9 New Holiday Scenes in Jerusalem

 Jerusalem, Israel,

is old and new and constantly changing.

These birds flying over the ancient walls of the Old City

Jerusalem migrating birds

are migrating as they have for centuries,

though those powerful lights are new.

Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem Israel new window display

The Waldorf-Astoria has new window displays.

Jerusalem Israel sunset view

New towers are being built,

 the Jerusalem skyline is changing.Mamilla Mall view at sunset from near Jaffa Gate

At the David Citadel Hotel, those white things in the distance

are balconies being prepared for Sukkot holiday meals.

View of Jaffa Gate from outside Jerusalem Israel

I was at Jaffa Gate at sunset

and looked up at the Tower of David,

Tower of David, Jerusalem Israel Old City

to see something new on top.

That is a special cork sukka designed as part of the

 3rd Jerusalem Jewish Contemporary Art Biennale,

by artist Avner Sher.

At the Jaffa Gate below there is nothing new,

Keporos at Old City with live bird

just this man performing the kapparot ritual

moving around a live chicken.

Man waving bird over head of two women for Keporos at Jaffa Gate Jerusalem

These women did not look as comfortable with

the ancient custom to absolve one’s sins before Yom Kippur.

Jerusalem Old City train for tourist to Western Wall

The new Old City Train was ready bright and ready to go.

Lights of new food places above Cardo in Old City Jerusalem Israel

Here are two new bright signs above the Old Cardo.

Jerusalem Israel new sound and light show City of David

The City of David has a new sound and light show.

Jewish second temple stone found in excavation under site of new police station

This decorative stone from the Second Temple is a new find

 by archaeologists near the Kotel, the Western Wall.

I went to the Old City before Yom Kippur,

Western Wall selihos booklet for late night Selihot at the Kotel.

Synagogue Old City Sephardi

While the synagogues were quiet that night,

New police station and roof of building near Kotel for selihot

from the new observation spot above the

new police station building

Western Wall Plaza full of people for sehlhos after midnight

the crowd stretched further than my lens could capture.

Kotel for Selihot 5778 Jerusalem Old City Israel

Tens of thousands of people kept arriving

though it was well after midnight.

Women at Kotel for Selichot 5778

Would selfies at the Kotel be considered new?

Jerusalem Israel Old City view of Western Wall and dome of Rock at night

The dome and wall are certainly not new,

but always impressive sight lit up at night,

so late that no transportation was in sight.

For the last time this year,

Bus from Old City with sign Gmara Hatima Tova

here is a bus with the Yom Kippur greeting,

“Gmar Hatima tova”

“May you be sealed for a good year.”

Now that is old too.

As soon as Yom Kippur ended in Jerusalem,

Jerusalem Israel sukka on a balcony

sukkot started popping up.

If you would like to not only see the Kotel scene,

but hear a bit of the selihot prayer,

I am sharing this short video:

Now it is time to prepare for new holiday and guests.

חג שמח

Chag sameach.

Jerusalem Preparing for Yom Kippur

Jerusalem Preparing for Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah is over.

It is back to work and school and routines

after three days of eating and praying for some,

and trips to state parks and nature reserves for others.

Now in Jerusalem, Israel,

it is time to prepare for Yom Kippur.

The late night Selihot are a major tourist attraction.

These special prayer services are now accompanied by music.

Most of the words are the same as boring recitations of old.

To get you in the mood, and save you hours of sleep,

here are a few short videos from recent years.

I was on my way home from the Kotel, the Western Wall,

going through the Old City late at night,

when I heard the beautiful sounds of these selihot.

I had to stop and listen to Chizki Sofer,

and share the beautiful service he led.

Another star is Yitzhak Meir,

who was invited to lead the services at Beit Hanasi,

the Israeli President’s Residence, two years ago.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin got up to participate.

Last year there was a different musical tradition

with Sephardi Chazan Chaim Israel.

Once again President Rivlin sang, this time

 calling for “charity and good deeds.”

The traditional greeting this time of year

גמר חתימה טובה

May all be sealed for a good year

bus sign Yom Kippur

will again be displayed on Jerusalem buses.

Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, Raise Your Glass

Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, Raise Your Glass

In Jerusalem, Israel, it seems everyone is

is getting into the holiday mood,

as Rosh Hashanah,

the Jewish New Year, approaches.

Finally on Sunday, it felt cooler, as

Beit Hanasi symbol

  I was at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence

and noticed this new arrangement in the front garden.

Major renovations have been underway for months,

Beit Hanasi renovations

both outside and inside the building.

But the mess of construction has not interrupted

Beit Hanasi getting cleaned by power-wash

holiday preparations or official receptions.

Flowers with pomegrante

The flower arrangements included a fake pomegranate,

as the First Lady and the wife of Chief of Staff of the IDF

hosted 30 lone soldiers.

It was a rather modest event,

Walter Bingham ai Beit Hasnasi

with the highlights of the day being Walter’s outfit

Box for phones

and this box for soldiers’ cell phones to be deposited during the program.

New Year reception at Beit Hanasi for lone soldiers

The program was held in the formal meeting room,

Fist Lady Nechama Rivlin with lone solders at Beit Hanasi

with a group photo at its conclusion.

Then on Monday, it was back to Beit Hanasi again

Beit Hanasi new emblem

 where glass pieces had completed this design.

Ambassadors at Beit Hanasi

At the President’s reception for foreign Ambassadors

business cards were exchanged and

newly arrived diplomats from around the world met.

Beit Hanasi food

There was no comparison to the simple food served the day before.

It was disappointing that the US Ambassador was back in the US,

Ambassadors at Beit Hanasi

but Egyptian Ambassador Hazem Khairat

and Jordanian Ambassador Walid Obeidat

were seated in the front row

and greeted me later with “Shanah tovah.”

Rosh Hashana table at Beit Hanasi

The holiday treats were impressive

Tzipi Hotovely taking a photo of the food at Beit Hanasi

enough for Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely

to take a photo of them on her cell phone.

Rosh Hashana at Beit Hanasi reception for Ambassadors

Israelis do take “raising a glass’ seriously,

from lone soldiers to diplomats,

businesses and organizations,

reception after reception,

l’Chaim,

to celebrate Jewish New Year.

I finally got used to year 5777,

5778 Shana tova on Jerusalem Israel bus

and now it’s changing to 5778

Shanah tovah

Good New Year to all.