Jerusalem, Israel – Shavuot 5780

Jerusalem, Israel – Shavuot 5780

I used to complain that Shavuot in Israel lasted only one day and was over too quickly.

Tens of thousands of people would stay up all night, learning and studying at various venues and then converge at the Kotel, the Western Wall, for dawn prayer services. Eat and sleep and the day was over, with not enough time for guests.

Well, not this year. With Shabbat immediately following, we ended up with a two-day holiday in Israel as well as those living outside of Israel.

I got what I asked for, and I’m happy to go back to one day next year when Shavuot falls on Monday.

Valley of Cross in Jerusalem Israel summer dried grasses

In Jerusalem, the summer sun has dried the tall green growth in the Valley of the Cross.

Nature and seasons appear unaware of a pandemic and are unchanged.

Jerusalem Israel Valley of Cross with Israel Museum on top of hill dried weeds of summer

While the Israel Museum on top of the hill suffers from the novel coronavirus affecting its closure, the weeds below in the valley have flourished.

Cinema City in Jerusalem Israel photo from opening days

Not far away is Jerusalem Cinema City, also trying to come back after COVID-19 closures.

Jerusalem Cinema City mural of Moses and 10 Commandments

On my first visit to Cinema City, I took this photo of a wall mural.

Where else but Jerusalem would you find Moses with the Ten Commandments on the wall next to the movie theater escalators?

Blind man and IDF soldier who helped him across busy intersection in Jerusalem

While I was searching for that old photo I found this one taken the same day.

In this upside-down coronavirus time, would an IDF soldier walk so close to a stranger?

IDF Soldier helps man with a blind walking stick across busy Jerusalem intersections

Has the time come when helping a blind man cross a busy street is not a good thing?

The official announcement:

Following the closure of educational institutions against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis, and the gradual return to routine, it was agreed that students should receive educational continuity until the beginning of August. This will significantly reduce the financial burden of their parents and reduce gaps in Israeli society.

With an outbreak of COVID-19 among students and teachers at one large Jerusalem secular high school, it is closed again today. And before I could publish this today, another high school has announced closing for the week due to an infected teacher.

However, tomorrow senior citizen sessions are scheduled to reopen, in limited numbers with only physical and art activities in person.  The rest will remain in Zoom.

The Jerusalem Film Festival announced plans to hold the festival in a regular format this summer following the decision by Israeli authorities to allow the reopening of cinemas in the country from June 14.

The event is now to run August 20-30, just over a month later than its originally scheduled July 16-26 time slot.

Meanwhile, in the theme of the Shavuot holiday, I thought to share a few short film clips from the King David Night Show at the Tower of David.

King David the warrior in battle,

and David the Poet.

In past years, the seemingly endless list of Festivals began after Shavuot.

The Light Festival in the Old City in particular was popular, filling the streets at night.

Remember when Damascus Gate was lit like a giant pinball machine for Jerusalem Light Festival?

My all-time favorite light projection was also at the Damascus Gate.

This morning the Temple Mount was reopened after  a two-month closure.

Muslim worshipers crowded through the Green Gate to enter.

Non-Muslims lined up to go up the ramp to Mughrabi Gate.

This video is from years ago. Will the Old City return to the old “normal”?

For Shavuot services at the Kotel this year, tickets were required to enter. A limited number were distributed by lottery.  Each ticket had the name and ID number on them.  Late at night after Shabbat was over, there were people on the plaza and near the Kotel, but not in the large numbers we were accustomed to in the past.

Shavuot cheese cake for Israeli security with President Reuven Rivlin
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

One of my favorite images from Shavuot 5780 was of President Reuven Rivlin serving cheesecake and lemonade to security forces on the eve of the holiday. It was a year since his wife Nechama passed away, and he said it was something she would do, so he did it in her memory. The cemetery at Har Herzl where she is buried is under construction now and even the presidential family could not go on her yahrzeit.

The sun is shining and temperatures are pleasant out on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem is planning to temporarily close thirteen city center streets to traffic, hoping people will come back to dine at the outside tables. Ads have been placed to get Israelis to come to Jerusalem. With international tourism halted, Jerusalem’s tourist-based economy needs desperate measures with so many businesses suffering and forced to close.

What will happen next? We will have to wait and see.

Jerusalem construction cranes visible over the Knesset

The numbers of construction cranes seem to multiply overnight.

Hope to see you all in Jerusalem soon.

Jerusalem Style March Madness Pictures

Jerusalem Style March Madness Pictures

On Jerusalem, Israel streets, a general sigh of relief can be heard at the end of a year of campaigning madness and frozen government.

On Monday, March 2nd, the third Israeli election in a year was held.

Jerusalem voting place for Knesset 23

The Jerusalem street outside our polling place was not a pretty sight,

Man pushing wheel chair in Jerusalem street

nor easy to access. Memories of Knesset 19 voting at our location were recalled.

Israeli Knesset 23 voting slips in voting booth

Inside there were fewer parties this time around and fewer letters to pick from for Knesset 23.

The votes were cast. Calculations are being made.

The magic number of 61 is not yet achieved.

The Knesset has 120 members, to form a government a majority is needed.

News sites and others sat glued to their monitors.

Tree blossoms on Jerusalem Israel

But I decided it was time to go for a walk and see the trees in bloom.

Jerusalem old stones with yellow flowers growing

New flowers were popping out of old stone formations.

Jerusalem Israel wild flowers

I was not the only one walking when the sun finally peaked out from between the winter clouds.

Jerusalem Israel Museum

The grounds below the Israel Museum were lush green after this winter of rain.

Many drove south to see the fields of anemones for the Red Darom Festival.

Jerusalem Valley of Cross wild fowers

I was content to walk the paths right here in Jerusalem to see the red wildflowers.

Path to Jerusalem Israel Museum wild flowers in spring

Sunday is a workday in Israel. So with schools, businesses, and offices off for Election Day, many families had a “Sunday” experience family day.

I decided to wander up the hill and go to the Israel Museum.

Jerusalem Israel Museum Ancient History

Near the Israel Museum archaeological section entrance is an interesting exhibit on hieroglyphs and emojis.

 Hieroglyphics at Jerusalem Israel Museum

An example of ancient picture writing showed “offerings of wine” and beer.

 Hieroglyphics at Israel Museum

Picture writing was very important in ancient Egypt.

Hieroglyphics at Israel Museum

This piece of stone caught my attention for the “heart” symbol, much more realistic than the shape most often used today in modern picture writing.

 Hieroglyphics at Israel Museum message at exit

Are we going back to the days of symbols to communicate?

In the museum, one can view the new Rodin & Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit called “Expressive Genius.” The statues and drawings of the two French artists explored the human form, capturing the diverse population of Paris at the end of the 19th century.

Rothschild Room at Israel Museum

Wandering through the vast halls and galleries are period rooms like this one dedicated by the Rothschild family. Also, displayed are reconstructed synagogues from around the world that fill entire rooms.

Warhol at Israel Museum of Golda Meir

I found a familiar face, Golda Meir by Andy Warhol.

Sculpture outside at Jerusalem Israel Museum

Did you know there were art pieces outside besides those in the main garden?

What I did not know was that the Israel Museum, though open on Election Day, closed an hour earlier at 4:00 pm.

image love

The Hebrew Love is probably the most well-known sculpture in the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden.

I was looking for the special ‘Masks for Purim’ the museum is offering. That meant checking out what was happening in the Children’s Wing.

I did not find what I was looking for, as the program was ready yet.

Children's section of Israel Museum

But this little guy was so cute. They do start young to appreciate art and color.

Jerusalem graffiti before Marathon

Outside near the museum, this color will be gone very soon. Other graffiti nearby has been removed, like every year before the Jerusalem Marathon runs here.

Gan Sacher park in Jerusalem Israel

The full Jerusalem Marathon runners will run into Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, to the finish line which will be constructed here. As you can see there is still much work to be done before the March 20, 2020 races. Tens of thousands of people are expected to assemble in the park, both runners and supporters.

Rechov Azza after repair

Lines were painted on this newly paved road that leads to the finish line.

Sign for Jerusalem Winner Marathon 2020

Jerusalem Marathon signs were posted along the route as well.

Purim in Jerusalem Israel

But first Purim! “Every day is Purim in Jerusalem” announced these signs.

Love Jerusalem where Purim madness is a 3-4 day holiday!

From March 10-13 this year, in Kikar Safra and the center of town, there will be celebrations.

Hopefully, the coronavirus scare will not hinder all these planned activities.

 Hieroglyphics exhibit at Jerusalem Israel Museum

I thought that this description in the Israel Museum was interesting.

I don’t know anyone who believes that emojis can become real food and drink.

Pictures of food and drink.

Pictures and Purim.

Giant chocolate chip cookies for Purim

However, my giant chocolate chip cookies are ready for Purim.

Next week planning to share the best of Purim in Jerusalem madness pictures.

The cookies, however, should be long gone by then.

Jerusalem’s Israel Museum plus 4 more you should know

Jerusalem’s Israel Museum plus 4 more you should know

In Jerusalem, the barricades and barriers to keep the public away from world leaders are gone from the streets and sidewalks. People are out again on the streets when the sun appears.

When walking in Jerusalem and someone asks: “where is the museum?”

It is a safe bet to assume they mean The Israel Museum.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel

So I point to the path up the hill to Jerusalem’s largest and best known Israel Museum.

However, there are dozens of museums in Jerusalem, Israel.

In the past week, four museums opened their doors for special events.

Winter day at the Tower of David in Jerusalem Israel

It was a rainy, grey day at the Tower of David Museum.

Over the years, this ancient military fortress has become a popular cultural spot, hosting a wide variety of events, exhibitions, and nighttime shows.

In October 2017, within the ancient stone walls, looking to the future, ToD launched its Innovation Lab.

The ToD is constantly looking for new ways and technology to engage young visitors with Artificial Reality – AR and Virtual Reality – VR, and Apps. Wearing special VR googles was not to be the final answer to get everyone involved with their surroundings.

MARS launch of interactive tour option at Tower of David

The newest storytelling-videos taking AR to a new level, launched last week, come from MARS.

Co-founder and CEO Ori Noam explained how his David and Goliath video, developed at ToD Innovation Lab, make the experience unique to the user.

MARS at Jerusalem Tower of David Museum launch

At the entrance desk, for a small additional extra fee, visitors  receive a tablet and earphones. Because it was raining outside, demonstrations had to be inside.

Tower of David Museum demonstration of MARS new tourist option using AR and MR

MARS lets visitors interact with Goliath as seen on this tablet screen.

Mars at Jerusalem Tower of David using tablet for tour option

Using sub-conscience triggers, MARS creates an experience unique to each family or visitor. And these days, of course, the mandatory selfie at the end.

Did you realize last week was Israeli Space Week?

The Bloomfield Science Museum was open two evenings free of charge in honor of Space Week.

Signs at entrance to Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem

Besides the currently running exhibitions on Leonardo Da Vinci and Journey to Space, Israeli Space Week attracted families with young children to the Science Museum. 

Balloon Astronaut at Jerusalem science museum entrance

A giant astronaut balloon hovered overhead at the entrance.

Leonardo Questions at Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem Israel

‘Leonardo’s Questions’ were displayed and answered in the main entrance area with Leonardo’s wings hanging above.

Space week at Jerusalem science museum

Upstairs on the third floor, I was able to get one image before the room filled with excited children. Oh, to channel all that energy.

Planetarium in Jerusalem Science Museum

The planetarium required registration to enter, but for photography, I think outside was better to see the black starlit dome.

Leonardo exhibit at Jerusalem Science Museum

‘Optics and Observation’ was one of the various rooms on the current Leonardo theme.

Meteor rock from Arizona desert in Jerusalem science museum

What would be a good space exhibit without a piece of rock from outer space?

Marc, a former employee of Griffith Observatory in California, held a piece of a meteor found in an Arizona crater. Visitors were encouraged to feel a piece of material that fell from space halfway around the world, right here in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has multiple private museums on a wide variety of topics.

Front view of Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem on cloudy day

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, BLMJ, is near the Science Museum and across the street from the Israel Museum.

Entrance to YEMEN exhibition at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

Its new exhibit is simply called YEMEN. The historical development of South Arabia over the centuries is shown in detail to cover all the senses. I was so impressed with a tour before it opened, I had to go back on opening night to see the finished exhibit.

A woman looks at ancient artifacts from South Arabia now Yemen at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

First, the visitor encounters ancient statues and artifacts used for burning incense.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem display of three popular fragrances of ancient times.

The Jews of ancient southern Arabia traveled over long distances by camel with myrrh, frankincense, and balsam. Here one can smell the aromas so important and valuable in ancient times and compare them.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem traditional food from Yemen at opening of new exhibit

I said all the senses. At the opening evening was this traditional Yemenite savory biscuit. I must admit it was not to my taste.

Yemenite man reading Hebrew book upside down in Naftali Hilger photo in Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

This is one of several powerful photographs by Naftali Hilger on display. Note the Jewish man from Sa’dah is reading a prayerbook upside down. Since books were scarce, children learned to read from multiple directions. Hilger’s photographs taken in the late 1980s add greatly to the exhibit.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Yemen exhibition

Rich colors, old ritual artifacts, and scrolls,

A woman looks at wall display at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Yemen exhibit.

and more recent content, such as this Jerusalem Street sign, add to the scope of Yemenite history.

The father of Batya Borowski, wife of BLMJ founder Eli Borowski z”l, came from Yemen to Israel in 1907. Zacharia Jamil was a talented silversmith and jewelry-maker like his father.

The exhibit with its warm hues radiates the warmth and love Batya Borowski and her daughter,  BLMJ Director Amanda Weiss, have invested in sharing a history unfamiliar to many.

Three rings made by father of Batya Borowski iZacharia Jamil on display in the Bible Lands Museum exhibition Yemen

Three rings made by Jamil are included in the Yemen exhibition.

Fourth and last is the L A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, which also has a new temporary exhibition.

Trespassing exhibit at LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Titled “Trespassing” in English, meaning stretching boundaries, here are 3 examples of works by fifteen Israeli women, coming from religious communities:

Trespassing exhibition at LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Muslim – Fatima Abu Roomi self-portraits,

Female Druze artist with special shawel on floor LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Druze – special shawl over a traditional home rug,

Shira Zelwer wax flowers and diorama

and Jewish -wax flowers and diorama.

The Museum of Islamic Art has historical pieces and a magnificent antique watch collection. 

Shira Zelwer wax figures from grandmother's photograph Islamic Museum

What stood out for me in the new pieces was this item. Shira Zelwer’s wax figures in the diorama are three-dimensional images reproducing a 1960’s photograph. They show her grandmother surrounded by the waiters of her catering business in Australia.

I fondly remember her grandmother in her later retirement years, still an active personality.

You never know what you will find on the Jerusalem streets or what memories in its museums.

Scene from YEMEN at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Israel

From ancient artifacts to futuristic technology, from Yemen to Australia, worlds coming together on the Jerusalem streets and explored and shared in its unique museum displays.