An evening stroll in Jerusalem this week would have left even the keenest of sun worshipers hard-pressed to deny that the capital's sunny days are numbered. But before Jerusalemites assign moonlit concerts and street celebrations to the realm of fond summer memories while accustoming themselves to lazy, pajama-clad nights in front of the television, the capital is set to see out the warm weather with one final festivity. Hamshushalayim, Jerusalem's annual bid to acquaint its residents, as well as their counterparts countrywide, with its wealth of attractions, derived its name from the colloquial army term for an extended weekend break: Hamshush (hamishi, shishi, Shabbat). Such long weekends comprise the format of Hamshushalayim: three consecutive weekends of cultural events, tours and extended museum opening hours beginning Thursday evening. On offer is Turkish dance ensemble Arabesque's seductive presentation of the country's traditional dance against the backdrop of the Museum of Islamic Art's elaborate display of 18th- and 19th-century handmade Anatolian vessels. The encounter, enhanced by a coffee break at the museum's enchanting Turkish-themed café, and complete with samples of Eastern dishes, a nargila and a Backgammon game, is just one Hamshushalayim offering. Other free events include the Jerusalem A-Cappella Ensemble's rendition of Baroque and Renaissance works at the Israel Museum, a celebration of Italian Opera at the Museum of Italian Jewish Art, the Science Museum's mesmerizing pyrotechnic presentation and an atmospheric, moonlit spectacle just beyond the Old City walls, courtesy of the fire-eating, coal-walking Balbalu Street Theater Company. Where entry fees occur, they are reasonable. For example, Hama'abada's cocktail party showcasing the talents of up-and-coming artists costs NIS 30 or NIS 15 for those brave enough to arrive armed with their own artistic creations for display, while Celtic music fans can relax to Irish rhythms courtesy of folk music queen Jill Rogoff for NIS 10. Festival-goers can also enjoy the stage adaptation of Pipelines, award-winning author Etgar Keret's collection of short stories, for only NIS 50. Visitors can gain insight into the history and heritage of the holy city thanks to an impressive variety of free or reduced priced tours, including several which are wheelchair accessible They can also take advantage of extended opening hours at the Israel Museum, the Science Museum, the Tower of David and others. For festival-goers who want to retire in luxury at the end of the day, many local hotels are offering cut-price deals during Hamshushalayim. And for those looking to sample local cuisine, numerous restaurants will be providing discount menus. For more information visit: http://tour.jerusalem.muni.il or call 531-4600.

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