in their best clothes and celebrate with family and friends. They will exchange greetings and well-wishes, and may also prepare special meals and sweets to mark the occasion.

Jewish Religious Holidays

There are dozens Jewish sects in Jerusalem, many of which are part of the broader orthodox community. The main Jewish sects represented in Jerusalem are:

  1. Orthodox: The Orthodox Jewish community is the largest Jewish community in Jerusalem, and it is represented by several synagogues and institutions, including the Western Wall, which is one of the holiest sites in Judaism.
  2. Ultra-Orthodox: Also known as Haredi, this sect is known for its strict adherence to traditional Jewish customs and laws. They are represented by several synagogues and institutions in Jerusalem, including Mea Shearim, which is one of the largest ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in the city.
  3. National-Religious: This is a sector of religious Zionism, they combine religious and nationalist ideologies, they are represented by several synagogues and institutions in Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the settlements in east Jerusalem.
  4. Reform and Conservative: These are progressive Jewish movements, they are not as present in Jerusalem as the other three sects, but they do have synagogues and institutions.

Additionally, there is also a small secular Jewish community present in Jerusalem, which is not affiliated with any particular sect.

jerusalem hanukkah

It’s important to note that holidays start the evening before the date listed (at sunset).

Tu B’shvat

Dates:

  • 2023 – February 6
  • 2024 – January 25
  • 2025 – February 13
  • 2026 – February 2
  • 2027 –  January 23

Tu B’Shvat, also known as the “New Year of the Trees,” is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. It is considered the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing, and also a day to celebrate and appreciate nature.

In Jerusalem, the holiday is celebrated in a number of ways. One common way is by eating a special meal that includes fruits and nuts, particularly those that are native to Israel such as figs, dates, pomegranates, and olives. Many Jewish families will also plant trees or participate in a community tree-planting ceremony, as a way of honoring the holiday’s connection to nature and the environment.

Tu B’Shvat is also celebrated in Jerusalem’s synagogues, where traditional prayers and readings are held. Some people also make a point of visiting Jerusalem’s parks and nature reserves, to spend time in nature and to reflect on the importance of preserving the environment.

Additionally, many Jewish schools, institutions, and organizations in Jerusalem use Tu B’Shvat as an opportunity to educate about the importance of the environment and the connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.

Purim

Dates:

  • 2023 – March 7
  • 2024 – March 24
  • 2025 – March 14
  • 2026 – March 3
  • 2027 – March 23

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia, as recorded in the biblical book of Esther. The holiday is typically celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, and is considered a time of rejoicing and celebration.

In Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most common ways is by attending a special reading of the Book of Esther, known as a Megillah reading, in synagogues and Jewish community centers. Many people also dress up in costumes, in a nod to the disguises worn by Esther and Mordecai to thwart the plans of the wicked Haman.

Another common way to celebrate Purim in Jerusalem is by giving gifts of food and drink to friends and family, as well as giving gifts to the poor. This is known as “mishloach manot” and “matanot la’evyonim” respectively.

Another way to celebrate Purim in Jerusalem is by joining the festive street parades, where people dress in costumes, sing and dance to traditional Jewish songs, and eat traditional pastries like hamentashen.

In the Old City and any other walled city, Purim is celebrated for two days instead of just one. Overall, Purim is a time of celebration, joy, and community in Jerusalem, where people come together to remember and celebrate the salvation of the Jewish people.

Passover

Dates:

  • 2023 – April 6 – 13
  • 2024 – April 22 – 30
  • 2025 – April 12 – 20
  • 2026 – April 1 – 9
  • 2027 – April 21 – 28

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, as told in the book of Exodus in the Bible. The holiday is celebrated for seven or eight days, depending on the Jewish community, and it usually falls in April.

In Jerusalem, Passover is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most important ways is by observing the Passover Seder, which is a special meal held on the first night of the holiday. The Seder includes a retelling of the story of the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, as well as the consumption of specific foods, such as matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs, which symbolize different aspects of the story.

Another important way Passover is celebrated in Jerusalem is by avoiding chametz, which are foods made from wheat, barley, oats, spelt and rye that have been fermented and are prohibited during the holiday. Many Jewish families in Jerusalem will do a thorough cleaning of their homes, to remove any chametz, before the holiday begins.

During the holiday, many synagogues in Jerusalem hold special services, and many people also visit the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, to pray and connect with their faith.

Additionally, many Jewish families in Jerusalem use Passover as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and to reflect on the importance of freedom and liberation in their lives.

Lag B’Omer

Dates:

  • 2023 – May 9
  • 2024 – May 26
  • 2025 – May 16
  • 2026 – May 5
  • 2027 – May 25

Lag B’Omer is a Jewish holiday that falls on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, which is the period between Passover and Shavuot. The holiday is traditionally celebrated on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. The origins of the holiday are not entirely clear, but it is considered a semi-mourning period, and it’s also a time of celebration and joy.

In Jerusalem, Lag B’Omer is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most common ways is by lighting bonfires, which is a traditional way of celebrating the holiday. Many Jewish families and communities in Jerusalem gather around the bonfires to sing, dance, and enjoy the company of friends and family.

Another way Lag B’Omer is celebrated is by visiting the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a 2nd-century Talmudic sage, in the northern Israeli village of Meron. Many Jewish people make a pilgrimage to Meron on Lag B’Omer, to pray and to light candles at the tomb.

Shavuot

Dates:

  • 2023 – May 26
  • 2024 – June 12
  • 2025 – June 2
  • 2026 – May 22
  • 2027 –  June 11

Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, as told in the book of Exodus. In Jerusalem, Shavuot is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most common ways is by attending special prayers and services in synagogues, which include the reading of the book of Ruth, which is traditionally read on this holiday. Many Jewish people also stay up all night studying Torah on the first night of the holiday, as a way of commemorating the revelation at Mount Sinai.

Another way Shavuot is celebrated in Jerusalem is by eating dairy foods, such as cheese, ice cream, and blintzes, as a way of commemorating the agricultural aspect of the holiday (also known as the festival of the first fruits).

Overall, Shavuot is a time of celebration, joy, and community in Jerusalem, where people come together to remember and celebrate the giving of the Torah and the connection of the Jewish people to their faith and heritage.

Tisha B’Av

Dates:

  • 2023 – July 27
  • 2024 – August 13
  • 2025 – August 3
  • 2026 -July 23
  • 2027 – August 12

Tisha B’Av is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, as well as other tragic events in Jewish history. It is a day of mourning and fasting, and is typically celebrated on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av.

In Jerusalem, Tisha B’Av is marked by a number of somber customs and traditions. One of the most common ways it’s celebrated is by fasting, which begins at sunset the night before and lasts until nightfall on the 9th of Av. Many Jewish people also refrain from doing any form of work, and avoid eating meat or drinking wine.

Another way Tisha B’Av is celebrated in Jerusalem is by visiting the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, to pray and to recite special prayers and psalms of mourning. Many synagogues in Jerusalem also hold special services, including the reading of the Book of Lamentations, which is traditionally read on Tisha B’Av.

Tu B’Av

Dates:

  • 2023 – August 2
  • 2024 – August 19
  • 2025 – August 9
  • 2026 – July 29
  • 2027 – August 18

Tu B’Av is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It is not as well-known as some of the other Jewish holidays and its origins and significance are not entirely clear. In ancient times, it was a minor festival, celebrated as a holiday of love and matchmaking.

In Jerusalem, Tu B’Av is celebrated in a number of ways. One common way is by participating in cultural and social events such as parties, dance performances, and other similar gatherings. Some Jewish singles events are also organized to encourage matchmaking and dating, as the holiday’s association with love.

Overall, Tu B’Av is a relatively minor holiday in Jerusalem and its celebrations are not as widespread as other Jewish holidays.

Rosh Hashana

Dates:

  • 2023 – September 16
  • 2024 – October 3
  • 2025 – September 23
  • 2026 – September 12
  • 2027 – October 2

Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, is a two-day holiday that marks the beginning of the Jewish calendar year. It is typically celebrated in September or October and is considered a time of introspection, repentance and renewal.

In Jerusalem, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most important ways is by attending special prayers and services in synagogues. The services include the blowing of the shofar, a trumpet made from a ram’s horn, which is traditionally blown on Rosh Hashanah and is believed to symbolize the call to repentance and reflection.

Another way Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in Jerusalem is by eating symbolic foods such as pomegranates, or apples dipped in honey, to symbolize a sweet new year, and a round challah bread, to symbolize the cycle of the year.

Yom Kippur

Dates:

  • 2023 –  September 25
  • 2024 – October 12
  • 2025 – October 2
  • 2026 – September 21
  • 2027 – October 11

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. It is a day of fasting, repentance, and atonement for sins, and is typically celebrated 10 days after Rosh Hashanah.

In Jerusalem, Yom Kippur is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most important ways is by attending special prayers and services in synagogues, which include the recitation of special liturgy and the blowing of the shofar, a trumpet made from a ram’s horn, which is traditionally blown on Yom Kippur as well.

Another way Yom Kippur is celebrated in Jerusalem is by fasting, which begins at sunset the night before and lasts until nightfall on Yom Kippur. Many Jewish people also refrain from doing any form of work, and avoid eating or drinking anything. All businesses are required to be closed, and all public transit is shut down in predominantly Jewish areas. On the day of Yom Kippur, you will find restaurants and stores open in East Jerusalem, as well as the Jerusalem-Ramallah bus lines running with adjusted routes.

Sukkot

Dates:

  • 2023 – September 30
  • 2024 – October 17
  • 2025 – October 7
  • 2026 – September 26
  • 2027 – October 16

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the 40 years of wandering in the desert, during which the Israelites lived in temporary shelters known as sukkot. It is celebrated for seven days, and it usually falls in September or October.

In Jerusalem, Sukkot is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most important ways is by building and living in a sukkah, a temporary hut, which is traditionally covered with branches, palm leaves, and other foliage. Many Jewish families in Jerusalem will build a sukkah in their backyard or on their porch, and will eat and sometimes sleep in it throughout the holiday.

Another way Sukkot is celebrated in Jerusalem is by participating in the daily prayers, which include the shaking of the lulav and etrog, which are four species of plants mentioned in the Torah: palm, myrtle, willows and citron.

Sigd

Dates:

  • 2023 – November 12
  • 2024 – November 29
  • 2025 – November 19
  • 2026 – November 8
  • 2027 – November 28

Sigd is a holiday celebrated by the Beta Israel, also known as Ethiopian Jews, which marks the giving of the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. It is typically celebrated on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, which falls in October or November.

In Jerusalem, Sigd is celebrated by the Beta Israel community, who gather in synagogues and community centers to hear the reading of the Torah and the recitation of special prayers and hymns. Many members of the community will also make a pilgrimage to the roof of the synagogue, where they will recite prayers and hymns, and wave branches as a symbol of their longing to return to Jerusalem.

Another way Sigd is celebrated in Jerusalem is by fasting and abstaining from work on the day of the holiday. Additionally, many Beta Israel families in Jerusalem prepare traditional foods such as injera, a type of sourdough flatbread, and doro wat, a spicy chicken stew, to share with their community.

Sigd is also a time to remember the history and the heritage of the Beta Israel community, who have their own distinct customs and traditions, and to reflect on the importance of their connection to their faith and their people.

Hanukkah

Dates:

  • 2023 – December 8
  • 2024 – December 26
  • 2025 – December 15
  • 2026 – December 5
  • 2027 – December 25

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek-Syrians in 165 BCE and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, and it usually falls in December.

In Jerusalem, Hanukkah is celebrated in a number of ways. One of the most important ways is by lighting the menorah, a cand holder with eight branches, one for each night of Hanukkah. Many Jewish families in Jerusalem will light the menorah in their homes, and will recite special prayers and blessings.

Another way Hanukkah is celebrated in Jerusalem is by playing dreidel, a four-sided top with Hebrew letters on each side, which is traditionally played during Hanukkah.

Many Jewish families in Jerusalem also use Hanukkah as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and to exchange gifts, eat traditional foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and celebrate the holiday.

In conclusion …

Overall, living in Jerusalem allows me to experience a diverse range of holidays and cultural celebrations, each with its own unique traditions and customs. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to witness and participate in the rich cultural tapestry of this city.

Jerusalem Falafel Recipe

Hands down, no other place compares to the Palestinian falafel found in the markets and street vendors of East Jerusalem.

The key to the unique flavor of Jerusalem Palestinian falafel is the addition of spices like cumin and sumac, as well as the use of chickpeas instead of fava beans, like they use elsewhere in the Middle East. The mixture is then formed into small balls and deep-fried to perfection.

One of my favorite spots to grab authentic Palestinian falafel is at the bottom of the stairs when coming into Damascus Gate in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The vendor has been there for decades and greets every customer like an old friend. Of course, they use a special technique of frying the falafel by using a dome-shaped scoop, which allows for even cooking and a crispy exterior. Not to mention, it’s made fresh each time!

If you’re unable to make it to Jerusalem, I’ve included a recipe below for you to make your own Jerusalem Palestinian falafel at home.

Jerusalem Palestinian Falafel Recipe:

jerusalem falafel

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground sumac
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Soak the chickpeas in water overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then add them to a food processor with the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, sumac, salt, and pepper. Pulse until the mixture is well combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form the mixture into small balls or patties.
  4. Heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350°F.
  5. Carefully add the falafel to the hot oil and fry for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Serve the falafel in pita bread with tahini, tomatoes, and cucumber.

Enjoy these falafel balls with hummus and tahini, and don’t forget to sprinkle some sumac on top for that authentic Jerusalem flavor.

Jerusalem Hummus Recipe

As an amateur chef, I am always trying to create authentic Jerusalem-style Palestinian recipes, and who doesn’t love hummus?! So, after a ton of trial and error, I want to share my version of this recipe with all of you so you can experience the same joy I did.

This recipe is simple, yet delicious, and it’s perfect for those who love the taste of chickpeas and tahini. The secret to this recipe is the addition of Jerusalem-style spices, which gives it a unique and irresistible taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  2. Add the chickpeas to a large pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let them simmer for about an hour, or until they are very soft.
  3. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the cooking liquid.
  4. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.
  5. If the hummus is too thick, add some of the reserved cooking liquid, a little at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  7. Serve the hummus with warm pita bread and garnish with olive oil and parsley.

This recipe will yield about 4 servings. You can serve it as a side dish or as the main event! If you play around with the recipe and make it your own – great, just make sure you don’t call it hummus if you take out the chickpeas!

Jerusalem hummus
A typical late breakfast in a Palestinian home consists of hummus, yogurt, chopped fresh vegetables, and a proper dousing of olive oil and zaatar.

Jerusalem hummus is a delicious and classic dish. The addition of cumin and coriander in this hummus recipe gives it a warm and earthy flavor that is sure to please your taste buds. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Happy cooking!

What’s the weather like in Jerusalem?

If you’re considering moving to Jerusalem, you might be wondering what the weather is like.

First of all, it’s important to note that Jerusalem is located in the Mediterranean climate zone, which means that the summers are hot and dry, and the winters are mild and wet. The temperature can reach up to 35°C (95°F) in the summer and in the winter it can go down to 0°C (32°F).

One thing to keep in mind is that Jerusalem is situated on a mountain, so the temperature can vary depending on your elevation. The higher up you are, the cooler it will be. So, if you’re looking for a cooler place to live, you might want to consider neighborhoods like French Hill or Beit Hanina.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Jerusalem can be quite windy, especially in the spring and fall. This can make the temperature feel cooler or warmer than it actually is. It is also known for dust storms that can happen during the summer.

The winter in Jerusalem is usually mild, with occasional rain and sometimes a little bit of snow. It’s definitely not as cold as it can be in some parts of the US, but you’ll still want to bring a coat and a pair of boots. If you love snow, check out the Jerusalem Weather Forecast Facebook page, run by an amateur meteorologist, for updates.

All in all, the weather in Jerusalem can be a bit of an adjustment, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle. With the right clothing and a good attitude, you’ll be able to enjoy the sunshine and the mild temperatures in no time. And don’t forget that the warm sunshine in Jerusalem will make you forget the cold weather back in the US.

Jerusalem snow

Keep yourself healthy in any weather! Check out our handwashing guide here.

 

Transportation to Ben Gurion Airport

Transportation to Ben Gurion Airport

Getting to and from the Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) can sometimes seem like a daunting or expensive task, but it really doesn’t have to be. There are many options, including some very economical ones. Whether you need to get from TLV to Tel Aviv the city, from the Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem, or are heading from Ben Gurion to Haifa or to Beer Sheva or anywhere else, let’s take a look at the Ben Gurion Airport transportation options for travelers.

Primary Transportation to/from the Tel Aviv Airport

Taxi

Where can you go?: Anywhere in Israel and the West Bank, depending on the driver.
Average Cost: To Tel Aviv – ~200 shekels, To Jerusalem – ~400 shekels
How can you order a taxi?: Curbside, Mobile App, Taxi Company

If you’re looking for a taxi from the airport, one of the easiest things anyone can do is to simply walk outside and catch one of the many taxis typically lined up outside the arrival hall. There are two methods of fare calculation: either you can negotiate a flat rate or you can ask them to put on the meter. The meter is often, but not always, cheaper, but beware of the couple of ‘bad apple’ taxi drivers that will try to take you for a ‘scenic route’ – use an app like Waze and demand that they follow the route as you dictate.

Things to know: In each registered taxi, there should be two small plaques that rest between the front and back seats on the interior frame of the car. One has the name and ID number of the vehicle’s owner, and the other is that of the driver. Take down these numbers for your record, regardless of whether or not the driver is friendly and professional. Also, don’t forget to take the receipt at the end.

Do you tip taxi drivers in Israel? The answer is no. Don’t feel obligated whatsoever to provide a tip at all. If you still want to, no more than 10% is more than enough.

Taxi apps in Israel: There are three main taxi-ordering mobile apps in Israel, Gett (formerly Get Taxi), Yango, and Raxi. Gett is the predominant taxi app in the country, as it has the most drivers and users. You can use cash or a stored credit card to pay for rides on any of the apps. Yango is the only one that offers you a fixed-rate before you even order the taxi, regardless of where you want to go. For Yango and Raxi, the quality of cars and drivers are less-than-stellar a higher percentage of the time when compared to Gett. Regardless, having an app allows you a bit of piece of mind by knowing who your driver is and a record of the ride.

Are there ride-sharing apps? While Uber does technically exist in Israel, it is only used by registered taxi drivers. Lyft and other ride-sharing apps do not exist here.

Train

Where can you go?: The Israel Rail system goes as far north as Nahariya, south to Ashkelon and Dimona, out to Jerusalem, Beit Shean, and all along the coast through Netanya and Tel Aviv, including the airport.
Average Cost: To Tel Aviv – 9 shekels, To Jerusalem – 18 shekels, To Haifa – 27 shekels, To Ashkelon – 24 shekels
How can you buy a train ticket?: At the train station’s service counter, ticket-vending machine at the station, mobile app (ie Moovit), or with a rechargeable transit pass (“Rav Kav”)

The train is a rather comfortable way to travel if you’re not carrying a significant amount of luggage. Take into consideration that commute hours (7:00-9:00 and 16:00-18:00) and the train can get extremely crowded.

Israel Rail Map:

Israel Rail Train Route Map

Shared Taxi Van (Minibus)

Where can you go?: Jerusalem or Haifa, and many towns on the way or in the surrounding areas
Average Cost: To Haifa – ~100 shekels, To Jerusalem – ~70 shekels
How do you take a shared taxi?: Curbside, in advance directly through the company

If you’re travelling with the maximum pieces of luggage allotted but are on a budget, a shared taxi/minibus (known as a ‘sherut’ – pronounced ‘shay-root’) could be the better option for you. The downfalls are that you’re often stuffed in a van with people you don’t know and may be subject to a longer ride if their stop(s) is/are before yours.

The sherut companies from the airport are Nesher for Jerusalem and Amal for Haifa. Frequent travelers will often tell tales of terrible customer service, but it’s a hit or miss.

Should you tip the sherut driver? Sure, you can, but it’s not customary.

Public Bus

Where can you go?: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva, Ashdod, Jerusalem, Ra’anana, Shoham,
Average Cost: ~10-30 shekels, depending on the destination
How do you know when there’s a bus?: Moovit

This is the ultimate budget-friendly method of travelling to and from Ben Gurion airport. Use the Moovit app or even Google Maps to double-check the times, but – in theory – there should be buses running day and night. To Jerusalem, you’d take bus #485, Haifa #905, Beer Sheva #469, Ashdod #330, Tel Aviv #445, Shoham #13, Ra’anana #444. The bus stops for each are outside the arrival hall.

Private Car Service

Where can you go?: Anywhere, depending on your driver.
Average Cost: To Tel Aviv – ~200 shekels, to Jerusalem – ~400 shekels
Where can you find a private car service?: Recommendations, Google Search

A private car service may be slightly more costly than a private taxi, but you will typically receive a VIP treatment. The price should absolutely be arranged in advance, and it’s typically best to find the service through recommendations (friends, coworkers, or even a Facebook group). Why’s it worth it? There’s always plenty of room for your luggage, you get great customer service, a smooth ride, and don’t have to share with anyone.

Private Car

Where can you go?: Wherever you’d like
Average Cost: Cost of gas and/or the cost of a rental vehicle

Well, this is up to you and your ride. Will you ask a family member, friend, or coworker? Are you renting a car through Sixt, Eldan, Avis, or someone else? A private car is very convenient, but can be rather expensive if you’re renting on a daily basis.