Good February Signs in Jerusalem

The sun is shining.

The sky is blue,

and it is warm enough to open the windows.

The snow has melted and it is history,

except for some ugly piles of plowed black stuff

and fallen branches that need to be removed.

February used to be the “quiet” time,

down time between holidays and peak tourism seasons,

but not this February,

and it was hard to keep up with all that is much happening.

Jewish Agency

This week the Jewish Agency for Israel had a meeting

of its Board of Governors, with delegates coming

from around the world to Jerusalem, Israel.

chess sign in Hebrew

The International chess championship may not be a great photo op,

but a tour with 500 tourism professionals from India certainly was.

image woman taking photo of Old City

Starting with the view from Hebrew University on Mt Scopus,

this tour went to The Old City.

Within a few minutes while standing outside

the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,

image foreign tourists.

 were other groups of Indian tourists,

image European tourists

a large orderly group of Estonians,

image black tourists

and these Christian pilgrims who left too fast to ask where they were from.

Another great view and new to me,

image Jerusalem marathon

was the Jerusalem Winner Marathon 2105  launch,

image Nir Barkat and Rami Levy

on the grounds of the St. Andrew’s Guest House.

image nir barkat

Mayor Nir Barkat, holding his official run shirt for the March 13 race,

was all smiles that morning.

Ilanit Melchior

But so was Ilanit Melchior,

Tourism  Director at the Jerusalem Development Authority.

Though many residents resent the street closings and inconvenience,

 this event has brought thousands of tourists

from all over the world each year.

There are signs for things as diverse as

App contest in Jerusalem

a contest for app developers,

children for Islamic Museum

and special programs for children at Islamic Museum.

But, Purim is a week away.

Inbal Hotel

Perhaps, this sign for Shavuot holiday is a joke.

sign for Purim

There is to be a Purim Spiel at the Train Theater,

purim sign in Hebrew

and a sign for reading the Megillah at First Station–

purim sign

Happy Purim.

Then,

time for that other “P” word – Passover!

16 Photos Snow in Jerusalem

A few weeks ago there was supposed to be a big snow storm

in Jerusalem, Israel,

and the word “blizzard” was used a lot.

A little snow started to fall just as it was time

to light Shabbat candles,

so I only managed to take and share two quick photos,

and by the next day it was all gone.

This week I did not hear the “b” word,

though a heavy snowfall was forecast.

The snow started to fall on Thursday night,

boy throwing snowball in Jerusalem

and this could be one of the first snowballs.

snow covered street jerusalem israel

The streets were slippery

man walking in snow Jerusalem

and mostly deserted.

flower in snow in Jerusalem

I took one flower photo,

imaige snow scene Jerusalem

if the warnings were wrong,

I had one ready for the Shabbat Shalom post.

image snow storm Jerusalem

But by morning the snow had accumulated,

image snow scene in Jerusalem Israel

and the Jerusalem streets looked like a winter wonderland.

image Wolfson towers in fog from snow storm

Heavy fog and a white sky added to the wintry scenes.

snow covering ground by Knesset

When fog cleared the Knesset grounds were covered.

image israel museum in snow

This Israel Museum view shows trees covered.

against the white sky.

street scene Jerusalem under snow

Heavy snow stuck to power lines and branches,

Snow in Jerusalem stuck to everything

and just about everything.

image snow plow lone vehicle on busy streets Jerusalem

Most people stayed off the roads in the morning.

snow scene Valley of Cross

The monastery in the Valley of the Cross,

a beautiful and serene scene,

was like a picture postcard.

lemon tree covered in snow and ice Jerusalem storm

But lemon trees

snow covered plants Jerusalem snow storm

and sabra plants covered in snow?

Only in Jerusalem, Israel!

שבת שלום

Shabbat shalom.

Shemitta in Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

Most people know there are Jewish dietary laws

which require the separation of meat and milk.

But I just separated sweet potatoes, peppers and carrots,

from cucumbers and tomatoes.

Why?

image Shmitta in Hebrew

Shmita (or spell it shemitta) is Biblical law.

Shmita park sign with source

We are well into the shemitta year,

which takes on special meaning for those who live in Israel.

Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon has written books on the subject.

He composed colorful charts and calendars to simplify the laws.

image Botanical Gardens Jerusalem Israel

Now in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens,

Shimita park

Rav Rimon has initiated a special section

to show the laws of shemitta.

image Rabbi Lau talking to girls in Shmita park

For the opening ceremony, Chief Rabbi David Lau spoke,

and then took time to speak to a group of students who participated.

garden for shmitta

The park is aimed to get children’s attention,

image shimita park

 and to make things simple enough

image shemitta

for anyone understand.

image shemitta

With information in Hebrew and English,

image in shmita park

there are many examples of what is permissible

and what is not to be done in gardens this year.

shemitta

The Shemitta Park is simple to reach,

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens shmita park

and it is an attractive area

image shmita park

 with more interactive features to come.

Check it out if you are in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Botanical Gardens are a great place to visit.

Once  a garbage dump,

it is now a beautiful and educational outing.

Last Jerusalem International Book Fair?

Could this be the last Jerusalem International Book Fair?

The 27th Jerusalem International Book Fair (JIBF)

was not held in the Jerusalem International Conference Center.

For the first time, it was in a new location, in First Station,

Jerusalem International Book Fair

where some entered from the First Station parking lot.

(In case you are wondering about the sky here,

being inside during a sandstorm was a good idea.)

While others came in through the main area,

past the First Station food mall and shopping area.

image disappearing wall

These people stopped to see the “Disappearing Wall,”

Jerusalem International Book Fair

5000 small blocks of wood with German quotes written,

also in Hebrew and Arabic,

(some of which were lost in the translation) that attracted all ages.

At night the wall was an empty acrylic form,

as people were happy to remove the blocks and keep them.

 Austria, Spain, Romania, Germany, Poland, Russia,

United Kingdom, Italy and United States were represented at the fair,

but it was a small fraction of former years.

Jerusalem International Book Fair

One night, a crowd gathered by the German booth

Jerusalem International Book Fair

for this food and wine.

Opening night of JIBF had more than one event,

that attracted large crowds.

speaker at Jerusalem book fair

There were lectures and programs all week, some held in

 the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Mishkenot Sha’ananim

and the Khan Theatre, all auditoriums that are located near by.

Magazine at book fair

As usual, not just books

but also magazines were for sale.

Jerusalem International Book Fair

Authors were available to meet readers and fans,

Rabbi Adin Steinsalts

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz–Rav Adin Even Yisrael–

was available at JIBF one night.

Jerusalem International Book Fair

Besides Germany, Austria had a nice size display.

But books from the United States and some Israeli sources,

were noticeably missing.

Each time I went to JIBF,

it was great fun to see and talk with friends,

looking at books and even buying some.

But as an international book fair,

it felt like the international and book components

were sadly lacking this year.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

Beware:

Heavy traffic and long lines near car wash locations.

 In much of Israel this week,

image of Knesset in sandstorm

a sandstorm was so heavy it was hard to see,

and breathing was difficult.

It was not a pretty picture.

Then, cold, strong winds came and blew and blew.

It only rained a little in Jerusalem, Israel,

enough to leave mud covering everything, especially cars.

Finally,

image Jerusalem Israel clear cay

the sky cleared,

the sun came out,

time to admire the flowers again.

image Shabbos

שבת שלום

Jerusalem Destruction and Return

A fascinating new exhibit has opened

at the Bible Lands Museum (BLMJ)

in Jerusalem, Israel, called

image sign Bible Lands Museum

 “By the Rivers of Babylon” or Al Naharot Bavel.

Though located across from the Israel Museum and near the Knesset,

image Museum

I had not been inside the BLMJ for a few years.

The new exhibit starts with the story of the siege of Jerusalem

found in the Bible

cuneifrom tablet

and  recorded on this ancient stone tablet.

image BLMJ video

This video begins with a warning

that there are indeed sad parts to the story.

image destruction first temple

 The end of Jewish kings and life in Jerusalem,

end of first temple

 and the end of the First Temple in 589 BCE.

image broken pottery

Destruction so complete,

ancient jug

that the intense heat of the burning of Jerusalem

 deformed this earthen storage jar.

 The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia,

image return to Zion

and there on the rivers of Babylon told their story,

for generation after generation.

Many Jews returned to Zion with the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah,

but many wealthy families remained.

Now 2500 years later,

image ancient writing

these small cuneiform tablets finally tell us their story.

Though they look more like breakfast cereal or doggie biscuits,

these are well-preserved ancient business records of rentals, loans and taxes,

that parallel the names, places and dates of Biblical stories.

Over the centuries, Babylon became Iraq,

 where descendants of those exiled Jews lived until 1950-1952,

when their communities were forced to leave for their safety.

For the first time in over two millennia

there are no Jews in exile in Babylon,

as they have returned to Zion.

Israeli flags

As some try to rewrite history with “narratives,”

here are real records,

written in stone,

found and shown to public for first time

in this exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum.