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Change is gonna come

by harry January 14 2009
Jerusalemite news

Charedi space monkey

You might be wondering why things look a little slow on the Jerusalemite blog lately. There is good reason for it: Big things are in the works. Really big things. Unfortunately at this time we can't throw all of our cards on the table but rest assured it benefits everyone who cares deeply about Jerusalem and allows us to continue to pursue our agenda of promoting Jerusalem as a cultural destination in Israel to an even bigger audience.

So while our blog and event listings will remain somewhat stagnant in the coming days, don't forget to check out our incredibly pimped-out restaurant, museum, sites & landmarks guides. These are - and will continue to be - the most resourceful and informative Jerusalem content on the entire internet, with updates from the latest in restaurants, bars, and more.

Stay tuned as more news will be shared in the coming days, and thank you for your patience.

With much love,

The Jerusalemite Team

Photo of an ambitious Jerusalemite courtesy of orcaman from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Lighting the candles

by ben December 28 2008

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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Please be Jerusalemite's friend

by michael December 12 2008
Jerusalemite news


 That's the thing about the Internet these days: you can never be in only one place at a time. You have to keep a Facebook account so you can keep track of the birthdays, interests and innermost feelings of people you fuzzily met during a previous night of heavy drinking. You have to be on Myspace to stay hip to whatever the teenagers are up to these days, and also to fulfill your daily quota of glitter fonts. You have to update your Twitter feed so all your friends, whether real or Internet-imaginary, can know your exact feelings on the sandwich you're eating, or whether you're packing for the airport at 2 AM. And on and on.

Jerusalemite is no exception. Jerusalemite cannot be contained. As the leading Jerusalem Web 2.0 presence, it's only natural that we're all over the social networks. And that means that you can plug into a nonstop stream of special Jerusalemite content whether you're here on the site or not. Who could ask for anything more?


TwitterLet's say you've got a question about Jerusalem, or our site, or maybe a recommendation. Follow us on Twitter and let us know, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. And our Twitter feed is also a great way to keep abreast of our latest updates.


FacebookLink up with our Facebook page and help us promote Jerusalemite on the premier social networking site of the era. Offer us your thoughts, feelings and criticisms. Just please don't poke us.


socialnetworksyoutube.jpgGot a video that showcases the best (or at least the quirkiest) of Jerusalem? We'd love to see it. Go ahead and add it to our YouTube page - and stay tuned for exclusive Jerusalemite video content.


socialnetworksmyspace.jpg Sure, maybe you're a teenager with a haircut you'll deeply regret in a few years (seriously, trust us, you will) and several impractical pairs of pants, but Jerusalemite is still here for you and your favorite social network. Add us as a friend on Myspace.


socialnetworksflickr.jpgNo matter how hard they try, the municipal government can't keep Jerusalem from being photogenic. Visit our Flickr page to see all our photos of the city that didn't make the main site.


Seriously, go ahead and join up. It's okay to stalk us - as long as you manage to find a good time in Jerusalem as a result. Have a great weekend!


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This week in Jerusalem

by michael December 11 2008
This week in JerusalemMusicThings to do

Rami Fortis

One of these men is a rock god

It's been a good week for Jerusalem. Sure, it's cold, but Hamshushalaim is in full swing, and in its wake have come 120,000 visitors, 90% occupancy in city hotels, and a 30% increase in weekly takings of restaurants and coffeeshops. The festivities continue this weekend, and as always, there's plenty of other stuff to do as well:

  • First of all, don't miss your opportunity for more Hamshushalaimery with special discounts and tours throughout the weekend.
  • Suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with a modernist English-language performance of Hamlet tonight at the Jerusalem Theatre. 'Tis noble.
  • And in case Hamlet is too much of a downer, you can try your luck at an English performance of the theatrical adaptation of the Diary of Anne Frank at Beit Shmuel, also tonight.
  • Start the weekend off in style by listening to the Israeli Philharmonic saw through the classics on Friday morning.
  • Rocker Asaf Avidan and his boys the Mojos are stomping back into town to light the Yellow Submarine on fire Friday night.
  • Speaking of stomping back into town, dinosaur rocker Rami Fortis, pictured above, is doing just that on Saturday night, also at the Yellow Sub.
  • Or if you prefer your pop stars younger, try out David D'Or on Saturday night at the Ma'abada.
  • The Cinematheque's Jewish Film Festival kicks off Sunday for five whole days of celluloid neuroses. Don't miss it.
  • Sunday. Footie. TV. HaTaklit. Go.
  • You know who loves to sponsor underground, independent theater in Jerusalem? The Ma'abada. And you. Check it out on Monday.
  • A Hebrew University production of My Fair Lady on Tuesday? Yes, please.
  • You're not seeing enough homegrown Ethiopian theater. We can tell. Rectify that by catching the Holgab Troupe's latest on Wednesday.

Now go check out the rest of the week's events and get out there to have some fun. Keep moving, or you'll freeze.

Image courtesy of the Yellow Submarine.

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The top five Jerusalem soup joints

by michael December 10 2008
Best of JerusalemFoodThings to do
Dinner at Mordoch
Makes you want to sing that Sinatra classic: "Three kubbeh in a soup bowl..."

You look a little damp. Come inside or you'll catch a cold. Here, sit down. You know what'll make you feel better? A nice steaming hot bowl of soup, just like mom used to make. You're in the right place for it.

Welcome, readers, to the soup capital of the world. Maybe you think Jewish soup begins and ends with soggy matzah balls bobbing in chicken broth, but that's as much a misconception as thinking Italian food begins and ends with spaghetti. When the Jews flooded back into Israel from the far-flung corners of the Diaspora, each of them came bearing soup, and from the crimson beet-flavored borscht to the...uh...crimson, beet-flavored marak kubbeh adom, every one is uniquely delicious. So strap on your bibs, shine your spoons and prepare for a Biblical deluge of broth as Jerusalemite reveals the top five soup joints in Jerusalem.

The sign says it all: "At Mordoch, we roll kubbeh." What are kubbeh, you ask? Why, they're an entire class of meat-stuffed bulgur and semolina dumplings, often deep-fried and crispy, but in the context of soup, they're big soft globes of pure epicurean pleasure. Coming to Israel courtesy of the Jews of Kurdistan, kubbeh soup is wildly popular all over the country, and if its Mecca is the heavily Kurdish Jerusalem neighborhood around the Machane Yehuda market, its Kaaba is the modest family-run restaurant Mordoch. While every stew, meat dish and mezze Mordoch makes is wonderful, their reputation is built on their kubbeh soup, which comes in three varieties: marak kubbeh adom, "red kubbeh soup," a sweet and savory deep red soup based on beets and other hearty root vegetables; kubbeh hamousta, "sour kubbeh," featuring a sour broth made greenish from an abundance of chard and hinting at its northern Iraqi origins with its Aramaic name; and kubbeh shel pa'am, "old-school kubbeh," similar to hamousta but more garlicky. And the regular old meat soup is pretty rad too. And here's a bit of Jerusalem trivia: Mordoch's kubbeh-rolling motto comes from the time generations ago when legions of Kurdish grandmas from Nachlaot would descend on Mordoch and roll kubbeh in the kitchen all day as a way of hanging out and sharing gossip (with Nachlaot rapidly turning into another glitzy, vacant foreign-absentee-landlord playground, those days are sadly behind us).

There's something about soup that goes hand-in-hand with funky DIY sensibilities, and a city can hardly claim to be home to a thriving underground scene without an indie soup joint. Enter HaMarakiya (more or less, "the Soupery"), a soup haven frequented by both Jerusalem's young and trendy and the city's LGBT community. The cozily eclectic Goa-meets-Little House on the Prairie decor tells you exactly what to expect: a rotating selection of hearty homemade-style vegetarian soups as well as a few fixed favorites, including Jerusalem standby marak batata (sweet potato soup) and shakshuka (not a soup, but still tasty). Space is limited and what few seats there are have a tendancy to fill up fast, so try to arrive right as the place opens at 18:00 sharp.

Competing with heavy-hitters Mordoch and Rachmo for the lofty title of Machane Yehuda's finest Israeli soul food joint, Azura is hidden away at the far end of the grubby Iraqi Shuk (an aisle of Iraqi vegetable sellers within Machane Yehuda), right in front of a mountain of discarded produce boxes and trimmings. Don't let the grungy ambience deter you: this is serious Jerusalem food, and the lunch lines snaking through the Iraqi Shuk bear daily testament. Although mostly known for its hummus, Azura dishes out quite the kubbeh soup - its seasoned sixty-something Iraqi regulars would accept nothing less.


Marvad HaksamimMarvad Haksamim
Someone visiting Jerusalem for the first time might find it hard to believe, but not too terribly long ago, King George Street landmark Marvad Haksamim ("The Magic Carpet") used to be just about the only sit-down restaurant in downtown Jerusalem. Things have changed, and so has Marvad: the restaurant has gone chain, with satellite locations on Emek Refaim and in Malcha. The menu, mostly Yemeni but with a pronounced streak of culinary ecumenism, is famously hit-or-miss: the hummus is terrible, but the lineup of soups is killer. Yemen represents with a don't-miss beef and coriander soup, and the hardcore-but-tasty calf's foot soup; other standouts include red and hamousta kubbeh, Moroccan lentil, hearty bean and a surprisingly competent (considering the Middle Eastern source) chicken noodle. Every order comes with all-you-can-eat tzaluf, a crispy/chewy Yemeni flatbread perfect for soaking up those wonderful soup dregs.

The Village GreenVillage Green
The most vegetarian-oriented of Jerusalem's many soup eateries, the Village Green is also perhaps the least Israeli. One of the city's only cafeteria-style restaurants, the Green's clientele is mostly comprised of English-speaking visitors and residents, people who are attracted to the Western-style vegetarian fare and not put off by the relatively high prices. But Anglo ambience and pricey food aside, the soup is undeniably excellent all-around. Chunky gazpacho is great in the summertime, and in winter you can cozy up around a bowl of butternut squash, cream of broccoli or whatever else is bubbling away in the pots on any given day. As a bonus, soup orders come with the restaurant's excellent bread and butter.

Honorable mentions go out to the family-friendly Ima, the trendy/slightly upscale Kubiya, Heimishe Essen for the Ashkenazi end of things, and Jerusalemite's favorite lunch spot Ta'ami for a fine chicken soup. And if you can't enjoy Jerusalem soup in your current place of residence, check out some simple recipes for authentic kubbeh and marak kubbeh adom.

Photo of a full Mordoch spread (top) courtesy of rbarenblat from Flickr under a Creative Commons license; photo of Mordoch, photo of Marakiya and photo of Marvad Haksamim by Asaf Kliger for Jerusalemite; photo of Azura courtesy of Gad Shoshan from Flickr under a Creative Commons license; photo of soup at the Village Green courtesy of veggiefriendly from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Heaven and hell in Malcha

by josh December 09 2008


Some former Beitar fan is going to have a cold winter without his scarf

Beitar Jerusalem likes to use the advertizing/intimidation tactic of calling their home at Malcha's Teddy Stadium hell. It has indeed been hell so far this year, but only for Jerusalem - not the visiting teams. Though the season is more than half through, Jerusalem's corps of insane, obnoxious and xenophobic fans - and, to be fair, completely normal and nice ones, too - have yet to see their team win a game at home. They sunk so low as to tie with lowly Bnei Sakhnin late last month, in what was expected to be a racially tinged blowout. Their season, in the dumps so far, seems to be a continuation of their horrible 5-0 loss to Wisla Krakow over the summer, which many hoped would just be an aberration. Right.

Over in that other ballgame popular in Israel (sorry IFL), though, Hapoel Jerusalem, normally cellar dwellers, has been tearing up the hoops charts. On Sunday they affirmed their league-leading placement by edging out other frontrunner Galil-Gilboa for first place in the Premier League-  which they now share with traditional powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv . In Euroleague play as well, Jerusalem trounced Larissa, Greece even after suffering a surprising loss to Amsterdam. We at Jerusalemite don't like to toss around the term Cinderella much, but maybe this is proof that the messiah is on his way?

Many have pointed to scandal-plagued fallen billionaire-cum-failed politician Arkadi Gaydamak as a reason for the soccer team's recent failures, as he's been unable to inject the same excitement, and George Stienbrenner-like money into the team, instead saddling them with Marge Schott-like abuse. Of course, Gaydamak is also a major sponsor of the basketball team, too, so so much for that argument.

Jerusalemites are no fair-weather fans. Chances are that even if the soccer team's woes continue, fans will stick with it, and not switch over to burning things in the basketball arena (people yes, things no). While some may ask if Hapoel can continue their high level of play and oust Macabbi Tel Aviv from their usual spot as premier league champs - as Holon did last year - the more prescient question would be, if they do, will anybody care?

Picture of trashed Beitar scarf from Flickr user Odim under a Creative Commons license.

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Making Jerusalem clean...for Bambi

by michael December 08 2008
EnvironmentMunicipal news

Cleaning up Gazelle Valley

Finally, the children are learning a useful trade

Yeah, it's true: we've been talking a lot about Gazelle Valley lately. But this time, we don't have anything to report about the mad machinations of our local robber barons. This is good news.

You see, Jerusalem (as well as the rest of the country) suffers from a terrible litter problem. Despite the love for the Land of Israel drilled into every Israeli kid as part of the public curriculum, not to mention built into the Jewish religion, far too few people make the seemingly obvious mental association between loving the Land of Israel and not throwing Coke cans and falafel wrappers all over it. Sometimes it's the people's fault: many older generations of Israelis hail from countries (or eras) where nobody ever considered the longterm ramifications of tossing trash out the window, and thus transmitted those values (or lack thereof) to their offspring; other times, it's the government's fault, both for not encouraging a green consciousness and for failing to install enough public waste receptacles.

But things are changing. Younger Israelis are increasingly aware of the effects of littering. And the government is throwing its support behind programs like Clean Up the World Day - which brings us back to Gazelle Valley.

Last week, dozens of local schoolchildren descended on the garbage-strewn valley, and under the watchful eyes of representatives from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Jewish National Fund, removed 100 large trash bags full of refuse. Not only is it a nice thing to do for the residents of Jerusalem and the resident gazelles, it sends a symbolic message to the hungry developers hovering around the valley's periphery. It's ours! We cleaned it!

So good on you, children, and try to take the lesson to heart: every time you toss that Bissli bag onto the ground, a baby gazelle probably dies.

Image courtesy of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

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A conversation with Gil Peled, eco-architect

by simone December 07 2008


Born in Jerusalem, environmentally aware architect Gil Peled was somewhat of a gypsy as a child, following his parents, who worked in the Foreign Service, to Germany, Austria and back. After completing his army service, Gil studied architecture in Scotland, in keeping with his cross-cultural roots. Today, Gil works as an eco-architect, and is the founder of Eco-Challenges: Sustainable Architecture and Consultancy. Perhaps his most famous project is his own apartment building, near downtown Jerusalem, which he converted into the city's first Eco-Housing Project, turning the old building green from the top on down. Gil first came on Jerusalemite's radar when we read about him on Israel's eco-blog, Green Prophet. We were eager to hear more about his ambitious project that is helping make Jerusalem a "greener" city.

What is eco-housing and eco-architecture exactly, and how did you come to be interested in the concept? The emphasis in eco-housing and eco-architecture is on ecology and looking at things in a holistic manner. It deals with the building in relation to its surroundings and looks at the materials required for a building's construction and operation. A lot of energy and resources go into a building - there are carbon emissions from heating and cooling; there's building waste and toxic materials. The idea with eco-housing is to take all these resources which have been put into the building and reuse them or limit the initial resource use. In some parts of the world, they are now making not only eco-friendly buildings, but eco-enhancing buildings.

I guess I became interested in eco-architecture because I was brought up in so many dRoses climbing up the Eco-wallifferent places, which made me aware of, and sensitive to, the environment – both socially and physically. Now green is a way of life for me. I've been involved with the Gazelle Valley initiative and many other environmental initiatives such as community gardens and the preservation of heritage sites.

My first real architecture project, which I did while I was still a student, was an eco-architecture project, and then I began to specialize in it. My final project was an eco-architecture project as well, but by that time, eco-architecture was a part of me.

When I came back from Scotland, I needed surgery and had to take a few years off, so I decided to implement what I'd learned and transfer an existing building into an eco-building, the Eco-Housing Pilot Project. This was a big challenge because older buildings were not designed with the environment in mind.

How do you reconcile Jerusalem's older architecture with newer eco-friendly practices and standards? Why is what you're doing better than simply building new housing? The older buildings are already here, and demolishing a building is also an environmental problem – there's building waste, dust, relocation of inhabitants - so the idea is to prolong the life....(For more questions and answers with Gil Peled, Eco-architect click here).

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Jerusalem finally gets Park and Ride - kind of

by josh December 05 2008
Things to doMunicipal news

naim byerush2.jpg

If you can't beat them, advertise to them. That's the attitude the city is taking toward drivers who insist on driving into and parking in the city's center, apparently oblivious to the fact that it’s more congested and messed up than Amy Winehouse with a cold. The Jerusalem Tourism Authority, which apparently thinks the tourists came to see the traffic jams, wants them to know that the city fought over by a multitude of peoples has more to offer. From a press release:

If until now the words "city center" caused you to shudder, to think of pressure, traffic jams and noise, the Tourism Authority and the Eden Company would like to remind you that there is so much more: tourist attractions, galleries, museums, sculptures, city murals and many other attractions.

For those lucky enough to find a place to put their cars and actually get out, the Authority will offer a free brochure - ahem, booklet - listing a number of places of interest for them to visit during their foray. Although the new initative is called Naim B'Yerushalayim in Hebrew, a double-meaning play on words ("Naim" means both "moving" and "pleasant"), planners have translated it simply as "A Stroll through Jerusalem," perhaps a lesson learned from overzealously literal translations.

Presentation of the booklet will give users 10 to 33 percent discounts at many of the city's attractions, such as the Tower of David (15 percent discount during the day), the Museum on the Seam (10 percent discount), the Time Elevator (10 percent discount), the Rav Kook Museum (25 percent discount) and more. Other items in the booklet are advertised for the special price of free, though in reality we doubt you would be charged admission for walking into Machane Yehuda or looking at street art without the booklet.

Still, the fact that the booklet itself is free makes it that much more attractive than the city's previous marketing scheme, HolyPass, which we discovered is not such a deal. Plus, it comes with a handy dandy map, and the entire content is printed in both English and Hebrew. Take that, Frenchies.

The booklet, which features a love-polluting little lion (see picture above) that looks suspiciously like some of Don Hertzfeld's more disturbing characters, will be given out to cars parked at the Karta, Safra, Independence Park, City Tower and Machane Yehuda lots.

Image of the new booklet guide courtesy of the Jerusalem Tourism Authority.

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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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