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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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Paper recycling finally goes curbside for Jerusalem

by michael February 23 2010
Municipal newsEnvironment

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It's easy to recycle plastic in Jerusalem. Massive, modern-looking cages brimming with discarded Neviot water bottles (pictured above) are spread throughout the city, but options for paper recycling are more limited and less attractive - unsightly, ancient-looking horizontal barrels, inconveniently located for lugging armloads recyling1.jpgof newspapers or broken-down cardboard boxes.

Fortunately, that's all changing: one by one, Jerusalem neighborhoods are getting brand new paper recyling bins for curbside pickup.

Currently the bins have been installed in outlying neighborhoods Ramat Beit HaKerem, Ramot, Arnona and Ramat Rachel, but more neighborhoods are slated to receive the bins shortly.

The bins can accept just about any paper waste you care to throw at them: white paper, newspaper, colored paper, envelopes and mail, used books and cardboard packaging. No sorting necessary.

Happily, this is yet another addition to the recent parade of green-friendly news coming out of the Holy City - from the Jerusalem Green Map and the new SPNI Jerusalem nature tours to planned electric car infrastructure and urban eco-housing initiatives.

Bottle cage image courtesy of emilie raguso from Flickr under a Creative Commons license; blue bin image courtesy of the Municipality of Jerusalem.

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New and easier ways to get to and see the Old City

by michael February 15 2010
City planningMunicipal newsThings to do

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Jerusalem is a great city for pedestrians, but it's cruel for the motorist. First-time visitors to Jerusalem who think renting a car might be a great way to breeze through all the sites and landmarks are in for a bit of a surprise - the Old City is not car-friendly, and parking ain't easy.

Fortunately, the city government has actually implemented a plan to address that. The Old City has been closed off to all non-residential vehicular traffic, and to compensate, parking rates have been slashed at three lots within walking distance of the Old City, and a retooled local bus line, the 38, has been inaugurated to take tourists from the lots straight into the Old City's heart.

To see the new route map and find out about deals at city parking lots, read on.

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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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Boom Pam brings tuba to the Bass

by ben June 14 2009
MusicPop cultureThings to do

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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, Jerusalem.com.

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People from the fringes on display

by ben May 03 2009
PhotographyArtThings to doThis week in Jerusalem

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Also known as the Musrara school, The Naggar School of Photography is beloved among Jerusalemites for its edgy cultural endeavors. The school's social issues-themed exhibition room is currently hosting All of Israel Are Friends, an appropriately provocative collection of photographs from 13 different artists, as curated by Daphna Ichilov, showing through June 26.

The exhibit opened back in February to much fanafare, which included experimental interactive elements for its first visitors. Check it out here:

The exhibit's moniker is a reference to the Hebrew name of France's Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Zionist organization founded in 1860, at a time when the Jews of Europe felst ike they were on the fringes of society and needed to band together. In contemporary Israel, we take it for granted that most Jews are not outsiders, although the images from this exhibit - which depict residents of development towns in the Negev, prostotutes, the handicapped and the elderly - make the argument that as a nation, we could use a bit more unity.

With Nir Barkat serving as Jerusalem's mayor, the city's many alternative arts institutions have been scheming for ways that they can band together and gain strength in the times of a culturally friendly administration - but, of course, such efforts should never be at the expense of the alternative arts cridibility that these organizations cling to so dearly. In this context, a walk through All of Israel Are Friends is all the more poignant: We're reminded that we ought to treat "the other" with kindness because we are all outsiders, and the reminder itself is being issued by an insitution that remains relevant by positioning itself as "the other."

Still more fringe art is showing this week with the Yellow Sumarine's show by New Yorker Ben Simon. Not interested in edgy visual statements? Prefer live jazz? Perhaps a community sing-along? Or a multimedia extravaganza? You won't be bored this week - check out our team's full cultural event calendar for Jerusalem, which is constantly being updated, over at our sister website, Jerusalem.com.

Detail from Micha Kirshner's portrait of a foreign agricultural worker courtesy of The Naggar School of Photography, Media and New Music.

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

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

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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 Jerusalem.com - 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

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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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Join us at Jerusalem.com

by harry March 24 2009
Jerusalemite news

Dublin in Jerusalem

We've been promising change for months, and the time has finally arrived to deliver. We are happy to announce that the same team that has brought you Jerusalemite is now managing the culture and tourism channel of Jerusalem.com. It's no secret that our agenda has been to advance Jerusalem's international status as a cultural center that's vibrant and full of surprises - as well as to be the number one resource for all Jerusalem-related content on the web. Thanks to the new site's unbeatable domain name and all-star leadership team, our new alliance with Jerusalem.com ought to enable us to achieve these goals with a substantially larger audience. Come visit me at Jerusalem.com I promise I won't bite!

So what exactly does this mean for Jerusalemite? Well, first off, let us reassure you that the rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. (Jeepers, Ha'aretz, could you have at least got the name of our website right?) We'll still be blogging on more edgy and insider-y material here at Jerusalemite (please be patient as we get back into the swing of things following our pre-launch work push), but if you are looking for the very latest in Jerusalem cultural trends, Jerusalem events, Jerusalem restaurants, Jerusalem attractions, Jerusalem hotels  - Jerusalem.com is your destination. In fact, you might have already noticed, but our old links to the beloved Jerusalemite city guide entries now redirect you to the proper specific pages on Jerusalem.com. That one-eyed strange spokescharater on the redirect pages is your friend.

Though you can probably tell from the name, Jerusalem.com is a serious citydotcom portal for Jerusalem, a city that certainly deserves a site with this much weight. Originally founded by Startup Jerusalem, a non-for-profit body which was founded by and used to be chaired by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Jerusalem.com is already emerging at the primary web-based entry point to the city.

Our aim is to continue to further the beloved, strange animal that is Jerusalem culture among the English-speaking lovers of the city, be they long-time residents, one-night tourists, or even if they've never been here but still feel a connection. And we will continue to shed light on all that is awesome in Jerusalem. Jerusalem.com already features guides information which covers hundreds of destinations in the city, an events calendar with over 50 events going on every week, and in-depth articles going up every weekday. You should also keep your eyes open for our fancy quarterly print guide Everything Jerusalem.

Same great content on an additional, more powerful domain. Join us over there
, but please keep tabs on us here as well.

Photo of Dublin by Asaf Kliger for Jerusalemite.

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