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James Joyce called Dublin "the center of paralysis" and spent the last three decades of his life living in places other than the setting for his masterpiece, Ulysses. The epic novel recounts one day - June 16, 1904 - hour by hour through the eyes of the book's main character, a Jew named Leopold Bloom. Despite Joyce's negative view of Dublin, the Irish capital parties hard each year on June 16, which is now a holiday known as Bloom's Day. Israel has joined in.
For the most part, Israel's version of Bloom's Day is an attempt by Guinness, the well-known Irish beer producer, to put another St. Patrick's Day on the Jewish calendar. The tradition is growing, and parties will take place at a number of Irish bars and pubs around the country. Guinness will decorate 12 of these watering holes next Friday - as opposed to five last year - and will send out teams of representatives to distribute prizes such as hats and T-shirts for patrons guzzling that thick, dark brew and its lighter, creamier cousin, Kilkenny.
Unlike in Dublin, reenactments of the day as described in the novel are not expected here. Still, one could spend time crawling from pub to pub and even from city to city in an attempt to determine where the real Ulysses aficionados imbibe.
For a list of participating locations on Friday June 16, visit www.guinness.co.il.
A more literary Ulysses celebration will take place at Jerusalem's Tmol Shilshom bookshop/caf on Thursday evening, with Professor Shalom Goldman of Emory University leading a discussion in English about the novel's main character, the ultimate "wandering Jew." In addition to readings in both Hebrew and English, Irish beers will be discounted for the June 15 event beginning at 6 p.m. For details, visit www.tmol-shilshom.co.il.