February in Jerusalem – Presidents, Parks, Ponds and Purim Prep

February in Jerusalem – Presidents, Parks, Ponds and Purim Prep

When we lived in Boston, what a surprise it was to learn that there was a holiday in February for Presidents’ Week. February was a time to go skiing. While five years ago, snow fell in Jerusalem in February, this year temperatures during the day have been warm, at least when the sun came out! So much rain this year, but there are signs of spring.

Blossoms on almond tree in katamon Jerusalem

After the almond blossoms burst out, other fruit trees are now blooming – as are allergies from various pollens.

Flowers are appearing. The lilies in the pond at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are starting to open.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

Another sure sign of spring, the birds on a nice day chirp away, before dawn.

Those early wake-up calls at 4:14 am are not appreciated.

Main hall of Jerusalem International Conference Center for OurCrowd Global Summit 2020

The annual spring OurCrowd Global Investor Summit has grown bigger and better.

International registration was reported at 23,000 people from 183 countries.

Jerusalem Israel OurCrowd Summit booth for UpnRide

Get up and Ride, the UpnRide was one of many booths. I mentioned how I saw it used at OurCrowd first. It was so amazing to see a person bound to a wheelchair standing at the buffet table.

Amir Gofer using UpnRide at OurCrowd Global Summit

And there was Amir Gofer again explaining his amazing invention!

What a shame Christopher Reeves died too soon to benefit from this Israeli technology.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to Conference of Presidents at Inbal Hotel

February in Jerusalem means the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is back for its 46th Annual National Leadership mission. On opening night PM Netanyahu spoke in the Inbal Hotel ballroom.

Israeli President receives gift from Conference of Presidents

Monday morning President Rivlin addressed the delegates and invited guests. He was presented with a piece of art as a gift by new CEO William Daroff,  with Malcolm Hoenlein and Arthur Stark posing for the photo op.

President Rivlin took off soon after for a long-anticipated trip to Australia. First, he stopped in LA to get the key to the city, then on to Fiji on the way to the Land of Oz.

The Conference of Presidents used to have a printed schedule for their program. This year there is an app which is for delegates only. “We’re back” was all Hoenlein would say on the record about their trip to Saudia Arabia last week. Much of this week is filled with meetings with Israeli leaders, and some off the record, but a few more photos here.

New standard for clean air signs in Jerusalem

But as for the real streets, the municipality wants to clean up not only the streets but the air too. Signs are up. Warnings are out. Fines and enforcement are to be increased. In the campaign to clean up Jerusalem, citations will be served for littering and not cleaning up after your dog.

Gan Sacher Jerusalem Leningrad Memorial

As for the old dog park in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, finally, all the tents are gone and the Leningrad Memorial is visible. I will spare you dozens of photos from the construction mess in Gan Sacher, but they will have to work quickly before the Jerusalem Marathon next month.

Jerusalem Israel memorial across from Cinema City

The Leningrad Memorial in Gan Sacher is across the road from this memorial for fallen soldiers defending Jerusalem, which is located next to the Supreme Court.

Jerusalem parking garage to save space

Land is at a premium in Jerusalem. Every centimeter is scrutinized. Here a parking garage rises to the sky.

Man working on an old house in Jerusalem being renovated

Small old buildings are being renovated and redone daily.

Street in Jerusalem with sidewalk torn up work

Oh and the streets! When they are completed these sidewalks should be nice. But now?

Azza Street in Jerusalem under repair

Some streets are parking lots part of the day as construction stops traffic. All traffic. Pedestrians are not sure where and how to cross to avoid all the equipment.

New sidewalk on Azza Street in Jerusalem Israel

They are almost done here, an important part of the Jerusalem Marathon route.

These streets will be filled with runners on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Bus stop in Jerusalem Israel

At least we did get our bus stop back.

New bike path in Jerusalem Israel has a bike tire pump

This was a pleasant surprise. Along the new bike path, there is a tire pump available.

Jaffa Street near Market music and dancing on nice day

On the Jerusalem streets, always something to surprise. Spontaneous music and dancing.

Winter Music Festival in Jerusalem sign for end of February performances

There are also planned winter musical performances at the end of February.

Jerusalem Israel hosting an international conference on violence prevention education

A first, an international conference on violence prevention education.

Purim costumes in the Jerusalem Israel shuk

Spring means strange faces appear in the Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk.

Purim holiday masks and hats are on display.

Costumes for children and adults, with unicorns big this year.

Hamenstashen, Haman's Ears for Purim

Hamantashen were piled up high. It is interesting that they are packaged and not out in open.

Ah, Jerusalem, Israel, in February, spring, and Purim is around the corner,

Sign on Jerusalem sidewalk

and Jerusalem lights up on Bezalel Street.

 

 

What’s New for Tu BiShvat in Jerusalem?

What’s New for Tu BiShvat in Jerusalem?

Finally, the sun came out and warmed up the cold, still wet Jerusalem streets.

The Tu BiShvat holiday was cold and rainy this year in Jerusalem.

ט”ו בשבט – the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, has close to a dozen ways to be spelled in English. Each year it is a problem and a challenge of how best to spell it.

An easier challenge is to find new ways to celebrate it in Jerusalem, Israel.

Botanical Gardens in Jerusalem Israel on a sunny spring day

In honor of Tu BiShvat, the New Year for Trees, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens opened its gates for free public entry, extending the holiday this year from Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon. Walking the paths in the sunshine was a good way to warm up after days of bone-chilling cold weather.

Buksor for Tu B'Shevat

On Jerusalem streets, carob pods lie drying and unwanted on the ground.

Oh, how different than Tu Bishvat celebrations years ago in the United States.

JNF 1928 photo of Girl Guides celebrating Tu Bishvat in jerusalem Beit Hakerem

Tu Bishvat agricultural celebrations were recorded in the land of Israel, long before the state was established.

Jerusalem Israel almond blossoms on tree

The songs we learned were about the shekediah, almond blossoms, bursting out. On the trees in Jerusalem, almond blossoms indeed burst out early this year after the wet winter season in spite of the cold weather, and before most other trees.

Israeli President Garden tree planted in January 2020 in honor of Prince of Wales visit to Jerusalem

One special new tree was planted in the Beit Hanasi, Israeli President’s residence in the back garden. The dedication says, by President Rivlin “and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, as a sign of friendship between the two nations, and in recognition of the value of preserving and sustaining the environment and nature.” 26 Tevet 5780, 23 January 2020.

Table set for Tu B'Shvat

Tu Bishvat seders, special meals with four cups of wine, white and red and mixed are becoming more common. My friends set a gorgeous table, nothing common about her efforts or artistic talents.  The holiday food table was laid out for guests and everything tasted as good as it looked.

Malida at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

A special first-time event was held for Tu BiShvat at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem hosts Melida Tu Bishvat seder

A Malida table for Tu Bishvat set for a traditional ceremony originating from India.

The Ambassador from India to Israel Sanjeev Singla attended and wore a blue kippah. He spoke in English but said he hoped next year for Malida to know more Hebrew.

Lighting candle to begin Malida at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

A candle was lit while special coverings covered the food.

Malida ceremony at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem for Tu B'Shvat

Prayers were recited beginning with “Simon tov and Mazel Tov.

The words ended with a psalm at the completion of the ceremony. Then traditional foods were served.

It was an emotional evening. For the first time, Malida has been included as an official holiday.

For hundreds of years, Jews in India prayed of the Prophet Elijah and to return to the land of Israel. At this time Malida was being celebrated in Jerusalem in a meaningful public venue.

Night time view of new building Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

While the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are wonderful on a spring day, on a cold night not so much. However, on the quest for new this year, the new building was lit up on Tu Bishvat night.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

The now impressive Botanical Garden, a former garbage dump, is looking ahead to take on social roles in the community.

The story of Honi planting a tree and seeing it 70 years later is an old rabbinic legend.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens lecture on tree production

Fruit optimization of every tree in an orchard is the story of the future. Now there’s AI, artificial intelligence, and ML, machine learning to track layers of factors to get maximum growth for trees and fruit production.

Tree maximum growth

When it got down to the specifics of data collection, Hebrew or English, I was lost.

Tu Beshevat fruit platter

But at the meeting, they served beautiful fresh fruit platters with giant strawberries and pomegranate seeds.

Tu Beshvat dried fruit and nut platter

Also, the dried fruits and nuts, and fresh dates for Tu BiShvat that looked good enough to share.

Cloudy night in Jerusalem Israel for super moon

Also, the Super Moon peeked out from behind the clouds on my way home.

A bonus to a few minutes without rain when walking.

Last year the President and the late Nechama Rivlin z”l hosted a Tu B’Shvat seder.

Tu B'Shvat JNF awardees at Beit Hanasi with President Rivlin

This year for Tu BiShvat the President hosted a special group from KKL-JNF.

Young people received awards at the event that highlighted inclusion.

One of my favorite moments on this busy Tu BiShvat week was at Beit Hanasi at the conclusion of the official program with the President. For the first time, I watched closely the signing of Hatikvah. Thanks to Shani for her special translation of the familiar words

Finally, a reminder to check out amazing Israel WildFlowers.

With attention to detail, and in English now, Sara’s website has a wealth of information.

And new for this Tu BiShvat, check out Hidden Blossom walks.

On the Jerusalem streets, throughout Israel so much was happening and new this Tu BiShvat. 

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

ט”ו בשבט שמח 

Happy Tu BiShvat

Shabbat Shalom

Jerusalem, Israel weather is often the topic of conversation.

This week has seen a bit of everything, but snow.

Today is cold and grey, not a pretty picture.

But yesterday, the sky was blue and

Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem with almond blossoms.

perfect background for the almond tree blossoms bursting forth in the midday sun.

Shabbat Shalom

שבת שלום