Managing Janglo, Israel’s largest online community for English speakers, forces me to keep abreast of the important, interesting, exciting, and quirky things going on around Israel. Here’s a handful I’ve noticed lately:
1. I was pleasantly surprised last Thursday visiting the fourth annual Jerusalem Knights Festival. The festival, running Thursday nights through November 21, brings out tens of thousands of Israelis to wander the streets and sites of Jerusalem’s Old City, with music, dancing, stories, light displays, and more. While previous years encouraged you to get lost around all of the four ethnic quarters and their sites, this year, efforts were concentrated on one very entertaining path around the Jaffa and Zion Gates. Don’t miss the fire dancers or the sky gymnasts at the very beginning!
2. The latest buzz in Tel Aviv is all about Cofix, the new cafe offering coffee and sandwiches for just NIS 5. Reports say cost-conscious Israelis are lining up around the corner for their cheap brews, and other chains are taking note. Less than a month after the grand opening, Aroma lowered some prices on some of its products. Its like economists have been saying for years- the only way to lower prices in Israel is to increase competition. Hey Startup Nation entrepreneurs- what are you waiting for?
(By the way, there’s also a Jerusalem cafe with a NIS 5 menu near the central bus station, but it seems to remain a local secret- for now.)
3. I don’t know about you, but I love the wave of parody music videos that always greets the Jewish holidays. Many are silly, and the genre is sometimes criticized as assimilationist, but I also see small sparks of holiness in the way modern Jewish artists try to claim and reinterpret the chagim as their own.
Last year, I counted down the top eight chanukah videos of 5773 in a Times of Israel piece, and shared a few dozen of the best Chanukah videos of all time on Janglo. This year, its still early, but the Thanksgivukah people can hardly wait. Here’s my first pick, a hilarious rap battle between Chanukah and Thanksgiving produced by Manischewitz. Don’t worry- I’ll share more when they become available.
4. Speaking of epic rap battles, here’s an interesting take: The Population and Immigration Ministry put out a hip-hop debate last week to educate the public about the benefits of Israel’s new biometric ID card program. The new hi-tech cards store certain bits of personal information, and identifies a person through fingerprint and facial recognition.
The two-year pilot program has some people afraid of “big brother,” but the Ministry thinks those fears are unfounded. In the video (Hebrew), one character taunts that “its only a matter of time before hackers exploit it,” while the other replies “Hey, what movie are you living in? You’re watching too much CSI.” Who won? Who’s next? You decide.
5. On the music scene, superstars Justin Timberlake and Beyonce both announced last week that they’ll play concerts in Tel Aviv this summer, while 80’s pop sensation Cyndi Lauper scheduled a concert for January 4. If you can’t wait that long for celebrity concerts, you can catch Latin music star Julio Iglesias and Grammy award winning reggae artist Beenie Man toward the end of November. For a fix of global music right now, Tel Aviv’s Piano Festival and Jerusalem’s annual Oud Festival run through the end of the week. Can’t keep track? Don’t worry. Its all here.
Should we make this an ongoing Times of Israel feature? Leave your comments below.