Snow and Light in Jerusalem

Snow!

Snow in Jerusalem, Israel.

What is it about snow in Jerusalem that gets the world’s attention?

Wednesday night a blanket of white covered the Jerusalem streets.

After flurries during the day, the snow came down rapidly after dark.

Palm trees sagged under the weight of inches of snow.

I gave up trying to get clear images of people who were out walking.

The streets were full of sounds of excited children, many seeing snow for the first time, who ran out to play in the streets.

Thursday morning a significant amount remained, though not like my memories of snow storms in the northeastern US, and not as much as in Jerusalem in 2013.

But more than enough snow for the Middle East, and the cactus plant.

Friday piles of snow remained, this one in the park much to the delight of two little boys, was much prettier than the grey stuff left behind along the major streets.

What an upside-down week of weather in Jerusalem!

The beginning of the week it was warm enough to walk barefoot.

Young families still with no school could hike in the sunshine.

Spring flowers were popping up in nature areas.

The almond blossoms were out and already beginning to fall off the trees.

Work was proceeding on the roof of the new National Library.

It was a great time for letting the dogs out for a walk.

On the Knesset snow photo taken as the fog cleared, I noticed strange black things on top on the roof?

And along Hazaz Street, more lighting equipment was set up last week.

It’s for “Follow the Lights!” – February 21- March 3rd.

Special illuminated Jerusalem sites are planned to be viewed from moving vehicles. The huge projectors were placed along the road last week in preparation and I was told not damaged by the snow.

Get ready to follow the lights!

Will have to go and see if this is how it really will look tonight.

Most of the lighted sites are located where I usually walk.

The setup at the Israel Museum today was extensive.

Large structures are in place to be viewed from private cars.

Will see if everyone driving the route thru the Israel Museum parking lot really stays in their cars as instructed?

Near the Israel Museum, these bicycles line the bike path off the road across from the Knesset. Now they should be interesting lit up at night.

The snow was pretty while it lasted. But now it has melted.

Schools and malls and businesses are reopening. President Rivlin is to attend the Kahn Theater tonight to mark its reopening. The Prime Minister is headed to Eliat where hotels are to open.

The poppies were out again in Jerusalem in the sunlight.

Hopefully signs of spring and hope for a better year ahead.

Purim starts on Thursday, February 25th this year.

For one way to get into the Purim mode and mood, Tower of David has a program on Wednesday night.

Jerusalem Municipality neighborhood events are from February 22-28, not only Triple Purim – but a week, even though some coronavirus restrictions are still in place.

Dozens of Megilat Esther readings sponsored by various groups will be held. Already last year I avoided the large synagogue megillah reading for a small one, and downsized the holiday.

Hopefully next Purim we will all be back joyfully celebrating on the Jerusalem streets. But for now, you can come and enjoy the light shows.

Jerusalem Looking Forward to New Year 2021

As the calendar year of 2020 comes to a close, I think it is safe to say 2020 has been a most unusual year. Not the best of years, unless computers and online sessions are your favorite things.

In 2019, millions of visitors were in Jerusalem, Israel, and things were thriving and growing and going great.

But then, in March, closings due to the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Jerusalem – hard. Businesses closed. The poor got poorer. Seniors living alone became more isolated than before.

The view from the Tayelet was one of the few things familiar in 2020.

The newest popular spot is a seat in the health fund, in the chair for the COVID-19 vaccine. Interestingly the information sheets were in Hebrew and Arabic, and not in English.

With a third lockdown looming, people took advantage to get outside when the skies cleared this past week.

Tayelet scene Muslim woman  near Hanukkah menorah

I went to the Tayelet after Hanukkah and the large Menorah was still there.

Not all was Hanukkah in Jerusalem this past week.

Tour group on Tayelet

Tours from Israeli business groups were spotted in multiple locations, and not just the Tayelet with its view of Old City.

Piano by Tayelet

The public pianos attracted small groups and music filled the brisk air.

Jerusalem parks have been upgraded, new ones built, and were open for all.

As in past years, the Jerusalem Municipality gave out free trees to the Christian residents. And as usual, though the distribution was advertised as between 9-12:00 near Jaffa Gate, they went quickly.

Here is a gift shop near Jaffa Gate. An Arab woman passes by the store where Jewish religious garments are on display. Bethany wearing the blue jacket is from Canada, inside with her tree safely stashed in her cart.

Later she told me she came with her friend Sarah at 9:00 am. to be sure and get a tree. People stopped as we chatted at 11:00 am to ask where she got it.

Sorry, every year, only the early birds get those trees.

Seems when the post office near Jaffa Gate is open, there is a waiting line.

Santas were there early in the week, but gone by Friday, December 25th.

The crowds on Friday were headed to Muslim midday prayers.

However, Friday, I did spot a few of Santa’s helpers, or at least the red hats.

At Jerusalem’s New Gate, it was not a bright and happy holiday season.

However, the lights were bright all month at night at the YMCA.

And those lights strung down from the YMCA bell tower lit up the sky impressively from a distance.

Take out food was allowed. People came to Mamilla Mall to eat. Stores were open, and to shop, but access was limited.

However, the open malls are to close by 5:oopm Sunday, December 27, 2020.

These capsule plastic igloos popped up at First Station for small groups to eat their takeout meals. But for lockdown #3 these are a new no-no.

While people did come to eat, the craft stalls have been empty for months.

It was sad to see that the first dairy restaurant to open in the new First Station is now closed.

With Saturn aligned with Jupiter many looked to the heavens for light.

This year the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens offered colorful lights at night.

From across the pond the reflections were quite a popular show.

But December 26, 2020 was the last chance to register and go for now.

It is also had to close. Nature reserves and parks are not to open for at least two week, and maybe more.

The Israel Museum was lit in red at night on December 26, in support of an international Red Alert Campaign. Before I had a chance to share that the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem was open again, and go see YEMEN, it had to close. Culture has been hard hit, with institutions closed for months.

February 2020 seems like a life time ago.

But not to leave you and December 2020, on such a low and down note –

here is a favorite scene from this past week. An elderly Arab man had dropped his cane and could not bend down to pick it up. Several people walked by either not noticing or pretending not to see his problem. As I walked toward him, a Jewish woman also noticed. She had been on her way to Jaffa Gate, but came back and bent down to give him the cane.

So there you have it some of this past week in Jerusalem, Israel.

He was speaking about upcoming Israeli elections, but Eyal Arad’s comment about the Israeli Air Force – “the thing you don’t see is what shoots you down” seems apt here for this past corona year.

Of course, there was more, but this is getting too long and I want to conclude with a new video with added English subtitles.

The novel coronavirus vaccine program is going strong.

From Sunday to Wednesday 650,000 people were vaccinated.

Let’s hope a 3rd lockdown is the last one.

Take care and stay well and

hope to see you in 2021 on the Jerusalem streets.

The Week before Hanukkah in Jerusalem

Imagine the sun shining this morning over the Jerusalem streets.

After a gloomy Shabbat with grey Jerusalem skies and light rain in the afternoon, with flooding in parts of Israel, the warmth and light and blue sky were most welcome.

No matter how fleeting, and now back to grey and cold.

The clouds were reflected in the Israeli Museum’s “Upside Down World.”

Israel Museum open again during COVID19 pandemic after being closed more than once

The Israel Museum opened up – again – as coronavirus restrictions changed and allowed small groups inside the museum gates.

Nature spot in Jerusalem, Israel near the Israel Museum

The nature trails near the Israel Museum have turned lush and green.

Jerusalem Israel nature spot near the Israel Museum

This scene is not the Jerusalem Forest, but minutes below the Israel Museum above the Valley of the Cross.

As the nature trails have become more popular, it was time to return to the Jerusalem streets to see what was happening.

A favorite sign of Hanukkah in Jerusalem are the lights over the streets.

Jerusalem streets lined with Hanuka lights

These new ones line Herzog Street, but I have yet to find them lit at night.

Jerusalem holiday street lights on King David Street

It is interesting that the Jerusalem street lights along King David Street are different than others.

Christmas tree in front of Jerusalem YMCA on King David Street

The holiday decorations were up at the YMCA on King David Street as usual.

It was sad to see so many of the stores on the street empty and for rent.

Maybe not such a bad time to close King David Street for repairs. Signs are up notifying the public–for the next year King David Street will be closed and buses will be rerouted.

At least drivers on King David Street have been given notice, smaller Jerusalem streets under construction are just blocked.

Cars enter, and have to turn around and try another way.

The Jerusalem Theater is still closed with all performances online, but outside there’s social distanced seating available on the plaza.

The 29th Jerusalem Puppet Festival is to be held online December 13-17 and in the Liberty Bell Park Train Theater.

Jerusalem new Train Theater in Liberty Bell Park under cnostruction

However, the new theater did not look ready for performances last week.

Jerusalem Film Festival 2020 on line poster on Jerusalem street

Signs were up for the 37th Jerusalem Film Festival to run from December 10-20 online. In days of live events, this festival was held in the summer.

Jerusalem Cinematheque elevator access

The Cinematheque near the elevator access was quiet on Friday.

This is a favorite view of the Old City over the Sultan’s Pool that I like to share with visitors to Jerusalem. The scene was as impressive as ever.

President Rivlin is to participate in the Jerusalem Film Festival opening ceremony to be held with limited numbers at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and broadcast online.

In the past, the big opening event was held in the Sultan’s Pool with international celebrities attending and an Israeli audience in the huge stories-high viewing stands.

View from Cinematheque of Jerusalem toward Old City

There were changing colors in The Hinon Valley below the Cinematheque, but very few people were there even in the pleasant weather.

With few, if any live events, the advertising boards have been empty of new ads for several weeks. Life cycle events of weddings and funerals have been live-streamed due to the coronavirus, but for families with new babies born, there were ads for special birth rooms for the new mothers.

Then this week, new signs were posted.

Man reads poster on street for Jerusalem municipal elections

Jerusalem municipal elections are to be held on December 22, 2020, postponed from November, and only five years late, in eight community councils: Homat Shmuel, Gonenim, Ginot Ha’ir, Baka, Beit Safafa, Pisgat Ze’ev, Bayit Vegan, and Eshkolot.

November 30, was the chosen date to remember the Jews forced from Arab lands. One interesting lesser-known Jerusalem museum, the Worldwide North Africa Jewish Heritage Center, is closed now but was an interesting venue last year for the Jerusalem Biennale. Last year? Feels so long ago!

The art, culture, and music festivals have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the protesters near the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem have made themselves at home along the street for months.

Paris Square has new signs and is quieter during the day. The Kings Hotel and other Jerusalem hotels are closed. Sad to see those balcony flower pots with dead plants instead of filled with bright red flowers to welcome guests.

Going past the Netanyahu family home, a new security watch box has been built. Looks like Prime Minister might be planning to relocate to a different Jerusalem street in the future.

I doubt whether they will have the same front porch garden, but a bit of colorful corona humor, a masked garden gnome.

Who would have imagined any of this last year Hanukkah time?

So back to nature, to leave you with the impressive changing Jerusalem skyline, under a pastel sky,

White clouds in blue sky over the Valley of the Cross in Jerusalem Israel

and white billowing clouds against a bright blue December sky.

It’s been a great time to be able to get out and walk in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, and on the Jerusalem streets before the winter rains.

Hard to believe Hanukkah starts on Thursday night.

Take care and stay well.

Let’s hope we can all celebrate holidays together next year in Jerusalem.