What you did not see in Jerusalem this week

The Real Jerusalem Streets was started because what was reported in the media was not what I saw every day walking around the Jerusalem streets.

So what was happening in Jerusalem that did not make the international headlines?

Eight months into a war – this week in Jerusalem, Israel.

Buildings in Jerusalem are rising higher, as seen from the Nefesh BeNefesh Campus at Cinema City.

Road construction is challenging as one never knows what will be open or closed.

At NBN the audience was filled with young adults at the evening session of a financial conference on Sunday night. Seeing all the English-speaking Olim asking questions and learning how to live financially smarter lives in Israel was an impressive way to begin the week.

There are colorful quilts exhibited at the Jerusalem Theater, art, and culture with music each night.

Colorful lights line the footbridge over the Hinnom Valley at night.

New signs are posted for the upcoming events, on the right is for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day.

Yom Yerushalayim is celebrated for more than one day, as there are events most of the week. One program at night was held at First Station, Takhana HaRishona.

These two women strolled through the audience, as the music began after speeches.

As usual, the crowds at Damascus Gate get international attention.

Since most of the reports on Jerusalem Day over the years are critical and negative, I again walked the entire route to see for myself.

The FlagDance/Parade/March (whatever you want to call it) begins for the men on King George Street.

The street was so crowded I decided not to walk down to the Great Synagogue as usual.

As usual, I found the number of baby strollers to be the most dangerous part of the route.

Spectators lined the route along Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park.

Security was heavy with many roads closed. My neighbors were on the way to dinner and not allowed to walk this way on the day of the Pride Parade last week.

At the corner near Mamilla Mall, a sound truck was blasting music, with young men dancing on top.

As we turned toward Damascus Gate, a woman dressed as a bride was being photographed in the middle of the road and groups would sing and dance around her.

Emergency crews were prepared and ready to respond.

The gorgeous horses were ready and watching also.

As thousands and thousands of people, many with Israeli flags, walked quietly and peacefully.

At Damascus Gate security was visible from all angles.

Yes, the crowd was large and loud. I think much larger than in recent years that I have walked the route.

I got an early start, the way narrows, it’s very crowded, and is not so pleasant to be in.

Inside Damascus Gate, where each year media photographers wait to find trouble, was a female clown blowing bubbles and giving out little red heart stickers. This area is known as a “flash point” so anyone wanting trouble knows where to be and when, and again I missed violent interactions.

The security along the Via Dolorosa where the Flag Parade goes was lined with security.

When I say security, I mean police, border police, and more.

Walking were not rowdy teens, but individuals and school groups.

I wondered if they knew this young man was videoing everyone from a small camera.

I was told a YouTube influencer was doing a video here.

A father and son originally from the US stopped to pose with their flags.

Here you can see the extra layer of security this year.

Shops were closed. But many shops have had little business for the last 8 months because of the lack of tourists, because Hamas started a war on October 7.

While many places were selling bottled water, one woman poured cups of water to drink for free.

At the narrowing near the Kotel, Western Wall, I was relieved not to be stuck in a crowd.

At the Kotel Plaza, groups were dancing and singing for hours before the main event.

So the real news this year was the size of the crowd. Possibly 100,000 people celebrated the reunification of Jerusalem 57 years ago. The media focused on 18 rowdy individuals who were arrested and ignored the big picture.

As I headed home early, I passed these girls arriving by way of Jaffa Gate on the Armenian Way.

Thousands and thousands of young women, some louder than the boys.

They kept coming and coming

and coming, as I walked back on Agron Street.

The Jerusalem Flag/March/Parade was not about a few troublemaking male teens, but tens of thousands of people out on a warm day celebrating Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

And on the way home, celebrations for the holiday of Shavuot this week had begun with these cheese tortes ready in the bakery window.

Chag Shavuot Sameach

Am Yisrael Chai!

How many empty chairs for Passover seder this year?

Passover 2024 or Pesach 5784, will be different from last year on the Jerusalem streets.

The Chag Aviv, or the Holiday of Spring, can be seen in nature as the bees have returned.

As usual, baskets for unopened bread products can be found on the Jerusalem streets,

plus special bins to burn the bits of bread and crumbs on Monday morning before the holiday begins.

However, this year there will be thousands of empty seats at the Seder table on Monday night.

National Library of Israel entrance with faces of the murdered

The faces of the 1,200 murdered in the October 7 Massacre were illuminated in the new National Library.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence a ceremonial presentation of certificates was held.

The families of the three young Israelis who escaped from their Hamas captivity in Gaza, only to be shot by friendly fire were acknowledged.

Iris Haim mother of Yotam Haim, posed and smiled for a photo. There were more than the usual amount of hugs and tears that day. I refrained from photographing the most powerful scenes.

The next day back at Beit Hanasi, 30 nurses were honored in advance of International Nurses Day. Even though the audience was asked not to photograph, phone cameras were used repeatedly by family members and friends. Each nurse was called up by name and her story was briefly recounted. One was the nurse in Beeri on October 7. One had been taken captive to Gaza on October 7. The hospitals mentioned were from the north to the south of Israel.

One of the nurses was Talya Slotki, the Nursing Coordinator in the Pain Clinic at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, who was awarded an Honorable Distinction for Bravery and Heroism.

Her husband, Rabbi Shmuel Slotki shared their story with our solidarity mission at the beginning of January along with a video of his sons and family.

On the morning of October 7th, their two sons, Noam and Yishai, left their home when the attack began and traveled south to join in the brave defense of the besieged communities along the border. Both sons fought heroically before falling in battle.

For the next week, their exact whereabouts and fate were unknown, before the family was informed that both sons had been killed.

Following the completion of the shiva, Talya continued to work to provide critical medical care in addressing and alleviating pain. Among many of her patients have been soldiers evacuated from the fields of battle who were treated for a wide range of injuries – many included painful orthopedic wounds and burns that have required intensive attention and care.

As I read about the commendation that Talya Slotki received, I remembered when Rabbi Slotki entered the room to speak to our group. Rabbi Doron Perez left his spot at the front of the room and went to hug him.

At 97 days from October 7, Rabbi Perez and supporters completed a Torah in the merit of the return of the members of the Perez tank crew missing since the day Hamas started the war by invading Israel.

A month ago the Perez family had a funeral to bury a bloody shirt after a video was found showing that the young soldier who held off the invasion was not only injured but killed. He was no longer counted among the 133 hostages still possibly alive in Gaza.

As we approach 200 days from the Shabbat Simhat Torah massacre and anticipate Passover the remaining hostage’s fates are unknown.

Table set for Passover meal

Passover tables are being prepared for the seder meal and retelling of the story of freedom from Egypt. The freedom of Israeli hostages and the many empty chairs at the seder are very much in mind.

In addition, the tens of thousands from north and south are still under constant rocket fire and unable to be home for all these months, as well as the soldiers on duty to protect against further attacks.

But to end on a brighter note, the colorful spring flowers are as usual lining the Jerusalem streets.

Now it’s time to finish preparing for Passover.

Hebrew sign Happy Passover, bus sign in Hewbrew

Passover Kosher and Happy

Remember, the Hagaddah ends with “Next year in Jerusalem!” Let’s hope we can all celebrate once again joyfully on the Jerusalem streets!

Photos of Special Israeli Women for International Women’s Day

In 2011, the RJS post for International Women’s Day titled Israeli Apartheid? went viral.

I was such a novice I had no idea what was happening, as I watched the numbers of views skyrocket on the hotel lobby computer in Eilat.

The next year was 15 Real Photos of Arab Girls. It is still getting views after more than a decade.

This year, however, I decided it was time to highlight special Jewish Israel women!

Not in any special order, and there are certainly many more wonderful women that could be included. All of the photos below were taken since the beginning of January 2024.

A favorite image is of Fleur Hassan Nahoum in Weizmann Hall with all those men in the iconic photo behind her at the end of her term as Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and start of new leadership roles.

At the Conference of Presidents’s opening evening, there were three new Presidents: Hadassah, Naamat, and the American Zionist Federation led by women.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is JA-WZO-189-1-1024x678.jpg

Tova Dorfman Deputy Chairwoman of the World Zionist Organization at the Jewish People Challenges.

Back at the Jerusalem International Conference Center this week with leaders in Health-Tech.

Women in Science and business with multi-lingual language solutions.

And women who are patent lawyers who assist those health start-ups.

Women who help other women, One Family together.

Women leaders who get things done and done right,

Women with style who get things done.

Women who get the news out.

Love how women hug when they find their friends.

When women put their heads together – wow.

This woman was a child in the Kindertransport who left Germany for England without family.

This woman, the mother of a daughter murdered on October 7, started speaking to groups.

The mother of a kidnapped son also speaks to keep her son’s story known.

The sister of those who cannot speak for themselves, speaks below those images we cannot forget.

Her father and brother were killed on October 7 and talking about their good deeds keeps her going.

She is still reluctant to speak but is lucky to have survived the October 7 massacre in Ofakim.

Oh, the all too familiar faces of the young women held in Gaza after over 150 days.

Then there are the smiling faces of those who have organized special solidarity missions to Israel.

Women who came and sponsored a bat mitzvah celebration for 20 girls who lost a close relative to terror.

There are those organizational leaders who seem to be everywhere working to support Israel.

A woman who led WIZO for decades and is ready for her next challenge.

New young Israeli leadership in the realm of social media.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel was in one of my first media photos years ago, is still going strong.

Another Israeli Member of Knesset Idit Silman has stayed active over the years.

Women runners with a story.

Women from Sderot doing their laundry at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem.

Back in Sderot after 5 months, school started, and another rocket was fired at them from Gaza.

So many women fell and broke their hips while running to shelters in the south over the years, ADI’s rehabilitation center near Ofakim has a special department for them.

Mothers, daughters, and sisters support each other one day at a time working for a better future.

On the wall, seen through a window, in a destroyed home in a southern Israel kibbutz – Viva ISRAEL.

A special shout-out to all the Israeli women who have kept their homes and the home front going over the years, especially over the past 5 months with tens of thousands evacuated and serving in reserves.

And thank you to the women who have come on solidarity missions in support of Israel.

Heroines one and all!

Am Yisrael Chai!