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Matza hits the big time for Jerusalem

by ben March 25 2010
HolidaysFoodMunicipal newsNewsReligionThings to do

biggest-matza-ever-jerusalemite.jpg

With just four days to go until the big holiday, Passover fever is sweeping Jerusalem, hard-core.

Preparations are underway for an extremely festive week, when Jerusalemites will be celebrating the Exodus in style, complete with loads of cultural offerings, an arts-and-crafts street fair, and even a festival showcasing the city's most impressive English-language performance ensembles.

But first, we need to burn our chametz and bake our matza (click through to check out awesome videos).

Speaking of baking matza, pictured above is the honorable Mayor Nir Barkat, posing with a world record-setting largest piece of matza ever. The oversized cracker measures over 3 meters in diameter and weighs in at 60 kilo. It was made by a team of 40 people, two of whom wore rappelling gear to be able to reach the edges while hanging from above. Try hiding that afikoman.

The matza went on display at Safra Square today, as part of a pre-holiday "toast" (nyuk) for City Hall's employees. Barkat is posing with Aryeh Goldberg, one of the owners of the Irenstein Matza factory, which spearheaded the baking, and Racheli Ivenboim, the CEO of the Meir Panim NGO, whose headquarters plans on displaying the matza to the general public through the end of the holiday.

Of course, this is hardly the first world record set in Jerusalem. In recent months, we've witnessed the unfurling of the world's largest flag, the grilling of the world's largest serving of meurav Yerushalmi, and the whipping of the world's largest plate of hummus. The jury is still out, though, on which of the four world record-breaking events is least nightmare-inducing.

Happy Passover, lovers of Jerusalem, from the Jerusalemite team.

Photo courtesy of Yossi Mor for the Municipality of Jerusalem.

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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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A conversation with Bracha Din, jeweler

by simone January 01 2010
InterviewArtHolidaysReligionShopping

Bracha and her bling

Bracha Din first visited Israel in 1968, and she came by ship. A true child of the '60s, Bracha traveled the country, spending the requisite time on an authentic kibbutz, before ferrying off to Athens, the first stop on an extended European tour which took her to 22 countries in three years.

Back in the United States, Din tried out college but left after a semester to hitch-hike across Canada and the western United States. This journey eventually brought her to San Francisco, where she met Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and joined up with his House of Love and Prayer. It was in San Francisco that Bracha first began taking the steps toward observant Judaism - "I danced my way into Judaism," she likes to say – a path that eventually took her to Brooklyn, where she married and raised a family.

Bracha and her husband attempted to make aliyah as a couple, but they returned to America after a year. It was not until 1995, her children grown and her husband passed on, that Bracha returned for good to the city that had "always been like a magnet, pulling me in." She settled in Jerusalem's Old City and soon began her unique work with stones and prayer. Jerusalemite caught up with her in the calm before the Chanukah rush when Brachaleh (as the business is called) will be displaying her wares in her Jewish Quarter home.

If you walk the right streets, Jerusalem seems to be a city full of jewelers. How would you describe the scene here, and how would you describe your niche within it? There are a lot of jewelers here. I think that what draws people to my work is the subliminal message contained within it. People who have that sort of sensitivity are drawn to my work. All my jewelry is created with prayer. My world is also a pastel world, though I have recently introduced [bolder] colors. My focus is pastel stones and ethereal-looking jewelry.

A necklace and a prayerI've always been interested in stones and how a person can access their power, and when I came to Israel, I was happy to learn that there are Torah sources which relate to the power of certain stones – stones that have the power or qualities to bestow inner peace, love, etc. My middle name is Tzirel, which I'm told means jewelry in Yiddish, and the Talmud says that a person's name hints at what they should be doing with their life.

I've been blessed with good taste in choosing the right stones for my jewelry and the right designs, many of which are inspired by my meditations and prayers. I never actually studied art or jewelry making.

Your jewelry is specially designed to match the energies of the person it was made for. How do you translate the spiritual into the material? How does this creative process work? I sometimes design my jewelry with a specific person in mind – I concentrate on specific issues that person is facing and pray for them while I design the piece - and sometimes I just put certain energies into my jewelry and people find the piece that matches them. The rabbis say that an hour of prayer....(For more questions and answers with jeweler Bracha Din, click here).

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It's pretty much Passover time in Jerusalem

by ben April 07 2009
HolidaysFoodFor the kidsMusicPop cultureReligionThings to do

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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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Lighting the candles

by ben December 28 2008
HolidaysPhotographyReligion

Lighting the Chanuka candles

With many solstice celebrations afoot in Jerusalem and all over the world, Jerusalemite would like to bless us all with peace and successes. Here at Jerusalemite, we're still hard at work on our latest developments, which we believe will bring much pleasure to lovers of Jerusalem the world over.

In the meantime, although we have been publishing a mere fraction of the content we had planned for you this season, we do plan for it all to see the light of day soon, and we've got these great images of Chanuka candle lightings – in Zion Square and beyond – to share with you. Don't eat too many sufganiyot!

Lighting the Chanuka candles

Lighting the Chanuka candles

Photos of Jerusalem chanukiyot by Adina Polen for Jerusalemite.

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Pastels and stilts amid the sukkot of Nachlaot

by ben October 17 2008
HolidaysPhotographyReligion

Sukkot of Nachlaot

In memory of the temporary dwellings inhabited by the ancient Israelites during their sojourn from the bondage of Egypt towards autonomy in the homeland, Jerusalemites join Jews all over the world in celebrating Sukkot by setting up camp in eponymous booths in the great outdoors. Of course, "the great outdoors" can have many meanings when one lives in a sprawling metropolis such as ours.

And when it comes to the tight alleyways of Nachlaot, one of the city's oldest Jewish neighborhoods, eclectic and colorful residents must excel in creativity for finding ways to place their sukkot under the stars - some erecting huts that sit on makeshift stilts above street level, others barely leaving space for passers-by to circumvent the temporary dwellings.

Here, in the guise of a throwback ritual meant to reconnect the individual with the fleeting nature of the collective's surroundings, form and function meet in ways that.... (for more photos of Nachlaot sukkot, click here).

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