It was pouring out on Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. Still, I grabbed an umbrella and stepped out in the rain. The Smadar movie theatre is only a ten minute walk from my house, and I was determined to watch the film In Between by director Maysaloon Hamoud on single Palestinian Israeli women who live and work in Tel Aviv.

In Between was super engaging and of extreme interest to me. It was very much about woman to woman solidarity, in expanding what is possible for Arab women in Israel. It was indeed refreshing to see a film by a Palestinian woman, on other Palestinian women, in the language of women. And it somehow reminded me of how much I love the films by the late Ronit Elkabetz and her brother Shlomi Elkabetz, In Between's producer, as in them too, the women’s voice and narrative are very much honored.

I had walked again to Lev Smadar the previous week. I was among the hundreds who had come together to prevent its imminent closure. The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Ofer Berkovitch was there too and assured us that the municipality would lend its hand towards supporting the movie theatre’s continuity hand in hand with the residents’ grass roots fundraising. Berkovitch’s intentions sounded genuine, and assured us that the Jerusalem municipality would endorse once again the extension of the movie-theatre’s life.

And yet still, this Friday afternoon following the screening of Bar Bahar as In Between is called in Arabic, I chatted with one of the cinema employees who said they had received letters notifying them that their employment would end at the end of the month.

What I cherish the most regarding Smadar's struggle is the wide spectrum of support it has gained from both secular and religious Jerusalemites alike. A woman stood up at the end of the gathering and made clear to all of us present that observant Jews support the movie theatre, out of a shared interest in keeping the city pluralistic and multi-faceted.    Observant Jews, the woman explained, don’t want to be living in an exclusively Orthodox city, but rather cherish the fact that there is a spectrum of observance and religiosity in the capital, encompassing all the hues of Jewish identity.

Indeed, the spectrum of Judaisms Jerusalem can house, will be telling of Jerusalem's success. The wider the spectrum of Judaisms that can dwell in the city, the more significant the city will be on the local and international scene. And the more these Judaisms can live in harmony with the different Christian, Muslim and other faiths' practitioners living among us, the more Jerusalem will instill in us hope.

And the news of its imminent closure we heard on the radio this Friday December 23, are for sure not the Hanukah miracle we Jerusalemites are willing to co-create with the municipality, the building owners, and the businesswoman owner.

The Jerusalem we love and seek to nurture is the one that supports “there are 70 faces to the Torah.” And in many of Jerusalemites' readings of the Torah, Lev Smadar has a dear place in the plot. 


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