Scenes from the Wall

The northeastern United States did not see the sun for most of this week,

in Jerusalem it is hard to even imagine so much rain:

all the thousands of visitors just get the expected sunny days.

At the Kotel, the Western Wall,

there are old stones

and new signs.

Some days much is

black and white,

but not all is black

or bar mitzvah white,

or army green.

In winter

and in summer

there is color, too.

Pink shirts

and blue hats,

color from balloons

and costumes from around the world

are at the Kotel.

The month of Elul before Rosh Hashana, the New Year,

is an especially colorful time of the year

with even more visitors, and the blasts of the shofar heard every morning.

However, getting to the Kotel

can be very difficult because of the many flights of stairs.

Construction of an elevator has recently been proposed.

Not having to climb the difficult steps will be a great thing for many people

and make the site accessible to many who now cannot enjoy the scenes.

End of summer

While people are suffering and the demand for electricty has hit an all time high,

  some of the flowers are thriving in this weather, the blue Ofrit Hakef  is everywhere.

This summer’s heat and humidity seem endless,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but the end of summer is quickly approaching,

and the various summer events are coming to an end

with another major event planned on the plaza of the Jerusalem Theater for next week.

 

In spite of the heat, the 25th annual Kite Festival

 was held August 17th at the Israel Museum

the new, refurbished

Israel Museum.

Kites of all sizes and shapes and enthusiasts

of all ages participated.

Parked cars lined the sidewalks near the museum, a sure sign of a successful event.

In contrast though,

the international arts festival has ended and in spite of the record number of tourists here,

the pathways of Kutzot Hayotzer are once again nearly empty.

For most people September 1st is the first day of school and marks the end of summer,

but for others it’s the Beer Festival which is being held now… 

 L’Chaim!

 

Green Light Don’t Go

The Jerusalem streets can be very dangerous.

truck on sidewalk

Many are too narrow for modern vehicles

and sidewalks are often blocked

illegal parked car

forcing people to walk in the street in traffic.

 The traffic lights in the center of town often come in pairs,

traffic lights

   many times the closer light can be red, while the further one is green.

Those unfamiliar with this system often unwittingly step in the cross walk

 in front of oncoming traffic.

cross walk

While some intersections are extremely complicated,

blocked traffic light

the corner of Shalom Aleichem and Keren Hayesod Streets

is especially dangerous.

street crossing in Jerusalem

 The red light visible from most angles

blocked red traffic light

is really green.

 Much more dangerous though,

Jerusalem street

the green light is really red.

big street advertisement

While this traffic light was always hard to see behind the street sign,

 now the large advertising sign blocks the line of vision,

green light

making it almost impossible to see the traffic light.

street corner in Jerusalem

Thousands of visitors walk from Gan Hapa’amon, Liberty Bell Park area

on Keren Hayesod Street towards town,

this is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Many tourists eager to get into town look across the street,

see a green light and continue walking.

This recent sign says it all:

road safety sign

“Be Careful on the Roads-It’s a Matter of Life”

ambulance

and hopefully, not death… or injury.

Sheputzim

 The heat wave is over, normal summer weather has returned.

Now it is just plain hot, but unlike Moscow,

we can open our windows at night for a breeze.

Not having rain does not seem so bad either,

compared to the severe flooding in much of the world.

In all weather though, sheputzim, renovations, are a part of life in Jerusalem.

  Whether it is an old apartment being gutted and redone by new owners,

or an old house being enlarged

      or a new floor or two added on top of an old building,

someone is always sheputzing.

 The noise and dust of drills and hammers working on stone often fill the air.

 

     Change seems everywhere… 

 The area close to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate has experienced some  drastic changes.

   Across from recently completed Mamilla Mall,

the Waldorf Astoria construction is finally above ground.

The area between these construction sites and

Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park was in need of a sheputz.

  

November 5, 2009 

  

August 10, 2010 

    August 11, 2010 

   The land is now clear, cleaned of everything except for a few trees.

 

At the other end of the road,

near the fence where the Museum of Tolerance is being excavated,

     on June 6, 2010 a man was smoothing fresh cement.

Construction bags were near by.

 

  August 10, 2010  large sheputzim bags

were at the other end of the old Muslim cemetery.

Fresh new stones

seem to be everywhere.

What a sheputz, 

 from one end to the other it is hard to find any litter.

 Now Agron Street leading to Mamilla Mall has a new look.

Could it be that the “clean up building material” signs in the city are working?

UPDATE

August 13, 2010

Seems that over 300 of the new tombstones were fake and have been removed.

Festival Time

Kids are still on their long summer vacation,

most summer camps are over, and it is hot.

During the month of August,

parents have to find a way to entertain their children.

  It is festival time. 

In the center of Jerusalem, on Shamai Street, the Friday afternoon happening

was hard to find.

The second week we did find live music

and a street entertainer.

But to be fair,

Funkenstein was happening around the corner at the same time.

The first week of the Children’s Story festival held in the Liberty Bell Park

did not have the usual large crowds of young children.

 

It could be that it is just too hot outside and

the children’s movie festival will draw larger crowds.

Even in the heat, the street actors are performing.

Located in the area just outside the walls of the Old City,

is Khutsot Hayotser, the International Arts & Crafts Festival,

an annual summer entertainment highlight. 

 It is costly compared to other events,

 but there are many activities and it is popular with families.

Before the opening, local Israeli artists were busy getting ready.

They count on this annual event to draw visitors to their often empty lane,

which is not far from the Jaffa Gate.

The set up for this massive event

 and its security involves hundreds of people.

There are many musical and dance performances throughout the park area

 and exhibits with sales displays 

from 35 countries.

 Every night a different  musical performance is featured

in the Sultan’s Pool amphitheater,

with its huge stage

and seating stands.

 This is the 35th year of Khutsot Hayotser, 

which runs from August 2 to August 14.

Enough family fun and summer culture?  

 The beer festival is coming up next!

1500 and Still Counting

Gilad Shalit did not celebrate his 24th birthday with family and friends in Jerusalem.

He has been held captive by Hamas in Gaza for 1500 days, 

unseen by any representative of the International Red Cross and unaware of his family’s endeavors.

The original protest tent sent up on the street near the Prime Minister’s Residence was quite modest.

The number of days in captivity shown on the top getting larger every day.

Family and friends marched from the Shalit home in the North

to the Jerusalem protest tent.

Noam and Aviva Shalit settled in the begining of July, receiving visitors,

 tourists who come by

and other supporters.

Counter protesters across the street were louder than usual the evening of 1500 day “milestone” .

Police separated the opposing sides.

The media was on the scene, as the traffic backed up the length of Azza Street.

The tent city is expanding,

1501 days and still counting, the tragic situation continues.

The Streets are Full

 It is hot, very hot. Most people are trying to avoid going out in the sun,    

  

 but the streets are still full of buses, lined up at the usual tourist sites.       

      

   Jerusalem is suffering in a heat wave, with random power outages as the electricity grid is strained.         

       

 The weather is not bad for all things,        

        

         

  this  ‘recycle’  garden does not seem to be affected at all.         

                  

        

 

  Mamilla Mall was full and comfortable in spite of the high temperatures.        

        

    

 On any afternoon you might find musicians outside the walls of the Old City   

or inside them.      

      

Music can get little feet     

     

  and not-so-little feet moving.       

                       

Street musicians often play in the area around the Machane Yehudah Market, the shuk.  

         

         

          

             

The variety of instruments       

         

 entertainers,       

          

         

          

          

        

        

        

        

performers       

        

                 

          

          

          

          

          

          

          

  

 and music festivals      

 is just astounding.    

      

The month of August is full of music.      

       

        

        

        

      

From a band up on the roof in the shuk     

          

  down to the street below; there was music on Monday night.      

      

   

BenYehuda Street was full of young people who came to hear Funkenstein on a Friday afternoon.   

       

There was lots of beer and too many cigarettes.     

   

     

At the other end of the Ben Yehuda Mall, a night bus was blasting music from the top deck. 

  

      

 On Thursday night, large crowds came to Mamilla Mall     

        

and to Kikar Safra for free city concerts.     

      

     

At any time and any place, the Reb Nachman vehicles can stop, and music and dancers fill the streets.     

The streets this summer might be full of the sound of music, 

     

but until the heat wave breaks, during the day there will be lines and crowds for icy drinks too.