Shabbat Shalom

I was in the Old City last night,

as the sun was setting, the sky still blue.

Not as many people around,

but I walked home at night alone, stopping to talk with friends.

These quiet evenings do not make headlines.

Shabat poster

שבת שלום

Jerusalem to Eilat

Today the sun is shining in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem spring flowers

The daffodils in the Botanical Gardens are in bloom.

But last week was very cold,

and for the first time we drove south to Eilat.

Once we left the Judean Hills,

road to Eilat

 there are long stretches of road in the desert,

sign to beware of camels

lined with camel warning signs.

camels at rest stop

Not sure if these camels were real,

ostrich in Negev

but this ostrich was running along a fence.

Bedouin along road

Bedouin encampments,

Bedouin along highway

have popped up everywhere.

I always thought Eilat is far.

Well, nothing in Israel is that far!

We did stop once on the way down,

the distance is similar to that of NY to Baltimore.

IDF soldier gets drink

In the rest stop this was a favorite sign.

Another interesting sign on the road was

road to Eilat

this one is to warn of a road closed due to flooding.

I now understand why people run to see areas like this

flooding sign

when they are covered by streams of rushing water.

It is hard to imagine deep water here,

but these markers are in many locations on the road.

Then there is the huge Ramon Crater,

Timma desert Raomn crater

an impressive sight stretching for as are as you can see.

But from that crater outlook

you must go down,

Road to Eliat

twisting around and down,

danger sign

on curves and sharper curves.

Once in Eilat the views

of the water from beachfront hotels

Jordan view from hotel in Eilat

are picture postcard perfect.

Remember,

Jordan view from Eilat hotel

Jordan is this close,

and Egypt is just on the other side.

We went to see the Israman (Israeli Ironman) race.

Sunrise water start of Israman

At dawn nearly 2000 men and women

swam in the cold water.

Then after a quick change, they jumped on their bikes,

and pedalled up the Eilat Mountains.

Bike start Israman in Eilat hills

They left their bikes here for UPS trucks to take back to city,

and then they set off running a full or half marathon course,

back to Eilat near the starting point.

Bart Candel of the Netherlands came in first again this year.

But I think every one who finished the race

was a winner.

Israman

Imagine doing this course with one leg?

There were lots of other inspirational stories,

maybe I will share them another time.

On the way back to Jerusalem

new Ramon Airport near Eilat

we passed the site of the new Ramon Airport

desert

and fields of solar panels.

The Dead Sea may be shrinking,

but it still seems big as you drive along.

warning sink holes

These beware of sink hole signs warn of serious

Sink holes near Dead Sea

sink holes along the Dead Sea.

Back to Jerusalem,

Jerusalem bus with Shema Yisrael on side

where else would one find these new bus signs?

“Listen, Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.”

Tu B’Shevat in Jerusalem

It’s raining. It’s pouring.

It was so windy I refused to go outside.

Jerusalem, Israel, was bone chilling cold.

The eastern US coast was buried under mountains of snow.

But it was Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees,

 in spite of the winter weather today.

 Scenes from last week,

seem much more appropriate for this holiday, than grey fog.

 The flowers in pots were overflowing,

flowers outside Beit Hanasi

outside of Beit Hanasi, Israeli President’s House,

for all to see.

Israeli President's garden

Inside, the row of former Israeli Presidents greets visitors,

cat at Israeli presidents home

and the resident cat was enjoying the sun.

This cat is there all the time,

but most people do not get to enjoy the gardens.

Therefore, in honor of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of Trees,

I took special photos to share the landscape with you.

inside gate garden

Trees line the left front walk way inside,

inside entrance to Beit Hanasi

while flowers are on the right side of the entrance.

Tu B’Shevat is about the new season of fruit trees.

Olive trees grow in several places,

orange trees

 the orange trees were bursting with fruit,

kumqat tree

as were the kumquats.

Special visitors plant trees, even if it is not Tu B’Shevat,

tree planted by Obama

and one tree came from the White House.

flowers Jerusalem

Flower beds were looking good,

now that Shemitta year of no planting has ended,

rose

but one lone rose was all I saw.

First Lady Nechama Rivlin is a proud savta, grandmother,

and for Tu B’Shevat invited school children to Beit Hanasi.

cat

The cat checked out her short presentation,

but did not hang around to help,

planting beit hanasi

as planting in her new community garden began.

shul for Israeli president

Tu B’Shevat is not a time in the synagogue,

but outside planting.

Glad I was there when the sun was shining!

Now we are ready and waiting for snow,

never know what will happen next in Jerusalem.

Update:

 In case you think I was exaggerating,

this is not snow,

fog across from Knesset

but morning fog on road to Knesset,

ready and still waiting for snow.

Tu B’Shevat Celebrate Hope and Life

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat,

was not a big holiday outside of Israel.

Chewing on a piece of bokser, a hard, dried out, dark brown carob pod,

was the highlight of the international Jewish experience

of this holiday known as the New Year of trees.

In much of the northern hemisphere,

the months of January to February, when Tu B’Shevat falls,

is the dead of winter and spring buds seem far away.

But in Israel on Tu B’Shevat flowers are blooming.

In 1949, the Knesset held its first session on Tu B’Shevat.

Therefore, the 67th birthday of the Knesset,

and 50th year in present location, was celebrated

along with Tu B’Shevat, though it was a few days early.

plant for tu b'shvat

JNF had hundreds of small plants lined up on the sidewalk outside

ready for visitors to take home.

The day was overcast and sky was light grey,

outside Knesset

the wind was great for flags.

In spite of the cold,

KNesset for Tu B' Shevat

it was a great photo op for thousands who came all day long,

from young children to seniors.

There are regular public tours of the Knesset.

Knesset plenary

But this was not a regular day,

but a huge public birthday bash.

 To hear the tour guide in the main plenary.,

was only one of dozens of things happening.

Green Kenesset

Green Knesset display greeted visitors at the main door.

The main Chagall Hall is usually empty,

or set with rows of chairs for special events,

but for this special day

Mainn Chagall hall Knesset

 tables and chairs were set up like a cocktail party.

People could sit and enjoy the music

performed by professional musicians, and, for a special treat,

members of the Knesset showed their talents too.

piano at Knesset for Tu B'Shavat

MK Bezalel Smotrich played the piano,

piano Knesset Stav Shaffir

while MK Stav Shaffir played and sang.

At the other end of the hall

Knesset lego for Tu B'Shavat 67 birthday celebration

was a Knesset model made out of Lego,

and thousands of Lego pieces for anyone

Dr Lego Knesset for Tu B'shavat

to make their own masterpiece.

Members of Knesset read stories to children,

produced jam in the cafeteria,

KM Tibi at Knesset

and sat for interviews with media.

I did not stop long enough to hear what Arab MK Tibi was saying.

Down the hall this group was sitting around

Knesset birthday celebration 67

one of the games taking place around the building.

The sounds of music led us to

Music cafe in Knesset for birthday

 this dairy restaurant, turned into a Music Cafe for the day.

Talks and lectures were scheduled,

KNesset auditorium

one was to be held in the main auditorium.

In the Knesset Synagogue,

there was a special mincha, the afternoon service.

Chief rabbi at Knesset synagogue

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern

joined Knesset members, staff and guests.

After the prayer service,

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef spoke.

Tu B'Shvat foods

Tu B’Shevat treats were enjoyed by everyone.

Lining one of the corridors were the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s

posters on the history of Jerusalem.

KNesset corridor with Weisenthal Cnet historical boards

People of Hope was the title of one poster.

On a day when the mood and weather outside were both ominous,

these young people from communities all over Israel,

including bus loads of Arab high school students,

joined to celebrate the birthday of the Knesset.

It was truly a sight to see.

Knesset on 67th bitrhfday tu b'shabar

Tu B’Shevat plants for all,

Knesset herbs to visitors

the scent of herbs to enjoy.

People of Hope,

praying for so many years to return to Jerusalem.

In the past,

Tu B’Shevat for many meant giving money to plant in Israel.

This year in Israel, JNF gave me a plant.

67 years Knesset,

50 years in present location,

Happy Birthday!

Tu B’Shevat celebrations have just begun,

much more next week.