This post is part of a series highlighting our 2022-23 Israel Innovation and Impact grantees. We are proud to share their progress with our community!
FeelBeit is a groundbreaking culture house and arts incubator on the border between East and West Jerusalem. It began in 2019 as a pop-up project of Mekudeshet, an award-winning festival that creates original art and music to bridge across divides in the world’s most contested city. Today, FeelBeit is a permanent fixture of Jerusalem’s arts and civil society scenes, curated and run jointly by artists and creatives from different religions, nationalities, orientations and perspectives; together, we seek antidotes to polarization and dehumanization. Our facility, which features a performance venue, gallery and co-working space, stands atop the Sherover Promenade, a stunning public park between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods that has long been underutilized due to inter-communal tensions, but which we are now renewing as a shared space for all through cultural programming.
This winter, FeelBeit presented the Art of Meeting, which was generously sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. It featured a robust program of cultural events (music, ideas salons, parties, art talks, community events) designed to bring together diverse populations. The Art of Meeting succeeded beyond expectations, attracting 6,000 participants who ran the gamut of ages, nationalities, religious orientations and perspectives that make up Jerusalem. This included parity between Jewish and Arab participants.
As part of the project, FeelBeit opened a cozy, winter bar that offered an open platform for content created directly by our community and provided a reliable refuge for tolerant and open-minded people from all populations. Other highlights included master classes for ultra-Orthodox artists, multi-lingual salon conversations with some of the most groundbreaking thinkers and entrepreneurs in Israel, holiday events that celebrated the diverse religious traditions that make up Jerusalem, Arabic music events that appealed to Israelis and Palestinians alike, workshops for groups and delegations interested in FeelBeit’s model of arts as a force for social change, and more. The Art of Meeting also offered a chance to pilot new artistic formats and audience outreach strategies, which we will now scale up in our summer programming.
The Federation’s support has meaningfully strengthened FeelBeit’s statues as the beating heart of an eco-system for artists and audiences aspiring to shared society. As Israel contends with one of the most dramatic crises in its history, FeelBeit provides an alternative to the polarization tearing society apart. Now more than ever, we stand firm in our conviction that when all else breaks down, art must break through.