10 Signs the Jerusalem Streets are Back

Oh, Jerusalem! Oh, Jerusalem!

Nahamu. Nachamu.

After the lows and mourning of Tisha B’Av, just a few days later and it’s party time – at least summer holiday time. People who might have traveled overseas in a normal year, are staying closer to home with the uncertainty of border closings and questions of the Delta and other variants.

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1. Gan Sacher, Sacher Park fills with large family gatherings in the evening as summer days cool off and they are able to share elaborate meals.

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2. Synagogues have reopened, with a mask requirement, however, those outdoor social distanced services continue in many locations.

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3. Midnight at the Kotel, Western Wall, the sight of hundreds of people coming and going, day and night is back.

Last year many “annual” events were not held or were extremely limited.

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4. At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, an annual event remembering deceased former Presidents and Prime Ministers was held.

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New President Isaac Herzog hosted, with his wife Michal and new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at his side. All present had to wear a mask inside.

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For the first time as Prime Minister, Bennett spoke at an event at Beit Hanasi and attracted a little media attention.

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Noticeably, he refrained from shaking hands. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attended, the only former PM or President present.

The real streets paid little attention to the event.

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5. Crowds of people have returned, and are filling Mamilla Mall, day and night, passing thru or just strolling,

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shopping,

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and eating at old favorites or trying the new dairy restaurant that opened recently.

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On Mamilla Avenue, one store closes and another store opens.

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This Dior cafe on the roof is gone, after making a short appearance on social media, and creating a buzz for a few days.

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6. But the food trucks are back in the Hinnom Valley Park near the Cinematheque, bigger than ever, attracting nightly summer visitors.

While the Beer Festival music blasting from Gan Haatazmaut, Independence Park could be heard on distant Jerusalem streets,

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7. softer, free music was offered on the pathway thru the Artists Colony.

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On the cool Thursday evening, it attracted an appreciative audience.

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8. Nice to see artists back in their shops creating and working.

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Nothing seemed to reach the attention level of the ice-cream crisis, but

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9. Golda in Mamilla Mall was busy as usual selling ice cream. One of the sad sights of the corona lockdowns was the empty spaces outside stores forced to close.

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10. Back at night under the full Tu B’Av moon was the fountain at Teddy Park. Ah, the sounds of thrilled children playing in the water as hundreds of people watched from around the on a cool summer night.

The Jerusalem streets are back.

Let’s hope they stay open, filled with people enjoying the summer holidays.

Check out more on Jerusalem travel here.

L’Chaim!

To Life!

Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem

I have a problem this week – I have been wondering what to share.

Today is Tisha B’Av, the Ninth Day of the Hebrew month of Av, a fast day, and the saddest of the year on the Jewish calendar for centuries.

Is it appropriate to write about the special session held in the Knesset?

Not the one where the attendance board was lit up with the photos of the many Knesset members who were in the building all night to vote.

Or what about my visit to Old City on Friday for a special photo-op with a delegation of international Ambassadors?

I decided today, without coffee or water, that those and other stories will wait until next time.

Today is Tisha B’Av.

It’s blistering hot outside on the Jerusalem streets.

Last year was very different,

However, last night I went to walk around the walls of the Old City, and it felt similar to past years.

The night began after Shabbat with Eicha, the reading of Lamentations, sitting on the ground, in Gan Ha’atzmaut, Independence Park was one.

The security was as extensive as the crowd was diverse.

Going past Damascus Gate always requires a quick stop to take a photo.

However, the moon over the Lion’s Gate was more impressive last night.

The views towards the Mount of Olives at night over the Tomb of Absalom

and the cemetery at night, though not so easy to photograph, amazing to see from this side of the Jerusalem Old City streets.

The area near Robinson’s Arch with those original stones from the Temple’s destruction is not such a great photo this year as restoration work on the stones of the wall continues. But as usual, when I go there to check, it was quiet with only a few people.

But the scene at the Kotel, the Western Wall, was like, not sure what word to use, one huge “celebration.” Tens of thousands of people at midnight, singing slow sad songs, women on the other side sitting in a circle on the ground singing also.

This view is from above

but doesn’t show the hundreds of people leaving and even more arriving.

I did a very quick video to give an idea of the crowd on my way out.

I went by the quiet Hurva Synagogue in the Rova, the Jewish Quarter.

The archeological display has been improved with new lighting.

A memorable scene was in the Cardo, with a lone young man sitting on the stones near remnants of the Roman Empire, the pillars of a once-bustling marketplace.

Then by Jaffa Gate, a group of young people was listening to the history and significance of Tisha B’Av.

The diversity of people, so many people, coming and going all night long.

One man was power washing the stones at the entrance to Mamilla Mall. At 1:00 am, he was getting ready for Tisha B’Av day. Though all the stores and restaurants were closed, Mamilla is a major route for people coming and going to the Kotel all night.

And as I approached home I saw another impressive sight.

The sanitation workers were out to do the clean-up after Shabbat.

Much hotter, but cleaner street on Tisha B’Av today.

There’s much more happening on the Jerusalem streets but it will have to wait for next time.

Take care and stay well, hope to see you soon.