Back-to-back Israel Festival events set up shop at Old City walls
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Back-to-back Israel Festival events set up shop at Old City walls

A performance at a busy Jerusalem crossroads and a night in honor of a renowned Yemenite rabbi and poet

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

As darkness falls, a view from a balcony at the scene unfolding in 'View Field,' a new Clipa Theater performance on June 11, 2019, for the 2019 Israel Festival (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
As darkness falls, a view from a balcony at the scene unfolding in 'View Field,' a new Clipa Theater performance on June 11, 2019, for the 2019 Israel Festival (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

It was just the right time of day to sit on a downtown Jerusalem balcony, with the setting sun leaving just enough daylight for the pleasure of watching “View Field,” a Clipa Theater performance premiering at the 2019 Israel Festival.

Audience members perched on stools at the edge of the high balcony overlooking Tzahal Square, where Jaffa Road runs toward the Old City walls. The scene below was a busy one, with the light rail passing and hundreds of pedestrians making their way from the Old City to the new.

The theater planted its actors around the urban landscape, where they blended into the early evening activity.

Were the brightly dressed runner and the orange-hatted troubadour two of the actors? What about the guy schlepping dozens of bags across the street, or the red sweatshirt-clad actor who began acting awkwardly toward the pedestrians at the crosswalk?

The earlier, daytime view of ‘View Field,’ a street performance created by Clipa Theater for the 2019 Israel Festival (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Dozens of moves, quiet and understated, became part of the scene in this clever performance, as did the spectator’s own imagination, making for a meditative 45 minutes of viewing time and a new way of looking at passersby on the street.

There are two more performances of “View Field” on Wednesday, June 12, at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The staged walls and poems of Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, whose life was celebrated at the Israel Festival event ‘Daltei Marom,’ on June 11, 2019 at the Tower of David Museum (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

There’s always something mystical about a performance at the Tower of David Museum, and that spirit held among the festive, sold-out crowd at Tuesday night’s sold-out “Daltei Marom,” a one-night Israel Festival show.

The evening marked the 400th anniversary of the birth of the great Jewish Yemenite poet Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, who penned 900 poems as well as books of philosophy and Torah commentary.

Leading musicians Ester Rada, Berry Sakharof, Liron Amram, Miri Mesika, Sagiv Cohen, Idan Amedi, Zion Golan, Shai Tsabari and Shiran performed their adaptations of Rabbi Shabazi’s familiar poems, creating magical links between the singers — some of whom have Yemenite roots — and the kabbalistically inclined Shabazi, who was often described as a holy man and miracle worker.

The six-piece band backing Zion Golan and Berry Sakharov at Daltei Marom, an Israel Festival event on June 11, 2019, that marked the 400th anniversary of the birth of renowned Yemenite poet, Rabbi Shalom Shabazi (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

This was an audience that knew every word of Shabazi’s famed poems — set to song, beat and motion by the performers — and many raised their hands and danced in the aisles, much to the delight of the singers on stage.

Perhaps the most unique part of the evening were the pairings created by Tsabari, who helped produce the evening, and had each singer onstage introduce the next performer. Never expected to see Zion Golan on stage with rocker Berry Sakharov? Well, it just happened.

The Israel Festival continues through June 15. Wednesday night features a free 9 p.m. performance by Mira Awad and Orphaned Land at The Museum for Islamic Art.

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