Find the right festival for any state of mind
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Find the right festival for any state of mind

May’s myriad events include music, writing and film gatherings, and a focus on design in the capital

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

One of the Open Water Israel events taking place on the coastline of Beit Yannai in September 2015; the event in Achziv will take place on May 14 Courtesy Open Water Israel Facebook page)
One of the Open Water Israel events taking place on the coastline of Beit Yannai in September 2015; the event in Achziv will take place on May 14 Courtesy Open Water Israel Facebook page)

Festival season; it’s coming. Actually, it’s just about here.

Once Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day have passed (and before Lag B’Omer arrives), it’s time to view documentaries, appreciate design, hear folk music and consider the word of fiction.

Start the festival season with Jacob’s Ladder, an annual three-day event celebrating folk music of all kinds at Nof Ginosar on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. All the indoor accommodations are already booked, but if you’re game for assembling a tent and sleeping under the stars, it may be right for you. The 40th anniversary of this twice-yearly festival will feature 37 concerts, five dance workshops, tai chi classes, yoga sessions, harmonica and ukulele master classes, swimming, kids’ art workshops, and plenty of time to stretch out and relax to music in the great outdoors. Jacob’s Ladder, May 19-21, Nof Ginosar, Sea of Galilee, tickets prices from NIS 160-NIS 490, depending on age and the number of days.

2) Next up is Jerusalem Design Week, hosted at former leper colony Hansen House, which was turned into a center for all things creative five years ago. This year, however, the events of the week of design appreciation will be held at several sites throughout the city, including the Sherover Villa, the Jerusalem Theater, the Islamic Art Museum with an exhibit of 27 artists looking at the transformation of Iranian art, and the First Station, with an exhibit and workshops on the design of function that emerges from differing religions, cultures and communities.

Greening the concrete wasteland of the Clal Building on Agrippas Street, another Muslala art collective project that will be revealed as part of Design Week Courtesy Jerusalem Foundation)
Greening the concrete wasteland of the Clal Building on Agrippas Street, another Muslala art collective project that will be revealed as part of Design Week (Courtesy Jerusalem Foundation)

Downtown, the pedestrian-friendly streets of upper Bezalel and Schatz will host pop-up shops and design crafts throughout the week, while the Clal Building, that behemoth between Agrippas and Jaffa Streets, will host HaMirpeset (the Porch) on its roof, a new urban project created by the collective of artists from Muslala, with music, fresh hummus and workshops, and “ShidrugYashan,” a repurposing workshop of old clothes, bags, bikes and accessories. Finally, families are welcome at the Bloomfield Science Museum for building and design games and activities of various sorts. See the Hansen House website for days, times and details.

3) It’s been 18 years since DocAviv, the Tel Aviv film festival dedicated to all things factual, set up shop at the city’s Cinematheque. Now the nonprofit organization that runs the festival sponsors three other DocAviv festivals, one down south in Yeruham, another up north in the Galilee and a smaller winter one in Tel Aviv.

The springtime Tel Aviv version, held for ten days this year from May 19 to May 28, is still the flagship event, with 110 films screened over the course of ten days, including free screenings, workshops for youth and adults and conversations with visiting directors and actors. DocAviv always showcases what’s going on in the world, and this year, that lens is focused on global instability, refugees and economic strife. Sound dire? It is, but the films themselves are a mix of categories, using humor, pathos and investigative reporting to shed some light on the world’s problems.

https://youtu.be/hGtv1NqRKMA

With 12 screening sites around Tel Aviv, the aim is to reach populations that don’t get to the Cinematheque arthouse theater in the center of the city. There will be screenings outdoors at Habima, as well as in Jaffa at the Nalagaat Theater, on the roof of co-working space WeWork, in the Sarona Market and on the roof of City Hall overlooking Rabin Square. Go to the DovAviv site for screening times and events.

Etgar Keret and Gary Shteyngart in conversation at New York's Symphony Space in April 2012 (Courtesy YouTube screen grab)
Etgar Keret and Gary Shteyngart in conversation at New York’s Symphony Space in April 2012 (Courtesy YouTube screen grab)

4) The annual Jerusalem Writers Festival takes place this year from May 25 through 28 at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, opening with Israeli writer David Grossman, and including a host of engaging events. Writer Etgar Keret and his wife, director Shira Geffen, will host a special Lag B’Omer event of reading and talking to kids, Ehud Banai will perform in a music and poetry event, Keret will speak (again) in what’s sure to be an amusing conversation with visiting writer and fellow satirist Gary Shteyngart, while Meir Shelav will converse with Spanish writer Jesus Carrassco. There’s plenty of other events to choose from, with Israeli and visiting writers engaging in lectures, conversations, readings and workshops. Tickets are necessary for most of the events.

From another open swim event last summer, July 2015, part of a series of community swim races in the Mediterranean (Courtesy Open Swim Israel Facebook page/Eden Graziani)
From another open swim event last summer, July 2015, part of a series of community swim races in the Mediterranean (Courtesy Open Swim Israel Facebook page/Eden Graziani)

5) Finally, head north to the western Galilee, where every weekend in May and June is the time for the Sea of the Western Galilee Festival, a celebration of music, concerts, tours, beaches and sports among the villages and towns of the western Galilee. Each weekend is anchored by a Thursday night concert with performers including Shlomi Shabat, Monica Sex and Shalom Hanoch. The days are filled with walking tours of local neighborhoods, from Druze and Muslim villages to the ecological community of Klil, the city of Acre and the agricultural environs of local moshav and kibbutz collectives. There are also bike happenings and swim races with Open Water Israel at the Achziv beach on May 14 and May 21. See the BGalil site for more information.

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