End of the Year

As the year 5771 ends and Rosh Hashanah quickly approaches,

for many it is out with the old

and in with the new.

Gan Hasoos, the Horse Park, cleaned of its tents and mess looks bigger and

you can see the horse again… now it looks and feels like a new park.

It is clean up time for the overflowing notes at the Kotel, the Western Wall.

King George Street was not a good site for a non-Kosher restaurant… it is out too.

May the new year be one of unity,

color and beauty,

age and wisdom,

faith and security,

safety and life,

a good year  for all.

The year ends once again with Gilad Shalit not home for the holidays

and buses in holiday mode,

Shanah tovah!  

A very good and healthy new year to all.

Shalom

  The Real Jerusalem Streets

Friday Riots

Following weeks of drama and hype, doomsday scenarios

and talk of possible riots on the day Abu Mazen spoke at the United Nations,

we had to go and see what was really happening.

 Friday afternoon, September 23, 2011 in Jerusalem was no apocalypse.

Clashes may make the headlines, but on the real streets…

little children walked home from school,

 couples were out on dates and many streets were quieter than usual.

The United States Consulate told its employees to stay away from the Old City

and many overseas year programs told their students to stay away as well.

However, dozen of buses of tourists from around the world arrived all afternoon,

a Kim Clement tour group brought 11 bus loads of Christian visitors

to the Kotel, the Western Wall, and the Old City.

Meanwhile, a young woman sat with her little children in the Jewish Quarter

and little girls went by themselves for ice cream.

In the Arab shuk hundreds of people passed freely all afternoon.

There was no question that security precautions were higher than usual.

Did this tour group notice the ramp to the Temple Mount full of Israeli security

ready for trouble as the mid-day Muslim prayers ended?

But the number of Muslim worshipers passing thru the Jewish Quarter

was much less than on a regular Friday afternoon.

The season’s first rain clouds were gathering,

resulting in cooler temperatures and a few drops of rain!

Who could imagine that there would be more rain drops than protesters?

The police left, certainly relieved that there was nothing for them to do.

 Silwan seemed quiet and still,

as security people went home and Shabbat guests arrived.

A Muslim woman walked by a small group that gathered

 as Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch was ready to leave.

Israeli Police Chief  Yochanan Danino was all smiles as he got in his car

and seemed not to mind saying a little prayer before he left.

Clashes with Israeli soldiers make headlines,

but on Friday afternoon in Jerusalem

 the stores closed early for the Sabbath… not for riots.

Racist State

This September, the opening sessions of the United Nations in New York

are to host “Durban 3″ and a Palestinian bid for statehood.

The United Nations seems to have forgotten that,

it voted on November 29, 1947 to partition the British Mandate of Palestine

into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.

Jewish people rolled up their sleeves, collected funds to buy land and built the land.

The Arab nations rejected the partition plan and attacked the new state of Israel.

In May 1948 the Jordanian legion captured and occupied Jerusalem,

the land to the east toward the Jordanian border became known as the West Bank.

Most of the land in the West Bank is hilly, rocky and until after 1967 was empty.

In 1964 when the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded,

there were no Jews allowed

to live in “East” Jerusalem,

which includes areas to the north, south and west of Jerusalem.

Mamilla was a no man’s land, needed to protect Israel from Jordanian snipers.

Today Mamilla is a shopping mall,

busy day and night

offering employment to many.

Under Jordanian occupation in 1948, all the Old City’s synagogues were destroyed

and all Jews were forced to flee their homes in the Jewish Quarter.

The recently restored Hurva Synagogue is no longer a hurva, a ruin,

and stands in the center of the re-established ancient Jewish neighborhood.

The Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza is now open to everyone.

 Arab families make use of the new light rail, when trains are working,

or ride the bus which is usually faster.

An Arab woman can walk alone unafraid in the center of Jerusalem.

Young Arab women sit and eat in the center of a main street crowd.

While the Palestinian Authority prepares to go to the UN for a state

which insists that it will not allow Jews and homosexuals,

Arabs live and work freely in Israeli Jerusalem.

At this new UN conference on racism,

will Israel once again be singled out as a racist state ?

Does the UN care at all about the truth?

New Season

As the death toll in Syria grows higher daily,

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyir Erdogan comes to the Middle East

to slam and slander Israel.

Fatah is rallying for protests prior to the vote on a UN Statehood bid for Palestine.

Leaders seem to be benefiting from the “Arab Spring” even if their people are not.

How ironic it is that in the midst of all the tempest,

Standard & Poor upgraded Israeli’s credit rating to A+.

A microcosm of what is happening on the real streets can be found

  in and around Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital.

Everyday, all day and night, new patients check into Emergency,

 the doctors strike may have  increased the number of patients coming to this ER.

There is a shortage of beds and overcrowding, but construction of a new building

and, as everywhere in Jerusalem, a shortage of parking spaces.

A cross-section of the population, Arab and Israeli, religious and not,

pass through the courtyard which is being renovated,

 often it is easier to enter by way of the ER entrance.

Inside, the days go into night with a rhythm and routine,

a cycle of new life and death,

so many amazing photos we can not show for ethical reasons.

While on the outside,

a Red Crescent ambulance sped in so fast it was impossible to photograph.

The  Betar practice field near-by is getting ready for the new soccer season.

Many and varied musical programs were performed,

 this one, by the Voca People, was held at the Israel Museum.

Down the road, the pomegranates at the Botanical Gardens look almost ripe.

No one knows when or how the “Arab Spring” will end,

but in Jerusalem there is evidence of a new season.

New Soldiers

It is not surprising that the UN is critical of Israeli soldiers.

It is also no surprise that a leader of the tent protest is a draft dodger.

What is a surprise, however,  

is that in spite of what seems to be constant negative press,

hundreds of young men and women from around the world,

still leave their families to volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces.

One group of August inductees was treated to a Yom Kef, a Fun Day,

at the Zippori Center at the edge of the Jerusalem Forest.

The pool was a contrast to their  base in the hottest part of the country.

Some of the new soldiers are from Austria, Moscow, South Africa, Ethiopia, 

one attended a private school on the Upper West Side of NYC ,

and three were from the Chabad community in Crown Heights.

They are a very diverse group of young men

who share a common dedication to Israel and its protection.

 

Their officers stayed alert,

but even they were able to relax a bit before the day was over.

Good food and not having to clear your plates were most appreciated.

Israeli soldiers with guns may be the media image,

but for the new soldiers

and not so new soldiers

 cell phones

and smiles were the norm.

After watching a video about the much too short life of

 Michael Levin, z”l,  a lone soldier from Philadelphia, PA,

who was killed in the Second Lebanon War,

the new soldiers changed back into uniform and posed for a group picture.

Even though the party was over,

 there were still plenty of smiles on the way back to the bus.

We wish the 5000 lone soldiers who serve in the IDF a good year

and to all our soldiers…a safe tour of duty!

The Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin

was started by a group of dedicated volunteers,

many who served as lone soldiers themselves,

after Michael’s death his parents have added their support.

For more information see:  http://lonesoldiercenter.com/

 and 200 more photos on The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook page.