Jerusalem Colors and Crowds of Sukkot

With so much to do in Jerusalem on Chol Hamoed Sukkot, it is hard to find the time and energy to keep up.

There is certainly too much to share in one post today.

However, one of the main events in Jerusalem, Israel, is the Sukkot holiday Birkat Kohanim at the Kotel, the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall.

A crowd with tens of thousands of people packed into the Kotel Plaza on Wednesday morning.

But to get to the Kotel this year was really aliyah l’regel. With streets in the Old City closed to cars and the shuttle from First Station only starting at 10:00 am – it was walk up or go home.

So people walked up the mountain path toward Zion Gate.

The view was quite impressive, the sky was bright blue, and it was a lovely time to walk in Jerusalem.

On the way, you pass a memorial stone for fallen soldier Shlomo Cohen.

Families were walking together, as were these two young women carrying lulavim.

One man was walking alone talking on his phone. So many people were coming and going on a road usually full of cars to the Old City.

And a few people stopped to rest along the way.

How do they count so many people walking in and out of the Old City?

It had been a few years since I was at the Kotel for Sukkot Birkat Kohanim.

But I wasn’t going to miss a chance to watch from the roof of the Aish HaTorah building.

People stood at every vantage point above the Kotel Plaza.

It was nice to see from above and not be packed into the crowd below.

Some people decided to listen from a shady location just outside the entrance and not come and stand in the sun-filled crowded Plaza.

Crowd control has greatly improved in the past 10 years, with marked exits.

What a crowd, so many people wanting to be in a small space!

Of course from my vantage point on the rooftop location, I took zoom shots.

‘Selfies’- on the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock in the background.

A group of Jewish tourists walked above as the prayers were said below.

Sukkot prayer in front of a model of the Jewish Temple on the Aish roof.

A woman above on a roof in the Old City unfurled an Israeli flag.

Everywhere, all around, people and sukkot!

And at night the Kotel Plaza was packed again with tens of thousands for the Remember Hakel event, to mark the special Torah reading once every seven years at the end of the Shemita cycle.

Sukkot in Jerusalem was such a colorful time again this year in 5783.

The Israeli President’s Residence reception on Sukkot to the public had some colorful moments, but more on that later. Off now to more events before the holiday week is over, which I plan to share next time.

My video from the Birkat Kohanim on Wednesday.

What a colorful week, with so much happening on the Jerusalem streets!

Jerusalem Passover Photo Favorites

The Passover holiday has ended in Jerusalem, Israel, and around the world.

When we awoke on Sunday morning, the Knesset building was shrouded by the dense haze/sand in the air. Not a favorite sight to photograph.

Even with the indoor mask law lifted last night, I would advise wearing one outside today on the Jerusalem streets!

But before we move on to the Yoms, starting with Yom HaShoah on Wednesday night, there were special scenes of this past week I want to share.

The wall of Jerusalem’s Old City near Jaffa Gate was lit up at night with a colorful Pesach Sameach, Happy Passover greeting for the week.

As the holiday was to begin, windows had to be closed to keep out the smoke from the burning of chametz, as the last bread or pasta was taken out of the house and burned in countless fires around Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem streets were quieter than usual, with less construction going on over the holiday period.

The excited sounds of tourists returning were pleasant to hear instead.

The Kotel, Western Wall, was the main attraction for most visitors.

There was a tour group at the egalitarian section when I was there.

The main Birchat Kohanim, Priestly Blessing, was held twice to accommodate more people with less crowding, the same as last year.

The damage caused to Al Aqsa Mosque by rioting thugs was evident in the broken windows you can see above. On another night of rioting, their firebombs caused an old olive tree on the Temple Mount to catch fire. Meanwhile, after Israeli security cleared the area, hundreds of thousands of Muslims were able to pray there peacefully for Ramadan.

Security was on higher alert and patrolling strategic locations.

This woman became a favorite when she bent down to explain to her young daughter not to be scared since the security was there to protect her.

The magnificent horses of the security patrols are always a favorite, even better when all they have to do is sit and watch the crowd.

Holiday music along the Jerusalem streets is also a favorite sight and sound.

You know the visitors are back when the port-a-johns are on the move.

Is a Greek flag on your mask a good sign of security for this Greek official out and about with his son?

Good to see these usually closed doors along the Armenian Road wide open.

Jerusalem streets require a protest sign, and this one is against the internet.

Some of the days of Passover were hot, others cold, but on one hot day the Iriyia, Jerusalem Municipality, gave out bottles of water that were much appreciated.

Multiple places in the old city sold bottled water, but along s main walking route to the Kotel, one family was giving away water to those who stopped and recited the appropriate blessing.

A hot day means if you don’t drink it’s easy to dehydrate. Also, it is a danger to slip on the stone Jerusalem streets that can be as slippery as ice. Emergency response teams were ready to provide aid and transport those in need to hospitals.

Food. So many restaurants were open for Passover observant visitors.

Jerusalem streets were cleaned up over the Passover holiday, with more than the usual runs to keep up with all the extra waste.

The art was back in Mamilla Mall. This piece was designed to encourage people to watch their speech and avoid Lashon Hara, talking badly of others.

There were tours and special programs for families at the museum and tourist sites as usual, but not many tourists found this Jerusalem art fair.

Tucked away behind the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, on the entrance street, only one lone cat was near the feeding station the day I went to check it out.

On Wednesday of Passover, in the evening there was a controversial Flag March. I went to check it out for myself and decided to share this short video to show the real Jerusalem streets.

As usual, thousands are peaceful, and only the few trouble makers make the news photos and headlines.

The Temple Mount is closed to Jews until after Ramadan, which ends with Eid al-Fitr on May 3 and 4, 2022. The Druze are celebrating Nabi Shu’eib in memory of the Prophet Jethro. And today is Orthodox Easter Sunday, with a major ceremony “Holy Fire” held yesterday in the Old City.

Until the dirt clears from the air, I am content to stay inside and pack up the Passover dishes once again.

As every year, we concluded the Pesach seder with “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Hoping to see you next year in Jerusalem!

Passover – This Year in Jerusalem

Passover or Pesach,

the holidays of Spring have passed.

The Jerusalem holiday crowds returned in the tens of thousands as many of the coronavirus restrictions were lifted. The Birkat Kohanim, Priestly Blessing, was extended to two days in order to accommodate more people at the Kotel, the Western Wall.

Watching the live service online, I was able to get a front-row seat on both days without leaving home. Plus the video is available for all to enjoy now.

Before the holiday began we had elections for the 24th Knesset. Notice the COVID-19 dividers and limited numbers allowed in the room.

Plenty of parties to pick from. But as of today, as the new Knesset is sworn in, the makeup of the new government is still very uncertain. President Rivlin has given the mandate to Benjamin Netanyahu who had the most recommendations, but not a majority of 61, so here we go again. Will have to wait and see what happens next. One difference this fourth time in under two years was the generous amount of hand sanitizer in the voting booth.

On my way home, people were out on the streets. There was a party atmosphere with a day off from work, and finally freed from apartments.

This was the scene in my kitchen when I returned after voting. Those eggs (and more) are long gone and the cucumber salad and pickles were finished off last week, but a few glutin-free cookies remain in the freezer.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ST-Pass-028-3-1024x550.jpg

Last year we prepared for a seder with two people, and this year the seder had two tables. One table was preset on Friday to save time after Shabbat.

With the change of clocks and the holidays, time was a blur. It was a bit of a challenge to know what day it was, plus keeping track of who was to be at each meal, downsized from the old days to smaller family units.

For Passover, museums returned and were open with prior registration,

while some previously open food places closed for Passover.

Israeli nature spots and parks were filled with family reunions.

The new visitor center in Tel Lachish was not open, but the trail was ready for the stream of hikers.

New playgrounds in new neighborhoods sprung from the barren earth.

And oh, oh the traffic returning to the Jerusalem streets. Here are the blue lights of the Prime Minister’s motorcade weaving its way out of Jerusalem.

As one who remembers the old Route 1, I marvel each time we wind our way up the new roads to Jerusalem in multiple lanes packed with cars.

At Jaffa Gate, an oversized banner welcomed tens of thousands of visitors with “Happy Passover in Jerusalem” in bright spring colors.

Inside Jaffa Gate, signs showed the way to the Kotel, the Western Wall.

Security was out and visible, but relaxed for the holiday crowds.

A Happy Purim sign was up in the Rova, the Jewish Quarter. Purim was last month, but the crowds indeed seemed happy.

Happy to be out and back in the Old City, and to sit and eat kosher for Passover food they did not have to prepare or eat at home.

The Kotel Plaza was still divided to provide size-regulated services.

The size of holiday crowds was similar to the past years. I went in the afternoon after Birkat Kohanim to see what was happening.

The only quiet location I found on Passover was the usual one at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall. What was unusual was that security allowed a man dressed in his Haredi holiday attire to go down. In the past, I had seen religious-looking men were stopped and denied entrance.

Popup popcorn stands (for Sephardim only) were in multiple locations, wafting the familiar aroma to entice customers.

Young and old, they came, all day, well into the night on Passover walking to the Old City and the Kotel as on holidays past. So many baby strollers!

The clean-up crews were noticeable and are to be commended, as the sanitation workers labored overtime to keep the Jerusalem streets clean.

After an upside down year, it was good to be out, even wearing a mask.

Crowds filled Mamilla Mall, walking, shopping, and sitting to eat.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is End-Passover-028-2-1024x680.jpg

The new art in Mamilla Mall was popular with visiting children.

This last sign of the protesters was removed immediately after Passover and the construction of France Square and Paris Fountain has begun.

The original dedication stone with the mayors of Jerusalem and Paris in 2008 could use a good clean-up and restoration.

The image of coming out of hibernation as lumbering bears was no longer appropriate. The lighter feeling on the Jerusalem streets was of millions of butterflies bursting out after a year in cocoons, filling the parks in the pleasant weather.

The fountain was not flowing in Teddy Park, but Israelis sat to enjoy the Jerusalem nature spot.

The Jerusalem cats were looking satisfied after finding full dumpsters.

Jerusalem filled with traffic, a sign of “normal” after a very difficult pandemic year with no international tourism.

This spring Israelis returned to Jerusalem. Here’s hoping as we say at the end of the seder, “Next Year in Jerusalem” will be for all.

But before we can relax and enjoy the flowers, it’s time for the Yoms!

Always something happening on the Jerusalem streets: at Yad Vashem Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Day, will be observed this year starting Wednesday evening, April 7, through Thursday, April 8, 2021, with live broadcast in English – HERE