Want to know what it feels like to be on top of the world? Come to Acre's celebration of Mediterranean culture as the city hosts 160 "castellers" from Barcelona who will create their traditional human towers on the city's boardwalk May 24 and 25.
Originating in the 18th century in the Tarragona region, groups called "colles" organize to create human towers reaching up to nine storeys high. Nenys Lazerovitch, an Israeli chef who has lived in Barcelona says that it is an amazing sight to see. "Each town or city quarter has their own team, it's almost like belonging to the scouts in Israel," he says, "they meet twice a week to practice, then hang out and have a beer."
Creating these towers or "castells" requires strength, skill and practice. At the base are men between 40-50 years old who bear the brunt of the weight. The last one up is a young child who waves his arms to salute the crowd upon reaching the top.
The city of Acre has experienced its share of hardship in recent years, with conflicts between Israeli-Jews and Israeli-Arabs making headlines. Mayor Shimon Lankri says, "We are taking the differences between cultural groups as a starting point for changing the city's image. We want to embrace Acre's multicultural nature, its history and traditions."
Viewing Acre as a center of Mediterranean culture creates a common bond that not only connects the diverse local population but extends to the entire region.
Taking inspiration from Barcelona as a model of success, the festivities will include music from La Carrau, who draw on traditional Catalonian influences - from food and wine to art. Acknowledging that change requires time, Lankri is committed to "working with the difficulties, not focusing on conflict, but on what we have in common."
Festivities begin Sunday, May 24 at 5 p.m. with tower building commencing around 7 p.m. between Ben Ami and Herzl Streets. Another tower will be built on the soccer field to celebrate laying the cornerstone for the new stadium on May 25 at 4:30 p.m.
The writer blogs at midnighteast.com