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!

Jerusalem under Corona Going Up

For months I stayed close to home, so when I ventured out it was a shock.

In Jerusalem, Israel, walking in the park and nature areas had been a daily relief from COVID-19 limitations. But seeing what had been done to the Jerusalem streets in my absence was amazing.

Israel Park with people

Some locations recently renovated have become popular out door spaces.

With the announcement of the renovation, expansion, and renaming of the Jerusalem International Conference Center for Shimon Peres, it was time to go again see what was happening.

It was exciting to see new stairs leading up to where the old parking lot was located. The past years access has been difficult with so many changes in the infrastructure. Every time you came for an event, there was a new traffic pattern and the old stairs were gone.

Jerusalem of old is going and the new is going down and up and up.

The old Kraft Stadium has gone down, just down as seen from the street.

But the housing across the road has gone up and up.

This new Abba Eban Street was one of the first in the neighborhood.

The old Foreign Ministry campus is now a luxury housing project going up.

The bollards are up on the new sidewalk in front the Netanyahu house.

But business in the area is down. This red antique van, parked near Balfour Street for a very long time, was in front of a closed restaurant.

The restaurants and bars are closed, but the bakery is open with patrons waiting outside at a distance, and many food places are selling take out.

Not so easy for a tailor to social distance and survive financially.

But walk up the street and there are new traffic lights and construction.

First time I saw a worker cutting stones on the spot.

The street by the Ohel Nechama Synagogue on the way to the Jerusalem Theater is being redone.

The Jerusalem Theater looks the same, however, it is closed. I just missed a dance class which took place on the plaza outside in front.

This is the new footpath and view from the Jerusalem Theater plaza.

The footpath leads to the new parking lot for the theatre. Seems the builders added a couple of extra floors and now construction has stopped and the action has moved to the court room.

The area around the Jerusalem Theater is very different. Be warned the first time you go to give yourself extra time to figure out which direction is up or down or around.

The Museum of Islamic Art, as are the other museums, is closed and in financial trouble with no visitors. An auction of 200 items from the private museum’s storerooms was halted due to negative publicity.

But there should be more concern for the small business owner who can’t legally open their doors.

Walking around the Jerusalem streets, building after building is going up.

Bus stops have been moved, streets were redone with commercial parking.

The construction fence is gone, and now there’s a new theater in Liberty Bell Park near the rollerblading skating rink and new parking lot.

New seating areas with wooden benches and shade grace more Jerusalem streets since the novel coronavirus crippled the tourism industry.

New paths with fancy wood garbage bins have been installed in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, along with lots of new landscaping.

But walking around Jerusalem, it was good to see some of the familiar sites.

The stairs in Yemin Moshe look the same as before the novel coronavirus.

And the Lion Fountain was back on! No children were splashing and cooling in the water as in past years, but the big lion had the same one drop drip from his chin as before.

So much had changed on the Jerusalem streets over the spring and summer.

The Tower of David is closed to the public for a major renovation. I will share that big project next time. Meanwhile, I will end with a clip from the King David Night and Light Show. Can’t wait to see what they do next!

Hope to be able to share the real Jerusalem streets with you in person soon.