Jerusalem, Israel Diverse and Democratic

Jerusalem, Israel Diverse and Democratic

Jerusalem, Israel is a busy place in the winter holiday season.

“It is no surprise that both the Jewish and Christian traditions share holidays of light – the light of faith and hope, even in the face of darkness…

As guardians of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the State of Israel is committed to religious freedom for all,” said President Reuven Rivlin.

“Jerusalem must serve as a model for peace and harmony between religions.”

Jerusalem Israel for Hanuka at Old City Jaffa Gate near Tower of David

This past week Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem lights on Agron Street for Hanukkah

Also this year Hanukkah coincided with the Christmas holiday season.

Neutral lighting lined some of the major streets.

Hebrew University had no classes on December 25th.

construction on Jerusalem Gaza Street backed up in morning

Traffic volume plus street repairs created backups even when the sun was shining.

In the rain? Forget getting anywhere in the usual amount of time!

Jerusalem Israel YMCA Christmas tree in lobby

In the past inside the YMCA was a sure bet for finding a holiday tree and decorations.

Jerusalem Christmas decorations at YMCA

This year the outside tree was decorated and additional lights placed at the entrance.

Suffganiot and Christmas tree at First Station

This year at First Station along with those Hanukkah donuts there was a Christmas tree.

Hanuka and Christmas in Jerusalem Israel

The banner sign at First Station next to the Hanukkah menorah had greetings for Hanukkah and Christmas.

Jerusalem Hotel in Old City with Christmas light

The lights at night in the Old City were bright inside of Jaffa Gate.

Santa in Jerusalem Israel for Christmas

That Santa Claus was not out at night when I looked for him, but he appeared in his annual spot near Jaffa Gate the next day.

Jerusalem Israel New Gate decorated for Christmas holiday

Inside the New Gate decorations greeted the holiday crowds to the Christian Quarter and churches.

Lights on Jerusalem Israel French Hospital at night in holiday season

Outside of the Old City walls, the lights on the St. Lous French Hospital brightened it up at night.

Jerusalem December Holiday crowds

The holiday week crowds filled the narrow streets in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City.

It’s official. A record number of holiday tourists were on the Jerusalem streets this year.

Israeli president cat in Beit Hanasi garden

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, the Presidential cat was watching over the grounds at the annual New Year reception for the heads of the Christian denominations in Israel.

An Israeli police officer taking a group photograph for New Year reception

Inside at the reception guests posed and smiled for photos.

Christian leaders in Israel at Israeli President's Residence for annual New Year Reception

Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri;  the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; the representative of the Armenian Patriarchate; head of the Franciscan Order in Jerusalem, the Custos of the Holy Land; and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Archeparch of Akka (Akko) were among the participants.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem spoke on behalf of the religious leaders.

In his remarks President Rivlin invited the Pope to the dedication ceremony for the Land of the Monasteries project in 2020, saying:

“We are about to finish clearing all of the mines from the Land of the Monasteries at the very beginning of the coming year. Already the number of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land is increasing each year. Just this year, close to 900,000 pilgrims visited the Land of Monasteries. We are working hard to complete the development of the entire area by the end of 2020.”

Land mines placed in old buildings for security near Jordan River Kasser-Al -Yahud

As part of this initiative, land mines laid in the 1970s for security reasons, which prevented access to the area, have been cleared.

Kasser Al Yahud area building of old

The process has been an ongoing project in the ancient area, which has been under development to a new tourist center for years.

Kasser al Yahud Israeli and Jordanian border

The area is called Qasr-Al-Yahud where the Jordan River is divided between Jordan and Israel.

Interior Minister MK Rabbi Aryeh Deri at Israeli President's house for new year reception for Christian leaders

Minister of the Interior, Aryeh Deri: “Freedom of worship and religion in Jerusalem, the Holy City, will be preserved for all and we will continue to preserve Jerusalem as the Holy City for all religions. Unfortunately, we live in an era when antisemitism raises its head around the world, most recently in the terrible incident in Monsey, New York. We must all fight antisemitism wherever it occurs, and we must all reject and condemn it in a loud and clear voice against any outbreak of antisemitism and violence.”

Israeli president shaking hands at new year reception with christian leaders

In his remarks, the President once again repeated, “We must remember that we are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together, and we, therefore, must advance initiatives which will benefit all of us.”

“In a few weeks, I will host leaders from around the world at Yad Vashem, to commemorate seventy-five years to the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and to call on all humanity, to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and fight antisemitism and hate.”

Antisemitism is becoming more blatant around the world.

Meanwhile, the Israeli leadership has become more “relaxed” and welcoming to religious diversity in Jerusalem with more neutral holiday lights and greetings, and enticing more Christian pilgrims to Qsar-Al-Yahud and other locations.

Some will find this very positive.

Others will find it the opposite.

The discussion of Israel, Jewish and democratic and diverse, will not cease with a new government.

But I will end with something new for me, I had to take out the video for this one.

Always something new on the Jerusalem streets.

 

As November Ends in Jerusalem Photos of 9 Happenings

As November Ends in Jerusalem Photos of 9 Happenings

Jerusalem, Israel, was warmer than usual this fall.

The usual complaints of bone-chilling cold winter weather have been missing.

Rose in full bloom in Jerusalem Israel garden

My third growth of roses was impressive enough to share.

Hebrew welcome to Knesset sign

The Knesset entrance looked nicely kept with green landscaped welcome.

What’s happening–or not happening–inside appears to be a mess.

Sign and new sidewalk area near the entrance to Israel Museum

But, across the street from the Knesset, the Israel Museum entrance has a clean new look.

Do you think this time of year, from “after the holidays” until Hanukkah, it’s quiet on the Jerusalem, Israel, streets?

Not at all, some evenings there are multiple events at the same time!

Israeli President hosts press conference for January Antisemitism conference at Yad Vashem

  1. At Beit Hanasi, President Rivlin hosted a press conference to launch an international conference on antisemitism at Yad Vashem at the end of January.

Ben Moor and Steve LInde BDS and Antisemitism at Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference

2. At the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference,  Chief strategist and Foreign Ministry PMO spokesperson Ben Moore, during an interview with Steve Linde, pointed to recently published antisemitic cartoons.

Unmasking BDS at Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference

The results of his research have confirmed that the BDS movement has succeeded in mainstreaming and desensitizing the West to antisemitism in the Israel context.

J Post diplomatic conference panel on world antisemitism

Another international panel discussed antisemitism. Paul Packer from the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad expressed US support for Israel.

J Post Mario Bucoro Ambassador from Guatemala to Israel at J Post Diplomatic Conference

Ambassador Mario Bucaro of Guatemala (third from left) was one of the foreign dignitaries attending.

Tourism Ilanti Melchior sustainable at J Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem

There was more than antisemitism, politicians, and journalists.  Tourism was the topic of Ilanit Melchior’s TEDTalk.

Ilanit Melchior with tourism sustainable slide of world cities.

With 2.5 million visitors to Jerusalem over the holiday season, sustainability and accessibility are important topics. The traffic from tourist buses and rental cars can be felt on the streets.

A very different conference that did not receive as much media attention was held in the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

ICC Temech Conference 2019

3. The tenth Temech Conference for Israeli businesswomen and female entrepreneurs attracted 1000 women from the north and south to Jerusalem.

Tenth Temech Conference networking area in Binynei Hauma

Networking is a very important feature of this event run by women for women.

The English track was smaller than in the past, but the Hebrew-speaking program has grown.

Temech Conference at Jerusalem International Conference Center

The theme ‘Unlock the Wealth’ had panels and speakers appreciated by women aspiring to grow their various endeavors.

Elimination of violence against women rape crisis report in Israel

4. The 2019 Elimination of Violence against Women’s Day was marked at Beit Hanasi.

It’s 50 days after Yom Kippur when the national holiday of Sigd is celebrated.

Woman praying at Sigd event in Jerusalem Israel

5. Sigd was a holiday in Ethiopia when prayers were offered for the return to Zion and Jerusalem.

Ethiopian women praying on Sigd holiday in Jerusalem Israel

Sigd means ‘prostration’ and marks a reaffirmation to Jewish heritage.

Ethiopian religious leaders Kessim in Jerusalem for Sigd

Here the religious leaders called Kessim in their white robes led services in Jerusalem.

Sigd in Jerusalem Israel

Tens of thousands annually gather on the Tayelet with its view of the Old City.

Jerusalem Street Art Festival graffiti at First Station

6. Jerusalem Biennale ‘For Heaven’s Sake!‘ 2019 ends November 28, but the Street Art Festival pieces will be up longer at First Station, adding color to the tourist area.

כט November street sign in Jerusalem for 29 November

7. Time to remember Kaf Tet November, the date the UN accepted the partition plan to establish the State of Israel.

Machane Yehuda Market strawberries

8. With Rosh Chodesh Kislev, strawberry season is approaching.

With sufganiyot, donuts of all sizes, shapes, and flavors – everywhere –

Happy Hanukkah from Real Jerusalem Streets

9. Hannukkah or Hanuka or Chanukah will be here before we know it.

No. No downtime, something is always happening on these Jerusalem streets.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27th.

The annual commemoration is held on the day Auschwitz was liberated.

Auschwitz 2001 view outside

This photograph was taken on March of Living trip in 2001 to Poland.

Memorial in Poland for Shoah

From around the world, thousands of young people came to learn and remember.

Poland Holocaust memorial

Communities wiped out. Six million remembered by stone memorials.

Today in Jerusalem, President Rivlin said, “There can never be forgiveness for the crimes of the Nazis against the Jewish people. There can never be forgiveness for the terror and suffering of Jewish children during the dark years of the Second World War. But there can be reconciliation between the German people and the Jewish people today…Reconciliation must be based on truth. As the Holocaust fades from living memory, we must all work together to keep the memory alive.”

Display Yad Vashem children exhibit

In Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is trying to give names and faces to the victims.

Dolls from Holocaust on exhibit at Yad Vashem

Donated dolls are displayed in children’s memorial room which is dedicated to the one million Jewish children murdered.

Yad Vashem Yom Hashoah 5778

The national Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day, called Yom HaShoah, is in the spring.

It begins with a televised ceremony at Yad Vashem at night.

IDF honor guard at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah

An Israeli Defense Force honor guard is an annual feature.

Romania Lions supporting Ten Commandments

Artifacts from destroyed Eastern European synagogues are displayed in the Yad Vashem synagogue.

Romanian Aron Kodesh

Lights that were crushed out in Europe, shine today as a memorial in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett presented the 2018 Global Antisemitism Report with details of worldwide trends, and highlights key initiatives of the Ministry to combat and monitor antisemitism. Unlike previous years, antisemitic violence in 2018 was led by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.  The Holocaust memorial at the Jewish cemetery of Salonika in Greece was violated a second time, this time by neo-Nazis.

 “The State of Israel is a strong and secure country…The year 2018 saw record highs of antisemitism in the streets, online, and in the political arena, around the world. It is a year that saw the highest number of Jews murdered in antisemitic attacks since the 1990s (bombing in Argentina), in three separate attacks. The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs will continue to work to build bridges with Jews around the world, and to eradicate antisemitism through legal, diplomatic and public diplomacy channels.”

Yesterday, on Shabbat, it felt like spring and Jerusalem, Israel was at its best.

The streets were filled with people enjoying the sunshine.

The parks were filled with families and children at play.

The Nazis failed.

#WeRemember

#NeverAgain

The memorial prayer El Maleh Rahamim: