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Get out your graggers, it's time for Purim

by michael February 25 2010
HolidaysFor the kidsPhotographyReligionThings to do

Once again, it's Purim in Jerusalem, where we celebrate the salvation of the Jews of ancient Persia a day later and a lot harder. This year's panoply of Purim partying includes plenty of unique holiday-themed events, street theater performances all over town, and a pitched battle between students of Hebrew U. and the Bezalel Academy to see who can throw the wildest Purim soiree at the Jerusalem Theatre. Right on.

And to whet your appetite, check out this photospread of Jerusalem Purims past, produced by our big sister website, Jerusalem.com:

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What to do this Independence Day in Jerusalem....

by ben April 23 2009
HolidaysFor the kidsMusicThings to doThis week in Jerusalem

independence-jlmite-2304.jpgJust because this year's Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) celebrates 61 years of the Zionist state - as opposed to last year's number, which had the advantage of ending with a zero - doesn't mean the celebrations will be meager.

Jerusalemites in particular are known to bite into Yom Ha'atzmaut with remarkable levels of vigor. And this year is no exception. There's plenty going on in terms of celebrations in the city, with events to appeal to every age and taste. Celebrations in the city's main open plazas, complete with folk dancing, rock performances and fireworks? Themed dance parties at pubs and dance clubs? Barbecuing en masse? Check, check and check.

Our full roundup of the most noteworthy events going on in Jerusalem this week - from before the holiday, to during, to even after the holiday - can be found on our sister website, Jerusalem.com.

But that's not all. The event calendar that can be seen on the right-hand side of every page of that site includes still more great events to check out - we're publishing event information there all week long.

And we're also gearing up for plenty more Independence Day coverage over there on the Jerusalem.com culture and tourism channel. Keep your eyes over there for upcoming 61-themed photospreads, fireworks schedules and more.

Happy Independence Day from everyone here at Jerusalemite.

Photo of an Independence Day-themed subversive photo project from 2008 courtesy of hagigit.org from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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It's pretty much Passover time in Jerusalem

by ben April 07 2009
HolidaysFoodFor the kidsMusicPop cultureReligionThings to do

baking-matza-jlmite-0704.jpg

That's right. The harvest moon swells, and soon we'll be singing the Song of Songs. The smells of abrasive detergents and overdone toast waft. The bees are a-buzzing and the ants are a-crawling everywhere.

And hundreds and thousands of pilgrims are ascending to the City of Gold, where the feeling that big things are happening is palpable. Schools are on vacation, tourist season is gaining momentum, and virtually every cultural institution is gearing up to offer the best in springtime high art and lowbrow entertainment.

Over at our sibling website, Jerusalem.com (read more about Jerusalemite's relationship with that site, if you'd like, here), we've got heaps and heaps of unleavened content relating to the holiday....

  • For our picks of the most tempting kosher restaurants that'll be open on Passover, broken down by cuisine style, check out this article.
  • For our coverage of City Arts Encounter, an exciting visual art project taking place in unexpected places all over the city all month long, check out this piece.
  • For comprehensive listings of Jerusalem chol hamoed Passover events, check out the calendar on the right-hand side of every page on the site. It's constantly being updated, too.
  • Our roundup of the most worthwhile children's-themed Passover events should be ready for publication on Wednesday, when it should appear at the top of this page.
  • Our coverage of Birkat Hachama, an ancient Jewish ritual that has the whole world tantilized and focused on the Western Wall on Wednesday morning can be found here.

And that's just the beginning. Loads more of Pesach-riffic content is still in the works. Happy matza time from Jerusalemite.

Photo of shmura matza baking courtesy of elibrody from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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This week in Jerusalem

by michael December 04 2008
This week in JerusalemFor the kidsMusicThings to do

Red Band

Lock up your daughters: these puppets mean business.

It's winter, and there's a faint whiff of approaching holidays in the air, even here in Jerusalem...or maybe that's just the delicious, delicious smell of sufganiyot (Hanukkah donuts) in the morning. And it's also festival time. Hamshushalaim madness kicks into full swing this evening, and it's your best (and by that we mean cheapest) chance all year to take in dozens of Jerusalem museums, restaurants and cultural venues. So get to it:

  • First off, don't forget to check out our full Hamshushalaim listings (so far) to find out what you can expect in terms of discounts and special events this weekend. 
  • Tonight features the final performance of the International Oud Festival, specially marked down for Hamshushalaim.
  • March along with hometown brass band Marsh Dondurma from Mamilla to the Jaffa Gate - just like in New Orleans, except nobody had to die first.
  • Nurit Galron is a great name. And also a decent '70s Israeli rocker. Check her Saturday night at Beit Avi Chai.
  • Also at the Theatre Sunday is the Andalusian Orchestra, a collective of Jerusalem's finest Arab musicians.
  • You probably can't learn to be funny if you're not, but that won't stop Off the Wall Comedy maven David Kilimnick from trying to teach you on Monday.
  • Lucky you, you get another chance to see a thoughtful theatrical presentation of the prickly relationship between a white supremacist and his Jewish attorney on Monday when Skinhead returns to the Lab.
  • Dig Chick Corea? Then should enjoy Tal Babitsky, performing free Tuesday evening at the Yellow Sub.
  • The stage version of the Diary of Anne Frank is coming to Beit Shmuel on Wednesday - and it's in English too.

And, as always, don't feel limited by our picks. Check out the full listings for this week's events for yourself. Have a good one.

Image courtesy of Red Band.

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The top five Jerusalem children's attractions

by michael November 26 2008
Best of JerusalemFor the kidsThings to do
The Mifletzet
It's too much fun to be nightmarish

Children: can't live with 'em, can't further the species without 'em. And on the long (or too-short) road between birth and financial independence, you've gotta entertain 'em. Fortunately, you're in Jerusalem, and that's a pretty easy task. Middle Easterners love children (and they have bunches of them), so it's only fitting that Jerusalem be gifted with a great abundance of child-friendly entertainment options. Just trust your friends at Jerusalemite and your kids will never be bored, because they'll be in the thrall of the top five children's activities in Jerusalem.

The MifletzetHaMifletzet (The Monster)
The best things in life are free. Especially when the economy is in the tank and you're starting to think that your kid's piggybank is a safer place for money than your 401(k). Not all children's entertainment comes with a price of admission; the Mifletzet has been thrilling Jerusalem children day in and day out for nearly 40 years, and nobody pays a dime. Erupting out of the ground in a modest Kiryat Yovel park, the grotesque glory is the work of renowned sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle, and literally every single person in Jerusalem knows it by one-word name alone (even though, technically, it's called "The Golem"). Sure, your kids have gone down slides before...but were the slides erupting from the rouged mouth of a creature that looks like a Picasso interpretation of a melting cow? No. No they weren't. So head over to the Mifletzet and join a venerable Jerusalem tradition.

Bloomfield Science MuseumThe Bloomfield Science Museum
There is no child-oriented institution in the world that wrings as much fun out of so modest a premise as the science museum. One would think science museums would be a series of static exhibits clarified by dry, small-print placards (and for adults, they are), but children's science museums are awesome. Lightning balls. Houses of mirrors. Play gyms. Robots. Bright lights, loud noises, and more interactivity than you can shake a TV-addled attention span at. The Hebrew University's Bloomfield Science Museum does not let down. The museum pursues its worthy goal of making every Jerusalemite child love science by putting together scads of hands-on science-made-real activities and exhibits, giving your child the opportunity to literally climb all over learning. They don't offer that sort of thrilling take on education in school, and yet you pay taxes. Hardly fair, huh?

Israel Museum Youth WingThe Israel Museum Youth Wing
If the hard science-focused Bloomfield Science Museum is the dedicated, sober MIT of Jerusalem children's museums, then the Israel Museum's Youth Wing is the crunchy, Birkenstocked Oberlin. Here, it's all about art, and reading, and self-expression, and creativity, and all those other things you try to instill into your munchkins between rapt Dora the Explorer viewings. Whether your child is exploring a cave/tower of books seemingly constructed by Georgia O'Keeffe or participating in one of many craft workshops, you'll be able to proudly watch as their artistic sides grow, develop and start getting designs on your hard-earned money for art school. At least they'll be reading, though.

 

Biblical ZooThe Biblical Zoo
Officially known as the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, a name far too cumbersome for anyone to bother remembering, the Biblical Zoo gets its more pedestrian nickname from its main (and entirely unique) draw: the zoo houses dozens of animals mentioned in the Bible as being native to the land of Israel - some of which had gone locally extinct and had to be brought to Israel from other countries. But little kids don't really care about neat stuff like that. They want to know if there's a petting zoo, and if they can feed the adorable little baby goats. Yes there is, and yes they can. They can also climb all over a massive Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture garden of animals spilling out of Noah's Ark. Parents can enjoy the immaculate grounds and Jerusalem mountain air. And those adorable little goats - even if they do refuse to engage in conversation.

Time ElevatorThe Time Elevator
There has to be a better way to experience history than reading a dusty old book. Maybe if Haim Topol was somehow involved. Maybe if there were moving, vibrating seats. Maybe if water occasionally sprayed from the ceiling. That's history Jerusalem Time Elevator-style. It's actually exactly like that scene with the filmstrip and moving seats in Jurassic Park, except instead of dino cloning, the Haim Topol-augmented movie documents 3,000 non-stop years of Jerusalem history, using those wobbly chairs to make your kids believe they're taking an active role in the grand history of Jerusalem, which might not be such a stretch after all. Didn't they always say they wished they could have sacked Jerusalem with the Roman Tenth Legion? Jerusalemite respectfully suggests that you let them fulfill their dream.

And that leaves us with a few honorable mentions. Museums like the Islamic Art and Bible Lands often offer children's activities; the Botanical Gardens have a fun miniature train to ride around on; Hezekiah's tunnel and the Ramparts Walk offer much historical fun in the Old City; and children of all ethnicities and faiths play together peacefully in Liberty Bell Park, which also happens to be home to the kid-oriented Train Theater.

Photo of Mifletzet spewing children courtesy of bdnegin from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; thumbnail photo of the Mifletzet by Harry Rubenstein for Jerusalemite; photo from the Bloomfield Science Museum courtesy of Dany_Sternfeld from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo from the Israel Museum courtesy of yanec from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo of the adorable little baby goat at the Biblical Zoo courtesy of EagleXDV from Flickr under a Creative Commons License; photo of the Time Elevator courtesy of the Time Elevator.

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This week in Jerusalem

by michael November 20 2008
This week in JerusalemArtFor the kidsThings to do

Saxarama

Maybe they add up to one Coltrane

November is a good time to be a Jerusalemite. While much of the rest of the world twists futilely in the grip of inexorable winter, we're enjoying sunny, room-temperature days and nights just the perfect temperature for a having a warm drink at the café while wearing your favorite sweater. In another month, of course, it's going to be a different, much wetter story, so get out there now to enjoy the best of this week in Jerusalem:

  • Are you old enough to fondly remember blue-and-white tin JNF pushkes and first hearing the strange sounds of non-Ashkenazi Hebrew? Man, has the Jerusalem Theatre got a nostalgic sing-along for you.
  • Friday is, as it always should be, all about the ladies. First, check out the opening of an exhibition devoted to up-and-coming distaff Israel painters at Barbur.
  • Eat your hearts out, Cannonball and Coltrane: a whole jazz saxophone quartet (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone) is playing on Saturday outside the city at Latrun.
  • Jerusalemites are essentially split into two camps: people who enjoy the oeuvre of Shlomo Carlebach, and people who hate those people with a white-hot passion. If you fall into the former group, there are multiple performances on Saturday night in honor of the controversial singer/rabbi's recent yahrtzeit.
  • Federico Lorca may be dead and gone, but you can still enjoy his provocatively titled play Blood Wedding Sunday evening at the Nissan Nativ Studio in Talpiot.
  • Jerusalem rock outfit Malachei is covering Jimi Hendrix Monday night at Stardust, always a dicey proposition. If things go well, though, this is a rare chance to see some guitar heroics in the Holy City.
  • Black theater meets a timely rip-off of Finding Nemo Wednesday at the Jerusalem Theatre with Caspion, a kid's play about a little fish that could.
  • As if handicrafts weren't folksy enough, Reshimu is combining them with granola Judaism and girl power with their weekly Wedneday workshops.

And there's more. There's always more. Check out the listings for the whole week, and please have some fun out there.

Image courtesy of Otzar Tarbut.

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This week in Jerusalem

by michael November 13 2008
This week in JerusalemArtFor the kidsMusicThings to do
Machane Yehuda produce
Unlock the culinary secrets of Machane Yehuda this week in Jerusalem

It's the first week of a new Jerusalem. Or at least a different Jerusalem. Well, provided outgoing mayor Lupolianski doesn't cap off his useless term by seizing total control of the city and devoting 100% of the municipal budget to his twin initiatives of delaying the light rail and making his beard wispier. Hey, you can't rule anything out. But assuming the transfer of power goes well, this is a good week to make a toast to the fading reign of Mr. Lupolianski, and as always, Jerusalemite has plenty ideas of how to go about it:

  • Jerusalem has some of the world's greatest food. Learn about (and sample) the many foods Jerusalemites love, including the offalicious meorav yerushalmi, as you follow Beit Shmuel through Machane Yehuda today.
  • And tonight is your chanceto catch some rare English-language Jerusalem theater with After Eden at the Merkaz.
  • Is there any better place to see a 18-piece choral ensemble specializing in Jewish and Israeli music than at the the Tower of David? Dunno. Ask the Jerusalem Cameri Choir tomorrow.
  • Jerusalem is an orthodox city no matter what religion you follow, but if you happen to be a Conservative Jew, don't feel alone and uneducated: English-language Conservative Torah study starts up tomorrow.
  • This Saturday tour is not optional, even if you observe Shabbat, keep kosher or don't speak Hebrew. Beit Shmuel is taking a group of gourmands to the hummus restaurants of east Jerusalem and the Old City, and all that wonderful, historic hummus is worth the eternal punishment for any transgression.
  • Everybody in Israel loves rock ensemble Beit Habubot (except those guys who think music is a sin). Hop on the bandwagon Saturday night at the Yellow Submarine.
  • As if Jews and Arabs don't got enough beef, in The Return to Haifa, a Jewish family and an Arab family tussle over an adopted child in the post-War of Independence era. Catch it Sunday at the Jerusalem Theatre.
  • Sunday is also your last chance to catch Shakespeare's Henry V in English at the Ma'abada.
  • Don't you wish your children cared at all about music that didn't sound like the pitiful dying screech of the last of an endangered species? Try to introduce them to some classical music with Speak to Me in Sound at the Jerusalem Theatre on Tuesday.
  • How can Jerusalem sustain multiple Dixieland bands? Gain some insight, maybe, by seeing the New Orleans Function Tuesday at the Yellow Sub.
  • How's your Jewish identity lately? If you don't know the answer, consider attending the first in a series of English lectures on the subject at the Shalom Hartman Institute on Wednesday.
And remember, you can always check the whole week's listings in our Events section. Have a good week in this new Jerusalem.

Image courtesy of Beit Shmuel.
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Dancing in the Emek

by michael October 24 2008
Things to doArtFoodFor the kidsMusicShopping
Emek Refaim
Ain't no party like an Emek party, cuz an Emek party don't charge admission.

One day in the not-too-distant future, the anti-gravitational effects of a thousand constantly puffing cappuccino steamers and ten thousand constantly lightening wallets will lift Emek Refaim completely above the more pedestrian streets of Jerusalem, whereupon those lucky enough to be carried heavenward with the street of the gods will shower the less fortunate with great torrents of upscale kosher dairy bistro fare. But hopefully that won't happen before you can hit the annual Emek Refaim Street Fair on Tuesday.

What's the Emek Refaim Street Fair about? Well, uh, imagine Chutzot HaYotzer...good...and then imagine it smaller in scale and taking place on Emek Refaim. The Emek, as nobody should ever call it, will be lined with dozens of local artists displaying and selling their pieces, including paintings, pottery and glass works, with avant-garde assists by the Hagigit collective, who will be taking photographs of the merriment around them, futzing with them on computers and then displaying them on a giant screen. Meta.

Then there are, of course, the bands: homegrown Balkan-booty-stomping brass band Marsh Dondurma and that band they get for every festival in the city, Ethnika, as well as some lesser names. Oh yeah, and fire dancers.

And if all that art and photo-twiddling and Balkan brass and fire-twirling makes you want to get a burn on, stop at one of several wine stalls for a glass or four of the red (or white, or...pink) stuff. Sop that up by stopping in any one of the many, many, many restaurants lining the street, all of which are running festival-only discounts. It's the cheapest mountainous Mediterranean salad money can buy!

Festivities last from 17:00 until the decadent hour of 23:00, and entrance is blissfully free.

Photo courtesy of the Merkaz Tarbut HaAmim.

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This week in Jerusalem

by michael October 23 2008
This week in JerusalemFor the kidsMusicThings to do
moscowcityballet.jpg
See Giselle. See Giselle haunt. Haunt, Giselle, haunt.

Hey there Jerusalemites. We've all successfully made it through another non-stop month of holidays, so get out there and take down your beautiful, elaborately decorated sukkah before your neighbors complain. Once that's out of the way, you deserve to ease yourself back into the grueling non-holiday schedule with a bit of local entertainment - and once again, we're here for you:
  • Get to know the green-eyed monster by taking in the Khan's oft-recurring production of Othello, also tonight.
  • If the kids are bugging you on Saturday, give them a subtle warning about potential consequences by taking them to see Peter and the Wolf at the Train Theater.
  • Monday night is open mic night at Off the Wall Comedy. You think you're funny, punk? Prove it.
  • Wine! Art! Fire dancers! Marsh Dondurma! Credit card olim! It all comes together Tuesday at the annual Emek Refaim Street Fair.
  • On Wednesday, Binyanei HaUma will host the Moscow City Ballet, currently touring Israel with its production of Giselle. Don't get too excited - it's not the Bolshoi Ballet, after all - but it's bolshoi enough for our little desert capital. 
And as always, you can dig deeper into Jerusalem culture with this coming week's full complement of events. Have a good week!
 
Image courtesy of the Moscow City Ballet.
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Jerusalem hakafot mayhem

by simone October 20 2008
HolidaysFor the kidsThings to do

Partying with the TorahSimchat Torah celebrations kick off Monday night as The People of the Book gather in synagogues throughout the capital to party with the Book. Marking the completion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, traditional Jewish Jerusalemites dance a bunch, drink a bunch, and start the process all over again. Dozens of hakafot ritual celebration sessions are happening throughout the city, but here are five hot-spots guaranteed to provide a good time Monday night and Tuesday morning (for those who aren't too hung-over).

Mayanot   

Narkis St. 28, Nachlaot

Officially a Chabad synagogue, Mayanot has a distinct Carlebachian vibe and attracts a large number of both native Israelis and immigrants (Anglo and French alike) to its weekly Shabbat services and vodka-heavy Kiddushes. On Simchat Torah, the drinking (and the singing and dancing) kick up a notch as the Torahs are danced around the synagogue and general mayhem erupts, spilling from the sanctuary into the streets below.

 

Western Wall (Kotel)

Jewish Quarter, Old City

If variety is your thing, the Kotel provides more than enough. With 20-25 different services running at once on Simchat Torah night, you can hop from Eastern European chants to Moroccan dirges and back again in less time than it takes to cross the plaza. With so many people competing for.... (For more Jerusalem hakafot recommendations and color commentary, click here.)
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