Some might know the sentence: In Haifa you work, in Tel Aviv you Party and in Jerusalem you pray. It’s true that every city has her own spirit, but many underestimate the strength that lies in Jerusalem through its variety of people. A village feeling in a big city, where people know one another and are easy-going. There is a special atmosphere which places like Bait Alliance help to create. A place not spoken about here yet, as difficult to seize by the amount of divers activities.
Bait Alliance (Alliance House), with the organisation New Spirit, is situated in an old house in the shouk which was an ancient school building abandoned for 20 years. Supposed to become a hotel, the idea was put aside during the 2nd Intifada, seen as too unsafe. The owner decided to give the building temporary to New Spirit. A permission to stay until the constructions for the hotel start, open doors for creating an artist community in town.
The organisation New Spirit started in 2003. It was created by students, who wished to strengthen the artistic and cultural aspect of Jerusalem. They believe that art and culture can enforce the infrastructure of the city and keep young creative people from fleeing to Tel Aviv or abroad, as well as guarantee the mixity of people in the city. The office which was located before in Talpiot, lives now since 1 year Bait Alliance.
Starting small, New Spirit has developed incredibly and connects more and more people together. Not only does Bait Alliance host a well known realistic painting class lead by Hershberg, but also a “School for Music and Silence” independent collective for active music which wishes to go against the academic university system and invites its own professors to exchange knowledge and learn from one another. The building hosts as well the dance company “C.A.T.A.M.O.N“, a theatre group for professionals called “The Branja“, the photography and video collective “Alliance 7” which makes regular exhibitions, “Kwish 1” (Road 1, that leads from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) a magazine for culture, creativity, spirit and soul which organises celebrations for dead poets birthdays, writing courses and other… We even find an art studio of orthodox women and “U’Baharta”, a group for Ex Ultra-Orthodox who organises film evenings to catch up with the general culture of a non-religious lifestyle, do lectures of converted people, make Thursday evening traditional Cabbalat Shabbat dinners and much more. All with the idea to strengthen one another and create a home for people that went out of their society. To find hold in a new life outside of the ultra-orthodox community.
While some of these groups and organisations existed before, others added to the house.
Bait Alliance has a common kitchen for everyone and a study room for thesis students, for whom they organise regular going outs. The aim is to get to know one another: neighbours, students, religious and non-religious.
Also a collective of fashion designers from Jerusalem has here a space to create their works. In the open studios you can look at the designers working and buy articles straight away.
The next project, which has its opening the 15th of May, is a big free study space for everyone (something that is missing in Jerusalem terribly!) With Wi-Fi and even kitchen!
Bait Alliance is an independent project, financed a little by the Jerusalem Foundation, but mostly donations. The team does a great job in regularly organising events, bringing people closer and giving a big boost to the cultural sphere of the city. It opens possibilities, making people believe in Jerusalem and wanting to stay.
It’s places like these that give opportunities for developing ideas and energy for changes. Keeping things moving and evolving… The city sees herself enriched and alive!!!
Thanks a lot to Yael Hershcovitz for giving me a tour of Bait Alliance and having taken the time to explain everything to me about New Spirit. Also thanks to Addi Sheffi for the pictures! All in all, congratulations to this beautiful team.