Sunday, June 10, 2012


Picture of the Top of the Entrance to the Lights Festival

In many ways, Thursday night was a full circle….. of something. Perhaps of the last year in Israel? My hopes? My dreams?

The night started off at the Jerusalem Lights Festival. I went last year with a dear friend and really loved it so I was excited to go again. It takes place inside and on top of the walls of the Old City throughout in the different quarters. At the entrance to the festival, right outside of the Mamilla Mall, there is an enormous dome made out of lights, quite beautiful to admire from within or outside of it.

Part of a Series of Shadow Projections
When you enter the walls of the Old City through Jaffa Gate, there are several different color lines you can take, different paths to explore. I started on the orange line, which wove through the Jewish quarter. There were some cool parts—a projection of “faces of Jerusalem” projected on a white oval, high up with different faces, some human, some humanoid; large spider-esque sculptures made up of cascading lights; and a musical instrument that reminded me of a gamelan (image) made out of non-musical components, accompanying a light show projected on to an old city wall. We took a small detour and left the Lights Show via the blue line and wove through the Arab market. The blue line seemed a little cooler than the orange one, but at that point we were all eager for a stiff (or soft) drink and left the Old City to find “the closest place.”

And I knew just the place, or so I thought. There were two places (bars) I had passed the other day and that night on the way to the Old City and wanted to check out—a pink bar and a grungier bar next door. At this point, the pink bar had already filled up completely and may have had a bouncer and a velvet rope, so it wasn’t so appealing to the male half of the group. And the grungier bar apparently wasn’t grungy, just an irish pub, and being Thursday night at 11 pm, it was pretty full already and not appealing either to everyone. So we were just going to give up and go to another Irish pub which I had frequented all too often during my days as a MASA participant, but beseder. We took a shortcut down a road less traveled road to get to the Irish pub when low and behold, a beacon of light, incidentally a salmon and dark brown beacon of light with outdoor seating that was unusually empty of the time of night, and unusually non-Irish pubby for Jerusalem standards. We went to that bar and it was nice—spacious, interesting decor, good selections of drinks. The only problem was, they seemed to be short on ice. But no matter, it was definitely a place I would go to again, out of the hustle and bustle that is downtown Jerusalem.

After the drinks, some wanted a little nibble and as we were walking up the hill to get back to downtown Jerusalem, we see it—Hummus Ben Sira, what I call a “hummuseria” that sells…. Hummus. Hummus with toppings, hummus with falafel, hummus with pita. Hummus Ben Sira is open late and fairly inexpensive (NIS22 or about $6 for a bowl of hummus topped with chickpeas, a small bowl of fafelal balls and two pitas), and supposedly the best hummus in Jerusalem. So while I was not super hungry per say, I jumped at the chance to eat there, having wanted to pay Hummus Ben Sira a visit for over a year. And eat there we did. After ordering for my friends and being made fun of for my Hebrew and its glorious/somewhat mysterious argentine accent (I still have yet to learn to deal with the Israeli good-natured-but-at-times-harsh teasing), the moment of truth arrived. My friend got a falafel sandwich in a pita, which she described as the best of her life. I split an order of hummus and pita with a friend which came with falafel balls, as described above. The falafel was a bit fried for my taste, but the hummus was very good—creamy and flavorful and topped with warm chickpeas, just the way I like. My friend who has worked in the food industry and makes his own hummus said Ben Sira’s hummus was just the way he liked it and that he was inspired to use more tehina next time to mimic the hummus’ texture. Impressive review! I can’t say that this was the best hummus of my life, only that it was very tasty.

So to conclude, thursday night, I took a trip down memory lane, as they say, found a new hangout (a must as a New Yorker in need of endless options) and visited a place I have been wanting to find for over a year. Oh, Jerusalem!

View of Entrance to Lights Festival from Outside

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