Every July hundreds of cinema lovers from all over the world come to Jerusalem for the annual Film Festival.
Most screenings take place in the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a perfect venue for an international film festival. The Cinematheque was built on the slope of Ben-Hinom Valley, opposite Mt. Zion and the Old City walls. It has four modern screening halls, a library, a restaurant and another small cafeteria, a terrace overlooking Mt. Zion and a lawn outside. Other screening venues include the bohemic Lev-Smadar cinema in the beautiful German Colony neighborhood, the historic Ticho House, the Begin Center and other halls in Jerusalem.
The program includes fiction, docemntaries and experimental films, and is a true celebration for film buffs (like myself)!
Often you will see Orthodox people, well, Christian Orthodox or Jewish Orthodox, both are living here, both have groups, schools etc. They look somehow behind the time I know, but well, I guess everyone is free to do as they wish here.
I am not sure if this by law or not but every building in modern days Jerusalem will be build and construct with old style bricks, or at list they look like this. This is very good idea and giving you a very authentic and good feeling while hanging around in Jerusalem.
You will see around often those sesame fresh bread carried from the bakery to the store or just sold in the stalls. That is the traditional snack for those who need to nibble something in between the meals. Try it, its nice.
The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a well known regional fruit long before the oranges brought to the region. It has a clear sweet red juice and very testy.
You can have a glass of drink while strolling around in the old city. I think it might be great drink mixed with rum or vodka, but I did not try it this time around.
I am most recommanding to keep your political opinion to yourself. In Jerusalem it is mostly recommended. Almost every nationality, ethnic group & religion that exist on earth, have representation in this area, including of course the Christians, Jewish & Muslim or their verious movements.
If asked, best just to reply that you do not know much about the conflict and you just hope for peace in Jerusalem
Martin S and his wife Zohara introduced us to this local delicacy during our time in the Old City. In the paper is a spice or combination of spices which you can buy from any of the spice sellers. Next you buy one of the gorgeous loaves (see photo 2) from the bread seller. Tear off sections of bread, dip in spice, put in mouth and chew vigorously. Hey presto, a delicious snack and something that the other tourists won't know about. Thank you Martin for sharing this insiders knowledge with us. And thank you Avi for emailing me the name of the spice. If you want to try this snack, then ask the spice dealer for Za'atar.
Martin S pointed out this to me on Ben Yehuda Street and I was pretty puzzled because at first glance I actually thought this young man was having his blood pressure taken. He is in fact taking part in a religious activity, particular to Jewish males which consists of wrapping straps with small boxes round their arm and head. These tiny boxes contain little strips of parchment with prayers on them and reciting these prayers among other things is hoped to hasten the coming of the Messiah. To the uninitiated it seems slightly bizarre but around central Jerusalem this is quite a common sight. In the Lonely Planet guide to Israel I got the following explanation: 'These (straps) are phylacteries or tefillin - tefillin shel yad is the strap wrapped round the arm and hand and tefillin shel rosh is placed round the head. Ths shel yad binds the arm, therefore the body and the shel rosh binds the mind. The purpose is to remind Jews that the mind, heart and body are to be used for good and not evil. Tefillin are traditionally worn by men during the morning service, except on Shabaat and holidays.' It certainly adds to the local colour on Ben Yehuda Street.
The Jewish Sabbath or Shabaat starts at sundown on Friday and finishes at sundown on Saturday. It's the most important day of the week and as we already saw downtown, shops and businesses closed well in advance of sundown as indeed did public transport. On Friday evening Jewish families sit down to what is definitely the most important meal of the week, the Shabaat dinner.
Via books and movies, I was familiar with the concept of this meal but in Jerusalem, thanks to the hospitality of VT member Gila Brand and her husband Haim, I experienced the real thing. Gila (bravely) extended an open invitation to VT members attending WorldMeet 2008 and eight of us ( including little Fossy ) accepted. So at this VT meet within a VT meet we got to have a truly delicious meal as well as a full explanation of all the rituals and traditions associated with the Shabaat dinner.
Haim began by reciting the blessing over the challah ( bread) and the wine and then we tucked in with Gila explaining the significance of some of the food we were eating. The meal started with apples dipped in honey and another short blessing which hoped for a sweet new year. Before the main course, we also ate figs, dates and pomegranates, all of these belonging to the seven fruits symbolising the land of Israel. Pomegranates are traditional for Rosh Hashanna, which is celebrated at the end of September and having looked for pomegranates to photograph since I'd arrived I was thrilled to finally get to taste one. Later in the meal Haim read a short piece from the bible in Hebrew and Gila gave us the English translation. We even attempted to sing some psalms which was a lot of fun.
This meal is all about family and we were delighted to meet Gila's mother-in law Mala and two of her sons Noah and Hanan. It was just as exhuberant and full of talk and laughter as I'd expected a Shabaat dinner to be. Especially tasty was the Kugel, a pudding made with batter and raisins. If we ask nicely Gila might include the recipe in the local customs section of her excellent Jerusalem page.
I have taken information from several of Gila's tips to write this account of our Shabaat dinner and if you are thinking of visiting Jerusalem or just wanting to get an insider's view of this fascinating city, you will get all the information you need on her keenly observed pages.
Thank you Gila, Haim, Mala, Noah and Hanan for a great meal, great fun and a unique evening and insight into the Jewish and Israeli way of life.
I found out too late that most restaurants prefer the server be tipped in cash. At one restaurant I did not have enough cash on me for the tip. The people were not pleased that I had to add the gratuity to the charge card, and they let it show!
We were lost and needed directions. We were moving against the foot traffic headed for the Western Wall. One man was walking with his son and was kind enough to let us follow him to the area we were looking for. It was quite an experience to be right there in the Jewish Quarter as everyone was headed to prayer.
One of four new Israeli holidays from the 20th century is dedicated to Jerusalem:
Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day
It's the anniversary of liberation and unification of the capital under Jewish sovereignty that occurred in 1967 war (Six Day War).
Pics show some examples of exhibitions in the festivity.
When arriving to the old city, to the wailing wall and the other places please make sure to be covered, especially Girls of course.
The Arabs in the Arab quarter and the religious Orthodox Jewish people lives and pray there as well as Christians.
When i Rome do as the Romans...
Jerusalem's day or as we call it Yom Yerushalayim is not a holy day but this is a national day to remember the time when Jerusalem was united again during the 6 days war.
In this day a lot of people go to Jerusalem to participate in the ceremonies.
If you do any shopping at all in the Old City (and you will), don't be surprised if a shopkeeper offers you a drink of mint tea. This is a custom that is nice to respect, even if you don't end up purchasing anything. It's part of the whole culture so by all means, go along with it.
You can also find strong tea being dispensed outside the Damascus Gate, especially during the marketplace. It's a lot of fun to watch the vendor carefully pouring out the drinks to paying customers.
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