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.

The magazine Time Out Tel Aviv (in Ivrit) can be bought once a week in Tel Aviv covering the Tel Aviv area – only ten shekels, or you can find it all reproduced on line here…. There is now also Time Out Jerusalem, also in Ivrit, which is an excellent mag with great articles, but they don’t seem to have made it available on-line, but you can pick it up for free in Aroma coffee bars on (most) Thursday mornings. They do have a general Time Out Israel – in English – for tourists which is also worth checking here . 

Another excellent listing magazine in print is Achbar Hair, which has a weekly listing for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and more….

I’m a big believer in getting into the habit of reading the street notice boards with the big posters – especially in Jerusalem – they are updated and always full of good stuff!

Museums

The obvious huge ones are…. yes, yes, yes – find the time in Jerusalem to go to The Israel Museum with it’s amazing collection of ancient and contemporary art, an archeology collection which rivals most in the world, and of course a remarkable Judaica section. The museum has undergone renovations, and the newly opened wings have received international critical acclaim.

There are many others:

**Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – the new museum has so much to see, particularly if you haven’t seen it yet

** The Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem 

** The incredible new Holon Design Museum – really worth the journey

** The Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv 

** The Eretz Yisrael Museum in Tel Aviv

** The Israeli Cartoon Museum in Holon

Movies

If you are more of a moving image sort of person, worth getting to know – http://www.seret.co.il/ which will give you complete listings for every movie in the country – either by location, or by movie title. There are other websites which do this – I’ve just got used to this one and find it easy to navigate.

Jerusalem of course houses The Jerusalem Cinemateque – and it doesn’t get better than that for a wide range of feature and documentary films. They have a variety of ticket options, including a season ticket, or a membership card.  There are also good subscription options for The Tel Aviv Cinemateque

The other special venue in Jerusalem for movies is Kolnoa Smadar, and in Tel Aviv their partner movie house is Lev Dizengoff  

Haifa – The Haifa Cinemateque (which sits right next to the Haifa Auditorium) –  which apart from being another great special venue also hosts The Haifa International Film Festival.

Theatre and Performance

If you are willing to spend a bit of money – and want to do some high culture, so of course there are the main theaters in the big cities: In Jerusalem – The Khan at 2 David Remez Square which puts on truly exciting new Israeli work. In Tel Aviv, Habimah Theater  which is officially our National Theater – the work on their main stage is pretty good, the work in their studio spaces is more exciting. They just moved back into their obscenely over-priced newly renovated building ggggggrrrrrrrrr! (I told you it was subjective….)….. And then there is The Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv  which interestingly describes itself as Israel’s Theater of Social Responsibility, and in my opinion offers more exciting work than Habimah. The other major award-winning theater in Tel Aviv is Beit Lissin.

Also worth checking out Teatron Gesher – originally set up by artists from the Former Soviet Union – they now perform what are regarded by many as the best theater productions in Israel – in Russian and in Hebrew.

If you feel comfortable in Yiddish – The Yiddishspiel Theater in Tel Aviv has a reputation for great productions with supra titles for those of us who don’t get the Yiddish.

In Haifa – The Haifa Municipal Theater – which has a small repertoire of its own and brings in other productions from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

These are the mainstream venues with their own companies, but not cheap. More and more productions are happening with English translation through headsets or with supra-titles. In addition each town has its major performance venue for both Israeli and international performers.

In Jerusalem it’s the Jerusalem Theater. In Tel Aviv it’s HaMishkan La’Omanuyot HaBama – The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center (also known as The Israeli Opera because it is the home of, you guessed, The Israeli Opera). In Haifa it’s The Haifa International Congress Center –  as well as Haifa Auditorium on Merkaz Hakarmel (which doesn’t seem to have a website).

You can also find all of the programming for these major venues on the HaBamah website. These places show theater, classical music, popular music, world music, rock music, opera, and dance. But they are expensive! But let’s get real – you’re more of a fringe theater/Israeli rock/small dance company person????

In Jerusalem there was HaMaabada (The Lab) which was a fantastic venue at 28 Derech Hevron for dance/theater/music/stand-up…. but sadly has recently transformed into Zappa Club Jerusalem – it is a great venue to keep updated on the latest in Israeli rock music and it is an off-shoot of Zappa Club Tel Aviv.

Another great Jerusalem music venue (there are loads) is The Yellow Submarine – HaTsolelet Hatsehuba.

In Tel Aviv at a place called Teatron Tmu-na, on Rechov Shontsino 8, phone 03-5629462 – you will find great programming, nightly, of dance, theater and live music with a good bar too, all in a beautiful/grungy intimate venue.

My favorite venue in the country (totally subjective as I am on the Board of the theater) with a great selection of physical theater work is the tiny (about 50 seats) Teatron Klipa, situated by the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, definitely one of the “sexiest” venues in the country. (Now you are wondering what the difference is between an intimate venue and a sexy venue – aaaaah, you will just have to visit them both and find out!!@!!)

Also important in their challenging work via the theater world is The Arab-Hebrew Theater in Yaffo.

Other great Tel Aviv small alternative performance venues are Tsavta  which provides music, theater, stand-up and more, ZOA House which is the official home of The Israeli Fringe, and HaGada Hasmalit, which is the cultural home of The Israeli Communist Party – fantastic live jazz and art exhibitions, interesting speakers, a small venue, cheap, great people (their English website is always about three years out of date!)….

And also check out in Tel Aviv a venue and bar called Levontin 7, which shockingly can be found at Number 7, Levontin Street. And one more for Tel Aviv is The Barbie – an amazing venue for live Israeli music.

Art Exhibitions

In Tel Aviv, it’s a must to visit The Tel Aviv Museum – which has both permanent and temporary art exhibitions. The new building, housing a permanent collection of contemporary Israeli art is AMAZING, and worth visiting just to see the building – and the art is good too. If you think you might become a regular visitor, then definitely worth buying a one-year ticket – crazy cheap. And, the museum space is also worth a visit in it’s own right.

In Jerusalem worth checking The Museum of Islamic Art. The small gallery scene is out of control, especially in Tel Aviv, but the one gallery I want to mention is in Jerusalem called Barbur at 6 Shirizli Street, Nachlaot, which describes itself as “an independent nonprofit space for art and artists, to raise a platform for critical debate that deals with social issues while developing projects with the local communities”….  

The Haifa Museum of Art – under the fairly new artistic management of Ruti Direktor is now totally on the map of the Israeli art scene….

Dance

The dance scene is best represented at Suzanne Dellal Dance Center in the Neveh Tsedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Dance performances in this country, quantity and quality, are inexplicably remarkable. There is sooooooo much happening, all year round. Dance also happen at plenty of other veues in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. You will notice that I am not shy about telling you to go and see dance shows once you are receiving the regular listings.

I need to move my body

“But wait, I don’t always want to be a viewer – I need to move” – worth checking out BodyWays – a website which lists loads and loads of classes from yoga, Tai Chi, Belly Dancing, Tap Dancing, Martial Arts, Contact Improv, Circus Skills – you think of it – it’s there…. it’s organized by lessons/workshops/town etc….  

And how could I not mention – The Boogie – in Jerusalem, which happens at The International Cultural Center, Emek Refaim 12, which hosts regular free-dance events, music and more.

Food

So I moved, and now I need to eat… well, apart from the recommendations that we should all share with each other, there is also the possibility of checking out websites which allow you to enter type of food, location, kosher/not-kosher, etc etc etc – http://www.2eat.co.il/ and http://www.restaurants-in-israel.co.il/ and there is also http://www.rest.co.il/

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