THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Lights and colors

Mads Christensen’s “Cathedral of Mirrors” will be displayed at this week’s annual International Festival of Light (photo credit: Courtesy)
Mads Christensen’s “Cathedral of Mirrors” will be displayed at this week’s annual International Festival of Light
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Lights and colors The 2018 Jerusalem Festival of Light will focus on the theme of togetherness, bringing together artists of various disciplines and encouraging audience participation.
Now in its 10th consecutive year, the festival will transform and illuminate much of the Old City from June 27 to July 5. Jerusalemites and visitors who stroll the alleys of the Old City will enjoy dozens of stunning and interactive light installations, musicians and performers along the way.
This year, the audience can influence the color and appearance of installations by touch, triggering light and sound effects and bringing people together. For example, the audience will be able to use a paintbrush or their fingers to draw and write in a graffiti exhibit of light and color displayed on a special LED screen that lights up in response. People will be invited to make their way through mangrove tree forests reminiscent of the film Avatar, touching the branches to change their color and experience other surprises.
The festival is comprised of more than 35 spectacular light installations by Israeli and international artists, positioned throughout the Old City – including a spectacular audiovisual display on the Hurva synagogue; a giant swarm of illuminated butterflies symbolizing happiness, color and freedom; a forest of lights composed of 1,900 interactive branches and colorful tree statues; a 10-meter light and water graffiti wall; a giant interactive light-magnet umbrella; a light box display featuring historic footage from Israel’s early years – and more.
Again this year, the festival serves as a venue for student “light artists” enrolled in the Light Festival course at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. They will unveil 10 spectacular light installations that will hang 18 meters in the air above visitors’ heads at Har Zion Boulevard. The students benefit from guidance from the festival’s artistic directors. In addition, some 20 musicians will perform along the route and four light dancers from Germany will perform at the St. James Kishle.
The festival is sponsored by the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority, with management and production by the Ariel Municipal Company.
Green and sustainable Earlier this week, the Romema Community Center and the Jerusalem Green Fund signed a partnership agreement and dedicated a Green Visitors’ Center.
Board members, residents and staff of both non-profit organizations in attendance at the opening of the center celebrated the new relationship between the parties and the benefit to the community.
The new Green Visitors’ Center is a communal and educational garden and greenhouse on the Romema Community Center’s premises, which is meant to serve the ultra-Orthodox population of Jerusalem. The first of its kind, the center will receive diverse groups from toddlers to senior citizens, providing opportunities to connect with the plant and animal kingdoms, the planet and the Land of Israel through experiential educational programming.
The partnership between the Jerusalem Green Fund and the Romema Community Center establishes new areas of activity for residents, such as the preservation of the Romema Valley as an accessible open green space that enhances the quality of life for residents and community campaigns to increase cleanliness in the public domain. The Jerusalem Green Fund promotes environmental, social and economic sustainability in and around Jerusalem through initiatives working with Jerusalem’s diverse communities and reaches out to lovers of Jerusalem around the world. Controversial evening For the second time in recent months, the municipality has appealed to the Magistrate Court to prevent an evening event with a radical political agenda at the Barbur Gallery. Safra Square is not optimistic that the court will rule in its favor; the same Court rejected a similar appeal by the municipality against the gallery in the past.
Despite some three years of struggle, the municipality has been unable to implement its decision to close the gallery on the grounds that as a public facility on municipal property, it cannot hold events of an extreme political character. A spokeswoman for the municipality reports that the procedure, which was initiated three years ago, has not yet been completed, so the gallery is still open and functioning.
There are two related issues here. One is the use of this structure as a gallery and cultural events venue in an area that lacks public space for the local residents. The other is the fact that the directors and programmers of the gallery focus exclusively on issues identified with radical far-Left groups. The event in question now, scheduled for June 18, is the launch of a new book titled Nakba in Hebrew, written by Eitan Bronstein Aparici and Eleonore Bronstain-Merza, both leading activists of the radical non-Zionist Left. Bronstein-Aparici is one of the founders of the association “Zochrot,” an organization that promotes “Israeli Jewish society’s awareness and responsibility for the Nakba and the return of Palestinian refugees as its imperative redress.”
Residents complain that there is no space for their needs, such as kindergartens, and accuse the municipality of not doing enough to free the space of a gallery that does not serve the community while their children have to commute to kindergartens in other neighborhoods.
Sixty years and counting...
A milestone marking more than a half century of faithful service to the women of Jerusalem was cause for celebration last Wednesday on Emek Refaim Street.
Wine and refreshments, a band playing jazz and Dixie and a gathering of old friends (with a touch of nostalgia) marked the 60th anniversary of the most famous shop in the Holy City for bras and related garments. Ruthie Dana inherited the shop from her mother, who initially sewed the custom-fit creations herself. In addition to her career as a tour guide, Dana continued to offer her clients quality merchandise and personal service – for example, to adapt to post-surgical requirements.
In our global world where chain stores devour small independent shops, Dana refuses to shutter her store, regarding herself as a soldier on the battlefront for independent businesses in the city. Her steadfastness is cheered on by a sizable cadre of faithful clients, many of whom made it their business to see and be seen the celebration.
Stories of the East Next week the Jerusalem Cinematheque is launching a series of films that depict the story of Oriental – Jewish and Arabic – music. Eight different movies will relate the story – as well as an exhibition and several master classes on that musical genre. The exhibition focuses on the music brought here by new immigrants from the Arab world; the music was not warmly welcomed at the beginning and remains relatively unknown to much of the public.
The films and exhibition relate the role of the classical and popular oriental music back in the Arab countries and how it developed in Israel. There will also be a series of encounters with local performers of this type of music. The program includes a performance after each movie, highlighting the traditions of the different countries from which the many olim came in the 1950s and 1960s – Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and others – and showing the interplay of these traditions in local music.
At the Jerusalem Cinematheque from June 19 to July 19. Info: or *9377 Soul train Aficionados of spirituality and soul music – take note. Ya’qub Ibn Yusuf, Jerusalem’s master of soul music and literature (from the Olam Katan store) has opened a summer stall at the First Station, where one can find books and CDs about a broad range of spiritual matters. In addition, Yusuf and his merchandise – including Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach books and music – can be found evenings at Beit Shmuel at performances of The Soul Doctor musical, about Carlebach’s life and teachings.
The play runs through June 23.