Shabbat before Passover,
not much time,
and not baking challah.
But lots of matza was made this week.
The 2015 Israeli election is over.
President Reuven Rivlin has sent letters to the various
political parties inviting their leaders to come to Beit Hanassi,
starting on Sunday, March 22, 2015
to indicate their preferences for forming a new government.
Over 4,250,000 of these little slips of paper,
each with Hebrew letters representing a political party,
were put into little blue envelopes
which were then inserted into a slot in
and were counted by hand.
What a low-tech method for a Start-up Nation!
Some emerging facts are surprising.
Who would think that an Arab village would have
the highest percentage of voters for Bibi?
77% of voters in Al Naim voted Likud.
We knew that the head of elections was an Arab Supreme Court Judge,
and now the Joint Arab list has even more than the
10% representation than they had in the last Knesset–
so much for apartheid.
The last RJS post with 30 photos broke all the rules
of blogging, it was very long,
but the marathon was such a big and colorful event.
Photographers waited at the marathon starting and finish lines
and all along the routes, so that millions of photos were taken.
This photo was by far my most popular in the social media.
Some people may be tired of seeing pictures of runners,
but there is one photo I want to make sure gets seen.
Team ALEH posed for photos on the track
at the start of the Community Race.
For this special 800 meter event,
5000 people participated representing many organizations.
Police officers were lined up ready to “run” with
children, all with severe disabilities, from ALEH,
One police officer was holding a child’s hands,
ready to be the first off the starting line.
Then he stepped off on his way,
using a special harness called “Upsee.”
This child was able to “run” in the Jerusalem Marathon.
We may still be using paper ballots,
but one Israeli mother invented this device,
got it manufactured,
and changed a child’s life-one step at a time.
She has more clever devices on the way,
and I cannot wait to see what Debby comes up with next.
Start Up Nation at its best.
Now that that the marathon is over, it is time to prepare for Passover,
but there is more than just cleaning to look forward to next week.
There is the Jerusalem Arts Festival
and the long-awaited new nature reserve,
The Valley of the Gazelles, is slated to open.
As always, there is so much happening in Jerusalem,
however, the more things change,
the more some seem the same.
It poured overnight, but the skies are slowly clearing,
and those who prepared early are very happy,
Tomorrow is the big day,
this has to be drier that the first rain soaked Jerusalem marathon.
The Jerusalem Marathon is hard to miss,
and just like last year’s run,
a finish line has been up and ready
across a major street for a couple of weeks.
These huge signs are displayed in multiple locations.
Not only will the races close
many Jerusalem, Israel streets all Friday morning,
but there is also a Sports Expo
in the Jerusalem International Conference Center.
Runners have three days to come and get their kits,
with their official shirts and numbers.
Entering the Convention Center lobby
it is all about marathons.
But inside the large halls,
it is all about sportswear marketing.
Aleh is one of the many organizations with teams of runners
who will raise thousands of dollars for charity.
The full marathon attracts runners from around the world.
Gan Sacher, Sacher Park is the main venue.
The times for the different runs are posted here.
With those early morning start times
it is good that the synagogue is easy to find.
The serious marathon runners will race up and down
the hilly Jerusalem streets in amazing times,
with the first awards ceremony set to start before 9:00 am.
The finish line for the full marathon is in the park,
each year it gets a little better organized,
the large park is filled with runners and supporters.
With major roads closed to traffic,
many residents do not like this sports event
that shuts down the city.
But maybe the music and street theater
on Emek Refaim Street this year
will keep some of those not running and cheering
in a better mood.
What a difference a few years makes:
who even remembers those half marathon runs?
Purim celebrations went of for days and days,
in Jerusalem, Israel.
As usual, the bus signs said, “Purim sameach.”
Families celebrated with carnivals and rides for the kids.
Groups like the scouts had loud parties.
For the first year in Cinema City an ice skating rink was open,
and this woman had her face painted to purrfection.
People in costumes,
and well, even this whatever it was.
There was a lot happening on the streets,
with people in a good mood having lot’s of fun.
Celebrations and huge meals,
and yes, many people drank too much.
News film crews were out
and got videos of drunken men on the street.
But, not one international film crew came on Purim
to the Israeli Foreign Ministry Building,
where for the first time, some Israelis working overseas
were able to vote in advance of the March 17 election.
A live feed from Tbilisi, Pretoria, New Delhi and Berlin,
showed some of the locations where diplomats were voting.
Israel Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran,
chairman of the Central Elections Committee,
on Purim, Thursday, March 5, 2015,
visited the situation room in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem
to observe the elections taking place at Israel’s diplomatic missions abroad.
A prominent Arab juridical figure overseeing Israeli elections,
discussed Israel’s being a democracy.
This topic may not fit the media narrative,
but it is what was happening in Jerusalem.
Purim is a big deal in Israel,
Especially in Jerusalem, where celebrations go on and on,
not for a day or two like the rest of world,
but starting at the beginning of the Hebrew month of Adar
and continuing for two weeks.
This year it has been hard to figure out,
what is real.
What is Purim nonsense?
What is satire?
What is a joke?
You can see trucks like this one driving around
all the time blasting happy music.
This van, however, is also promoting a political party running for Knesset seats.
No joke, and there is an official pot party too,
as in marijuana, in the race for our new government.
This year an Anglo Vote Event was held in Cinema City,
two of my favorite characters were with the hot chocolate cakes.
Some of the political parties were represented
and candidates answered questions in English.
As one friend noted, no female candidates were in attendance.
However, there is one new party where women do have a voice.
Ruth Culian (right) and Noa Erez are two of four women
running in a new party of religious women,
בזכותן B’Zehuton which means “in their merit.”
To their credit, this is trail-blazing effort.
It took a lot of guts for Ruth to go to law school
and start a political campaign in her community,
maybe even more than for the Prime Minister
to make a speech in Washington, DC.
.A sign wishing Bibi well was hung on the String Bridge.
There were more talking heads in the media,
for and against the speech,
than I could count.
Here former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger
was headed to the Jerusalem Press Club for one pre-speech debate.
The speech is over.
The Prime Minister is back,
but the talking is still going on and on.
And on the real streets,
the snow felt like ancient history,
as a new ice skating rink opened in Cinema City.
The cats enjoyed the warm weather,
and wild flowers exploded in open spaces.
However, the real color and excitement was for Purim.
Children are wearing their costumes everywhere.
Adults wearing Micky Mouse ears while driving in cars.
People dressed in wild outfits and
crazy hats while eating in restaurants.
Most anything can be seen this week on the streets,
at least through Shushan Purim and the weekend,
we can assume it is all in the holiday spirit.
It is Israeli election season.
And way too soon for most of the people that I know.
Anglo Voters are not being ignored for a change.
Among the numerous election banners,
was this sign, “Us or Him”
opposing Bibi for Prime Minister
posted across from his house in Jerusalem, Israel.
Mostly I have tried to avoid sharing the unpleasantness.
But today a large Histadrut rally was taking place,
in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence,
and streets were closed off for more than two hours.
These men were blowing loudly on their whistles.
Jerusalem Council member Pepe Alalu
of Meretz political party
was on his way to join the bus loads of protesters.
I was on my way back home from a meeting
after the protest rally ended,
and I saw this sign by a trash can,
as bus loads of people wearing white Histadrut hats left.
Freedom of speech.
Protest away, as loud as you want,
block traffic and inconvenience others,
but how dare they leave our streets lined with liter!
At least one person got employment from today’s event.
Look who was cleaning up afterwards,
a Jewish man wearing zizit under his yellow safety vest.
Bibi was not even around for the event,
as he was on his way to the airport and his flight to the US.
His parting remarks:
“A few days before the Fast of Esther,
I am leaving for Washington on a fateful, even historic, mission.
I feel that I am the emissary of all Israelis,
even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish People.
I am deeply and genuinely concerned for the security of all Israelis,
for the fate of the nation, and for the fate of our people
and I will do my utmost to ensure our future.”
At least the Histadrut could clean up after themselves.