As the temperature in Jerusalem, Israel, is rising,
a cool photo of the Kinneret, Sea of Galilee,
taken just before sunset earlier this week,
and a wish for a Shabbat Shalom!
And in US, have a great Memorial Day weekend!
Did you hear a loud noise on Monday morning?
It was the collective sighs of relief filling the streets –
the long summer holiday was over
and over 2 million Israeli children went back to school.
Trips to museums for water play were replaced with starting Kita alef,
which in Israel is a more exciting event than many university graduations.
The school children living in the southern Israel town of Sderot
had another rocket fired at them from Gaza as they started to go to class.
More than 440 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza
since the year began, averaging around two a day!
Last week Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing,
was performed in English in Jerusalem, Israel’s Bloomfield Park.
The shows were free and open to the public.
Shakespeare, widely agreed to be perhaps the most clever writer ever,
could he have imagined what is happening now?
Arab families were seated on the grass to watch.
A few meters away on the plaza, Muslim women sat on a bench
and then followed to see the photos of a beautiful bride in white,
as a Jewish couple were preparing to get married.
While hundreds are killed each day in Syria,
this was the scene in the Jerusalem park.
School has started, however university does not begin until October.
Arab girls in Israel will be attending classes,
not banned from an education like in Iran.
And of course, they can drive themselves to the park or to school,
not like the women living in Saudi Arabia.
Kikar Zion, Zion Square, is still a safe place to walk during the day.
It was a long hot summer,
but the evenings are now cool for the late night summer music programs.
Last week the music and lights were at the Jerusalem Theater,
and this week Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, will showcase Reggae Music
and Safra Square will host the last August free public concert.
First there was the Wine Festival, then Beer Festival,
and now this week for the first time an Ice Cream Festival.
Always something happening on the Jerusalem streets.
Looking back at last July’s protest season,
I was surprised to see how much of this year’s is similar and yet is so different.
Then I realized that protests are not only held in the hot summer season
but there were also protests in the winter.
The list of protests on the streets of Jerusalem, Israel is a long one.
The ‘Free Jonathan Pollard’ protest banners across from Bet Ha’Nasi,
the President’s Residence, were removed before President Putin’s visit,
so they were long gone when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to town.
Not long ago, even the social workers were protesting on the sidewalk
outside the National Labor Court for a decent salary.
This year’s social protest demonstration drew a fraction of last year’s crowds
as it marched to protest the lack of public housing on July 14 in Jerusalem .
When protesters blocked a major street and made loud noise late at night,
some people were so unhappy that they came out to complain.
Sadly, the way to get media attention has become more drastic
and the copy-cat aspect is even harder to comprehend.
The media loved the ultra-Orthodox rally against an army draft proposal,
but did you hear about a protest against racism?
In February, a lone man with an Israeli flag and a sign reading,
“no separation in nursery schools” for Ethiopian children
took over the same corner near the Prime Minister’s Residence
that Gilad Shalit’s family occupied for so long.
A tent was set up to protest against racism in Israeli society.
I even saw Gilad Shalit’s brother there once,
as one of the thousands of people who have come by,
including Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu.
The tent structure grew to this before it was removed by court order.
Holidays have been noted and observed.
Groups are learning ways to be more inclusive and tolerant.
As we observe this week before the Tisha B’Av,
it is a perfect time for everyone to try harder to get along.
There will be more protests, but it is time to end discrimination.