Sometimes you have to get out of Jerusalem, Israel, to appreciate the view.
All this rain we have been having may dampen our spirits, but it is fabulous for making the countryside green.
From the roads leading out of Jerusalem the valley is at its best.
Once on the road south, you see flat land and wires stretched across it.
Farmers working between the rain storms along the way.
February and March, and southern Israel is famous for its red flower festival.
However, once again southern Israel has red alerts, not flowers.
The sign at Kibbutz Alumim was the same as on our previous visit in December 2012.
The electric security fence was opened carefully for our arrival.
The green fields of the agricultural kibbutz stretched into the distance.
But it you turned around, another sign warned of the Gaza border ahead.
From the fields of Kibbutz Alumim, the Gaza border and buildings beyond are clearly in view.
Because of missiles and rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel, these bomb shelters are situated next to the factory. Workers have seconds to get inside to safety when a red alert warns of an oncoming projectile.
Alumim has two Iron Domes positioned for protection from Hamas and its rockets.
Why live in southern Israel? It’s beautiful. Israelis have made the desert bloom.
When Hamas is not firing these missiles, it is a wonderful place.
Long time resident Esther took time to share with us a bit of her story.
Rafi’s house, and every home, has a bomb shelter bedroom. Sealed rooms have again become a necessity with nightly rockets from Gaza.
Twenty years living under fire from Gaza. Esther and others try to keep a positive attitude, to make music chimes from missiles.
Kibbutz Alumim had no red alerts when we were there last week, after a night of terror when a house in Sderot was hit. However, the newest round of red alerts included Alumim. The residents of southern Israel are weary, tired of red alerts, and want to go back to being known for their red flowers.
Eight days of Hanukkah in Jerusalem, Israel, are not enough.
With so many things happening, one has to make a list and organize the time carefully.
Lighting the large hanukkiah by the Kotel, the Western Wall, is a popular annual evening event.
New this year, the Prime Minister and US Ambassador conducted a special lighting ceremony,
but it was a very private event on a different hanukkiah, shielded from the heavy rain and curious spectators.
As usual, a large electric hanukkiah was lit each night of Hanukkah over the Knesset.
New this year was the hanukkiah erected on top of the Hadar Mall in Talpiot.
Advertised as one of the world’s biggest Hanukkah menorahs, it measured 11 meters tall and 56 meters wide.
But Hanukkah candles are best lit in the home, as illustrated in this new projection on the Old City walls near Jaffa Gate.
One of the most famous of photos of a Hanukkah menorah hangs on the wall at Yad Vashem, next to the real one displayed in a glass case. It shows a hanukkiah in the city of Kiel, Germany in 1932, with the Nazi flag flying across the street. This hanukkiah is lit each year by members of the family that owned it, its lights burning on after the fall of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
Before Hanukkah shops featured selections to satisfy every fashion and taste.
On Jerusalem streets one could find a lone hanukkiah lit outside a home,
or dozens shining brightly outside a yeshiva dormitory.
The idea is to show, share, and enjoy the lights in celebration of the miracle of Hanukkah.
With a simple hanukkiah at home,
or a large hanukkiah at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, Hanukkah was a special time.
The President hosted multiple groups over Hanukkah, morning and night, to join in lighting ceremonies, including groups of Holocaust survivors and children.
This Paralympic athlete who was honored to light at one ceremony had a favorite smile.
Did you know Jerusalem has a street named for Judah the Maccabee?
On the building at #7 Judah Maccabee Street was this holiday themed graffiti.
Large crowds were found in Mamilla Mall for candle lighting, with music, singing and dancing.
The last night of Hanukkah there was a glorious sky at sunset. You see a glimpse of it to the left. We were on our way to one last Hanukkah party in heavy traffic, and slowed to take this photo. Seems like this cyclist stopped as well, along with the cars slowing to watch.
Missed a great sunset photo, but in spite of traffic made it to Hub Etzion in time for Michael Oren to light the hanukkiah and celebrate at the last Hanukkah party for this year.
In recent years the walls of the Old City were lit up with projections for Hanukkah.
This year again a favorite with Hanukkah greetings in multiple languages.
Inside the walls by Jaffa Gate, the Old City was the site of a Hanukkalayim Festival.
Live performances, music and more lights for Hanukkah.
Glad I went on Wednesday night.
On Thursday it started raining, pouring, and raining some more.
The Bloomfield Science Museum had special Hanukkah fire exhibits and was packed.
Other museums were filled as a day at the zoo was not good option.
Going to the Israel Museum had been our original plan. Viewing menorahs from 4th – 5th century CE in Tiberias, from the Susiya synagogue in the Hebron hills. and from Beit Shean in 5th – 7th century CE, our visit fit the Hanukkah spirit perfectly.
Thankfully the weather was perfect for the first Jerusalem Hanukkah Together Parade as it went down King David Street.
Famous balloons did not include Spider-Man, Kung Fu Panda, Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and Pokemons, but included “others” and Jerusalem basketball players.
Rain was no problem for a serious game of Hanukkah dreidel.
Tons of suffganiot were consumed.
These colorful ones were not a favorite, I prefer a fresh, simple glazed donut.
For those wanting a healthier Hanukkah option, there were these any time favorite pomegranates in Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk.
The hanukkiah on top of Hadar Mall, changed colors in this short video.
The projections on the walls of Old City near Jaffa Gate also need a video presentation to appreciate why it was favorite.
A final favorite hanukkiah is found on top of the Sderot Yeshivat Hesder.
This hanukkiah is made of projectiles fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
Hanukkah lights shone in the dark, from Sderot, from Jerusalem, from Israel,
tens of thousands of burning, shining lights in the night.