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!
Start by heading straight up to the second floor and dive deep into the world of Hasidic Jews in the exhibition – A World Apart Next Door – Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews. The exhibition is small and manageable.
The photography is exquisite – especially the works by Menachem Kahane and Gil Cohen Magen, and the video work is totally mesmerizing – especially the videography of Yuval Nadel and Simon Segev.
Everything is worth seeing, but especially look out for the movie about the Shtrayml-Macher, who talks you through the intricacies of the shtrayml, the kalpick and the spadick. Videos of Hakafot Shniyot (a second night of dancing the Torah scrolls around the synagogue seven times on Simchat Torah – the second night was a custom instigated by Rav Yedidyah Frenkel – the first chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, as a symbol of solidarity with Jews in the Diaspora), of wedding ceremonies, and of many a Tish on the huge screen at the end of the exhibition – they are all simply riveting.
Admittedly no shortage (for me) of feeling that some are also intensely disturbing, and yet electrifying to watch.
But wait – not done yet – walk out of the Haredim, take a right, and walk 50 steps (literally…. I counted) and you walk into the new gallery for Modern Israeli Art.
Here you can delight in everything from Sigalit Landau floating in the Dead Sea with her watermelons, Adi Ness’ (untitled) Last Supper, Yigael Tumarkin’s Mita Meshuna, plus Reuven Rubin, Ori Reisman and many more.
There is so much sense to the way the work is presented. In the first stage, you find Israeli works that reflect and respond to Zionist engagement with The Land of Israel. Some of the artists are defining a distinctive personal and collective identity, while others move away from optimistic devotion to the land, adopting a more critical approach.
The next hall represents the autonomy of artistic creation, free of dependence on realistic depiction. We can see the personal and abstract expressions of the artists memories and inner world.
And finally the iconic works, representing a whole different lens on Israeliness.
GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!!!!!