Time Flying by in a Hot August in Jerusalem

Time is a strange thing.

It seems to go too fast or too slow, depending on the situation.

Jerusalem, Israel, is in the midst of an August heat wave. However, as the sun goes down, some nights have cooled off as usual.

But one night the humidity hit 82%. For Jerusalem, that high humidity is usual and was not appreciated as I walked home.

Still much has been happening on the Jerusalem streets for summer fun.

Jerusalem streets are covered with everything from colorful fake balloons

to candy canes and much more for tourists to admire and photograph.

Surprised to see lights on at night in the one-day-to-be Knesset Museum.

The Museum of Tolerance was dark one night

but opened with a photography exhibit during the day.

In 2021, the Jerusalem Foundation, with the support of the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation, created SidraTarbut, CulturEvents, a summer festival blending together film, dance, theater, and music.

Over the months of August and September, Jerusalem is to have 40 days of events and artistic offerings throughout the city offered free of charge or for a small fee.

The initial impetus for the series was the economic and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the success of SidraTarbut in the summer of 2021, the Mandel Foundation decided to support the festival for another two years. 

Performances and events are adapted to neighborhood residents, taking into consideration each community’s interest. It ends with Selihot in 10 Jerusalem neighborhoods and a special Selihot at the Tower of David on September 21, 2023.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced 17 special Selihot times, and if you can’t attend in person, they will be available online live. They also posted photos of the first night with thousands attending Selihot.

Evenings are when most Jerusalem summer events happen.

RAAMSKATE by the always unique and creative Mystorin Theatre Group is to be in the Liberty Bell Skate Park on August 22, 2023, at night.

In Bloomfield Park, Julius Caesar continues as on opening night Shakespeare. Theater in Motion moves each night in the same park.

The Jerusalem Street Orchestra, however, changes locations for each performance, with the second evening performance in Zion Square.

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The orchestra, excellent though not professional musicians, is conducted by Ido Shpitalnik and entertained a large appreciative crowd in Zion Square.

A video better to show what was happening in Jerusalem at sunset.

Monday nights in August and until September 11th, are for Israeli dancing outside the Jerusalem Theater, again a video seemed better than photos.

But as someone asked – where are the young people?

Do they know the dances? Are children taught them now?

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Hansen House has a new exhibit that is said to be good for children, I went to check it out but it closes at 6:00 pm, too early for me when it’s so hot.

To really keep cool on these hot days, there is ice skating at First Station.

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End-of-summer event signs are up, including a Night at the Tower of David.

Jerusalem Theater is again to have an End of Summer Festival August 29-31.

Oh my. The signs are up a Beit Avi Chai for welcoming Kitah Aleph students. Time to buy school books and clothes and new shoes again?

The beginning of the month Elul means some students are back in classrooms. The end of August means the new school year is approaching for all, for some not soon enough, and for others too soon.

I am waiting for this heat wave to end and to be able to walk during the day to see what else is happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Two Trips from Jerusalem On Hot Summer Days

It’s hot.

I know the Middle East is supposed to be hot in the summer.

It’s perfect weather for hanging the washing out to dry on the line, and my cactus plants are thriving. But with these very hot days during a heat wave in Jerusalem, Israel, my preferred routine of walking about during the day has come to a standstill.

I try to venture out at night after it cools off – a bit.

Therefore, a little detour, and instead I want to share two short trips out of Jerusalem.

The changes to the entrance of Jerusalem are impressive. Especially to anyone who remembers those old red rusting vehicles that once lined the hills along Route One into Jerusalem.

On that old winding narrow road stuck behind a slow truck chugging its way up – now that was a lesson in patience.

Even these old relics have been given a fresh coat of paint and moved to make way for more lanes of the new highways into and out of Jerusalem.

We were on a bus to a media tour of the Urban Warfare Training Center, located inside the Tze’elim Training Base in southern Israel. It is built to look like a typical Arab village with its minarets. The base has a new terror tunnel and more.

This is the IDF Code of Ethics we heard about.

The training center was built to train in a Middle Eastern “village” for the challenges of urban warfare, against an enemy hiding within civilian populations.

This was drawn by Bat Sheva, an IDF soldier whose job was to draw graffiti.

In one building there is a replica of a family home, down to photos,

kitchen clutter, Arabic newspapers on the table,

and toothpaste on the bathroom sink.

Simulators are used to practice scenarios the soldier might encounter.

It is used to train not only the IDF but US and UN forces have also practiced and trained on the sand and streets here.

As we were preparing to leave an old white bus pulled into the main square, which was also used as a set for the popular TV series “Fauda.”

However, this was not preparation for a TV production, but a group of reserve soldiers arriving to train on a hot day as the sun was setting.

We were not allowed to record and share the names or faces of the soldiers.

But the reservists who reported for duty were from all of Am Yisrael and requested anonymity as they reported again to serve as in the past.

The one soldier we were allowed to photograph was Brig. Gen. (res.) Bentzi Gruber. He gave the Code of Ethics presentation which concluded with a family photograph taken in Europe. Soon after it was taken, most of the family was murdered in the Holocaust, only his mother and her sister survived as “Mengele Twins.” For him, to serve in the IDF and fight in five wars was a privilege.

More RJS photos were posted on Facebook of that trip south.

On another day, the trip was thru the new tunnel from Jerusalem to Gush Etzion and Alon Shvut to the Yeshivat Har Etzion campus and Herzog College.

Road work is far from completed and traffic still backs up. But anyone who remembers the old route through the refugee camp in Bet Lechem can only marvel at what has developed where there were only rocks and wild brush.

The entrance to the Yeshiva building is well-landscaped and the pond is enclosed now.

The Yemei Iyun, Bible study program, is in its 32nd year and for the past fifteen years has included classes given in English as well.

Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Brandes is the President of Herzog College, a leading teachers’ education school.

Around 4000 people attended in person this year, and deciding which sessions to attend is an annual challenge.

“How can we make Bible study exciting for kids in Jewish schools, and show them that it is still relevant to their daily lives?” was the topic covered at the Jewish Educators’ Day for English-speaking teachers.

 “Head vs. Heart: Understanding the Needs of Our Students” by Mrs. Simi Peters, Rav Shmuel Feld, and Rav Yehuda Chanales, was moderated by Rav Reuven Spolter. 

“Empowering Students as Tanakh Learners” using online research tools was presented by Rabbi Dr. Zvi Grumet from the Lookstein Center at Bar-Ilan University. No more schlepping heavy resource books?

Hot or not, back on the Jerusalem streets, the Jerusalem Israel Festival begins in August, with advertising posters covering more than 6 floors of a building at the entrance of the city.

In the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, 25 large inflatable Monsters will provide an attraction for families with children on summer holidays.

The barriers are still around on various Jerusalem street corners, but it is good to know that there is more than protests happening.

Last month RJS shared that US Deputy Chief of Mission Stephanie L. Hallett was at Beit Hanasi representing the US. This week it was announced instead of appointing a new Ambassador to replace Tom Nides, she will serve as chargé d’affaires in the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Best wishes to her!

For Tisha B’Av there are way too many programs to mention, beginning on Wednesday through Thursday night this year, with the fast ending at 8:09 pm.

Jerusalem buses to the Kotel, Western Wall will run through the night. The days may be too hot, so the nights are when people come out.

So many summer events are scheduled in August, from the usual big summer night concerts in Safra Square to Ice Skating in First Station, check the website for what else is happening in Jerusalem.

At the end of July, the new Jerusalem Museum will open the ‘Street Games’ exhibition at the Tower of David. Sorry to have to miss the opening events, but after Tisha B’Av is also a popular wedding season, and a wedding involving long-time friends is a priority.

Now only if the heat wave would end soon so we can venture out during the day again to see what else is happening on the Jerusalem streets!

Jerusalem Under the Sturgeon Moon

Did you know the last supermoon of 2022 was named for a fish? Kosher or not kosher, the sturgeon is the largest fish found in the US.

The full moon over Yemin Moshe is always photo-worthy. However, this week I wished I had a better camera with me when I saw it rise in the sky.

President Herzog received new Ambassadors to Israel, the first of the day was from Viet Nam with his wife in traditional colorful outfits.

Then the new Ambassador from Germany presented his credentials.

In spite of recent controversies, German government officials receive a welcome in Israel second only to those of the US. The dinner for Andrea Merkel is one example, the ceremony celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations, was another.


But seeing a German military official saluting along with IDF at the red carpet reception for the playing of Hatikvah was a stop and video moment.

Another one of those green bike path lanes runs outside of Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence. Only they start and stop and go nowhere.

Oh well, there were plenty of places to go now that Tisha B’Av is over.

The Takhana Rishona, First Station hosts musical entertainment.

One night advertised as Klezmer free concerts, young people were featured.

At the Jerusalem Theater, not only inside, but on the plaza out front music could be heard on Jerusalem streets.

Monday night Israeli dancing attracted a large enthusiastic group of participants, men, and women of various ages and styles.

Another August favorite is the Theater in the Rough Shakespeare productions. This year the Merchant of Venice has another seven performances in Bloomfield Park behind the King David Hotel.

The popular Jerusalem public space was shared by a loud party

and multiple family photoshoots on the night I attended.

As the audience moved along with the thespians,

dozens of families strolled on summer outings.

The Train Theater is ready for the week with a big opening tonight.

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park is back as a popular night spot for families.

I went by on my way to check out the Likud Primary voting situation at the Jerusalem Convention Center.

At 9:00 pm, the stated closing time, people were still arriving.

Campaigning was going strong outside in the crowded plaza.

And heading home, in Sacher Park people were still arriving to party.

There was much to celebrate, with or without sturgeon this past week in Jerusalem.

Come see The Real Jerusalem Streets for yourself.