I’m a firm believer that people should make good use of nature (sustainably, of course) and not just fence it off in reserves and ‘protected’ spaces to be gazed at from afar. One place that fits the bill is the Valley of the Cross in Jerusalem where, legend has it, the tree upon which Jesus was crucified once grew.
The Valley, a popular spot with joggers, families and bookworms curled up under the gnarled olive trees, usually rings with the sounds of the bells from the huge 11th Century monastery in the middle. But it has been singing a different tune in recent months since one of its quieter corners has become home to mobile sound systems and, this coming Friday afternoon (2 May, 3pm), a live concert by Israeli reggae band Los Caparos. Green spaces should be enjoyed by everyone and hopefully shows like this will coax more people out of their homes (as long as they take their beer cans home with them). The clean air of the Valley beats smoky nightclubs any day.
Although the Valley of the Cross sits in the shadow of the Knesset to the west and the residential neighbourhoods of Rehavia and Kiryat Shmuel to the east, walking along the foot of the biblical hills makes one feels far-removed from both the city and the 21st century. The Valley is part of an almost continuous green belt between Gan Saker, a fairly mundane park-cum-sports-and-barbeque pitch below the Central Bus Station, and the Gazelle Valley which was recently rescued from a property development following a campaign by local residents and ecological groups.
The acoustics for the show, to be held between the monastery and the Israel Museum atop the hill, remain to be tested. Maybe this time the monks will even join in…