Picture of Hebron Festival (Cred: the Jewish Community of Hebron)
Approximately 300,000 people took advantage of the Passover break and fair weather to visit sites in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan valley over the recent holiday.
Thousands of hikers and tourists visited sites in the Judea and Samaria areas during the Passover holiday, flocking to wineries, museums, hiking trails, music and art festivals, archaeological digs and historical sites.
A wave of pleasant weather saw clear skies for the duration of the festival, and temperatures peaked at close to 80 degrees Fahrenheit most days – perfect hiking weather. Many families and youth took the opportunity to get out their barbecues for the first time this year, and the air in some parks had a distinctly smoky edge.
One of the most popular destinations was Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, where the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs are buried. Thousands went there to pray, sing and dance together during the Passover festival, in which popular musicians played in for the large crowds.
This year, for the first time, a livestream of the performances was made available online, and around 150,000 people from all over the world were able to virtually take part in the festivities.
About 50,000 people enjoyed the live music shows outside the Cave of the Patriarchs in the Biblical city of Hebron. A similar number went to tourist attractions in the Gush Etzion area, just south of Jerusalem. Approximately 15,000 tourists visited the ancient site of Shilo, where the Jewish temple once stood.
Quad-biking in Gush Etzion. (Cred: Gush Eztion Regional Council)
Another ancient prayer site popular among visitors was the preserved mosaic floor of the sixth-century Shalom Al Israel (Peace Unto Israel) synagogue in Jericho, which is normally closed to the public.
Mosaic in the Shalom Al Israel Synagogue, Jericho
The Dead Sea was packed as families took the opportunity to avoid hosting the ‘Seder’, the first night of Passover, at home, and instead allowed one of the hotels there to provide a ready-made Passover experience.
Dead Sea (Cred: Darko Tepert Donatus)
Local officials, tourist agencies and the administrators of various sites in Judea and Samaria all expressed satisfaction at the high numbers.
Yesha council chair Hananel Dorani said that, “Judea, Samaria and the Jordan valley are at their most verdant right now. You see green all the way from the northern tip of Samaria, through the Jordan valley and [the area allocated in the Bible to] the tribe of Benjamin, till Mount Hebron” in the south.
“We expected an increase in visitors this year and I’m delighted to see that hundreds of thousands of tourists have come here and shared the Passover festival together with us in the Biblical heartland”, added Dorani.