Last night, I attended a festival that served as the highlight of my time in Jerusalem: Chutzot HaYotzer (Creators’ Festival), the Jerusalem International Arts and Crafts Festival. The excitement was high, the crowds were large, and the atmosphere was truly Israeli.
Chutzot HaYotzer attendees walk through large aisles of booths with dozens of artists. Crafts included jewelry, bags, clothes, houseware, art, and Judaica.
Street performers like ballerina mimes (left) and African percussionists entertained throughout the craft areas.
My friend Andréa looks at a artist’s booth. This artist is selling something you hang on the door that makes a noise when you open the door. “Everybody on the Kibbutzim have these,” she said. “Nobody locks their doors, so this is how you let someone know that you’re coming in.”
The festival also showcases craft booths from countries around the world, like this one from India (in Hebrew, it’s “Hodu,” which actually means turkey, but that’s another discussion). Each country’s booth had beautiful, unique craft items for purchase. No need to travel the world for gifts – just come to the international section of Chutzot HaYotzer!
Each night of the festival, a different Israeli music group performs. Last night, it was Hadag Nachash, which happens to be my favorite Israeli band. They sang some of my favorites, like “Shirat HaSticker” and “Hinei Ani Ba,” as well as some newer ones I haven’t heard yet. The crowd knew every word to every song, and the place was full of Hadag Nachash energy.
Want some food from an Israeli restaurant — any Israeli restaurant? It’s probably at this festival. They had food from every ethnicity and culture in Israel – and most (if not all) of it was kosher. Left: I had a pita with zahatar spice from this booth. Right: I didn’t get pizza from here, but I thought it was funny that the sign says “American Pizza.” I also had a French crepe (banana and Nutella, of course), but it was one of the messiest eating experiences of my life. Good thing I didn’t get a picture of that moment! 🙂
One of the most unusual parts of the festival was Tav Café, a mini outdoor restaurant where actors roamed around, performers walked on stilts, and mini plays were happening at heights high and low. Above, a man balances a crystal ball along his arms and body without dropping it. After the actors finished performing at the end of the night, they opened up the stage for audience members to come up and dance with them. It was theater at its most creative, and I would have loved to have seen even more of it.
What a great way to spend my last night in Jerusalem! I hope I can come back next year!