Jerusalem to Eilat

Today the sun is shining in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem spring flowers

The daffodils in the Botanical Gardens are in bloom.

But last week was very cold,

and for the first time we drove south to Eilat.

Once we left the Judean Hills,

road to Eilat

 there are long stretches of road in the desert,

sign to beware of camels

lined with camel warning signs.

camels at rest stop

Not sure if these camels were real,

ostrich in Negev

but this ostrich was running along a fence.

Bedouin along road

Bedouin encampments,

Bedouin along highway

have popped up everywhere.

I always thought Eilat is far.

Well, nothing in Israel is that far!

We did stop once on the way down,

the distance is similar to that of NY to Baltimore.

IDF soldier gets drink

In the rest stop this was a favorite sign.

Another interesting sign on the road was

road to Eilat

this one is to warn of a road closed due to flooding.

I now understand why people run to see areas like this

flooding sign

when they are covered by streams of rushing water.

It is hard to imagine deep water here,

but these markers are in many locations on the road.

Then there is the huge Ramon Crater,

Timma desert Raomn crater

an impressive sight stretching for as are as you can see.

But from that crater outlook

you must go down,

Road to Eliat

twisting around and down,

danger sign

on curves and sharper curves.

Once in Eilat the views

of the water from beachfront hotels

Jordan view from hotel in Eilat

are picture postcard perfect.

Remember,

Jordan view from Eilat hotel

Jordan is this close,

and Egypt is just on the other side.

We went to see the Israman (Israeli Ironman) race.

Sunrise water start of Israman

At dawn nearly 2000 men and women

swam in the cold water.

Then after a quick change, they jumped on their bikes,

and pedalled up the Eilat Mountains.

Bike start Israman in Eilat hills

They left their bikes here for UPS trucks to take back to city,

and then they set off running a full or half marathon course,

back to Eilat near the starting point.

Bart Candel of the Netherlands came in first again this year.

But I think every one who finished the race

was a winner.

Israman

Imagine doing this course with one leg?

There were lots of other inspirational stories,

maybe I will share them another time.

On the way back to Jerusalem

new Ramon Airport near Eilat

we passed the site of the new Ramon Airport

desert

and fields of solar panels.

The Dead Sea may be shrinking,

but it still seems big as you drive along.

warning sink holes

These beware of sink hole signs warn of serious

Sink holes near Dead Sea

sink holes along the Dead Sea.

Back to Jerusalem,

Jerusalem bus with Shema Yisrael on side

where else would one find these new bus signs?

“Listen, Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.”

14 Jerusalem Scenes Past and Future

Last week in Jerusalem, Israel,

during the rainy weather days

top of bridge in weather

it was possible to take a color photo of the new String Bridge,

 that looked like it was black and white.

But then the sun came out,

cat

 Jerusalem’s street cats returned to bask in the sun,

cat at Beit Hanasi

and this cat was back on guard at Beit Hanasi,

the Israeli President’s residence.

Families with school-age children

education sign up

are busy trying to find the best school

for their child’s education, and space is limited.

But for others,

there was time to go by Teddy Park

Teddy Park

and watch the water in the fountain rise and fall.

The weather was sunny,

cool enough,

Teddy Park fountain

no one went into the water,

Muslim couple in Teddy Park

but nice enough to just sit on the ground and relax,

in this new park across from the Old City walls.

Cloud formations this time of year make for interesting photos.

The views of Jerusalem are constantly changing:

Center of Jerusalem construction

this large fenced-off cleared area

Jerusalem construction new statioin

and construction site across from the Central Bus Station

are signs of work well under way.

sign new city center

Posters are up announcing plans for

drastic changes to the entrance of Jerusalem,

with multiple building towers and a new fast rail system.

construction Jerusalem

City construction goes on deep underground

long before it is obvious to passers-by above.

Jerusalem Jaffa Street

Meanwhile, a walk along Jaffa Road

shows new construction rising from the old

Opening from Jaffa road to Nahlaot

and some familiar old scenes.

old building Jerusalem

Jerusalem of old

Segway riders

is constantly changing.

When the sun shines,

it is time to get out and get around.

Isn’t it time for you to see it for yourself.

More Piano, Like You Would Never Imagine

December 24 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Damascus Gate

All was quiet near Sha’ar Shechem, the Damascus Gate.

A short distance away is

Zedekiah’s Cave or as sometimes called,

King Solomon’s Quarries.

entrance to King Solomon's Quarry

This is the opening of the cave in the Wall of the Old City.

For Israelis, who do not have Sundays off from work,

the closest thing to a long weekend is Thursday night

through Shabbat, known as Hamshush.

For the past several years,

Jerusalem has had a December weekend festival

called Hamshushalyim, with hotel and restaurant deals,

and hundreds of culture events, including free late night ones.

Piano Hamshushalayim

 Hamshushalyim ended this year with a unique gala event

King Solomon's Quarry

in the quarry.

solomon quarry

Guests walked down and down,

cave

to the main cave where a piano was set up on stage.

solomon's cave

Not your usual venue for a concert,

dressing room in cave

not your usual dressing room,

sign for emergency exit

and not your usual emergency exit.

Gil Shohat and Nurit Gilron

Three hundred chairs were set for the full-house crowd.

dignitaries at cave piano

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and MK Ze’ev Elkin

 gave opening greetings after a wine and sushi buffet.

Gil Shohat

 Gil Shohat playing and

Nurit Gilron

Nurit Galron singing

performers in cave

made for an unforgettable show in this incredible venue.

When you go please note, caves are warm and humid.

Pianist Gil Shohat complained that the humidity

had affected the piano keys.

But even Chopin would have been pleased

and certainly impressed by this musical performance.

King Solomon's Quarry

The audience slowly exited along the candle lit path.

The view from the street outside

Notre Dame at night

was of the Notre Dame Center

lit with holiday lights.

In the cool night air,

while waiting for a shuttle bus back to Kikar Safra,

I had time to compare to the Pianos at Jerusalem Theater,

and my first time in the caves during the Light Festival in 2013.

What will they think of next?

Plan a December trip and see for yourselves.

As always, much is happening in Jerusalem, Israel,

but these special events are not considered news.

Pianos in Jerusalem

Pianos, so many pianos.

‘Three Days Pianos’ was a festival at

The Jerusalem Theater.

Jerusalem theater night outside

For three days and late nights the theater was alive,

student playing piano in lobby of Jerusalem Theater

as people even played piano in the lobby.

Piano art theme in Jerusalem Theter

Art work lined many walls,

lobby of Jerusalem Theatre art display

much of it on a piano theme,

Jerusalem Theater main hall

with some works overhead.

The opening event,

in the Henry Crown Hall,

Jerusalem theater Piano festival

with international pianists,

piano

began with a brilliant 40 minute duet,

with Duo Lutoslawski each at a piano,

grand piano with 4 stools

and ended with four stools,

piano with four players

for four in a humorous finale.

Many performances were held in the various halls

of the Jerusalem Theater beginning on Wednesday.

lobby set with chairs for piano fetival

 Late into the night this lobby filled

 with sounds of beautiful music

Lobby Jerusalem theater

and people of all ages.

The festival ended with Kabbalat Shabat,

on Friday afternoon,

with artistic director Michael Wolpe.

Pianos.

So many pianos this week in Jerusalem,

Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Schubert, the list goes on,

watch and listen for even more next year.

Star Wars, then Back to Normal in Jerusalem

After Hanukkah is over

there comes a long stretch with no major holidays.

It’s a time to get back to ‘normal.’

For many tens of thousands, mostly Anglos,

the visit and four performances of Jerry Steinfeld

was a big deal for two evenings in Tel Aviv,

Hebrew ad for Stars Wars

so was the opening of Star Wars at Jerusalem’s Cinema City.

Out on the Jerusalem, Israel, streets

Bus stop near main bus station

new bollards are being installed at city bus stops,

to make waiting for a bus safer from car rammings.

But, as I write this post,

there has been a new stabbing attack outside Jaffa Gate,

at the open walkway where hundreds pass day and night,

old city walls Hanukah

which was recently the back drop of a wonderful video.

An annual occasion,

one of the bittersweet kind,

 was the Bar and Bat Mitzvah reception,

held at Beit Hanasi, Israeli President’s Residence.

Naor was stabbed and had bar mitzvah

Naor Ben-Ezra who was seriously injured

by a 13 year-old stabber in October spoke

Rivlin posed photo with logo

on  behalf of 58 young victims of terror

who joined President Reuven Rivlin to celebrate their special day.

The Rivlins were in New York for most of Hanukkah,

cat in Jerusalem

but this cat stayed on guard in their absence.

Jerusalem started a cleanup campaign,

Environment clean up signs

initiating environmental improvements that include

much needed shady areas in public parks.

The President of Ukraine was here for three days,

but as usual there is too much happening to keep up with him too.

Ethiopian arts festival

The annual Hullegeb Festival

celebrated Israeli-Ethiopian arts and music,

Piano concerts for three days in Jerusalem

was followed by three days of Piano concerts

at the Jerusalem Theater.

That seems to be our normal,

 the good and bad,

birth and death.

Time to get going to deliver dinner to families with new babies,

then two nights of pianos ahead!

Disturbing, but fact,

the majority polled think attempted murder is justified.

Must enjoy the good things happening,

because those stabbings, rammings and attempts at terror

are not going away any time soon.

This is the not-so-new normal in Jerusalem.

Hanukkah Favorites – Old and New

  Hanukkah or Chanuka,

however you spell it

is a favorite time in Jerusalem, Israel.

Hanukiot, special holiday menorahs,

tower above many public locations,

like the hanukia burning

large menorah near Jaffa Gate

 near Jaffa Gate on the fourth night,

chanukia at Kotel

and this large one at the Kotel, the Western Wall.

What a find!

chanukiah

On the first night of Hanukkah I saw this new one,

sponsored by the Jerusalem Development Authority,

along with the Municipality and iTravel.

Look for it off of Yoel Salomon Street.

Also new this year

Jerusalem old city walls lit for hanukka

is the light and sound show,

on the Wall of Old City near Jaffa Gate,

Hanukkah 5776 new light show Walls Old City

which is well done,

old city walls Hanukah

with holiday songs and projections!

And of course,

menorah

millions of special smaller hanukiot can be found inside.

 During the Hanukkah festival

the Jerusalem streets are usually full of visitors and tourists.

Whether it is the winter cold or the security situation,

 unfortunately the Jerusalem streets are much too quiet.

Remember those umbrellas over Yoel Salomon Street last summer?

decoration over Jerusalem streets

This is the new colorful display in its place for Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is the holiday of the Hashmonaim,

the Maccabees of old.

Their story is of the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple,

and streets are named in their honor, not only in Jerusalem,

but also in Modi’in, the ancestral home of the Maccabees.

Chanukah story in Hebrew

This sign explaining the main street named HaHashmonaim,

tells the story remembered from so long ago.

Hanukah street signs

A cross street is “Blood of the Maccabees”

remembering the fight against Greek Hellenism.

Modern Modi’in youth posted a sign,

sign hebrew modiin Hanyuka

“Happy Holiday of the Maccabees.”

We had our family Hanukkah party here in Jerusalem on the second night.

 I managed to get one photo

one last donut

 of the last sufgania before it too disappeared.

Lots of food and fun and presents for most families,

with four more nights and lots more happening.

woman sleeping on street gets sleeping bag

However, the weather has turned cold,

and for one woman who has been camped

outside the Prime Minister’s residence in a tent for weeks,

this new sleeping bag was a welcome gift.

Now to end with a new photo of an old favorite for many,

Bus sign for Hanukkah

the Jerusalem buses join in wishing all

Hanukkah sameach.

Jerusalem the Week Before Hannukah

Another week of contrasts-

ups and downs, warm sun and cold rain.

The highs and lows on the Jerusalem, Israel streets

as Hanukkah quickly approaches.

John Kerry may have gone home after his short visit,

but the cat who crashed his

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 110

red-carpet arrival ceremony was still around watching over Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s official residence.

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 004

One sunny day, youngsters with Israeli flags were singing and dancing down Ben Yehudah Street, toward Jaffa Road and the Old City.

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 006

Around the corner, it was quiet, with some new graffiti on the wall.

Turn the next corner and you see that renovations to the Froumine House,

which was the home of the Israeli Knesset from 1949-1966, have begun.

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 012

It had been the home of the rabbinical courts,

but was vacated some time ago.

Now it is to become a museum on the history of the Knesset.

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 021

Down the street the new Beit Avi Chai building displays colorful posters for activities and upcoming Hanukkah events,

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 035

while across the road, one of the most valuable real estate properties in the world is home to those who sleep in this stone shell.

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 039

It has this sorry looking neighbor,

right across from the Jewish Agency Building

where the masses gathered and danced on November 29, 1947.

The date when the UN Partition Plan for in Palestine was adopted,

one of the most joyous days in Israel’s history.

Sadly, the Arabs did not accept the UN resolution

and started attacking the next day.

IMG_2794.jpgfb

In Jerusalem, there is a street named for the day.

Hard to believe, but this photo has received 73,313 views and 308 shares since going up on Facebook on the morning of November 29.

On the afternoon of the 29th,

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 050

a special ceremony was held to honor Israeli soldiers

who had been severely injured in various military actions and wars.

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 051

Alive, but injured while safeguarding their country.

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 091

The program was a bitter sweet experience,

it was great to see these men in wheelchairs being honored,

but it’s a shame that there have been so many wars.

Meanwhile,

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 042

outside this biker was on one wheel racing down King George Street.

The week before Hanukkah is always a busy one.

This year people are weary and wary because of the “situation.”

However,

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 044

 there is an international dance festival going on,

Injured IDF Beit Hanasi 045

 a jazz festival at the Israel Museum,

Ruchie G 117

and the annual December special weekend event called Hamshushalayim.

There are tourists groups around,

and some had to change their plans because of the weather.

The 17th Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival will be taking place from December 7-12, 2015.

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Cinema City not only has films for Hanukkah, but a special candle lighting and a ‘giant happening’ on the fifth night.

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Chabad has their lights ready to go on most of the busy street corners.

The decorative menorahs are on the lampposts,

ready to go for the first candle on Sunday,

while the city has posted signs below,

Ruchie G 124

Happy Holiday of Lights,

Hanukkah sameach

from the real Jerusalem streets.