Top Five

Get thee to a festival, or at the very least, a radio show

What’s happening up north, down in Jerusalem, over in Tel Aviv, and right in your living room

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

David Bowie on a plate by Yael Vons Yargin (Courtesy Ceramics Biennale)
David Bowie on a plate by Yael Vons Yargin (Courtesy Ceramics Biennale)

We’re in the thick of it, now, folks. Hot town, summer in the city, back of that neck getting dirty and gritty. Sweaty though it may be, it’s that time of the season when there’s always something going on, whether, in fact, you’re in the city, or the country. It can be tough to choose where to go, when every day and night offers another option or event, some of them as close by as the dial on the radio.

This week, the top events for the second half of July (and into August) offer everything from folk dancing and performance art to ceramic works and classical music.

1) For the uninitiated, folk dancing might seem like a throwback to another time, a quaint mating ritual dating from the early years of statehood when there was nothing else to do. But for the thousands of folk dancers across the country, the Karmiel Dance Festival is the annual high point of the year, the time when they all converge on the basketball courts, amphitheaters and green lawns of this northern development town, spending three days dancing, watching, and kibbitzing about the techniques and choreography of their fellow dancers’ debkas. It’s a scene, to be sure, and one that was perfectly encapsulated in “Hora 79”, a film recently screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival, a comedy about a reunion of an aging dance troupe, with much of the action taking place at, yes, the Karmiel Dance Festival. Tuesday, July 23-Thursday, July 25. Many of the performances are free, and the calendar of events and tickets are available on the website.

Contact Point, Israel Museum (photo credit: Eldad Rafaeli/Courtesy,
Contact Point, Israel Museum (photo credit: Eldad Rafaeli/Courtesy,

2) We’re already into the second half of the cultural and artistic events of the Jerusalem Season of Culture (JSOC), which helps ante up the offerings in the holy city. Contact Point is one of the favorite JSOC offerings, a night of performance art at the Israel Museum — it’s like Jerusalem’s own version of Tel Aviv’s White Night, if you will. This year, spectators will be invited to build an archaeological tel, play some footie with Hapoel Katamon soccer team members, prepare Iraqi flatbread on the JSOC Food Truck, and find that ‘contact point’ with Jerusalem’s premier cultural space, the Israel Museum. Thursday, July 25, 8 pm-3 am; NIS 60 per adult, NIS 30 for students, seniors and children; free for members. Prepare to park far from the museum, or opt for public transportation.

Once-upon-a-time items, in clay, by Lisbeth Biger (Courtesy Ceramics Biennale)
Once-upon-a-time items, in clay, by Lisbeth Biger (Courtesy Ceramics Biennale)

3) Next week begins the seventh annual Biennale of Israeli Ceramics, a wide-ranging exhibition of local ceramic art at the Eretz Israel Museum, featuring works by 66 artists. The works span a range of professional experience, styles, and cultures, and all are by local artists, whether potters by training or artists engaged in working with a range of materials. What’s always wonderful about this now-annual exhibit is the sheer number of works — 200 in all — each one different and unique, and almost always accessible, in the way that ceramic art is to the viewer and end user. Local ceramics are always available in the various cooperative shops and stores throughout Israel, but there’s something about seeing so many works in one place, comparing and contrasting the styles, shapes and concepts that can be molded from lumps of clay. The Seventh Biennale of Israeli Ceramics, July 23-November 10, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, 03-641-5244. Adult entrance, NIS 42; Tel Aviv resident, NIS 38; student/soldier, NIS 28; senior citizen, NIS 21; children up to 18, free.

4) Contemplating heading north? Next week could be the right time, as ‘Manginat HaGalil,’ the Music of the Galilee festival begins July 21, jumpstarting a month of musical events, concerts and activities throughout the northern region. Hosted by the various tourism organizations throughout the Galilee and Golan, the opening concert is in Kibbutz Eilon in the western Galilee, with soloists accompanying classical works by Beethoven, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and others. The full roster of events is listed in calendar format on the festival website, but other dates to consider are Yehuda Poliker performing on July 22; Dudu Tassa on July 26; the annual Klezmer festival, held in Tzfat between August 6-8; the 700-singer-strong Zimriya in Acre during the week of August 11-16; Yehudit Ravitz on August 16 and Barry Sakharoff on August 22. There’s also a full roster of concerts and trios being hosted by Moshav Amirim and in neighboring communities. For a full listing, go the Music of the Galilee website or the Go Galil Facebook page.

5) Don’t feel like going anywhere? Then stay home and listen to Sipur Yisraeli, Israel Story, the local, homegrown version of NPR’s “This American Life.” Having won over many fans countrywide, the four guys behind this charming storytelling podcast will be broadcasting eleven episodes every Friday at 1 pm, on Galey Tzahal, from Friday, July 19 through mid-October. If you miss an episode on the air, not to worry. Each hour-long episode is available after its weekly broadcast on the radio, at, or downloadable on any smart phone. Grab a cold drink, put your feet up and listen to stories about starting over, from storytellers such as Etgar Keret and a composer who was in a horrific car accident with violinist Isaac Stern. In the second episode, you’ll hear tales about obsession, with anecdotes from Times of Israel reporter Matti Friedman, writer Shavit Ben Arie and other memorable storytellers. Friday, July 19, 1 pm, Galey Tzahal.

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