July 8, 2016


How I LARPed across the Galilee in the footsteps of the Crusaders (ILAN BEN ZION, July 5, 2016, Times of Israel)

Under the cover of darkness, I slunk out of the Crusader encampment by the spring of Saffuriya and set out into the Galilee night. King Guy de Lusignan and his men had concluded their congress in which they resolved to march on toward Tiberias and confront the army of Saladin. Hearing their plan to trudge through the blazing heat in metal armor and heavy wool garments, I reconsidered my participation in what was sure to be an ill-fated mission.

Besides, my cellphone was at 28% and the 12th-century reenactment trousers were itchier than fiberglass mittens. Modern-day Haifa was a hitchhike away and I could make it in time for last call if I hustled.

Let's backtrack a few hours.

Earlier on Thursday I had arrived at the headquarters of the Kingdom of Jerusalem - the home of Genadiy Nizhnik, a tour guide and archaeology student who organizes an annual historic reenactment of the Battle of the Horns of Hattin. The apartment door opened, revealing a topless, barrel-bellied Ukrainian with a grizzled beard, brilliant blue eyes, and a massive scar across his stomach - no doubt a great wound got in battle. Nizhnik, who would act the part of King Guy, struck a regal pose despite wearing just blue hose girded with a leather belt. He ordered I don a jalabiya and Arab headscarf and make my way to the bus outside.

For the past several years, Nizhnik and a small band of followers put on medieval garb, clad themselves in armor, and spend several days in July retracing the steps of the Crusader army and waging a mock battle on the field west of the Sea of Galilee. It's part LARPing -- live action role-playing -- part homage, and part history lesson.

Posted by at July 8, 2016 8:45 AM