Some Signs of Progress

Progress…The Jerusalem light rail system now has power for the entire length of its track.

At long last, it is much easier to cross at the intersection of Jaffa and Strauss Streets in the center of town.

A short walk from that intersection is the Bikur Cholim Hospital,

which has provided medical care in Jerusalem for over 140 years.

The privately owned buildings are threatened with closure.

There is a serious shortage of hospital beds and neonatal units in Jerusalem.

                                                 6000 babies are born here every year; where will the mothers go?

 Bikur Cholim Hospital was critical in saving many lives when suicide bombers targeted the city center,

now 30 million shekel is needed to keep the hospital running.

Signs to rally residents’ support are plastered along the street.

Doctors and staff who are facee with losing their jobs and pensions have recently organized protests.

 Knesset Member  Ahmed Tibi, who trained as a obstetrician, did part of his residency

at Bikur Cholim, publicly supports keeping it open, as do many residents and patients.

Today there will be a four-hour strike,  and non-essential  personal will be on the streets in a protest.

All around hospital buildings there is new construction.     Signs of  progress?

The old stone buildings next door have been razed and

the area between the hospital and

and  Ticho House on Rav Kook Street is being excavated for development.

Last week, if one took a short walk along Jaffa Street to the walls of the Old City,

Jaffa Gate Square was once again the place where the city is distributing free Christmas trees.

 Last year these bins were quickly emptied.

Again this year Santa was available to pose with a tree for photographers.

 

The free trees provided by the Municipality and the Jewish National Fund

were given to those who showed proper identification.

Organized distribution…a sign of progress! 

  

While we think of those in the northeastern United States dealing with too much snow,

 there is no snow or much-needed rain here, just sunshine and warm temperatures perfect for jogging,

walking or sitting in the park,

and for thousands of holiday visitors.

As 2010 comes to an end, there are no visible signs of progress on the release of Gilad Shalit, 

 each morning the numbers on the sign change as the days of captivity increase.

Sunrise, Sunset

As the world focused on the lunar eclipse coinciding with the equinox,

visible in North America,

 the full moon over Jerusalem seemed exceptionally large and bright

and the views from the Jewish Quarter in the Old City were spectacular.

The days will be getting longer as the seasons change.

Sadly, retired Chazan Yaakov Yitzchak Spanglet,  

formerly of  Toledo, Ohio passed away quietly during the night.

Beloved  ‘Jack’ came to America as a young child, grew up in New York,

and raised his family in Ohio.

He had the zechut, the merit, to spend the last two decades

of his long life in Israel surrounded by family.

 

 “One season following another” was one of his favorite lyrics, 

 from ‘his’ song …”Sunrise, Sunset”.

 He will be remembered fondly by friends, his wife,

and many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

May his memory be a blessing.

Just Some Smoke

Hours after another firefighter died from his injuries in the Carmel fire,

around mid-day on  Sunday,  Jerusalem firefighters are on the scene

as smoke is coming from the roof of the Dan Panaroma Hotel. 

Fire trucks line the street in front of the hotel.

Firefighters go up and down in their extension ladder several times,

but traffic does not even slow down to notice. 

 

There was a lot going on: firefighters dressed in full gear,

a water pumper truck,

water spraying,

 two firefighters in hazmat suits,

 

and only a few people slowing down to look.

The ladder comes down,

 time to pose for a photo

 

with the fire equipment. 

Just another day on the Jerusalem streets… 

 

A New Day

 On Tuesday, December 14, the skies clear, the sun comes out

and the clean up from the storm begins.

This large tree fell across a back yard during the storm,

 

with its branches blocking a public walkway and knocking a light pole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signs have been up announcing local community council elections.

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              December 14 is to be a new day in Jerusalem politics.

One place to vote is in the Ohel Aharon Synagogue, up the steps on the left, with no wheelchair access.

Oops, it seems the street number advertised in the newspaper is incorrect.

The English notice in the paper reads, “Possible to vote for any voting area from each ballot box.”

How many times can you vote?

The polling station opened later than the announced 8:00 am, some impatient voters did not wait around.

At 8:30 am, it takes no time to mark off two names on the simple paper ballot with a pen,

 but before election day it was not easy to find information on the candidates’ qualifications.

The blue cardboard voting booth is a statement of simplicity.

There were mobile ballot boxes at several locations, one in Katamon arrived an hour late.

 

The voter turn out looks better in the evening, as there are people waiting in line and a second booth.

 

Free drinks were offered to voters at the mobile ballot box at Coffee Shop at night

and around “Ginot Ha’ir”, of the the five Jerusalem neighborhoods voting this year,

 many free events were held during the day to entice young voters.

‘Ginot Ha’ir” is a newly created electorial entity that includes all the residents

of all the small neighborhoods from Rechavia to the German Colony and Greek Colony.

The tree is cut up

and pieces are going in a bin,

and hopefully the steps will be cleaned soon.

It has been ten years since the last local elections, some councilmen were appointed by Teddy Kollek,

 it may take some time to see the results of this election.

Meanwhile.

it is the last weekend of Hamshushalim,

a Jerusalem winter weekend festival with special discounts in many restaurants and museums,

so might as well enjoy .

All about the Weather

While much of the world is discussing politics,

in Jerusalem it is all about the weather.

As Chanukah ended,

weather forecasters warned of a big storm approaching from Europe.

On Thursday at sunset, clouds were gathering in the sky above the Judean Hills.

 Over the weekend, it rained,

dirt… not much water fell.

Day and night the winds were strong, enough to inflate this motorcycle cover.

Blowing sand looked like a snow storm in this night photo.

Finally, Sunday night the much anticipated rain started,

and by Monday enough rain fell to clean the cars.

 

Lots of trees came down from the winds and rain.

Branches were piled on sidewalks

all around the city.

Puddles of water

filled many streets.

On Monday, people started to come outside, the winds died down and it was possible to use an umbrella.

It is finally cold enough for winter clothing, unless you are a schoolboy,

some of the boys were wearing short sleeve shirts on the playground at recess.

 A street cleaner was out today, though I’m not sure what he was cleaning on the street.

Everyone is certainly glad that the air is cleaner.

Now it’s back to politics…

A Taste of Chanukah

 Chanukah 5771

For the holiday of lights

there were many,

many lights.

It did rain-finally-but not much; there was  plenty of thick fog the morning after.

There were celebrations

and decorations.

The Old City was busy day and night.

There were dreydels to spin

and Chaunkah gelt, chocolate coins to win.

The crowds and signs of the holiday were everywhere, even the buses said “Happy Chanukah”.

Tastes of Chanukah have come a long way, with exotic new varieties of suffganiot

and chocolates.

As the Chanukah season comes to an end, thousands of visitors are going home.

After eight days celebrating the holiday of oil, many people are not sad, but very happy…

as the strawberry season has begun.

Happy Chanukah! 

Just Chanukiot

In Jerusalem, the variety of chanukiot, Chaunkah menorahs,

seems without end.

In Mamilla Mall, a traditional style

is on display near the unusual

 and the hard to describe.

 There are chanukiot on top of tall buildings.

One ‘candle’ is added each night to the chanukiah on the Knesset building.

This store display of silver ones was dazzling, 

but the first night of Chanukah these simple wine bottles

in a bar window were also beautiful, 

as was the chanukiah on a fast food restaurant counter in the Old City.

The chanukiah in the Mahane Yehudah market, the shuk,

had lanterns for lights. 

Someone might assume there is religious significance to plastic chairs,

as there are so many

chanukiot placed on them.

Every night the Old City has been full of walking tours,

with people wandering  the streets looking for lights

in normally shuttered windows.

The chanukiah near the Kotel, the Western Wall, is very impressive,

as is the one which reads “Gilad Shalit lives” and

this chanukiah which remembers all the MIA’s.

And Chanukiot line some of the main streets.

 CHANUKAH SAMEACH

Happy Chanukah