Driving on Road 443

Friday morning, May 28, 2010

The sky was totally overcast as we left Jerusalem on Road 443.

There was no traffic on this busy commuter route to the Tel Aviv area.

 For kilometers there were no green Palestinian license plates in sight

and not many yellow Israeli ones either,

but there was kilometer after kilometer of newly-strung barbed wire.

The skies began to clear as we neared the new checkpoint.

 Not many people or cars were near the checkpoint area.

There was much controversy about  reopening this road to PA vehicles,

 but at least day one was quiet.

Along the road to Modi’in there are numerous Arab villages and houses

and vast stretches of empty land.

Approaching the checkpoint returning to Jerusalem at midday,

 there were more vehicles on the road,

but no long lines of cars.

 The old checkpoint was deserted.

Road 443 has become a popular alternative route to old Highway One

that twists up the hills to Jerusalem.

Off of Road 443, minutes away from Jerusalem,

the road to Ramallah is still off limits to almost everyone.

Festivals to Festivals

The tons of dairy products prepared in honor of the festival of Shavuot

including  a lot of blintzes and cheese cake are all gone.

Thousands of holiday visitors from all over the world have returned home.

The extra chairs for the festival ctrowds in the plaza near the Kotel, the Western Wall are stored

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the temporary emergency locations closed.

The variety of clothing, religions and languages was fascinating as always.

 

Many of  the visitors for the  festivals wrote a note to leave in the Wall.

The white between the stones are paper notes,

 

usually written on little pieces of paper that fill every crack,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 written standing or

sitting.

 

 

Reaching for a good spot

 

to find a safe place, high above the crowd.

 And what happens to these notes?

Warning: The following is not for the sentimental or weak-hearted.

Cleaners sweep up

and unceremoniously

remove the precious notes to a special yellow plastic bag.

 

Almost three months of various celebrations came to an end and

this week a new festival season begins, with International Sports Week,

 

 the Israel Festival,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                       and many more.

 

 

The fine print says,

Something good is happening in Jerusalem!

 

 

Shavuot, Shades of Purple

While a few protesters grab media attention and set some trash bins on fire,

this week most people were just trying to get around in the heat and

prepare for the Shavuot holiday. All is not blue and white this season,

there are also many shades of

 

 

 

 

 

 

purple.

Flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

low

and  high

and in between are

 

 

 

 

 

  bursting with color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even some trees are purple.

Graffiti,

 

 

 

 

 

 

little clothes and ladies’ hats

are purple.

 

 

 

 

Holiday time:

there are piles of full grocery bags, as masses of people do their shopping well into the night .

 

 All those stamped eggs and

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                the  Jerusalem Symphony sign are shades of purple.

                                                    At the end of the day,

Jerusalem skies often have shades of purple.

Chag sameach!

Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day

On May 28, 1948 Jordanian troops entered the Old City of Jerusalem

and forced out the residents of the Jewish Quarter.

 

For 19 years the walls to the Old City could only be seen through barbed wire;

No Man’s Land divided the city. 

 

Bullet holes can still be seen in the outer walls of the Old City.

  In June 1967 Jerusalem was reunited and Jews returned to the Jewish Quarter.

For the past 43 years, 28 Iyar  has been celebrated as Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrations are numerous and varied.

 

Plenty of blue and white and flags decorate the city. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands of tons of equipment were installed in Gan Sacher for a musical extravaganza

 which was enjoyed by thousands of people all night long.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attended the large night-time gathering at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva.

 

At Yeshiva Hakotel in the Old City, evening prayers

were followed by dancing.

In the public area near the Hurva Synagogue a video about Jerusalem was shown.

Visitors came to the Old City and to the Kotel, the Western Wall, throughout the night.

The next day special classes and activities were held in schools.

In the afternoon, many streets in the center of town were blocked to traffic and a blimp hovered overhead,

as thousands of participants in the annual ‘Flag Dance’ Parade marched to the Old City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most marchers were young and ethusiastic.

 

They filled King George Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 and turned at Agron Street to go to the Old City.

 The crowds and flags kept coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrations continue with another

huge musical event in Gan Sacher tonight.

No Rocks, No Riots… Not News

Jerusalem sweltered on Monday, as people were moving slowly,

suffering from the second day of a heat wave.

But the crowds outside Binyanei Ha’ooma, the Jerusalem Convention Center,

did not seem to notice.

  Breakthrough Education-Education Week in Israel’s Capital-

 brought together children, teachers, and parents from all parts of the city.

The week-long event was open to the public, yet security was very light,

and there was a relaxed atmosphere.

Perhaps those participating in the many musical performances

"picture Arab girls", "photo Arab girls", Image Arab girls"

were nervous.

Inside, excitement and energy filled the cool, vast complex.

  Hundreds of students came

throughout the day with their projects.

      Art displays

were varied and colorful.

Sign language and all forms of informal education were featured.

                                                                                                                  

Computers and audiovisual displays were prominent

and popular.

 

The Convention Center was divided into many sections,

with each containing a different school level.

A dummy calling for world kindness

and understanding was on his way out.

 Breakthrough Education seemed to really

“break through” walls of separation.

It was one of the week-long 43rd Jerusalem Day

events whose effect should stay with us all the time.

Lag B’Omer in the Divided City

While hundreds of thousands of people traveled to the city of Meron

 to celebrate the holiday of Lag B’Omer,

those remaining in Jerusalem were divided into two groups.

One group stayed indoors at night with their windows shut tight.

 

 And the second group gathered around medurot, bonfires,

transforming otherwise peaceful nature areas and parks into smokey infernos.

The air filled with smoke, as fires were fueled by

 everything from a car load of  small sticks to a long board,

 and  pieces of wood big and small,

brought by little girls and big guys;

even by taxi they came.

Fires, large and small, filled the city with smoke.

Was this bench to sit on or to burn?

People of all ages and

chairs of all types filled the park.

Safety warnings were posted and it rained over night, but the next afternoon

there were still fires smouldering.

The birds enjoyed a bit of day time quiet,

then a  woman and her grandchildren came to start a new medura.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai  was a disciple of Rabbi Akiva

and master of mystical teachings.

Could he ever have imagined these celebrations in his name?