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Cities in Israel Boast Distinct Culture, From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Cities in Israel Boast Distinct Culture, From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Tel Aviv, night sky line; The Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall in Jerusalem's old city. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images; Gali Tibbone/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 23 September 2014 01:16 PM

The cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel couldn’t be more different as both have their own distinct cultures that allow them to have their own identities.

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is considered one of the oldest cities in the world. It was believed to have been first settled around 3000 B.C., and King David established the city as the center of the Jewish kingdom around 1000 B.C.

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Jerusalem, rich in biblical history, has a population of more than 800,000, of which Jews make up 64 percent. There were “499,400 Jewish residents, 281,100 Muslim residents, 14,700 Christian residents, 200 Druze and a further 9,000 residents who were not classified by religion in Interior Ministry records. Jerusalem residents make up some 10 percent of Israel’s total population” in 2011, the Times of Israel wrote.

The “Old City” is divided into four distinct quarters that have their own cultures and churches that are reflective of their religious beliefs. Those are the Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian quarters.

Jerusalem celebrates its rich history, culture, and ethnic diversity annually with a series of events called “Jerusalem Season of Culture.” These events run from the middle of May and end in July, celebrating art, food, music, dance, and poetry.

According to The Jerusalem Post, many of the events are interactive, such as “Under the Mountain” that is about the “creation of art based on the interaction of people in public spaces.”

The 2012 events featured political karaoke, performed with people making political speeches instead of singing.

“The aim was to break down walls between art, public life and politics,” Karen Brunwasser, one of the founders of the festival, told the Post in 2013.

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The Sacred Music Festival has also been celebrated in various places of worship across the Old City.

“It’s about holy music, not necessarily religious music,” Brunswasser said. “We take the notion of what’s scared to someone, and invite people to celebrate it without judgment.”

Due to the fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas organization, the “Jerusalem Season of Culture” events for 2014 were postponed for safety reasons in July.

While separated by less than an hour drive, Tel Aviv is a sharp contrast age-wise from Jerusalem — mainly that that it has only existed since 1909 as the first Hebrew city.

“Tel Aviv has become a central hub of modern, Hebrew culture, celebrating the revival of the language in literature, and the arts,” according to Tel Aviv’s municipal government website. “At the same time, the city has always remained committed to world-class artistic activity, with internationally renowned institutions such as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israel Opera, The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Bat Sheva Dance Troupe, numerous theatres, and many others.”

In addition to being considered Israel’s "culture capital," Tel Aviv is proud of its film industry. According to Tel Aviv University’s website, most of Israel's successful directors, screenwriters and film critics all began their careers at the university and students continue to organize the International Student Film Festival, the largest event of its kind in the world every other year.

“With its large cadre of young and motivated filmmakers and as the set location for major Israeli film productions, Tel Aviv has found itself at the center of Israel's film culture and industry and hosts multiple international film festivals a year,” according to the website.

According to Tel Aviv’s city guide website, the city is secular and a place that attracts people in their 20s and 30s looking for “better jobs” and various forms of entertainment.

Jews make up about 90 percent of Tel Aviv’s while Muslim or Christian Arabs are about 4 percent of the more than 404,000 population.

“The other Tel Aviv groups are made up mostly of foreign workers from Asia and refugees and migrants workers from Africa," the site says. "While Tel Aviv also hosts three religions, same as in Jerusalem, there is nothing holy about it, and in spite of the 500 plus synagogues, it is more cosmopolitan, international and laidback than religious in any meaningful way.”

Tel Aviv is also a tolerant city for the gay community, according to the city guide, “fast becoming an ultimate gay tourist destination.”

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The cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel couldn't be more different as both have their own distinct cultures that allow them to have their own identities.
cities, in, israel, culture, tel aviv, jerusalem
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 01:16 PM
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