(Photo: Shabtai Amedi)

(Photo: Shabtai Amedi)

By Abigail Klein Leichman - March 19, 2017    

Originally appeared here in Israel21c 

On a winter night inside the Mayer Davidov Garage in the Talpiot industrial area of Jerusalem, some 500 university students, mechanics, high-techies and senior citizens — wearing kippahs, kaffiyehs and everything in between — played or cheered on contestants in a backgammon championship accompanied by live Arabic music.

Backgammon (“shesh-besh” in this part of the world) is thousands of years old and remains a popular pastime among Arabs and Jews.

In Jerusalem, a surprising number of them are playing the board game together since the spring 2016 launch of Jerusalem Double, a project of the nonprofit organization Kulna Yerushalayim (We Are All Jerusalem).

“Backgammon is played throughout the Middle East, so we have this game in common. It’s fun, down to earth, accessible and inclusive,” relates Zaki Djemal, one of the founders of Jerusalem Double along with Dror Amedi, Mahmoud Schade, Hiday Goldsmith, Kamel Jabarin, Mahmoud Jamal Al-Rifai, Matan Hayat, Noa Tal-El and Shir Hoory. Read More