‘Twas the Week Before and More

As in the past the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jewish National Fund distributed free trees to those residents celebrating Christmas. The advertised times were 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Jaffa Gate Square, but by 10:30 am this was the scene.

There seemed to be more photographers than trees or customers…certainly more beigelach.

 Santa  got his tree and  media attention, but no snow for him or anyone else.

 

 In the nearby Liberty Bell Park families were out in the sunshine all day.

The YMCA, located across the street from the King David Hotel,

 had a very  modestly  decorated tree and carol service.

Thousands of visitors, some going to  Bethlehem,

a few minutes drive away,

were in Jerusalem for the holiday season.

Thousands of people came to celebrate Bar Mitzvahs at the Kotel,  boys from all over Israel and as far away as Australia and the United States.

 Most of Monday the celerations kept coming…

 But to get to these celebrations everyone had to endure progress.

 Work has begun on the infrastructure and development project at Jaffa Gate Plaza. It is to include streamlining of pedestrian traffic alongside vehicular traffic, installation of street furniture,  and refurbishing of street lighting.

For the next year and a half, 24 hours a day…

drivers beware.

Everyone beware!

 A quiet November afternoon                                                                                   and now

 This week also marks one year since Operation Cast Lead, 

242 missiles landed in the Sderot area in 2009

down from more than 3,200 rockets and mortars in 2008.

Signs of Hanukah

 

Two days before Hanukah the red carpet at the President’s House was rolled out as the band played.

Five new ambassadors to Israel presented their credentials.

 

There was plenty of music this week, with schools closed for Hanukah, and activities for everyone.

In most of the world, for practical and historical reasons, the chanukiah, special Hanukah menorah, is lit inside, but in Jerusalem they are often displayed outside in special glass boxes, high and low,

simple and not so simple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the lights burning  in some religious neighborhoods 

 

                                                        make for great evening tours, both public and private.

 

                            On tops of buildings or in a city square, chanukiot are a sign of Hanukah in Jerusalem.

  

 

Other signs…

of new growth

and sadly the funeral for Rabbi Druck

of the Rechavia neighborhood

 and Great Synagogue was Friday

just before Hanukah began.

Signs filled the neighorhood.

Holiday is only half over,

much is going on,

there are too many photos;

more is planned for next week.

 

Chag samaech!

Protest Rally

Thousands and thousands of people came to Paris Square last night  to protest the building freeze.

Route 1 into Jerusalem was slowed to a crawl, filled  with vehicles from around the country.

The rally was called for 6:30 pm,

but at 7:00 pm full buses were going

away from the area.

With many Jerusalem streets blocked off to traffic,

it was not a good night to be driving in Jerusalem.

The crowds included young and not so young,

and many enthusiastic groups of young people.

 

The cotton candy stand was so popular and crowded, could not get near to get a good photo,

and of course, plenty of speeches from the the large stage.

At 8:00  pm, people were still making their way

to Paris Square  to join the protest.

Happy Hanukah to all!

Endings and Beginnings

 

Sadly, this week Jerusalem saw the passing and funeral of the Bostoner Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Horowitz. Having lived in the Boston, MA area when “The Bostoner” was in his prime, we witnessed how he related to some of the thousands of students who came through his Brookline Center.  Hundreds of people seeking medical treatment  in the Boston area would come for extended stays and find help with everything from getting a car to language translation. When the Bostoner moved to the Har Nof area of Jerusalem, many of his American congregation followed and made aliyah. “The Bostoner” may have looked like many a religious rabbi with a hat and beard, but when he got up to speak he sounded  like President John F. Kennedy.  The Bostoner Rebbe’s  good nature and good works should be a role model to all.

Changing foliage in Jerusalem no way compares

 to the Bostoner Rebbe’s former home

 in the Northeastern United States,

but look hard and you could see that a

few autumn colors

remained this week.

 

 

 Hamshuslim, the three weekend

 Jerusalem festival with special rates

on hotel rooms, food and events

came to an end.

Farmers from the Arava ended their long trip by arriving in Jerusalem to protest the lack of Thai workers they need to harvest their crops. The announced building freeze has brought construction in many areas to an end, a large rally is planned for Wednesday evening in Paris Square to protest.

Beginning a new era and energy,

Kisufim, the Jewish writer’s international

conference is meeting for the second

time in Jerusalem.

For the physically disabled getting around Jerusalem is often a nightmare. The streets and many public and private buildings are difficult or impossible to access.

Hopefully, the celebration of the International Day for People with Disabilities this week will be the beginning of a new era of awareness.

 

                                                                                                                                                                            

The real Jerusalem streets are  beginning to get into holiday mode as  gift ideas, parties and children are  the focus, the  Hanukah holiday  sesaon rapidly approaches.

Large trays of suffganiot,

large jelly donuts,

are everywhere,

                                                                                                                                                    gloves and coats

                                                                                                                                                    and hats are  beginning                                                

                                               to appear

                                               and  there was finally

                                               a day with rain.

Negotiations, negotiations

After ten years of negotiations, the environmentalists and common sense have triumphed over a developer’s plans. The Valley of the Gazelles is to remain a green area,  just a little too late for the wildlife that once lived there.  How many more years of negotiations will it take to develop the park?  All of  Jeruasalem wins that this central, last undeveloped spot near the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens will remain as a public, natural space. 

 

 

 

Negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, the captured Israeli soldier, are still the “buzz” in the news.  Everyone wants Gilad Shalit home; no one envies his parents in their quest for his safe return. The question in these protracted negotiations is-at what cost?  How many terrorists are to be released for one captured Israeli soldier?

Noam Shalit faces the press,  March of 2009.

 

Those in Jerusalem passing the tent set up by Shalit supporters near the Prime Minister’s residence cannot help but count the days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteers, preparing yellow ribbons, wish him home for a very happy Hanukah.

With the Muslim feast Id al-Adha this past week, talks have again slowed down, so the press can only guess the outcome of negotiations.

 

 

 But from the other side of the street,

relatives of those murdered do not want

to see their children’s convicted  murderers

free to kill again.

 

 

 

 

Many Jerusalemites were surprised this week to discover that the Gilo neighborhood with 8,200 households would be called  a settlement. The settlement freeze announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu should be a step towards renewed negotiations with PA. But…

 

 

                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 On Saturday night Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat 

   stated that Jerusalem should not be  up for negotiation.

   In the Middle East negotiations usually mean ‘win or lose.’

   His vision is  a united city open to all, 

   divided cities fail,  he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intel  is still involved in negotiations;  the Community Councils have just begun negotiations for new leadership; and after five days of work stoppage, the Clalit health service negotiations were settled and patient care resumed.

 While the position of Israeli Attorney General itself was up for negotiation, whether to divide it into two jobs or keep it as one, this week after much political negotiating, Yehuda Weinstein was selected as a candidate for Attorney General .

 

 

Not up for negotiation:

 

  

  Government limousines waited over an hour while the President of Costa Rica Oscar Sanchez visited

  the Kotel, the Western Wall on Friday and …we still need more rain.