Message from Deena Levenstein, co-founder of Jerusalem’s JLMVibe #tbexjlm
Welcome to Jerusalem!
This is an introductory guide to the contemporary culture of Jerusalem. It is an invitation to explore the city and it focuses on four categories:
- Social entrepreneurship – because Jerusalem leads Israel in this field
- Bookstores – because they’re the meeting place of ideas
- Art galleries – because they’re an expression of the local issues in poignant ways, and
- Nightlife – because you wouldn’t believe how great it is to get out at night here, hang out at a bar and hear some live music.
All the places listed below are in Jerusalem’s city center. Besides it being my favorite part of the city, it is where TBEX participants will be spending a large portion of their time and it is an excellent place to begin your exploration of this deeply loved and uniquely complex city.
A Bit About Downtown Jerusalem
Downtown is a vibrant area with the new light rail running along Yaffo Street, many charming pedestrian malls with shops, cafes, restaurants and bars, and creative urban surprises down every alleyway. It was planned and built by the British in the beginning of the 20th century as the “Downtown Triangle” – Ben Yehuda, King George and Yaffo streets – and today expands beyond with the triangle remaining at its center.
Connect With People Doing Good
Jerusalem is overflowing with social initiatives. Here are a few special places to visit:
The Mirpeset (Binyan Clal, 97 Yaffo Street), called the Terrace in English, is an urban sustainability oasis smack dab in the middle of the city center. A Muslala project, the Mirpeset sits atop the Clal Building. One of the less welcoming – and emptier – buildings in the city, the goal is to breathe some life into this structure teeming with potential. At the Mirpeset, strike up a conversation with one of the Muslala members and check out the earth sculpting, the city’s urban agriculture, and the biodynamically kept bees.
How to find it: Enter through the Yaffo entrance to the Clal Building and walk up the stairs across from the entrance all the way to the top (around 3 flights). You’ll know you’re there when you see the beautiful wooden floors and huge doors that exit to the terrace. Visiting hours: Wednesday-Thursday: 12-8pm, Friday: 10am-4pm
The Lifeline for the Old (14 Shivtei Yisrael St.) is a non-profit organization that empowers and supports nearly 300 elderly Jerusalem residents on a daily basis by providing them with creative work opportunities in artistic workshops. See the people at work and purchase their creations at the gift shop. Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 9am-4:30pm, Friday: 9am-1pm
Etz Cafe (3 Yanai St.) is a non-profit cafe whose proceeds go to the needy and street dwellers of the city. The place is run by volunteers and offers delicious food and lovely ambiance. Hours: Sunday and Thursday: 9am-6pm, Monday-Wednesday: 9am-7pm, Friday: 10am-6pm, Saturday: 10am-8pm
There are so many more social initiatives but let’s move on to the next category…
The Book Gallery (6 Shats St.) is Israel’s largest second hand bookstore. Go down into the belly of this beast and ask the staff – book aficionados – for assistance on any topic. They carry books in an array of languages. Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 9:30am-7pm (6:30pm in the winter), Friday: 9am-2pm
Nearby is Pomeranz Bookseller (5 Be’eri St.), a great place to see what the “People of the Book” are all about. The shop is focused on Jewish and Torah/Bible literature and they host Jewish classes, book launches and speakers. Many of their books and events are in English. Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 9am-7:30pm, Friday: 9am-2pm
Holzer Books (91 Yaffo St., corner of Mashiyah Barukhof St.) is a rare and antique book shop with a huge selection of second hand and new books. There is an art gallery of local artists and daily events on topics such as Jewish thought, history, philosophy and Israeli studies. Some of their events are in English and all are free of charge. Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 9:30am-11pm, Friday: 10am-3pm
An Art Installation Says a Thousand Words
There are some really interesting galleries in town. Some are a little hidden but don’t give up because it’s almost more satisfying finding them after a little bit of hard work. 🙂 Not to mention that artists don’t have an easy time in Jerusalem and so it means a lot to them when people stop by.
Entrance to the galleries is free.
Koresh 14 (14 Koresh St., down the stairs to the grey door), is a non-profit gallery run by three young artists who promote – and create – experimental art. They host events and always have some interesting art project on view. Hours: Sunday: 12-4pm, Monday: 11am-2pm, Tuesday: 2-6pm, Thursday: 12-4pm
Ticho House (10 Harav Agan St.) is a historical home in Jerusalem which functions as a museum as part of the Israel Museum (which is located in a different part of the city). The building was recently renovated (for two years!) and the grounds and building are really beautiful. The current exhibition as of this publishing is a wonderful one of young Israeli artists. With this caliber, one can only imagine what will be next. Hours: Sunday-Monday: 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Thursday: 10am-9pm, Friday: 10am-2pm (hours subject to change based on the exhibition.
The Jerusalem Print Workshop (38 Shivtei Yisrael) was founded with the intention of giving a home to artists in Jerusalem with a focus on preserving traditional printing techniques. There are workshops on the main floor (up one flight of stairs) and galleries with temporary print exhibitions in the attic and on the ground floor. Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 8am-3pm, Friday: 10am-12pm
Yup, There’s a Nightlife in the Holy City
One can often hear European languages at Hataklit (7 Heleni Hamalka St.), a relaxed bar, perfect for happy hour or a late night drink. Behind it is Videopub (1 Horkanus St.), Jerusalem’s gay bar.
Hataklit hours: Sunday-Saturday: 4:30pm-5am
Videopub hours: Saturday-Thursday: 8pm-4am, Friday: 10pm-4am
If you love indie music, check out HaMazkeka (3 Shoshan St.), the non-profit bar that hosts live concerts and shows every night by independent artists (check out concert times at the link). And if you’re looking to dance the night away, stop by Toy Bar (6 Du Nawas St.), one of Jerusalem’s night clubs. Toy Bar hours: Thursday, Saturday: 9:30pm-4:30am, Friday: 10:30pm-5am
That’s it, you’ve been initiated. Of course this list is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope it helps you begin your journey of meeting Jerusalem, for real, face-to-face.
Shalom and enjoy.
For a link to the interactive version of this map, please click here.
Deena Levenstein is co-founder of JLMvibe.com which works toward making Jerusalem’s huge variety of cultural events accessible to locals and visitors to the city.