This Sunday, at Beit Shmuel’s Hirsch Theater in Jerusalem, The Times of Israel will hold the latest in its new series of English-language cultural and entertainment events — a public interview with the celebrated Israeli author David Grossman. Our conversation with Grossman will mark the finale of our initial series of “The Times of Israel Presents” evenings. We’ll take a break for Pessah, and we’ll be back with more after the festival.
You can never be completely sure, when you start a new venture, whether it will find an audience. But we were fairly confident that Times of Israel readers in Jerusalem and beyond would love to hear Israeli authors and ex-Mossad chiefs (and buy their signed books), go to the theater, and watch new movies and meet their directors, all at events tailored for English-speakers. And you’ve shown that we were right.
We kicked off with a special English performance of the dazzling rap opera “The City.” It sold out. We followed that with an interview with Efraim Halevy. Also a sell out, and a fascinating, wonderfully good-natured trawl through the lifetime’s experience and wisdom of one of Israel’s unsung heroes.
Then we hosted director Elite Zexer at an English-subtitled screening of her subtle, eye-opening “Sand Storm.” What a delight that proved, and what a pleasure, in another packed house, to hear from Zexer herself about the decade-long process in which she was drawn to the story, wrote the script, raised the money, cast the movie, filmed it and then watched it soar.
Joseph Cedar’s preview “Norman” screening was the next treat, complete with director interview. And then, a few days ago, quite the change of pace to hear Melanie Phillips chart her transformation from what she called “a typical Miss Guardianista” to “being tarred and feathered as a racist Islamophobe.”
As Herzl and Kevin Costner might have said, if The Times of Israel presents it, folks will evidently come. Nearly 2,000 people have attended the events thus far. And we’re not only meeting our celebrated guests in person, we’re meeting each other.
It’s a pleasure for the many Times of Israel staffers who are involved in these events to meet our readers. It’s also lovely to see our readers gathering and socializing together for a little bit of stimulating down time amid the frenzy of our daily lives. Just to cite my interview with Efraim Halevy, I can tell you that he was delighted by the warmth of his reception and the spellbound silence as he talked, and there was no mistaking the buzz of appreciation as everybody made their way home afterward.
The only real complaint we’ve had is that, thus far, we’re Jerusalem-centric. People have been coming from many points far and wide in Israel, but they’ve also been asking us to put on events elsewhere. Well, that’s indeed the plan. We’re looking forward to holding evenings in Tel Aviv and beyond in the coming months.
We’re also working closely with several fine partners — including the AACI, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Tower of David — to make sure to reach the widest possible audience.
So thank you, those almost 2,000 of you who have joined our events to date. You can join our priority booking list by sending an email saying “Subscribe” to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t miss out on our pre-Pessah highlight, Sunday’s public interview with David Grossman. Tickets here.