It was hard to decide on only three of the special things from this past week. There was so much happening on and off the Jerusalem streets you may not have heard about, but should know.
Ok, only two were really inside and one very much outside.
- Who remembers the old President Hotel on Ahad Ha’am Street?
We stayed there once on an organized tour and I remember saying the 1-star status at the time meant there was a toilet in the room.
I had heard it was being used as a new Social Space and drove by to share a photo a few weeks ago, but that didn’t get shared at the time.
Then I started out last week to see inside but got distracted by a loud noise.
Oh no, I thought, not another protest group marching thru the Jerusalem streets. But I was wrong. They were color war teams of a local youth group. I ended up following them in the opposite direction that day instead.
So finally, here it is!!
Remember this photo? Yes, the hotel was this run down – not Photoshop.
For a very long time mostly abandoned, as in this photo from four years ago.
However, now stepping inside I got a pleasant surprise. At the end of the hall, a dance studio opened in March, and the dancers were having a lesson.
A wall mural was clean and neat and new.
I looked through the metal grating and saw a bar space ready to open,
and an impressive colorful meeting area, smaller spaces around and above.
Tables were set up outside, but only a few people seemed to know about Jerusalem’s newest urban renewal by the reaction to my post on Facebook.
The side of the building that faces Keren Hayesod Street is still an eyesore and has been for years. It still needs work, but the lower levels are a huge improvement and it looks like they are working their way up.
2. A much more well-known Jerusalem meeting space is the Israeli Knesset.
Walking to the Negev Hall for a meeting, I was so surprised to see Alan Clemmons, a former State Senator from South Carolina, to my embarrassment, I at first called him – Sam Clements.
The halls were filled with Knesset Members interacting with visitors.
The meeting I attended started late, as members were busy voting. But the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus held its opening meeting. I learned that with each new Knesset, caucus meetings have to be held anew, as they do not carry over from one government to the next.
Speakers from the government and opposition, as well as security officials, called on Israel to start defeating its enemies, in the event titled “How Should Israel Win the Next War?”
Held in coordination with the U.S.-based Middle East Forum, which manages the Israel Victory Project, it’s an initiative seeking to change the public discourse on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
While the Jerusalem street where the Prime Minister lives is often closed, walking the Knesset halls one would never realize troubles outside.
3. The 40th Jerusalem Film Festival opened in the Sultan’s Pool on Thursday night, with thousands filling the outdoor amphitheater stands.
Award-winning actor Dame Helen Mirren was on hand for the premier.
The British actress stood out elegantly dressed in white lace. Director Oliver Stone was also honored – wearing the red tie, also in the front row, as everyone stood when Israeli President Herzog and his wife Michal entered.
President Isaac Herzog was the first of several speakers.
Helen Mirren, the actress who starred as Golda Meir in “Golda,” got the most attention that night, for her brilliant performance in an excellent movie.
The Yom Kippur War was a difficult time, yet the movie has a few moments of comic relief and was well-paced. Even though everyone knew the ending, the film kept viewers entranced. An amazing depiction of a great woman at the most difficult time of her life.
The Jerusalem Film Festival, JFF40, runs from July 13 – 23, 2023.
Showing “Golda” as the opening event made this year indeed special.
Want to guess where else I was?
I have lots more to share for next time, so check back next week.
A clue–this sunset was not in Jerusalem but in southern Israel.
Everyone is trying to stay cool and hydrated, as it’s very hot this week on the Jerusalem streets. So very glad it did cool off to enjoy the movie, as most summer nights in Jerusalem have been reasonably comfortable.