Holiday Leftovers

This year gender segregation made international headlines,

not the Hanukkah and holiday lights

nor the sights of Jerusalem.

On the last day of Hanukkah at the Great Synagogue,

hundreds of women took over and occupied the men’s section.

This women’s only gathering of prayer and performances 

 called for the unity of all the people of Israel…it did not make headlines.

Dozens of special children’s performances were held.

The thousands of chanukiot that decorated shop windows, 

 lined the sidewalks,

and eateries,

and were displayed on the tops of cars are being stored away for next year.

Traffic was a grid-lock nightmare,

with tens of thousands of international visitors in Jerusalem,

 as many gathered for weddings and various other celebrations. 

Millions of sufganiot were sold

and served over the holiday period.

 105 of the doughnuts were consumed by Elie Klein of Bet Shemesh,

as his ‘Dough for Doughnuts’  fundraising stunt inspired donations

of $14,000 from people around the world for 83 charities.

And not a crumb was leftover from my Hanukkah cookie.

It would be nice if the women’s project, “One  People”

was the headline next year.

Meanwhile, after all the days of  holiday and celebrations…

almost everyone needs a vacation.

Lights in the Square

In some Jerusalem neighborhoods, Chanukah is celebrated

  with eight nights of singing and dancing in public areas.

Following two wet and rainy evenings…for the seventh candle,

on Monday night, December 26, 2011,

the weather was perfect in Mamilla Mall.

 Men were dancing to the live music,

but everyone tried to stay clean as they ate the sufganiot.

The official Jerusalem Chanukah celebration

  ‘Or Bekikar’, ‘Light in the Square’ was held in Kikar Safra, Safra Square

 on the seventh night of Chanukah.

The program began with the lighting of the Chanukiah and blessings.

However, this festival of light had little to do with the holiday;

it was a light show with loud music.

 Traditional Chanukah characters were missing.  

Actors from the Mystorin Theatre Group circulated in the crowd,

while illuminated characters entertained from above.

Hundreds of people partied

and posed for pictures 

with the entertainers.

A female singer was the opening act on the large stage and

performers with lit torches juggled them from special small stages.

 Still more characters kept coming.

Electrical wiring strung for the evening almost caused an accident,

but audience members rushed to help and were ready 

 for the next character who was able to avoid a collision.

Lots of color and light filled Safra Square,

and DJs kept the music going during breaks in the live music.

It was especially nice to see that the event was accessible to the disabled.

The night air was getting cooler, so by the time the next performer

and the headline band came on stage,

 the glowing heaters were really appreciated by the crowd.

The audience was a mix of all ages and populations in Jerusalem.

Thousands of people were celebrating in public squares and streets

all around Jerusalem on the seventh night of Chanukah

…that was what was really happening.

More photos:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.297548310287981.68748.152997821409698&type=1

Chanukah Lights

One of the names of Chanukah is Chag ha’urim, the Holiday of Lights.

In Jerusalem on the first night of the holiday,

one could find both large public flames

and small private ones.

This bright chanukiah was on display in Mamilla Mall,

but the mall itself, inside

and out, was full of lights.

Each night of Chanukah, hundreds of people tour the Jewish Quarter of the Old City,

many are families with young children who run excitedly through the streets,

counting the lights,

 low and high above.

Some of the flames burn quietly inside a residence,

while others are placed outside by the door post

and closely attended.

The large chanukiah, at the Kotel, the Western Wall, received attention

when it was lit by the chief rabbis on the first night of Chanukah.

However, near by a couple of hours later, these two boys to the left,

  lighting two small candles attracted people who joined in the singing…

maybe off-key, but sharing the light and mood in the spirit of the holiday.

A new Chabad menorah was put up in Mamilla Mall this year

and a crowd gathered waiting for

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger to light it for the first time.

 Chanukah lights burned in a pizza shop in the Old City,

in windows in the city center

and in many windows all around Jerusalem.

So many Chanukah lights and this year for the first time there is a fire truck ready…

 by Mughrabi Bridge at the Kotel Plaza.

Happy Holiday!

Please decide for yourself on the singing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyf8f29QOdg&feature=share

chanukiah: a special menorah for Chanukah, 8 lights are the same one for each night

and 1 larger the shamash that is used to light the flames of

 the Chanukah lights.

10 Signs that Chanukah is Coming

It can be spelled differently in English every year,

but the Hanukkah season in Jerusalem is very consistent.

There are 10 sure signs that Hannukah is on its way.

1. The piles of sufganiot in all bakeries

begin to disappear at an astonishing rate.

2. Street decorations are up

and lit up at night.

3. Hanukkah menorahs are placed in public spaces and on roof tops.

This one is on top of the entrance to Bet Hanasi, the President’s official residence.

4. Dreydels and spinning tops of all sizes and colors

 and shapes can be are for sale everywhere.

5. Shopping mall aisles are filled with sweet treats.

6. At nursery schools adults are sitting on little chairs with their children,

as families race from one child’s holiday performance to the next.

7. Shoppers fill the malls

and go to Machane Yehuda Market, the Shuk, where…

8. Strawberries are in season

 and ready to taste.

9. Citrus fruits are at their peak color and flavor,

but more unusual tropical fruits are also offered for those special occasions.

And 10…you know Chanukah is here when,

the signs on the crowded buses change to Hanukkah Sameach.

Happy Hanukkah!

Fair Price

Let me begin my stating that I do not approve of any rock throwing

or any kind of violence against Israeli police or army by anyone.

 “Price Tag” reports from last week were extremely upsetting

 and they were condemned by community leaders.

But there is another phenomenon that needs to be addressed.

For years I have collected photos in a folder called “Street art:”

they are photos of signs

and colorful graffiti that I found around Jerusalem.

Recently I did a whole post using some of these pictures.

However, in the last few weeks,

the graffiti on abandoned buildings

and in the city center has noticeably increased.

Some time ago these small designs appeared outside an apartment building,

but this overnight attack on the same building and adjacent street sign is not art.

People living in the building are upset,

they contacted the authorities who just shrug their shoulders.

Jerusalem businesses have also been the target of this type of graffiti.

This drawing was found near Kikar Safra, Safra Square,

next to site of the municipal government and Jerusalem City Hall.

The walls around the monastery in the Valley of the Cross

have also been defaced by vandals recently.

“End the occupation” and other graffiti was scrawled on this public property,

an entrance to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, in the center of Jerusalem.

The media has ignored this plague of recent graffiti vandalism.

Every Friday for months Israeli activists from left-wing NGOs have been

on the scene at demonstrations where rocks are regularly thrown at Israeli soldiers.

That incitement and those extremists have been handled with “kid gloves.”

The “Price Tag” phenomenon is a terrible thing and a cause of concern,

but what is needed is fair and balanced reporting on the left and right.

Until we come together as one people and respect personal and public property,

anti-Israel forces will use all these incidents to undermine Israel’s security.

A Different Gilad

Jerusalem is often the scene for protests, some of which make the news,

such as the protest about Egged bus routes in Mea Shearim.

Another protest are these photos of several famous Israeli women,

including Golda Meir, without their faces showing.

A lone protester with a sign

and a cause is a common sight and usually ignored by the media.

 Ramat Gilad is far from the center of  Jerusalem,

but last week a new protest tent was set up where Gilad Shalit’s family had been.

Gilad Zar was killed by terrorists in 2001.

His family started a new neighborhood, Ramat Gilad,

over looking Karnei Shomron, in his memory.

Plans were approved by the Housing Ministry for 185 units in 2003,

 today there are 10 families, about 30 people living on the hilltop.

The organization Peace Now petitioned the court to destroy Ramat Gilad.

The Zar family did not stay in Jerusalem for long.

The media did not report their cause or their search for a compromise.

Now each night they are afraid the army will come to destroy their homes.

A “settlement” home… no this is in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

In the center of Jerusalem there are illegal buildings,

 in the southern Israel there were more rockets from Gaza today,

but Peace Now is worried about Gilad.

Mughrabi Bridge: Open–Shut

The news that

the Mughrabi Bridge was reopened

inspired a trip to the Old City today.

Entering the Old City by way of Jaffa Gate

as two beautiful horses were leaving,

meant having to be extra careful walking on the stones.

The scene outside the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, seemed quiet and normal.

But there was one thing I really wanted to see today and there it was inside…

the fire engine that was there to keep the entire Middle East from igniting.

In case this wooden structure leading to the Temple Mount catches on fire,

this fire truck will be there to save everyone.

The Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza,

was the background for TV cameras,

 as both international journalists

and international sport teams were visiting today.

Wonder if they noticed that at 2:00pm,

the fire truck left.

For Muslims there are ten different entrances to the Temple Mount,

for Jews and other non-Muslims, this gate is, or was, the only way to go.

As Hamas celebrates 24 years,

I wonder if any of them have actually seen what the fuss is all about?

But they are so proud to have killed 1,365 Israelis and wounded over 6,000

in these last 24 years…would they care?

Post from two weeks ago on Mughrabi Bridge:

http://wp.me/pEpmV-2h5