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The top five views of Jerusalem's Old Cityby michael • October 24 2015
Best of Jerusalem
Jerusalem of gold, and of copper and of light
The rabbis of the Talmud wrote it, and every guidebook and tour operator repeats it: "Ten measures of beauty descended on the world; nine were taken by Jerusalem." Trite, perhaps. Immodest, certainly. Untrue? Well... not really. No matter what ill-advised (or painfully ironic) contemporary architectural claptrap the government flings skyward, the modest beauty of the olive-studded, elaborately terraced Judean mountains and the quiet grandeur of the ruins of glorious pasts remain unsullied. But even those aforementioned guidebooks and tour operators might not tell you where to go for the city's most spectacular vistas. That's what we're for. So get ready for Jerusalemite's definitive list of the best views of Jerusalem's Old City:
Mt. Scopus Promenade
The Austrian Hospice
Mount of Olives
The Ramparts Walk
And that isn't all, of course. Honorable mentions go to the Kollek-initiated terraced sidewalks of Yemin Moshe; to anywhere in Ein Kerem for the unparalled Jerusalem hills vistas; to the Goldman Promenade at Armon HaNetziv; and to the roof of the Harry S. Truman building on Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus for a stunning panorama of Old City, new city and vacant desert (see if a Hebrew U friend will take you).
Photo of Jerusalem at sunset from Mount Scopus courtesy of mockstar from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo from the Haas Promenade courtesy of moomoobloo from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo from the Mount Scopus Promenade courtesy of MiKix by Mirella from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo from the Austrian Hospice's roof courtesy of delayed gratification from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo from the Mount of Olives courtesy of Ladyhawke from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo of the Ramparts by Ben Jacobson for Jerusalemite.
Jerusalem art: it's eeeeeeeeevilby michael • May 09 2014
Art, Bridge of Strings, City planning
Hey, remember that "concerned Jerusalem citizens' group" Lemallah (population: one dedicated hombre) that, well, according to itself, stopped the construction of a philanthropist-funded aesthetics-defying eyesore of a public sculpture over Zion Square downtown?
Of course you do.
Well, it turns out that in the wake of that stunning victory against the forces that may or may not be, that "concerned Jerusalem citizens' group" has kept up the fight for a purer, better Jerusalem the only way it (he) knows how: by continuing to hit the pipe really, really hard.
You see, Lemallah-guy, intoxicated with power and powder, has determined that many of the public art installations across the city are the sinister works of Jew-hating Freemasons with a secret and evil agenda.
No, really, everyone in the city government is a Freemason (possibly also an Illuminatus, with a smattering of Knights Templar):
The best is the abstract sculpture deemed "an anal cavity for your child to play in." Clearly he has it confused with the Rav Chen "movie theater." Other amusing conclusions call out Zion Square's hidden Satanic design and the uncircumcised phallus-head of the horse in Horse Park (actually, he sort of has a glans point about that).
Formula One race cars tear through Jerusalem streetsby ben • June 20 2013
Sports, Municipal news, Things to do
Jerusalem dwellers were treated to a taste of F1 auto racing when drivers and vehicles from the Ferrari and Marussia teams put on an invigorating motorsport showcase this past Thursday and Friday on a 2.8-kilometer route that traversed the Old Train Station fairgrounds, the Old City Walls and King David Street.
Team Ferrari's three-time Grand Prix champ Giancarlo Fisichella zoomed past rows of bleachers set up around the Mamilla neighborhood at 240 kilometers per hour, and the crowd, hailing from all walks of life, went wild. Some 160,000 people are said to have checked out the action in person over the course of these two days. In addition to Fisichella, Marussia driver Rodolfo Gonzalez and 2012 World Superbike victor Massimiliano "the Roman Emperor" Biaggi also participated. Massimiliano's freestyle motorcycle stunt routene provided major thrills.
"It’s great to have the chance to drive a Formula One car on the streets of a city that is as fascinating and full of history as Jerusalem,” said Fisichella at the Formula One Jerusalem Peace Road Show's press conference launch event.
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), Formula One's governing body, has been aggressively expanding its reach to new territories in recent decades. While many locales are now enjoying new additions to the Grand Prix competitoon circuit, showcases like the one in Jerusalem are rare, as non-Grand Prix FIA events usually take the form of demonstration rallies in closed spaces.
Photo of a 2009 Ferarri Formula 1 automobile outside the Jaffa Gate courtesy of The Israel Project from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
Jerusalem gets free science lessons in pajamasby ben • March 17 2013
News, City planning, Pop culture, Things to do, This week in Jerusalem
Under the framework of the "Science to the People" initiative (official website in Hebrew only), a Ministry of Science, Technology and Space-managed series of fun events targeting everyday Israelis for National Science Day, plebes were recently invited to storm the ivory tower.
Last week's edu-tainment included a talk on science and art over coffee and cake at the Israel Museum, a Hebrew University campus pub presentation on economics, and a series of home lectures called "Professors in Slippers," which saw thought leaders giving over their musings on tactonic plate moments, the emotional experience, public transport and pension scheme sustainability.
And it was all for free. Check it out.
Video by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The top five underground performance spaces in Jerusalemby michael • February 12 2013
Best of Jerusalem, Art, Music, Things to do
You'd never recognize Weird Al since the haircut
Much is made of the youth exodus plaguing Jerusalem, a cascade of bright young people squeezed out every year by skyrocketing rents, poor municipal management and sometime intolerance by more conservative sectors of the population, but were a Jerusalem visitor to situate themselves in the slice of downtown between the HaNeviim Street and Hillel Street, they would find a youth culture more culturally vibrant, artistically engaged and politically aware than any in a city three times the size of Jerusalem. What Jerusalem's underground community lacks in numbers, it makes up for in enthusiasm and the sort of civic pride peculiar to groups who buck the dominant culture. The pierced, tattooed Anarchist Against the Wall radical, the heretically-inclined but still devoutly faithful ultra-Orthodox Jew, the Russian-born lady electro DJ and the Palestinian drag queen may not fit the stereotype of a Jerusalem resident, but the city is theirs too - and they would be the first to tell you so.
So where can you meet the ambassadors of the Other Jerusalem? Let Jerusalemite show you the way with our list of the top five underground performance spaces in Jerusalem.
Lots of underground artists also appear at the Yellow Submarine, but as a Municipality-funded affair, its cred is suspect - even if its music, which encompasses otherwise overlooked underground musical forms like jazz, is excellent. And of course, no mention of underground venues would be complete without the late, lamented Daila, a one-time Shlomtzion landmark that served as salon, gallery and cafe for Jerusalem's proud radicals, artists, poets and weirdoes. Jerusalemite pours out this Taybeh in its memory.
Photo of accordion antics and thumbnail photo of musicians at Uganda courtesy of ak-duck; photo of a DJ rocking Sira courtesy of dovi under a Creative Commons license; Bass photo courtesy of Bass; photo of Beit Avi Chai by Harry Rubenstein for Jerusalemite.
Jerusalem of tunnelsby ben • July 26 2011
Municipal news, City planning
You can get there from here
This Thursday morning, the Moriah construction concern and the Jerusalem city government are scheduled to collectively host a ceremony to mark the official naming of the Mount Scopus tunnel after Israel's "first lady of song," Naomi Shemer.
Shemer, who lived from the pre-state age through the age of post-Zionism's rise (1930 to 2004), penned classic Israeli songbook anthems like "Lu Yehi" and "Al Kol Eleh."
In 1966, as the regional tensions prior to the Six Day War began to reach a fever pitch, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek personally pleaded Shemer to write an ode to the Holy City. The result, "Jerusalem of Gold," is arguably the most beloved of all Israeli folk songs.
Ultimately, "Jerusalem of Gold" is far more than a staggering piece of songwriting. It's also inspiration for horrible headline punnery ("Jerusalem of tunnels?" Oy. Remember the wince-inducing "Jerusalem of celluloid," "Jerusalem of prose," or "Jerusalem of green"?), as well as being maybe - just maybe - evidence of urban planning prophecy.
Reflecting on the Israelites' (temporary, in retrospect) longing for a reunited Jerusalem, the song even includes this couplet, which, rhyming in Hebrew, addresses the travel inefficiency disadvantages of Jordanian control over eastern Judea:
And in the tunnels in the mountain
A few months after the song was written, among a few other changes that took place, it became possible for Shemer and friends to visit the Dead Sea via the Jerusalem-Jericho route. And in recent years, this road has become even faster, thanks to its circumventing of Jericho altogether, the addition of lanes and the digging of a tunnel which allows travelers to bypass the congestion atop Mount Scopus on the way out of town.
Ignoring the arguments of those who tend to read too much into symbolism, if there were ever a tunnel more deserving of Shemer's name, Jerusalemite defies readers to name it. There sure are loads of other options (like this one, or this one), but this tunnel has her name all over it.
Photo courtesy of the Jerusalem Municipality.
Streetballin' in Jerusalemby michael • June 30 2011
Municipal news, Sports, Things to do
Safra Square: better for basketball than government
Basketball. Long ago in the game's early days, before everyone realized they were not on the whole a very tall people, Jews were major players, significantly overrepresented on the court. And while the era of Jewish sports mastery has since passed, the Jewish state honors the Jewish heritage of basketball by reserving the sport second place in Israeli athletic affections (after soccer, of course). Maccabi Tel Aviv may be populated by nearly as many NBA castoffs as born Israelis, but they're our NBA castoffs, and we love them even if they sometimes embarrass us by losing to the Europeans.
Traffic in Rechavia possibly headed undergroundby michael • May 01 2011
City planning, Municipal news
Jerusalem - even modern Jerusalem - is an old city. Many neighborhoods date back to the horse-and-buggy era, and the street layout is, to put it gently, more "organic" than "thought-out." All of this conspires to create quite the crush of traffic in Jerusalem's more venerable neighborhoods, and with no space to build more roads (all those priceless vintage houses in the way), it seems an intractable problem.
Getting from Sacher Park to Independence Park in Jerusalem today requires a slow crawl through the crowded arteries of the upscale Rehavia neighborhood. A new municipal plan, which includes a tunnel connecting the two parks, could spell an end to the heavy traffic flowing through the neighborhood's Rambam [sic] Street, which connects the city center to the government quarter and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.
That's such a good idea, it's a wonder nobody seems to have thought about it before (well, except for that one under Jaffa Gate, pictured above, which has actually worked wonderfully). It's an exciting time for Jerusalem urban planning these days, what with the Bridge of Strings' walking path, the much-needed initiative for better cinemas in town, and an ambitious plan to better integrate Jerusalem's government infrastructure with the rest of the city. Now, if they could just do something about that light rail....
Photo of Jaffa Gate tunnel courtesy of EagleXDV from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
Beating the summer heatby michael • July 23 2010
Weather, Food, Things to do
It's brutal out there - just ask this dude
It's almost August in Jerusalem. This can mean any number of things - watermelon season is in full swing at the shuk, the Beer Festival is coming to town - but for many of us in Jerusalem, one thing will be most noticeable: It is really, really hot. Sure, the relative height of the Judean Hills and the occasional mountain breeze means that during the hot months Jerusalem residents suffer less than their compatriots in the Levantine bayou that is summertime Tel Aviv - but when it's 90 degrees and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky since March and the desert sun is glaring fiercely off the glowing white Jerusalem stone, the difference can seem at times to be mostly academic.
Stay cool out there, peoples.
Image courtesy of noneck from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
Matza hits the big time for Jerusalemby ben • March 25 2010
Holidays, Food, Municipal news, News, Religion, Things to do
With just four days to go until the big holiday, Passover fever is sweeping Jerusalem, hard-core.
Preparations are underway for an extremely festive week, when Jerusalemites will be celebrating the Exodus in style, complete with loads of cultural offerings, an arts-and-crafts street fair, and even a festival showcasing the city's most impressive English-language performance ensembles.
Speaking of baking matza, pictured above is the honorable Mayor Nir Barkat, posing with a world record-setting largest piece of matza ever. The oversized cracker measures over 3 meters in diameter and weighs in at 60 kilo. It was made by a team of 40 people, two of whom wore rappelling gear to be able to reach the edges while hanging from above. Try hiding that afikoman.
The matza went on display at Safra Square today, as part of a pre-holiday "toast" (nyuk) for City Hall's employees. Barkat is posing with Aryeh Goldberg, one of the owners of the Irenstein Matza factory, which spearheaded the baking, and Racheli Ivenboim, the CEO of the Meir Panim NGO, whose headquarters plans on displaying the matza to the general public through the end of the holiday.
Of course, this is hardly the first world record set in Jerusalem. In recent months, we've witnessed the unfurling of the world's largest flag, the grilling of the world's largest serving of meurav Yerushalmi, and the whipping of the world's largest plate of hummus. The jury is still out, though, on which of the four world record-breaking events is least nightmare-inducing.
Happy Passover, lovers of Jerusalem, from the Jerusalemite team.
Photo courtesy of Yossi Mor for the Municipality of Jerusalem.
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