For internationals, the chagim (holidays) that occur in September can be a big shock. It seems like the entire country shuts down for nearly the entire month! This year, the chagim will begin the second week of September with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
Most stores are closed, nobody is working, there’s barely any cars on the road—including no public transportation. What is there to do? Hopefully this list will give you some inspiration and prepare you for the chagim in Tel Aviv.
Go to the Beach
The most wonderful thing about beaches? They never close! Whenever you’re trying to come up with something to do in Tel Aviv, going to the beach is always a great option. Just beware that everyone else in the city also going to take advantage of their time off work to soak up some sun and enjoy the Mediterranean. It will be crowded, but there’s lots of beaches in Tel Aviv, so you can always find a spot to put down your towel.
Practice your Cooking Skills
Don’t get stuck with an empty kitchen and an empty stomach this year. A majority of the bars, restaurants, and grocery stores will be closed during the chagim. This means September is the perfect time for you to stock up on ingredients and work on your cooking skills! If you need inspiration, Israel’s top chef Eyal Shani has an amazing and hilarious YouTube series where he explains how to cook his most famous dishes.
Attend a Festival
Lots of great festivals happen during this time of year. Take an opportunity to get out of the city and truly take advantage of your time off with a weekend getaway. There’s Meteor Festival, Tamar Festival, Zorba the Buddha Festival, Neverland Electronic Music Festival, and more, all happening this September. Go on an adventure with some pals and dance the nights away!
Binge Watch Netflix
On the opposite end of the spectrum, September is also the perfect time to just Netflix and chill. There’s not a whole lot going on in Tel Aviv, so curling up on the couch and watching all of season 2 of Fauda is a nice lazy way to spend your chagim.
Go to Jaffa
More stores and restaurants are open in Jaffa because of the Arab population that lives there. You have a better bet of finding a tasty meal or a bar to hang out in during the chagim if you head south to Jaffa.
Find a Bike
Possibly the very best thing about the chagim in Israel is experiencing the complete and utter shutdown of the entire country on Yom Kippur. Not a single business is open, and not a single car is on the road. Instead, people take to the streets to bike and walk all over the city, including on the highways and in the tunnels. It’s a surreal experience you don’t want to miss out on, so find a bike and have fun riding it down Ayalon highway—this is something you definitely can’t do any other day of the year, or anywhere else in the world!
About The Author:
Zoë Biehl is a full-time freelance writer and editor with an insatiable passion for travel. Originally from New York, she now happily calls Tel Aviv home.