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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Old City’

Bill Aron’s Time Machines: Forever Young, Forever Old

Friday, September 7th, 2012

92nd Street Y: Milton J. Weill Art Gallery
1395 Lexington Avenue at 92ned Street
212-415-5563 for Gallery Hours
September 5 – October 22, 2012

Photographs seems like cruel slices from the past, frozen images of what will never be again. Since we assume the photographic image is, by and large, a factual view of some reality, it is inherently believed and trusted. But now be forewarned. It ain’t necessarily so. Bill Aron’s new images at the 92nd Street Y betray and beguile so as to force us to reassess the meaning of what we see.

The passage through time is a core human experience, not to mention a fundamental Jewish structure. Halacha is deeply time bound, changing every seven days to reflect Shabbos and cycling through the year to encounter holidays, memorials and reflections that make up the fabric of Jewish life. Each day-time demands different actions or restraints from Jewish life; when to pray, when to work or not, when to laugh and when to cry unfold in a constant flow of future, present and past. How this continuum encounters photography is the subject of Bill Aron’s current fascinating exhibition.

The majority of Aron’s photographs here are “multi-image panoramas.” They are created by taking multiple digital exposures, sometimes scanning a scene up to 360 degrees and at times revisiting it over several days, and then seamlessly stitching them together to create what at first seems like one unified image. He invented this technique in a thoughtful response to the challenge of contemporary digital photography. Western Wall Plaza at Night is an excellent introduction to this methodology.

The 9 ¾” by 40” wide photograph cannot be realistically seen in one glimpse. To do that one must stand back a few feet which causes much detail to become indiscernible. As you get closer it becomes necessary to scan back and forth to accommodate the photo’s width. Even that is not totally satisfactory and so walking along the image becomes the ideal way to take it all in, thereby forcing the viewer to mimic how an actual viewer of the scene would have to shift focus and position to take in the panorama. But it is in the very content of the image that time begins to flow.

The ancient Western Wall becomes the timeless pivot through which the dusk into night scene seems to evolve, passing from the glowing pink of sunset on the left to the rich darks of night on the right of the image. Significantly the dark sky is punctuated by a burst of fireworks that emphasize the complete arrival of nighttime. In this one image we have traveled through a halachically crucial time; what is called “Bein Hashmashos.” It turns out that this image is not about a specific past event, but thanks to the “eternal” nature of this architecture, i.e. the Western Wall, is about a perpetually recurring event, the interlude between day and night in Jewish practice.

Aron’s most intriguing images involve the dialogue between static architecture and people passing through a scene who by their multiple images, once we notice them, invoke the passage of time. Crucial to his methodology is the viewer’s tendency to view an image casually at first and to see repetition in a photograph as normative and not significant. With Bill Aron’s work that is a big mistake.

Western Wall Plaza During the Day (10 1/4 x 40) digital print by Bill Aron
Courtesy 92nd Street Y

Western Wall Plaza During the Day initially looks like a ragged-edged panoramic snapshot. Upon closer examination of the 10” x 40” image, (with all its complications described above) we notice a kind of visual echo reverberating through the image. Looking closely we see repetitions; three figures in red reappear approaching the Wall, first from afar and then closer and closer. Other random individuals reappear in other unexpected repeated positions. Perhaps these are simply individuals in a tour group dressed alike or yeshiva boys and girls, all dressed in a kind of uniform. But looking carefully these figures are too much alike. In fact in almost all cases, it is the same person at different locations literally advancing through time. The viewer slowly understands that this image is manipulated to drag us through time moving forward. This image transcends stop-time photography because the visual context overwhelmingly tries to convince us that it is but a momentary snapshot. It is not – neither internally in its own image nor when seen juxtaposed with Western Wall Plaza at Night, a nearly identical composition and perspective. They are both grounded in the eternal Temple Mount but radically separated by night and day depicting time’s passage itself.

Plans Underway, Experts Convened, to Revolutionize Jerusalem by the Year 5800 (2039)

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

The sale of a 185-room hotel at the entrance of Jerusalem on August 16 was not just a 17.5 million dollar real estate acquisition by Australian multi-millionaire Kevin Bermeister, but one investment in a broader and more calculated strategy to make Jerusalem a global tourism capital.

In an interview with the Jewish Press’s Yishai Fleisher, Bermeister, founding investor in Skype, founder of file-sharing network Kazaa, and builder of Australia’s largest video game distributor, discussed Jerusalem5800, his $30 billion dollar, 28 year project to revolutionize the city and quintuple its number of annual visitors.

Bermeister With Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz discussing Jerusalem 5800

Bermeister With Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz discussing Jerusalem 5800

“I’ve been coming to this city for 7 or 8 times 5 or 6 times a year… I’ve been walking the streets learning about the city and I’m fascinated by it, I love learning the I love the history, I love the archaeology, I love the Jewish culture, I’ve become more religious, there’s many, many aspects to my fascination with this city,” Bermeister told Fleisher.  Yet the fact that history and culture-rich Jerusalem has not advanced into a world class city the likes of New York City or Paris bothered Bermeister.  And he decided to do something about it.

Together with a team of activists, engineers, architects and environmental and demographics experts, Bermeister began work on a grandiose vision for the modern-ancient city, and entitled it Jerusalem 5800, after the beloved city and the turn of the Jewish century which will occur in less than 28 years on the Jewish calendar.

Much of the plan, made public at Jerusalem5800.com, revolves around taking the visitor on a historic progression through the city, starting in the west and working toward the south – which means redefining the entrance to the capital.

“I am a personal fan of the city reorienting its entrance from the west towards the south.  I think the south is the traditional entrance to the city from the time of Abraham, and in fact, it’s the right approach for tourists who are coming here to learn about the city,” Bermeister said.  “If you approach the Old City from the south, you begin your journey three and a half thousand years ago, and as you progress up towards the north, towards the Western Wall, the Kotel, you arrive at a period two thousand years ago, and then you can progress to the modern city which is of course in our present day.”

When they come, tourists of Jerusalem in the year 5800 (2039 on the Gregorian calendar), will enjoy an advanced public transportation system and will benefit from significantly more travel accommodations.

“I realized that industry here has not really fully developed, it’s not catered to the extent that it is in other cities, and I started to look at tourism specifically… in the last 10 years, only 300 hotel rooms have been built.  Once I discovered that fact, the light bulb went off…”

That burst of inspiration was partly the realization that investors stand to gain tremendous amounts by buying stakes in everything to do with Jerusalem tourism – particularly hotels which Bermeister hopes will house 10-12 million visitors a year by 5800, up from the current 2-3 million.

Bermeister is the first to admit that many of the projects Jerusalem 5800 are focused on making a profit for investors.

“The Leonardo hotel, for example, was one of those properties that we identified early. At the entrance to the city, adjacent to large zoning changes in Binyanei HaUma – which has recently been announced by the city – that would increase the density of building and perhaps provide us the opportunity to increase the density of zoning on our property and therefore improve the return on investment to our investors,” Bermeister said.

“[Jerusalem 5800] is a private/public partnership plan, and we’re trying to… develop the city into the future based on the prioritized return on investment to investors.  So [we’re focusing on] those projects that will be most interesting to investors the soonest.”

The hope is that more money will mean more progress for Jerusalem.  Jerusalem 5800 aims to “continue to encourage the development of a fund that would be supported by many more investors around the world who could put their funding and finance concentration into Jerusalem and into Jerusalem building,” said Bermeister.

But Jerusalem 5800 is not without its challenges.  Progress can be halting because of Jerusalem’s atypical status under the jurisdiction of both the city’s mayor and the prime minister of Israel.  The interests of various ministries and planning authorities must also be taken into consideration.

Not to mention the will of God.  “Everything we do anticipates a possible future – please God, there will be a Temple and people will come three times a year to Jerusalem,” Bermeister said.

“But the 28 year plan really focuses on the what we know and what we can do something about in physical terms in the city today.  Preparation of the city, taking advantage of the existing growth in global tourism, for which Israel is not obtaining its market share, and really to focus on making sure that we do obtain our market share of inbound tourism by addressing the issues of the Jerusalem city center and access to the Holy Basin.”

“So like Jews around the world who pray three times a day and sometimes a lot more, that the Temple will in our lifetimes become a reality, [the Temple] would become an amplification, a significant amplification of the present planning,” Bermeister said.  “But in any event, 5800 would enable that thinking and enable us to cope with that amplification….it also looks to the future and hopefully will enable the city to be ready for an event such as the Temple.”

“I’m looking forward to a very bright future and I think Israel and Jerusalem are key to the examples that …  Jewish people can set in the world, the way of thinking, the way of acting, and I think we have a responsibility to project in the world the way to make the world a better place.”

The hi-tech innovator’s plans, already 2 years in progress, include a Jerusalem regional airport in the Judean desert near Jericho, and underground traffic systems with service to the Old City.

Blaming Wrong

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/blaming-wrong.html

Israel is a nation with a strong sense of youth groups. To varying degrees, all of my children took part in one or another of the available youth groups. Shmulik took it one step further than his older siblings by not only taking part, but following the path up to be a counselor. David, now 16.5 years old, has chosen this path as well. Part of the perks is that the counselors continue as their own youth group and do things together.

They went to some training seminars and on Tisha B’Av, a fast day, they went late at night to walk around the ancient Old City walls. Their plan, and despite a delay, what they did, was to walk to the Western Wall and spend the remainder of the night there, reading, praying, learning, and remembering a time when the Temple Mount was in our hands and Jews could freely pray there.

Today, thanks to the idiocy of Moshe Dayan and the Israeli government of 1967, after being forced into war with Jordan and defeating it, the Old City was conquered and reunited with the rest of Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount and the mosques that the Arabs built on top of the ruins of our Temples, was handed back to the Arabs. Again, an act of a war they started and lost. During the 19 years – again only 19 years – that the Old City was in Jordanian hands, Jews were forbidden entry to the entire Old City, including not only the Temple Mount, but also the Western Wall, which is the the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount area (and not part of the Temple itself).

When we reconquered the Old City, we found graves on the Mount of Olives that had been desecrated, used to build bathrooms, smashed, etc. Now, for the last 45 years, Arabs have access (and control) of the Temple Mount and other than for security reasons (like when they start rioting and throwing stones on the Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall), they are remarkably free to come and worship. They even have been given the right to restrict Jews from praying on the Temple Mount itself. Of course, it is really the Israeli government and not the Arabs who have imposed this restriction – one that has Israeli police watching each group of Jews that ascends the Temple Mount and threatens to arrest them if they close their eyes, if they whisper a prayer, if they dare to stand silently and bow – no Jewish prayers are allowed there today – to the great shame of our people.

So we do what we can – we walk around the wall; we pray at the Western Wall. So that night, as my son and the older group passed what is called the Gate of Compassion – one that is supposed to open when the Messiah comes – they were pelted with stones. One girl was injured before the kids were fully evacuated to safety. Last night, an Israeli bus was pelted by stones thrown by Arabs as Jews traveled to the Western Wall. No, the Temple Mount itself is not enough for the Arabs and so they attack Jews who are even close by.

I used to live to the west of Jerusalem and so I would occasionally see Arabs drop to the floor, face east, and bow to what I thought was Jerusalem. When I moved to live on the east side of Jerusalem, a funny thing happened. I realized that the Arabs were still facing eastward. No, it was never to Jerusalem they faced. They face to Mecca and where I live, that means putting their backside towards Jerusalem.

This is true on the Temple Mount itself. Five times a day, the Arabs fall to the ground, point their backsides to their mosques and our Holiest ground – no, it was never Jerusalem that reigned supreme in their prayers as it does in ours. All over the world, Jews face to Jerusalem. Within Jerusalem, all face to the Temple Mount itself.

We as a people keep doing it wrong. The parents of my sons group were justifiably upset about their children, my son, coming under a rock attack. So what did they do with this anger? Well, late last night, David came into my room with a piece of paper and a pen. He needed me to sign a letter that he was going today up north with the group – on my responsibility. The parents had threatened to sue the older counselors for what happened the night of the rock attack and so, in response, these teenagers can only continue the amazing activities being planned for them – if the parents take full responsibility and promise not to blame the counselors.

Carmel Caves Voted a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

On the heels of UNESCO’s decision last week to name the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as “Palestine’s” first World Heritage Site, the UN body voted to list the Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nahal Me’arot (the Carmel Caves), located on the western slopes of Mount Carmel in northern Israel, are a group of prehistoric caves where early man lived continuously for hundreds of thousands of years. The caves were first excavated in the 1920s and 1930s; tools, animal bones, and human burials found in the Caves have “contributed greatly to the understanding of the physical and cultural evolution of man in the early phases of his existence,” according to a statement on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Nahal Me’arot joins seven other World Heritage sites located in Israel. These are: the Old City of Jerusalem; the Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee; the Biblical Tels of Megiddo, Hazor, and Beer Sheba; the Incense Route – Desert Cities in the Negev; Masada; the Old City of Acre; and the White City of Tel-Aviv.

Of course, the most dubious recent addition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was the Church of the Nativity, not least because it was admitted as a site under a state that does not exist – ‘Palestine’. This was made possible by the UNESCO’s vote last October to admit Palestine as a full member.

“This is proof that UNESCO is acting out of political considerations and not cultural ones,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time. “The world must remember that the Church of Nativity, which is sacred to Christians, was desecrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists.”

Jerusalem Festival of Lights: Exercise in Overselling, Underdelivering

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

We joined tens of thousands of Israelis and tourists in the allies of the Old City of Jerusalem, seduced by an incredible promotional campaign, only to realize how thin was the connection between the people who designed and executed the event and the talented group that sold it.

Who wouldn’t have fallen for this kind of fantastic copy:

“The Festival of Light in the Old City will provide through the use of light a dramatic and artistic dimension to the Old City’s nights. From the illumination of architecture to light statues, the festival will be a public and family oriented celebration that artists from different fields will partake in.”

Despite the somewhat pre-edited copy, the website offered so much in live action and exhibits, my small family and I were certain it was going to be a tasteful, Jerusalem version of some of the better Disneyland rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean: dark, with stunning images and light displays and haunting music.

There was so much promise being promised:

Festival of Light exhibits: The artistic light creations, designed by leading local and foreign light artists, will be displayed throughout the Old City’s public and restricted areas, as well as at tourism sites. Free admission.

Events: Street events and performances will take place among the light creations and will enhance the visitor’s experience. Free admission

Outdoors special performances: Mayumana’s “Currents” in Habonim Garden, and    Pyromania in Zedekiah’s Cave.

Lighting Fair: A fair displaying artistic lighting fixtures will take place at the Hurva Synagogue’s courtyard.

We left our coastal Netanya around 8:30 PM, drove really fast, picked up our Rechavia friends who would never have gone to anything in their own city if not for us, and found parking (in Jerusalem!) under the Mamila mall near the Jaffa Gate. By 10 PM we were there, ready and eager to watch the light show.

As were half a million Israelis and tourists (or so it seemed), who moved with great difficulty, like sardines pushing through a particularly rough reef.

Colored-light cables in orange, blue and green ran the length of the Old City’s alleys, and we followed them obediently. Now and then we stopped to appreciate the works of light-driven art. There were black-light paintings on the side of walls, statues, shadow-theater exhibits, a large face on the side of a wall, with imaginative projections that changed and transformed its expressions, colors, patterns and everything else, with seemingly unlimited variations.

My daughter Yarden snapped the images accompanying this story. They’re hauntingly beautiful. But don’t let that fool you. They don’t look nearly as enticing in person. Mostly because there were so few of them – a few dozen “attractions” altogether, most of them quite small and understated.

Some exhibits were sweet, some kind of under-developed. In many cases you wondered how much better the piece would have been if the artist had spent an extra couple of days on it, pushing the limits. Several items, especially the shadow-screen images, could be outright whimsical and funny, but instead were kinda basic.

Now, here’s what the five of us, visitors to the very crowded festival of lights: It would have been a lovely experience if the advertising had invited us to a quiet stroll in Jerusalem’s old alleys, with a few light images here and there. Because as such – it was fabulous, the best, honestly.

But the multitudes charging through the Jaffa gate this week were sold on a Disney ride – and that they decidedly did not receive.

And all the live performances were off the night we came. Just our luck. But is it really a festival if you come on a Tuesday and no one’s performing a thing?

Next time – less selling, more doing…

And now, for some hauntingly beautiful images, all shot by Yarden Yanover for JewishPress.com.

Jerusalem Light Show

Monday, June 11th, 2012

The fourth annual Jerusalem Festival of Light is running through June 14th in the Old City of Jerusalem. This year the festival has grown to include ten international artists displaying the best artistic work in the field alongside dozens of performances, tours, local artists, and sites.

Visitors (250,000 last year) perceive the artworks in the Festival walking through trails in the Old City’s alleys, squares and its surrounding. Special attention has to be put on the sensibilities surrounding the Holy Old City.

The Festival of Light in the Old City provides, through the use of light, a dramatic and artistic dimension to the Old City’s nights. From the illumination of architecture to light statues, the festival is a public and family oriented celebration.

After Altercation with an Arab, Jewish Students Arrested by Jerusalem Arab Police

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Five yeshiva high school students from Jerusalem were detained Sunday, after an altercation had broken out between them and an Arab at “HaKotel HaKatan” (“the small wall”), a section of the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount near the Western Wall, Honenu reports. The students were held in remand until the middle of the night and then released on condition of a restraining order banning them from entering the Old City of Jerusalem for 15 days.

The group, accompanied by one of their rabbis, arrived at HaKotel HaKatan Sunday at dusk and began the Shavuot afternoon prayers. An Arab man accompanied by two Arab women passed by them. The Arabs spoke loudly, laughed and disturbed the prayers.

In response to a request by the praying students to lower their voices, the Arab man began to shout, curse and disturb the prayers even more. An altercation developed after several of the students attempted to remove the disruptive Arab from the scene, and he pulled off his belt to attack them.

Arab policemen from the Old City of Jerusalem arrived, and the disruptive Arab pointed at several of the students who, according to him, had attacked him. As a result, the policemen detained them.

According the students, the Arab arbitrarily pointed at some of them as responsible for the altercation.

One of the detained students told Honenu that the Arab policemen did not inform them that they were being arrested, but instead only requested that they come with them to the police station in order to clarify the details of the incident. They were told they could review, along with police, video taken by a security camera at the scene.

In the end, they were not shown the video.

At the police station, the students, all minors, were detained for interrogation. They remained there until the middle of the night.

The law requires that the parents of a minor be informed of their child’s arrest and that a parent or other adult be present during the interrogation of a minor. But the parents of two of the detained students claim that they were not informed of the arrest. The parents of another student received an announcement only at 1:30 in the morning, even though their son had been detained since about 7:30 PM.

Honenu attorney Adi Kedar was called to represent the detainees.

The detainees told Honenu that police refused their request for grape juice in order to say the havdala blessing at the end of Shabbat, and therefore during their entire stay at the police station they could not eat or drink.

(According to Jewish law, one must first say the havdala blessing, customarily over wine or grape juice, before being allowed to eat or drink.)

After several hours of interrogation, the students were released on condition of a restraining order banning them for 15 days from the Old City of Jerusalem.

The parents of one of the detained students told Honenu that their son had not been at the scene at the time of the incident, arriving only after hearing about the altercation.

“Why didn’t the police examine the film from the security camera, as they should have before opening a criminal file on my son?” asked the father of one of the students.

According to him, received a call at 1:30 AM, from an unlisted number, which he missed and was then unable to call back.

The parents intend to file a complaint on the conduct of the police, including the violation of their son’s rights as a minor.

NEW Jewish Press Film: Uncover the Secrets of the Ancient City of David

Monday, May 21st, 2012

The JewishPress.com staff went under the City of David with Doron Spielman of the City of David Museum – to areas not open to the general public. We were astounded by what we saw and learned. Join us on this 45 minute exploration of the hidden secrets under the City of David, the Old City, and the Kotel itself.

What is known today as “the Old City of Jerusalem” actually dates from a much later time than the settlement in the “City of David”.

In this new JewishPress.com film, the ruins of the original city of Jerusalem – now referred to as “the City of David” – is explored in a fascinating trip into new areas of excavation with Doron Spielman and the Jewish Press’s own Yishai Fleisher.

Doron Spielman (the Director of International Development for the Ir David, City of David, Foundation) is a passionate and engaging teacher on the subject of ancient Jerusalem.

Follow along with Doron and Yishai as they take us on a journey back in time and put us in touch with the experiences, both painful and joyous, of the ancient Jewish people in their beloved holy city of Jerusalem.  After watching the film, you will want to learn more!  You can visit the website of the City of David here.  Better yet, visit the ancient walls yourself and feel the centuries melt away in front of your eyes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/new-jewishpress-com-film-explore-the-ancient-city-of-david/2012/05/21/

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