To see Jerusalem you have to walk, and there’s nothing like walking in the summer. You never know what you’ll encounter. Jerusalem is pumping with fun festivals offering creative entertainment for young and old alike. The best part about walking through this summer fun is the stories you learn along the way.
The other week I took my son to The Train Theatre by Bell Park. There was a wonderful show about the wise people of Chelm called The Chelem Legend – Fool Moon. A delightful, one-woman play created and performed by Galia Levy Grad, with beautiful paper cut-outs and scenery, accompanied by classic Klezmer music. I don’t take my son to the theatre enough, and clearly, neither does the rest of Jerusalem as the theatre was maybe a third full.
Which is a pity because it was a brilliant production of international standards (indeed I bumped the actress Galya at my local coffee shop and she told me she performs the play internationally.) It brought the magic of theatre alive for my son whose nose is too often glued to a screen rather than laughing at hilarious, talking, paper cut-outs with Yiddish accents.
When the play ended, a live Klezmer music band arrived and danced children and parents into Bell park. Icy cold popsicles were handed out and we were introduced to the next event, compliments of the festival. The band settled into seats and a man who looked half hip bopper, half Hassidic told us his story. He grew up in Bnei Brak and entered the world of dance, where he created a fusion between his past hassidic, dancing roots and modernity. He then performed to the Klezmer music, and passerby’s stopped entranced by the mystical mix of a man wearing traditional, white, pulled up socks to the knee and a trendy pink T-shirt, shockling and twirling in the soft Jerusalem breeze that eased the heat in the early twilight.
Typically Israeli – Long food queues at the Jerusalem Food Truck Festival.
From Bell Park it’s a hop, skip and a jump to the Food Truck Festival hosted by the Guy Ben Himon complex, near the Jerusalem Cinematheque. For the entire July and August, the park is filled with fairy lights and gastronomic offerings from Jerusalem’s best eateries rotating each week. Picnic mats line the sloping hills and children are running around whilst their parents sip cocktails at the picnic-style tables and benches. It is summer at its best, as the air cools and the DJ music, or if you’re on time the live music rocks.
The fabulous cocktail bar under fairy lights at the Food Truck Festival.
It’s good to keep an eye out for what festivals are on in Jerusalem but if you’re at a loss what to do, just walk through The First Station – there are all sorts of live events and Wet Ball for the kids, or town – there’s always something surprising or into the Shuk at night, where you will experience what I call the music wars, which is a recent phenomenon of the DJ music from the competing corner bars that have popped up everywhere. If you’re lucky you’ll find a market corridor where there’s classy live music and patrons salsa-ing away.
Hot foodie spot – Rachel Basdera Food Truck – If you miss the festival go to their shady eatery in Rechavia.
Even walking through the Jerusalem parks in summer can surprise you. One night I was walking and found a colourful compound of camping tents in San Simon park. I enquired and discovered that it was a night that anyone could come and pitch a tent, enjoy a night under the stars with their children, without leaving the city.
The point of Jerusalem, as well as the point of life I suppose, is to wander and discover the city for yourself. With each step you own the city, you own your experience. And this counts for visitors and Jerusalem dwellers alike.
It’s the last week of holidays and if you don’t know what to do next just start walking.