Winter Colors Jerusalem

It happens every, single year in Jerusalem, Israel.

One day it feels like summer, we’re wearing sandals, and the next next day, the temperature drops, it rains hard and we put on the winter boots and take out the sweaters and coats from their storage places.

The clouds fill the sky covering the sun and our stone homes retain the cold.

Out for a quick walk when it stopped raining, I was able to watch a helicopter land, not on, but near the Knesset Building.

The cloud formations were impressive as winter arrived in Jerusalem.

Venturing a bit from home, the last public phone booths had been removed in front of the National Labor Court, and only two white marks remained.

The Jerusalem street near the Prime Minister’s Residence is occupied.

New security barriers line the streets ready for the next protest.

But the coronavirus restrictions are loosening, small on-the-street businesses are allowed to open, joining the recently reopened beauty salons and essential businesses.

Jerusalem children’s playgrounds are getting serious makeovers.

The art at Mamilla Mall was changed, but few were around to view it,

or to take advantage of end of season sales for the last few months.

A pile of masks was on display for sale for the few who passed by.

A cafe had take out food and a few places to sit and enjoy the sun and the view.

Some stores closed, but others were being renovated to open or reopen.

Mamilla Mall wasn’t filled with happy visitors due to the COVID19 closures.

There were grey days – really for the birds.

Heavy rains created new temporary ponds and dampened moods.

But with winter in Jerusalem, new flowers emerged from the ground. It seemed I was not the first one to come by. Someone placed small stones around several of the first blooms.

Today the field had many more flowers and groups of students.

In Jerusalem we do not have the fall colors of the US Northeast, but we have a bit of orange,

and yellow,

and green,

and green with touches of red and light blue,

and fresh new winter greens.

A white US Capitol? was built along Azza Street during the time of closings.

There is blue sky when it peeks out from the clouds.

But in spite of all the closings, some things are happening.

President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Uzbekistan, and Latvia to the State of Israel in an official ceremony at Beit HaNasi, the President’s Residence.

The flags were raised and flying for each country. That “thing” hanging under the flag are dates on the palm tree. I decided to leave it for you to see.

The ceremonies were downsized due to coronavirus and weather.

But on a cloudy day, the colors were flying this week with more next week as more new Ambassadors present their credentials to President Rivlin.

So that’s it–another week of trying to make the best in these difficult times, sharing a few of the many colors of Jerusalem.

Wearing more than one hat is not always easy.

The Tower of David Museum is taking advantage of the lull in tourism to do a major renovation, but more on that next time.

Take care and stay well, and hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.

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.

Jerusalem Yom Kippur Eve

Oh Jerusalem!

When I lead photo walks, I try to arrive across from Jaffa Gate as the sun is setting to show off the Jerusalem of Gold. The sun reflected off the stones, depending on conditions, appears either golden or pink on cloudy days.

On Friday afternoon, before Shabbat, the Kotel, Western Wall, stones were pure golden hues, However, there was no one there to appreciate the moment. No crowds to pray afternoon or evening prayers.

At 2:00 pm on Friday, September 25, 2020, a lockdown was to begin, after a sharp rise in COVID-19, people are not to go more than 1 kilometer from home.

The Israel Museum and all others are again closed, this time until at least October 11, after the Sukkot holidays.

Most people, like the ants, were out busily preparing for whatever might be needed for holidays and the unknown weather- and whatever is to happen next.

Even before the lockdown announcement, for the solemn day of Yom Kippur, 61% of Jewish Israelis said that they do not intend to attend synagogue at all this year, and only 34% planned on coming to some or all of the services. In the past those numbers were much higher.

Now, like Rosh Hashana, we plan to be home and alone.

Yom Kippur services with reduced numbers of 20 are planned for outside. This is to be a holiday season like none other.

Bar Ilan University posted a day of Zoom live courses on Facebook on Wednesday for the public on various related holiday topics. The list of lectures, classes, and changing regulations seems endless.

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People were out on paths getting in their 1 kilometer from home walks.

I hope my less known route does not become as popular.

The Jerusalem Municipality sponsored programs and selihot for the week before Yom Kippur, with singer Moshe Louk scheduled for Wednesday night leading Piyutim.

Two years ago Louk led Selihot at Beit Hanasi, in the Israeli President’s Residence Synagogue. Sadly there will be none there this year.

Stores were closed and locked up on Friday afternoon.

I wonder how many businesses will never open up again.

The Jerusalem cats were out in full force on the streets Friday afternoon.

Major intersections were quieter, much quieter than a regular Friday.

Even the cats seemed quieter, waiting, not sure what would be next.

A sharp increase in the number of corona patients in the Arab sector was of concern. Large weddings were held in the afternoon to get around curfews.

Photo credit: United Hatzalah spokesperson

Jerusalem Municipality and United Hatzalah of Israel, with more than 20 EMS volunteers driving ambucycles, an ambulance, fly cars, and an ATV, drove through neighborhoods in order to spread awareness of the dangers of COVID-19 to the residents.

Mayor Moshe Lion also joined the procession in order to strengthen the efforts of the volunteers and encourage the residents to stay home and safe.

At the same time, nature seems normal, with shorter days, fall colors, and a new season.

President Rivlin’s term is up in July 2021. There will be no next year Selihot for him to host at Beit Hanasi.

This year with very limited numbers and restrictions on religious services.

The main Selihot erev Yom Kippur were very different.

The Kotel, Western Wall plaza was mostly empty during a live broadcast.

Meanwhile, thousands arrived by car to Jerusalem on Shabbat, and for two hours after, heading to Paris Square to protest against the government.

New bright lights lined Ruppin Street outside the Knesset as they met to work out the latest coronavirus regulations.

As Israel goes into the Yom Kippur holiday, with people alone at home, or on the streets fasting and praying, pray for wisdom and unity as well as health this year.

At the very first of many webinars on COVID-19, way back in March, the expert from South Korea stated the number one factor in controlling the virus was trust in the government.

May all be sealed for a good and healthy year.

Next Year in Jerusalem!