Jerusalem Lighting up for Hanukkah

The Jerusalem streets were starting to fill up with holiday visitors. English speakers were asking for directions again. “Back to normal” was in the air.

And then – Omicron –

the latest reported corona variant and Israel’s borders are set to close again to tourists in a few hours. Returning Israelis will have to go into isolation.

The future is out of my control, but, I can share what’s new in the present.

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The lights are on at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens for Hanukkah. The decorated trail is not a long one, but the classical music is lovely, and this display you see over the pond is a real winner.

Thanksgiving night the new Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Center was lit up for a special Thanksgiving dinner for lone soldiers and b’not sherut (volunteers). You could see the festive balloons in the window from the street.

Even the light of the night sky was impressive, but there is much more.

Here at the old Shaare Zedek Hospital on Jaffa Road is the art installation of Yehudis Barmatz-Harris. Notice the mobile on top of the photo – it is made of dryer lint. The artist takes materials others would throw away and uses them in her new media installations. Here she uses light to form the shadow of a woman by the rocking chair – a piece called Hush.

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Only one bit the of 5th Jerusalem Biennale going on this month titled “Four Cubits.” As we again ponder going back to our homes and isolations, 300 artists have created unique expressions from their time spent at home.

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The old hospital is the proposed location of Canada Israel’s future building.

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But meanwhile for the next four years, until they get all the necessary permits, the halls are to be filled with art and artists.

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With the Biennale App, you could have your favorite piece of contemporary art hang in your home, as this woman uses the code on the wall.

The Jerusalem Biennale artists were so impressive I plan to write up as many of them as possible individually to highlight their creativity.

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Here Motta Brim is showing one of his books – want to take a guess? The designs are baking papers from challah! And I throw mine out each week?

As you have heard many times, I love the night lights at the Tower of David.

Avi Lavian at Tower of David for Jerusalem Biennale

In one of the recently renovated rooms is another Biennale exhibition, this one curated by Ariel Lavian.

Necklace in Tower of David for Biennale

Turkish and Israeli designers joined during the pandemic to create a contemporary jewelry exhibition in a guardroom of the Ottoman-built citadel at the Tower of David.

After many months the lights are on in the Gan Sacher play area.

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The long slides and accessible play areas in the public park were empty before the Tuesday grand opening, but full when we walked by Thursday evening.

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This specially designed Jerusalem lion is one of my favorites.

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There were lots of entertainers, and this pair managed to impressively balance in the grass at the opening event.

The Jerusalem Mayor and Deputy Mayors and representatives of the Kraft family were present for the ribbon-cutting as children crowded around.

The Sacher Park Kraft Family Sports areas were lit up at night. Anyone for tennis? The new courts were empty and the gate was open when I went by.

The entrance to Balfour Street and the official Prime Minister’s Residence was also empty as I went by last night. Oh, how different from the past.

The lights are ready to return to Liberty Bell Park and the Train Theater.

The new campus for the Train Theater is ready to open on Hanukkah with multiple shows and new theater venues, large and small, inside and out.

The large theater has this impressive seating ready to roll out when the lights go on for entertaining hundreds of children over the holiday week.

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So there you have it. Life has become a balancing act. The goal is to keep going and stay healthy as the variants rage and change.

I will leave it to this guy on his unicycle to entertain at the traffic lights.

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Jerusalem is ready for holiday visitors with signs of Hanukkah lights – November 28 – December 6, 2021, festivals, light tours, and more,

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and for drivers, there are warnings not to drink and drive.

I thought to conclude with more colorful lights in the Botanical Gardens.

As children begin holiday week, hopefully, filled with lights and wonder,

may all be blessed with color and lights and good health.

May we see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem 10th Marathon


The Jerusalem Winner Marathon 2020, finally took place on October 29, 2021. The excitement was high, though this time it was not an international marathon. There are plans for the International Jerusalem Marathon to return in March 2022.

Few people remember the last Jerusalem half marathon in 2010. Those were smaller events, with only a few thousand runners. The race caught most drivers by surprise with random street closings.

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Last year, the launch for the 10th Jerusalem Marathon was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on the evening of January 20, 2020.

A week later the streets were shut down in Jerusalem while the world watched the events marking the 75th year since the liberation of Auschwitz.

Then the world shut down because of Covid-19 and the marathon was postponed and then canceled.

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The finish line, which looked just like this year’s, was taken down.

This past week the Jerusalem Marathon was back and streets were closed.

Many streets were even repaved for the Jerusalem Marathon runners.

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The new playground at Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was not ready in time.

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At a pre-marathon event at Notre Dame, the view from the roof was better

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than the one at Cinema City for the pre-marathon pasta party.

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The lineup at Cinema City for runner check-in seemed to run efficiently.

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The pasta and salads served were excellent. I waited a long time for the Mayor to come, but he never did, and I finally gave up and went home.

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One line in Cinema City long when I arrived and still when I left hours later.

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Not lines of families going to see a movie, but lines for corona testing!

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The full marathon finish line in the park was being prepared early in the week and was ready to go the day before.

The winner 29-year-old Israeli Yamar Gethon had a long lead along the way.

He zipped by me, but I got other full marathon runners HERE

WordPress is not letting me share more photos now – so next time.

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The Piano Festival, Oud Festival, the Manofim Contemporary Art Festivals,

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and the International Animation Festival and Biennale are back.

Facebook photos of the Jerusalem Marathon can be seen HERE

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The Jerusalem streets are finally coming back.

Hope to see everyone here soon!

Inside Three Jerusalem Landmarks

It is exciting to see tour buses back on the Jerusalem streets. Israeli tourists have been around for a while, but with the big buses with foreign tours lined up in traffic, it feels like “normal.”

New lighting highlights the grandeur of the Great Synagogue and Heichal Shlomo at night. This is one of the many new attractions on the Jerusalem streets.

I want to take you inside three special locations and show events that were not so easily visible to the onlooker.

The first was at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, where the only glimpse of Angela Merkel was her motorcade making an exit after lunch.

It was a private lunch for two, the German Chancellor and the new Israeli President, and the caterer had a very little clean-up to cart away.

This was the week of Yom HaAliyah, Aliyah Day which is set for the Hebrew month of Cheshvan to coincide with the biblical portion where Avram is told to go to the holy land.

Multiple events were held, the first of which was at Beit Hanasi, honoring five Olim, immigrants who have made important contributions. The only one I knew before the award ceremony was Yosef Abramowitz, who posed with his daughter in the garden before entering the main hall.

President Herzog was not shaking hands as he entered the room with masked honorees and their guests. Not quite back to normal.

Masks are still the law inside for groups, but waving is allowed.

After speeches and a video of the impressive accomplishments of the five Olim, there was a photo-op with the President and Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration¬†Pnina Tameno-Shete, who made aliyah from Ethiopia, and former head of Mossad Efraim Halevy.

In the field of sport, Sergei Vaisburg, the Olympic coach was honored and called up his gold medal-winning star pupil Artem Dologopyat to the stage.

The honorees in the center: a physician from South America, a musical artist from Ethiopia, a Ukrainian sports coach, a French linguist, and a solar energy innovator from the United States.

And here, at last, unmasked for another official photograph.

The second is the new Museum of Tolerance, which opened its doors to two big events, even though the outside areas are not completed.

The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference last year was only online but this year it was live and held inside the new museum. It was also broadcast.

While waiting to get a tag, (yes ID tags are back again) two years since the last one, I took this photo of the lobby area. Not my first photo attempt, but that one I cannot show you. A security officer with a dog walked by and was not happy to have his photo taken.

With the Israeli President and Prime Minister speaking first in the morning in the auditorium, there were multiple levels of security to get past.

Here is Sylvan Adams, one of the dozens of interviews over the course of the day which included Israeli Ministers, politicians, and tech leaders.

I missed the breakfast food and by noon was anxiously awaiting something to eat, and as you see I was not alone. It’s been so long since I attended an event I forgot to take along an emergency snack. Lox and cream cheese in a croissant seems to be the new “in” finger food.

Yossi Cohen’s interview comments on Iran were popular with the media. All the speakers have been written up and you can find them easily with a Google search.

So I will share what you did not see. Liat Goldhammer was speaking with Maayan Hoffman about their company’s process with fabrics that saves water in the thread-dying process.

These Sonova masks were all around, and it was a light bulb moment.

Who else remembered the Overall Festival at the Tower of David?

I heard the same pitch line two years ago with Shay Herchcovici, founder of Nano Textiles. I left the room to find Shay and confirm he was indeed the guy behind the Sonovia masks. Back to networking, at his request to meet someone important, I introduced him to Laurence Weinbaum, the director of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.

The afternoon was filled with experts and panels,

and more panels, with lunch, served at 3:00 pm.

Hum, when was my last meal out? Hard to remember.

On a program that ran late most of the day, Mike Pompeo was early.

He did not stick around long but stopped for a few minutes to speak in the hall before leaving and returning to the US.

Now for the third location of interest: in a blog, I did on the exhibit highlighting the British Mandate at the Tower of David, the exhibit on the British contributions and changes, included movies.

How many times have I walked by quickly and ignored these golden arches on Shamai Street?

But on Thursday night I entered the Cinema Hostel, one of the “new from old” tourist lodgings dotting the center of Jerusalem around King George and Ben Yehudah Streets.

As a fan of a previous Tour de Sound tour, we accepted an invitation to hear music from old movies. John Williams and Raiders of Lost Ark was great to start an evening of musical Cinema Nostalgia, performed by Daniel and Yedidia Schwarz with Paul Salter.

Aladdin was one of the more colorful videos on the screen.

From where we were seated, we could the kitchen and hostel guests walking by from time to time.

Guests’ rooms were located down the hall behind the musicians.

The media room is upstairs.

There is also a bar, which is kosher and dairy, and was filling up quickly as we left after the unique concert.

Not quite the same as the 1,400 seat Orion Theater of old, but a different and unique way to spend an evening. Friends recalled going to the large old Israeli movie theaters, with bottles and garinim thrown on the floor.

So here were three events off the Jerusalem streets from this past week, as things appear to be getting back to normal, with masks and green passes.

Stay well and hope to see you soon.