You don’t need to travel far or spend a fortune to give your family a good time over the vacation days in the middle of Passover, known as Hol HaMo’ed. SPIHS (Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites) is holding its annual Maps, Matzah and More Festival, on Sunday 9th and Monday 10th April. Multiple heritage sites will be offering free shows, free guided tours, free arts and crafts workshops and free activities for the whole family!
You can find a full list of the heritage sites from North to South participating in the Maps, Matza and More Festival here, but I’ve focused on three sites that are in or near the center of the country, so that you don’t need to spend your precious vacation hours on the roads.
Mikveh Israel, Holon
In the heart of Gush Dan, at the entrance to Holon, lies a small, pastoral French-style village from the 19th century. Mikveh Israel was the first agricultural school in the Land of Israel and many important chapters in all areas of Zionist activity can be credited to the place, from agriculture to education. The buildings have been beautifully restored by SPIHS and you’ll be in awe of the synagogue, with its restored painted ceiling and marble floor, or the wine-cellar where young people were sworn into the service of the Haganah.
But one of Mikveh Israel’s strongest points is its beautiful grounds which include impressive trees, a large botanical garden, and wide, open spaces. This is a true slice of green heaven in the heart of Israel.
Free Activities over Hol HaMo’ed at Mikveh Israel include guided tours (at 10:00, 11:00 and 14:00) and the Botanical Gardens (at 12:00 and 13:00); traditional games and activities; photo booths with period costumes for the whole family; street performers; arts and crafts, including a mural painting workshop; theatrical children’s shows.
For more details: 03-5030489
Yellin House, Motza
Built in 1890 by Yehoshua Yellin, this was the home of the the first Jewish family that moved out of the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City at the turn of the 19th century. The stone house stands proud in the middle of a rural area, surrounded by orchards and ancient olive trees. The renovated house is now a visitors center which allows you to understand how people lived 150 years ago. Yellin House is conveniently located just five minutes from the center of the capital, off Highway 1, and is also in close proximity to picnic spots and nature trails.
Free Activities over Hol HaMo’ed at Yellin House include guided tours (between 09:00 and 13:00): photo booths with period costumes for the whole family; craft workshops, including making scent bags from spices picked in the Yellin orchard; theatrical shows for children, traditional games and activities.
For more details: 02-5345443
Ben Gurion House, Tel Aviv
Two locations that are dedicated to Israel’s first Prime Minister fall under the umbrella of Israel heritage sites. The first is Ben Gurion’s Desert Home at Kibbutz Sde Negev in the Negev. The second is in the heart of Tel Aviv on – yes, you guessed it – Ben Gurion Avenue. The Ben Gurion House in Tel Aviv was the permanent home of Paula, David, and their three children, and was bequeathed to the State of Israel after his death. If you want to see history and heritage come alive before your eyes, this is the place to visit!
Free activities over Hol HaMo’ed at Ben Gurion House in Tel Aviv: photo booths with period costumes, street performers dress as Paula and David Ben Gurion, guided tours around the house at 10:00, 11:30 and 13:00, arts and crafts workshops, including how to make ‘kuch much, Ben Gurion’s favorite food!
For more details: 03-5221010
Other Israel heritage sites taking part in the Maps, Matza and More Festival:
The Valley Train Site, Kfar Yehoshua
Founders’ Museum, Ma’alot-Tarchishah
Founders’ Courtyard Museum, Kibbutz Ein Shemer
Historic Nahalal Police Station
Gush Etzion Visitor Center
Founders Hut Museum, Hatzerim
Founders Museum, Sderot
Atid in the Desert, Yeruham
Be’arot in the Negev, Kibbutz Alumim
About SPIHS: The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS), is an independent nonprofit organization established in 1984 that works to locate, restore and preserve heritage sites across Israel. It oversees more than 200 heritage sites around the country, running nine of these sites directly, including the Ayalon Institute Underground Bullet Factory and the Atlit Detention Camp. Millions of visitors come to the different sites each year, learning about Israel’s Pathway to Independence.
Follow the SPIHS Facebook page in English to learn about activities, festivals and new developments.