10 days in August

‘The answer to what, why, how’: Israel Festival returns this summer

Annual Jerusalem arts and culture event is loaded with household name performers from Israel and abroad

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

From 'Minefield,' one of the upcoming performances at the 62nd Israel Festival, August 1-11, 2023 (Courtesy Carlos Furman)
From 'Minefield,' one of the upcoming performances at the 62nd Israel Festival, August 1-11, 2023 (Courtesy Carlos Furman)

This year’s Israel Festival, the annual Jerusalem arts and culture event, will take place in August this year featuring headlining performers including “This American Life” podcast host Ira Glass, Argentine theater director Lola Arias and New Orleans band Tank and the Bangas along with a lineup of other international and local entertainers.

It’s taking place in three locations in the capital — Independence Park, Jerusalem Theater and the Jerusalem Arts Campus at Liberty Bell Park.

The ten-day event, August 1-11, opens with two concerts in Independence Park and closes with three days of performances in the new downtown Jerusalem Arts Campus, home to four art schools.

Here are some of the highlights:
On August 1, a concert about love on Tu B’av, Israel’s Valentine’s Day, with musician Mark Eliyahu, diva voice Rita, Turkish musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek and soul singer Shai Tsabari with Valerie Hamaty.

The August 2 concert is a three-pronged event with the grooving rhythms of Louisiana’s hip-hop soul band Tank and the Bangas coupled with Israeli hit-makers Jasmin Moallem and Eko.

“Minefield,” a docu-theater performance from Argentinian artist Lola Arias examining the recollections of battle from former foes, will be held at the new Nissan Nativ acting studio on the Jerusalem Arts Campus.

Brazilian choreographer Alice Ripoll will host two pieces, “How Do We Get Rid of All This Dirt?,” about what’s thought of as dirty, and “aCORdo,” about the seething pressures of life in Rio de Janeiro.

This is a festival that loves podcasts, and the 62nd edition of the Israel Festival will host two live ones. There’s a stage adaptation of One Song, the Kan podcast in which each episode tells the story behind the creation of one Israeli song.

“One Song” hosts Maya Kosover and Nir Goraly will speak about three songs with musical guests Eli Luzon, Gali Atari, Korin Allal, Danni Bassan, Yoni Roe’e and Yankele Rotblit.

‘This American Life’ podcast host Ira Glass, one of the upcoming performer at the 62nd Israel Festival, August 1-11, 2023 (Courtesy Renato Mangolin)

Ira Glass and Etgar Keret will do their stage performance of “Half-Baked Stories about My Dead Mother,” and Ira Glass will be performing solo in another performance, “Seven Things I’ve Learned,” his story about how to tell a story.

The Ofek portion of the festival promotes Israeli artists, with several solo art performances spread throughout the week.

On August 3, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., the festival marks its focus on martial arts with martial arts methods and practices for all ages hosted at an arena created in the Jerusalem Theater Plaza and at the Jerusalem Arts Campus.

Itay Mautner and Michal Vidal, artistic directors of the 62nd Israel Festival, August 1-11, 2023 (Courtesy Yair Meyuhas)

Co-artistic directors Itay Mautner and Michal Vaknin said they began curating the Martial|Art program with an eye toward the connections between global realities and art, calling it “the teeming space between art and combat.”

Another portion of the festival will be held at Teddy Stadium, at the The New Gallery Artists Studios. Called “Factory City,” it features the ongoing work of artist Itamar Shimshony who collects old toys throughout the city and turns them into new works of art.

Children of all ages are invited to come and follow the various stages of production, participate in the creation and add inspiration. The factory will be open to visitors August 4-11; entry is every half hour throughout the day, with advance registration and a NIS 10 fee.

Two other collaborations aim to offer equal access for all to arts and culture. One is the festival’s collaboration with Mekomot Shmurim, which specializes in making arts and culture accessible to a neurologically diverse audience, and the Mekomot Shmurim staff will be part of the festival to help make the events and performances more accessible to all.

The Israel Festival is also connected with the Good Energy initiative, an organization with a climate agenda that will plant trees and involve the audience in that effort.

“It’s been over 62 years that the Israel Festival lives, breathes, reflects, celebrates, sometimes survives, the Israeli reality, and the journey of all of us in it,” said Eyal Sher, festival CEO. “We get up in the morning and go to sleep in the dead of night with questions; what, why, how. The artistic program presented here is the answer we offer.”

For Israel Festival tickets, times and schedules, head to the Israel Festival site.

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