Events and Celebrations at Masada

A tour to Masada cliffMasada holds a special place in the heart of the Jewish nation. The 1st century  event when 960 Jewish zealots made a last ditch stand against the Romans; held the mountain top for three years and finally chose  mass suicide rather than surrendering to the Romans has become an indelible symbol of national pride. The idea that it was better to die than relinquish their national independence is forever associated with Masada. For this reason Masada has become the traditional site of the Israeli Army swearing in ceremony which takes place annually at the end of the soldier’s basic training. New recruits scale the Snake Path which reaches the summit where they swear allegiance to the country. The ceremony ends with the promise that “Masada shall not fall again.”

Inspired by the same national pride every Israeli school pupil will at some time during their schooling go on a school trip to Masada. Trips like this were first organized in 1941 among the early youth movements to inspire resistance to foreign rule in Palestine.

Religious Events at Masada

Masada’s role in the history of the Jewish nation and the emotional and spiritual feelings which it stirs in the heart of every Israeli has made it a popular venue for traditional Jewish mile stone events. Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs and weddings can be held on Masada. These religious ceremonies are held in the remains of the synagogues, in the Beis Midrash or the zealot’s dwellings on the top of Masada. The ceremony is usually followed by a tour of the fortress and the celebrating parties then decent to the foot of the mountain or to a nearby kibbutz for a celebratory meal. Holding a religious ceremony on Masada adds poignancy and a sense of the historic continuity to the Jewish experience as Masada represents Jewish courage and determination not to relinquish independence. The ceremonies are usually held at sunrise or soon after. Of course the dramatic surroundings and views aren’t bad either!

Cultural Events at Masada

In 2010 an annual tradition was started when an elaborate full scale production of the opera Nabucco was performed with a massive cast and orchestra at the foot of Masada. Over the course of several performances a total of 42,617 people saw the opera. Again in 2011 opera came to the desert and Aida was performed to 45,600 spectators. In 2012 48,720 people saw Carmen performed at Masada. In 2013, the Israeli Opera Festival at Masada planned to repeat the successful tradition however due to financial restraints it has been postponed it until 2014. The productions involve hundreds of crew members and a massive 3,500 meter stage constructed at the foot of Masada and sets are built to take advantage of the already dramatic backdrop. With the grand scale of the productions the director can incorporate the use of horses, donkeys and real carriages as they did in Carmen. In 2014 La Traviata is set to take the stage at Masada.


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