In the uncanny way that art imitates life, Jerusalem’s literary café, Tmol Shilshom, has been the setting for fictional accounts of young Israelis in search of love. The café, named in honor of the masterpiece by Israeli Nobel Prize-winner S.Y. Agnon, is half-hidden in a courtyard of the city’s historic Nahalat Shiva neighborhood. It is renowned for an atmosphere that encourages both cultural dialogue and romance over shared meals and occasional evening talks by Israel’s literary lights.
The Book of Genesis’ account of Jacob’s dream is one of the defining elements of artist Ya’akov Boussidan’s conceptual design for a synagogue in the village of Tzur Haddassah, some 7.5 miles west of Jerusalem. For the artist, the simple stones that Jacob gathered at nightfall represent the fusion of the varied elements of the Jewish people. Boussidan’s synagogue design, intended for a congregation of Ashkenazic and Sephardic worshippers from varied walks of life, includes a bima (podium) that is an original composition of twelve stones, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel.
The “YH” in the name of the swanky YH4 Architects’ Gallery is for Yad Harutzim (loosely translated as “Striver’s Row’’), the name of the Jerusalem street where the Gallery established itself this past year. YH4 is a leader in the budding revival of the city’s dowdy Talpiot industrial district. The neighborhood’s car dealerships, retail and wholesale enterprises and fast-food restaurants are conspicuous, but some of the city’s premier cultural and business start-ups are hidden from the eye. One of YH4’s neighbors on the fourth floor of an aging grey-cement building is the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School.
Dalia Betolin-Sherman’s first collection of short stories, “When the World Turned White,” brings to life the breathless voice of an immigrant child who, along with her sisters, peers down at a neighbor’s laundry line from the high window sill perch of the southern Israeli absorption center, which her family calls the hostel. Over the course of seven vignettes, the narrator grows up into a young woman, a voracious reader who grudgingly assists her overbearing mother in answering ads for assembly-line factory jobs.
Israeli artist Ya’akov Boussidan’s latest study for stained glass windows soars with his lifelong passion for original calligraphy and his fascination with the “Song of Songs.” Exploring the theme of creation, this first study is naturally linked to Elul, the Hebrew month that augurs Rosh Hashanah, “the birth of the world.” According to rabbinic tradition, Elul is an acrostic for the verse “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” (Song of Songs, 6:3).