Rediscovering Ancient Jerusalem before Tisha B’Av

Rediscovering Ancient Jerusalem before Tisha B’Av

Oh, Jerusalem.

How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people!

So begins Eicha, the Book of Lamentations read at night on Tisha B’Av.

We are in what is known as the Nine Days that end with Tisha B’Av, Wednesday night, and Thursday, August 29 – 30, 2020.

With the COVID-19 restrictions, the Old City will not be teeming with crowds as usual.

Jerusalem Western Wall plaza view

This view from the step toward Plaza of the Kotel, the Western Wall, is well known.

Jerusalem on eve of Hodesh Av leading Israeli rabbis praying during corona virus pandemic

The area inside called Wilson’s Arch is not as familiar. This inside space had been closed much of the time due to coronavirus restrictions.

Jerusalem Israel chief rabbis praying at Kotel on Rosh Chodesh Av

However, this week on the eve of Rosh Chodesh Av, leading Israeli rabbis attended a special afternoon service to pray for health and relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

Underneath the Jerusalem streets, excavations continue with new finds.

Jerusalem Archaeological discovererstorage center from the days of Kings Hezekiah and Manasseh (8th
Photo credit: IAA

A significant administrative storage center from the days of Kings Hezekiah and Manasseh (8th century to the middle of the 7th century BCE) was recently been exposed in an archaeological excavation near the US Embassy in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem City of David Pilgrim Path

Restoration work has progressed on the Pilgrims’ Path.

Jerusalem road excavated City of David

This is the road underground which runs from Shiloah Pool to the Old City, where the Jewish Temples once stood.

Important Pilgrim path from Shiloah Pond to Har Habayit and Temple Mount

The actual old stones remain along what was the busy route on the holidays thousands of years ago.

Excavation of new entrance to Western Wall Plaza

Three years ago when it was first opened to media,

this video was recorded for an official explanation.

Scene of Jerusalem Cardo in time of Rome

The Roman market place might have looked like this scene.

Drainage path under Jerusalem during Roman times

Under Pilgrim Road, the drainage system has also been excavated. This is where the last Jews hid until the Romans found and murdered them.

Looking for any bones or stones or coins sifting project

The earth removed was carefully searched for bits of history, last year we participated in the sifting project. The best we found were nice pieces of pottery.

Ancient Roman coin found by City of David

However, discoveries include this Roman coin issued after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Five years ago the exhibit “By the Rivers of Babylon” opened at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, see HERE – and is still a favorite.

With only limited attendance allowed in museums now due to corona health restrictions, new for this year is a virtual tour of BLMJ exhibit HERE now you can see for yourself,

Bible lands Museum Jerusalem artifacts from Roman destruction of Temple times

The Romans destroyed the Temple and leveled Jerusalem.

The Jewish inhabitants were murdered or exiled.

Jerusalem Israel Western Wall stones of destruction from Rome

Stones of destruction as they remain today.

Walk around Walls Women in Green on Tisha Be'Av

For the first time in many years, I do not plan to walk around the walls of the Old City on Tisha B’Av.

Western Wall Plaza view at night

Crowds will not pack into the Kotel, Western Wall plaza this year.

Old City Jerusalem Menorah for Temple lit for Tisha B'Av

COVID-19 restrictions are limiting the annual walk to 50 people.

How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people!

Next year in Jerusalem, even for those of us in Jerusalem has taken on new meaning.

Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

The birds are chirping.

The sounds of moving traffic fill Jerusalem streets.

An emergency vehicle siren blaring passes by.

The happy voices of children at play can be heard.

Sounds of summer fill the Jerusalem streets.

Magen David from wood constructed by Scouts in Jerusalem

The boisterous sounds from the Israeli Scouts returned to their Jerusalem base.

Jerusalem Western Wall divided for coronavirus

The sounds of prayer at the Kotel, the Western Wall have continued as numbers of prayer gatherings have changed.

View of Wilson Arch by Kotel Jerusalem Israel

The numbers inside the Wilson’s Arch area are limited but worshipers have returned.

Jerusalem Great Synagogue email announcing closed again no prayer services.

Sadly the Jerusalem Great Synagogue has been silent for months.

Beit Hanasi new ambassadors meet Israeli President
Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

The red carpet was out. Signing the guestbook was similar. For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus, President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of Colombia, Greece, Denmark, Romania, and Argentina to the State of Israel.

This could be the last time for Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Meron Rueben (far right) to present new diplomats, as he is to become Israel’s next consul-general in Boston.

Jerusalem Ambassadors at Beit Hanasi pass honor guard reduced because of COVID-19
Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

The honor guard, comprised of 8 people with flags, was standing where the band usually stood. The very downsized band to play anthems stood behind in the garden, shielded by bushes.

Beit Hanasi Ambassador from Thailand

Here the police band played for one of the past presidential red carpet welcomes.

Jerusalem Symphony performances broadcast on Facebook during corona closings

Jerusalem Philharmonic performed live and was streamed on Facebook.

Musicians in the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra at Jerusalem Theater

Beautiful sounds with distance and masks on stage.

Lights on Knesset at night for summer session

Also late at night, the lights were on at the Knesset, but for a change, the sounds were inside instead of outside from a protest.

Jerusalem Israel path near Israel Museum

Amazing that so close to the Knesset, below the Israel Museum is such a quiet spot.

View of Israel Museum from below in Valley of the Cross

March 1, 2020, I took this photo walking home from the museum.

Piece in Israel Museum

This image was taken the very next day. Who would imagine the only photo I took on March 2nd, would be the last one for months? Sadly, the Israel Museum like the Great Synagogue has remained silent because of COVID-19.

Lizard in Jerusalem Israel park

But in the quiet of these coronavirus days, the lizards and geckos have become regular visitors to the Jerusalem nature paths.

Jerusalem Israel police in Sacher Park

Police on a motorcycle at the entrance of Gan Sacher, Sacher Park was a new sight this week.

Police are handing out 500 shekel tickets to those not wearing masks.

Sign posted in Jerusalem about Netanyahi

New signs. Protest signs.  Sounds of protests are heard and seen.

Jerusalem Festival mekudeshet

Meanwhile, Mekudeshet is trying to provide Jerusalem with cultural events on the Sherover Promenade. Sounds from the big summer festivals are missing from the streets.

With tourists missing the usual sights and sounds and crowds of summer visitors in Jerusalem are missing.

new hotel in Jerusalem Israel Orient

The Orient Isrotel reopened on July 8 with an 85 % occupancy for Shabbat.

With the number of infected people rising, and restrictions changing, it is hard to keep up day to day, let alone week to week.

Red flower in Jerusalem in summer

But one thing that the novel coronavirus pandemic has not affected – the vibrant colors found along the Jerusalem streets.

The colors in nature seem to be thriving, even as the economy dips to new lows.

Flowers in Jerusalem in summer

So I will leave you with this image, and a wish for all to stay healthy and well, on or off the Jerusalem streets where ever you are.

And the sounds from last summer Old City Light Festival, when I wondered what would be next?

Never imagined there would be no festival and the sounds of silence.