In Jerusalem Transition Time and New Beginnings

It’s transition time in Jerusalem, Israel.

The calendar page has turned from a very hot August to a more temperate September.

It’s the middle of the Hebrew month of Elul and we are approaching the New Year 5784.

The nightly musical concerts in the Sultan’s Pool will soon end, with the potential of cold nights and rain.

This week saw the rise of the Blue Moon over the Jerusalem streets.

Though not blue, the full moon appeared bright pink before rising further from the horizon into the sky. The second time for a full moon in August was what qualified it as a Blue Moon.

In the past, I chased Supermoons. But I have come to think every full moon over Jerusalem is impressive.

Every week, we see new construction going down and down,

while old structures are being renovated throughout Jerusalem.

Azza Street made the headlines again when the Netanyahus got new security bollards installed in front of their private residence. As you can see from a previous photo, it is hardly palatial from the outside.

It is amazing how many times you can walk past a property and not notice unless there is a new blue sign telling its history posted in front.

The public better take notice of the parking regulation signs that have gone up along Jerusalem streets.

And the newly painted parking restrictions, where people would have used this space to park.

And watch out for those new vehicles roaming the streets at night, not sure what they are called, going through Teddy Park toward the fountain on a pedestrian walkway.

The ice rink was closed one August evening last week, but the time was been extended into September.

The Ferris Wheel in First Station was being repaired and not running that night. Usually, it’s filled with young children at the end of their summer holiday time in the evening.

Chairs were set for the End of Summer Festival at the Jerusalem Theater. A guard blocked my entrance, saying no entry without a paid-for ticket. I remembered that they were free in the past.

However, he let me go into the lobby to see the art exhibit which was to change the next day.

I will have to go back and see what new art work lines the theater lobby walls for September.

I think some of the best colors and sights are found in nature as the seasons change.

So one more view of the Blue Moon rising above the trees and Old City.

One more renovation image with a Jerusalem small store getting a major makeover.

But the biggest transition is that 2.5 million students are back to school. The signs are up as the school begins for 5784 – and without the usual teachers’ strike.

Even businesses wish good luck and success in Kitah Aleph, or first grade.

I love the huge big deal made as youngsters enter first grade!

I wish all the students and teachers well as the year begins!

The transition from the start of school to the start of the New Year Selihot and tours begins next week.

The Jerusalem Museum at the Tower of David announced a Selihot event that includes a tour of the Tower of David, connecting the new museum with the Old City, and ends with saying Selihot at the Kotel, Western Wall.

Tens of thousands will be on the Jerusalem streets late into the night for the sounds of Selihot.

Will you join us this year in Jerusalem?

Five Jerusalem Events You Should Know About

With summer coming and the pandemic officially over, the crowds and tourists are returning to the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

So many good things are happening.

You will see blue and white flags flying.

Buildings rise higher and higher.

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Road works seem to be everywhere in Jerusalem.

A first this week – the security guard insisted on escorting me safely past the heavy equipment working on the road.

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A bit of surprise June rain and the grounds were still green.

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Yemin Moshe, as always a great location to stop and snap a photo.

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The fountain in Teddy Park is back on for summer fun near the Old City.

The old dragon in Liberty Bell Park is big and bright blue,

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and purple flowers abound around the Jerusalem streets.

However, this week I want to share 5 events you may not have heard about, not on the Jerusalem streets, but held inside involving thousands of people.

  1. The Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) held a quiz competition at the Jerusalem International Conference Center.

Throughout Israel, 5th and 6th-grade students competed on their knowledge of Israeli topics. The winning groups were set for a final round.

With a panel of judges, this was a more modest version of the youth Bible Quiz on Independence Day with the Prime Minister and Jerusalem Mayor.

Mostly enthusiastic young supporters from the various nine schools in the final quiz filled the auditorium.

I was so happy I was not a school chaperon as the questioning went on.

Also happy I did not have to answer the questions posed to the teams.

The competition included an impressive speed round.

In first place was Orot Etzion – Neve Daniel from Gush Etzion, and in second place was Jerusalem’s Yehuda Halevi School.

But at this event – all involved were winners!

The two young men who received the best score stayed afterward with their proud mothers to do a video for KKL-JNF.

2. The Jerusalem Prize for Israeli Unity was born as a social initiative on behalf of the families of the boys Yifrach, Shaar, and Fraenkel and the former mayor of Jerusalem MK Nir Barkat, after the kidnapping of Iyal, Gil-Ed, and Naftali z”l in the summer of 2014.

The prize was established in memory of the teens and the appreciation of the unity that enveloped Israeli society and Diaspora Jewry at the time.

At the ninth award ceremony held at Beit Hanasi, the only prize winner I was familiar with this year was Lori Palatnlk, founder of Momentum.

But Jerusalem, always a small world, I arrived home at the same time as my neighbor – who had been in the audience.

3. President Herzog was at the NBN Campus to open the day for the World Jewish Congress Jewish Leadership Bridge for the Future initiative.

International delegates sat with Israeli leaders at tables to meet and discuss the future.

4. This week started with volunteers from the past year Sherut Leumi honored, starting in the morning at the Beit Hanasi, President’s Residence.

Followed by an evening event in the Mitchell Garden for thousands.

The park was filled with food and activity options under a perfect blue sky.

The United Hatzalah volunteers are easy to spot in their orange vests.

Later, the Sultan’s Pool was the scene of entertainment for the volunteers who did their National Service in a vast variety of positions around Israel.

The week honoring volunteers ended at International Conference Center.

Unity was the theme, and Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah shared the space, but it was a men-only event with a musical program inside.

5. For this favorite annual event, you will have to wait until next week,

but here’s a clue about who were the sponsors.

Wonderful things are happening on and off Jerusalem streets.

Now you know about last week’s events with promises for the future.  

Why not come soon and see for yourself what’s happening in Jerusalem, Israel?

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?