09.13.2021

 

 

Closing the Circle

 

There are small moments within larger events when you realize that something significant, meaningful is happening. “The penny drops” so to speak, and you sense the deep moment you are engaged in  and the magnitude of what is being accomplished.

 

A moment like that happened last week when we celebrated the opening of the Davidson Theatre, the new home of the Train (Puppet) Theater. After more than three years of hard work, a new “jewel” of the Jerusalem Foundation was inaugurated, with thanks to the Davidson Family, another “jewel in the crown” of cultural institutions established by the Jerusalem Foundation throughout the city. The campus, with the Davidson Theatre at its center, has an unconventional design and layout. Much thought and creativity was invested in the design to establish a cultural center appropriate to the character of the Train Theater – a new destination for children and the whole family, and also a vibrant cultural hub where additional events will take place at night, long after the children are in bed, dreaming of images inspired by the performances they saw in the very same place.

 

During the ceremony, between the speeches, two historic images were projected on the large screen: Teddy Kollek at the Train Theater 40 years ago, at the opening ceremony and at a performance. In the photos you can see the old blue train wagon, which was found in a scrap yard in Tel Aviv and brought to Jerusalem to be transformed into a puppet theater. It was thanks to four young and imaginative artists that this discarded junk was turned into a well-known cultural institution for 40 years, hosting the International Puppet Festival for the last 30.

 

 

The Theater’s founder, Mario Kotliar, had a vision for expanding the building and shared it with Teddy Kollek – and today the dream has come true.

 

The Jerusalem Foundation and Mayor Moshe Lion and the Jerusalem Municipality, were able to close this circle and bring the vision to reality. It is during a moment like the opening ceremony of this amazing project that one can understand the long-term significance of acts in the city of Jerusalem. The simple images of the theater’s beginnings gave me, as someone who was privileged to work with Teddy Kollek, that moment of perspective and satisfaction of knowing that we were completing Teddy’s plan for this tremendous site and project in the new building.

 

We continue with Teddy’s vision for the city, which today we call “Jerusalem 2030” and the Train Theater’s new home is yet another milestone in our plans for Creative Culture.    The vision is even more clear when you connect the  Davidson Theatre to the “Cultural Mile,” a chain of cultural “jewels” established by the Jerusalem Foundation, starting from the Khan Theater, continuing to the Cinematheque, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the Jerusalem Music Center, the Tower of David Museum, and of course the Koret Liberty Bell Park itself, inside which the Davidson Theatre campus now sits, alongside the open air amphithearter and much more.

 

Not far away, and another new addition to the Jerusalem Foundation cultural mile, is the site of the new building being planned for the Jerusalem Hassadna Conservatory. Our work continues, and the new Conservatory building is another part of our 2030 vision, developing future leadership, supporting creative culture and strengthening community.

 

The two historic images shown at the ceremony resonated inside of me and the vision that I have been committed to since the days of Teddy, has found its way to the present day.

 

It was a fitting way to end this past year, a not-so-simple and challenging year, but a year that ended with a great deal of optimism for the future, even for the near future.

 

These days, Jerusalem is buzzing with cultural activities and events: not only within cultural institutions and buildings designated for these purposes, but in all parts of the city, and in all kinds of spaces. This was made possible through the support of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation for the new “CultureSeries” developed and carried out by the Jerusalem Foundation, in all neighborhoods of the city.  This incredible series is another source of inspiration and provides the optimism which we all need for working in a city like Jerusalem.

 

There are a few more good reasons to be optimistic and hopeful, but I’ll leave them for next time…

In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year – a year full of health and activity and my wish that your visions and dreams come true.

 

Shai Doron
Jerusalem Foundation President