One of my favorite spots,
at favorite time of day.
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.
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.
The International chess championship may not be a great photo op,
but a tour with 500 tourism professionals from India certainly was.
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,
were other groups of Indian tourists,
a large orderly group of Estonians,
and these Christian pilgrims who left too fast to ask where they were from.
Another great view and new to me,
was the Jerusalem Winner Marathon 2105 launch,
on the grounds of the St. Andrew’s Guest House.
Mayor Nir Barkat, holding his official run shirt for the March 13 race,
was all smiles that morning.
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
a contest for app developers,
and special programs for children at Islamic Museum.
But, Purim is a week away.
Perhaps, this sign for Shavuot holiday is a joke.
There is to be a Purim Spiel at the Train Theater,
and a sign for reading the Megillah at First Station–
time for that other “P” word – Passover!
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,
and this could be one of the first snowballs.
The streets were slippery
and mostly deserted.
I took one flower photo,
if the warnings were wrong,
I had one ready for the Shabbat Shalom post.
But by morning the snow had accumulated,
and the Jerusalem streets looked like a winter wonderland.
Heavy fog and a white sky added to the wintry scenes.
When fog cleared the Knesset grounds were covered.
This Israel Museum view shows trees covered.
against the white sky.
Heavy snow stuck to power lines and branches,
and just about everything.
Most people stayed off the roads in the morning.
The monastery in the Valley of the Cross,
a beautiful and serene scene,
was like a picture postcard.
But lemon trees
and sabra plants covered in snow?
Only in Jerusalem, Israel!
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.
Shmita (or spell it shemitta) is Biblical law.
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.
Now in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens,
Rav Rimon has initiated a special section
to show the laws of shemitta.
For the opening ceremony, Chief Rabbi David Lau spoke,
and then took time to speak to a group of students who participated.
The park is aimed to get children’s attention,
and to make things simple enough
for anyone understand.
With information in Hebrew and English,
there are many examples of what is permissible
and what is not to be done in gardens this year.
The Shemitta Park is simple to reach,
and it is an attractive area
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.
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,
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.
These people stopped to see the “Disappearing Wall,”
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,
One night, a crowd gathered by the German booth
for this food and wine.
Opening night of JIBF had more than one event,
that attracted large crowds.
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.
As usual, not just books
but also magazines were for sale.
Authors were available to meet readers and fans,
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz–Rav Adin Even Yisrael–
was available at JIBF one night.
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.
Heavy traffic and long lines near car wash locations.
In much of Israel this week,
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.
the sky cleared,
the sun came out,
time to admire the flowers again.
A fascinating new exhibit has opened
at the Bible Lands Museum (BLMJ)
in Jerusalem, Israel, called
“By the Rivers of Babylon” or Al Naharot Bavel.
Though located across from the Israel Museum and near the Knesset,
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
and recorded on this ancient stone tablet.
This video begins with a warning
that there are indeed sad parts to the story.
The end of Jewish kings and life in Jerusalem,
and the end of the First Temple in 589 BCE.
Destruction so complete,
that the intense heat of the burning of Jerusalem
deformed this earthen storage jar.
The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia,
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,
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.
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.