If it’s summer, then the Jerusalem Season of Culture must be at hand. The highly popular series of events and festivals using Israel’s capital as its backdrop has some surprises as well as old favorites on tap this year, according to artistic director Itay Mautner.

At a press conference last week held at The Jerusalem Press Club in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Mautner said he regarded Jerusalem as a city with many different narratives that create “a cultural narrative... that is unlike any other city narrative in the world.” The Season of Culture tries to that “tell the unique and very different story [of this complex city] through different artistic genres.”

He said that the Season of Culture – supported by the Shusterman Foundation – tries to do “city specific events.” The term means that presentations selected for the festival either originate in Jerusalem or pertain specifically to the city. If special projects, artists, etc are brought in from abroad, the festival gives them a new venue in Jerusalem.

This year will see some events returning from last year and several new ones.

Last year, one of the highlights of the Season of Culture was the Food Trip. Assaf Granit of the famed the Mahane Yehuda market provided a food truck that went around the city for 23 days, offering dishes by sous chefs from prominent Jerusalemite eateries.

During the journeys, Granit met Kamel Hashlamon, a notable Arab chef from east Jerusalem. Even though they grew up less than four kilometers from each other, they came from very different backgrounds. This year they will come together to create a special pop-up restaurant at a location between their homes. They said that they hoped the food will not only be delicious, but that the guests will also learn about the story behind the food.

The Jerusalem Sacred Music festival is also returning alongside Night Stroll, a midnight to dawn old city adventure where one can view a multitude of performances.

The successful In House festival, which tells the story of Jerusalem through art pieces and exhibitions in private homes, is also returning with a new piece. Dominic Huber’s new piece, called House, will be presented in a typical Jerusalem apartment building. The building façade will stand for the past while telling ‘the inside story.’ Audience members will receive headsets and hear a prerecorded audio piece as they observe the building.

Unique as the festival is, it is just temporary. So, Mautner’s team planned two events to remind attendees how Jerusalem lives and breathes year round. The first has a map depicting diverse prayer services going on around the city. One is free to attend any of them. The second, called “Testimony and Counters,” takes everyday occurrences with a “Jerusalem twist.” For example, one can hear a rooftop lecture by a rabbi and sheikh on the role of Imams just before the Muslim call to prayer.

Jerusalem Season of Culture begins July 10. For more info visit www.jerusalemseason.com.

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