10 Things to Love About Jerusalem

The sense of uncertainty about what will happen next is ubiquitous.

Israel’s borders are closing again and isolations are becoming mandatory. Will the US be the next to be declared a red country?

Tourists were coming back to Jerusalem and tour buses were seen on the Jerusalem streets. But how many trips have again been canceled? Long-planned meetings put on hold.

In our neighborhood, a school is back on Zoom classroom sessions with so many students sick with corona.

However, there are positive things to share from this week in Jerusalem.

I love that no matter how many times you walk down the same streets, there is always something new to see or a new angle to notice, as you can see here at the entrance to Mamilla Mall.

At Mamilla Mall, I stopped for a moment to take a photo of the men at the mincha minyan, praying outside in the middle of the day. I loved that friends who walked by also noticed and commented.

Amazing how a short walk becomes longer when you stop to talk with friends you have not seen in too long a time.

The construction is just everywhere, as the buildings go up and up.

The noise is often deafening as the digging goes on and on.

Most of King David Street is completed. But the next phase here at Mamilla Junction is beginning. Watch out, this week the extension to King Solomon Street is to be closed as the new water lines are installed.

Won’t we all love it when the roadwork is done?

At last, reconstruction work on the old Knesset Building, slated to become the new Knesset Museum, appears to finally be moving along.

The entrance to Balfour Street was open! It had been without a security guard, an exciting development for those of us who live in the area. We were forbidden to walk down the street, and now there is a sign to pull the pedestrian gate open.

A TV media crew was wandering around and taking a video. At one point in the recent past, there were five layers of security and a huge black curtain. Now, new security cameras have been installed instead.

I had to go back again to check if it was real. The last time I walked down this street was the summer Obama was running for US President (first time!) and Olmert was Prime Minister.

Here you can see what was blocked, under strict security and now is quiet.

Security officers dressed in black jackets on motorcycles were out along Jaffa Road. It was good to see them chatting rather than having serious work to do.

The annual Hanukkah decorations are gone and stowed away.

But Santa near Jaffa Gate in the Christian Quarter is still this month.

Reindeer have lit up the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens for the nighttime show since before Hanukkah.

The YMCA has more decorations and new lights this year.

At New Gate, a Christmas Market is open in the evenings until December 22nd, however, the sign says that it is limited to 500 people.

I am not sure I like it, but I am still amazed to see young children on the Jerusalem streets walking alone, like this little girl walking from New Gate,

or outside along the path by the Old City Walls going towards Jaffa Gate,

or little ones leading even younger ones in Nachlaot.

But for children, I just love the new lion in the Gan Sacher, Sacher Park play area.

This week the 11th Temech Conference was held at the Jerusalem Convention Center. Temech services Jewish businesswomen and entrepreneurs, and the conference is a popular annual networking event. I loved the various areas decorated for women to sit and talk.

The day-long programming was full of excellent speakers, so it was hard to catch up with friends you had not seen in too long. Plus recognizing new acquaintances from online meetings was a challenge. Did she seem so short or so tall, so thin?

When the Hebrew and the Anglo groups merged for a late lunch it was hard to get everyone in one photo, but safe to say most everyone was Energized.

In the Artist Colony across from the Old City walls is Kol HaOt, a studio for art with connections to Torah, and a venue for the Jerusalem Biennale.

During the corona lockdown last winter, 48 artists were able to use the space to create a piece based on one of the 48 ways Torah is acquired.

I loved many aspects of this 5th Jerusalem Biennale, but more another time.

Ready to walk home I heard music, the fountain was on at Teddy Park. The show went on and on – better to share a short video than a photo.

Winter music festivals are back! The 12th Hullegeb: Israeli-Ethiopian Arts Festival, Chaznut Performances, and more – I love the varied cultures.

Chagnival at HaMiffal is this week at The Miffal, however, not sure what it is.

I love what they did in the old abandoned building. Do people know about it?

I LOVE JLM, especially on a sunny winter day or a clear cool night.

I love to take a walk and see what’s happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Here’s hoping those millions of tourists that were expected before corona shut down the skies will be able to return –

and soon.

Holiday Highlights in Jerusalem

The sounds of regular rush-hour traffic fill the Jerusalem streets.

Schools are in session and students are back in their classrooms.

The holidays are over. It’s officially “After the Chagim.”

While international tourists were still few and far between, this year was a huge improvement over last year.

It is a good time to review and share some of the holiday highlights.

Jaffa Gate was open and part of a Sukkah still remained outside after Sukkot as visitors came and went in the pleasant weather.

The ‘Shana Tova! In Jerusalem’ banner was still draped over the entrance to Machane Yehuda market.

These visitors from outside Israel were still in holiday dress and mode on Wednesday, as they walked and watched the heavy traffic slowly move by.

Going to Birkat Cohanim at the Kotel, Western Wall, I saw a tall redheaded man entering by way of Jaffa Gate past the Tower of David.

What are the odds that I would see him leaving later?

Every year more women are seen carrying the lulav for Sukkot.

Our sukkah is packed away now. Those nice greens have wilted away, but all was ready in time for the holiday celebrations.

The holidays are over, but some of the annual receptions resumed.

There was a full house for the annual Diplomat Rosh Hashanah reception at Beit Hanasi to start off the holiday season.

President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal personally greeted the Ambassadors to Israel at the President’s Residence.

Last year, President Reuven Rivlin was only able to host an online event and for most of the past year, visitors to the President’s Residence were limited.

Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid arrived in time for the l’chaim.

Diplomats lined up for an introduction and photo op with the President.

September began with six new Ambassadors presenting their credentials. A highlight was the arrival of the first Ambassador from Bahrain.

The orange juice was specially prepared for his toast, as he would not be having the usual white wine.

The Israeli President hosted a musical selihot event before Yom Kippur outside in the garden, not in the synagogue, and it was broadcast live.

Sanitation workers in the Jerusalem municipality emptied 12,000 tons of garbage throughout the city from the eve of September 20 until Wednesday morning, September 29.

They were out cleaning the streets as soon as the holidays were over, but the peak in garbage removal in Jerusalem was recorded after Rosh Hashanah when more than 3,000 tons of garbage were emptied in one day. 

The Jerusalem Municipality estimates that hundreds of thousands of people visited and spent time at the religious, cultural, and tourist sites of Jerusalem, and toured the city’s landscapes during the Sukkot holidays.

The large Birkat Cohanim, Priestly Blessing, was held twice to accommodate more people in a less crowded manner. The big sukkah in the back of the plaza was busy, but the crowd on the first day was indeed a fraction of regular years. I was pleased to get this view from a restricted area.

I spotted a man standing near the Kotel with the tallest lulav of the year.

While thousands visited the Kotel and the main religious sites, many more visited the tourist sites in the Old City, including the Tower of David Museum, the Promenade Walls, the sites of the Jewish Quarter, and the City of David.

The main attraction after the Old City was the Mayor’s Sukkah in Safra Square which was visited by tens of thousands of people during the days of Sukkot.

Beit Hanasi did not have an open sukkah this year, but high above the Jerusalem streets, sukkot were built:

a simple sukkah on a small porch,

and a more elaborate sukkah here to accommodate many more people.

I almost missed this sukkah,

but this white fabric walled sukkah placed in a large Jerusalem public park area stood alone and was a standout this year.

Even with limited tourists, some of the Waldorf Residences had sukkot.

And music filled the Jerusalem streets, with Klezmer performances,

musicians at the Islamic Museum Coffee Festival,

the band for a ‘Heroines of the Palmach’ festival,

a lone musician at Zion Square,

and colorful entertainment and crowds on Ben Yehudah Street.

Plus, there were more Simhot Beit HaShoeva than I could count.

Wandering the Jerusalem streets, I never found these friends home. However, we did see some old friends, but sorry, no Shabbat camera.

On Sukkot, you could hear the voices of outdoor prayers from the Jerusalem street minyanim and the synagogues.

Mamilla Mall was busy for the holidays, and these friends appreciated the artwork displayed here.

As soon as the holiday was over, in Mamilla Mall the sukkot were taken down, and being stored for next year.

The giant sukkah in Kikar Safra was gone as soon as the holidays were over. New signs were posted, announcing plans for the much-postponed 10th Jerusalem Marathon.

It is to run on Friday, October 29th is just before the clocks change and it gets dark early.

Still not enough Sukkot photos? You can find more – HERE

The New Year signs were still up near Sacher Park.

It’s still appropriate to wish a good year in good health to all.

Hope to see you all again on the Jerusalem streets.

Even in Jerusalem, we sang “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

New Year in Jerusalem

Happy and relieved, in Jerusalem, Israel, that the summer temperatures went down for Rosh Hashana, and Shabbat Shuvah was even cooler! We could leave the air conditioning off, open the windows, and open our table up for guests again. A very limited number, but 5782 started so differently than last year.

I went all out for the first night of Rosh Hashana, even took time for a photo. Who even remembers last year–it was so uneventful. One short strange week, but slowly getting back to ‘normal’.

Selihot, prayers said late at night, or early in the morning are the norm for this holiday season before Yom Kippur.

Thanks to the Western Wall live stream I could watch while sitting at my desk at home past midnight when they begin.

The crowd at the Kotel, Western Wall grew larger as the clock turned to 1:00 am. I took this image to show how many women were out in the middle of the night for the special prayers.

And here you see some of the divisions on the Kotel Plaza to keep with the changing and challenging corona limitations and regulations.

Last year selihot at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence was canceled due to COVID. But this year it was back again – though limited in number.

In the Beit Hanasi back garden near the synagogue, the pomegranate tree planted in memory of Nechama Rivlin z”l was bent over from its ripe fruit.

President Isaac Herzog hosted the annual Selihot at Beit Hanasi that Ruvi Rivlin started during his term as Israeli President.

Popular singers were back to perform and lead the prayers. This year pa’aytan  Lior Elmaleh and singer Uriel Shay were selected.

President Herzog spoke to the socially distanced audience, IDF soldiers in uniform, and the Beit Hanasi Synagogue regular minyan goers returned to attend selihot. The entire program was live-streamed on his social media channels.

The President was honored to open the ark of Torah scrolls as in the past.

No one sat inside this year, so it was easier to get a clear photo in the small empty synagogue.

Will people return to synagogues after so long attending outdoor street services? Many people in Jerusalem have become comfortable just walking out their front door or listening over the back fence for services, some daily, and many on Shabbat, and including this past Rosh Hashana.

The Presidential cat made an appearance at the late-night selihot.

These attendees were mostly soldiers. However, there are multiple large selihot planned for this week, the Jerusalem Municipality at Kikar Safra and of course the Kotel, and plenty of selihot tours.

Yesterday was September 11th which marked twenty years since terrorists attacked the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon. The thousands of lives taken by the suicide plane hijackers are remembered annually at the 9/11 Memorial location off the main road to Jerusalem.

The memorial commemoration is very limited this year.

Jerusalem memorial to victims of September 11 flowers placed on names of murdered.

However, before the corona, Remembering September 11 was typical.

All the names of the murdered are recorded on the walls of the monument.

United Airline pilots place flowers at memorial for victims of September 11

Pilots would place flowers near names they remembered.

Sobering.

Sad.

Twenty years later.

I cannot remember last year, but I remember the week prior to Rosh Hashana after 9/11 so well. We lived near Washington, DC, and the Pentagon. Our son was coming to spend the holidays with us, and was on a Lufthansa flight from Israel to Dulles Airport, due to land around 1:00 pm on September 11, 2001. His plane diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, and he was fortunate to make it out of Canada on the last flight, in order to be home for the holiday. Others were not so fortunate.

Now to end on a positive note!

A short video clip of selihot at Beit Hanasi this week.

And resharing a favorite from years past…

May all have a sweet and healthy year.

Here’s hoping to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets!

גמר חתימה טובה

May you be sealed for a good year