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We will be in Ashdod on Holy Thursday, April 13 '17 from 8am-10pm and Haifa on Good Friday, April 14, '17 from 7am-4pm. We are joining a private tour and I'm curious what your thoughts are on what we can see/do and/or how the Holy Days might affect our time in port.

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We will be in Ashdod on Holy Thursday, April 13 '17 from 8am-10pm and Haifa on Good Friday, April 14, '17 from 7am-4pm. We are joining a private tour and I'm curious what your thoughts are on what we can see/do and/or how the Holy Days might affect our time in port.

 

The dates of your visit to Israel coincide with the weeklong Passover, which is a national holiday here, but that won't have much of an effect on your touring, especially in Haifa (I am not familiar with if/how Holy Thursday and Good Friday would effect entrance to churches, but your tour guide certainly will know how to schedule those visits). There could be some issues with food, but your tour guide will know which restaurants to take you to, and will certainly explain all the particulars regarding food during Passover; chances are you will barely notice those, for example you won't be able to purchase a falafel in most of Jerusalem, but you will be able to in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Museums will be open.

 

However, while the Christian Holy Days are not national holidays here so you won't experience any closures, Jerusalem's Old City will be crowded with both Christian Pilgrims and Israelis on Passover vacation. I just checked the dates, and the day you are in Jerusalem an event which only takes place twice a year will be taking place that morning- the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall, which draws thousands of people. Again, your tour company is fully aware of this event and will schedule your touring around it. If you are planning to do an overnight in Jerusalem on Thursday night, and your tour company is not making those arrangements for you then I'd strongly suggest you reserve a hotel room ASAP.

 

(Here is a short article, along with a video clip of this Passover's Priestly Blessing:

http://m.jpost.com/Israel-News/WATCH-LIVE-Thousands-attend-priestly-blessing-ceremony-at-Western-Wall-452229#article=6024MkIxMjk3QTNENTY5MjFDREFCOTJERTEzMTcwMDZFNjc=)

 

HTH,

 

Ruth

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The dates of your visit to Israel coincide with the weeklong Passover, which is a national holiday here, but that won't have much of an effect on your touring, especially in Haifa (I am not familiar with if/how Holy Thursday and Good Friday would effect entrance to churches, but your tour guide certainly will know how to schedule those visits). There could be some issues with food, but your tour guide will know which restaurants to take you to, and will certainly explain all the particulars regarding food during Passover; chances are you will barely notice those, for example you won't be able to purchase a falafel in most of Jerusalem, but you will be able to in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Museums will be open.

 

However, while the Christian Holy Days are not national holidays here so you won't experience any closures, Jerusalem's Old City will be crowded with both Christian Pilgrims and Israelis on Passover vacation. I just checked the dates, and the day you are in Jerusalem an event which only takes place twice a year will be taking place that morning- the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall, which draws thousands of people. Again, your tour company is fully aware of this event and will schedule your touring around it. If you are planning to do an overnight in Jerusalem on Thursday night, and your tour company is not making those arrangements for you then I'd strongly suggest you reserve a hotel room ASAP.

 

(Here is a short article, along with a video clip of this Passover's Priestly Blessing:

http://m.jpost.com/Israel-News/WATCH-LIVE-Thousands-attend-priestly-blessing-ceremony-at-Western-Wall-452229#article=6024MkIxMjk3QTNENTY5MjFDREFCOTJERTEzMTcwMDZFNjc=)

 

HTH,

 

Ruth

 

Ruth.....thank you so much for your detailed reply. We will be on a cruise ship so will not need hotel reservations. Appreciate the video clip too. :)

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Ruth, what do you think are the chances of being able to go up to Temple Mount in October? I will be there October 28. Are any of the Jewish holidays on that day? I have been to the Western Wall but never with as many people as shown on the video. Holy cow! As we say here!!! Too many people at that time. There were many Bar Mitzvahs when we were there two years ago and as I recall it was during Sukkot but not sure. But we could not go up to Temple Mount due to a security incident when we were there.

 

Also how much time does it usually take going up and back through the tunnel at the Wall? I am trying to guage time required if we do have a chance to see it.

 

Thanks for your input.

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We arrive in Ashdod about 1 pm and leave the next day. We have tours lined up for both days and really excited. The 1st day's tour (Wednesday) is Tel Aviv/Jaffa for 6 hours or so with IGT. When we return to the port is there anything to see/do in the evening that we ought to consider that's nearby?

We then port at Haifa for a day (Friday) and have a tour with IGT. The ship doesn't leave until 10pm. though a long day's tour, anything we should consider near the port, maybe for after dinner?

 

I agree with the other responses.

 

Maybe the bus driver for the Tel Aviv/Jaffa tour can drop you off some place besides back at the cruise terminal. I believe the Ashdod cruise terminal is part of a larger cargo port and it might not be that easy or quick to get to anyplace else from there. It might be worth saving one taxi trip.

 

For more information about what you might be able to see or do in Ashdod, you might want to check http://www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Tourist%20Information/Discover%20Israel/Cities/Pages/Ashdod.aspx, on the Israel Ministry of Tourism's website.

 

In Haifa, that area Marigold252 referred to is the German Colony.

 

I will be there October 28. Are any of the Jewish holidays on that day?

 

October, 28, 2016, is a Friday, Shabbat Eve (Erev Shabbat). In predominantly Jewish areas, retail stores close in the early afternoon, including stores that open on Saturday. Also, almost all public transportation stops service in the early afternoon. FYI Israel changes its clocks later that weekend, on Sunday, October 30.

 

Sorry I can't provide any information regarding your other questions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We will be in Israel, Celebrity 26 Oct (Haifa) - 27 Oct (Ashdod) - 28 Oct (Ashdod). While in Ashdod on the 27th we are planning to visit Jerusalem on our own. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but after a bit of research it appears that I can't walk out from the pier to the town on my own. We will have to take either a shuttle or a taxi specifically contracted to come in and out of the port.

1) Is the shuttle setup similar to the ones in Civitavecchia where it doesn't cost anything and takes you from ship to port gate? Or is this one of those $10 (more or less) shuttle that takes you out to the city center?

2) Shuttle times. Any idea when is the last shuttle (usually)?

3) Are taxis generally a lot cheaper outside of the port and are they available where the shuttle drops you off? (taxis priced as 323 NIS as of 2015 at the port)

4) Our biggest concern is if we do Ashdod - Jerusalem on our own and return later, say around 8 pm, we may not be able to get back to the ship if the shuttle ends late, or if we couldn't find this one special taxi company that can actually go into the port.

Please advise.

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We will be in Israel, Celebrity 26 Oct (Haifa) - 27 Oct (Ashdod) - 28 Oct (Ashdod). While in Ashdod on the 27th we are planning to visit Jerusalem on our own. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but after a bit of research it appears that I can't walk out from the pier to the town on my own. We will have to take either a shuttle or a taxi specifically contracted to come in and out of the port.

1) Is the shuttle setup similar to the ones in Civitavecchia where it doesn't cost anything and takes you from ship to port gate? Or is this one of those $10 (more or less) shuttle that takes you out to the city center?

2) Shuttle times. Any idea when is the last shuttle (usually)?

3) Are taxis generally a lot cheaper outside of the port and are they available where the shuttle drops you off? (taxis priced as 323 NIS as of 2015 at the port)

4) Our biggest concern is if we do Ashdod - Jerusalem on our own and return later, say around 8 pm, we may not be able to get back to the ship if the shuttle ends late, or if we couldn't find this one special taxi company that can actually go into the port.

Please advise.

 

Hello. I would be surprised if shuttle buses offered by the cruise line or by the port do not run until fairly late that night. It is an overnight stay and the cruise line and the port should expect many passengers to get back to the ship late that evening. Maybe Celebrity can provide you more information about this.

 

I do not know whether shuttle buses run between the cruise ship or terminal and the port gate or somewhere in the city. http://www.whatsinport.com/Ashdod.htm indicates that there is a shuttle bus between the parking lot and the passenger terminal, but I don't know if that would help visiting passengers coming off ships or only passengers driving to the port in their private cars.

 

The Hebrew version of the port's website does indicate that entry into the port is allowed only for authorized taxis. I'm going to assume that the Ashdod Port Taxis company has that authorization. The phone number I found is +972 8-852-1111.

 

I did see some limited public bus service from the port area to the central bus station. Cruise ships are not in port every day, so there might be better service on a day when a cruise ship is in port. It is difficult to determine now what kind of service there will be that night. You might want to try contacting the Egged public bus cooperative at http://www.egged.co.il/Public-requests.aspx.

 

Let me mention that I enjoyed spending a few hours in and around the Ashdod beach last week. A few minutes' walk from the central bus station, there is a promenade/boardwalk along the beach, as well as a large park (Ashdod Yam Park) right across the street. The Ashdod Performing Arts Center is here as well.

 

I'm sorry I cannot provide further information.

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Thanks so much for replying. Yikes, this is going to be a problem.. I called the number and after speaking to 3 person, no one could understand my question whether they go into the port terminal. Can't imagine how I would be able to call them in Ashdod for a ride back. Well, unless i get hold of a local with a cell phone who's willing! LOL. Can anyone who's in Israel be kind enough to call the number for me and find out if that's the right number? I don't know anyone who speaks Hebrew. We were thinking of taking the taxi to Jerusalem, and on the way back save some money and just take the bus. The bus website was great and I was able to find the buses no problem. Thanks millions

Edited by lisalovlee33
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Thanks so much for replying. Yikes, this is going to be a problem.. I called the number and after speaking to 3 person, no one could understand my question whether they go into the port terminal. Can't imagine how I would be able to call them in Ashdod for a ride back. Well, unless i get hold of a local with a cell phone who's willing! LOL. Can anyone who's in Israel be kind enough to call the number for me and find out if that's the right number? I don't know anyone who speaks Hebrew. We were thinking of taking the taxi to Jerusalem, and on the way back save some money and just take the bus. The bus website was great and I was able to find the buses no problem. Thanks millions

 

Well, I don't think it will be a problem, actually. The cruise line and the port will make sure you can get to and from the ship one way or another, although it might cost some money and you might have to get back to the ship earlier than you might like.

 

I called the Ashdod Port Taxis company and it turns out they do not have authorization to enter the port. They can drop passengers off either at Gate 1 or Gate 5. I'm not familiar enough with the port to know whether or how that might help you.

 

I actually think it might be a better idea to try to take a combination of a port shuttle bus and public transportation to Jerusalem, so you can see how that works before trying to do it on the way back, possibly at night.

 

One minor point: You might have realized this already, but I suggest not taking the train, as you would have to take a train north to Tel Aviv first, change trains, and then head southeast to Jerusalem. It should be much easier and quicker to get to the central bus station in Ashdod and then take a bus from there to Jerusalem. You might even be able to find a bus to Jerusalem that leaves from a location in Ashdod even more convenient than the central bus station.

 

At the end of the day, I think even if you don't make any specific plans, there will be plenty of options presented to you when you arrive, including possibly shared taxis.

 

Finally, I would check the Cruise Critic roll call. Maybe someone is already trying to arrange transportation to/from Jerusalem and is looking for others to fill a minivan/taxi.

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I will be 75 on arrival-both Ashod and Haifa. I would like to purchase a new talis for myself and my son.

 

Is it easy to find stores/shops for these articles?

 

Glenn:cool:

 

While there appear to be duty free shops at the Ashdod cruise terminal, I don't know if they sell talitot. As far as I can tell, there are no retail shops in the immediate vicinity. However, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a store selling talitot elsewhere in Ashdod. For example, the central bus station is part of a mall, with other shopping centers nearby.

 

In Haifa, I don't know of any specific store near the cruise terminal that sells talitot, but I again don't think one will be too difficult to find.

 

In either case, if you are visiting on Shabbat or other Jewish holiday, the stores selling talitot or other religious items would presumably be closed. I can't remember whether I've seen talitot for sale in the stores in downtown Jerusalem that are open on Shabbat.

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Hello Ruth,

I was wondering if you have any knowledge of how much approximately it would cost to take private transportation from the port of Haifa to Jerusalem and back the next day. (we have an overnight stop in Haifa). 4 persons. We have had a quote of $110/person each way......this seems high??

Thank You

Isabella

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Well, I don't think it will be a problem, actually. The cruise line and the port will make sure you can get to and from the ship one way or another, although it might cost some money and you might have to get back to the ship earlier than you might like.

 

I called the Ashdod Port Taxis company and it turns out they do not have authorization to enter the port. They can drop passengers off either at Gate 1 or Gate 5. I'm not familiar enough with the port to know whether or how that might help you.

 

I actually think it might be a better idea to try to take a combination of a port shuttle bus and public transportation to Jerusalem, so you can see how that works before trying to do it on the way back, possibly at night.

 

One minor point: You might have realized this already, but I suggest not taking the train, as you would have to take a train north to Tel Aviv first, change trains, and then head southeast to Jerusalem. It should be much easier and quicker to get to the central bus station in Ashdod and then take a bus from there to Jerusalem. You might even be able to find a bus to Jerusalem that leaves from a location in Ashdod even more convenient than the central bus station.

 

At the end of the day, I think even if you don't make any specific plans, there will be plenty of options presented to you when you arrive, including possibly shared taxis.

 

Finally, I would check the Cruise Critic roll call. Maybe someone is already trying to arrange transportation to/from Jerusalem and is looking for others to fill a minivan/taxi.

 

Thanks for replying. And big thanks for making that call!!! In any case, I will try to get a hold of the right taxi company before I get off the port. And as far as them not speaking English, it doesn't matter either, because I figure we can always have a drink somewhere in Ashdod, or a meal, and have the someone from the restaurant make the call for us, or even a stranger with a cell phone while in town. Shared transportation is also a sure way to go as we have also taken a few independent tours from taxis right off the port. (in this case, I'm guessing where the shuttle drops us off).

I was also thinking the same thing. Just as a back up, in case I cannot get hold of the taxi getting back into port, I will need to know exactly where the pick up point is for the shuttle, and best way is to take the shuttle to town to begin with! The con is that we would prefer to get there early before it gets too crowded. I guess I can't have my cake and eat it! I also found out from researching the port that Celebrity Reflections had shuttles back from Ashdod latest at 930 p.m. (review from 2012). This is fine because we will probably get in 830 p.m. latest. We really like the flexibility of doing it on our own time, like we like to wander in markets, shops, stop for a drink, a quick bite, spend more time in certain places, less in some, and is not easy to do in a tour even a small tour. Of course that'll mean we don't have all the historical facts but I'm sure I can find them all in a guide book anyway. Anyway, thanks again.

So far, I've only been trying to iron out the fine details on how the port works. Thanks for the tip about the bus. Actually just gave me an idea!!! A great idea. Just need to figure if it'll work. Will think about that before I ask more questions.

Edited by lisalovlee33
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Thanks for replying. And big thanks for making that call!!! In any case, I will try to get a hold of the right taxi company before I get off the port. And as far as them not speaking English, it doesn't matter either, because I figure we can always have a drink somewhere in Ashdod, or a meal, and have the someone from the restaurant make the call for us, or even a stranger with a cell phone while in town. Shared transportation is also a sure way to go as we have also taken a few independent tours from taxis right off the port. (in this case, I'm guessing where the shuttle drops us off).

I was also thinking the same thing. Just as a back up, in case I cannot get hold of the taxi getting back into port, I will need to know exactly where the pick up point is for the shuttle, and best way is to take the shuttle to town to begin with! The con is that we would prefer to get there early before it gets too crowded. I guess I can't have my cake and eat it! I also found out from researching the port that Celebrity Reflections had shuttles back from Ashdod latest at 930 p.m. (review from 2012). This is fine because we will probably get in 830 p.m. latest. We really like the flexibility of doing it on our own time, like we like to wander in markets, shops, stop for a drink, a quick bite, spend more time in certain places, less in some, and is not easy to do in a tour even a small tour. Of course that'll mean we don't have all the historical facts but I'm sure I can find them all in a guide book anyway. Anyway, thanks again.

So far, I've only been trying to iron out the fine details on how the port works. Thanks for the tip about the bus. Actually just gave me an idea!!! A great idea. Just need to figure if it'll work. Will think about that before I ask more questions.

 

My pleasure. I hope it all works out well and that you enjoy your cruise and your time in Israel

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I noticed you have been living in Israel for a number of years and have answered many questions for CC. We are going on new Viking from Rome to Holy Land and were to stop at Istanbul, but...

Well anyway, we new looking forward to updated info on Israel and stops we will visit. Mid March 2017 we should be in Jerusalem next 2days Haifa. Any info you care to share would be great. Have family in Booton, NJ

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Hi

Firstly I do apologize if this has been asked before.

We are on the Constellation stopping in Israel and we are taking private tours.

 

We have been to Israel before and loved it. Now for the question.

 

Last time we were there only Shekels could be used to buy thing-lunch. Is that still the case?

Our tours are in U.S. Dollars and we have lunch on our own, will we have to have Shekels?

Thanks

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Hi

Firstly I do apologize if this has been asked before.

We are on the Constellation stopping in Israel and we are taking private tours.

 

We have been to Israel before and loved it. Now for the question.

 

Last time we were there only Shekels could be used to buy thing-lunch. Is that still the case?

Our tours are in U.S. Dollars and we have lunch on our own, will we have to have Shekels?

Thanks

 

What's wrong with debit or credit cards? Unless you are going to by from street vendors, why would you need cash?

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Hi

Firstly I do apologize if this has been asked before.

We are on the Constellation stopping in Israel and we are taking private tours.

 

We have been to Israel before and loved it. Now for the question.

 

Last time we were there only Shekels could be used to buy thing-lunch. Is that still the case?

Our tours are in U.S. Dollars and we have lunch on our own, will we have to have Shekels?

Thanks

 

Just as in any country, our commerce is conducted in our own currency, which in Israel is shekels. So yes, you will need to pay in shekels, not dollars. As suggested by hubofhockey above, you can use your credit card to pay, or if you prefer to pay in cash, ATMs are widely available so you should have no problem getting a small amount of shekels to use. Currently the exchange rate has been hovering at a little under 4 NIS (shekels) to the dollar.

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for your quick response.

That's what we thought but always best to check

 

 

 

Just as in any country, our commerce is conducted in our own currency, which in Israel is shekels. So yes, you will need to pay in shekels, not dollars. As suggested by hubofhockey above, you can use your credit card to pay, or if you prefer to pay in cash, ATMs are widely available so you should have no problem getting a small amount of shekels to use. Currently the exchange rate has been hovering at a little under 4 NIS (shekels) to the dollar.
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  • 4 weeks later...

We will be in Israel for 16 days arriving October 9th - can't wait. I have googled tunnel tours and cannot find the particular tour that is referenced on this thread. Does anyone have a link that they can share? Please?

Also, to our Israeli experts - I've looked at the average temps in October - looks like about 75F (Tel Aviv) and I have yet to check Jerusalem (its so close to Tel Aviv, I would assume the temps are comparable). Is the humidity bearable in Oct (I'm from a very dry climate (Colorado) & find high humidity intolerable)?

Yad Vashem - is it possible to hire an English speaking guide on arrival or must I book ahead online?

Masada - has anyone toured? This is probably a moronic query but I was wondering how you get up to the fortress - sure hope we don't have to hike

Thanks in advance for any/all assistance.

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We will be in Israel for 16 days arriving October 9th - can't wait. I have googled tunnel tours and cannot find the particular tour that is referenced on this thread. Does anyone have a link that they can share? Please?

Also, to our Israeli experts - I've looked at the average temps in October - looks like about 75F (Tel Aviv) and I have yet to check Jerusalem (its so close to Tel Aviv, I would assume the temps are comparable). Is the humidity bearable in Oct (I'm from a very dry climate (Colorado) & find high humidity intolerable)?

Yad Vashem - is it possible to hire an English speaking guide on arrival or must I book ahead online?

Masada - has anyone toured? This is probably a moronic query but I was wondering how you get up to the fortress - sure hope we don't have to hike

Thanks in advance for any/all assistance.

 

October is a great time of year to visit Israel in terms of weather, but be aware that this year the Jewish holidays occur later than usual, and this will have some impact on your trip. (See below)

 

Re the weather: Although Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are only about an hour apart, they have somewhat different weather- Tel Aviv is on our coastal plain, while Jerusalem is inland and in low mountains. Expect the weather in Jerusalem to be about 10 degrees cooler than Tel Aviv during the day, with the nights getting a touch chilly. Of course, this can vary several degrees up or down. Also- while you most likely will experience mostly sunny days as our rainy season doesn't usually start until November, it's been feeling a bit damp already and we've even had a sprinkle or two, so I think you might want to be prepared for a touch of rain every now and then, and certainly some overcast skies.

 

Re Yad VaShem and also the Kotel Tunnel Tours: I've been scolded by the moderators in the past for providing direct links (even to museums), so I can only steer you toward the correct Google search. For Yad VaShem tours, you can google their visitor information page and there will be information about their tours in English. You'll want to book the Kotel Tunnel Tours in advance, so Google their visitor information page as well.

 

While you can hike up Masada, you'll be relieved to know there is a cable car to take you to the top :-)

 

Regarding the Jewish Holidays and how they will affect your visit:

 

You will be arriving after Rosh Hashanah, but just a couple of days before Yom Kippur, and that, along with Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacle) which this year is from Oct 17-24 will have these affects:

 

For Yom Kippur, pretty much the entire country shuts down from the afternoon before until sunset at the end of Yom Kippur. There will be no public transportation, just about all stores and restaurants will be closed (in all but the Muslim Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem all stores and restaurants will be closed), and there will be few if any cars on the roads- in fact, bicyclists take over the highways. (Note that many people will be fasting for the 25 hours of Yom Kipper, consuming no food or drink, so you might want to be sensitive to that while walking about.)

 

Sukkot is a very festive holiday, and if you are in Jerusalem the days before the holiday and during the week, be sure to look up to see the decorated temporary booths or huts that most families construct on their balconies. On the following days, in many cities, many if not most stores and restaurants will be closed, and there will be no public transportation: Sunday afternoon Oct 16- Monday night Oct 17, and Sunday afternoon, Oct 23- Monday night, Oct 24. (These are addition to the usual Friday afternoon- Saturday night closures. Note that in the city of Haifa public transportation does run on the Sabbath.) Note, too, that Israeli schools are closed during Sukkot and many families take vacations within Israel, so museums and other attractions, including all of Jerusalem, will be crowded. Jerusalem will be especially crowded that week, with fully booked hotels, and with the arrival of many Christian tour groups as well, so you really need to book any tickets or guided tours in advance, the sooner the better.

 

And, on Monday, Oct 18, Jerusalem will experience the 'Birkat Cohanim', the Blessing of the Priests, which occurs only twice each year, on Passover and Sukkot. Thousands will flock to the Old City that morning. It is quite a site, but needless to say, causes major jams in the city. You can get an idea of what is like from this article (with video) of this Passover's event:

 

http://m.jpost.com/Israel-News/WATCH-LIVE-Thousands-attend-priestly-blessing-ceremony-at-Western-Wall-452229#article=6024MkIxMjk3QTNENTY5MjFDREFCOTJERTEzMTcwMDZFNjc=

 

HTH!

 

Ruth

Edited by happy trailer
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Many thanks, Ruth - you have been very helpful!

Sounds like the weather will be perfect for me. Also very happy about the cable car @ Masada! I've perused the Yad Vashem website but it wasn't clear whether or not one could hire a guide on arrival - I will read again & if I still can't find my answer, I'll email. Yad Vashem is an absolute must for me but not sure which day we will be able to visit (don't have our entire itinerary nailed down) so that is why I am hesitant to book online for a specific date.

BTW: found the Kotel site online. :)

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