From Jerusalem a Look to the Future

Today, January 1, 2023, all eyes are on the best or worst of 2022.

However, I decided to post positive aspects and focus on the future as Israel is to celebrate 75 years at the end of April 2023.

No bets on when they will finally finish redoing Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, which is more torn up than last month, or the Jerusalem Gateway or Light Rail extension projects. Construction seems everywhere and endless.

The news this week is that the popular large event Sultan’s Pool near the Old City walls is getting a major makeover.

Plus, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority, and the City of David Foundation announced the initiation of the excavation of the historic Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem.

This photo of the uncovered steps is from a report on the earlier stage of the project. The path is now open to the public.

Last week was Hanukkah, and we needed a 9th night to get our family together. There were no candles or hanukiah on Monday night, but a big gathering of the family with food and fun and gifts.

One significant hanukiah was not mentioned last week.

The Knesset plenary is shaped like a Hanukiah, the Chanukah menorah with 4 branches over a stem, and a base. Instead of a shamash candle, the elected government sits in the center.

Israel’s 37th Government was sworn in at the Knesset and held its first cabinet meeting. That evening, the ministers arrived at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, for the traditional official photograph.

I remembered attending the opening of the 20th Knesset as I arrived at Beit Hanasi at night for the official photo.

Though hours early, other photographers arrived much earlier to get a prime location, perched above the raised platform on chairs.

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From my spot, seated on the bottom step and the floor, I was close enough and much safer getting a photograph.

While waiting for over two hours, I took many photos, for those interested in what happened behind the scene – a short video.

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This is a favorite image I got before the President and Prime Minister arrived. One has to be careful these days saying ” I shot” about a photo.

Here is the published diagram of the new government ministers’ names.

On to other news. With travel opening up after the pandemic closures, the Fourth Jerusalem Leaders Summit met again in Jerusalem, Israel.

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Joel Anand Samy was thrilled to be in Jerusalem and open the session at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Wednesday night.

The audience included journalists and international guests. His wife and co-founder of the International Leaders Summit, Natasha Srdoc is seen here on the far right.

Two of the international keynote speakers were Sir Ivan Lawrence and Cheryl Chumley, online opinion editor of the Washington Times.

It was good to hear Dr. Paul Ruebig, a member of the EU’s Economic and Social Committee, report on positive developments.

For those who have only seen gloom and doom predictions for Israel and its new government, I made this short video after one Summit panel. Oded Revivi and Moshe Koppel sound much more encouraging than the rhetoric of the new opposition who were voted out of office.

Also good news, Israel ranks 4th among the best-performing world economies though many prices are rising quickly.

In the two years since the Israel-Morocco normalization agreement of December 22, 2020, the Moroccan government has stepped up its national project for Moroccan Jewish life: by launching a plan.

Only 15 UN General Assembly resolutions against Israel in 2022 and at least fewer votes this time around for the recent resolution on Friday afternoon.

My friend David shared what a great year 2022 was for Israeli athletes.

Though it’s winter in Jerusalem, we had a fun Photowalk with a family from New York and would love to see you here soon to show you more good things happening.

Warm winter greetings from Jerusalem for a good year in 2023!

A Day in Jerusalem: What you did not see

When sand fills the air it’s a good time to shut the windows and stay off the Jerusalem streets. It’s not a pretty picture as the dirt blows in and covers everything on any day, especially on Shabbat.

However, earlier in the week, it was a very different story.

Monday morning, the sky was blue, the roses bright red, and the menorah across from the Knesset was surrounded by lush green foliage.

Even though I was in a hurry, I took the time to stop, appreciate the scene and take a quick photograph.

A Knesset security guard came over to question what I was doing. However, I was able to point and say how pretty, and he did not stop me.

The red carpet was out. Not for me, but for the President of the Austrian National Council. I could see the drums and tuba ready for an official musical band welcome, but I was on my way to a meeting inside.

First time back inside the Knesset in over two years, and getting permission to use my camera was an exciting way to start the day. The Knesset Israel Victory Caucus met to discuss the security situation of the past year.

Photo credit: Michael Katz

Thanks to photographer Mike Katz for sharing his photo with me of the new style tee-shirt, which I missed when I stepped out for a few minutes.

Incitement to terror has increased, what to do to stop it is the question?

The official car of Austrian National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka was parked as I was leaving the meeting which went longer than expected.

I say moving to Jerusalem has been an education in international flags.

I passed a tour group at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. The natural roof was not green this time as in a 2019 post.

Next to the Bird Observatory, the cemetery, across from the Israeli Supreme Court building has become a popular attraction with busloads of men and women coming to pray at the grave of the Zvhiller Rebbe.

However, at least one man was able to find a quiet moment to reflect.

I was rushing over to the new Nefesh BeNefesh Campus for the first annual Mental Health Expo, special for English speakers. Attended by 1600 people who took advantage to speak with dozens of participating organizations.

The lecture room was filled for Dr. David Pelcovitz’s talk. I had to push my way into the standing-room-only crowd which spilled into the hallway to take a photo. It was the most crowded room of people I have seen in over two years.

It was a beautiful day to be out and walk in Jerusalem. The new path in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was lined with new colorful flowers.

The new sign was up for the Kraft Family Sports Campus.

And the Ninja section at the park was filled with religious girls in long skirts excitedly trying out the exercise equipment.

Amazing the Jerusalem of contrasts, the new park area, and the old buildings as they were decades ago in disrepair adjacent to each other.

I passed this dumpster and wondered how long those wooden pallets would remain?

With Lag B’Omer approaching, all the wood along Jerusalem streets was being collected for upcoming nighttime bonfires.

The Jerusalem Book Forum and International Writers’ Festival were back again with local and international writers and publishers attending the opening events at the Jerusalem YMCA.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was present to award the Jerusalem Prize as he did in the last festival held in 2019 to Joyce Carol Oates.

This year’s winner British author Julian Barnes was not able to attend but appeared in a video.

It was fascinating to hear a speaker from Germany say how he felt safer now walking the Jerusalem streets than the streets in Europe.

One featured writer was Joshua Cohen, author of “The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family” which won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

All that was on a day the media focused only on conflict.

Wednesday night, Lag B’Omer fires burned well into the night.

The piles of wood were prepared and piled high by thousands who partied all night long in Jerusalem. Musical performances went on in many locations until the early morning hours.

I tried watching online, but wonder if Meron Lag BOmer celebrations will recover any time soon after last year’s tragedy?

While there is a government crisis (almost daily?) and troubles abound, this week I preferred to walk during the day when the sky was clear and the sun shone and admire the flowers along the Jerusalem streets.

The plans for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, reunited for 55 years are well underway. From May 26 to June 2, 2022, Jerusalem is celebrating with 9000 flags and 42 km of flag chains hung along the Jerusalem streets.

Yes, there is much more happening in Jerusalem that does not attract headlines. What next? How about a parade for over 60-year-olds?

In the Jerusalem Cinema City where the Mental Health Fair was held, I saw these two women sitting, one Muslim and one Jewish. Not what you saw on your TV sets at night, but what was happening on the real Jerusalem streets.

It was May 16, 2022. Nakba Day in Jerusalem, Israel – what you did not see.