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Six months ago, 39-year-old Jorgen Nilsson left his home in Sweden and embarked on a 4,500-kilometer (2,800-mile) pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Jorgen, a knight in the Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus, left the city of Lund on November 18 and was expected to arrive in the Israeli capital just in time for the first International Jerusalem Symposium on Green and Accessible Pilgrimage, which begins Sunday.
On his way to Jerusalem, Nilsson passed through Denmark, Germany, France, Italy and Greece. Last weekend he arrived in the northern city of Haifa, and moved on to Zichron Yaakov, Hadera, Netanya, Raanana, Tel Aviv, Ramla, Ramat Raziel and Abu Gosh before heading to Jerusalem.
His journey comprised of a total of seven million steps.
Nilsson explained last week why he chose to walk to Jerusalem: “First of all, the ancient and holy city was always a critical point both for peace and for conflict. The city serves as a symbol for the effort required to reach world peace.
“I am a member of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. Last year, the Order returned to Jerusalem after hundreds of years of absence and exile in France. In light of that, as part of my desire to perpetuate our return to the holy city, I decided to do this historical walk to Jerusalem.”
After a short rest from his long journey, Nilsson was expected to receive the key to the city from Mayor Nir Barkat.
During his trip, Nilsson updated his blog and posted pictures of the different landscapes he saw on his way on Facebook.
The Order of St. Lazarus, which invited Nilsson to Israel, is known for its philanthropic activity for a green environment and is cooperating with the Jerusalem Municipality in the International Jerusalem Symposium on Green and Accessible Pilgrimage, which will be held this week as part of the Earth Day events.
Meanwhile, Australian adventure runner Richard Bowles launched the longest run ever along the Israel Trail last Wednesday, hoping to complete the entire 1,009-kilometer (627-mile) path within just 12 days.
Bowles, an ultra-marathon runner, arrived in Israel under the sponsorship of the Shoresh company to run on a track initiated by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which only recently was included on National Geographic magazine’s Epic Trails list.
Amir Ben-David and Lior El-Hai contributed to this report
A rare ritual bath (mikveh) that dates to the late Second Temple period has been exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted in the Kiryat Menachem quarter of Jerusalem, prior to building the Ora–Massua road promoted by the Moriah Company.
According to Benyamin Storchan, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Numerous ritual baths have been excavated in Jerusalem in recent years, but the water supply system that we exposed in this excavation is unique and unusual.
“The ritual bath consists of an underground chamber entered by way of steps. The mikveh received the rainwater from three collecting basins (“otzar”) that were hewn on the roof of the bath, and the pure water was conveyed inside the chamber through channels.
“The ritual baths known until now usually consist of a closed cavity that was supplied with rainwater conveyed from a small rock-cut pool located nearby. The complex that was exposed at this time is a more sophisticated and intricate system.
“The bath was apparently associated with a settlement that was situated there in the Second Temple period. Presumably, due to the rainfall regime and arid conditions of the region, the inhabitants sought special techniques that would make it possible to store every drop of water.
“It is interesting to note that the bath conforms to all of the laws of kashrut, like collecting the water in it naturally without human contact, and ensuring that the water does not seep into the earth which is why the bath was treated with a special kind of plaster.”
The ritual bath, which is located in a picturesque valley where there are ancient agricultural installations, was uncovered a short distance from the houses in the Kiryat Menachem quarter.
According to Jerusalem District Archaeologist Amit Re’em, “The neighborhood community has expressed great interest in the conservation of the mikveh. The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Moriah Company are working to make this delightful treasure a site for the benefit of the residents and visitors.”
After the ritual bath went out of use, the place served as a quarry and the channels filled up with earth. During the 20th century, the immersion chamber was cleaned, a round opening was breached in its ceiling and it was used as a cistern.
Chef Asaf Granit of Machneyuda (Photo: Tom Lahat)
A culinary celebration will be held in Los Angeles on the State of Israel’s 65th Independence Day. The local consulate has decided to divert from the tradition of a holiday reception, and instead offer pro-Israel celebrities in the West Coast of the United States a taste of Israeli wine and gourmet food.
Israel’s consul-general in Los Angeles, David Siegel, has invited the chefs of Jerusalem’s famous Machneyuda restaurant – Asaf Granit and Uri Navon – to cooperate with well-known chefs in LA and present the culinary prosperity in the Israeli kitchen.
The chefs will offer a menu consisting of Machneyuda’s best dishes, replacing the fresh produce of Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market with that of Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.
“In Hollywood there are two options: Either talking about the conflict, and you can talk to yourself about that, or working on issues they are interested in, like television and productions in Israel which we are trying to promote, and bringing food and wine made in Israel to Hollywood,” explained Consul-General Siegel.
“We engage in exposing the different angles of Israel – from high-tech to the industry, to art, cinema and culinary culture.”
As part of the celebrations, the two Israeli chefs will be the guests of Nobu Malibu, which is part of a chain of restaurants co-founded by actor Robert De Niro and Israeli film producer Meir Teper.
The restaurant, which hosts top Hollywood stars, is located on the Malibu beach and has become the meeting place for the likes of Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.
They say that you should commute to work, not to your social life. But these wise words make no mention of where your spiritual life fits into the equation. Sarah Weil lives in Jerusalem because it “nurtures my religious identity. But it offers no expression for my lesbian identity.”
Tired of commuting an hour each way to Tel Aviv to enjoy the frequent lesbian parties there, Weil created Women’s Gatherings Jerusalem to bring her social life a little closer. Since the first gathering in November 2011, which brought together about 50 women – twice what Weil expected – the popularity of the regular gatherings have grown significantly. Clearly, she tapped into a need.
This Saturday, April 13, Women’s Gatherings takes another big step, launching E.V.E., its first dance party. And while it may be focused on the female, Weil is adamant that all are invited. “I’m not trying to create a gay ghetto,” she says. Gay, straight and men are all welcome. But behind the turntables, it’s a women’s world.
Women, women-identified and queer DJs are the stars of E.V.E., which aims to “to provide an open, loving and celebratory queer space and to encourage women’s club music.”
It’s more radical than it sounds, both because the world of DJs and club music is so heavily male-dominated and also because, in Israel, its so Tel Aviv-centric.
“I want to bridge these two cities,” says Weil. “I’m trying to create a DJ scene in Jerusalem.”
Though not a DJ herself, she does enjoy a good dance party. E.V.E. will feature a local DJ as an opening act, followed by a more established woman DJ brought in from Tel Aviv. Weil hopes the sisterhood of the traveling DJs will encourage those in the holy city to up their game.
As Madonna famously sang, “Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on, I want to dance with my baby” and, a few lines later, “Music brings the people together.” Such is Weil’s intention.
“In Jerusalem, there’s such incredible diversity,” she says; politically, religiously, and culturally speaking. “I want to create a space for all that diversity to flourish.”
In the process, Women’s Gatherings is injecting some new energy into Jerusalem, giving “expression to restless creativity, answering some unrequited longings” (as their mission statement says) and, for those who previously had to trek to Tel Aviv for a vibrant nightlight, cutting their commute by quite a bit.
E.V.E.: Saturday, April 13 / Bass Club
Hahistadrut 1, Jerusalem
Doors open 8 P.M.