This Is Jerusalem: A Night of Diversity

This Is Jerusalem A Night Of Diversity

Photo: Gal Meiri

This Is Jerusalem: A Night of Diversity  

Jerusalem, holy to three religions and home to people of all different faiths, cultures and backgrounds.

That diversity came alive in the form of two very different events:

“Ben Hur”, a bi-lingual Hebrew-Arabic performance in Beit Hansen, brought to life the building’s haunted history while exploring its implications for shared living in the modern era. Beit Hansen was once a lepers’ hospital.  A new play by Ephi Bat-Ilan  imagines the mother-daughter leper duo from the famous Ben Hur movie, which takes place in Jerusalem, living in Beit Hansen. High-caliber acting ,singing and a well-thought out script made for a magical evening.

Steps away from Beit Hansen, the Yeru-Shalem coalition met at Beit Yehudit for a civil society conference, to discuss different ways to further pluralism in Jerusalem. After speeches by key social activists from the city’s different sectors, including secular, ultra and modern Orthodox, the audience broke out into different working groups, to tackle different issues. As one group discussed cultural diversity, another group discussed the role of community councils. Mayor Nir Barkat made an appearance, opening up the chance for real dialogue between Jerusalem residents and city hall.

The conference took place on Emek Refaim – Ghost’s Valley, which is home to a German Knights Templar cemetery. Stepping into the cold night air, the valley was anything but haunted, as people dashed in and out of the street’s numerous cafes and restaurants.

A few minutes’ walk away, the recently opened First Station had its fair share of date-goers who were brave enough to face the winter weather. The once-abandoned railway station now hosts a wide array of restaurants, as well as free performances and lectures – an old waiting room has been converted into a local art gallery.

Arabic and Hebrew being sung side by side, secular, Modern Orthodox, and ultra-Orthodox Jews sharing debates over a cup of coffee, lepers’ hospitals as performance venues, and abandoned railway stations as art galleries/ 

This is Jerusalem, a city that is not haunted by the ghosts of its past, but embraces them, building on its rich legacy toward a thriving future.

The Jerusalem Foundation is proud to be a partner in Jerusalem’s renaissance, and to support projects that foster arts and culture and that promote shared living and dialogue between the city’s different communities, as part of its ongoing work to shape Jerusalem as a leading metropolis of the 21st century.