Women in Prison and Liars on Stage: Ideas for a Refreshing Summer Break

Clear Jerusalem air, a series about prisoners, a reality show in Eilat and an air-conditioned theater. A few tips for the sweltering season.

Keeping with the custom of the best magazines in Israel and abroad (though I must say I prefer the foreign ones with the waterproof and sweatproof glossy paper), I hereby offer my own tips for a refreshing summer break:

The holy city. This city that seems to close itself in when the weather turns rainy and chilly, is a brilliant place to be in the summer. With the right company, there’s nothing more pleasant than to sit in the open, non-humid air at a sidewalk cafe on the Shatz Street pedestrian mall (I especially recommend Nadi, Bezalel, or further up the street, Nocturno), or in the spacious plaza of the new Chakra restaurant, which is open on Shabbat (not so common in Jerusalem) on King George Street above Independence Park.

I’m also very fond of the broad garden of the Link Cafe across the street, near the start of Hamaalot Street. Whenever I walk from there to Ussishkin Street, I privately mourn my friend Miri’s Cafe Besograyim at the corner of Ussishkin and Narkis Streets. On the site of this wonderful cafe, which had a garden and balcony and private rooms inside, a high-rise building is now taking shape. The builders apparently are hoping that it will collapse and thus spare them the need to preserve the building so they can build another unnecessary high-rise in a city that has already seen its share of recent architectural disasters. I prefer to stay away from the cafes on Emek Refaim in the German Colony, for religious reasons. Nearly all, except for the one at the Smadar Cinema, which is open on Shabbat, are strictly kosher.

For some reason, the prices for breakfast at Jerusalem cafes are much higher than in the Tel Aviv cafes, and it’s also hard to find a business lunch deal. A pasta dish (quite excellent, admittedly) plus a hot drink at Cafe Mizrahi in the Mahaneh Yehuda market costs more than the business lunches in some of the best Tel Aviv restaurants, where you get a first course, main course and a drink. Is the shortage of business lunches a consequence of the absence of businesspeople in the capital? I wonder. Apparently the holy city is not a very competitive market.

Women in prison

So if you are in Jerusalem, and have the good fortune, as I did, to stay with a wonderful friend who happens to live in the nicest place in town, Gan Rehavia, or in a heat-proof stone building in some other nice neighborhood (I must note here that my map of Jerusalem begins in the Baka neighborhood and passes through the German Colony, Old Katamon, Talbieh, Rehavia to the upper part of downtown, bordering Nahlaot), and if you’re no longer at the age to be looking for a pub or bar (of which there are many in Jerusalem, actually) as the place to spend the evening, and if this hospitable friend of yours has a subscription to HOT, do yourself a favor and spend two nights watching every episode of the fantastic show “Orange is the New Black.”

A quick jaunt to Eilat

So you’ve returned to Tel Aviv? Don’t let anyone convince you that in the evenings on the beach, you can enjoy a sea breeze. A breeze is the invention of real estate agents. Just yesterday we nearly died from the heat while sitting at Fortuna de la Mar restaurant at the marina, right on the water, and we were even scolded by the bartender for wearing short sleeves and not wearing a tank top or something strapless (a choice I made out of consideration for the aesthetic feelings of other members of the human race).

Forget searching for a breeze or any little gust of cool air in August. Stay home and watch all the episodes of the endearing reality show “What Happens in Eilat VIP.” Pay special attention to the pair known as “Tiras-Sexual” (Tal Tringal and Yoran Davidy, two comics and musicians who have no God) who play the part of the chorus in a Greek tragedy. They also make a witty but compassionate response team, and the exploits of Avivit Bar Zohar give them ample opportunity to display their comic talents. By the way, this same Avivit Bar Zohar turns out to be a brilliant stroke of casting. Compared to her, one starts to think − mistakenly − that Lihi Griner is actually quite an intelligent young woman with great humor and musical talents, unlike Bar Zohar, who claims over and over that “I was famous before you were famous.” The howling sound that comes out of her mouth when she attempts to sing − with utter self-confidence, it goes without saying − makes even cats in heat run for their lives.

Liars on stage

Hate reality shows? Don’t have a television at home on principle? (Your kids only play with handcrafted wooden toys or educational games and make their own ice cream from carob powder?) The electricity bill scares you? Go to the theater. This time of year the theater halls have great air conditioning, and it’s included in the price of the ticket! Aside from the terrific “Mother Courage,” which we raved about last week, you can also enjoy the Beit Lessin production of “La Verite” (“The Truth”), a marvelous French play by young playwright Florian Zeller, about the various shades of lying and the ethics of the liar. It’s an unromantic comedy directed with precision by Moshe Kepten and superbly acted by master of comic timing Lior Ashkenazi and the very clever Yaron Motolla, both of whom also happen to be quite pleasant to look at (Hila Zittoun and Michal Levi are also excellent). No one in the audience will fail to see themselves or their loved ones in these characters, who remind us all of what we should have known long before, namely that we’re all liars on one level or another. A chill-inducing thought, indeed − just what we need in the heat of August.