Jerusalem Purim Highlights

Purim.

Purim in Jerusalem is special.

Where else is Purim a three day holiday, that is celebrated for a week?

This year with corona restrictions and lockdowns, it was really different.

In years past, the Jerusalem streets were filled with happy people.

Scroll of Esther in Israel Museum illustrated and small on regular Purim exhibit

Reading Megilat Esther was a huge community event.

Synagogues were overflowing with people of all ages.

children dressed in costumes for Purim

Excited children came dressed in costumes, waiting for sweet treats.

This year, daytime readings were held in multiple locations on the hour.

Many readings took place outside with social distancing, like this one on Friday morning organized by Chabad of Rechavia.

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Following the Megillah on a cell phone has become common sight.

Readings were held at Thursday night outside. Jerusalem celebrated with the reading at the same time as the rest of Israel, on this Triple Purim year.

No costumed families in crowded malls as in past years.

But, Mamilla Mall was finally reopened and people came back to shop.

Holiday signs were placed in Kikar Safra, the Jerusalem Municipal Building.

Online programs from the Tower of David and Jerusalem Symphony special for Purim were available. But museums and some theaters are reopening for live audiences, however, with limited performances.

Jaffa Road was busy as the city is coming back to life again after the numerous business lockdowns.

People were on Jaffa Road shopping for holiday costumes before Purim.

There were a few costumes on the Jerusalem streets early in week.

New colorful plastic chairs are seen on many streets. With no inside dining allowed, the Jerusalem municipality has provided these chairs for outside.

Imagine stopping strangers on the street to take their photos? Then to find a family member who knows them – that is always a Purim favorite.

Ah, but on the Jerusalem streets, it is often hard to tell who is in costume.

On Purim day it is easier when someone waves and smiles across the road.

Live music played on this corner on Friday, providing a holiday mood.

Purim is always a good time to head to Shushan Street, near Jaffa Road.

On Sunday, the day after Shushan Purim, the Jerusalem streets really came alive with sounds of music.

Dozens of street performers in colorful costumes entertained.

One dance group was perfectly choreographed and drew admiring crowd.

Costumes were varied, colorful and plentiful, especially on Sunday.

Monsters were popular this year, like these on the Montefiore Windmill,

at the beginning of Jaffa Road overlooking Kikar Tzahal,

and at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

I hope someone explained Purim to the six new ambassadors to Israel who presented their credentials on Wednesday, entering through the main gate under the orange inflated monster.

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The ‘Follow the Lights’ event with 22 Jerusalem sites lit up at night is to run through this week.

On Purim night with the 8:30 pm curfew, these wheels were spinning.

The Knesset was lit for the ‘Follow the Lights’ but no beams on top for the three nights when coronavirus restrictions limited movement on streets.

I was glad I took this video on Monday before the the curfews began.

The Montefiore Windmill was lit up on Purim night and needed a video.

On Purim in Jerusalem, you never know what or who you will find.

When posting some Purim costume street photographs on Facebook, a person commented that it was good to see “normality” again.

Like the two giant leprechauns out for a stroll on Ben Yehudah Street?

Yoda reminds us, “The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the light, the future is.”

The Purim holiday reminds us to look to the bright side and light in the future from behind our masks.

The fourth monster in the Purim fancy dress series was the Jerusalem icon Mifletzet. The Monster in the Kiryat Yovel Rabinowitz Park wore a gold crown -corona is Spanish for a crown – this Purim holiday.

As we end this most unusual Purim, hoping next year in Jerusalem for all!

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Happy Purim!

Three days of Purim not enough? There are more photos HERE

Snow and Light in Jerusalem

Snow!

Snow in Jerusalem, Israel.

What is it about snow in Jerusalem that gets the world’s attention?

Wednesday night a blanket of white covered the Jerusalem streets.

After flurries during the day, the snow came down rapidly after dark.

Palm trees sagged under the weight of inches of snow.

I gave up trying to get clear images of people who were out walking.

The streets were full of sounds of excited children, many seeing snow for the first time, who ran out to play in the streets.

Thursday morning a significant amount remained, though not like my memories of snow storms in the northeastern US, and not as much as in Jerusalem in 2013.

But more than enough snow for the Middle East, and the cactus plant.

Friday piles of snow remained, this one in the park much to the delight of two little boys, was much prettier than the grey stuff left behind along the major streets.

What an upside-down week of weather in Jerusalem!

The beginning of the week it was warm enough to walk barefoot.

Young families still with no school could hike in the sunshine.

Spring flowers were popping up in nature areas.

The almond blossoms were out and already beginning to fall off the trees.

Work was proceeding on the roof of the new National Library.

It was a great time for letting the dogs out for a walk.

On the Knesset snow photo taken as the fog cleared, I noticed strange black things on top on the roof?

And along Hazaz Street, more lighting equipment was set up last week.

It’s for “Follow the Lights!” – February 21- March 3rd.

Special illuminated Jerusalem sites are planned to be viewed from moving vehicles. The huge projectors were placed along the road last week in preparation and I was told not damaged by the snow.

Get ready to follow the lights!

Will have to go and see if this is how it really will look tonight.

Most of the lighted sites are located where I usually walk.

The setup at the Israel Museum today was extensive.

Large structures are in place to be viewed from private cars.

Will see if everyone driving the route thru the Israel Museum parking lot really stays in their cars as instructed?

Near the Israel Museum, these bicycles line the bike path off the road across from the Knesset. Now they should be interesting lit up at night.

The snow was pretty while it lasted. But now it has melted.

Schools and malls and businesses are reopening. President Rivlin is to attend the Kahn Theater tonight to mark its reopening. The Prime Minister is headed to Eliat where hotels are to open.

The poppies were out again in Jerusalem in the sunlight.

Hopefully signs of spring and hope for a better year ahead.

Purim starts on Thursday, February 25th this year.

For one way to get into the Purim mode and mood, Tower of David has a program on Wednesday night.

Jerusalem Municipality neighborhood events are from February 22-28, not only Triple Purim – but a week, even though some coronavirus restrictions are still in place.

Dozens of Megilat Esther readings sponsored by various groups will be held. Already last year I avoided the large synagogue megillah reading for a small one, and downsized the holiday.

Hopefully next Purim we will all be back joyfully celebrating on the Jerusalem streets. But for now, you can come and enjoy the light shows.

Jerusalem Comes Out from Lockdown

Jerusalem, Israel streets began to come alive. Slowly people came out from the latest coronavirus lockdown, as from the safety of a cave or like a butterfly from its cocoon.

Each day last week I walked a different route to see what was happening on the Jerusalem streets with the lessening of corona restrictions.

People returned to the Old City as soon as the gates were again reopened.

Yes, school? No school? No Red or Orange school. Yes, Green preschool?

Confused? Here was the start of the new answer to the constant question:

Question #1 from a 6-page official document:

Does the return outline apply to all schools and nurseries throughout the country?

Answer: The outline distinguishes between localities and authorities that are in green and yellow areas and those in orange traffic light areas where physical learning has been allowed, and between authorities that are orange and red according to the traffic light model.

So? Most schools were not open, especially in Jerusalem this past week.

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, had a holiday appearance, and the sounds of laughter and smells of grilled food filled the air.

With spring-like winter weather, families flocked to green open spaces.

While many people drive south to see the flowers, I am happy to walk closer to home for those annual red anemones, the sign of spring.

Zion Square provided a place to sit, as Ben Yehudah and Jaffa Road eating places provided takeaway food. As I walked around I kept thinking of bears coming out of hibernation and hungrily looking for a first meal.

Stores were still closed on Mamilla Mall, and this was the last cyclist allowed to pass through, as people were slowly returning and walking on Mamilla Ave.

Not sure where these two women carrying bags made their purchases.

Rimon, the only cafe open, was back in business, with outside eating only.

I was disappointed to find not one hamentashen displayed in the window.

Purim is less than two weeks away, but the usual holiday excitement was not apparent this year as I walked around Jerusalem.

People were in line for eyeglasses, interesting as they were one of a few businesses allowed to be open throughout the strict corona lockdowns.

The hair salons were allowed to reopen and here a customer was having their hair done with the door open. However, next door the small clothing store was gone, out of business.

Too many small business owners forced to close for repeated corona lockdowns have given up and their vacated stores now display for rent signs.

This appeared at first to be a sorry sight on Ben Yehudah Street.

But when I looked up, new buildings towered above. Thousands of new hotel rooms should be ready when tourists come back to Jerusalem.

As for the new hotel going up on King George Street, I was wrong, it’s over 15 stories tall, not ten as I mentioned last week.

The renovation of the Knesset Museum on King George Street though is still in a very sorry state of disrepair.

The road work on Jerusalem streets continues, with closings to traffic and detours becoming the new normal.

As these new signs were going up, the street was closed briefly. There are so many new signs I may have to do a piece on some of the ones I collected.

I was relieved that these oversized signs were for phones. As the March election date approaches, we anticipate some politicians’ oversized faces will again appear here near the main entrance to Jerusalem.

King David Street is closed for repaving. However, a new sign for George Washington Street was up in time to share for the US Presidents’ Day on February 15th this year.

This Abraham Lincoln Street sign is next to the YMCA on King George Street.

But where the two US presidents’ streets meet there are no signs to share.

The YMCA will be difficult to access when it is allowed to reopen, my shortcut using this side entrance on Lincoln Street will become popular.

Lovely days and golden sunsets, and talk of possible snow by Wednesday?

Credit Photo: Haim Zach / GPO

President Rivlin took a trip to Mount Hermon this week to the snow.

When will we get back to “normal” is the big question, not if it will snow.

On Friday, my son was sitting on our porch. He looked out and said, “What’s that building? It wasn’t there last time I was here.” Not the Knesset, it has been there over 50 years, but the construction near Cinema City has mushroomed up during the past year.

Parents with young children were relieved to get out for some fun days this past week with travel in Israel less limited. But families really want to go back to school in real classrooms or even outdoors, and not at home forever zooming. There are Israeli students who have been in classrooms for only one day, though I saw a sign this week wishing students good luck on their final high school exams.

In Bnei Brak on Thursday night, free chulent was offered to people getting vaccinated. Hikers were vaccinated in an MDA Corona vaccine trailer in the Shokeda Forest.

The sun was shining and it was warm last week, what will happen next?

You never know what will happen in the Jerusalem streets!

Check back next week to find out and stay well out there.