It was an ordinary Monday evening, and Jaffa Road was busy with people shopping and eating, strolling and drinking, stopping by street entertainers, pleasantly passing time.
We headed for #34 Jaffa Road, whose grungy front door didn’t look at all promising…
But the exterior deceived us, as exteriors often do. Inside, upstairs, the scene was warm and friendly. People mingled, fortified with wine and snacks, chatting in English, in Hebrew and Russian. It was an evening of culture – poetry, prose and music – by and about Olim, immigrants. And it was delightful.
The building you might not notice on Jaffa Road is the Bet Uri Zvi Greenberg House, in memory of the well-known Israel poet (1896-1981). It is home to a startup project, The Writing Hub, which hopes to become a center for Jerusalem’s rich writing community; a place for networking and sharing information, for workshops on writing, and for expanding social and professional opportunities for the often-isolating world of writers.
The program featured the American-born Israeli poet, Marcela Sulak, Associate Professor at Bar Ilan and director of its Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Creative Writing Program, and a Russian-born Israeli poet, each reading in her native language, with simultaneous video translation. Chaim Watzman, the former columnist for The Jerusalem Report who resigned in protest of a cartoonist’s firing, read from his 2017 book, Necessary Stories.
And there was music. The surprise of the evening was the Jerusalem-based band, Ice Hokku. The two young, recent immigrants from Russia’s electronic music wowed the audience demonstrated range and sophistication. Listen to them here:
We learned a lot that evening. We heard about other cultural bright spots around town, such as Creative Mornings, a breakfast lecture series for the creative community, with free monthly events that feature a short talk and breakfast. Photographers, writers and others gather in 180 cities around the world each month and focus on a common theme. Their next Jerusalem meeting is scheduled for Friday October 26 at the Hanson House (Gedalyahu Alon Street #14, 02-579-3702)