Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel

   "Ein Karem (Hebrewעֵין כֶּרֶם‬, lit. "Spring of the Vineyard", and Arabicعين كارم‎ - ʿEin Kārem or ʿAyn Kārim; also Ain KaremEin Kerem) is a beautiful tranquil village and neighborhood in Southwest Jerusalem. Surrounded by beautiful natural groves and the breathtaking landscape provided by the Jerusalem Hills, Ein Kerem is worlds away from the bustling center of Jerusalem which is just minutes away. The pretty houses made of local Jerusalem limestone, cobbled narrow streets, sit in the shadow of pretty churches whose bells sound down the streets. An important site for Christians as the birthplace of John the Baptist, Ein Kerem is incredibly popular with Israelis seeking to escape the city." (Source)  

   The village has an interesting history which you can read about here. Indeed it feels like a little village in some far off world. When you live here you really have to remind yourself that you are still in Jerusalem! It is exactly as described above and it's little wonder why it is a popular escape for locals! 

   I have fond memories of Ein Kerem. I arrived in Israel for a visit in 1976. I quickly fell into the "Anglo" music crowd - - English speakers from different parts of the world who played folk, country, blues, old-timey and bluegrass music, Irish, Celtic, British and more. We bonded by way of our language, our cultural backgrounds and our musical interests. 
   Israel was just three years into the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War (some myths & facts: Yom Kippur War). I came to Israel with blinders on. My sole mission was to visit my mother who had moved to Israel in 1967 - after The Six Day War. The aftermath of all Israel's wars is that life goes on. Israelis grow, build, innovate, educate and survive beautifully and miraculously in spite of the hostilities! I came for a visit which turned into a twenty-two year stay. 
   Life was going on in this budding country. As the country grew so did I. It's natural that like seems to find like. We "Anglos", musicians and folk music lovers, found each other at the Tzavta Folk Club on King George Street in Jerusalem. It was an open mic style weekly musical evening. We "Anglos" all very quickly became friends playing music to our hearts delight. I ended up in duos, trios and larger bands - finally with a folk/country/bluegrass group called, "The Jerusalem Folk" (click & listen to our music - it's pretty awesome). I had found my heaven. So what's Ein Kerem have to do with this? 
   A few of the musicians lived in Ein Kerem at that time. We would rehearse often at the Singer's home. In fact, it is here in Israel, of all places, where I learned a wealth of "Anglo" songs, fiddle tunes and guitar styles! My friend, Paul z"l, created a beautiful website about Bluegrass music in Israel and on Facebook. Check out the photos! Can you find me? We also played at a few Square Dance parties in Ein Kerem hosted by more folk music lovers. Those were the days, my friend....

  Ein Kerem has grown tremendously since those wonderful musical days. It is bustling with cafes, restaurants and tourists galore. Tourists occupy the day and the locals enjoy the nightlife. I ventured out to busk a bit and share some of my music. I was joined by Ofer, owner of Ein Kerem HaMetuka (Sweet Ein Kerem) - a local cafe. 

   Ein Kerem is a wonderful place to see lots of people but I have to admit it's not the best place if you are expecting them to drop a few coins into your hat as they walk by. We enjoyed jamming together anyway. 
   So what brings me to Ein Kerem these past few weeks? This is my first experience traveling via the Workaway program. I am staying at the Eco-Bayit experiencing and learning about Sustainability / Permaculture. If you are following my blog then read the next few posts to learn more about Workaway and Eco-Bayit. 


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