Jerusalem Time and Travel

Constantly, I find myself saying time goes faster in Jerusalem.

Certainly, the news cycle is hard to keep up with from week to week, or day to day – sometimes even minute to minute.

I remember this first image I took with my new camera was in the Knesset.

"picture honor guard", "photo honor guard", "image honor guard"

It was the day the casket of Yitzhak Shamir z”l was placed in the Chagall Hall, the main room of the Knesset Building, a historic event to remember.

Interesting timing.

“Today we mark nine years since the passing of the seventh prime minister, the late Yitzhak Shamir. We all recognize Yitzhak as a man of the Greater Land of Israel, a man of vision and action, who devoted his entire life to the state – in the underground, the Mossad, the Knesset, and the government” mentioned new Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the official statement released from his first convened cabinet meeting. “Shamir, together with Peres, established the first national unity government in 1984, and they knew how to bring ideological rivals around the government table.”

As the time of his seven-year term comes to an end, President Reuven Rivlin announced last night an official trip to the US. An invitation from President Biden to meet on June 28th at the White House was hard to refuse for the Israeli President.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has approved the extension of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s term for another year. Finally, Kohavi’s is traveling to the US, on a trip that was postponed due to the situation of those rockets from Gaza.

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is on its way to perform in Germany.

President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado of Honduras is on his way to visit Israel.

The skies are opening up. Missions to Dubai keep flying.

People are anxious to get away, as schools (oh that year zoomed by!) begin long summer holidays. Some are already heading to the beach, some out of Israel now that travel is somewhat easier.

For me it’s been awhile since watching the sun rise over the Kinneret.

Things are beginning to happen again on the Jerusalem streets

Signs are up, Jerusalem summer festivals are returning this week!

Jerusalem, Israel, Festival opens at the Jerusalem Theater, with President Rivlin’s participation at a performance in memory of poet Yehuda Amichai. Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion is also scheduled to attend on Monday night.

The Mekudeshet Festival is on in Abu Tor for three more events with free enterance.

The Hansen House is to host Runaway Circus on its grounds July 1-8th.

Jerusalem Jazz Festival, then the wine and beer are coming back too.

The official Hebrew Book Week is over. However, online programs are ongoing for book sales and author events. Plus, there are to be events for children, teens, and adults at municipal libraries.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Flag-Dance-Old-City-013-2-1-1024x597.jpg

The mess near the Prime Minister’s Official Residence is gone! This Shabbat for the first time in a very long time, it was quiet. Without the march of noisy protesters, I could leave my window open and see the beautiful clouds over the city as the sun was beginning to go below the horizon.

Looks like I spoke too soon!

The barriers were back today. Part of Balfour Street is still closed.

Also in his remarks, Bennett included: “The next-to-last point. Last week we witnessed coronavirus outbreaks in two schools and the infection of dozens of pupils. This stemmed from a failure to stick to quarantine by people returning from abroad and the professional assessment – and this is not yet certain – is that this is the Indian variant. Last night we held a focused discussion and the relevant ministers will hold an assessment along with the professional elements and the National Security Council about both the Indian variant and procedures for entering and leaving the country.”

Two weeks ago, then Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced the end of the requirment of wearing masks with Prime Minister Netanayhu at his last big public event at the Jerusalem Theater. Since then, the government has changed. Benjamin Netanyahu is head of the Oppostion. Edelstein had time to go to the beach on Friday with his wife and post a photo on social media.

If you missed the post on Jerusalem Flag Dance and Parade, please take time to see what really happened on the Jerusalem streets. Damascus Gate was completely cleared before those with Israel flags were allowed to enter.

Police did an exceptional job in avoiding confrontations last week.

The press area included a significant number of women in hijabs.

It’s how you set up and crop the photo – a positive or negative event.

In Jerusalem, time and time again, one small provocation recorded on mobile phones can travel so much faster than the real story.

The Jerusalem municipality announced, Gan HaSoos, The Horse Garden, near the first location of the Knesset is to get a new look. The original name of the garden was “Menorah Garden” because of the menorah placed by the old Knesset building, before the Knesset moved to its present location.

Jerusalem Israel park with horse stature and Windows

The current name of the park, “The Horse Garden”, was given to it after the “Peace Horse” statue which was presented to the city in 1997, by the Slovenian government on the occasion of the city’s 3,000th-anniversary celebrations. The park was the site of the popular “Windows” exhibit, only two years ago, as part of the Mekedeshet Festival.

Two years ago, before corona, time is a blur, seems like so long ago.

This week synagogue services met again – inside without the dividers. The Great Synagogue is open and announced they are ready to host weddings and other celebrations again.

Here’s to hoping in a short time to see you all on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem Flag Dance and Parade: Real Story

Reading international headlines has made me so angry and sad.

Controversial and contentious

Bracing for violence

Israel braces for unrest ahead of right-wing Jerusalem march

Nationalist March Through Jerusalem Has Heightened Tensions Further

And those are only a few of the less disturbing headline choices for the annual Jerusalem Day – ריקודגלים Rikud Degalim – Flag Dance Parade which was postponed due to rocket attacks from Gaza.

This celebration goes back decades to remember the reunification of Jerusalem in June 1967. I walked with the Israeli flag wavers thru the Old City with the march five years ago.

Again this year, I went to see what was really happening. After days of negative hype and threats from Hamas and its affiliates, would there really be trouble and violence?

Thousands were on the streets waving Israeli flags – peacefully, though loudly at times singing, songs such as Am Yisrael Chai.

I only spotted one mask in the crowd of thousands.

But road blocks and photographers were seen throughout the route.

Waiting for the start time. Israeli time. It started later than announced.

However, the regular and foreign photographers were ready.

This was the scene on the way to Damascus Gate.

Where were all those close-up-in-your-face photos I have seen taken?

The police had large distances between the local Arab shopping area and those walking to Damascus Gate.

Plenty of Arab media was active and out on the Jerusalem streets.

The area at Damascus Gate was empty when the marchers arrived.

But filled with Israeli-flag waving, mostly young men singing and dancing.

Out of thousands, it was the one unusual one who got media attention.

Notice all the press standing on the other side of the large flag.

Here’s a short video from Damascus Gate, before moving on to Jaffa Gate.

Media reports came out as soon as possible. How accurate? You decide.

Not only wild young males participated, there were families and busloads of students, including girls who came from outside of Jerusalem.

The security was along the entire route. It seems earlier there were stones thrown at police on horses, so that would explain the eye protection, which was not needed for the Flag Parade.

I wondered how many walking realized that there were going thru what was No Man’s Land that divided Jerusalem from 1948-1967? On the right, the Old City where Jews could not go. On the left the hospital on the “border” in Jerusalem, not under Jordanian occupation.

MKs Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party and Bezalel Smotrich head of the Religious Zionist party received media attention. However, in the crowd of marchers number two on the list Michal Woldiger was stopped multiple times for photos and by admirers.

Some Flag Parade participants joined at Jaffa Gate and did not do the walk.

The smoking and vaping is what I found upsetting.

Especially these young boys standing around and puffing away.

As the sun set, the march moved toward the Kotel, Western Wall.

The Arab market was closed and quiet, with security posted along the way.

These girls and a few press photographers in the Christian Quarter were hardly what the doomsayers predicted for the evening.

The crowd of thousands ended up at the Kotel, as usual for the end of the Flag Parade, to sing and dance, concluding with evening prayers.

More photos are presented here as a video.

Once again, I went to see what was really happening on the Jerusalem streets and missed finding trouble.

I thought the police were more polite than in the past. They honored my press pass immediately at every roadblock.

The displays of Israeli flags were impressive, plenty of blue and white.

The end of the day, it was time to go home and away from the noisy crowd.

The noisy protesters were gone from near the Prime Minister’s Residence. What a pleasure to walk undisturbed again on this Jerusalem street.

Jerusalem Moving Forward: The Hope for Future

If last week was a week of transitions, this one is set to be even greater.

Not only because we had the whole family together for the first time in years for a photo and it’s my birthday. The final countdown has started for a new Israeli government after 12 years under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Jerusalem tourism is looking to improve with an announcement that on July 1st tourists are to be allowed into Israel. People have already started traveling again, as much as possible.

Photo credit: Mark Neyman GPO

Reuven Rivlin, in his last month as president, flew to Romania on an official visit this past week. An important stop was to speak at a joint session of the Romanian parliament before some 350 members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

Last week, a corona is over celebration was held at the Jerusalem Theater.

Outside, security told me “no photos,” so this was as close to the white security tent at the entrance I could get. Most people didn’t know what was going on inside, and traffic was not blocked.

An award ceremony was held at the Jerusalem Theater to show appreciation for the Israeli health institutions and their contributions to successful efforts during the pandemic.

Real food – a sign of back to what was before corona, plus this event included healthy food options.

Hospital heads were present plus, police, military and emergency services.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein entered the theater wearing a mask.

A moment of silence for those who died and Hatikvah began the program.

A video with milestone days, ended with 461, and together we won.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke proudly of his accomplishment.

Ironic. Corona-over-celebration. However, the former Health Minister was one of few not wearing a mask in the packed auditorium. It was in his speech that Edelstein announced that the mask law was to be lifted.

However, as the certificates were presented, masks were off. It seems handshaking and hugging are back,

and smiling,

as the dozens of certificates were presented at the big feel good party.

One would never have imagined all that was happening outside.

Fires. Low flying planes circled around the entrance of Jerusalem. Dry and hot, too many large forest fires close to Jerusalem for one week.

After a year of no live events, two nights in a row felt like setting a milestone. The next night at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, there was a preview of a new documentary on Begin’s life, titled “Upheaval.” I highly recommend it – you can check it out HERE

Of course, seeing a movie in a real theater, and with Menachem Begin’s son and secretary, along with many others featured in the film, and a few Ambassadors was a really nice bonus. And, also food and wine were served before the film was shown in the renovated auditorium.

Not everything was live, Israel hosted over 400 participants from 58 countries virtually to discuss cutting-edge issues such as the security of the Internet at OECD Global Forum on Digital Security. Next year Japan is host.

The ever popular Shavuah HaSefer, Hebrew Book Week is back – live.

I was not the only one who was disappointed going on Friday to find it wasn’t open. The event is only on nights, from 6-8:30 pm until June 19, 2021.

According to the Israel National Library, in 2020, there was a decrease of 2,000 books published in comparison with 2019. But the Hebrew Book Week sales attract crowds of all ages, the full library report – HERE.

However, even without the books, Takhana Rishona, First Station was busy.

A Latin American Festival with booths and dancing got people’s attention.

A Brazilian singer entertained from the center stage. The Brazilian Ambassador was also in the crowd. Was it the food, Latin music, no masks outside, or the weather that put so many people in a festive mood?

Live performances are again being promoted along the Jerusalem streets.

New parks are popping up around Jerusalem, Israel.

It’s been a difficult time period going from a long pandemic, to Meron tragedy, to Operation Guardians of the Walls with thousands of rockets fired at Israel, fires surrounding Jerusalem, and all in the shadow of election dramas.

Who would have ever imagined all that has happened since Tu Bishvat 2020 at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence?

Hatikvah, The Hope – Israel’s anthem, no matter how you sing it,

or where – the hope for the future is a constant theme throughout the years.

Hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.