Jerusalem Sukkot Ready or Not

Jerusalem Sukkot Ready or Not

Sukkot.

Ten years ago, the first RJS blog was published on Sukkot – Holiday Crowds in Jerusalem.

The holiday season crowds in Jerusalem, Israel, have arrived again.

The first day of the holiday was a beautiful day, but the next day there was a sound and and light show the likes of  I have never seen in Jerusalem.

Thunder and lightning went on and on, long enough to finally get a good video on the 7th attempt.

Open sukkah with President Shimon Peres

The late President Shimon Peres hosted the Beit Hanasi open houses back in the early days of RJS.

Beit Hanasi sukka decorating with Ruvi Rivlin and children

This year President Reuven Rivlin invited children into his sukkah to help him decorate.

Israeli Presidential cat in garden at Beit Hanasi

The Presidential Cat was in the garden to supervise.

Sukkah at Beit Hanasi for the Israel President

Children were busy making decorations and paper chains.

As Sukkot holiday approaches in Jerusalem,

Lookup!

Jerusalem building with a sukkah

Sukkot are popping out on porches,

Jerusalem sukkah on a porch made of wood

on a low balcony,

Jerusalem sukkah on a porch

or on stilts to support the sukkah as it extends off the porch.

Jerusalem large sukkah for a restaurant

Restaurants need a large sukkah to accommodate holiday crowds.

The sukkot in the above photos have bamboo mats used on top as s’chach. 

Jerusalem boy cutting palm branch for top of sukkah

This is the time of year in Jerusalem to trim the palm trees, so that the large branches can be put on top of the sukkah.

sukkos

Searching for the perfect species in the main market near Machane Yehuda is an annual sight.

Sukkos in Jerusalem people selling lulav and estrog

In Jerusalem, also, popup shops for lulav and etrog were easy to find.

Sukkot birchat kohanim 5780 at Kotel

Tens of thousands gathered at the Kotel, the Western Wall, for Birchat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing which was broadcast live.

These were the usual sights throughout Jerusalem, Israel this week.

But I will end with ‘not your average sukkah’  –

Sukka photo, Image unusual sukkah

While nothing has been quite like this sukkah on a camel from years ago,

here is another unique sukkah, outside of Heichal Shlomo on King George Street.

Sukkah for Jerusalem Biennale reflective on King George Street

As part of the Jerusalem Biennale, is this ‘reflective sukkah’. The outside walls work as distorted mirrors. Look closely, see if you can find me in the photo?

The plaza in front of the Great Synagogue is in the background.

I hope this last photograph does not make you dizzy.

This week of Sukkot holiday meals and the overwhelming number of events did make me dizzy.

So much happening on the Jerusalem streets on Sukkot!

And you never know what will happen next.

Thunder and lightning on Monday night and again on Tuesday afternoon!

Jerusalem Sukkot thunder and lightning storm on Sukkot

When they say something moves as fast as lightning, yes, it moves fast and is hard to capture.

Many sukkot were blown down in the stormy weather.

Jerusalem home sukkah

I am now more satisfied to share this year’s modest decorations.

Happy that our sukkah is still standing!

Moadim L’simcha! 

 

 

Jerusalem Season of Holidays

Jerusalem Season of Holidays

What a glorious week in the neighborhood!

The Jerusalem, Israel, streets were lined with fall flowers bursting with color.

After a surprise early rain on Shabbat the air is clear under a blue sky.

Yemin Moshe fall flowers

The streets of Yemin Moshe are more marvelous than usual.

Yemin Moshe tourist walking down steps Jerusalem I

I hope all those tour groups appreciated the beauty as they walked.

Pomegranates and flowers near Herzl in Beit Hanasi garden

After so many times at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, for the first time, this week I noticed the pomegranates growing next to Herzl.

Jerusalem Valley of the Cross

What a view from the new lookout point over the Valley of the Cross!

Shana tova on Jerusalem street sgn

Shana Tova! Have a Good Year! say the signs over Jerusalem streets.

Music in the Sultan’s Pool, music in Kikar Safra, and musical selihot and songs in so many locations.

Tens of thousands filled the Kotel, Western Wall, plaza and the entire area for the annual midnight selihot before Yom Kippur. 

Selihot at Beit Hanasi 2019 with 500 people

For the sixth year, President Rivlin hosted a selihot service with music. Bigger every year, this event had 500 guests in the back garden next to the synagogue.

Selihot at beit hanasi 5780

IDF soldiers, students in pre-military programs, and members of the daily morning prayer group were all invited.

Music before the selihot prayers with Shai Tsabari and Akiva Tourgeman.

Music for selihot at Beit Hanasi

The crowd clapped and often sang along.

Large screens showed those outside what was happening inside the synagogue, and the President came out also.

By the end of the service and singing, it was close to midnight

Yom Kippur this year starts the night of October 8 and goes until nightfall on October 9.

According to IDI surveys, 60.5% of Jewish Israelis plan to fast on Yom Kippur, a significant drop from 73% in 1994.

Only around a quarter of Jewish Israelis (23%) plan on attending all the synagogue services.

But the streets should be quiet with no buses, trains or vehicles, only cyclists.

Jerusalem Israel holiday signs

New signs are up for the holiday season in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem on Sukkos signs on street

Too many concerts and activities to list now.

Holiday Parade signs on Jerusalem streets for Sukkos

The Jerusalem Parade, with thousands of international marchers and hundreds of colorful costumes, will fill the Jerusalem Streets.

So much happening in Jerusalem, Israel, this season of holidays.

In Jerusalem From Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

In Jerusalem From Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

In Jerusalem, Israel, before the Rosh Hashana holiday season, the variety of items for sale seems infinite. It is a time to purchase new clothes and pots and flowering plants, and for many also a time to clean.

Window cleaner stories above ground

Entering an apartment building, we looked up to see a window cleaner at work stories above us.

Plans are made either to travel or arrange seats in synagogues to pray and hear the shofar blown.

Annual Rosh Hashana ‘raising the glass’ celebrations were held at business and government offices.

One of my favorites is the reception held at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, before the Jewish New Year.

Diplomats arriving for Rosh Hashana

The red carpet is laid out. The State Chief of Protocol from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meron Reuben, greeted the arriving heads of mission for foreign diplomats.

Beit Hanasi diplomats before Rosh Hashana

With so many new ambassadors it is a good time for the international representatives to meet. There are 18 female ambassadors serving their countries in Israel.

Most of the male ambassadors wore business suits, as at the previous reception. 

Cat at President's house in garde

The Presidential cat was on watch, a sign of a special gathering.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister

While waiting in the main room before the president arrived, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely had a chance to talk with ambassadors.

Ambassadors to Israel from Jordan and Egypt at Presidents house reception

Of note this year in the front row, the only person in military uniform was B.G. Alaa Abu-Rukun, the new Military Secretary to the President of Israel, seated between the Ambassadors from Egypt and Jordan.

Jordan Ambassador shaking hands with President Rivlin in Jerusalem Israel

President Reuven Rivlin entered shaking hands with Ambassador from Jordan and others who stood as he passed to his seat.

Diplomats at Beit Hanasi for New Year reception

The room appeared full. I missed seeing the Ambassadors from Australia and the United States.

Ambassadors to Israel from Thailand and Slovak Republic

But had the pleasure to meet the Ambassadors from Thailand and the Slovak Republic,

New Year reception at Beit Hanasi for diplomatic corps

The head of the Diplomatic corps offered greetings during the formal program.

President Rivlin spoke as well.

Beit Hanasi piano played by 12 year old boy with autism

Musical protege Roi Mor, diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, has perfect pitch and played two of his compositions on the piano during the event. You could barely see the top of his head as he was seated at the piano.

Wine for New Year's toast at Israeli Presidents house for diplomats

Then it was time to go outside and ‘raise a glass’ to toast the New Year.

Reception in garden at Beit Hanasi for Rosh Hashana

Fruit platters, and of course, apples and honey round out the menu.

Photo of table with Rosh Hashana pomegranates and apples and honey

The presentation was much more elaborate two years ago when this event was last held.

President Rivlin with wine and apples and honey for Rosh Hasahana

President Rivlin put on a kippa to make a blessing on his wine and apples dipped in honey.

Last year because of time or budget, or perhaps Nechama Rivlin’s declining health, this reception did not take place.

Nechama Rivlin in 2016 without oxygen at Beit Hanasi reception

When I went to check previous Rosh Hashana receptions, I realized that only 3 years ago, she walked in without oxygen support.

Ambassador from Jordan shaking hands with Israel President Rivlin in Jerusalem at Beit Hanasi gardens

Ambassadors lingered in the Beit Hanasi garden to wish the Israeli President Shana Tova.

Diplomats at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

This is an important time for the diplomats to meet and mingle in a relaxed setting. More modest was fine. Most of those attending were new and did not remember the previous more elaborate affairs.

Gol Kolev with apple and honey at Beit Hanasi

Important are the apples and honey for a sweet year!

Israel President's Residence traffic outside.

As always, when the Presidential Rosh Hashana reception was over.  Traffic on Jerusalem streets near Beit Hanasi slowed to a crawl,  as diplomats were picked up and driven to their next appointments.

Photographers at Israel President Residence

The media ignored this event, but my friend Aleksandr and I enjoyed it.

Four years ago, Aleksandr pushed me into the crowded men’s section at the President’s synagogue so I could to get my shots, we have often worked together.

So to prepare for Yom Kippur 5780 which is Wednesday next week, here are videos from past years of selihot at Beit Hanasi.

With Yitzhak Meir and my close-ups.

Traditional prayers with Chaim Israel two years ago at Beit Hanasi.

Powerful – David D’Or’s Avenu Malkeinu.

The Jerusalem Municipality is sponsoring multiple traditional Selihot, musical selihot nights and tours, and events.

Tens of thousands will fill the plaza for late-night selihot at the Kotel, Western Wall before Yom Kippur.

Wishing all a גמר חתימה טובה,

may you be signed and sealed in the book of life.