7 Things That Happened in Jerusalem this Week

With headlines full of controversy, negativity, and protests, you may have missed the positive things that happened in Jerusalem this week.

I have been trying to get a rainbow photo for so many years. Finally, on Thursday afternoon, it was starting to rain as I was ready to walk home.

I called my husband to give me a ride.

But a rainbow was forming in front of me. I hung up on him as fast as possible and captured the fleeting moment of the full rainbow.

A light, brief shower like that is called tif tuf in Hebrew and stopped in a couple of minutes, so I did walk home.

But I was obsessed enough to use the image for a Shabbat Shalom post.

While construction and building are hot topics again, the week was also filled with events you might have missed hearing about.

Starting on Sunday morning with Living Financially Smarter in Israel 2023.

Rifka Lebowitz started the private Facebook group 13 years ago and it has grown to over 36,000 members.

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Their first conference held at and with Nefesh Be’Nefesh was sold out early.

Amazing how many people stayed until the end of the long day to learn and ask questions. Knowing how to manage your finances is important for a successful aliyah.

In Cinema City, Yad L’Olim has opened a special shop for Ukrainian refugees to assist them in their getting established since many fled without many essentials.

Inside the Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence had a busy week.

I wonder what Herzl would say about the current situation.

“The foundations of Israeli democracy, including the justice system, are sacred and we must strictly safeguard them, even at a time of fundamental arguments and debates about the relationship between the different branches of government,” stated President Isaac Herzog in an official statement issued on Sunday morning after rallies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

On Tuesday at Beit Hanasi, the new Education Minister and others joined with the head of the Jewish Agency and the President to acknowledge 30 years of the educational program Naale.

There were representatives from each one of the 30 years of the program’s existence, designed for students who come to Israel on their own for high school.

After the official program inside, the President posed with people who stood in line for the photo opportunity.

After the full morning of ceremonies receiving the credentials of five new Ambassadors to Israel on Wednesday, the Herzogs posed with the members of the Honor Guard after the last of the diplomatic limousines departed for the King David Hotel reception.

Instead of photos from the five-hour-long ceremony, I made an eight-minute video to share a bit of behind-the-scenes.

Hansen House hosted 58 artists for the InPrint ART BOOK FAIR from January 11 – 13, 2023.

Love how the old leper hospital is full of life now with art, science, and technology events.

Yes, positive things are happening on Jerusalem streets.

Come and see for yourself or for your group book a virtual tour.

In Jerusalem Take a Walk: Hard to Believe What’s New

We feel it on the streets. Traffic. Tourist buses. The arrival of friends and family. International conferences convened again.

The skies in Israel were opened and in 2022, 2.675 million tourist entries were recorded, as opposed to only 397,000 in 2021 and 831,000 in 2020.

There are many changes for you to see on the Jerusalem streets.

On President’s Street in front of Beit Hanasi, the President’s Residence new outdoor photos of the beauty of the landscaped gardens have been posted.

Old hotel in Jerusalem valuable property derelict

Remember the long-abandoned former President Hotel building?

And how sad the sign became?

Finally – work is being done on Ahad Haam Street to restore its dignity.

The construction fence has been up for the new hotel/residence next to it,

but now construction work is visibly underway at last. The Jerusalem skyline continues to change as buildings go up and up.

This is not Azza Street next to the old Paris Fountain. One sign went up.

However, it soon came down when someone realized the mistake.

For 15 years, I have walked on Azza Street almost daily, including when they were redoing the sidewalks.

Finally, the sidewalks were completed and the street was paved.

Who remembers this space empty for weeks–or was it months–in 2018?

And here, when the long-time bookstore and framing store had to move.

Construction started, and last year was finally progressing.

Today on Azza Street the shell is looking near completion with the bottom stones resembling how they looked in the old structure.

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One spot on Azza was paved and space was cleared to replace the cement bollards in front of Netanyahu’s Jerusalem property. There are more of those cement barriers today.

I decided not to walk on my usual side of the street on Wednesday to avoid the newest security measures.

Then the next day, the sun was shining, and I thought it a great time to walk. However, this time the sidewalks were blocked with work vans on both sidewalks, and people had to walk in the road. You will not see that,

because this happened. I was detained by security!

Only once before was I forced to delete a video. As a newbie to Jerusalem, I took a photo of the US flag on Agron Street – not the building, just the Stars & Stripes blowing in the wind against a blue sky. A security person came across the busy street and made me delete the image of the flag.

In over a decade of work, I have been scrupulously careful not to show faces of security, IDF, Arab women, children, and people I know who could possibly be on a date.

Of course, my photos would be more powerful with facial expressions.

Go a few more meters on Azza Street, and there is the entrance to Balfour Street near the Prime Minister’s Official Residence – two years ago it was covered with 5 levels of security.

For the past few months, the public has been able to use Balfour Street again. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence has been empty for over a year and serious construction work has not been apparent. Interestingly there are no longer flags on the poles over the residence.

I like being able to use my shortcut again. We will have to wait and see how long it will last.

On Shabbat, I walked on Azza Street to the Great Synagogue. Hard to believe, it was my first time inside in three years! BC – Before Covid – I went every few weeks.

Jerusalem Great Synagogue for Selihot

It seems I am not the only one to slowly return, as the crowd was smaller on Shabbat compared to this photograph in the past.

And then there’s the new National Library! I have been watching the construction of the roof for years. Hopefully, we can tour inside soon.

Sometimes we have to wait to see results, sometimes a very long time.

Also, this past week we attended the Melbourne, Australia Mount Scopus College Foundation Reunion event in Israel. It was a gala and a fun evening. As with most Scopus events, there was a program with speeches and entertainment. This evening included greetings by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, began with two digeridoos and concluded with an Idan Raichel concert after an elegant dinner!

The last time we saw Jonathan was in July 1997. He was lying in an Israeli hospital bed bandaged from his nose to his toes. I found his rendition of Waltzing Matilda moving enough to share it with you. You need to watch the video on a larger screen than a phone to understand why.

For all non-Aussies out there, I added the words and meanings at the end.

On the Jerusalem streets there is always more.

And now “More Than One.” A new arts festival is happening in multiple locations in Jerusalem until February 25, 2023.

When are you coming to see for yourself on a Jerusalem Photo Walk?