Shabbat Shalom

I was in the Old City last night,

as the sun was setting, the sky still blue.

Not as many people around,

but I walked home at night alone, stopping to talk with friends.

These quiet evenings do not make headlines.

Shabat poster

שבת שלום

Tu B’Shevat in Jerusalem

It’s raining. It’s pouring.

It was so windy I refused to go outside.

Jerusalem, Israel, was bone chilling cold.

The eastern US coast was buried under mountains of snow.

But it was Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees,

 in spite of the winter weather today.

 Scenes from last week,

seem much more appropriate for this holiday, than grey fog.

 The flowers in pots were overflowing,

flowers outside Beit Hanasi

outside of Beit Hanasi, Israeli President’s House,

for all to see.

Israeli President's garden

Inside, the row of former Israeli Presidents greets visitors,

cat at Israeli presidents home

and the resident cat was enjoying the sun.

This cat is there all the time,

but most people do not get to enjoy the gardens.

Therefore, in honor of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of Trees,

I took special photos to share the landscape with you.

inside gate garden

Trees line the left front walk way inside,

inside entrance to Beit Hanasi

while flowers are on the right side of the entrance.

Tu B’Shevat is about the new season of fruit trees.

Olive trees grow in several places,

orange trees

 the orange trees were bursting with fruit,

kumqat tree

as were the kumquats.

Special visitors plant trees, even if it is not Tu B’Shevat,

tree planted by Obama

and one tree came from the White House.

flowers Jerusalem

Flower beds were looking good,

now that Shemitta year of no planting has ended,

rose

but one lone rose was all I saw.

First Lady Nechama Rivlin is a proud savta, grandmother,

and for Tu B’Shevat invited school children to Beit Hanasi.

cat

The cat checked out her short presentation,

but did not hang around to help,

planting beit hanasi

as planting in her new community garden began.

shul for Israeli president

Tu B’Shevat is not a time in the synagogue,

but outside planting.

Glad I was there when the sun was shining!

Now we are ready and waiting for snow,

never know what will happen next in Jerusalem.

Update:

 In case you think I was exaggerating,

this is not snow,

fog across from Knesset

but morning fog on road to Knesset,

ready and still waiting for snow.

Tu B’Shevat Celebrate Hope and Life

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat,

was not a big holiday outside of Israel.

Chewing on a piece of bokser, a hard, dried out, dark brown carob pod,

was the highlight of the international Jewish experience

of this holiday known as the New Year of trees.

In much of the northern hemisphere,

the months of January to February, when Tu B’Shevat falls,

is the dead of winter and spring buds seem far away.

But in Israel on Tu B’Shevat flowers are blooming.

In 1949, the Knesset held its first session on Tu B’Shevat.

Therefore, the 67th birthday of the Knesset,

and 50th year in present location, was celebrated

along with Tu B’Shevat, though it was a few days early.

plant for tu b'shvat

JNF had hundreds of small plants lined up on the sidewalk outside

ready for visitors to take home.

The day was overcast and sky was light grey,

outside Knesset

the wind was great for flags.

In spite of the cold,

KNesset for Tu B' Shevat

it was a great photo op for thousands who came all day long,

from young children to seniors.

There are regular public tours of the Knesset.

Knesset plenary

But this was not a regular day,

but a huge public birthday bash.

 To hear the tour guide in the main plenary.,

was only one of dozens of things happening.

Green Kenesset

Green Knesset display greeted visitors at the main door.

The main Chagall Hall is usually empty,

or set with rows of chairs for special events,

but for this special day

Mainn Chagall hall Knesset

 tables and chairs were set up like a cocktail party.

People could sit and enjoy the music

performed by professional musicians, and, for a special treat,

members of the Knesset showed their talents too.

piano at Knesset for Tu B'Shavat

MK Bezalel Smotrich played the piano,

piano Knesset Stav Shaffir

while MK Stav Shaffir played and sang.

At the other end of the hall

Knesset lego for Tu B'Shavat 67 birthday celebration

was a Knesset model made out of Lego,

and thousands of Lego pieces for anyone

Dr Lego Knesset for Tu B'shavat

to make their own masterpiece.

Members of Knesset read stories to children,

produced jam in the cafeteria,

KM Tibi at Knesset

and sat for interviews with media.

I did not stop long enough to hear what Arab MK Tibi was saying.

Down the hall this group was sitting around

Knesset birthday celebration 67

one of the games taking place around the building.

The sounds of music led us to

Music cafe in Knesset for birthday

 this dairy restaurant, turned into a Music Cafe for the day.

Talks and lectures were scheduled,

KNesset auditorium

one was to be held in the main auditorium.

In the Knesset Synagogue,

there was a special mincha, the afternoon service.

Chief rabbi at Knesset synagogue

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern

joined Knesset members, staff and guests.

After the prayer service,

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef spoke.

Tu B'Shvat foods

Tu B’Shevat treats were enjoyed by everyone.

Lining one of the corridors were the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s

posters on the history of Jerusalem.

KNesset corridor with Weisenthal Cnet historical boards

People of Hope was the title of one poster.

On a day when the mood and weather outside were both ominous,

these young people from communities all over Israel,

including bus loads of Arab high school students,

joined to celebrate the birthday of the Knesset.

It was truly a sight to see.

Knesset on 67th bitrhfday tu b'shabar

Tu B’Shevat plants for all,

Knesset herbs to visitors

the scent of herbs to enjoy.

People of Hope,

praying for so many years to return to Jerusalem.

In the past,

Tu B’Shevat for many meant giving money to plant in Israel.

This year in Israel, JNF gave me a plant.

67 years Knesset,

50 years in present location,

Happy Birthday!

Tu B’Shevat celebrations have just begun,

much more next week.

14 Jerusalem Scenes Past and Future

Last week in Jerusalem, Israel,

during the rainy weather days

top of bridge in weather

it was possible to take a color photo of the new String Bridge,

 that looked like it was black and white.

But then the sun came out,

cat

 Jerusalem’s street cats returned to bask in the sun,

cat at Beit Hanasi

and this cat was back on guard at Beit Hanasi,

the Israeli President’s residence.

Families with school-age children

education sign up

are busy trying to find the best school

for their child’s education, and space is limited.

But for others,

there was time to go by Teddy Park

Teddy Park

and watch the water in the fountain rise and fall.

The weather was sunny,

cool enough,

Teddy Park fountain

no one went into the water,

Muslim couple in Teddy Park

but nice enough to just sit on the ground and relax,

in this new park across from the Old City walls.

Cloud formations this time of year make for interesting photos.

The views of Jerusalem are constantly changing:

Center of Jerusalem construction

this large fenced-off cleared area

Jerusalem construction new statioin

and construction site across from the Central Bus Station

are signs of work well under way.

sign new city center

Posters are up announcing plans for

drastic changes to the entrance of Jerusalem,

with multiple building towers and a new fast rail system.

construction Jerusalem

City construction goes on deep underground

long before it is obvious to passers-by above.

Jerusalem Jaffa Street

Meanwhile, a walk along Jaffa Road

shows new construction rising from the old

Opening from Jaffa road to Nahlaot

and some familiar old scenes.

old building Jerusalem

Jerusalem of old

Segway riders

is constantly changing.

When the sun shines,

it is time to get out and get around.

Isn’t it time for you to see it for yourself.

Winter in Jerusalem: Good, Bad, Ugly and Beautiful

Snow in Jerusalem, Israel.

Last week snow was forecast,

but after all the excitement and buzz,

there was no snow.

Instead there was rain, lots of heavy rain and grey fog,

and no beautiful photos of white snow scenes to go viral.

We also had a garbage strike

with lots of not so pretty pictures.

I will only share one photo of an over-flowing bin

umbrellas garbage strike

of umbrellas which are useless in windy Jerusalem,

and skip the photos of mountains of ugly garbage.

The security situation did not keep me off the streets,

but the weather conditions certainly did.

With the sun now shining and warming the air,

it is time to see what is really happening.

The walk through First Station was depressing,

Waldorf - Old City 107

as at midday there it should have been full of life 

First Station no people

and more than one jewelry stall with one customer.

One family from Melbourne was wondering where all the people

were, and became my new friends and Tourist of the Week.

As for a walk through the Old City,

Jewish Quarter street empty

this pathway is usually packed with people.

I often wanted the Old City streets quiet for photos,

quiet street in old city

but this was too quiet.

Arab girls in old city

Only a few people were out enjoying the weather.

lions in Old City

Even the colorful lions were all alone.

Color, it is that time of year

when I marvel at the winter colors in Jerusalem,

red flower

red,

Aloe flowers in Yemin Moshe

orange,

yellow flowers

yellow,

green in winter Jerusalem Israel

green,

blue

blue,

Rova, flowers on Shorashim gift shop

purple,

flowers Jerusalem Israel

fuchsia,

winter flowers pink rakefet

pink,

white flowers

white,

pink and white flowers

pink and white,

sunset Jerusalem Israel sky

and the sky at sunset.

Tourists are cancelling.

Fear is keeping people away.

But those who come have had a great time.

new path in Jerusalem

These visitors from England

were able to be the first to walk on the new path,

near the skate park in Liberty Bell Park,

but more on that next time.

And the good out of the current situation?

Traffic seems to be moving better than usual.