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Chofshi Bakayitz's free events are nearly over

by simone July 15 2008
Things to doArtFor the kids

Must... keep... party... going....

As food and gas prices rise worldwide, and with Israelis (and Jews in general) always looking for a free ride (isn't that what the stereotype is all about?), the Chofshi Bakayitz (Summer Nights) series comes as a welcome breath of FREE fresh air in this hot summer. Founded in 2003 as an attempt to reinstate Jerusalem as the cultural capital of Israel and to provide residents with hope in the dark days of the intifada, the series now attracts culture hounds from all sectors and locales.

"It was important for me that people outside of Jerusalem come to the series as well, so we advertised all over the country," says Uri Strissover, cultural director of the Jerusalem Foundation, which sponsors the series. "I want people across the country to think of Jerusalem as a place of quality culture."

In keeping with its mandate to provide cultural opportunities to all of Jerusalem's residents, Chofshi Bakayitz offers a wide range of ways to spend those hot summer nights and days. The Yellow Submarine-hosted triple threat of Friday afternoon music sessions – rock, electro and world – was designed to attract the city's youth (the final session will be held this Friday). A number folk music and dance performances in the city's Gan Hapa'amon (Liberty Bell Park), on the other hand, have catered to those who still think Israeli culture means dancing the hora and/or singing in unison.

After the Bridge of Strings opening, in which young female dancers were asked at the last minute to wear more modest clothing, Jerusalemite was curious as to whether the Chofshi Bakayitz series encountered similar pressures from certain members of the Jerusalem leadership. The answer, according to Mr. Strissover is a resounding "no" - the reason being that the series purposely divvies up its events specifically so that all of Jerusalem's various religious and ethnic groups may take part in the series without having to attend events that they find offensive. An east Jerusalem street party featuring musical performances and family friendly activities attracted the city's Arab residents while an art exhibit at Oman, a charedi art school, is set to provide Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox residents with a day of culture that excludes scantily clad dancers. (The exhibit's grand opening takes place on Wednesday, July 14 at 8pm and the runs through July 30.)

The series closes out this Saturday, with yet another art exhibit - this time at the Artist's House.

Courtesy photo of Onili, a cheeky electro-pop songstress who played at the Yellow Submarine's recent electro-themed Friday session under the Chofshi Bakayitz umbrella.

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