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Culture and community in the German Colony

by michael September 02 2008
Municipal newsThings to do
iccc-activity-0109.jpg
Children's activities at the pre-renovation ICCC

Adding yet more cultural opportunity to a neighborhood already contending with a surfeit of them, the newly revamped International Cultural and Community has just opened its doors in the German Colony, ushering in a bevy of entertainment and educational offerings with a big street party yesterday.

"We're all looking forward to getting out of our cramped temporary premises [on Patterson Street] and back to the center," [ICCC director] El Ami says. "We have spent around $2.4 million on the renovations and I think the new design of the center will be much more welcoming and will be able to accommodate far more activities than we had before."

According to El Ami, the new center is far more than just a cultural and leisure center. "The word 'community' in the center's title is very important," he explains. "This is a place for the community, and we want members of the community to be involved in it. We have all sorts of teams and sub-teams working for the betterment of the area. We say to people: 'If you want to contribute, go for it, but remember that it is not enough just to come up with an idea, you have to be committed and maintain good work.'"

The center's physical purview incorporates the German Colony, the Greek Colony, Rehavia, Talbiyeh, Old Katamon, Yemin Moshe, Kiryat Shmuel and Nayot. It makes for a disparate mix of people with a wide range of cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses and interests. 

The ICCC refers to the aforementioned neighborhoods as the city's "garden neighborhoods," and its cultural purview is intertwined with its eco- and aesthetically-friendly agenda of encouraging the development of a green Jerusalem (of course, there's already plenty of green space in Rehavia, Talbiyeh and the German Colony - Jerusalemite would like to see some trees and flowers poking up in the less bucolic quarters of the city). And it's not just a greener Jerusalem the ICCC wants to foster - it's a younger one too.

The director also sees the center playing a major role in reenergizing the city as a whole. "Jerusalem and Jerusalemites have been through some hard times, and I am aware of the movement of young people away from here to Tel Aviv and elsewhere. What I want to say to students and other young people is that we have something to offer here, and I want you to help us build something together. There's no place in the world like Jerusalem and I believe the variety of groups we have here is our strength, and not a disadvantage." 

To that end, the ICCC is offering loads of programs, classes and activities for children, teenagers, adults and retirees of all backgrounds. Whether it's tae kwon do, jazz dance, yoga, belly dancing, feng shui, botany, Japanese language classes or any other activity among dozens, the ICCC has something to suit your interests. Right now, courses are largely in Hebrew, but English and French offerings are in the works.

For more information (in Hebrew), check out the ICCC's website.

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