Israel’s President

Today was sunny, clear and warm in Jerusalem, Israel.

image Knessest, sign in flowers

The flowers offered a colorful  ‘Welcome to the Knesset.”

The streets outside were unusually quiet.

But inside was a different story.

DSC_7212b Knessest building during voting for president

 With Israeli flags flying, there were three puffs of white clouds

over the Israeli Knesset building and Reuven Rivlin was elected  Israel’s 10th president.

image Peres,

This was our most recent close-up photo of outgoing President Shimon Peres.

Before his trip to Rome to see the Pope,

Pau Gasol and Shimon Peres meet.

Peres hosted basketball player Pau Gasol at Beit Hanasi,

the official Israeli President’s residence.

image Pau Gasol, photo Shimon Peres

The seven-foot tall Gasol plays for the LA Lakers,

but also was on the Spanish Olympic team,

and presented Peres with a team shirt.

image Pau Gasol, photo Shimon Peres

Gasol signed the shirt as requested.

Though looking serious in this photo,

Shimon Peres made a few age and height jokes

image Pau Gasol, photo Shimon Peres

and posed for an official photo with a mixed Arab-Jewish teen basketball team.

One thing for sure, Peres’ staff had schedules that ran like clockwork,

with the diplomats leaving as the basketball players arrived,

and when we left another event was being set up.

image Peres

 RJS’ first close-up photo of Shimon Peres is from October 2009,

no age jokes now.

Israeli Knesset – Hadassah Outside and What’s Inside

The Israeli Knesset is open to the public.

But getting a chance to join a tour

with the Jerusalem Press Club and get a behind the scenes look

 is hard to turn down,

especially when I can take my camera.

People behind bars?

image Hadassah strikers, photo people near fence, image hospital workers on strike

Yes-striking workers from Hadassah Hospital,

image protest, photo peaceful protest, picture Hadassah workers on strike

hundreds of them in the Wohl Rose Garden,

image Hadassah workers on strike, photo striking staff from Hadassah, picture workers in uniform on strike

demonstrating across from the Knesset.

Too bad PA leaders were not around

to see what a peaceful protest really looks like.

Image protest sign, Hadassah worker on strike photo, picture of striker holding sign

Problems have built up for years in the medical center,

and the complicated situation affects everyone.

The latest news – 90 day delay and staff is to get 90% of their salary.

image protest in Rose GArden, picture demonstration across from Knesset, photo Hadassah strikers.

Hadassah medical specialists are experts at saving lives,

not for organizing protest rallies that offer dramatic photo ops.

image Hadassah protest, photo Knesset, picture with Knesset symbol

The demonstration could easily be seen from the Knesset.

Hopefully a resolution will be worked out soon.

Hadassah is essential to everyone in the Jerusalem, Israel area and beyond.

With security it always takes awhile to get inside the building.

A year ago after elections, a paper poster with the members of the Knesset

with their photos was posted by the entrance doors.

There were so many new faces,

that the guards needed photos to show who should be allowed in.

image Knesset members, photo sign in Knesset with who is there, picture Knesset attendance

Now there is a screen which shows which of the 120 members

are present in the building and which are not.

The modern-day legislature has 120 members,

similar to the number of members of the Knesset Gedolah of ancient times.

image small meeting room, photo Knesset , picutre Knesset room

We got to walk around and

see some of the small meeting rooms and many works of art.

iamge Israeli prime ministers., picture Rabin , Begin

In one of many photo galleries, this one of deceased Prime Ministers of Israel,

a spot is ready for Ariel Sharon’s photo.

image Knesset, photo inside Knesset, picture Israeli Knesset

The view inside the main plenary is familiar to all.

image Israeli flag, photos Israeli flag in Knesset, picture Israeli flag

The room was packed when Stephen Harper,

the Prime Minister of Canada, spoke here recently.

But European Parliament President Martin Schulz and

 David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain,

are to speak also, but with much less hoopla.

UPDATE: Seems Schulz’s remarks did get noticed after all!

And Cameron had to cancel due to floods in England.

Every Knesset member had a copy of the State Comptroller’s report at their place.

image Knesset seat, photo Knesset, picture inside Knesset

But a few had other reading material on their desk.

image Knesset seat, photo desk in Knesset, picture Israeli Knesset

I was glad to find at least one person is interested in the laws of shemita.

 There was Rav Rimon’s book on the laws of planting in the seventh year,

 but I could not clearly read whose name was on that screen.

The year is coming soon, last time in the cycle was a challenge.

image special synagogue, picture of shul in Knesset building, photo Kensset beit Knesset

The Knesset synagogue was on our tour,

but next time I really want to get a photo of the Muslim prayer room too.

image MK i

 MK Nachman Shai of Labor Party shared some of his views.

He had to leave to prepare his remarks,

as is the custom,

every Monday afternoon at 4:00 pm,

the opposition tries to “bring down the government.”

image symbol of israel, photo Israel image, picture of official symbol Israel

I guess he did not get a majority vote.

The present coalition government stands.

We are still here.

But Opposition is waiting to “ambush” at the right time of course.”

What a country!

Tu B’Shvat, Jerusalem Transitions

Tu B’Shvat, Jerusalem Transitions

This week was one of transition in Jerusalem, Israel.

It started with the funeral of a former Prime Minister.

image coffin Ariel Sharon, photo casket, picture casket draped in flag

The blue and white draped casket of Ariel Sharon was

surrounded by floral wreathes in the plaza of the Knesset.

The gates were opened allowing the public inside.

 As it got dark,

image memorial candles, picture candles spelling out name. photo Ariel sharon funeral

 the crowd lingered after the announced closing time.

image man in crowd holding Israel flag, photo Ariel sharon funeral, picture memorial Sharon

Holding an Israeli flag was a good way to get attention.

image Sharon memorial, picture Dore God at Knesset , photo Dore Gold

A few familiar faces were in the crowd.

image woman sad, photo woman at funeral sad face, picture mourning.

This woman insisted on lighting a candle and looked so sad.

image man funeral crowd, photo man at funeral, picture man sad face

While this man became very emotional after he saluted the casket.

What impressed me most was how different it was

  to the memorial of Yitzhak Shamir.

There was very little Jewish about this event.

image honor guard, photo Knesset at night, picture Sharon casket

The Knesset honor guard was in step when they changed shifts,

but no one was saying Tehilim, Psalms, out loud.

image flowers and memorial candles., photo memorial, picture candles Sharon at Knesset

Thousands of Jewish Ethiopians came to farewell Shamir.

Here a colorful wreath was on display from an Ethiopian church.

image Sharon memorial, picture memory candles spelling name, photo memorial candles

Outside at night, in winter, with memorial candles spelling Arik Sharon,

but there were no family members present to accept condolences.

Shamir’s memorial was run to the minute,

while this one dragged quietly into the night.

image Jerusalem street. photo Jerusalem traffic, picture traffic in Jerusalem

For two days traffic was a mess.

image blimp, photo Knesset in flowers, picture Knesset

A security blimp hovered over the Knesset.

Jerusalem was on high alert with dignitaries arriving from all over the world.

image burka, photo Palestinian abuse Israel, photo Muslim woman, picture Arab woman

Meanwhile, this woman sat in a park not far away,

 but that is a whole other blog post for Israellycool.

And then,

there was an amazing sunset,

image beautiful sunset, picture sky at sunset, photo impressive sunset

some of it seen here over the Israel Museum.

The 65 birthday of the Knesset was celebrated,

with the public invited to a slew of activities.

image protesters, photo African protests, picture African protesters with flags

The African protesters of last week went back to Tel Aviv.

The snow storm clean up will be going on for some time, 

but it was warm enough today to go without a coat.

image lemon tree, photo lemons on tree, picture lemons growing

The lemons are looking ready to pick.

image Tu BeShvat, photo Tu Bishvat, picture Tu Beshevat

Fancy fruit baskets are ready to deliver.

In the flower shop I was asked to take a date to eat 

in honor of Tu B’Shvat, The New Year for Trees.

The transition from the funeral at the beginning of the week,

can really be felt today 

image street art Jerusalem, photo Jerusalem written , picture Jerusalem

on the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

Spring, renewal, rebirth are in the air.

Tu B’shvat is coming.

Only Some Israelis Vote for Knesset 19

Today is Election Day in Israel for the 19th Knesset

and some are calling it a celebration of democracy.

photo Israeli election box

For a hi-tech country voting is decidedly low-tech,

photo Israeli election

with a cardboard ballot box and voting booth in a school classroom.

Israeli election photo

 Inside the booth, write-in votes are possible with a pen on white paper.

Israeli election photo

The nice workers in our polling place were happy to pose for a photo.

Israeli election photo

Across the hall the scene was similar,

Israeli election photo

and though the turnout is described as heavy,

the lines were short at midday.

BUT,

stairs photo

in order to get to the voting place you had to climb stairs, lots of stairs.

While I was trying to get a good angle to show a serious problem,

Israeli election photo

a friend who had moved to Haifa came up the stairs to vote.

However, for the disabled and many elderly in the neighborhood,

there was nothing to smile about.

Israeli election photo

Outside, to get in the building there were more stairs,

Israeli election photo

and for some getting down could be as hard as going up to vote.

Israeli election photo

As I left, this woman with two walking sticks tried to vote, 

 and I do not know how long it took her to do all those stairs.

The situation for access of the disabled and elderly  

is terrible in many of the old buildings in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem election day photo

One thing no one could complain about was the weather.

blocked sidewalks

Even though many sidewalks are still blocked by trees downed by the snow,

photo from Israeli election day

today was a day to get outside and enjoy the spring-like weather.

The temperatures certainly added to a party atmosphere, 

but access for disabled must become a priority.

I still think it is outrageous that someone in a wheel chair

has a hard time to vote in a democracy.

There are  locations for wheel chair access,

but isn’t it time to make public buildings accessible?

After the Holidays, What Now?

For months people have said “after the chagim

well, the time has now arrived and the holidays are over.

Yesterday the winter session of the Knesset began in Jerusalem, Israel,

only to shut down a few hours later, to prepare for elections in January.

Knesset

However, the lights were still on in the building when I went to sleep.

Over 40 rockets fired from Gaza fell already this week in the South.

There is the nuclear threat from Iran.

No one knows what will happen next on the Jerusalem streets,

but there certainly are many cameras on hand to record it.

Muslim Quarter

Sukkot holiday crowds pushed through the Old City to the Kotel,

 the Western Wall,  for Birchat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing.

photographers Jerusalem

Photographers were ready for action in the crowded Muslim Quarter.

photographers Jerusalem

Serious cameras were there to get close-ups of the faces.

Old City

Thousands of smiling visitors posed for their moment.

Meir Goldreicht

There were so many phones out taking photos,

Kosel crowd

 many were photos of the holiday crowds at the Kotel.

In the sukkah at Beit Hanasi, the President’s residence,

sukkah

not only people posed for photos,

seeing eye dog

but even this dog stopped and posed.

kids camera

There were children taking pictures

Shimon Peres

and official photos with President Shimon Peres as well.

Having your camera handy is a good thing, 

mime

as you never know when you will need it on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem parade

At the Jerusalem Parade, marchers took photos with and of the spectators.

Nigerian tourists

Who knew so many Nigerians were camera crazy?

Jerusalem streets are narrow,

a car on the corner can make it impossible for a truck to pass.

cars

This looked like possible trouble, so I took a photo of the scene.

Not everyone wants me to take their photos, that is for sure.

pose for camera

 In fact, this man jumped out of his truck and started towards me!

I sure was relieved that all he wanted was for me to take his photo!

Most people are back to work.

School classes are in session until Hanukkah,

the universities start next week.

One might expect quiet streets, 

but yesterday there were crowds and shofars and cameras

bar mitzvah

and drums for a bar mitzvah boy’s celebration.

Gotta love those Jerusalem streets,

where you never know what or who you will find.

Yitzhak Shamir, 1915-2012

On Monday, July 2, 2012,

"picture Knesset", "photo Knesset", Image Knesset"

the large flag over the Knesset flew at half mast,

while this warning sign was posted in front of the building.

Yitzhak Shamir, the 7th Prime Minister of Israel, had died at age 96,

"image Shamir funeral", "photo Shamir funeral", "picture Shamir funeral"

  and his casket was lying in state in the main hall.

Getting into the Knesset Building is usually not easy.

"picture honor guard", "photo honor guard", "image honor guard"

But today the public was invited to pay their respects to the Shamir family,

as army rabbis stood and read Psalms.

"picture Meridor", "photo Dan Miridor", "image Dan Meridor"

Vice Premier Dan Meridor was one of the government officials present.

"photo memorial wreaths", "image flower wreath", Picture flower wreath"

At 4:00 pm, the floral wreaths surrounding the casket 

were removed

 and an honor guard lifted the casket.

"photo Shai Abramson", "image Shamir funeral", "picture singers"

IDF Chief Chazan Shai Abramson led the procession out of the hall

while chanting  Psalm 91.

The public was then ushered out of the Knesset Building.

In 1991, Prime Minister Shamir approved Operation Solomon

which brought over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

On the day of his funeral, Ethiopian community leaders

were in the last group to leave the Knesset grounds.

The funeral procession went to Mount Herzl Cemetery for burial.

There was just enough time for some visitors to pose 

for a quick photo.

On the way in I had a “buggy” ride,

but on the way out everyone walked.

Most people walked away slowly.

Yitzhak Shamir  z’l  

     1915-2012