11 Firsts the Week before Purim in Jerusalem

The time before Purim in Jerusalem, Israel, is usually filled with surprises, like seeing teens going to school in pajamas, children with painted faces, or adults dressed in costumes walking down the street.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met in the Kremlin with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week on Shabbat, which was certainly a first.

Firsts. Also, highs and lows filled the emotional rollercoaster week as we watched reports from Ukraine.

Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)

The official welcome for Israeli President Isaac Herzog on a state visit to the Republic of Turkey at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the official complex in Ankara was a significant first.

Photo Credit: Haim Zach (GPO)

The Herzogs were hosted by the Jewish community on Thursday morning at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul.

While at the Presidential Library in Turkey, accompanied by the First Lady of the Republic of Turkey, Emine Erdoğan, Michal Herzog gifted a number of Hebrew books to the library during the visit.

Certainly, there were other firsts in Turkey and the international scene, but now back to Jerusalem the week before Purim.

This was not the first visit of Mike and Karen Pence to Jerusalem. Three years ago as US VicePresident they received royal treatment. This time their visit to Hebron got more attention than to the Kotel, Western Wall. Former US Vice President Pence received an award from the Friends of Zion at the beginning of the week.

Pence with leaders of Western Wall Heritage Foundation

I never found out what video they were shown last time at the Kotel.

Karen Pence at Western Wall on visit to Jerusalem

But the photos of Keren Pence I took that day are still a favorite of mine.

  1. For the first time, I got a good view of the Jerusalem Gateway Project from above with a look at how they are working around the old cemetery. The housing projects in the distance have expanded considerably.

2. First time I got a tour of the Jerusalem Report, courtesy of editor Steve Linde and the Jerusalem Post, and saw editor-in-chief, Yaakov Katz, at work in his office.

3. First time seeing the new art displays are back in Mamilla Mall.

4. The new Paris Fountain at French Square was revealed. It is not the same fountain, similar and larger.

The area will look very different than before, larger and with seating and landscaping. They started planting flowers today.

Twenty years ago, at this spot was the Moment Cafe, where a suicide bomber blew up himself, killing 11 people. Today a new residential building has been completed and the cafes have closed. Families have come every year to remember their murdered relatives and friends, with posters, flags, and memorial candles.

5. For the first time this year, a special box with spaces to hold 11 candles was in place. I have not seen that elsewhere and there are way too many of these memorial plaques at other terror sites.

Not a first, but unusual, to have thunder and lightning storms over the Jerusalem streets. Thanks to Facebook memories I saw in March, the weather extremes changing by the hour are an annual occurrence.

6. The lightning flashes are too fast to capture. However, this storm went on long enough for me to get a few shorts to make a stormy night video.

And from the video to get an image of one of the lightning flashes to share.

After the storm, Mamilla Pool was half-filled. Lovely photo, though a few minutes later I had to run home in heavy rain, not such a pretty picture.

7. I have seen several tourist buses, but this was the first welcome back sign in a very, very long time. Today I stopped to talk to a couple from Luxembourg with a tour guide and a group from New York City who had been here all week. The women were shopping before going home tonight.

8. Love signs are up along the walking/biking path at First Station

and this heart-shaped sculpture is now in First Station, moved from near the Jerusalem Old City Walls at Tzahal Square.

9. Who does not love those first buds and signs of spring?

Ok. Perhaps those suffering from seasonal allergies are not that excited. At least all the rain is washing away the pollen.

But oh the variety and colors lining the Jerusalem streets.

Even sprouting up from the ancient rocks, a favorite sign that winter is waning.

These purple ones are very common to see on many Jerusalem streets.

10. But this was the first time I saw a sign for ‘Purple in the Armon’. The south has the Darom Adom, Red South for fields of red wildflowers. The Jerusalem event is to promote the local hill filled with purple lupines.

But Purim? Not new, the Hansen House has hosted continuous events and plans for Purim, and on Shushan Purim, it sounds like a place to stop and see.

These new signs at first I thought were for Purim but later realized are for an educational conference in Jerusalem after Purim.

Also, signs are up for the sports EXPO held before the Jerusalem Marathon. It is back at Cinema City, similar to the EXPO before the races in October.

And, a nice winter view of the Knesset, which is now closed for a two months intercession, from the newly developed walking path.

11. And to close, another first. An RJS video recap of some of the sights and sounds on the Jerusalem streets of the last week before Purim.

More upcoming Purim events in Jerusalem – Purim in Disguise

Safra Square on Shushan Purim – Friday, March 18th this year.

Certain early events have already been postponed due to the changing weather. So check back next week for the real story of what happened on the Jerusalem streets for Purim.

You never know what you will find on the Jerusalem streets.

After Jerusalem Snow of Century Clean Up Time

While the rest of Israel and world goes about its business, 

in and around Jerusalem it is not back to normal yet.

image Jerusalem snow, Israel snow photo, picture Jerusalem snow clean up

Snow and fallen trees are piled higher than a bus stop.

This is just #blizzrael – Blizzard – Israel – Unreal.

If you have lived through a large snow storm,

image snow Jerusalem, photo snow pile, Israel picture snow

then you are familiar with these grey piles of plowed mess on street corners,

image Jerusalem snow, picture snow Israel, photo how much snow Jerusalem, snow clean up

 trying to walk around them, 

image Jerusalem snow, Israel snow photo, picture snow cleanup

and sharing the space on the cleared streets with slow traffic.

But this is Jerusalem, Israel, not Boston, Buffalo or Brooklyn,

image snow in Jerusalem, photo snow Israel, picture snow

so there are plenty of palm branches on the ground too.

image snow Jerusalem, Picture snow Israel, How much snow photo

Another difference, people here do not leave a piece of furniture 

on the street hoping to save their parking spot.

Most of the pretty white images from yesterday are gone.

There was one pretty scene in front of Beit Hanassi, the President’s residence,

image streets covered snow Jerusalem, photo Israel snow, picture snow clean up

I guess the President’s staff gave up on clearing the sidewalk,

hoping the sun would do the work for them.

It was warming up finally,

image Jerusalem snow, picture snow Jerusalem, photos Israel snow

and this man was out in shorts.

image cat Jerusalem, photo cat after snow Israel, Picture cat on wall

The Jerusalem cats were back in their favorite spots,

image of snow Jerusalem, photo snow in Israel, picture snow cleanup

but the Paris Square Fountain was not flowing.

I have dozens more not-so-pretty photos of mountains of snow,

but I won’t bore you with so many of them.

snow Jerusalem image, picture snow cleanup israel., photo Bobcat

The clean up equipment was out, 

image snow cleanup Israel, Jerusalem snow photo.

only I always seem to find them on a break.

It is still a great time for tree-trimmers who work with large chain saws.

Along with the sounds of cars honking in blocked traffic,

is the welcome sound of buzzing of chain saws.

image Jerusalem snow, picture Jerusalem snow, snow clean up picture.

Just look at the amount and size of some of timber that was cut

and left in front of the Jerusalem Theater.

Now is a good time to collect wood for your fireplaces.

image Jerusalem snow, photo snow Jerusalem, picture snow cleanup

With so many scenes like this one on Emek Refaim Street,

picture jerusalem snow, image snowy steps, Israel snow

and these dangerous snowy and icy walkways,

image runners before race, photo runners ready, picture Afikim

it is no wonder that a few guys’ crazy idea to run to Eilat,

doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.

image Afikim run, picture Jerusalem night, Image race start

That is confetti not snow, as the runners 

left First Station at the start of their 36 hour, 360 km relay race.

Good luck guys!

We finally got full power back after a week,

so as long as it lasts I am going to 

keep my feet dry 

and hibernate.

Purim is Friday

This year in Jerusalem, the holiday of Purim is Friday, March 9,

Image Purim party

but celebrations have already begun.

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Students have been in the holiday mood for more than a week

Image Paris fountain Jerusalem

and you can expect to see the unexpected.

Image masks

Window displays in the malls

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and sales people are dressed in costumes.

Image super hero costumes

The Jerusalem streets are filled with super-heroes

Image child in costume

of all sizes.

Image costume, money costume

Money not only talks, it also walks 

Image "costumes"

on the colorful Jerusalem streets.

Image "hair'

This is the time of year for a new hair style,

Image "green wig"

hair color,

Image "Purim costume"

wig or new glasses.

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All over Israel today, school children dressed up in costumes,

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including some very big kids!

You would never know that Purim is not celebrated until Friday

by the look of the Jerusalem streets today.

If you don’t have a costume yet, do not worry there is still time

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and street vendors have plenty of them on display.

Image "Purim bags"

HAPPY PURIM!