FROM REHAVIA TO NAHLAOT WEEKEND Pastoral Hotel, Kfar BlumJanuary 14-16 The Pastoral Hotel at Kibbutz Kfar Blum has been hosting musical weekend series for over a dozen years now. Every month or two people flock to the northern beauty spot from all over the country, to catch musical shows that range from Israeli golden oldies to opera, and much betwixt, as well as comedic spots and intellectually stimulating lectures and discussions. And there have been some fun and informative trips around the locale too.Over the years I have enjoyed quite a few of the Pastoral offerings, but last weekend’s Jerusalem-centric From Rehavia to Nahlaot program probably takes the biscuit thus far.Media personality Jackie Levy was drafted as a replacement for veteran raconteur Yossi Alfi, who was under the weather, and did a fine job. With musical interludes provided by the Tzanchani three-sibling group, which has appeared at Jacob’s Ladder Festival, Bat Yam-born Levy, who has been living in Jerusalem for many years, regaled us with colorful anecdotes from his own experiences during his long residency in the capital. Anyone who has caught Levy’s slots on the radio will know he is a slick performer, but there was something less professional – in the best sense of the term – and more intimate and personal about his evening turn at the Pastoral Hotel.Interestingly, what was supposedly the big draw of the weekend, a father-son story and song confluence between Uri and Gavri Banai, was something of a letdown. Gavri is best known as a member of seminal comedy threesome Hagashash Hahiver, as well as being a fine singer, while fortysomething Uri burst onto the local pop scene 15 years ago with hit single “Parparim” (Butterflies). But while Gavri did manage to elicit the odd chuckle from the audience there was something missing from the cross-generational pairing.Eliezer Yaari’s slide-supported talk about the background to his new book Beyond the Mountains of Darkness was both entertaining and eye-opening. A veteran journalist, photographer and former fighter pilot, Yaari lives in Arnona in Jerusalem, “500 meters from the houses of Sur Bahir,” as he put it. Beyond the Mountains of Darkness features photographs and stories about all kinds of characters living and working in Sur Bahir and nearby Umm Tuba, and Yaari deftly introduced us to life in the villages which, in fact, form part of the urban sprawl of Jerusalem.Naturally, touching on such topics can lead straight into a political morass, but Yaari largely managed to steer clear of politics.The two-and-a-half-day program also included a fun and informative trip to Moshav Almagor, where our guide enlightened us about some of the local military history, including a bloody battle which took place there in the early days of the state. The military monument on the moshav affords a spectacular view of the area, including the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. We also popped into the attractively designed Christian seminary center Domus Galilaeae which also overlooks the aforementioned landscape.Naturally, the accommodation was luxurious, and the food was pretty good too, even for vegans.