One of the great things about Israel is that parks are everywhere. In fact as a country, Israel has one of the highest number of parks per capita in the world. And we at Mayanot like to enjoy these parks as frequently as possible 🙂
After Simchat Torah in Israel was over, everyone outside of the country of Israel still had 2 days of the holiday left. If you’re wondering why that is, I recommend this article from AskMoses.com which explains it pretty well. In any case, because the rest of the world was still celebrating Simchat Torah, Israel didn’t want to miss out on the fun… thus the concept of Hakafot Shniot was born. Literally meaning “second circles”, it’s a celebration of the fact that everyone else is still celebrating. The only difference is that since the holiday itself is already over, we get to use live music, microphones, special lighting, and huge open expanses filled with food vendors and popcorn machines. These Hakafot Shniot celebrations happen all over Israel, with the larger ones in Kfar Chabad, Bnei Brak, Chevron, and here in Jerusalem.
While the original plan was to take a bus to Chevron, none of us felt like rushing to the bus station and traveling after the chag was over. Conveniently, the biggest Hakafot Shniot was at Gan HaPa’amon (Bell Park) just down the street from school (15 minute walk). I had no idea it was going on, but while I was at dinner with a few of the other girls, I got a call from Menucha saying that we should head over after we ate. So after we paid our tab at Tal Bagel, we walked over and found a huge crowd of people flooding the entire park.
We grabbed a spot on a hill to the left of the stage and sat back and enjoyed the show. The live bands were great, the dancing rabbis were entertaining, the Head Rabbi of Israel was there and inspiring, and the company was the best ♥ What an amazing way to appreciate the fact that this was the best possible year to be in Israel during the chagim (holidays)! While the rest of the world had three different weekends where they couldn’t work or clean or drive or use technology for three days in a row, we had one, and the rest of the time we had breaks between the holiday and Shabbat. Perfect!
Another unrelated but equally enjoyable parks experience was the picnic in the park that a group of us decided to have last week. Another park down the street (this one only 10 minutes away) is situated on this plateau above the surrounding area and has beautiful trees and grass and landscaping… something that takes a lot of effort in most of Israel. So we decided one day during lunch that we were going to drop by the local market, pack some lunch food, and enjoy the amazing weather we’ve had recently. The result was 2 hours of worry-free relaxing and food with some of our favorite girls.
It really is incredible how a country in the middle of the desert can turn itself into such an oasis. Then again, anything is possible.