Jerusalem Knights and Dragons Festival

A priority for City Hall has been to encourage

 visitors to come at night to the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel.

  And the current ‘Festival of Knights in the Old City’ has done the job.

Jaffa Gate at night

Jaffa Gate is the starting point for the ‘Knights and Dragons’ theme,

Map Old City Christian Quarter

where a large map of the Christian Quarter route is displayed

 Jafffa Gate

and musicians entertain.

Jaffa Gate

Smart families got a map with the 17 station locations,

Dragon, Jaffa Gate

but does not include the many moving ‘photo ops’.

Last week I went early,

crowd at Jaffa Gate

as good photographs are hard to get at these crowded events. 

Dragon head

Near the beginning of the route was this colorful dragon head.

Castle

A cardboard castle and its defending knight were ready for photo action,

Knights Inn

near the real Knights’ Palace.

alley way

One lane was dark,

Dragon, Knight Festival Old City

but most were well-lit and many costumes added color.

actors in costume

 Actors were ready for the shows to begin.

Barber shop Old city

A barber shop was open under one of the red festival signs,

actors in costumes

which pointed to the actors getting ready in Muristan Square.

As I said, smart people took a map.

This was not the first time I got confused at Muristan Square

street Old City

and headed in the wrong direction, 

but this was the first night of Eid Al-Adha, the Muslim ‘Feast of Sacrifice’.

It was so crowded on the narrow paths

that I did not get a photo of the smelly animal being pushed in a cart.

His sad eyes seemed to know he was going to be the feast.

Arab woman and man, nijab

Following closely to an English-speaking tourist group,

I got only this one picture of a candy store.  

Finally,

spotting a sign to the Via Dolorosa, I headed out of the Muslim Quarter.

men smoking water pipes

Retracing some of my route, I noticed these smokers were gone,

 the lane was dark and quiet for festival visitors.

actors in Muristan Square

The actors were in Muristan Square and so was the “EXIT” sign.

signs Knights Jerusalem, Old City shuk

I do not know if the free Jerusalem Knights Festival

brought paying customers to shops, but many more were open

than for the first night of the Festival in October 2010.

gladiators, Old City , Jaffa Gate

Back near Jaffa Gate, large crowds were watching gladiators fight

girls dancing

and dancing-girls.

kids at Jerusalem festival, Jaffa Gate

Hundreds of families, many with young children,

seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Many children were on their parents’ shoulders,

as it was very hard to see the performers.

I found a bench to stand on, 

picture children on balcony

but I think this family had the best view.

Picture Jerusalem at night

And as usual, when tens of thousands of people come,

 the Jerusalem streets fill with traffic in all directions.

photo Jerusalem festival knights

There are still two more Thursday nights in November to enjoy the festival.

If you cannot come and want to see more:

 additional photos on The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook page.

9 Special Signs of Jerusalem

I love the signs in Jerusalem, Israel.

I wonder if it’s a ‘Only in Israel’ thing? 

Here are photos of 9 of my favorite signs.

welcome to school sign

1. The city of Jerusalem wishes students good luck on the new school year.

sign

2. This sign was only up for a short time. I’m not sure how authentic

the “cheeps” were, but they are still in business with a different sign.

sign misspelled

3. When it comes to English spelling, this is an example of excellence.

sign old city

4. The city in its wisdom is changing all “ch” to “h” in street signs.

It works for “Habad” Street, but “Hen” Street?

5. Then there are the Hebrew equivalents for English brand names,

like “Crocs.”

6. This sign in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, is just asking to be touched.

voting sign

7. New signs are up for the municipal elections to be held on November 20  

for community representatives in “Heart of the City” neighborhood. 

Yad Ben Zvi

8. Remember this old sign at the entrance to “Yad Yitzchak Ben-Zvi,

the library of the former Israeli President?

Yad Ben Zvi building

This is the sign on the brand new Yad Ben-Zvi building

to be dedicated tonight,

  which will house its international school on Jerusalem studies.

sign

9. Sometimes it is hard to know which way to go 

and even harder to predict what will happen next.

Southern Israel has been bombarded by rockets from Gaza,

though you would never know it by the media headlines.

If this post seems too lite under the circumstances,

please read this brilliant blog which sums it all up so well.


Hadassah Women Cause Chaos in Center of Jerusalem

This week Hadassah celebrated its 100th birthday with 

its centennial convention in Jerusalem, Israel.

red flag

Red Hadassah banners are flying on the streets near hotels, 

as 2000 women and associates converged for a very special dedication.

Hadassah Hospital Jerusalem

The impressive Hadassah Medical Center covers a vast campus.

Construction of its newest building has taken years,

construction cranes

in October 2009, construction work could be seen above ground.

Hadassah construction

By November 2010, much of the outer structure was completed,

construction

 work often extended well into the night.

Hadassah new building

As part of  the centennial celebration this week,

the new medical center building was dedicated.

I wish I could show you inside

Hadassah hospital

where Israeli Jews and Arabs work side by side

to give and receive the same expert medical care.

Hadassah has accomplished so much and has reason to be proud.

A salesperson in a shop in the center of Jerusalem complained that  

Hadassah red shirts

 those Hadassah people in red tee-shirts were causing chaos in town.

Hadassah , red shirts

Really?

Please friends keep shopping and come back to Jerusalem, Israel, 

to cause this kind of chaos anytime!

flag 100

Happy 100th birthday Hadassah,

 thank you and keep up the great work!

Updated with special thanks to Karen F. for sending photos of those red shirts!

After the Holidays, What Now?

For months people have said “after the chagim

well, the time has now arrived and the holidays are over.

Yesterday the winter session of the Knesset began in Jerusalem, Israel,

only to shut down a few hours later, to prepare for elections in January.

Knesset

However, the lights were still on in the building when I went to sleep.

Over 40 rockets fired from Gaza fell already this week in the South.

There is the nuclear threat from Iran.

No one knows what will happen next on the Jerusalem streets,

but there certainly are many cameras on hand to record it.

Muslim Quarter

Sukkot holiday crowds pushed through the Old City to the Kotel,

 the Western Wall,  for Birchat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing.

photographers Jerusalem

Photographers were ready for action in the crowded Muslim Quarter.

photographers Jerusalem

Serious cameras were there to get close-ups of the faces.

Old City

Thousands of smiling visitors posed for their moment.

Meir Goldreicht

There were so many phones out taking photos,

Kosel crowd

 many were photos of the holiday crowds at the Kotel.

In the sukkah at Beit Hanasi, the President’s residence,

sukkah

not only people posed for photos,

seeing eye dog

but even this dog stopped and posed.

kids camera

There were children taking pictures

Shimon Peres

and official photos with President Shimon Peres as well.

Having your camera handy is a good thing, 

mime

as you never know when you will need it on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem parade

At the Jerusalem Parade, marchers took photos with and of the spectators.

Nigerian tourists

Who knew so many Nigerians were camera crazy?

Jerusalem streets are narrow,

a car on the corner can make it impossible for a truck to pass.

cars

This looked like possible trouble, so I took a photo of the scene.

Not everyone wants me to take their photos, that is for sure.

pose for camera

 In fact, this man jumped out of his truck and started towards me!

I sure was relieved that all he wanted was for me to take his photo!

Most people are back to work.

School classes are in session until Hanukkah,

the universities start next week.

One might expect quiet streets, 

but yesterday there were crowds and shofars and cameras

bar mitzvah

and drums for a bar mitzvah boy’s celebration.

Gotta love those Jerusalem streets,

where you never know what or who you will find.

10 Special Smiles in Sukkot Holiday Crowds

While the mainstream media did an extensive job of covering

 the “riots on the Temple Mount,”  there was far less coverage of how

Jerusalem, Israel, was crowded with visitors for the Sukkot holiday.

It was impossible to count the huge numbers in the Old City,

 as Birchat Kohanim attracted crushing crowds.

Palestinian woman Jerusalem

This Arab woman may not have smiled,

but she did not fear revenge as she tried to pass through the crowd.

 Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, held a sukkah open house.

crowd

 Thousands of people waited in long lines to see dancers and singers

perform in the outside gardens,

Shimon Peres

while Israeli President Shimon Peres sat and smiled on stage.

Thousands and thousands of visitors were on the Jerusalem streets, 

smile

but this stunning beauty made me think to share a few of the faces 

smile

and smiles that stood out in the crowd.

Jerusalem parade

For the Jerusalem Parade over 6000 people from all over Israel

and from 60 countries marched through the center of town.

There were only two participants from India,

but many countries had very large delegations.

Spectators, including many young children, were excited 

to see the costumes and receive small flags from around the world.

smile

This young woman offering a snack to marchers

received many smiles and thanks. 

For more parade photos see The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook page.

As usual there were countless meetings with friends

and family reunions during the holiday vacation week.

smile

How special to be able to smile when organizing a group

that does not show at the right place or the right time.

Many people stopped and smiled in the Kikar Zion, Zion Square, 

kids

as Chabad had young boys offering lulav and etrog to those who passed by.

smiles

There were so many smiling faces of children on family outings.

This mime on a street corner got attention, a smile and money.

There were too many concerts and musical events to mention,

but one of the last ones was Hakafot Hasheniot, the second Hakafot.

For the 31st year, live music and dancing

energized Gan Hapa’amon, the Liberty Bell Park.

hakafos

Hundreds without tickets had to stand in the back,

but some were still able to smile at the end of a long holiday week.

Both of Israel’s Chief Rabbis addressed the gathering,

as did Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Seven times men were called to the stage to dance with the Torah scrolls

and women were dancing and smiling too.

 More photos in The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook Hakafot album.

There were colorful characters

clowns

even clowns on the streets,

family smiling

but I especially liked the many families with big smiles.

That is it.

 Holiday time is over.

Now it is back to school and back to work.

Favorite Sukkot of Sukkot

The Sukkot holiday is over and as the tourists are heading home,

 I would like share a few favorite Sukkot from this year.

warning sign

In some neighborhoods there were so many visitors

that warning signs were posted asking for quiet.

In the Nachlaot neighborhood, 

Sukka

I found this tiny sukkah down a narrow lane

Sukka

and another one almost hidden up on a roof top.

sukkah

At the Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza, where there was a large sukkah 

as well as smaller ones for the huge crowds of visitors.

peres

The public was invited one morning to visit the sukkah at Beit Hanasi,

the official residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Arriving inside the building after a long wait outside,

Israel president

 many stopped to peak in 

to the President’s Official State receiving room,

sukkah

before passing through to the sukkah.

sukka

As usual the President’s sukkah was not designed for eating,

but rather for showcasing the fruit and agricultural wonders of Israel. 

sukka

Many hotels had large sukkot, where thousands of visitors ate.

large sukkah

The large sukkah at Kikar Safra, Safra Square,

looked the same as in recent years, but

sukkah decoration

inside it was decorated with unique decorations using recycled plastic.

sukka

Sukkot ranged from the most simple,

sukka

to a ‘political’ sukkah on poles,

sukka

to this colorful beer bottle decorated bar sukkah.

Perhaps the biggest difference from last year was Jaffa Road.

Jaffa Street

Jaffa Road was lined with sukkot and crowded.

The Jerusalem light rail trains were running and filled with people,

last year they were going, but filled with sand bags on trial runs.

Jaffa Road

The city center was busy day and night.

sukkah

Our sukkah was a busy place too, I just wish it hadn’t rained

so hard during the main course at dinner the first night. 

sukkah

It was indeed a very happy Sukkot holiday in Jerusalem, Israel.

If you missed it perhaps, next year in Jerusalem?

Birchat Kohanim Attracts Kotel Crowds

The annual Birchat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing 

at the Kotelthe Western Wall, on Chol HaMoed Sukkot,

is known to attract large crowds.

Jaffa Gate

Entering the Old City by way of the Jaffa Gate the crowds looked normal,

with the plaza all ready for a large Sukkot holiday fair.

Muslim Shuk. Arab market

The Muslim Shuk was set for the Jewish crowd, with talitot for sale

Arab shuk, Muslim Quarter

and there was even an Israeli flag on display.

Muslim Quarter

I started out late, and was surprised to find that

the route to the security entrance was not the one I usually take.

crowd birchas kohanim

The crowd grew and waited very impatiently

 there was nearly a riot as security personnel would let no one in.

Jerusalem riots

It was very hot, uncomfortable and impossible to move,

then the crushing crowd surged forward and pushed everyone along.

Wailing WAll

Inside the plaza area I saw the regular crowded holiday scenes,

Kossel

with people as far as you could see, both to the right

lulav sukkot

and to the left.

Western Wall

The Kotel, the Western Wall is usually packed with people on Sukkot,

Kossel Sukkot

and certainly for the Birchat Kohanim.

This year, 

Birkat Chohanim

there were people watching 

Old City Sukkot

from rooftops,

Kosel Sukkos

stairwells and small passages.

There seemed to be fewer kohanim

Birkat kohanim

   with arms raised and covered by white talitot, but

birchas kohanim

 there were hundreds of raised arms taking photos on their cellphones.

Old City

After the blessing, the trick was to find a way to leave,

birchas chohamin

again pushing through the crowds. 

Aish Ha torah

At least this man found some solitude

in the sukkah on the roof of Aish HaTorah.

.

Old city streets

Regular folks grabbed whatever spot they could,

Old City streets

while others slowly proceeded out to the Jewish Quarter.

I thought that I was finished with the crowds, but then I went to Beit Hanasi

for the Israeli President’s annual open sukkah.

Wow, was I wrong–but those photos

will have to wait for later, as there are more crowds 

again on the streets for the Jerusalem Parade. 

Whatever estimates you see quoted for this year’s Birchat Kohanim, 

they will have to be low if they do not include the thousands 

who were outside the plaza area and unable to get in.

Moadim L’Simcha !