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Life through Taxes

November 21rd, 2019Category: Business
In 1953 the acclaimed Israeli writer and poet Leah Goldberg sent a handwritten letter to the government saying she had no money to pay her taxes. This letter is now on display in the tiny Museum of Taxes near the Machane Yehuda market. Operated by the Ministry of Finance, this unique museum uses the history of taxes, customs and other bureaucracy in the Holy Land to offer insight into life here all the way back in the First Temple period through the present day.
Everything is about taxes, and taxes touch on all parts of life and history
said Mira Dror, the passionate director of the museum for more than 25 years.
Although the topic of tax sounds boring to many, the museum is full of interesting insights into Israel’s history. Although all the signs are in Hebrew, there is a book explaining the exhibits in English, and Dror can also guide English-speaking visitors around the museum, which makes a visit even more interesting.
A receipt issued to Mikveh Israel agriculture school in 1896 for paying baksheesh--a type of payment usually given discreetly--to the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the area at the time, shows the blurry lines between the law and what actually happened in real life. A 1917 document from Ronald Storrrs, the British military governor of Jerusalem, declaring that the then-new British Mandate would simply continue the tax policies of the Ottoman empire shows how governments maintain authority in times of chaos, and sheds light on why Israeli law today remains a mix of Ottoman, British and modern legal codes. Letters from Jewish residents of Jerusalem in the 1930s written in English to the local British tax authorities demanding documents in Hebrew demonstrate the passion and hard work it took to bring the ancient language back into daily use.
Mannequins dressed in historic uniforms of border tax agents and a display case full of items confiscated by tax authorities over the years, including shoes with holes in the bottoms to hide gold coins, a coat lined with expensive silk scarves and a coffee table whose top opens to reveal a poker table, also help bring the museum alive. During a tour, Dror picks up a simple cushioned wooden stool and flips it over to show the bottom plastered with 50-year-old stickers ensuring luxury tax had been paid on the item.
Why is this a luxury?”
she asks. Then she consults an old chart on display that stipulates luxury tax on any upholstered object. That tax was abolished in the 1980s.
As for whether Goldberg had to pay that tax she complained about, the answer is not clear. But of course, most official answers to tax exemptions are no, at least on paper, Dror adds with a smile.

The museum, with free entrance, is located at Agripas 42, and can be reached by going up the stairs next to Berman’s Bakery, then turning left. It is best to coordinate your visit in advance with Dror by calling 02-625-7597 or 02-531-7332. The museum is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  

Yad LaKashish: A Lifeline for the Old

November 21rd, 2019קטגוריה: Business
Every weekday about 300 elderly Jerusalemites gather in an old stone building in the city’s Musrara neighborhood to paint ceramics, bind books, make recycled paper and engage in many other types of arts and crafts. But here are Yad LaKashish, or Lifeline for the Old, it’s about more than just the products they make, many of which are for sale in the onsite shop.
Coming here gives me a big boost,
said Bracha, 62, one of the participants as she painted with bright colors on silk, making a wall-hanging.
I live alone, so being with a group is important for my soul.
The non-profit organization puts participants to work a few hours each day making arts, crafts and other products, and pays them a monthly stipend. It also provides them with a free hot lunch and bus pass. Anyone above retirement age, and determined to be low-income is eligible.
We have projects for everyone, and try to find things for their skills and abilities
Gasner, director of community relations at Yad LaKashish.
The non-profit organization was founded in 1962 by a school teacher, Myriam Mendilow, after she noticed that many elderly people in the city, especially new immigrants, were lonely and struggled to support themselves financially. Mendilow started out with just eight elderly men, and taught them to bind and repair books. Schools and other customers began to bring them books to repair, and the organization quickly began to grow. Now, there are nine different workshops, making everything from ceramics to recycled paper to jewelry. The average age of those making these things is 80. Like when the organization began, most participants are immigrants, many from the former Soviet Union, but also from Ethiopia, Morocco and the United States.
This place is really a model for healthy and active aging
said Relly Schwartz-Zur, the organization’s executive director. Welcoming visitors, who learn about the organization’s history and tour the workshops and speak to participants, is also an important part of the organization, Schwartz-Zur said, These tours are free, but need to be arranged in advance.
We want people to see what’s going on here
she said.
That helps promote a positive attitude toward eldery people. When you come here, you see these people and how what they are doing is amazing and inspiring.
Recently, Yad LaKashish also began offering visitors the chance to make art alongside the elderly participants. With advanced arrangement, groups of ten or more can attend a workshop here, and take home whatever they make.
This is really a meaningful experience,
Schwartz-Zur said. On a recent breezy fall day, 83-year-old Hana, a retired American school teacher, painted pomegranates onto cards handmade from recycled paper.
I just really love to paint, and this place gives me that opportunity
she said.
Artwork, home decor items and Judaica made at Yad LaKashish can currently also be found on display in one of the Inbal’s front windows. Items are for sale at Yad LaKashish’s shop on at 14 Shivtei Israel Street, or online.

Free tours can be booked online, or by calling 02-628-7829. Workshops can be booked by calling 02-628-7829, or by emailing info@lifeline.org.il, and range in price from 50 to 100 shekels per person.

“Jerusalem through my father’s eyes”

August 29rd, 2019Category: Business
In the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, a small shop called Elia Photo Service, offers a window to the city’s past. The glass cupboards, walls and countertops are covered with black-and-white photos that Elia Kahvedjian took in and around Jerusalem and other parts of Israel for more than six decades, beginning in the 1920s. There are photos of camels in the desert, horse-drawn carts on Jaffa Road, and the interior of the Old City’s Hurva Synagogue before it was destroyed in the 1948-49 war.
He was always with his camera
said Kahvedjian’s grandson, also named Elia, who now runs the shop that his grandfather started in 1930. First located on Jaffa Road, where the elder Elia bought the existing Hanania Brothers photo service shop, the shop moved to its current location in 1949. Now it is a sort of museum, offering images of Jerusalem’s past, and selling the photos taken by three generations of Kahvedjians. But for a long time it was a place to develop film, get portraits taken, and hire photographers for weddings and other events.
When the elder Elia passed away in 1999, his son, Kevork, took over the business, and also published the book “Jerusalem Through My Father’s Eyes,” a collection of photos taken by his father. When Kevork died last year after battling cancer, the younger Elia continued the business.
Now it’s my time
the younger Elia said, sitting behind the counter on a recent summer afternoon, where he was telling a group of European tourists his father’s life story, of how he came as an Armenian orphan to Jerusalem during World War I, and built a whole life here. The younger Elia is also a photographer in his spare time.
I really like to show the changes in the city in my photos,
he said, pointing to a shot of the Zion Gate, riddled with bullet holes from the 1967 Six Day War. He then took out a photo his grandfather had taken in the same place in the 1930s, when the gate’s facade was much smoother.
I think it’s important to document things, because they will change again in the future
he said.

The shop is located at 14 Al-khanka Street, in the Christian Quarter of the Old City.

A new wine experience in an ancient cellar

August 29rd, 2019Category: Business
When Eli Weisberger began renovating a small shop on Jeruslaem’s Emek Refaim Street to make it into a wine bar, he made a surprising discovery: This building once served as a wine storage cellar for the Templers, a group of Christians from German who settled in the holy land in the late 1800s. It was the Templers who built many of the stone, red-roofed buildings in the German Colony along Emek Refaim.
I had no idea this was here, it was a huge surprise
said Weisberger, who opened the Wine Temple here in 2017.
The renovation work eventually exposed the original stone walls and vaulted ceilings of the cellar. Now this sprawling underground three-room complex is filled with tables, a bar and shelves of hundreds of different kinds of wine. Visitors can stop by for a glass of wine, accompanied by a cheese plate. Or, people can simply stop in to have a look at the architecture and the wine collection, which includes more than 5,000 bottles from more than 60 wineries around Israel, all for sale.
Weisberger also hosts events, like lectures and tastings in the space.
Weisberger also hosts events, like lectures and tastings in the space.
I really want to help people learn more about wine
said Weisberger, who spent more than a decade working for various Israeli wineries before opening the Wine Temple
In Israel people drink less wine than in Europe, and I think we should drink more here.

The Wine Temple is located at Emek Refaim 8, and is certified kosher.

Discover Jerusalem’s stories through food

August 29rd, 2019Category: Business
Do you want to meet the artists, designers and other creative people who have been changing downtown Jerusalem in recent years, and enjoy food along the way? For a unique look into life at the galleries and artsy cafes, as well as at the street graffiti, just download the Bitemojo app, and sign up for the Creative Tour of Jerusalem. Like Bitemojo’s other smartphone-based tours, the Creative Tour includes several pre-paid stops to taste food, using the various restaurants, cafes and bars as a way to learn about the past and present of Jerusalem. Guided by the smartphone app, participants can also go at their own pace, without worrying about keeping up with a group.
It provides you with a different way to experience Jerusalem
said Michael Weiss, co-founder of Jerusalem-based Bitemojo, which now offers eight different app-based food tours around Israel, and 14 others in cities around the world, including Budapest, New York and Lisbon
You go off the beaten path and really understand a place.

Other Jerusalem-based tours include the company’s original Mahane Yehuda market tour, as well as tours of the Old City, Jerusalem bars, and Jerusalem at night. The cost includes five or six stops for food on each tour, as well as stories and information about people and places along the way.
Jerusalem offers an endless amount of stories, and this is what we try to do,
said Weiss, who also co-founded YallaBasta, the first company to create an online map of the sprawling Mahane Yehuda market, where it also offers tours and pre-paid cards for food tasting. He said BiteMojo tours are unique because they can be done independently, and don’t create the disruption of large groups with guides, especially when exploring many of the city’s small streets and alleys. People can also start and stop tours as they please, completing them over several days.
It allows you complete autonomy,
he said. With the increasing number of food tours in the city, the Bitemojo ones stand out because they examine specific themes.
With the Creative Jerusalem tour, you can really see how the city is being changed with more artists, designers and entrepreneurs,
he said. The tour includes tastings at Nocturno, a cafe with its own designer boutique; custom-made juices in Mahane Yehuda market; and cheeses at one of the first shops to import products.
The food is also important
Weiss said
But the food is like a beacon of light that takes you from one place to another while you get the stories along the way

Tours are 110 shekels per person, and include five or six food tastings.

The market after dark

July 14rd, 2019Category: Business
Just because most of the the produce vendors close their stalls in the evening, that does not mean that Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market shuts down after dark. Rather, a whole new life begins, as a growing number of bars, cafes and restaurants here have made it one of the city’s hottest nightlife spots in recent years.
Three years ago, two young Jerusalemites realized that the shuk was missing something: a sophisticated cocktail bar.

“There were plenty of places to get a beer, but we wanted to make something unique,”
said Gil Barnea, one of the founders of Tap & Tail, which he opened in 2016 with business partner Matan Parides. Situated in a former market stall in a small alleyway, Tap & Tail makes unique hand-crafted cocktails from local fresh ingredients.
The most popular drinks feature Israeli spirits like anise-based Arak and Tubi 60, a citrus-based alcohol made in Haifa. The Lion’s Milk cocktail is made from Arak, Amaretto and almond puree, and topped with star anise bought from a market spice vendor. The “To be or not to be” drink is made from Tubi 60, bright green Midori liqueur and mint.
“We like to say it’s a folk cocktail bar, inspired by the local people and flavors,”
Barnea said. They also offer classic cocktails.
“But we really specialize in our own creations,”
he said.
Once the nearby produce vendors close, patrons at Tap & Tail sit at tables arranged in the alleyway of the market, in addition to stools at the sleek and modern bar. Both locals and tourists frequent the bar, Barnea said.
Tap & Tail is just one of many bars now open in the shuk. Open every night except Friday, these night-time hangouts offer something for everyone. Beer Bazaar, located near one of the market entrances from Jaffa Street, serves more than 100 different kinds of Israeli craft beer. The tapas-style Yudale, on Beit Yaakov Street, offers an extensive wine list. Hatch, on HaEgoz street, features a rotating variety of beers, cocktails and homemade sausages. Casino De Paris, one of the older market bars, serves drinks in a cozy courtyard that was once part of a casino and officers’ club when the British Mandate administered Jerusalem a century ago.
The market is also a great place to simply wander around in the evening, to people watch, and to admire the graffiti art of Solomon Souza, who has painted portraits of famous Israelis and foreigners on the doors that cover the closed produce stalls each night.

The Anna Ticho house

July 14rd, 2019Category: Business
A Place for Art and Culture; old and new

Before the state of Israel was established, botanist Baruch Chizik and artist Aharon HaLevy traveled around rural Palestine, cataloguing all of the plants they encountered. Chizik studied and identified the various flowers and cacti while HaLevy painted them.
It was part of a larger cooperative scene of scientists, artists and linguists who worked together to find, document, and even create modern Hebrew names for the plants growing in the Holy Land.

Now, some of the botanical art from this period, in addition to later periods, is part of the Seeds of the Land exhibition in the Anna Ticho House, a stone home in the center of Jerusalem that was home to one of the city’s most influential couples..
“The exhibit looks not just at the art, but at the way modern artists use plants to express feelings and political ideas,”
said Timna Seligman, curator of the Ticho House, which is part of the Israel Museum. The exhibit, on the ground floor of the building, runs through November, 2019.
The contemporary pieces include delicate glass sculptures by contemporary artist Dafna Kaffeman, and pages of Haaretz newspapers from the Six Day War period faded with paint and imprinted with silhouettes of local wildflowers in a project by Larry Abramson. Both Kaffeman and Abramson include work from earlier Israeli botanical artists.
The exhibit is especially fitting for the space because this was once home to Anna Ticho, an artist who often painted local landscapes. Her husband, the eye doctor Avraham Albert Ticho, is credited with treating the then-common eye disease of trachoma, and saving thousands of people from blindness.
“We always try to make sure that the temporary exhibits we have here have some connection to Anna,”
Seligman said.
In addition to this exhibit, the Ticho House is a place worth exploring. With its arched doorways and stone work, the house is also a well-preserved example of typical Jerusalem architecture. Recent renovations have exposed ornate ceiling drawings on the top floor of the house, now home to the Anna Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant.
Entrance is free, and its location, near the main downtown thoroughfare of Jaffa Road makes it an ideal stopping place during a day of exploring the city.
“Visitors can stop in, have a look around and even enjoy a drink or meal,” Seligman said. “It’s really a lovely place, especially in the summer when the gardens are in bloom.”

Scents of Jerusalem

March 26rd, 2019Category: Business
Hundreds of bottles filled with lavender, saffron, vanilla, frankincense and other essential oil fill the shelves inside Perfuniq, a tiny shop on Ben Sira street in the center of Jerusalem. Owner Shahar Schwartz, a trained chemist, estimates his shop offers about 1,200 different scented oils. And it is from this huge collection that customers can create their own unique perfumes.

“Each person in the only one in the world with such a perfume,” said Schwartz, who opened the shop in 2015 after spending decades running a factory that created industrial scents, for customers like cosmetic companies and even hotels who wanted their lobbies to have a certain smell. He also owns branches of Perfuniq in northern Israel and in New York. “I said if I can make custom scents for buildings, I can make custom scents for people,” Schwartz said. Each perfume he creates contains about 75 different kinds of oil, he said. Even if someone requests one scent--lavender, for example--small amounts of others oils are added as well in order to draw out the dominant flavor, he said. “But most people who come in here have no idea what they want,” Schwartz said. To help them decide, he asks each customer a series of questions, ranging from which colors they prefer to what sorts of natural environments make them feel the most calm. Each answer corresponds to a scent, and helps develop the perfect combination, he said. The correlation between different scents and answers to these questions were developed over years of research, he said. “Each perfume really represent a picture of a person,” he said, adding that it takes about an hour to create a perfume for each customer. The perfume is then put into a customized glass bottle. The oils in his shop come from all over the world; there is jasmine from England, sandalwood from India, along with orange and etrog oil from Israel. “To get the best oils, I believe in going to the source,” he says. “It’s such a fun business.” A 100-milliliter bottle of custom perfume is 550 shekels, and a 50-milliliter bottle costs 395 shekels. All perfumes are certified kosher for Passover. Perfuniq is located at 24 Ben Sira Street.

Sweet Ein Kerem chocolate-making

March 26rd, 2019Category: Business
Along the street up to Ein Kerem’s famous St John the Baptist Monastery is a small shop with a glass case full of handmade chocolates and gourmet ice cream. Called Sweet Ein Kerem, this little space is what owner Ofer Amsalem calls the “window” to his business’s larger location, which includes a chocolate factory and cafe, another 100 meters up the street.

The small shop is a good place to grab a coffee to go, sample a piece of chocolate or indulge in an ice cream cone while exploring Ein Kerem, a village-like neighborhood in the hills on the western edge of Jerusalem. But if one has more time, the larger Sweet Ein Kerem location offers a cafe, serving breakfast, pizza and other vegetarian fare, along with another larger case of handmade chocolates and ice cream. If one has even more time, there are chocolate-making workshops here almost every day. “If you have a minute you can grab a chocolate to go, if you have an hour you can make it yourself,” said Amsalem, who founded Sweet Ein Kerem more than 10 years ago with his former wife, who remained his business partner even after they divorced. The large location consists of three 500-year-old stone houses that have now been renovated and connected together. Downstairs, chocolatiers oversee pots of melted dark and milk chocolate, pouring the sweet liquid into molds to make chocolates shaped like hearts, stars and shells. Added flavors include sea salt, spicy chili and cinnamon. This is where the daily workshops take place. “Just call us at any time, even at the last minute and we can probably make you a workshop because we are always making chocolate here,” Amsalem says. Workshops can be arranged for anyone, for couples, families and groups of business colleagues, he says. “It’s a beautiful thing to do together,” he says. “And you get to leave with a hundred shekels worth of chocolates.” If the weather is nice, there is a large patio, covered with grape vines and other flowers, which is the perfect setting to enjoy the chocolates, a cup of coffee or a light meal. Workshops are 400 per couple, or 88 shekels per person in groups of 5 or more. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 02-77-200-6660. Chocolates and the restaurant are certified kosher.

Jerusalem by the light of the moon: segway tours

March 26rd, 2019Category: Business
As the sun sets in Jerusalem, a small group of people glide along the city’s sidewalks on Segways, exploring the city by the light of the moon. Leaving from the First Station complex, these nighttime segway tours explore the picturesque Yemin Moshe neighborhood with its sweeping views of the illuminated Old City Walls, as well as the vibrant Mamilla outdoor shopping corridor, and several alleyways inside the Old City itself.

Offered most evenings, Smart Tour Israel’s evening Segway tours are especially popular with couples, families and other small groups. “It’s very romantic to see the city this way at night,” said Assaf Polivodor, a founding partner of Smart Tour Israel, which offers nighttime Segway tours along with daytime Segway tours, bike rentals and culinary tours. “The tours at night are more intimate and with smaller groups than during the day.” The nighttime Segway tours, which cover about 5 miles, are led by guides who not only deliver explanations and stories about the sites along the way, but also make sure the participants are enjoying themselves. About half way through the two-hour tour, groups stop for a break at Kikar HaTzahal, near Jaffa Gate, and one of the points where the new city of Jerusalem meets the old city of Jerusalem. Guides offer the group cups of steaming hot tea to drink while watching the passers by and taking in views of the Old City walls. In the winter, guides also offer scarves, gloves and extra coats to keep participants warm. “We provide everything we can to make sure it’s a special experience,” Polivodor said. Meanwhile, the city does the rest, offering scenery and views that can only be found in Jerusalem. Reservations are required for nighttime Segway tours, and can be made by calling 02-561-8056. In the winter, nighttime Segway tours leave First Station at 6:30 p.m., and in the summer at 8 p.m. Tours are offered in Hebrew and English.

Wine-tasting and tours add to famous romantic

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
Wine-tasting and tours add to famous romantic landmark
For more than a century the blades of the towering windmill in Mishkanot Sha’ananim did not rotate.  But that didn’t stop this historic neighborhood from becoming one of the most romantic places in the city, a site where hundreds of couples got engaged or posed for wedding photos each year.

But now, after a 2012 restoration project, the windmill once again rotates.  And several new activities based in and around the windmill make this location--with its sweeping views of the Old City and surrounding hills--one of the best places to visit, especially for couples looking for a fun day out or a romantic evening walk.

Sommeliers from Jerusalem Wineries have now found a home inside the base of the windmill.  Stop by here any weekday between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., or any Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to sample wines and chat with professionals from the winery.  You can even purchase a bottle to take home.

After sampling wine, you can join a guided tour to learn how the windmill works, and to get to the bottom of the local debate about whether or not it ever actually ground flour.  Built in the late 1800s by French philanthropist Moses Montefiore to provide income for the poor residents of the first neighborhood outside the city walls, the windmill did indeed grind the wheat of surrounding farmers into flour.  But after 18 years of operation it stopped working.  Then local stories began to spring up about how it never worked, about how it was not even built to work.  Even Israel’s most famous 20th century poet Yehuda Amichai once wrote about how
the windmill never ground flour. It ground holy air.
After an extensive renovation project funded by the Jerusalem Foundation, which involved flying in windmill experts from Europe, the windmill is again operational.  

Visitors to the windmill can now also participate in an escape-room style game that takes place in and around the windmill. The game is suitable for couples as well as larger groups.

But even with the windmill blades once again turning and new activities here, one of the best things to do is simply stroll around the colorful gardens here and take in the panoramic views in this urban oasis, whether its on an ordinary evening or for a marriage proposal.

Walking in the footsteps of repentance

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
As darkness falls over Jerusalem each Thursday evening during the Hebrew month of Elul, groups of visitors will make their way to Mount Zion.  Among the ancient ruins, a tour guide begins to talk about King David, who, according to Jewish tradition, conquered the city and built its first temple.

But during this month that focuses on repentance, leading up to the high holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, it is not just the glory of King David that is talked about, but also his sins. This is just one stop on the so-called Selichot Tours offered by Yalla Basta, a local family-owned interactive tour company.  Named after the selichot, or repentance, prayers recited at night or just before dawn in the weeks leading up to the high holidays, the evening tours offer a glimpse into both history and everyday life in Jerusalem.  One route explores Nachlaot and the Old City, while another focuses on Nahalat Shiva, Mishkenot Shaananim and Mount Zion.
Through these stories, people will learn the history, learn about the Jewish traditions and hopefully also about themselves,
says Maria Zavin, who oversees marketing for Yalla Basta.  “It’s a way to see the city in a vivid way.”
Two local families launched  Yalla Basta in 2012, originally offering tours of the Mahane Yehuda market that allowed participants to taste food and hear stories from vendors.  In recent years, the company has expanded, offering food tours in several neighborhoods as well as tours focused on the holidays.
We’ve always wanted to allow the traveler to experience the local life, not just the dry history,
Zavin says.
That’s why when the selichot tour goes through Nachalot, the guide encourages participants to ask passersby on the street “Who was Rabbi Arie Levin?” as they pause outside the building that was once his home.  After hearing locals tell what they know about Levin, who lived in Nachlaot in the early 20th century and was famous for visiting prisoners and taking care of the sick and impoverished, people, the guide tells the group how Levin prepared himself for the high holidays.
There are so many stories to tell,
Zavin says.  Through these stories, the guides also hope that visitors--no matter their religion--will also look inside themselves as they learn about the spiritual journeys of both famous and ordinary; and ancient and contemporary locals.
In the midst of exploring synagogues, small streets and ancient ruins on the selichot tours, participants also stop for pastries and hot drinks in Jerusalem establishments, experiencing a small taste of the nightly cafe scene.

Contact Yalla Basta for tour times and cost.

Mahane Yehuda market

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
Behind a door in one of the alleyways of Mahane Yehuda, a staircase leads up to a modern kitchen with big windows looking down onto the produce vendors and shoppers in the bustling outdoor market.  An eggplant is roasting on an open flame, purple cabbages are soaking in water and small bows contain a variety of freshly-chopped herbs.

This the Jerusalem Atelier, a cooking and dining space in Mahane Yehuda, where a group of visitors will soon arrive to participate in a culinary workshop, learning not just the traditions and recipes from the city’s diverse cuisine, but how to prepare dishes with the best ingredients from the surrounding market.  In addition to culinary workshops, the Atelier also offers tours of the market, food and wine tastings, as well as 11-course chef’s meals, where diners watch as their food is prepared.
I want to show people that the market is a fascinating place, a place you can experience gourmet food, but that it is still an authentic market, the place where people buy their daily fruits and vegetables and bread,
explains Tali Friedman, the chef who opened the Atelier in back in 2009, before Israel’s food scene began to attract so much international attention.  Friedman, who studied cooking Paris and Israel, grew up near the market, and says it has always influenced her cooking.  Although over the years she worked in some of the city’s top restaurants, she was always trying to incorporate her grandmother’s style of cooking, based on fresh vegetables, meat and fish purchased in Mahane Yehuda.

When she started to teach cooking more than a decade ago, she often found herself bringing students to the market, teaching them about selecting the best fresh ingredients.
I always kept coming back to the shuk,
she says.  That led to her begin offering food tours for tourists, and then to eventually open the Atelier.
As the market has become a more popular place, now filled with dozens of bars and restaurants in addition to bakers, butchers, produce vendors and spice shops, the Atelier has also become more popular, hosting cooking workshops nearly everyday.

Most couples and small groups opt for a tour of the market followed by a culinary workshop in which they prepare a six-course meal.  They enjoy that meal along with local wine at the large table in the space’s kitchen, or on its rooftop.
Visitors can enjoy really fine food,”Friedman says.  “But they also learn about the people of the market.
The custom tours and workshops can be arranged for couples or small groups by contacting The Jerusalem Atelier.

Pottery

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
Along the shop-lined cobblestone pedestrian Yoel Solomon Street in the city’s Nahalat Shiva neighborhood, one store stands out among the others because it has two names.  The door reads Cadim, but the sign on the building says Altogether 8.  While it can be confusing, the shop does indeed have have two names because two different ceramic art cooperatives--among the oldest businesses on the popular street-- recently joined forces.
It now ensures that we have more variety and a high quality of work,
says Cecilia Lind, an artist who joined Altogether 8 three years ago and is now one of 15 artists in the new joint cooperative.  “We are getting used to working together and rebranding ourselves.”
For nearly 30 years, Cadim and 8 Altogether were two different shops on two different sides of Yoel Solomon Street, run by two different groups of local artists. In January, they merged, with the artists of Altogether 8 moving into Ruach Cadim and bringing their wares and--their sign--with them.  

Ranging in ages from 28 to 84 and hailing from all over the country the group is still getting to know each other, but the artists say the larger cooperative will help them do better work and still keep prices affordable for customers.  The cooperative nature allows the artists to split the overhead for renting and running the shop, as well as for other expenses like marketing and accounting.  Each artist works in the shop a couple of days a month, with their other days free to spend in their studios.  They meet once a month for a potluck meal to get to know each other better and deal with the logistics of running the shop.
We are really a community, and support each other,
says Lind, who lives in the Greek Colony, where she has an in-home studio.  
The ceramics in the united shop range from Boris Katz’s whimsical lion-shaped Hanukkah menorah to Amnon Israeli’s peacock-adorned bowls to Ruthie Simon’s blue and white kiddush cups.  Lind’s work includes a ceramic tea set with stripes and other textures embedded in the clay, and painted in greens and blues.

“The work here, it’s modern but it pays respect to the city,” Lind says as she was working in a the shop on a recent Friday. “It’s an old art form, but maybe used in a new way. So it’s like when they build a new building in Jerusalem, but they still use the same kind of stones and the same architecture, like the arched doorways.”

Simon says the colors in her work are inspired by the white stone of the city’s buildings and the often clear blue sky.  She also incorporates pomegranates, grapes and other local fruits into her designs.
Jerusalem definitely influences my work,
says Simon, who was born in the coastal city of Ashkelon, but has lived and worked in an old stone house in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood for more than three decades.
But it’s not just the city that influences her work, but also its people, and the people who visit, whom she often meets when it’s her turn to work in the shop.

“It’s really an intimate meeting between the artists and the people who come into the shop,” Simon says.  “I get inspiration and ideas from them.”

Bringing King David to life

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
A red-headed boy leads his sheep across a grassy field, interspersed with trees.  The music of a flute plays and the rolling, rocky hills of Judea rise in the background.  These are the opening scenes of the new evening sound and light show King David, which transforms the 1,000-year old stone walls of the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City into a surround-sound movie theater five nights a week.  Once the sun sets, David and his story come to life in this Crusader-era citadel via 18 laser projectors and 20 speakers.

In addition to telling the story of the life of David--the shepherd boy who became a Biblical King--the show also illuminates the citadel walls with hundreds of works of art made throughout history that have immortalized David.  So viewers see Michelangelo’s famous carved marble David statue and Chagall’s bright painting of David with a harp, among dozens of others, as David is one of the most portrayed people in the art world.
My idea was to take people on a walk through a gallery of art,
said Renee Sivan, the museum’s archaeologist who curated the show.  “Seeing these works of art lets people have a different appreciation and see the appreciation different people had for David.”
Sivan, who previously created the museum’s other sound and light show, The Night Spectacular, which tells the story of the history of Jerusalem, wanted to present a fuller picture of David.
King David is not only a king, he’s a musician, a poet and also very very human,
Sivan said.
But producing the life-like images of David and the other historical figures that illuminate the walls was not simple.  Sivan wanted them to be historically accurate, in every detail, from what they wore to how they moved.
“And that’s difficult because we have very few indications and pieces of archaeological evidence from the era of King David,” she said.  She spent months researching what fabric dyes were available in the region at the time in order to portray David and others in authentic clothing.  And she scoured museum collections around the world for visual evidence of historical events associated with David.  For example, she relies on stone carvings found in Egypt to know what the Philistines, who fight David in a battle, looked like.

“This is how I knew exactly how they moved and what they wore,” she said.
Her goal was also to create a show that would appeal to a wide variety of audiences.  And this one has something for everyone, she said, from beauty, to history, to art to action. She said she knew all her work was worth it when she recently took her 7-year-old grandson to see it.
His eyes were wide open, just looking the whole time,
she said.

Tickets to King David are 55 shekels for adults, 50 shekels for senior citizens and 45 shekels for children ages 3 to 18.  Combined tickets for both the museum and the show are 70 shekels for adults and 55 shekels for senior citizens and children.

Jerusalem of art

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
Turning onto a small street from Jerusalem’s bustling Jaffa Road, Jenna Romano leads a group of visitors to a small courtyard surrounded by stone houses.  The group climbs a narrow staircase and enters the Marie Gallery, one of a growing number of contemporary art spaces in the city.  The gallery’s white walls are covered with collages made from a combination of photography and paintings. The exhibit by local textile artist Chana Cromer deals with how people process memory, explains Romano, who runs the blog Contemporary Art in Jerusalem and gives both public and private tours of the art scene here.

Like most of the city’s art exhibition spaces, this was not built as an art gallery, but as housing on the edge of Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood, Romano explains “The galleries here are not the typical white cubes you see in New York,” Romano says.
Most are in very old and ancient places.
Like many newcomers to the city, Romano-- who has a university degree in art history and has worked in galleries in New York and Paris before moving to Jerusalem in 2015-- was surprised to find so many contemporary art galleries and artists working here.  Jerusalem is home to Israel’s premier art school, Bezalel Academy; but until recently, most graduates headed for Tel Aviv, long the capital of Israel’s contemporary art scene, and still its commercial art center.  Now, that is starting to change, and in recent years, more artists have set up shop in Jerusalem, working mainly in studios and galleries that are cooperative, non-profit, or funded by the municipality.
The galleries here are not focused on selling things, so it’s a very authentic and community-oriented vibe,
Romano says.  And it’s another way to learn about the city, even for those without any prior interest or knowledge of art, she says. This is why she started her blog and to give tours.  
“It’s a new and refreshing way to see the city,” she says.

The history and current diversity of the city influence many of the artists working here, Romano tells her tour group as they wander around Beita, whose exhibition space has tall windows looking out onto Jaffa Road and the city’s light rail train tracks. There, Beita’s curator talked about its current group exhibition, entitled The Lion and the Pussycat. Among the installations were sculptures of cats portraying certain members of the Israeli parliament, and a sand pit filled with giant feline bones that visitors could play with.

“It seems like an exhibition about cats, but it’s not,” curator Avital Naor Wexler tells the group. 
It’s about Jerusalem.  The city’s symbol is the lion, which is powerful, grand and royal and Biblical.  But the cats, who live all over the streets in Jerusalem, represent the everyday life here.  The citizens are kind of like cats.
After visiting Beita, while walking along Jaffa Road, Romano pointed out grafiti by the street artist Solomon Souza, whose colorful paintings cover much of the city’s Mahane Yehuda outdoor market.  The tour also passed by an outdoor exhibition space called Black Box, which features rotating works displayed in large billboards near the Davidka light rail station.

The last stop on Romano’s tour was the Jerusalem Artists House. Modern art galleries may not be what one would expect to find inside this 19th-century stone mansion with well-manicured gardens. But that is exactly what is here.
Romano explains that this used to be the museum of Bezalel Academy, which once focused largely on traditional Jewish art as well as crafts.  But when the Bezalel collection was moved to the Israel Museum, this became the headquarters of the Association for Jerusalem Artists, and includes three galleries which focus on emerging artists as well as retrospective exhibits by older artists.  
There are a lot of hidden places like this around the city,
Romano says.  “And even though the focus is on contemporary art, you also can’t escape the history.”
To learn more about Jerusalem art tours, see https://caij.co/.

More than four cups of wine

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
When Mark Jam opened the Red & White Wine bar downtown last year, he wanted to create an elegant place for people to relax and ponder their experiences in Jerusalem.  "Wine is just the medium for this," he says.
"It can be a rough city, with a lot of hustle and bustle, and people need space to stop and reflect.”

Located on Shlomo HaMelech Street, just up the hill from the Mamilla Mall and along the border that used to divide the city between Israel and Jordan from 1949 through 1967, Red and White welcomes visitors with wine, cheese, jazz music and conversation.  The high ceilings, tall windows and candles on each table add to the sense of welcoming space.  

Although all are welcome, Jam especially likes to serve couples.
I love taking care of couples, setting them up with some nice wine and food, then letting them have the space for a conversation together," Jam says.
It makes me really happy, creating a space for them to have a nice experience together."

Jam is also the only person working behind the bar and waiting on tables in this little place.  He selects all the wines himself, mainly from wineries around Israel.  They can be purchased by the bottle or in various amounts from his Italian-made wine dispensing machine. He serves artisan cheeses from a farm in the Golan Heights, and prepares all the food himself.  The menu includes lasagna made from sheep’s cheese, fresh tomatoes and mushroom sauce; cheese sampler plates; and fresh kalamata olives.
If you order coffee, it will be from beans roasted by Jam.
I’m old-school like that,
he says.  Red & White opens each evening at 6 p.m., and stays open until the last person leaves, he says.  “One day it may be at 11, or it could be until 2 a.m.,” Jam says, adding that it’s a good idea for patrons to make a reservation.
On a recent March evening, he spoke of plans to set up more tables on the sidewalk as the evenings get warmer, and how he plans to stay open during Passover.
But I will just have wine during Passover,
he says, explaining that he will close his kosher kitchen during the holiday, when Jews refrain from eating any leavened grains. “I like to keep it simple.”
Besides, with so many Jerusalem restaurants open during the holiday, the copious amounts of food served at the long Seder meal, and the elaborate feasts served to guests in the city’s hotels, a quiet night of simply sipping wine will be a perfect outing, he says.
No matter how many people come, it's important for me to be open,
Jam says.”  If I just provide a space for one couple, or one person, that's enough."
Red & White is located at 8 Shlomo HaMelech Street.  The phone number is 02-645-1212, or it can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Red-White-Wine-Bar-Store

Ein Kerem

May 23rd, 2017Business: Romantic
An ancient wine press sits in a deep indentation in one corner of Shoshana Karbasi’s kitchen in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem.  The wine press is more than 2,000 years old, but was discovered only about 250 years ago when the stone home was built, Karbassi explains.  The home’s first owners, Turks who lived here when the Ottoman empire controlled the city, used the wine press as a water cistern, she explains
This house is full of stories,
she says.  They are stories that she is eager to share with visitors.  That’s why several years ago, she and about 15 other women founded Nifleot Ein Kerem, which organizes visits for both individuals and groups of tourists and business travelers to homes in Ein Kerem for meals, cooking lessons, musical performances and other cultural activities.

“Our project is about cooperating between women, but also about sharing our history and our city,” says Karbassi, who shares stories and poetry written in the now dying Ladino dialect of Moroccan Jews with visitors to her home, and sells homemade jam.

The project now part of a larger city-wide home hospitality program called Women and Stories in Jerusalem, includes about 30 women from Ein Kerem, a Jerusalem neighborhood that was once its own pastoral village.  As the wine press in Karbasi’s kitchen--as well as other archaeological discoveries, including those of ritual baths-- show, Ein Kerem was once home to an ancient Jewish community.  Over the years, it was populated by many other groups, as evidenced by the numerous churches and monasteries that dot the green and rocky landscape, attracting many Christian pilgrims today.  With the establishment of the state of Israel, Jews once again began living in Ein Kerem, including large groups of immigrants from Yemen.  This is just part of the history that visitors can discover through entering homes here.

Mazal Motell’s parents settled in Ein Kerem after arriving to the newly-established state of Israel from Yemen.  Motell, dressed in the traditional clothing her grandmothers wore back in Yemen, uses a stone to grind garlic, cumin, hot pepper, coriander and salt.  Soon she will add tomatoes to the mixture to make schug, a classic Yemenite dip for bread, she explains to a group of visitors.  Motell, a 67-year-old mother of five was a kindergarten teacher until recently retiring, when she began to participate in this project.  She feels it strengthens her connection to her past; to her Yemenite roots, but also to her childhood, when her family made a living selling milk and cheese from their herd of goats that wandered the grassy hills of Ein Kerem.
It brings out everything I had inside of me,
she says.  “I really enjoy talking about the old days.”
Because real life, revolving around family and work, continues in these homes, the visits give visitors authentic experiences that are often hard to find.

“My place is not made for tourism, I live my own life,” says Ruth Havilio, an artist who makes hand-painted tiles in a studio attached to her refurbished stone house in Ein Kerem, and hosts groups to tell them both about her art and her parents’ key roles in Israel’s War for Independence in the 1940s. 
But once in a while I open my door.
Prices for in-home tours vary from 30 shekels per person to more than 200 shekels per person, depending on the activity and number of people.  For more information and to make a reservation, email Nashim.jerusalem@gmail.com or call 02-6298154 or 054-2550505.  Or contact the individual hostesses here

Out of the blue

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
Inside a glass case at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum, a stone tablet from the 13th century BCE reveals how some people in the lands of ancient Canaan paid their taxes not with gold or silver, but with bundles of wool dyed in blue.
This is just one example of the important and surprising spiritual, cultural and financial role that the color blue played in the ancient world.  Examining the origins of the color blue, a new exhibit called Out of the Blue takes visitors on a journey through thousands of years and thousands of miles, from the blue sky to the blue sea; from ancient Afghanistan to the modern state of Israel, where blue defines the state’s flag and many other symbols.
You can say it’s just about a color, but it really takes you so many places,
says one of the exhibit’s curators, Oree Meiri, as she walked through the exhibit on a recent morning.  “I learned so much in the process of organizing this exhibit that I can’t even begin to tell you.”
Although it is the color of the seemingly endless sky and sea, blue held special significance in the ancient world because unlike shades of green, yellow, or brown, it could not be picked up in the form of leaves, grass, stone or animal fur.

One of the few tangible sources of blue that occurred in nature was the lapis lazuli stone, found in what is now Afghanistan.  In fact, these rare and valuable stones are likely what the Bible refers to when it refers to the sapphires that decorated the Ark of the Covenant and the garments of the Temple’s high priests, Meiri explains.

But it was not until the time of the Phoenicians, who lived along the ancient Mediterranean coast, that a reliable source of blue fabric dye was discovered. They found that the glands of certain sea snails contained a liquid that stained fabric different shades of blue and purple.  The tedious process of making dye from these snails was such an integral part of this trade-oriented society--and likely their source of wealth -- that many of their coins contained a picture of a sea snail.
It was really a complex process to extract this dye, and it was a big deal that the color stayed, and didn’t fade or wash out,
Meiri says, as she looks at a case full of ancient sea snail, or murex, shells found at archaeological sites.  This so-called “tekhelet” was also the color that the ancient Israelites were instructed to use to dye the fringes that hung from their four-cornered garments.

The exhibit goes on the trace how the industry of making blue dye from Mediterranean sea snails eventually collapsed, causing the fringes of the tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, to once again have only white strings.  But blue had become such an integral part of Jewish identity that people began putting blue stripes on the fabric of their prayer shawls, and this was what inspired the design of the flag of the modern state of Israel. The exhibit also tells the story of how the blue dye of the murex was rediscovered in modern times, leading once again to some Jews having blue strings hanging adorning their prayer shawls.
Today blue is something we take for granted,
Meiri says.  “But the story of how it came to be this way is really amazing.  It really is a deep color.”

Behind the walls of the Hansen hospital

May 23rd, 2017Category: Business
When Ruth Wexler started working as a nurse at Jerusalem’s Hansen Hospital in 1983, it was still a place that many people feared. Just a short walk from the Inbal Hotel, this complex behind stone walls was where people were treated for leprosy.

By the time Wexler started working here, leprosy was treated with antibiotics and was called by its modern name, Hansen’s Disease, after a Norwegian scientist named Gerhard Armauer Hansen discovered the bacteria that causes the disease, mainly affecting the skin, nose and eyes. “But everybody still called it the leper home,” Wexler recalls. “And some people were afraid to come inside.” The hospital, which opened in 1887, only closed its doors in 2009. But now it has taken on a second life. A few years ago, this sprawling complex re-opened as the Hansen House Center for Design Media and Technology. The stone buildings that were once a hospital have been turned into art galleries, working spaces and a cafe.

The gardens, which patients with leprosy once relied on for fruit and vegetables, are alive again and bursting with colorful flowers and shady green spaces. It has become one of the city’s trendiest public places, hosting many cultural events, including the upcoming seventh annual Jerusalem Design Week in June. This is largely due to Wexler’s passion for the place. When the hospital closed, Wexler organized a historical exhibit about it, which the city’s mayor, Nir Barkat, attended. This exhibit led to the municipality deciding to preserve the property--originally designed by German architect and archaeologist Conrad Schick who was Jerusalem’s first city planner-- and open it as a public cultural space, explains Shira Schonfeld, who works for Ran Wolf Urban Planning and Project Management, which manages the Hansen House.
Else it probably would have been turned into luxury apartments or a boutique hotel,
Schonfeld says. “It was really because of Ruth’s exhibit that this is what it is today.” While Wexler says “it’s a great thing,” that the two acres of land and its buildings have been turned into such a vibrant space, it is still important to her to educate people about its historical role in treating Hansen’s Disease, and in fighting the stigma that is still associated with leprosy. She now gives private tours of the property, including the few hospital rooms that have been preserved as a museum. One of the first things she emphasizes is that
this was never a closed institute. Patients could come and go, and people could come in and visit.
Contrary to the cultural fears people have about it, going back to Biblical times, leprosy is only “mildly contagious,” Wexler explains. Only about 5% of the human population can actually catch it, as most immune systems fight it off, she says. And since the 1940s it has been treatable with antibiotics. “There are good cures and most patients can lead a normal life,” she says. But even though going back to the 1940s, some of the Hansen Hospital patients were medically-fit to go home, many stayed living here, as their families sometimes rejected them due to social stigma and fears of catching the disease, Wexler says. The black and white photos hanging in the museum reflect the community that developed in this pastoral place. Photos can be seen of the residential patients working in the gardens and learning how to sew.
Christians, Muslims and Jews, everybody lived together,
Wexler says. This is the part of the hospital’s history that she really does not want to be forgotten, and this is why she gives tours. For people from outside Jerusalem who come here for the cultural events, “many don’t even realize what this place used to be,” she says. “And I feel that it is a very special human and cultural story, how for everybody who came in, this was a home for them.”
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