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Jerusalem gets free science lessons in pajamas

by ben March 17 2013
NewsCity planningPop cultureThings to doThis 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.

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Boom Pam brings tuba to the Bass

by ben June 14 2009
MusicPop cultureThings to do


On June 23, celebrated low-fi jammers Boom Pam, who are signed to Frankfurt's Essay Recordings and often traverse Europe with their concert tours, are scheduled to play downtown Jerusalem party venue Bass.

Many have classified the tight drums-guitar-tuba trio as Balkan groove-based, but guitarist Uri Brauner Kinrot objects. "I don't like that moniker," he recently told The Jerusalem Post's Asi Gal. "Although our music has an asymmetric sound, which resonates Balkan music, we also play rock, oriental, Jewish and surf music. But people hear the tuba and think Balkan."

Essentially, the band plays music to party to. "There are enough doleful songs in Israel, "continues Kinrot. "We just want to bring about a good atmosphere and good vibes."

The band has recorded two albums to date. The eponymous debut, recorded in Germany, was dominated by original compositions and favored a relatively polished Middle Eastern sound. With last year's follow-up, Puerto Rican Nights, Boom Pam went for more edge and more of a wide scope: "the sound and production is much more ours - more kicking and rough," as Kinrot puts it. And the tracks chosen for the album are exclusively covers that the band has been playing live for years. With help from guests like Maor Cohen and members of Groovatron, the disc includes tributes to classic Israeli act the Dudaim, local movie soundtracks from the Sixties and even American proto-surf rocker Dick Dale.

The Puerto Rican Nights tour ought to be a treat, and a Jerusalem appearance for Israeli export talents like these is unfortunately a rarity.

Boom Pam is scheduled to hit the stage on Tuesday at 21:00. Additional events taking place on June 23, and on plenty of other dates, can be checked out via the interactive cultural calendar on our sister website,

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Meir Ariel to be remembered at the Submarine some ten years later

by ben April 19 2009
Things to doMusicPop cultureThis week in Jerusalem


Jerusalem is made of many things. Most famously, it's made of gold, but here at Jerusalemite, we've written about a few other ingredients to the city (see the "Related" links below). Beloved, gloriously Jew-fro-ed Seventies singer-songwriter Meir Ariel (pictured), however, had a different vision of the city, writing his own "Jerusalem of Iron," as an iconic rebuttal to the Nami Shemer hit. Ariel's version was written from the perspective of a paratrooper who had actually liberated the Old City in 1967, rather than that of a state-sponsored songstress.

Ariel's catalogue, however, was far more varied than this tune might indicate. His career spanned three decades, coming to an abrupt end that ought to rank among the top strange rocker deaths of all time, when he died of a bacterial infection from a flea bite in 1999.

However, Ariel's work lives on - especially this week, and especially his Rishumei Pacham (Coal Sketches) album, which is being presented as a live concert tribute show by artists including Yossi Babliki, Albert Sofer and Ilan Bergbaum at the Yellow Submarine this Wednesday.

But that's not all that's going on over the next few days. You're hereby invited to check out our team's picks for the most exciting cultural and entertainment events in the city this week over at our sister website - and a full calendar, with new events being added all the time, can be viewed there as well.

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It's pretty much Passover time in Jerusalem

by ben April 07 2009
HolidaysFoodFor the kidsMusicPop cultureReligionThings to do


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, (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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Cooperation? In Jerusalem? It must be...

by josh November 18 2008
ArtFilmMusicNewsPhotographyPop culture
Agripas 12
I once drew a picture this big

Yes, it's the artists. In fact, Jerusalem does not want for lack of institutions that cater toward artists. Ever since Boris Schatz started sculpting old ladies and founded the Bezalel School of Art and Design, the city has been rife with galleries, academies, musicians, poets and starving artistes all dedicated to "the scene." Now, a new project is being formulated to turn that scene into more of a community of artistic minded Jerusalemites. Ruach Chadasha, a student rights organization founded by next mayor Nir Barkat, recently gathered together movers and shakers of the Jerusalem arts movement to lay the groundwork for the communities.

The meeting took place at Agripas 12, a gallery well known for fostering cooperation between the various artistic institutions in the city. Among the cognoscenti there were Avi Sabag of the Musrara school and members of the Zik, Koresh and Hagagit groups. Maya Felixbrodt, director of young artists for Ruach Chadasha said she had been approached by many others about working with them to create the community, which is meant to made up of those already out of school who want to remain in Jerusalem. "We mean to give them some framework to go and create together and to give to Jerusalem as artists," she said. The community is meant to be something completely open to the participants' choosing, meaning they or may not live together and create together and eat together and work together. Basically, it may be about as communal as a privatized "kibbutz."

Though Thursday night brought cold and rain over 20 interested artists crwoded into the gallery to hear what would be going on and get in on the ground floor. Felixbrodt said she wasn't sure what Barkat's victory would mean for the project, but hoped it would translate into more support from city hall, though she said the project would go ahead no matter what happens.

Of course, this effort is far from being the first to try and bring artists together to create in Jerusalem. Chutzot Hayotzer (the artists colony right outside the old city, not the related festival) touts itself as being one such place, though its fine arts showcases have more of a commercial tilt. The Jerusalem Artists House also brings artists together under one roof, though it is more a gallery than a community effort. Plus nobody even lives in the house. In September, Jerusalem was the home to Lift-Off, the first, possibly annual, installment of an event that sought to bring together over 100 artists to display their work in a number of venues throughout the city. And there's always artsy tchochkes and expensive Judaica available at Ben Yehuda and the Cardo. In short, art did not leave Jerusalem with the original Bezalel.

If you're interested in joining the movement, you can contact Ruach Chadasha. Or if war-torn, biblical tinged, or scary Tim Burtonesque art isn’t your cup of tea, you can always book it for one of the thousands of artists communities already up and running all over this big ol' artsy world.

Photo of the artsy summit courtesy of Ruach Chadasha.
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A conversation with Matt Beynon Rees, novelist

by simone November 02 2008
InterviewPop culture

Matt Rees and fake graffiti

Matt Beynon Rees was born in Newport, Wales in 1967. After studying at Oxford, Rees left the UK to study journalism at the University of Maryland, which eventually led him to New York City. For the next six years, Matt covered the stock market and related money matters for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and other top financial papers. Matt came to Jerusalem in 1996, and though at first he only planned on staying for a few months, he got the bug and ended up serving as Time magazine's Israel bureau chief. 12 years after arriving, he's still here, creating his unique brand of Palestinian murder-mystery novels.

How did a nice Welsh boy like yourself end up in Jerusalem? I guess you could say I came by accident or for love. I followed my then-fiancée (now ex-wife) here for what I thought would be a few months, and here I still am. When she got a job writing for the Christian Science Monitor in Jerusalem, I thought I'd come with her. I'd been wanting to get out of New York for some time. I was stuck in a job there that I didn't particularly like, but when you're in New York, it's hard to figure out how you're going to escape that life. So this was a great opportunity.

I've always held a great curiosity for this place. I had two great uncles who came here in 1917 with General Allenby. They were both coal miners in South Wales, but they were also in the volunteer cavalry regiment, and since they could ride horses, they were told they could ride camels as well. Matt Rees in Bethlehem They were placed in the Imperial Camel Corps, which helped Allenby capture Jerusalem. One of these uncles was still alive when I was a boy. He had been shot in his backside near Ramallah while trying to prevent the Turks from getting supplies to Jerusalem, and every Christmas he used to drop his trousers to show us his scar. I think that's what initially made me curious about the place.

When I got here I visited all the British war cemeteries, and I saw the graves of all these men who had died here who were from similar backgrounds to my own. It made me grateful that I came here a as journalist and not as a soldier, but it also made me feel more connected to all the people who were willing to die for this place, both Israelis and Palestinians. It also made me feel connected to this place in a deeper way, and not just as a journalist who comes here for a few years and then moves on to somewhere else.

I still frequently visit the British Commonwealth War Cemetery on Mt. Scopus, because there are.... (for more questions with journalist-turned-novelist Matt Beynon Rees, click here). 
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A conversation with Hadass Ben-Ari, zine queen

by simone October 26 2008
InterviewPop culture

 I am Womyn hear me roar

26-year-old Hadass Ben-Ari was born in Beit Sha'an but left, with her family, for Montreal when she was eight, during the First Gulf War. Hadass returned to Israel in 2005 for a quarter-year internship at The Jerusalem Post (she majored in journalism at Concordia University), fell in love with Jerusalem and returned to live here in summer 2006, just as the second Second Lebanon War erupted. When things quieted down, Hadass founded Fallopian Falafel, Israel's only feminist zine, which published its first issue in early 2007.

For the uninitiated, can you please briefly explain what the riotgrrl movement is all about and where it stands today in Israel? The riotgrrl movement was started in Olympia, Washington, in the early 1990s, during the grunge era. It was a movement for women that started as sort of a DIY punk movement to get girls on stage, because there wasn't really a scene for that, for female punk performers. It then evolved into a wider feminist movement. It's known as third wave feminism. The first was the suffragette movement and the second was women's lib in the 1960s.

Riotgrrrl's focus is more on girl-love than man-hate. People think "Oh, you're a feminist, you must hate guys or be a lesbian." I don't and I'm not. When I say riotgrrl is about girl love it's not necessarily a romantic love but a movement for women supporting women as opposed to competing against one another.

When I came to Israel I realized there wasn't really a riotgrrl movement here. If there was, it wasHadass Ben Ari very small and underground and basically centered in and around Tel Aviv. It's still very underground here. I'm also very into the metal scene, which is more popular here but sometimes there is an overlap and the metal bands attract a riotgrrl crowd. Since I've been here, I've seen one riotgrrl event – it took place in Tel Aviv and was not publicized at all.

Why do you choose to publish Fallopian Falafel in English? My English writing is more fluent. It also appeals to a broader audience that way. I have a lot of foreign readers, both English speakers in Israel and readers from abroad.

Besides your online presence it seems that you still distribute your zine the good old fashion way - placing it in places where the counterculture hangs out. Where are your key points of distribution in Jerusalem? I used to give it out for free – in Nocturno, in the music store on Keren Hayesod, at the Pride Parade – but production costs were too high, and coming out of my own pocket, and I still had to eat so now it's only free online. If you want the printed version, you have to pay for it. But a lot of the zine culture is about holding the actual zine in your hands, so we do still print. I often trade my zine for other zines.

Jerusalem is not exactly known for its sensitivity to feminist beliefs. What's it like promoting feminism is such a conservative city? I get a lot of interesting responses, even from the religious community. The zine even has some religious contributors. I try to use a lot of different perspectives and different points of view. I've found....(for more questions with Hadass Ben Ari of Fallopian Falafel click here).

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A conversation with Matthew Kalman, filmmaker

by simone August 03 2008
InterviewFilmPop culture

Matthew Kalman, Director

Israeli humor is hot these days, and Matthew Kalman, co-director (with David Blumenfeld) of Circumcise Me, a comic documentary starring Yisrael Campbell, is at the forefront of this trend. The film, which traces the life of Campbell, a Catholic boy turned Jewish comedian, is currently doing the film festival circuit, and in the near future, the directors hope to hold weekly showings at Jerusalem's Lev Smadar Cinema, which hosted the film's Israeli premier on July 3.

Can I get a brief genesis on the history of this movie ands how you got involved? I'm a reporter, and David [Blumenfeld] is a photographer, and we've been working together here in Israel for the last 10 years. A few years ago, we started doing a lot of documentary work. It was all about suicide bombers, the intifada, guys with masks, and it got grueling after a while. One day, we'd just finished interviewing a 16-year-old who wanted to blow himself up but was caught at a checkpoint before he made it to his destination. We went to interview him in jail, and on the way back, David said to me, "We've got to do something fun, something for ourselves." That night, I went to the opening of the Off the Wall Comedy Empire. I heard Yisrael Campbell perform his act, and I said to myself, "We've got our subject."

How did your past experiences in journalism influence this project? How did you find the transition from print journalist to documentary filmmaker? The thing about print journalism is that you have very little control over what actually appears in print. You don't choose the headline; you don't make the final editing decisions. There are many times where I'll focus on one thing and something else entirely will appear in the published version. Here, with this documentary, we have complete control over what actually appears on the screen. So it's much more creative. But it's also a much greater responsibility. When I write for a paper, I get up, do my work and then come home and turn on Seinfeld and it's no longer my responsibility. Here, David and I are completely responsible for how Yisrael is perceived by the world.

Yisrael Campbell's comedy is a major selling point, but his back story is also key to what you did with the movie. What kind of balance between profile and concert document were you trying to strikYisrael Campbell, Circumcise Me e? This was a really easy film to make, because Yisrael is really funny, he's really talented, he already has a show, so all we really had to do was film him. What we wanted to do with this project is take his show, which has been performed to numerous audiences here in Israel, and make it accessible to people elsewhere, and not just to Jewish audiences but to a wide range of people. We had to explain the contexts in Campbell's show and take out the parts that had too much Hebrew (which meant removing some of the funniest parts of the show). We also wanted to tell as much as possible of Campbell's back-story using very elementary documentary techniques. For example, Yisrael's father only has a few lines but they are all about very transitional points in Yisrael's life and they help move the story along.

Finally, we want to show people who don't live here what this place is like, so we filmed Yisrael driving along the security wall and visiting the Hebrew University, so that people can visualize the places he refers to. At one point, you see him at the café where his friends were blown up. For me, that's the emotional.... (click here for the full interview).
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