In the USA it was the Fourth of July and firework displays that lit up the skies across the 50 states. Here in Jerusalem, the annual light show transformed the Old City brick by brick, building by building, tower after tower into an amazing electric collage. Each year, for a week here in Jerusalem, “The Light Show” makes a bold statement with its intricate tiny flashing bulbs and its enormous lights: Jerusalem on the Fourth, a castle powered in the past with the electricity that keeps our world alive.
Never having seen the show before up close, I made an entry with cousins from abroad into the fantasy land. Thousands of Israelis filled the streets, alleyways and courtyards of the Old City of Jerusalem. Ablaze with brilliant tones, the lights brought out beauty hiding in the crevices for centuries waiting to be seen again and then disappear for another year.
About 10 years ago the municipality of Jerusalem decided that the ancient city itself should be permitted to make a statement for all who came from Israel and from around the world to experience the beauty and spirit of this ancient-modern capitol. This year the tensions, which have existed around Israel’s borders, needed an antidote. The Light Festival provided just that. One became a part of a crowd of all sizes and all ages, moving along while constantly making new discoveries.
As I was about to begin my pilgrimage through the Jaffa Gate, I saw a “new world” which had been created by the multi-layered 3-D images. The wall at the back of the Jaffa Gate plaza was filled with shapes and newly created faces making their electrical illuminated way to Jerusalem, along with all of us about to enter the Gate itself. Dancing on that immense wall, accompanying us, they offered encouragement to all who came to visit a new Jerusalem waiting to be explored.
After getting inside the gate and walking to the next destination, I saw windmills of light, beautifully taking the illumination available and creating a massive nature site, never stopping in its turning into a kinetic scene that pulled at your heartstrings. The sign with it suggested that you look through the prism of freedom, catch the flow of energy, and never hesitate to take a chance.
When I entered the Jewish Quarter, I saw the Hurva Synagogue reflecting the spiritual flow of the centuries. Its dome had so many blinking lights around it, you would never realize that it took so many years to rebuild and now stands aglow with the creation of lights that illuminate the rising sides of the structure as it reaches towards the heavens.
For me, one of the delightful presentations was to be able to paint with water. In front of you, at a certain alley in the Old City, was a large LED screen, which lit up when touched with anything damp. Tiny patches were used by us to draw pictures both large and small, both simple and intricate.
“This Festival in Jerusalem contains light installations together with incredibly melodic local music, creating an unforgettable atmosphere of a fairy tale whose joy and happiness makes the eternal city revive in another cascading spiral of illumination,” one visitor wrote.
I wish that I could have penned this before the festival but then it would just have been constructed from what I read or watched on the internet. How pleased I am, finally, to witness and absorb the beautiful manner in which our city was aglow. The radiant giant picture, piece by piece, enlightened me and many thousands of others seeking to find meaning in a world too focused on those acts that can sully our planet.