Open Houses for Sukkot in Jerusalem

Sukkot

is the season of open houses.

The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem

opened its gates to visitors.

The beautiful gardens

and provided a perfect setting for hundreds of international tourists.

A large sign welcomed visitors to the sukkah at the Beit Hanasi,

the President’s Official residence.

However, many visitors who had passed metal detectors and x-ray machines

were forced to wait outside.

People standing in the blazing sun while the doors to the building were shut

did not feel very welcome and

 the cloth-covered barriers made it impossible to leave.

As one man began to collapse, it was too crowded for him to fall down.

The barriers slowed emergency personnel,

but at last they were able to take him inside.

Before the office door was shut, some people got a glimpse of the president.

Finally, reaching the sukkah,

it was full of color and flowers and fruit and vegetables.

Out in the garden,

Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz

seemed to be having a good time.

 

  Also many young people

            seemed to be enjoying themselves.

 For the majority of visitors, the photographs of

President Shimon Peres with former President George Bush and

the Pope were all they would see of him.

In the evening, Mayor Nir Barkat and his wife hosted an open house,

but More Open Houses will have to wait…time for the Jerusalem Parade.

Only Sukkot

Before the Sukkot holiday trees in Jerusalem are trimmed 

 

so that the branches can be used as schach to cover the tops of sukkot

There was no building freeze last week in Jerusalem as the city transformed itself for the Sukkot holiday; 

 

all kinds of sukkot — small ones on the rooftops 

 

and also large ones; 

 sukkot on the sidewalks 

 

and where the sidewalks are too narrow, in the streets; 

 

on poles off the ground 

 

and even built around trees. 

Some neighborhoods 

 

are crowded with sukkot 

 

while in others they stand alone. 

How many are there? 

 

Some are easy to see, 

 

while others are not so easy to see, 

 

and for some, well, you just have to know where to look… down. 

 

Some sukkot are very private 

others are hard to avoid. 

On Sunday there were crowds for hours after Birchat Hacohanim 

 

trying to get in to the sukkah on the plaza near the Kotel, the Western Wall 

and on Friday there were crowds of visitors at the sukkah 

 

on the grounds of the International Christian Embassy on Rachel Emenu Street. 

Whether the sukkah 

 

is a clever one on a small porch 

 

alone by the garage, 

 

or a sukkah as if on top of the world, another week and most will be gone until next year. 

 

Sukkat shalom, Sukkat shalom

Not Just Shopping

 

The quiet streets and pleasant weather on Yom Kippur were wonderful.

But traffic and humidity have returned to the Jerusalem streets,

 and so has the noise of pounding hammers, as thousands of sukkot  popped up overnight.

Then it seemed as if everyone went shopping.

 

Shopping for food,

shopping for clothes,

 shopping for…wicker.

 As the week began, 

 

colorful sukkah holiday decorations went on display

and signs went up.

A large sign announced the arba minim market off Jaffa Street, near Machaneh Yehuda, the shuk.

Outside, there were decorations, but inside

early bird shoppers could examine the merchandise carefully and avoid the crowds later in the week.

Outside the shuk,

and all around Jerusalem

 hundreds of mini-bazaars filled with sukkah decorations

and displays of etrogim and lulavim could be found.

 

Not everyone was shopping;

these workers were busy

installing bollards

and a yellow security fence

all along Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

Preparations for the Sukkot holiday events in the park were well under way on Sunday.

Visitors come from around the world for the holiday celebrations in the city center,

including thousands of Christian pilgrims for the Feast of Tabernacles parade.

 

This year, parking on the sidewalk at Gan Sacher will be very difficult, but walking should be safer.

Chag Sameach!

Happy Holiday!

 

Early and Out

At the end of the long Rosh Hashanah holiday weekend

there were mountains of garbage on some Jerusalem streets,

but sanitation workers were up early and out clearing the mess away.

It took several days for stores to restock their supplies of food and drink.

People stocked up before the long holiday weekend

causing some stores to post apologies for running out of milk.

During the week, customers had to come early before supplies of regular milk ran out.

Daylight savings time ended on Saturday night, as the clock in Israel changes after Rosh Hashanah.

Sunrise is earlier, but the merit of this law which makes the Yom Kippur fast day end earlier

and prayer times later has been questioned  because the holiday season falls so early this year.

Not everything concerned food or fasting this week.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was at the Beit Hanasi, the President’s Residence

on Wednesday morning.

After the visit, she left with a procession of vehicles, but with little fuss and no noise.

While traffic was disrupted briefly, much of the  increased traffic and honking this week is caused by

some of the thousands of visitors in rental cars trying to figure out how to get out of a wrong lane.

The Clinton motorcade and thousands of visitors passed by the growing Shalit family encampment

near the Prime Minister’s Residence, where TV trucks came early in the morning for a good parking spot

before the meeting of  Netanyahu, Clinton and Abbas on Wednesday evening .

Gilad Shalit is still being held captive in Gaza despite his parent’s extensive efforts to get him out.

Starting early in the morning, hundreds of people walked to the Old City

all day long, until late at night when

crowds of men and women filled the Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza, for special prayer services.

Over the Yom Kippur holiday there will be no car or bus traffic, and businesses will be closed.

The music on the radio before the holiday changes to somber themes

and the bus sign gives the traditional greeting for the days leading up to Yom Kippur,

“G’mar chatimah tovah”, may you be sealed for a good

and healthy New Year.

Two Holidays: Ramadan and Rosh Hashannah

Sitting in the pre-holiday traffic that seem to be everywhere  in Jerusalem,

 it is hard to believe that anyone is home cooking or cleaning for the holidays.

With the long school holiday over and children now in a full day of school,

 working parents are finally a bit less stressed,

unless they were late for pick up time because their car was not moving.

Rosh Hashana, the New Year begins Wednesday at sundown,

 and preparations for the three-day holiday fill the streets.

  Meanwhile, the Ramadan holiday is nearing its end,

for some it was difficult working in the heat and  fasting until sundown.

 For Friday prayers,

 Muslim worshippers

came by way of Mamilla Mall

and from all directions outside the walls of the Old City:

 by way of the Jaffa Gate,

towards the Arab market, the old shuk

some went thru the Jewish Quarter.

Others came alone,

 in groups,

women and children,

young men

and old.

 Over the four Fridays of Ramadan,

hundreds of thousands of Muslims came to pray in Jerusalem.

 A blimp hovered overhead

and extra police were on hand.

   The month of Elul, which precedes Rosh Hashana, the New Year,

is also coming to an end, thousands of Jewish worshipers came to the Kotel,

the Western Wall for selichot, special prayers.

 Thousands and thousands of people were in the Old City for the holidays.

May this example of peaceful co-existence continue

throughout the new year and beyond.

Shana Tova,

a good  New Year

and

 Happy Holidays to all!

Friday at the Market

Quite a roller coaster week! Funerals for the four people  murdered by Hamas terrorists,

a huge end of summer concert in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park,

and the beginning of the new school year.

A girl just off a plane from Eilat, feeling the cooler air as the airport van ascends the mountain road

to Jerusalem, tells the driver as he opens the windows:  “it feels like winter”.

All summer, in spite of the heat, a real Jerusalem experience was spending Friday afternoon in

the Machane Yehudah Market,

the Shuk, which is celebrating its 100th year.

A great place to find the basics:

meats,

cheeses

and fish.

Everything from the pasta

to the people

add color to the the Shuk.

The variety of

sweets,

olives,

and nuts can make it difficult to choose  just one.

Serious shoppers push to get their selections of vegetables,

and then have to decide which bread

or pita

or cake.

Even in the summer heat, the number of boxes,

tourists,

bus passengers,

shopping bags and cars can be overwhelming.

You never know who

or what you will find at the Shuk on Friday afternoon.