Spring like weather this week,
beautiful time to be out and about.
The National Library of Israel is located on the
Hebrew University Givat Ram campus,
but how many have been inside,
gone up the stairs,
and seen its magnificent stained glass windows?
Until recently only a small select group of scholars,
as few as 100 per year.
Last year, however, the number of visitors was up to 30,000.
How many went behind these closed doors?
On a recent press tour of the library, in the restoration room,
we saw an old page of text,
and the materials used to repair delicate treasures,
and old volumes from the past.
In the digital lab, modern technology is used to store
and analyze volume after volume.
We saw a few of the oldest hidden treasures:
this Megillat Esther, from 18th century Amsterdam;
Passover haggadah, 15th century Spain;
a letter from the Afghan geniza, 11-12th century Persia;
Martin Buber’s original draft of “Ich und Du” “I and Thou;”
a manuscript written by Isaac Newton;
and this Kufic Quran from the 9th century.
While these invaluable treasures are locked up,
the digital music room is open to the public and used daily.
The National Library is to have a new home,
where the public will be welcomed for free,
and the hidden treasures are to be displayed.
for the new building is not far away.
It is to be across from the Knesset,
Construction will begin next year
on this site that was cleared of huge trees
which were replanted near the Jerusalem Zoo.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem International Book Fair
is to be held from February 8- 12.
Books, books, and more books and more…
The world seems upside down like Chelm these days,
and if it was not so serious, it would be funny.
This week saw a large delegation from Japan,
led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting Jerusalem, Israel.
Foreign Minister John Baird of Canada signed the official guest book
at Beit HaNasi, the Israeli President’s residence, while Reuven Rivlin watched.
Then in the afternoon a group of US Senators led by John McCain,
dropped by for a photo op and to chat with the President.
So much for isolation and BDS, all affirmed their support for Israel.
But government officials and their noisy motorcades
were not the only ones who filled the streets this week.
Extended families gathered to celebrate,
and thousands have come daily to the Kotel, the Western Wall.
Birthright tour groups
from around the world posed for group photos.
Tour buses lined up along the road to Har Hazaytim,
the Mount of Olives cemetery.
And at the same time as rabbis in Belgium
were being notified that their synagogues should be closed on Shabbat
for the first time since World War II,
because their safety could not be guaranteed by the police,
these Muslim boys were walking through the Jewish Quarter
in the Old City to go to Friday prayers.
Any doubts? Notice the prayer rug in hand,
so much for apartheid and oppression.
These boys may have taken a second look,
but the man was wearing a long skirt,
as this Muslim family proceeded to prayers on Temple Mount.
And while Muslims of all ages attend regularly on Friday,
(as long as there are no calls for violence)
this group we passed did stand out,
their bags had the name of a Turkish tour company.
Seems not everyone in Turkey is boycotting Israel.
Hope they get to see the real Jerusalem streets,
and take back the truth,
what is really happening.
While the US is celebrating the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend,
it is business as usual in Jerusalem, Israel,
but seemed like a good day to revisit the street named in his honor.