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.

Jerusalem Heats Up for Summer

Jerusalem Heats Up for Summer

It had to happen here in Jerusalem, Israel.

The hot weather had to arrive.

We are well into summertime in the Middle East.

This past week was still cool in the evening and pleasant.

But, today it’s hot outside.

French ceremony for Bastille Day

July 14th was Bastille Day, celebrated in France with an official ceremony including a military marching band – “Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood.”

Protest Rally in Jerusalem Israel near Prime Minister's residence
Photo credit: Shifra G

In Jerusalem, the 14th was marked by a huge protest rally under the banner of “Siege of Balfour.” Protests are allowed under Israeli law, even when COVID-19 restrictions are the most severe stages. Most other gatherings, on the other hand, have been limited in numbers to try to control the spread during this coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters late at night at Jerusalem Israel Paris Square set fire to a paper recycling container
Photo credit: Shifra G

After the main protest rally with its noise and drums and shouts, it quieted a bit near midnight. We could hear the noises a mile away.

There have been protesters near Paris Square for a month, close to the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Jerusalem protest tent near Prime Minister's residence with Gilad Shalit's parents

Gilad Shalit’s family was there for years until he was released from Gaza.

Most weeks since, someone has a protest there. I have taken photos, but not always shared them.

However, this was more than the regular noisy protest.

Jerusalem Israel recycle container set on fire by protesters
Photo credit: Micky Rosenfeld Israel Polie

A paper recycling bin was set on fire, and enough protesters to fill a bus were taken away by police after being sprayed by water.

Israeli Police truck on way to burning dumpster at Paris Square

The truck was a little late getting to the protest scene. After making a wrong turn, the driver had to back the oversized vehicle out of our small, one-way street VERY carefully.

These protests have made headlines. The social workers are still on strike, but they’re not violent, making them less newsworthy.

Nurses are ready to strike also?

No idea what next, but can share what did happen:

Jerusalem Israeli scouts in uniform

Israeli Scouts in uniform and masks met on Tuesday for an outing.

Young Jerusalem children meeting in a park area

A group of young children gathered in this shaded nature spot. I liked how their backpacks were hanging from a cord – carefully distanced. I was reminded of the days when parents thought that head lice was the worst possible of plagues.

President Rivlin watches Israeli football final from a box, as the only spectator
Photo credit Kobi Gideon, GPO

The Israeli Football (soccer) final had one spectator – President Reuven Rivlin.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin meets with IDF near Lebanon border
Photo credit: Kobi Gideon, GPO

Twenty years after the withdrawal from Lebanon, President Rivlin visited the northern border on Thursday, beginning his visit with the operations room at Camp Biranit. I thought the plates of healthy food on the table were interesting.

Hezbollah in Lebanon as seen from Israel

I have plenty of border photos from January. Seems so long ago, when I was near the Blue Line, on the Israeli border of Lebanon.

The Jerusalem Film Festival (JFF) announced the end of its plans to run a delayed physical edition at the end of August. Following a surge in COVID-19 cases, new restrictions on large-scale gatherings have been introduced.

Dr Ruth and President Reuven Rivlin

Last year President Reuven Rivlin was the honored speaker as the event was dedicated in memory of the wife Nechama z’L. Dr. Ruth was a special guest.

Opening night Jerusalem Film Festival 2019

In 2016, the Jerusalem Film Festival attracted even more photographers to the opening night in the Sultan’s Pool.

Quentin Tarantino received a special award from Mayor Nir Barkat before the film.

Director Quentin Tarantino received an award from Mayor Nir Barkat before the film.

Jerusalem Israel building National Library near Knesset and Israel Museum

Even as many restaurants, museums, and buildings are forced to close, construction

Building the Israeli National Library man on top of building site

on the new Israel National Library,

Man working with construction equipment in Jerusalem

and other Jerusalem building projects are proceeding.

Watering Sacher Park in Jerusalem Israel no Sunday morning

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was empty in the morning as sprinklers water the grass.

Jerusalem Valley of the Cross bike path and new landscaping

The path in Valley of the Cross leading into the park was quiet.

Then a few minutes later – it was best to get out of the way!

New grapes on Jerusalem streets

How many times I have walked by this location and not noticed the beautiful green grapes growing?

Grape vine over trash container on Jerusalem street

Maybe because I did not look up over the garbage bin to see them?

Too many people walk looking down at their phones not seeing what is around them.

Wearing masks. Not wearing masks.

Another week under coronavirus pandemic.

Always something different happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Flower growing in Jerusalem Israel in Valley of the Cross

While many people are suffering, nature is thriving.

Take care out there and stay well.

Jerusalem One Summer Night of Two Hugs

Jerusalem One Summer Night of Two Hugs

Oft repeated here,

you never know what you will find on the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

Antique car on Jerusalem Israel street

This cute little “Electric Bimba” on the street certainly fits the theme.

Forty three degrees in car parked in sun

As the Jerusalem temperature was rising outside, our car parked in the sun went to 43 degrees C, over 100 degrees F. I have no idea what the temperature was in the old revved up personal transporter.

Fountain in Teddy Park Jerusalem Israel

People gather at Teddy Park in the evening, for the water fountain to go on and cool off.

Jerusalem Israel Yad Vashem

One place with thousands of visitors daily, no matter what the weather, is Yad Vashem.

A very special event was held on July 25 in the evening.

Rabbi Y M in Yad Vashem synagogue

As Rav Yisrael Meir Lau Israel’s former Chief Rabbi told his story, he looked at an image projected on the wall of the synagogue.

The occasion was a conference on Holocaust education for North American Jewish educators.

The image was that of him as an 8-year old child.

A Holocaust and concentration camp survivor, the image shows him sitting on a bench between Jewish US Army soldiers who liberated Buchenwald.

Sixty percent of the concentration camp survivors died during the first few days after liberation.  His older brother Naftali z”l was ill, so weak he was unconscious, and was not aware of liberation until much later.

Rabbi Hershel Schacter z”l, was the US Army chaplain who entered with the liberating US Army, who extended his hand to the frightened little boy.

Next to speak was his son, Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, who told the story of his father’s desire to serve in the US Army during wartime.

From the Yad Vashem synagogue, after listening to the emotional remarks from both rabbis, the assembled group walked solemnly into the main building.

Rabbi Y M Lau pointing to himself as a child in large photo in Yad Vashem

There Rabbi Lau pointed to where he sat amid the US Jewish soldiers and Holocaust survivors in the famous image.

On the far left side of this US Army photograph, is Rabbi Schacter z”l, 25 years old, leading the Shavuot holiday service.

Rabbi Y M Lau at Yad Vashem near photo of himself as a child

In Jerusalem, in Yad Vashem, in the hall of memories, Rabbi Lau spoke with the son of Rabbi Schacter z”l of his first Jewish memories as a survivor.

Near photo of his father Rabbi JJ Schacter hugs Rabbi Y M Lau who was also in the image as a child after liberation

The two men hugged in front of the iconic image, in the presence of Rabbi Schacter’s z”l extended family, which included a great-grandson.

A unique and meaningful hug, spanning decades of history, uniting liberators and survivors.

Jerusalem is a city, of contrasts, old and new, and diverse realities.

Jerusalem Film Festival opening night

From Yad Vashem, as the sun was setting, I rushed to the Jerusalem Film Festival opening in the Sultan’s Pool.Jerusalem Film Festival in Sultan's Pool

The screen could be seen from the Cinematheque, with the walls of the Old City in the background.

Jerusalem Film Festival Israeli President Rivlin speaking at opening event

President Reuven Rivlin was the honored guest, as a new film award was initiated in memory of his wife Nechama z”l.

Jerusalem Film Festival Paul Newman

In the opening video presentation along with greetings from Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Sports and Cultural Minister Miri Regev, were clips from the movie Exodus.

Paul Newman in Exodus in opening video at Jerusalem Film Festival

I wonder how many people learned of the establishment of modern Israel and were influenced by Paul Newman in this 1960 movie.

Dr Ruth and President Reuven Rivlin

As for the second hug of the evening, Dr. Ruth Westheimer is back in Jerusalem. The documentary movie of her fascinating life was a feature of this annual film festival.

Jerusalem Film Festival honoree Katzriel Schori

Katriel Schori received an award for lifetime achievement in Israeli film.

View from Cinematheque of Old City and Sultan's Pool at Jerusalem Film Festival

I left before the main film was shown, but I could see Schori accepting his award on the screen.

Jerusalem Food Truck in Haginon Park

Down below in the valley the Food Truck Festival was going strong.

Thousands of people were out enjoying the cooler evening temperatures on very crowded Jerusalem streets.

Back to the Future with the Philharmonic orchestra performing live near the Old City walls was sold out days before. It was a Jerusalem Film Festival success.

However, the film festival has open and free film showings in various neighborhood parks.

Jerusalem film festival sign for public free film

This sign in Arnona is for a film on Wednesday night in Baka.   It will be shown free of charge outside in a park.

Jerusalem Israel parks signs in Arabic and Hebrew to keep clean

Signs in Arabic and Hebrew request that the parks be left clean.

Day or night, another week with many and diverse happenings on the Jerusalem streets.