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’s Israel Museum plus 4 more you should know

Jerusalem’s Israel Museum plus 4 more you should know

In Jerusalem, the barricades and barriers to keep the public away from world leaders are gone from the streets and sidewalks. People are out again on the streets when the sun appears.

When walking in Jerusalem and someone asks: “where is the museum?”

It is a safe bet to assume they mean The Israel Museum.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel

So I point to the path up the hill to Jerusalem’s largest and best known Israel Museum.

However, there are dozens of museums in Jerusalem, Israel.

In the past week, four museums opened their doors for special events.

Winter day at the Tower of David in Jerusalem Israel

It was a rainy, grey day at the Tower of David Museum.

Over the years, this ancient military fortress has become a popular cultural spot, hosting a wide variety of events, exhibitions, and nighttime shows.

In October 2017, within the ancient stone walls, looking to the future, ToD launched its Innovation Lab.

The ToD is constantly looking for new ways and technology to engage young visitors with Artificial Reality – AR and Virtual Reality – VR, and Apps. Wearing special VR googles was not to be the final answer to get everyone involved with their surroundings.

MARS launch of interactive tour option at Tower of David

The newest storytelling-videos taking AR to a new level, launched last week, come from MARS.

Co-founder and CEO Ori Noam explained how his David and Goliath video, developed at ToD Innovation Lab, make the experience unique to the user.

MARS at Jerusalem Tower of David Museum launch

At the entrance desk, for a small additional extra fee, visitors  receive a tablet and earphones. Because it was raining outside, demonstrations had to be inside.

Tower of David Museum demonstration of MARS new tourist option using AR and MR

MARS lets visitors interact with Goliath as seen on this tablet screen.

Mars at Jerusalem Tower of David using tablet for tour option

Using sub-conscience triggers, MARS creates an experience unique to each family or visitor. And these days, of course, the mandatory selfie at the end.

Did you realize last week was Israeli Space Week?

The Bloomfield Science Museum was open two evenings free of charge in honor of Space Week.

Signs at entrance to Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem

Besides the currently running exhibitions on Leonardo Da Vinci and Journey to Space, Israeli Space Week attracted families with young children to the Science Museum. 

Balloon Astronaut at Jerusalem science museum entrance

A giant astronaut balloon hovered overhead at the entrance.

Leonardo Questions at Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem Israel

‘Leonardo’s Questions’ were displayed and answered in the main entrance area with Leonardo’s wings hanging above.

Space week at Jerusalem science museum

Upstairs on the third floor, I was able to get one image before the room filled with excited children. Oh, to channel all that energy.

Planetarium in Jerusalem Science Museum

The planetarium required registration to enter, but for photography, I think outside was better to see the black starlit dome.

Leonardo exhibit at Jerusalem Science Museum

‘Optics and Observation’ was one of the various rooms on the current Leonardo theme.

Meteor rock from Arizona desert in Jerusalem science museum

What would be a good space exhibit without a piece of rock from outer space?

Marc, a former employee of Griffith Observatory in California, held a piece of a meteor found in an Arizona crater. Visitors were encouraged to feel a piece of material that fell from space halfway around the world, right here in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has multiple private museums on a wide variety of topics.

Front view of Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem on cloudy day

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, BLMJ, is near the Science Museum and across the street from the Israel Museum.

Entrance to YEMEN exhibition at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

Its new exhibit is simply called YEMEN. The historical development of South Arabia over the centuries is shown in detail to cover all the senses. I was so impressed with a tour before it opened, I had to go back on opening night to see the finished exhibit.

A woman looks at ancient artifacts from South Arabia now Yemen at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

First, the visitor encounters ancient statues and artifacts used for burning incense.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem display of three popular fragrances of ancient times.

The Jews of ancient southern Arabia traveled over long distances by camel with myrrh, frankincense, and balsam. Here one can smell the aromas so important and valuable in ancient times and compare them.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem traditional food from Yemen at opening of new exhibit

I said all the senses. At the opening evening was this traditional Yemenite savory biscuit. I must admit it was not to my taste.

Yemenite man reading Hebrew book upside down in Naftali Hilger photo in Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

This is one of several powerful photographs by Naftali Hilger on display. Note the Jewish man from Sa’dah is reading a prayerbook upside down. Since books were scarce, children learned to read from multiple directions. Hilger’s photographs taken in the late 1980s add greatly to the exhibit.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Yemen exhibition

Rich colors, old ritual artifacts, and scrolls,

A woman looks at wall display at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Yemen exhibit.

and more recent content, such as this Jerusalem Street sign, add to the scope of Yemenite history.

The father of Batya Borowski, wife of BLMJ founder Eli Borowski z”l, came from Yemen to Israel in 1907. Zacharia Jamil was a talented silversmith and jewelry-maker like his father.

The exhibit with its warm hues radiates the warmth and love Batya Borowski and her daughter,  BLMJ Director Amanda Weiss, have invested in sharing a history unfamiliar to many.

Three rings made by father of Batya Borowski iZacharia Jamil on display in the Bible Lands Museum exhibition Yemen

Three rings made by Jamil are included in the Yemen exhibition.

Fourth and last is the L A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, which also has a new temporary exhibition.

Trespassing exhibit at LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Titled “Trespassing” in English, meaning stretching boundaries, here are 3 examples of works by fifteen Israeli women, coming from religious communities:

Trespassing exhibition at LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Muslim – Fatima Abu Roomi self-portraits,

Female Druze artist with special shawel on floor LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Druze – special shawl over a traditional home rug,

Shira Zelwer wax flowers and diorama

and Jewish -wax flowers and diorama.

The Museum of Islamic Art has historical pieces and a magnificent antique watch collection. 

Shira Zelwer wax figures from grandmother's photograph Islamic Museum

What stood out for me in the new pieces was this item. Shira Zelwer’s wax figures in the diorama are three-dimensional images reproducing a 1960’s photograph. They show her grandmother surrounded by the waiters of her catering business in Australia.

I fondly remember her grandmother in her later retirement years, still an active personality.

You never know what you will find on the Jerusalem streets or what memories in its museums.

Scene from YEMEN at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Israel

From ancient artifacts to futuristic technology, from Yemen to Australia, worlds coming together on the Jerusalem streets and explored and shared in its unique museum displays.

Museum for Islamic Art: Old and New

 I have walked by the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art thousands of times,

located near the Jerusalem Theater and Beit Hanasi, 

the Israeli President’s residence.

I was always curious to see what was inside,

but until now I never went in to see.

L.A. has nothing to do with the city in California,

but is short for Leon Aryeh Mayer,

the mentor of museum’s founder, Vera Bryce Salomons,

who wanted to “promote with the Israeli public an interest,

appreciation and understanding of the cultural heritage

and artistic achievements of the Islamic peoples.”

islamic museum

Information on Muhammud’s life, 570 C. E. – 632,

picture of mohamad

and yes,

there were pictures from days long before Charlie.

text museum

Also on display are basic information,

ancient text

 old manuscripts,

book in Islamic Museum

and ancient maps.

This one, much to the delight of a tour group from Indonesia,

was open to a map of Indonesia.

The museum is also home to the

Sir David Salomons Collection of Watches and Clocks.

Sir David was the father of museum founder Vera Salomons.

The fascinating story of the watches being stolen and returned,

and now deposited in a safe room in the Islamic Museum,

 unfolded over decades.

Breguet watch for Marie Antoinette

This is perhaps the most expensive watch in the world,

made by a master craftsman, Abraham-Louis Breguer,

for Queen Marie Antoinette.

It is displayed along with the other clocks and unusual watches.

watchfan

The delicate time piece in this ornate fan,

is the dark rectangle located near the base.

There is also a  room for temporary exhibits,

Islamic Museum

which are often advertised on side of the museum.

donkey exhibit at Islamic museum

Recently it was the “Diary of a Donkey,”

and at present, a different and unusual one,

called “Threatened Beauty.”

Collages by Andi Arnovitz, a Jerusalem artist born in the US,

combine old magazine cut-outs with ancient Persian designs

and watercolors to make her statement.

For example,

Islamic Museum art exhibit

 Arnovitz here explains

“8000 Books,” her new work on the right.

After ISIS destroyed so many valuable old

and irreplaceable manuscripts in Mosul,

she felt compelled to express her distress.

art in Islamic museum

Another example of her art form is “13 Boys.”

13 teenage boys in Mosul, Iraq,

who were murdered by ISIS for the crime of

watching a soccer game between Iraq and Jordan,

thus the soccer ball with red as splashed with their blood.

This exhibit is to stay until the middle of May.

The Islamic Museum has a new director,

which explains the recent expanded publicity.

Though it has been more popular with Arab tourists,

students from Muslim schools,

and second-time Israel visitors,

it is a valuable resource

as it expands its reach in the future.