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Four days of Jerusalem Day

by michael May 28 2008
Things to doArtFilmFoodFor the kidsHolidaysMunicipal news
Efrat Gosh rocks the mic
The 41st anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem is an occasion of such incredible, unspeakable awesomeness that the city couldn't even fit all of its commemorative events into the relevant day. Jerusalem demands your glee not just on June 2, but on June 1 through 4. Who are you to say no to 96 straight hours of Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim) activities?

Start things off in a relaxed manner on the 1st by visiting the Israel Draws Jerusalem exhibition at Mamilla and then heading to Safra Square to take in Rolling Flags, in which some people will ride some bikes across the square and then give Israeli flags to the mayor before seminal Israeli fusion rock act Ethnix goes on. But don't worry, the fun ramps up from there, and you'll be glad you saved your energy by the time night falls and the real party begins.

Dominating Monday night celebrations is Laila Lavan, this year's rebranded Student Day festival, which, taking a page from the beer-and-self-righteousness-soaked playbook of those debauched Tel Avivis, lasts all night and into the morning, filling up the time with a bevy of cultural activities, copious big-name concerts and discounted breakfast all over town. Considering that Jerusalem is usually a veritable crypt by 2 AM, an all-night festival is a strange and terrifying occurrence, and it remains to be seen what sorts of bizarreness will transpire when thousands of normally early-retiring Jerusalemites keep the party going well into Monday. They may well be so confused and disoriented that they participate for a change in the traditionally knit yarmulke-dominated Jerusalem Day march to the Western Wall.

And with all those boisterous young people with their hip-hop music and salsa dancing exhausted and hungover by the time Tuesday rolls around, our thoroughfares will be safe for families, labor unions and politicians, who will take to the streets Tuesday evening for a float-filled march to the Teddy Stadium, where Subliminal will regale the assembled masses with his unique brand of pro-establishment yet somehow brazenly rebellious rapping.

Student Day crowds

The next day, if the floats parade hasn't satisfied your craving for peculiar vehicles, you can swing by Safra Square to see $9 million worth of extremely classic cars, having been driven there from England (more or less) as part of a Jewish National Fund publicity stunt to celebrate Jerusalem Day and earn money for development in the Negev.

And while all this wackiness is going on, Jerusalem's theaters and concert halls are hosting a series of more thoughtful and edifying entertainment events as part of the ongoing Israel Festival.

Oh, and punctuating every day of celebrations will be - of course - fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. Because how will you know you're having fun unless the sky is filled with exploding colors?

Photo of Laila Lavan main stage co-headliner Efrat Gosh at a recent Jerusalem gig courtesy of smadars from flickr under a creative commons license; Student Day revelers throwing their hands in the air like they care for Jerusalem very much courtesy of Student Union spokesperson's office.

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