Sunset at the Western Wall,
pleasant weather with flag blowing in slight breeze.
Wishing all a Shabbat Shalom.
Nothing about this week was regular.
As I started this blog Fatah and Hamas were competing
to see who can shoot the most rockets into Israel.
Besides hundreds in the south near Gaza,
they also aimed at the civilian center of Bet Shemesh.
Operation Protective Edge has begun,
and Israel finally responds. Listen for calls of restraint.
Meanwhile, the weather has been hot
and I had not been walking enough lately.
Time to get out and see what was happening.
Yesterday morning Jaffa Road was too quiet,
but later, more people were out walking.
Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk had customers and visitors.
These fresh figs were the largest I had ever seen,
and I could not believe how popular this photo was when posted on Facebook.
After getting a much needed ice coffee, I was glad someone offered to hold it for me,
so I could take this photo of piles of fresh bread.
And more American teens were on their way to explore the amazing market.
This man seemed as surprised as I was at the
Old Knesset Building on King George Street.
For years it had been the home of the Rabbinical Court,
but they moved,
and this historic site is to be the site of a new Knesset Museum.
Music and children’s films,
Jerusalem Film Festival
Jerusalem Season of Culture and so much more.
The funeral for Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali seems like so long ago.
I have not used other photographers’ work in a long time,
but this photo was made to be shared.
“Our eyes were wet when hearing about their cruel fate,
I wanted to reflect upon this once again via a photograph.”
— by Andrei Schwartz.
Now I am off to a meeting in center of Jerusalem.
What will happen next?
Last week we were in Gush Eztion
as news of two boys kidnapping was developing.
Now we know three are still missing.
We hope for good news this week.
Jerusalem, City of Light.
One of the most popular cultural events hosted in the Old City
is the Jerusalem Light Festival.
I like to arrive early and wander the alleyways
as the sun set and the colorful lights came on.
This was an unique light piece in the Christian Quarter,
but there were several of these posters.
Many more Arab shops were open this year,
these drinks were ready for the large crowds.
The blue lights
led us past the barbershop which was open, but not busy.
There were 29 stops along four routes.
One of the most interesting was in front of the Hurva Synagogue.
Using buildings as screens,
works was big this year.
Easy to know who did “Circus of Light.”
Colored lights on the walls were in several locations.
This interactive piece changed as people touched it.
Nearby outside the walls, these globes changed in color and form.
This work near Jaffa Gate was an imposing structure,
and looked different from the other side.
Along the street to the Damascus Gate were actors,
in costume, in colorful settings,
but when you got close it looked so different.
Inside Jaffa Gate another light show shined on the Christian Information Center.
But my favorite was Damascus Gate,
where the 6 minute
light show required a video.
Photos of this huge, colorful complex piece
will probably be favorites from this 5th annual event.
But I also like this simple photo from the night.
The festival runs from June 11-19.
A lot of walking is involved.
It is hard to see everything in one night.
Some friends said they were disappointed,
but I think it was much better than last year.
With preparations fit for a king,
or maybe a US president,
Pope Francis arrived in Jerusalem, Israel.
The man wearing white shorts and I waited around to get a photo,
but this was as close as we came to seeing a Pope.
We talked long enough at New Gate for me to find out
that he was an Iranian studying physics in the US.
I cannot believe I forgot to ask him what his plans are after he graduates.
My plan to walk home through the Old City failed.
Inside and outside Jaffa Gate was shut tight, closed to the public.
Pretty lonely night, it was much quieter than usual all around.
Then Monday morning nice and early,
streets were shut.
This is a one-way street, want to guess which way?
Traffic was going out any which way, as this double bus blocked the road.
Credit to its driver who could maneuver that huge thing there.
But it worked, and this main street was clear of traffic.
And then King George Street,
where the Pope was going to meet the chief rabbis, was closed to traffic.
Though that meeting was not going to be for another hour,
these guys seemed serious,
and no way was I or anyone else going to get by.
I just wanted to go to Jewish Agency Building down the street,
but we had to walk around a different way.
Security had to stand in hot sun all day,
but we all had to walk around past this line of sitting cars.
Finally, I did get to here from there.
After the Pope and Rabbis and the very select guests left,
the Heichal Shlomo lobby was much easier to enter.
Then there was the area around Beit Hanassi, the President’s House.
Again I had to walk all around to get to where I needed to go.
Residents on the street had no parking for days.
I arrived to the spot where in May 2009,
I had been able to see the Pope’s limo leaving,
but this time a special reinforced bus was blocking the road.
Security was so tight that this is as close as I could get.
This man was holding a sign “Baruch haba Chaver,” Welcome my Friend.”
Pope Francis was given a red carpet welcome,
but certainly many sighed with relief when his visit ended
and he flew safely back to the Vatican.
But do not think all will be quiet for long.
Tonight is White Night,
and music will blast all night in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park,
as Yom Yerushalyim, Jerusalem Day
celebrations begin at sunset.
Pope Francis is on his way to the Middle East for a quick visit.
Before his arrival in Jerusalem, Israel,
signs have been posted in English
lots of signs,
and lots of Vatican flags.
Tens of thousands of tourists are expected,
including hundreds of journalists and photographers.
Rabbi Abraham Skorka from Argentina, is a close friend of Pope Francis
going back more than 20 years.
They co-authored a book and anchored a TV show together
before Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became Pope.
Skorka was involved in planning this Papal visit
to the Holy Land from its inception,
he said every detail has been carefully examined.
The steps at Heichel Shlomo got a power wash,
in the hall where the Chief Rabbis will greet the Pope,
the current photo exhibit was carefully removed.
Special pieces from the Museum on the third floor were
brought down just for the Pope’ s Monday visit.
On Monday parking will be limited.
Streets will be closed.
Security and barriers are already up at Beit Hanasi, the President’s residence.
Preparations are so extensive that one woman told me she was already,
all poped out.
But my favorite,
in preparation for the Pope,
was having a bubble bath to get clean.
Last Papal visit in May of 2009,
I really wanted to see the Pope Mobile,
but Pope Benedict arrived in a regular limo.
Will be interesting to see what will happen this time.