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Jerusalem is all geared up for the Hamshushalayim festival, a series of events over the next three weekends for both city residents and visitors from the rest of the country. A project of the municipality's tourism office, the event, which runs Thursdays through Saturdays, takes its cue from similar festivals held around the world and is the first of its kind in Israel. "Hamshush," a slang word combined with the Hebrew name for Jerusalem, is an army expression referring to weekends that start on Thursdays and end on Saturdays.
During each of the three weekends of the festival, a different aspect of the city will be emphasized: its museums, the city center and the Old City. Though each weekend will revolve around one of the three themes, events will be held in all three spheres throughout the festival. Institutions involved in Hamshushalayim will stay open late into the night, and will provide special shuttle buses (on Thursday nights) to transport eventgoers from one venue to another.
Most of the festival's offerings will be free of charge and, if not, priced at the venues' normal rates. The venues are set to be open between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. unless otherwise noted.
Amongst the offerings from the city's 17 museums will be a plethora of musical choices. The Bible Lands Museum will host the Black Hebrews from Dimona for soulful spirituals and gospel music, and the museum will also offer a mystical guided tour of the ghosts and demons that ruled the ancient world. The Jerusalem Jazz Trio will play at the Old City's Tower of David museum. The Italian-Jewish Museum will host a concert featuring the music of Mozart as part of the "Year of Mozart" that is being recognized internationally. The Islamic Museum will host a series of Middle Eastern music concerts featuring such instruments as the oud, cannon and other exotic regional instruments. And, not to be forgotten, Klezmer music will be featured at the Davidson Center.
Additionally, the Bloomfield Science Museum is hosting an exhibit on the life of Albert Einstein that has been shown around the world. For its Israeli showing, the exhibit has been adapted to include the great scientist's involvement in Jewish and Zionist causes including one section dealing with the early attempt to make him Israel's first president. The museum will also serve as the forum for a multimedia dance presentation called "Intimacy Hunters," which will feature a single dancer and three video cameras used to expose, from different angles, a story of loneliness and the longing for intimacy.
To accomodate non-Jerusalemites, many of the city's hotels will be offering special discounted rates, free day passes to city museums, and detailed information regarding the weekends' festivities.
Taking the festival to the streets, a variety of restaurants and cafes on Nahalat Shiva Street in the city center and on Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony will play host to wandering musicians who will perform classical and jazz along with other types of music. The German Colony will also play host to a large farmer's market on Friday mornings. At the Jaffa Gate to the Old City, performance artists dressed in period costumes will greet visitors on Thursday evenings and into the night, leading them to the Tower of David museum and also on magical tours of the Jewish Quarter.
For more information, visit tour.jerusalem.muni.il or call (02) 531-4600.