Protesting the Histadrut Protest

It is Israeli election season.

Again.

And way too soon for most of the people that I know.

Anglo Voters  are not being ignored for a change.

Among the numerous election banners,

political sign in Hebrew

 was this sign, “Us or Him”

opposing Bibi for Prime Minister

posted across from his house in Jerusalem, Israel.

Mostly I have tried to avoid sharing the unpleasantness.

street closed near PM house protest

But today a large Histadrut rally was taking place,

protest Jerusalem

in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence,

and streets were closed off for more than two hours.

protest near Israeli Prime Minister house

These men were blowing loudly on their whistles.

Pepe Alau

Jerusalem Council member Pepe Alalu

of Meretz political party

Histardut rally

was on his way to join the bus loads of protesters.

I was on my way back home from a meeting

after the protest rally ended,

protest sign by garbage

and I saw this sign by a trash can,

people leaving rally

as bus loads of people wearing white Histadrut hats left.

Freedom of speech.

Protest away, as loud as you want,

block traffic and inconvenience others,

garbage left after Histadrut rally

but how dare they leave our streets lined with liter!

At least one person got employment from today’s event.

Look who was cleaning up afterwards,

histadrut rally 016b

a Jewish man wearing zizit under his yellow safety vest.

Bibi was not even around for the event,

as he was on his way to the airport and his flight to the US.

His parting remarks:

“A few days before the Fast of Esther,

I am leaving for Washington on a fateful, even historic, mission.

I feel that I am the emissary of all Israelis,

even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish People.

I am deeply and genuinely concerned for the security of all Israelis,

for the fate of the nation, and for the fate of our people

and I will do my utmost to ensure our future.”

At least the Histadrut could clean up after themselves.

Good February Signs in Jerusalem

The sun is shining.

The sky is blue,

and it is warm enough to open the windows.

The snow has melted and it is history,

except for some ugly piles of plowed black stuff

and fallen branches that need to be removed.

February used to be the “quiet” time,

down time between holidays and peak tourism seasons,

but not this February,

and it was hard to keep up with all that is much happening.

Jewish Agency

This week the Jewish Agency for Israel had a meeting

of its Board of Governors, with delegates coming

from around the world to Jerusalem, Israel.

chess sign in Hebrew

The International chess championship may not be a great photo op,

but a tour with 500 tourism professionals from India certainly was.

image woman taking photo of Old City

Starting with the view from Hebrew University on Mt Scopus,

this tour went to The Old City.

Within a few minutes while standing outside

the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,

image foreign tourists.

 were other groups of Indian tourists,

image European tourists

a large orderly group of Estonians,

image black tourists

and these Christian pilgrims who left too fast to ask where they were from.

Another great view and new to me,

image Jerusalem marathon

was the Jerusalem Winner Marathon 2105  launch,

image Nir Barkat and Rami Levy

on the grounds of the St. Andrew’s Guest House.

image nir barkat

Mayor Nir Barkat, holding his official run shirt for the March 13 race,

was all smiles that morning.

Ilanit Melchior

But so was Ilanit Melchior,

Tourism  Director at the Jerusalem Development Authority.

Though many residents resent the street closings and inconvenience,

 this event has brought thousands of tourists

from all over the world each year.

There are signs for things as diverse as

App contest in Jerusalem

a contest for app developers,

children for Islamic Museum

and special programs for children at Islamic Museum.

But, Purim is a week away.

Inbal Hotel

Perhaps, this sign for Shavuot holiday is a joke.

sign for Purim

There is to be a Purim Spiel at the Train Theater,

purim sign in Hebrew

and a sign for reading the Megillah at First Station–

purim sign

Happy Purim.

Then,

time for that other “P” word – Passover!

Shemitta in Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

Most people know there are Jewish dietary laws

which require the separation of meat and milk.

But I just separated sweet potatoes, peppers and carrots,

from cucumbers and tomatoes.

Why?

image Shmitta in Hebrew

Shmita (or spell it shemitta) is Biblical law.

Shmita park sign with source

We are well into the shemitta year,

which takes on special meaning for those who live in Israel.

Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon has written books on the subject.

He composed colorful charts and calendars to simplify the laws.

image Botanical Gardens Jerusalem Israel

Now in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens,

Shimita park

Rav Rimon has initiated a special section

to show the laws of shemitta.

image Rabbi Lau talking to girls in Shmita park

For the opening ceremony, Chief Rabbi David Lau spoke,

and then took time to speak to a group of students who participated.

garden for shmitta

The park is aimed to get children’s attention,

image shimita park

 and to make things simple enough

image shemitta

for anyone understand.

image shemitta

With information in Hebrew and English,

image in shmita park

there are many examples of what is permissible

and what is not to be done in gardens this year.

shemitta

The Shemitta Park is simple to reach,

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens shmita park

and it is an attractive area

image shmita park

 with more interactive features to come.

Check it out if you are in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Botanical Gardens are a great place to visit.

Once  a garbage dump,

it is now a beautiful and educational outing.

Last Jerusalem International Book Fair?

Could this be the last Jerusalem International Book Fair?

The 27th Jerusalem International Book Fair (JIBF)

was not held in the Jerusalem International Conference Center.

For the first time, it was in a new location, in First Station,

Jerusalem International Book Fair

where some entered from the First Station parking lot.

(In case you are wondering about the sky here,

being inside during a sandstorm was a good idea.)

While others came in through the main area,

past the First Station food mall and shopping area.

image disappearing wall

These people stopped to see the “Disappearing Wall,”

Jerusalem International Book Fair

5000 small blocks of wood with German quotes written,

also in Hebrew and Arabic,

(some of which were lost in the translation) that attracted all ages.

At night the wall was an empty acrylic form,

as people were happy to remove the blocks and keep them.

 Austria, Spain, Romania, Germany, Poland, Russia,

United Kingdom, Italy and United States were represented at the fair,

but it was a small fraction of former years.

Jerusalem International Book Fair

One night, a crowd gathered by the German booth

Jerusalem International Book Fair

for this food and wine.

Opening night of JIBF had more than one event,

that attracted large crowds.

speaker at Jerusalem book fair

There were lectures and programs all week, some held in

 the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Mishkenot Sha’ananim

and the Khan Theatre, all auditoriums that are located near by.

Magazine at book fair

As usual, not just books

but also magazines were for sale.

Jerusalem International Book Fair

Authors were available to meet readers and fans,

Rabbi Adin Steinsalts

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz–Rav Adin Even Yisrael–

was available at JIBF one night.

Jerusalem International Book Fair

Besides Germany, Austria had a nice size display.

But books from the United States and some Israeli sources,

were noticeably missing.

Each time I went to JIBF,

it was great fun to see and talk with friends,

looking at books and even buying some.

But as an international book fair,

it felt like the international and book components

were sadly lacking this year.

Jerusalem Destruction and Return

A fascinating new exhibit has opened

at the Bible Lands Museum (BLMJ)

in Jerusalem, Israel, called

image sign Bible Lands Museum

 “By the Rivers of Babylon” or Al Naharot Bavel.

Though located across from the Israel Museum and near the Knesset,

image Museum

I had not been inside the BLMJ for a few years.

The new exhibit starts with the story of the siege of Jerusalem

found in the Bible

cuneifrom tablet

and  recorded on this ancient stone tablet.

image BLMJ video

This video begins with a warning

that there are indeed sad parts to the story.

image destruction first temple

 The end of Jewish kings and life in Jerusalem,

end of first temple

 and the end of the First Temple in 589 BCE.

image broken pottery

Destruction so complete,

ancient jug

that the intense heat of the burning of Jerusalem

 deformed this earthen storage jar.

 The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia,

image return to Zion

and there on the rivers of Babylon told their story,

for generation after generation.

Many Jews returned to Zion with the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah,

but many wealthy families remained.

Now 2500 years later,

image ancient writing

these small cuneiform tablets finally tell us their story.

Though they look more like breakfast cereal or doggie biscuits,

these are well-preserved ancient business records of rentals, loans and taxes,

that parallel the names, places and dates of Biblical stories.

Over the centuries, Babylon became Iraq,

 where descendants of those exiled Jews lived until 1950-1952,

when their communities were forced to leave for their safety.

For the first time in over two millennia

there are no Jews in exile in Babylon,

as they have returned to Zion.

Israeli flags

As some try to rewrite history with “narratives,”

here are real records,

written in stone,

found and shown to public for first time

in this exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum.

In Jerusalem, Tu BiShevat Traditional and New

Spring-like weather

warmed the Jerusalem, Israel, streets this week.

birds on minaret

Birds stopped to rest on their migrations.

almond flowers

The almond blossoms did indeed burst out,

white roses

and roses opened.

Jerusalem Israel gan Sacher park

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was the spot for school outings.

People could be found in the sunshine,

two men exercising in Gan Sacher on nice day

 upside down

Muslim man at prayer

and bowing down.

image girl taking photo in garden behind King David Hotel

It was perfect weather for a photo walk

new light bulb in old neighborhood of Yemin Moshe

to find the traditional mixed with new.

All perfect for Tu Bishevat,

the 15th day of Hebrew month of Shevat,

the Jewish New Year for agriculture,

the birthday of trees.

image fruit basket

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence,

the holiday fruit baskets overflowed,

with special Israeli treats.

Rivlin host seder

A seder hosted by President and First Lady Rivlin

 was set for students and farmers to celebrate.

two men taking selfie at Bat Hanasi

Early arrivals had time for a selfie.

man looking like Ray Charles

No, Stevie Wonder did not drop by to entertain,

but there were Hebrew songs by Israeli singers.

This photo was taken last month while waiting for

John Baird to arrive on his official visit.

US Senators led by John McCain were to come in the afternoon.

US flags were ready and we, well, just had fun doing this.

Even Shimon Peres was back at Beit Hanasi,

not for a Tu Bishevat seder,

image new bust of Shimon Peres in Presidential gardens

but his likeness is now on display in the gardens

image Israel president house garden

along with the other former Israeli presidents.

image man with hat over face

At least one of the men in this small old cemetery in town

did not want his photo taken,

man making sushi in cafe window

and it was sushi week at cafe in Mamilla Mall.

So while we were watching the snow scenes in US,

all this and more

was happening on the Jerusalem, Israel, streets.

Tu BShvat Beit Hanasi 014mc

Hope you enjoyed Tu BiShevat too.

Israel National Library Reveals Hidden Treasures

The National Library of Israel is located on the

Hebrew University Givat Ram campus,

Israel National Library

but how many have been inside,

gone up the stairs,

stained glass windows in Israel National Kibrary

 and seen its magnificent stained glass windows?

Until recently only a small select group of scholars,

 as few as 100 per year.

Last year, however, the number of visitors was up to 30,000.

inside National Library

How many went behind these closed doors?

On a recent press tour of the library, in the restoration room,

old paper needing repait

we saw an old page of text,

material to fix old books

and the materials used to repair delicate treasures,

image very old book in National Library

and old volumes from the past.

image digital screen with researcher reading

In the digital lab, modern technology is used to store

and analyze volume after volume.

We saw a few of the oldest hidden treasures:

very old illustrated megilah

this Megillat Esther, from 18th century Amsterdam;

very old text

Passover haggadah, 15th century Spain;

genizia item at National Library of IIsrael

a letter from the Afghan geniza, 11-12th century Persia;

letter by Martin Buber

Martin Buber’s original draft of “Ich und Du” “I and Thou;”

letter by Isaac Newton in Israel Library

a manuscript written by Isaac Newton;

image ancient manuscript

and this Kufic Quran from the 9th century.

While these invaluable treasures are locked up,

image people using library computers

the digital music room is open to the public and used daily.

The National Library is to have a new home,

where the public will be welcomed for free,

and the hidden treasures are to be displayed.

sign on site of new National Library of Israel

The location

New Israel National Library what will it look like

for the new building is not far away.

land where Israel National Library is to be built

It is to be across from the Knesset,

near the Israel Museum and Bloomfield Science Museum.

Construction will begin next year

on this site that was cleared of huge trees

which were replanted near the Jerusalem Zoo.

international book fair sign in Hebrew

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem International Book Fair 

is to be held from February 8- 12,

Books, books, and more books and more…