A Day in Jerusalem: What you did not see

When sand fills the air it’s a good time to shut the windows and stay off the Jerusalem streets. It’s not a pretty picture as the dirt blows in and covers everything on any day, especially on Shabbat.

However, earlier in the week, it was a very different story.

Monday morning, the sky was blue, the roses bright red, and the menorah across from the Knesset was surrounded by lush green foliage.

Even though I was in a hurry, I took the time to stop, appreciate the scene and take a quick photograph.

A Knesset security guard came over to question what I was doing. However, I was able to point and say how pretty, and he did not stop me.

The red carpet was out. Not for me, but for the President of the Austrian National Council. I could see the drums and tuba ready for an official musical band welcome, but I was on my way to a meeting inside.

First time back inside the Knesset in over two years, and getting permission to use my camera was an exciting way to start the day. The Knesset Israel Victory Caucus met to discuss the security situation of the past year.

Photo credit: Michael Katz

Thanks to photographer Mike Katz for sharing his photo with me of the new style tee-shirt, which I missed when I stepped out for a few minutes.

Incitement to terror has increased, what to do to stop it is the question?

The official car of Austrian National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka was parked as I was leaving the meeting which went longer than expected.

I say moving to Jerusalem has been an education in international flags.

I passed a tour group at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory. The natural roof was not green this time as in a 2019 post.

Next to the Bird Observatory, the cemetery, across from the Israeli Supreme Court building has become a popular attraction with busloads of men and women coming to pray at the grave of the Zvhiller Rebbe.

However, at least one man was able to find a quiet moment to reflect.

I was rushing over to the new Nefesh BeNefesh Campus for the first annual Mental Health Expo, special for English speakers. Attended by 1600 people who took advantage to speak with dozens of participating organizations.

The lecture room was filled for Dr. David Pelcovitz’s talk. I had to push my way into the standing-room-only crowd which spilled into the hallway to take a photo. It was the most crowded room of people I have seen in over two years.

It was a beautiful day to be out and walk in Jerusalem. The new path in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was lined with new colorful flowers.

The new sign was up for the Kraft Family Sports Campus.

And the Ninja section at the park was filled with religious girls in long skirts excitedly trying out the exercise equipment.

Amazing the Jerusalem of contrasts, the new park area, and the old buildings as they were decades ago in disrepair adjacent to each other.

I passed this dumpster and wondered how long those wooden pallets would remain?

With Lag B’Omer approaching, all the wood along Jerusalem streets was being collected for upcoming nighttime bonfires.

The Jerusalem Book Forum and International Writers’ Festival were back again with local and international writers and publishers attending the opening events at the Jerusalem YMCA.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was present to award the Jerusalem Prize as he did in the last festival held in 2019 to Joyce Carol Oates.

This year’s winner British author Julian Barnes was not able to attend but appeared in a video.

It was fascinating to hear a speaker from Germany say how he felt safer now walking the Jerusalem streets than the streets in Europe.

One featured writer was Joshua Cohen, author of “The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family” which won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

All that was on a day the media focused only on conflict.

Wednesday night, Lag B’Omer fires burned well into the night.

The piles of wood were prepared and piled high by thousands who partied all night long in Jerusalem. Musical performances went on in many locations until the early morning hours.

I tried watching online, but wonder if Meron Lag BOmer celebrations will recover any time soon after last year’s tragedy?

While there is a government crisis (almost daily?) and troubles abound, this week I preferred to walk during the day when the sky was clear and the sun shone and admire the flowers along the Jerusalem streets.

The plans for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, reunited for 55 years are well underway. From May 26 to June 2, 2022, Jerusalem is celebrating with 9000 flags and 42 km of flag chains hung along the Jerusalem streets.

Yes, there is much more happening in Jerusalem that does not attract headlines. What next? How about a parade for over 60-year-olds?

In the Jerusalem Cinema City where the Mental Health Fair was held, I saw these two women sitting, one Muslim and one Jewish. Not what you saw on your TV sets at night, but what was happening on the real Jerusalem streets.

It was May 16, 2022. Nakba Day in Jerusalem, Israel – what you did not see.

9 Jerusalem Lag B’Omer Favorites

Confession:

Lag B’Omer in Jerusalem, Israel, is not my favorite holiday.

I prefer to close my windows and hide inside,

but I ventured out to see what was happening,

and here are my favorite sights:

getting ready for bon fire

1. Wood of all kinds is collected and burned, but a baby crib?

bonfire on lag b'Omer

2. One fire shows why wooden pallets are popular.

lag b omer bonfires

3. The Jerusalem Theater in the background

glowed like the many fires in park below.

bonfires Jerusalem Lag B'Omer

 4. There were many, many fires in that park.

First Station at night

First Station, on the other hand, was not the place to be

on Lag B’Omer night as most of it was closed.

Many people stayed out all night around the fires,

but during the day with no school,

children needed something to do.

face paint

5. Attentive faces and face painting at

Lag BaOmer celebration for children

6. Chabad Rechavia parade and event with Rabbi Goldberg,

always favorites of Jerusalem families.

Gan Sacher on Lag B'Omer

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, looked big, green and beautiful.

music and party in patk

7. Musicians  under a tree attracted an afternoon crowd.

I would have stayed longer to listen,

but I had to head home for dinner.

in Valley of cross no cars

8. This walking/biking path in the Valley of the Cross

had huge boulders to keep vehicles away,

yet people would move them and drive towards Gan Sacher.

Now one simple bollard does the job.

As I was marveling at the cleverness of that improvement,

I saw a man in an underpass taking advantage of the echo.

Differedo being played in Jerusalem

9. He was playing an Israeli didgeridoo.

The instrument was first crafted by Aborigines

from branches hollowed out by termites,

its sound has been improved using Israeli technology.

They are used at a corroboree,

Australian Aboriginal ceremonies usually held

around a campfire at night with singing and dancing.

What a way to end a Jewish holiday associated with

campfires, music, singing and dancing!

You never know what you will find

on the Jerusalem, Israel streets!

Jerusalem: Parades, Runners and New High Flyers

Many were worried that the three-day (Saturday night through Monday)

Lag B’Omer celebrations with their smoky medurot, large bonfires,

would cause worse air quality than the usual holiday pollution.

But thanks to Israeli basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv 

 playing in the Euroleague Championship basketball final,

photo Israel basketball winners

so many people came inside to watch the exciting game

that there seemed to be a lot less smoke this year.

Maccabi Tel Aviv won in overtime!

The team has already been to the Prime Minister’s office 

and is invited for a special reception today in the President’s House.

Lag B’Omer and International Museum Day were celebrated on Monday.

Thousands of school children on school holiday filled museums

which had no entrance fees in honor of Museum Day.

image Palestinian, photo Israel occupation, picture Israel oppresion

We had a great time in the Bloomfield Science Museum as always,

with lots of new exhibits and activities.

image large torah, man dressed in costume,

 Lag B’Omer gatherings and parades Sunday in the Rechavia neighborhood

image old city, view Teddy Park on Lag BOmer, photo people in park

and Monday in Teddy Park near the Old City were just two of many events.

There was one unique event on Monday afternoon.

In a first-ever Run for Peace, 

image Pat Farmer, photo runners near Jaffa Gate,

Australian ultra-marathon runner Pat Farmer (in the blue shirt)

and a few of his supporters arrived at the end of his 1500-kilometer run from Lebanon.

image Pat Farmer, photo old city, image Pat Farmer Peace Runner

After running around 80 kilometers a day,

athlete Pat Farmer’s advice was to “put one foot in front of the other.”

Following a small press conference at Jaffa Gate,

image Australian ambassador,

Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma told another gathering in honor

of Farmer at the King David Hotel how proud Australia is

to support sports and all efforts for peace.

All was not sports and parades.

image Jerusalem Writers festival

The week-long International Writers Festival opened in Mishkenot Sha’ananim.

But the real action was found outside,

just down the road from these two venues.

image skate boarder, new skate park in Israel photo, picture Jerusalem skate park

People were in the air, flying high

image Jerusalem skate park opening,

after Mayor Nir Barkat cut the ribbon of the new Skate Park Jerusalem.

image new skate park, photo large skate board rink,  jJrusalem skate park

The large rink is located in a section of the Liberty Bell Park.

Though some may not think of this as popular sport,

hundreds of people from all over Israel came for the opening,

image skate park, photo children watching skaters, skate park at night

children with skate boards tucked under their arms,

image Jerusalem skate park

and others watched as the best riders from all over Israeli showed their moves.

While the runners raced along the Jerusalem streets without getting a second glance,

and the parades stopped traffic for a bit,

 this Skate Rink is really something!

Additional photos: Peace Run and Skate Park