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Friday, 24 August 2012

Unbounded Joy In Israel’s Mystic City

The founders of the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum have an awesome claim to fame. Situated in the heart of the Galilee near the seaside resort of Nahariya, this was the world’s first museum dedicated to remembering the Holocaust – and it’s all done through the eyes of the doughty resistance fighters who managed to get to Israel and then  kept the flame of memory  aglow.

On another day, another visit, we were forbidden to take pictures at Tel Aviv’s famous Museum of the Diaspora. This is an elegant, spacious place, but gives scant regard either to the historical role of Jewish women in the Diaspora  or to the development of Progressive Judaism – which is almost ignored.

What a shame that the museum’s curators view Jewish ‘pluralism’ as being almost confined to different strands of Orthodoxy. This policy mars an otherwise excellent day out.

Meanwhile, Karmiel has had much to celebrate. A huge, international crowd flocked to the amphitheatre to mark the start of the 25th anniversary of the annual dance festival while this past week  hundreds more from throughout northern Israel and beyond converged on the city’s Galilee Park for the fourth annual northern Nefesh B’Nefesh  picnic.

What better way to  show the astounding and continuing  success of the popular  Israel immigration aid organisation than the presence of the city’s mayor, Mr Adi Eldar and NBN  co-founder,  Rabbi Joshua Fass? Both offered lavish praise, first for the work of the NBN ‘Go North’ team led by Michele Kaplan-Green but also to the courage of the many immigrants who have left their homes in the USA and Britain to settle their families in Israel.

No sooner had we finished picnicking than we were slipping on our dance shoes for a trip to Safed. This is one of Israel’s four ‘holy cities’ and  perched at almost 3,000 feet, it is the highest in physical elevation, even if it must jockey for spiritual ascendancy with its sisters.

The last night of the  town’s three-day Klezmer Festival was an eye-popping exercise in how to squeeze gallons of unbounded joy into a pint-size, higgledy-piggledy, shabby hillside town with otherwise little to offer but  – er – mystique!

A huge round of applause and a kiss on the cheek surely go to the police and transport team who arranged seamless stop-go, park’n’ride facilities for thousands of us revellers.

What’s more, although everyone there partied like crazy, lovin’ the markets, the bars – and the great music - laid on for free all over town – there was no drunkenness and no brawls – just tons of fun. What a blast!



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