JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Jerusalem Day, the Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem following the Six-Day War of 1967, comes alive each year on 28 Iyar with a week of festivities for the young people of Israel’s capital. From concerts to excursions, the city buzzes with activity. This year, like last, Shashmaqom, a platform promoting the culture of Central Asia, joined the weeklong celebration, spearheading a special event: «This is Jerusalem» Poetry Night.

«This is Jerusalem» Poetry Night

The night brought together 10 Jerusalem poets, each with a unique background. Some wrote in their native tongues, while others embraced the new Hebrew language. Yet, all their works shared a common thread: Jerusalem. This multicultural celebration offered a glimpse of the city through diverse eyes, each poet exploring their ever-evolving relationship with this historic place.
The audience itself mirrored Jerusalem’s rich tapestry. Immigrants from various corners of the globe, representing a spectrum of communities, languages, and dialects, filled the venue. They included a repatriated poet from India, a musician from Japan who sings in Ladino, a well-known activist of Persian culture in Israel, and other local and foreign talents. Even among the audience were many immigrant faces. Recognizing the multilingual nature of the program, organizers thoughtfully provided English translations, ensuring everyone could grasp the poems’ and songs’ deeper meanings.
The evening’s special guest, Menuha Dahan, a musician steeped in the tradition of ethnic Jewish songs and prayers, captivated the audience. Growing up in Jerusalem’s Bukharian Quarter, Menuha performed a unique musical rendition of a Psalm, blending her original arrangement with a Bukharian translation. For many, this was a first encounter with Bukharian language and music, sparking a wave of interest and appreciation.

The evening overflowed with powerful impressions and personal stories from immigrants about their experiences in Israel, particularly Jerusalem. For these individuals, the city serves as a muse and an ideal place for creativity. But on this night, Jerusalem transcended its role as a backdrop; it became an intrinsic part of the art itself, as «a city built to unite everything.»

Aaron Paz is visual artist, event organizer, and cultural entrepreneur. He made Aliyah from Samarkand, Uzbekistan in 2008 and lives in Jerusalem. He heads Shashmaqom, a platform for the dissemination of the culture of Central Asia.