Culture Vulture


Culture Vulture is a regular update on Israeli culture, written by educator, activist, and artist Neil Harris. If you are spending some extended time in Israel – Culture Vulture is for you! Up until now it had been sent out to a list of a few hundred people, and we at Makom are delighted to have received permission to syndicate!  

Culture Vulture V


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A bit of bad sportsmanship – two running stories from the region 

The first is from the Jerusalem Marathon from last Friday – it all looked amazing and great and beautiful, but now the organizers are feeling a little embarrassed as two of the professional runners that they flew in from Ethiopia to participate in the race to boost its international image, have, (em sorry) made a run for it. Malet Mekonen and Mahalat Zalika were both seen at the beginning of the race running across the start line, but neither of them made it to the end. The race officials in Jerusalem Municipality at first thought they had been injured en route, but now believe the women took the opportunity of being brought to Israel to stay here for “reasons unknown”. Remarkably, all of their belongings, and most importantly their passports, are in the hands of the race organizers, as they brought them to the race, and handed them in to be held in safety in the race lockers!

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Culture Vulture IV


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Alata (English title – Out in the Dark) 

a new movie by Michael Mayer, that had its world premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival last year and then went on to share Best Film Award at the Haifa International Film Festival, along with Filling the Void. Unlike its co-winner, Alata didn’t go on to win prizes at all of the major film festivals last year, but it has seen remarkable commercial success for an Israeli feature, having already sold to 35 countries, and it has also been picked up by HBO. To Full Post

Culture Vulture – Prize and Prejudice


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Family Affair

A photographed journey among Israeli families with Reli and Avner Avrahami – ony two weeks left before this amazing exhibit closes at The Eretz Israel Museum. For a decade photographer Reli Avrahami and journalist Avner Avrahami’s page, Family Affair, was published in Haaretz. Recently it moved to Maariv. The two visited the homes of hundreds of families in Israel, documenting their history, way of life, homes, beliefs, and dreams. Following numerous requests sent to the paper’s editorial board, the definition of the page was expanded to “all those living under one roof.” Thus the gates opened to those sharing rented apartments, incarcerated in prison, living in detox facilities, members of pre-army communes, etc. The photographs are a point of departure for the accompanying text, which takes the reader back to the photograph for additional and deeper inspection.

Clipa Aduma 6

Visual Theater and Performance Art Festival – prepare yourselves for one of the wackier theatrical events of the year, the remarkable Festival that happens (primarily) at Teatron Clipa in Tel Aviv – this year the dates are 22 February through 2 March, and because many of the performance spaces are tiny – you should definitely book tickets in advance. Shows are coming in from Australia, Greece, Germany, France and of course Israel – performances and workshops galore.


New appointments and prizes in the dance world

The Bat Sheva dance company announced this week that Adi Salant who for the past four years has been working as Assistant Artistic Director and Rehearsal Manager of the company, has been promoted to joint Artistic Director alongside Ohad Naharin. Salant danced for twelve years at Bat Dor, and then joined the Bat Sheva ensemble. Other news for Bat Sheva this week is that the Minister of Culture and Sport’s Prize for Dance for 2012 has been awarded to the company for their work “Sadeh 21”. The NIS100,000 will be split 40% to the company and 60% to the performers. In other dance news the Minister’s Life Time Achievement Award for Dance (of NIS70,000) was awarded to the dance theoretician Rut Eshel. The awards for young choreographers, each of NIS30,000 were awarded to Daffy Altabeb, Idan Cohen and Michal Herman.

Ha’Ayin HaShvi’it- The Seventh Eye

Recognized by Israeli journalists as one of the most important websites for assessing what is really happening in the journalism and media worlds in Israel – this week received the 13th annual Abramovitch Award for being a remarkably important media watchdog. 

New appointments at Channel 10

Recently saved from closure, Channel 10 is now steaming ahead with new and impressive appointments. Last week Raffi Ginat (of Kolbotek fame) was appointed CEO of the channel, and this week a new CEO of Channel 10 News was appointed – Golan Yochpaz. Yochpaz is a journalist with a great track record, as editor of Channel 2’s Friday night news magazine and as a long time anchor for news programs on Galei Tsahal. Channel 10 News has suffered, like the rest of the channel from serious shock-waves over the past few years, and the hope is that Yochpaz will bring stability to the ship that almost sunk. The question is, for those of us (me) who are addicted to his radio work, is he still going to still be giving us our news fix on Galei Tsahal every morning? Not clear….

Dror Moreh makes waves on the way to the Oscars 

In an interview this week with CNN, the director of the documentary The Gatekeepers managed to kick up some dust as he made it very clear in his opinion that politicians like Bibi Netanyahu were complicit in Yitzhak Rabin’s murder by playing a central part in the public atmosphere that led up to the assassination. He talked with Christiane Amanpour about how he thought that right wing rabbis and politicians who headed the rallies also bear a level of guilt for their actions, even if not as guilty as Yigal Amir who sits in jail for the murder. A spokesperson for Netanyahu told CNN that the prime minister had not seen The Gatekeepers and currently had no plans to do so.

Moreh dismissed claims that his movie hurts Israel’s image, saying that “this is the most pro-Israeli movie I’ve made. It is a credit to Israel’s freedom of speech. And it has stirred things up, which is definitely good.” Moreh said that he was inspired to make the film after being told by Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s former chief of staff, that Sharon’s decision to carry out the disengagement from Gaza was influenced by an interview given in 2003 by four former Shin Bet chiefs who said that his policies were leading Israel to a disaster. Moreh said that he knew from the outset that his interview with six former heads of the Shin Bet “would be dynamite and would create the kind of stir that it already has.”

Moving on to the Huffington Post, Moreh talked about the unrelenting love that North American Jews have for the State of Israel, and how their consequent lack of critique of Israeli government policies, is truly damaging for the State of Israel, and “is leading it to an apartheid country.” He went on to say “By not criticizing it, by accepting everything Israel does politically, and especially towards the conflict, they are damaging their own goal to protect the State of Israel as a safe haven for them.” OK – not rocket science I know, but to some North American Jewish ears, it is still way beyond acceptable. Still calling it “Israel’s Oscar Nominee”?

MasterChef Israel finale smashes TV rating records

The third season of MasterChef, the Israeli version of the U.K.-based cooking reality show, broke records this week, drawing in the highest ratings for a single TV episode in Israeli history. At its peak, some 52.3 percent of Israel’s Jewish households were tuned in to the show, in which Tom Franz, a German immigrant to Israel, beat fellow competitors Salma Fiyumi and Jackie Azoulay to take the title. Overall, the program reached a record-breaking audience of 46.6 percent of Israel’s Jewish population. Based on initial ratings figures compiled by the Israel Audience Research Board, the show’s finale, which aired on Channel 2 concessionaire Keshet, earned the highest rating for a single TV episode and was the most-watched Israeli reality TV finale ever.

Cinematic Treasures Dumped on the Streets 

On Monday of this week, if you had walked past the site of the old Mograbi Cinema in Tel Aviv, you would have seen a very strange sight. Piles and piles of metal canisters containing old celluloid film, some in good condition, and some damaged, lying out on the street near the corner of Allenby and Ben Yehuda. The antique and flea market dealers swooped like vultures, sadly much faster than the director of the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, who “couldn’t find a van to take the films to the Israel Film Archive”…. The films were the collection of the deceased film producer Asfir Sasson who owned a movie production company called Sirtei Sasson (Sasson Flms). Films such as Rotseach Sachir (Hired Killer), HaSatan Haya Malach (Satan Was an Angel) and 7 Nashim Erotiot (7 Erotic Women) were amongst the films produced by Sasson, and as I assume you have guessed they never made it into the Oscar nominations. According to Alon Garbuz, director of the Tel Aviv Cinemteque, Sasson mainly produced B movies, adopting an Indian or Turkish style, kid flicks, melodramas and Westerns, that played mainly in small cinemas in the periphery. Sasson died in October 2012, and this week his family emptied out his rented office in Tel Aviv and simply dumped everything – films, posters, and banners out on the sidewalk.

Culture Vulture – a family affair


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Hanut 31

I want to offer you a new(ish) venue in Tel Aviv – Hanut 31, which is on Rechov HaAliyah 31….. this crazy tiny little venue is slowly upgrading from what used to look like a deserted shell of a shop with weird stuff in the window, to what is now a clear performance venue, including an electronic poster-board announcing what is happening. They specialize in Object Theater, and dance, and other (very small) performance work. This is a classic place to go check out if you are interested in checking out the sub-culture of the sub-culture in the Tel Aviv scene….

Matsav Mishpachti – Family Affair – Eretz Yisrael Museum

Opening 2 November – curator – Galia Gur Zeev – this remarkable newspaper column that ran for many years in Haaretz and now runs in Maariv – created by Reli and Avner Avrahami – now to be a temporary exhibit in the Eretz Yisrael Museum in Ramat Aviv – “For a decade photographer Reli Avrahami and journalist Avner Avrahami’s page, Relatively Speaking, was published in Haaretz. Recently it moved to Maariv. The two visited the homes of hundreds of families in Israel, documenting their history, way of life, homes, beliefs, and dreams. Following numerous requests sent to the paper’s editorial board, the definition of the page was expanded to ‘all those living under one roof.’ Thus the gates opened to those sharing rented apartments, incarcerated in prison, living in detox facilities, members of pre-army communes, etc. The photographs are a point of departure for the accompanying text, which takes the reader back to the photograph for additional and deeper inspection.”  

Cabinets of Wonder in Contemporary Art – From Astonishment to Disenchantment

Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art – “Cabinets of wonder were part of a European tradition of collecting practiced by aristocrats and other wealthy individuals from the 16th to the 18th century. These exhibition spaces held encyclopedic displays of strange, disturbing, surprising and exotic objects, which attested to the wealth and power of their owners. The current exhibition centers on contemporary artworks that are concerned with subjects similar to those featured in historical cabinets of wonder. This exhibition suggests that such contemporary artworks present a world view different than the one that shaped early cabinets of wonder – one impacted by the far-reaching changes that have reshaped the world and by the dramatic shift in our perception of it.”

Trouble in the Israeli Fashion Scene

As Tel Aviv was preparing to hold its second Fashion Week this year, promising “to show to the world the breadth of design creativity of our talented Israeli fashion designers,” the industry was abuzz this week with word of a rift: Ofir Lev and Motty Reif, the businessmen behind the initiative, announced Monday that they would go their separate ways and hold two competing events a couple of weeks apart. The one headed by Lev, which opens on Nov. 11, will still be called Tel Aviv Fashion Week (or “TLV Fashion Week”) but will now be stripped of the participation of Israel’s leading designers, such as Dorin Frankfurt, Gideon and Karen Oberson, Dorit (Dodo) Bar Or for “Pas Pour Toi,” Tovale, and others. These designers will instead take part in Reif’s event, which opens on Nov. 26 and is named “Gindi Week Tel Aviv” after its corporate sponsors. Lev could not be immediately reached for comment. Reif, through a publicist, told me that the decision to split stemmed from “business disagreements” between him and Lev and refused to elaborate.

Dani Karavan’s Memorial to the Sinti and Roma murdered by the Nazis is unveiled in Berlin

The Israeli artist’s memorial is situated close to the already standing memorial to the murder of 6 million Jews, as well as the separate memorial to homosexuals murdered in The Third Reich. These will be joined in the future by an additional memorial to the “disabled and mentally ill” German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced at the unveiling of Karavan’s work. Of course it is an interesting point of discussion why there has to be a separate memorial for each…. I know, I know, controversial thought, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it…… full article here.

Teatron Tmuna – stuff you should really be checking out

Full information at – Movement Without Borders – Sunday 18 November – 22:00 – inspired by the workshops and performance happening this week by the Austrian choreographer Philip Gehmacher – the evening is a panel discussion about the place of Israeli dance in the region and the global context – Mein Jerusalem – The Sabina Sauber Show – Saturday 10 November 20:00 (one woman show in English) – Zo Hi HaAretz (This is the Land) – Saturday 17 November at 14:00 and 20:00 – three imaginary Israeli artists respond to the Ministry of Culture Prize for Artistic Work Promoting Zionism (as created by Limor Livnat) – Paved Life – Saturday 24 November 20:00 – choreography by Rotem Tashach – “the invention of the built floor approximately 10,000 years ago completely changed the way that the human race moves around. Prior to the floor we had to make our way through a 3D landscape full of obstacles. The floor, a 2D concept, makes our movement more efficient, but also maximally standardized.” This dance and text work examines the impact of the floor on our lives as humans, as dancers, as dancing humans. – Move # 1.2: Walk & Talk No. 13 – Friday 30 November 20:30 and Saturday 1 December 20:00 – a lecture performance by Philip Gehmacher – from a previous Walk & Talk seen here below.


The International Women’s Film Festival – Rehovot – 5-11 November

All information here.

The Piano Festival of Your Dreams – 7-11 November

Suzanne Dellal and Teatron Noga in Yaffo – take anyone who is anyone in the Israeli pop and rock scene, place them next to a grand piano in an intimate environment – and there you have it – this fantastic musical event – full program here.

The Yiddish Treasure Trove YUNG YIDISH Reopens in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station

This is undoubtedly one of the crazier venues in Tel Aviv, set in the back corridors of Egged, this huge space is like something you have never seen before. After a long period of closure due to lack of funds, they have just reopened, and are simply open with huge debts. If you want a crazy experience, go have a coffee with Mendy. You don’t need to be a Yiddish speaker – “Founded in 1993 by Mendy Cahan, YUNG YiDiSH is a non-profit organization that set for itself the purpose of preserving and transmitting Yiddish culture, as well as encouraging contemporary Yiddish creativity in its various forms. The organization’s members and friends consider Yiddish a language alive, an essential ingredient of our cultural heritage to be fostered by looking both back and forward.”

Culture Vulture – Sorrow and Beauty in Empty Houses


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Bat Sheva Premiere in Israel – Session

A dance installation that was originally commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in Basel. The performance takes place in Bat Sheva’s Varda Studio at Suzanne Dellal. The dancers of the company who know the material of the company’s repertoire, go “on stage” or off, whenever they want. They can choose what to dance from the repertoire, by themselves, with their colleagues, where they feel it is right – free to choose with who, what, how, when and where to dance – the only rule being an availability and awareness of the space and of their fellow dancers – Music – DJ Guy Shomroni

Friday 5 October at 14:00, Shabbat 6 October at 19:00 and 21:00 – tickets from Bat Sheva – 03-510-4037 or on-line

Sovev Tel Aviv

There is still time to sign up for the big cycling day in Tel Aviv – Friday 5 October starting EARLY in the morning from Kikar Rabin – three routes – 7.5km, 22km, and 42km. Registration and details here.  

Bayit Rik – Jerusalem – 1-6 October

This amazing project which has been quietly happening in the ruins of the agricultural training school in the fields by Armon HaNatsiv in Jerusalem is a must visit. The artists who occupied the site for the past three months or so – have taken the old farm, and rebuilt a “kibbutz” which will function between the 1-6 October as an art installation, a living community, a host for lectures and discussions (Muki Tsur, Professor Yaara Bar-On, Anat Zeltser and more), a kibbutz dining room, and a venue for performance (they have already held a few music events there with huge success).

This group has created similar projects in the past – their occupation of Beit HaSivim on Emek Refaim drew (literally) thousands of visitors when they opened to the general public. I was lucky enough to go visit a few weeks ago and speak to some of the guys who are central to the project – exciting, wild, amazing, artistry and life all in one – you must find time to go visit them before they simply lift up their very few personal belongings and leave the site – info on their Facebook invite (English follows Hebrew) – , and link to the program (in Hebrew only) here

Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum announces finalists for the Best Full-Length Documentary

The five nominees are:

  • “The Law in These Parts,” directed by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz,
  • “5 Broken Cameras,” by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi,
  • “Good Garbage,” by Ada Ushpiz and Shosh Shlam,
  • “Dolphin Boy,” by Dani Mankin and Yonatan Nir, and
  • “Chronicles of a Crisis,” by Amos Kollek

 The Israeli Documentary Film Competition aims to give recognition and expression to the film professionals working in this genre. Prizes in this year’s competition will total NIS 1 million, and will be awarded in seven categories: Full-length documentary, documentary film, television documentary, debut film, student film, free documentation and documentary reporting. The winners will be chosen by the forum’s more than 450 members, and the prizes will be awarded at a ceremony in Be’er Sheva at the end of November.

Between Sorrow and Beauty – Fatma Abu-Rumi – at The Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem

“The tragic condition of Arab women is the central issue in Fatma Abu Rumi’s visual works. Though many of the portraits are self-portraits, Abu Rumi is not talking about herself but about all of the Arab women. She expresses her resistance to the oppression and social immobility, and remonstrates against the conventions that prevent women from speaking or acting without the permission of their guardian, lord, husband, or family elder.” – Guest Curator – Farid Abu-Shakra. Born in 1977 in Tamra in the Western Galil, this is Fatma Abu-Rumi’s second solo exhibition.

Um Muhammed

Another remarkable piece of theatrical/performance work by Smadar Yaaron – incorporating an interview she documented on video with Hamdi Mussa (Um Muhammed) from Acco, and in which Yaaron intertwines with the interview in her live performance – this is great theater for those who can deal with the Ivrit – Teatron Tmuna – 23 October at 19:00 – only 30 shekels

Mein Jerusalem – a performance by Sabina Sauber – 13 October – 20:00 at Teatron Tmuna

Israeli theater in English – a fascinating one-woman show – I really loved this (definitely) strange theatrical offering.

Intimadance – In Between – Rewind

23 October – 21:00, 24 October – 20:00 at Teatron Tmuna – Yuval Goldshtein & Omer Uriel, Olivia Kurt-Massa, Gabrielle Neuhaus, Dana Ruttenberg, Maya Yogel  (only 30 shekels) – a revisit of bits of the Intimadance Festival from the summer.

Culture Vulture – Haim Hefer z”l


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Haim Hefer one of Israel’s unquestionable cultural icons, and Israel Prize laureate, died yesterday in Tel Aviv at the age of 86.

His coffin will be in public view in The New Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv from 13:00 today, before it is buried this evening in the artists village of Ein Hod.

Born in the Polish town of Sosnowice in 1925, Hefer’s family moved to Myslowice that Hefer described as a very important town for the Jews as “Bilaik lived and wrote there for at least a year.”

Even if you think you don’t know his work, you might be wrong. If you know some of the “good old songs of Eretz Yisrael”, then you probably know some of Hefer’s work. His songs can be found throughout the sound track of the State of Israel. “The Red Rock”, “Yes, It’s Possible” and “In Those Days” are just a few of his iconic creations.

At the age of 11 he came on aliyah to Mandatory Palestine with the Machanot Ha’Olim youth movement, and by the age of 17 he was already a fighter in the Palmach.

When he first arrived, Hefer was speaking classical Hebrew, and used Hebrew expressions of a previous age as a result of the Hebrew classes he took before coming on aliyah. At first his classmates from Raanana would give him a hard time for his Ivrit, but very quickly he managed to integrate. In a Haaretz interview from a few years ago, talking about his early days in Palestine, he is reported as saying “I never denied my origins, but I knew Hebrew. That’s the whole deal.”

Here Harel Skat interviews him for Channel 2 (no English translation)

Here is a Channel 1 clip in which Achinoam Nini sings just to Hefer. At the end he says “I have never heard such a beautiful rendition in my life”

Another Channel 1 clip of a collection of his songs is here

 Hefer made it clear that he doesn’t want Kaddish or El Maaleh Rachamim recited at his funeral, but rather “I’d prefer a little Sacha Argov.”

Culture Vulture – All in One Corridor


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I am always looking to find stuff that really excites me in Jerusalem, so that these postings don’t become a Tel Aviv monologue.

So listen up…. not only in Jerusalem, but all in one building. Not only in one building, all in the same corridor. Take time out now and head straight to The Israel Museum. Reduced admission prices for senior citizens and students. 

I know, and I hope you do too, the museum as a whole is pretty amazing, but right now I want to suggest you focus on just two galleries, to give you a remarkably expansive look at Israeli society. If you are trying to get a sense of this country, just do this – two exhibits that will take your mind to a whole new place before you even think about getting museum fatigue! To Full Post

Culture Vulture – September 10, 2012


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Shukran – an exhibition and sale of art, the proceeds of which will go to grants to promote the number of Palestinian-Arab Israelis going into the world of art and design at Shenkar

11-15 September, Tuesday 14:00-19:00, Wednesday 11:00-22:00, Thursday 11:00-19:00, Friday 10:00-14:00, Shabbat 11:00-14:00 – Shlush Gallery, 7 Rechov Mazeh, Tel Aviv

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The introduction


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How do I find stuff?

For the general culture vultures among you – one of the best websites to know about is Habamah –  which will provide you with updated listings of live entertainment for the whole country for any date you choose. You just make your choices – “Stand-up comedy, Eilat, Saturday night” etc…. It serves the major venues best, not all of the alternative stuff gets on there, we’ll get to that soon. To Full Post

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