Jerusalem Purim Highlights

Purim.

Purim in Jerusalem is special.

Where else is Purim a three day holiday, that is celebrated for a week?

This year with corona restrictions and lockdowns, it was really different.

In years past, the Jerusalem streets were filled with happy people.

Scroll of Esther in Israel Museum illustrated and small on regular Purim exhibit

Reading Megilat Esther was a huge community event.

Synagogues were overflowing with people of all ages.

children dressed in costumes for Purim

Excited children came dressed in costumes, waiting for sweet treats.

This year, daytime readings were held in multiple locations on the hour.

Many readings took place outside with social distancing, like this one on Friday morning organized by Chabad of Rechavia.

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Following the Megillah on a cell phone has become common sight.

Readings were held at Thursday night outside. Jerusalem celebrated with the reading at the same time as the rest of Israel, on this Triple Purim year.

No costumed families in crowded malls as in past years.

But, Mamilla Mall was finally reopened and people came back to shop.

Holiday signs were placed in Kikar Safra, the Jerusalem Municipal Building.

Online programs from the Tower of David and Jerusalem Symphony special for Purim were available. But museums and some theaters are reopening for live audiences, however, with limited performances.

Jaffa Road was busy as the city is coming back to life again after the numerous business lockdowns.

People were on Jaffa Road shopping for holiday costumes before Purim.

There were a few costumes on the Jerusalem streets early in week.

New colorful plastic chairs are seen on many streets. With no inside dining allowed, the Jerusalem municipality has provided these chairs for outside.

Imagine stopping strangers on the street to take their photos? Then to find a family member who knows them – that is always a Purim favorite.

Ah, but on the Jerusalem streets, it is often hard to tell who is in costume.

On Purim day it is easier when someone waves and smiles across the road.

Live music played on this corner on Friday, providing a holiday mood.

Purim is always a good time to head to Shushan Street, near Jaffa Road.

On Sunday, the day after Shushan Purim, the Jerusalem streets really came alive with sounds of music.

Dozens of street performers in colorful costumes entertained.

One dance group was perfectly choreographed and drew admiring crowd.

Costumes were varied, colorful and plentiful, especially on Sunday.

Monsters were popular this year, like these on the Montefiore Windmill,

at the beginning of Jaffa Road overlooking Kikar Tzahal,

and at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

I hope someone explained Purim to the six new ambassadors to Israel who presented their credentials on Wednesday, entering through the main gate under the orange inflated monster.

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The ‘Follow the Lights’ event with 22 Jerusalem sites lit up at night is to run through this week.

On Purim night with the 8:30 pm curfew, these wheels were spinning.

The Knesset was lit for the ‘Follow the Lights’ but no beams on top for the three nights when coronavirus restrictions limited movement on streets.

I was glad I took this video on Monday before the the curfews began.

The Montefiore Windmill was lit up on Purim night and needed a video.

On Purim in Jerusalem, you never know what or who you will find.

When posting some Purim costume street photographs on Facebook, a person commented that it was good to see “normality” again.

Like the two giant leprechauns out for a stroll on Ben Yehudah Street?

Yoda reminds us, “The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the light, the future is.”

The Purim holiday reminds us to look to the bright side and light in the future from behind our masks.

The fourth monster in the Purim fancy dress series was the Jerusalem icon Mifletzet. The Monster in the Kiryat Yovel Rabinowitz Park wore a gold crown -corona is Spanish for a crown – this Purim holiday.

As we end this most unusual Purim, hoping next year in Jerusalem for all!

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Happy Purim!

Three days of Purim not enough? There are more photos HERE

Jerusalem Week of Contrasts

In Jerusalem, Israel it was another week of extremes and contrasts.

Jaffa Gate was still closed and the plaza was empty outside and inside. As the world turned and the sun rose and set, the Old City was shut down.

Warms days followed by heavy winter rains filled Mamilla Pool. By Friday, people had ventured down to check out the winter wonder.

A view of the new of the Museum of Tolerance from old Mamilla cemetery .

Businesses are struggling to survive near Mamilla Mall during lockdown.

Two (even one) wheelers are in the still closed Mamilla Mall, where only a liquor store was open this past week.

The Arab shuk near Jaffa Gate was shuttered tight on Friday.

The only two people on the street Friday afternoon were police officers. The souvenir store vendor who earlier in the week tried to get me to buy something, anything, was not around and his store was shuttered down.

The infrastructure work near the Kotel, Western Wall, was completed by Friday and all was quiet. Guards were carefully watching who could enter.

I was instructed “No praying allowed” this past week.

On Monday, construction work was going full steam on the Kotel Plaza.

Interesting how fast work can proceed in Jerusalem- or how slowly.

Maybe one day the abandoned Pearl hotel will be fixed up for guests, at least no one sleeps on the streets outside now.

Parts of the old President’s Hotel were reduced to rubble last week.

Building on King George Street which was torn down to build hotel

Remember this derelict building on Jerusalem’s King George Street?

Two 10-story towers are rising in its place on the street near the Plaza Hotel.

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Even the old police station on Jaffa Road was getting a new paint job.

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Look what is rising over Jaffa Road next to the Machane Yehudah Market!

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Contrast this lockdown scene in the shuk – at the same time as the Old City was closed and empty.

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A favorite winter sight, not masks, but piles of those ripe red strawberries.

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Walking home I noticed new bright graffiti covering old walls in Nahlaot.

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The old synagogue was shut tight, with no prayers allowed inside.

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But the light shining through its stained glass window was colorful and bright and could be seen from the street.

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One more bit of new graffiti on a wall and the mess of a contrast next to it.

Jerusalem streets may have light traffic, but the sidewalks have been busy!

Besides people out walking more during the limited distance restriction,

there have been plenty of two wheelers of many types and kinds and skills.

I will spare you all the photos this week of bikers who nearly ran me over.

We continue to have to deal with noisy protesters day after day after night.

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Ah, but Jerusalem the center of the world, is quieter than usual.

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However wandering the Jerusalem streets there was still music to be heard.

And signs of spring to see in nature, even in this locked down week.

Hard to believe this was Tu Bishvat last year, remembering a favorite and beautiful moment, Hatikvah – the hope at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence – BCE – Before Corona Era.

What a contrast to this year! And next year?

No one knows what will be or even who will be the next Israeli President?

Hope and flowers and continued vaccination campaign…and partial lifting of restrictions to begin this week.

Hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets. Take care and stay well out there.

Jerusalem: November Sights and Colors

Another week went by in Jerusalem, in Israel, in the world, as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and November comes to an end.

A 3-hour commercial flight from Dubai flew over Saudi airspace and landed in Ben Gurion Airport last Thursday.

Who would have imagined that only a few weeks ago?

Thanksgiving was celebrated in the US, under different circumstances.

I certainly don’t miss the HOURS we spent stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike, which turned into one long parking lot with the holiday traffic, no matter what the weather conditions.

In Jerusalem, Israel the winter weather is not the same as we had in the NE US.

When the sun came out on Friday after predictions of rain, it was time to get out and walk in the morning. It had been many months since I had been to the Old City and it was time to take advantage of the beautiful day and see what was happening.

View of Western Wall Plaza from Jewish Quarter stairway, on Friday with police vehicles parked

The Kotel, Western Wall Plaza was filled with police vehicles, but Friday was quiet.

Western Wall at night during COVID-19 divided into sections

I had repeatedly seen the Western Wall cam images of the newest sections.

With constantly changing restrictions and regulations for COVID-19, these are the latest divisions. People gather outside before entering and pray in small groups scattered closer to the Kotel.

Jerusalem Israel Old City scene of future elevator to the Jewish Quarter

How long coronavirus restrictions will last is unknown. Which will come first–the completion of this elevator to the Rova, the Jewish Quarter, or the end of the pandemic?

Two Arab women going up stairs in Old City to Jewish Quarter

For now, it’s still walking up the multiple staircases and steps to get from the plaza to the Jewish Quarter.

Jerusalem Israel road into Armenian Quarter quiet on Friday morning during coronavirus pandemic.

It was strange to see the road to the Armenian Quarter so quiet, especially on a Friday.

Friday morning inside Jaffa Gate during COVID-19 restrictions and closings

Sad to see the plaza inside Jaffa Gate so quiet, especially on Friday near midday.

Black Friday lines to shop in ZARA in Mamilla Mall loosening of corona restricitons.

However, Mamilla Mall was all but quiet on Black Friday. With the opening of more stores and malls the end of last week, crowds of shoppers were out.

People eating outside during COVID-19 as takeout food was legal, cut inside dining forbidden.

Dining inside restaurants is still forbidden, but some places are offering takeout and people can find a place to sit and eat outdoors.

I took advantage of the sunny days not to eat or shop, but to walk and see what was happening in Jerusalem.

View of Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem  from Agron Street

The new Museum of Tolerance is visible from Agron Street, but all museums are still closed. The Israel Museum is to open on Tuesday and so are seven other large Israeli museums.

Menorah and Jewish star near entrance to Knesset road

Even found a day with no protesters across from the Knesset and a clear shot of the menorah near the Rose Garden.

View of Israeli Knesset from the Rosh Garden

This is the classic view of the Knesset from the Rose Garden.

Scenes from within the Rose Garden are less familiar and it was perfect for a nature photo walk – BC, before corona.

One family was taking advantage of a photo session in the Rose Garden. Dozens of student groups were spread throughout the park area, and one advantage of corona school closings is seeing young people outside.

Jerusalem path from Israeli Supreme Court Building to the Knesset

On my way out of the Rose Garden, I noticed another view of the Knesset.

From the gates of the Israeli Supreme Court campus, there is a straight path to the Knesset Building entrance.

This short stone path leads directly from the Knesset

into the Supreme Court. How many times had been in the Rose Garden and not noticed this path?

The view of Nahalot from the Rose Garden is still the same, but new buildings are rising daily just beyond it. Construction during this coronavirus time is going at a fast pace.

The new landscaping in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was being prepared.

Jerusalem Sacher Park landscaping during coronavirus limitations

And in one day, hundreds of plantings were put in the ground by work crews after the irrigation was set.

Jerusalem Sacher Park children's play equipment with new access ramp

The refurbished play equipment in Gan Sacher with its new bright colors and ramp are ready after months of work.

Jerusalem Israel Teddy Park with fountain off and quiet on a Friday during coronavirus pandemic.

Jerusalem’s Teddy Park was lovely and green, but quiet for a Friday.

Jerusalem streets are changing and getting ready for visitors whenever that will be in the future, looking forward to tourists from Dubai and Bahrain and more to fill the hotels under construction and those closed now because of COVID.

Colorful autumn sunset over Jerusalem Israel streets

Besides the green nature areas, it’s time to appreciate the colorful autumn sunsets.

As always there was more happening on the real Jerusalem streets, but will save and share next time.

Take care and stay well!