What a Week in Jerusalem: Presidents, Parliamentarians, Ambassadors and More

The third week in February is always a busy time in Jerusalem, Israel.

Unlike the US, where only one February weekend celebrates President George Washington,

Street sign George Washington in Jeruaslem

here in Jerusalem, Washington is honored all year long, and  Abraham Lincoln is right around the corner. 

The annual Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization, COP, had over a hundred leaders participating in this year’s mission.

Football numbered shirt presented to President Rivlin in Jerusalem

COP Presidents were greeted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who received this numbered jersey from a visiting US football player, who were in Israel on a tour.

Malcolm Hoenlein looks up at Jewish football player Geoff Schwartz at CoP dinner in Jerusalem Israel

Jewish football player Geoff Schwartz presented COP CEO Malcolm Hoenlein with a shirt.  Hoelein is looking up, seconds before he stood on a chair to get a better view.

Ambassador Friedman and Tammy Friedman

Also at the opening gala were US Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy.

Dr Leah Goldin with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem

President Rivlin consoles Dr. Leah Goldin, mother of Hadar Goldin z”l, whose remains are being held captive in Gaza.  There was another birthday of Hadar’s this week, 3 1/2 years after Hamas killed him, after agreeing to a cease fire.

Parents of Avera Mengistu at dinner CoP to raise awareness of their son held captive 3 years by Hamas

Also sharing their plight with the Presidents were the family of Avera Mengistu, and their spokesperson.  Over 3 years ago, the mentally challenged Avera wandered over the Gaza border and was kidnapped by Hamas.

Five former Israeli Ambassadors speak to Conference of Presidents at Waldorf Astoria

This was a not just a week for presidents, but for ambassadors too. On the dais in the Waldorf-Astoria Jerusalem ballroom, these five former Israeli ambassadors to the US, Moshe Arens, Sallai Meridor, Ron Prosor, Zalman Shoval and Itamar Rabinovich, shared their experiences.

Israeli Knesset hosts International Parliamentary heads at conference

At the Knesset, over 30 International Parliamentary Heads came to Jerusalem to share their knowledge at a Knesset Conference.

With all these important international leaders in Jerusalem, the most impressive session I attended went unreported.

Insights into Israel Bedouin girl at Israeli University excelling in STEM education

Entrepreneurs Dr. Yossi Vardi and SanDisk CEO Shahar Bar-Or, introduced Sereen to the COP Presidents after lunch at the Inbal Hotel.

Sereen is a 15 year-old Bedouin girl who grew up near Beer Sheva, and is an outstanding STEM student in an Israeli university. Her father’s cousin is a professor in both Stony Brook and Ben Gurion Universities, and promotes good education as key to success. Sereen, seated on the left wearing a dark hijab, is at the table with other promising Israeli young women. Her very proud mother is seen on the right in a tan colored head covering.

African American basketball players in Israel

Presidents, parliamentarians, and ambassadors, and even professional football players, are not the real streets. A new book “Alley-Oop to Aliyah” tells us about over 800 African-American basketball players who came to Israel over the years to play basketball. They loved it. Some stayed and made aliyah, and their children are playing ball and serve in the IDF.

Jerusalem Marathon 2018 huge announcement near Jaffa Gate

Out on the streets, this week’s Jerusalem’s Shaon Horef, Winter Noise, location was Jaffa Gate.

Shaon Horef שאון חורף ן Old City Jaffa Gate

Light projections and music played on inside Jaffa Gate at multiple locations.

Tower of David for Shaon Horef Jerusalem Monday night event in Februrary

Hundreds of people were climbing the steps throughout the Tower of David after dark.

Music and dancing at Jaffa Gate for Winter Noise event

The presidents were so close, they could have wandered over to see the crowds and danced along next to the walls of Tower of David at this free event.

Jerusalem Israel wild flowers growing in Valley of Cross

This was not a week to be cooped up all day in meetings! Look down and you see flowers blooming.

Clouds and colored sky photo Jerusalem sunset over Israel Museum

Look up and you could see magnificent sunsets.

Jerusalem Marathon finish line ready for races in March

A finish line is up next to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, for the Jerusalem Marathon on March 9.

Happy Purim Jerusalem street posters

But first Purim.  Jerusalem street signs wish everyone a “Happy Purim.”

Preparations for costumes and food and meals are well under way. Young school children can be seen wearing their crowns on the streets. The not so young are also planning their holiday costumes.  There may be presidents this week, but next week there will be queens and kings and many more important personalities.

President Time in Jerusalem

President Time in Jerusalem

If it’s February,

it’s time for Presidents again.

In the United States, February means a long holiday weekend

Jerusalem street sign for US President Abraham Lincoln

in honor of the birthdays of President George Washington

US President Abraham Lincoln street sign Jerusalem

and President Abraham Lincoln.

Since I have used these Jerusalem streets signs often,

I went to find something new.

I went looking for the sign where the two streets meet,

image of Presidents Where Washington and Lincoln Streets meet in Jerusalem

only to find, there is no sign on that Jerusalem corner.

Over 6,000 people came from around the world

Binyunei Hauma for #OCsummit2017

for the OurCrowd Global Summit last week.

with Elli Q, one of hundreds of amazing Israeli innovations.

Presidents of companies and leaders of the Startup Nation

networked and shared their ideas and talents.

At another venue, the annual Conference of Presidents

of Major American Jewish Organizations met again this year

in Jerusalem, Israel, after a kosher dinner in the royal palace in Morocco

and a stopover in Cairo to meet President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Reuven Rivlin and Malcolm Hoenlein at Inbal Hotel

President Reuven Rivlin was the first speaker,

and no, the President was not so excited to see me.

Romanian former President Rosen Plevneliev

The former President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev

was in the banquet hall for the opening dinner.

 He really is a friendly person.

Bulgaria President at Beit Hanasi

On his way to visit President Rivlin at Beit Hanasi,

the official residence of the Israeli President,

the former President of Bulgaria and his team,

 stopped, said hello, smiled and posed for photos.

But as usual in February,

 most people are not thinking about all these Presidents,

Candy in the shuk before Purim

they are busy thinking about

costumes, candy for gifts, and meals fit for a king,

Machane Yehudah Market, the shuk, has been ready for weeks.

No matter the weather,

Rainy day with fabric out on street for Purim costumes

colorful fabric for costumes lines the sidewalks on Jaffa Road.

 Purim is coming.

Another Week of Presidents in Jerusalem

Helicopters hovering above the Jerusalem, Israel, streets

 are usually a sign of bad news.

But during the third week in February,

it could be anything or anyone,

with so many presidents and dignitaries visiting.

In the US, Monday’s Presidents Day combines honoring

George Washington street

George Washington,

Jerusalem Lincoln Street

and Abraham Lincoln.

The two Jerusalem streets honoring them are next to each other,

but note that in Hebrew ‘Lincoln’ is pronounced, Link-o-lin. 

As usual, there were many more presidents here during Presidents week.

The American Conference of Presidents Leadership

Mission to Israel is being briefed by a whole range of speakers.

Ido Daniel slide at Conference of Presidents Jerusalem

The sessions on threats and security are very daunting,

with Iran, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, PA and Hamas at our doors,

1914 crisis of Jews in holy land

but just read if you can this telegram from August 1914.

It begins, “Palestinian Jews facing terrible crisis.”

‘Nothing new under the sun’ might be the best response.

However, this was a good week

to get out of the hotels and houses.

nature spot in Jerusalem

With sun shining and warm temperatures,

it was a great time to walk

in Gan Ha’atzmaut, Independence Park,

although not many people took advantage,

Gan Haatzmaut

which could be even better for the few who did.

flower, rose, park

While there were few roses in bloom,

almond blossoms

the almond tree blossoms burst forth this week.

I now appreciate the Tu B’Shevat children’s holiday song.

From not seeing any blossoms for the Tu B’Shevat holiday,

starting Friday they seem to have popped out all over.

Rain and now shine,

runners have taken to the streets.

Jerusalem marathon sign 2016

The Jerusalem Marathon is a month away,

and those seriously participating are seriously training.

Finally,

I am sharing again,

Jerusalem rainbow

in case you missed this double rainbow from last week.

Until the next rainbow, it will be a favorite photo,

even though the real thing was so much more impressive.

Now off on a photo walk, to show tourists,

some of what is really happening off the Jerusalem streets.

Always different, as you never know what you will find.