Sanctifying the arts

Mekudeshet program highlights, such as the music evenings and events presented by local and international musicians, are conceived and presented in honor of Jerusalem.

Baaba Maal, master of rhythm from Senegal (photo credit: ROB O’CONNOR)
Baaba Maal, master of rhythm from Senegal
(photo credit: ROB O’CONNOR)
The Jerusalem Season of Culture and the wide range of events of this year’s Mekudeshet program use artistic tools to convey a fresh outlook and message about the city.
Karen Brunwasser, a JSC team member from its early days, tells In Jerusalem about some of the events that will take place these three weeks of Mekudeshet, kicking off on September 4.
Program highlights, such as the music evenings and events presented by local and international musicians, are conceived and presented in honor of Jerusalem, and Brunwasser has played a key role in many of them coming to fruition.
“Dissolving Boundaries,” which is likely to grab a large share of the spotlight, is comprised of a series of encounters with people and places throughout the capital. “Some of them are beautiful, others less so, but all are facets of the same city,” explains Brunwasser.
Dissolving Boundaries is an intriguing and bold attempt to show the myriad faces – mostly unexpected or little- known – that are so much a part of this city. The encounters involve use of the light rail (including some sessions in English), organized vans and simply walking toward them.
Karen BrunwasserKaren Brunwasser
Brunwasser points out that for many Jerusalemites, contexts in which conventional boundaries cease to exist are known to many locals, “but still had to be revealed and presented in a concrete way, and also for outside visitors.” One artistic element of the program is that ticket buyers won’t know until the last moment exactly whom they are going to meet. Surprising discoveries are an integral part of the show.
“The first thing people need is trust...because this is not a short event – we’re talking about events that run up to five hours. So I say, ‘You’re going to have to trust us, after all that is what it is about: trust.’” Brunwasser mentions the difference in outlook between locals and people from the rest from the country.
“There are many people who truly and sincerely believe they are open-minded and pluralistic, but they simply do not realize that when you live among people who are just like you, share your opinions, live like you and even look like you, well, that is really different from trying to stick to pluralistic positions, when you are surrounded by people who are not like you, do not share your opinions, live differently… and still share with you the same city, the same light rail, the same public space. That’s what we are talking about.”
Another program highlight is the physical change in Zion Square. After being for years a place synonymous with violence, drama, death and bomb blasts, a change was initiated by the Yerushalmit group and others. They organized sit-ins there, initiating open discussion between all of the parties, including extremist elements on both sides.
“Zion Square for me was – and still is – a wounded place, a place that witnessed all the horrors of the intifada, the violence and the hatred that literally injured the square, making it a place of suffering and pain,” continues Brunwasser.
This year, Mekudeshet will bring trees – symbols of life, of green renewal – that will convey “a message of healing, of alleviating the pain.”
Ethio-Jazz’s Mulatu AstakeEthio-Jazz’s Mulatu Astake
In terms of musical events, the variety is broad, promoting new and bold encounters from around the world and from here. The focus is on a key event theme: rethinking standard knowledge.
Performances include Vernon Maytone – Reggae between the Rasta and Zion; Yasmin Levy – From Cairo to Jerusalem, with an interesting encounter between Ziv Yehezkel and Nassrin Kadari; and a great surprise: Kudsi Erguner, a master in Sufi music from Turkey (who appeared with Peter Gabriel and Anouar Brahem), will perform the beautiful chants of the Maftirim Jewish tradition with his ensemble.
Mulatu Astake, a major voice in Ethiojazz music, and Baaba Maal, an internationally acclaimed master of rhythm from Senegal, and many more will all perform at the Tower of David.
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