Tourist tip #65 / Bezalel craft fair in Jerusalem
A few minutes away from crowded Ben Yeduda Street in Jerusalem is a pleasant neighborhood fair featuring quality arts and crafts from the city's local artisans.
The long pedestrian mall of Ben Yehuda Street in downtown Jerusalem may be bigger, louder, and more commercial, but it can’t compete with the charm and friendly neighborhood vibe of the Bezalel craft fair, held every Friday between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M on Bezalel HaKatan St., a two-minute walk away. Sitting between Bezalel Street and Shmuel HaNagid on the edge of the Nahlaot neighborhood, the fair draws a diverse mix of young hipsters, veteran artists, and a parade of strollers.
This craft market, launched in 2009, is a bit like the younger brother of the arts and crafts market found Tuesdays and Fridays on Nahalat Binyamin in Tel Aviv. It boasts similar wares: handmade jewelry, contemporary Judaica, and funky takes on everyday items, such as wallets and pocketbooks made of old Hebrew comic strips. Among the finds at the several dozen booths are hand-painted challah covers, colorful coasters featuring Warhol-esque depictions of Zionist leaders, avant-garde wind chimes, books, and paintings – all by local Jerusalem artists with items available in any price range - from NIS 10 for key chains to several hundred shekel for more intricate work. There’s even a henna artist on hand for a little body decoration.
The street – more like a wide alley – sits next to the old home of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Israel’s national art school, which was established in 1906. The current campus is located on Mount Scopus, but the historic building at Bezalel 1 still hosts student shows and annual graduate exhibitions. The stone walls surrounding the building frame one side of the alley; the other side is lined with cafes and boutiques, which make the pass a worthy stroll on any other day of the week as well.