Jerusalem in June: Tourists, Books, Sports, and Much More

It’s the middle of June in Jerusalem, Israel.

Too many events and conferences and good things to keep up!

Jerusalem’s Rivlin Street was brightened with new decorations for summer.

The colorful umbrellas were back. But did anyone really expect it to rain?

Near the newly opened Museum of Tolerance, there were tourists from Africa

and another large group from Japan arrived in their buses.

This is the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem illuminated at night – the sign says Treasures of the Ancient Near East – the Lands of the Bible.

People of the Book.

It’s the annual Hebrew Book Week. Shauvah HaSefer was held in Liberty Bell Park and is now going strong in First Station.

The National Library published data from 2022, three of the items were:

  • 6,971 books were published in Israel in 2022
  • A record number of 2,004 prose and poetry books were published
  • Women writers comprised 60% of all authors

June is the season for universities to give out degrees and for their Boards of Governors to meet. At Hebrew University the closing event was the groundbreaking after the long-planned Einstein House.

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 In 1923, Albert Einstein attended the inaugural ceremony of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was one of the original founders. He donated his archival materials to the Israeli university upon his death in 1955, and an estimated 80,000 documents have been stored in a Jerusalem warehouse.

Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, President from 1992-1997, attended with his wife.

For the groundbreaking ceremony, President and Mrs. Herzog arrived and greeted donor Jose Mugrabi.

The space near the entrance to the Givat Ram Campus was prepared.

The ceremonial hard hats were in place on the heads of the honored donors, and the architect Daniel Libeskind who stood between HU’s present and immediate past presidents.

And shovels of dirt were dumped.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion spoke at the ceremony.

The ground was broken for the cornerstone. Now how long until it opens?

Near the entrance, outside the university gate

and inside, a few students grabbed photos.

A favorite photo from the night, when at first I didn’t recognize Ido Aharoni.

The man who talked about Israel, Einstein, and branding, in 2007, at the GA in Jerusalem, where the woman next to me said “hasbara – hizballah sounds the same” and was an influence to begin doing The Real Jerusalem Streets.

Presidents and Mugrabi speeches, gala dinner – then there was Einstein.

A shortened version of the brilliant Einstein performance needed a video.

While Einstein House is to go up on the Givat Ram Campus, the National Library is set to leave. On Wednesday there is a day planned for farewells.

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The new Israel National Library has been under construction for years.

Roof of National Library under constructioini

I have been fascinated by the roof construction, with so many layers.

At least I found out what those strange-looking things on the new campus are, the changing positions of the sun form the shapes of Hebrew letters.

Jerusalem church property where HU library was located

How many remember the Hebrew University Library at 44 Jabotinsky Street? The day workers took down the sign and smashed it was the day I started carrying a camera in my pocket, and not in my backpack.

It was a week of books – with a special book launch at the Kosovo Embassy.

“Flower of Vlora” by Anna Kohen on how her Jewish family was saved from the Nazis by Muslims in Albania. I have heard other fascinating stories of how the Muslims in Albania saved Jewish families.

Beit Avi Chai has a cute sign for Hebrew Book Week and a family festival.

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The Knesset was the scene of activity for international media focus.

However, as always much more was happening off the Jerusalem streets.

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The 12th Temech Conference was held at the Jerusalem International Conference Center. Hundreds of Jewish women, hundreds of Haredi entrepreneurial businesswomen, meet each year to network and expand their financial potential.

In the past, when I was their conference photographer and under contract, I could not share the amazing photos I took each year. Invited as media, I feel it’s a positive event more people should know about.

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Sports? The Weight Lifting finals are next week in Jerusalem.

But the big sports news – signs are posted for the arrival of the Under 20 Soccer Players who came in third place in the world competition.

They will get a lot more media attention than the Jerusalem Youth Orchestra who recently came in first in the European competition.

Another busy week ahead as the school year comes to an end, and many more good things happening in Jerusalem.

Hope to see you here soon on the Jerusalem streets!

Inside Three Jerusalem Landmarks

It is exciting to see tour buses back on the Jerusalem streets. Israeli tourists have been around for a while, but with the big buses with foreign tours lined up in traffic, it feels like “normal.”

New lighting highlights the grandeur of the Great Synagogue and Heichal Shlomo at night. This is one of the many new attractions on the Jerusalem streets.

I want to take you inside three special locations and show events that were not so easily visible to the onlooker.

The first was at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, where the only glimpse of Angela Merkel was her motorcade making an exit after lunch.

It was a private lunch for two, the German Chancellor and the new Israeli President, and the caterer had a very little clean-up to cart away.

This was the week of Yom HaAliyah, Aliyah Day which is set for the Hebrew month of Cheshvan to coincide with the biblical portion where Avram is told to go to the holy land.

Multiple events were held, the first of which was at Beit Hanasi, honoring five Olim, immigrants who have made important contributions. The only one I knew before the award ceremony was Yosef Abramowitz, who posed with his daughter in the garden before entering the main hall.

President Herzog was not shaking hands as he entered the room with masked honorees and their guests. Not quite back to normal.

Masks are still the law inside for groups, but waving is allowed.

After speeches and a video of the impressive accomplishments of the five Olim, there was a photo-op with the President and Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration┬áPnina Tameno-Shete, who made aliyah from Ethiopia, and former head of Mossad Efraim Halevy.

In the field of sport, Sergei Vaisburg, the Olympic coach was honored and called up his gold medal-winning star pupil Artem Dologopyat to the stage.

The honorees in the center: a physician from South America, a musical artist from Ethiopia, a Ukrainian sports coach, a French linguist, and a solar energy innovator from the United States.

And here, at last, unmasked for another official photograph.

The second is the new Museum of Tolerance, which opened its doors to two big events, even though the outside areas are not completed.

The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference last year was only online but this year it was live and held inside the new museum. It was also broadcast.

While waiting to get a tag, (yes ID tags are back again) two years since the last one, I took this photo of the lobby area. Not my first photo attempt, but that one I cannot show you. A security officer with a dog walked by and was not happy to have his photo taken.

With the Israeli President and Prime Minister speaking first in the morning in the auditorium, there were multiple levels of security to get past.

Here is Sylvan Adams, one of the dozens of interviews over the course of the day which included Israeli Ministers, politicians, and tech leaders.

I missed the breakfast food and by noon was anxiously awaiting something to eat, and as you see I was not alone. It’s been so long since I attended an event I forgot to take along an emergency snack. Lox and cream cheese in a croissant seems to be the new “in” finger food.

Yossi Cohen’s interview comments on Iran were popular with the media. All the speakers have been written up and you can find them easily with a Google search.

So I will share what you did not see. Liat Goldhammer was speaking with Maayan Hoffman about their company’s process with fabrics that saves water in the thread-dying process.

These Sonova masks were all around, and it was a light bulb moment.

Who else remembered the Overall Festival at the Tower of David?

I heard the same pitch line two years ago with Shay Herchcovici, founder of Nano Textiles. I left the room to find Shay and confirm he was indeed the guy behind the Sonovia masks. Back to networking, at his request to meet someone important, I introduced him to Laurence Weinbaum, the director of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.

The afternoon was filled with experts and panels,

and more panels, with lunch, served at 3:00 pm.

Hum, when was my last meal out? Hard to remember.

On a program that ran late most of the day, Mike Pompeo was early.

He did not stick around long but stopped for a few minutes to speak in the hall before leaving and returning to the US.

Now for the third location of interest: in a blog, I did on the exhibit highlighting the British Mandate at the Tower of David, the exhibit on the British contributions and changes, included movies.

How many times have I walked by quickly and ignored these golden arches on Shamai Street?

But on Thursday night I entered the Cinema Hostel, one of the “new from old” tourist lodgings dotting the center of Jerusalem around King George and Ben Yehudah Streets.

As a fan of a previous Tour de Sound tour, we accepted an invitation to hear music from old movies. John Williams and Raiders of Lost Ark was great to start an evening of musical Cinema Nostalgia, performed by Daniel and Yedidia Schwarz with Paul Salter.

Aladdin was one of the more colorful videos on the screen.

From where we were seated, we could the kitchen and hostel guests walking by from time to time.

Guests’ rooms were located down the hall behind the musicians.

The media room is upstairs.

There is also a bar, which is kosher and dairy, and was filling up quickly as we left after the unique concert.

Not quite the same as the 1,400 seat Orion Theater of old, but a different and unique way to spend an evening. Friends recalled going to the large old Israeli movie theaters, with bottles and garinim thrown on the floor.

So here were three events off the Jerusalem streets from this past week, as things appear to be getting back to normal, with masks and green passes.

Stay well and hope to see you soon.

Jerusalem Week of Contrasts

In Jerusalem, Israel it was another week of extremes and contrasts.

Jaffa Gate was still closed and the plaza was empty outside and inside. As the world turned and the sun rose and set, the Old City was shut down.

Warms days followed by heavy winter rains filled Mamilla Pool. By Friday, people had ventured down to check out the winter wonder.

A view of the new of the Museum of Tolerance from old Mamilla cemetery .

Businesses are struggling to survive near Mamilla Mall during lockdown.

Two (even one) wheelers are in the still closed Mamilla Mall, where only a liquor store was open this past week.

The Arab shuk near Jaffa Gate was shuttered tight on Friday.

The only two people on the street Friday afternoon were police officers. The souvenir store vendor who earlier in the week tried to get me to buy something, anything, was not around and his store was shuttered down.

The infrastructure work near the Kotel, Western Wall, was completed by Friday and all was quiet. Guards were carefully watching who could enter.

I was instructed “No praying allowed” this past week.

On Monday, construction work was going full steam on the Kotel Plaza.

Interesting how fast work can proceed in Jerusalem- or how slowly.

Maybe one day the abandoned Pearl hotel will be fixed up for guests, at least no one sleeps on the streets outside now.

Parts of the old President’s Hotel were reduced to rubble last week.

Building on King George Street which was torn down to build hotel

Remember this derelict building on Jerusalem’s King George Street?

Two 10-story towers are rising in its place on the street near the Plaza Hotel.

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Even the old police station on Jaffa Road was getting a new paint job.

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Look what is rising over Jaffa Road next to the Machane Yehudah Market!

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Contrast this lockdown scene in the shuk – at the same time as the Old City was closed and empty.

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A favorite winter sight, not masks, but piles of those ripe red strawberries.

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Walking home I noticed new bright graffiti covering old walls in Nahlaot.

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The old synagogue was shut tight, with no prayers allowed inside.

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But the light shining through its stained glass window was colorful and bright and could be seen from the street.

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One more bit of new graffiti on a wall and the mess of a contrast next to it.

Jerusalem streets may have light traffic, but the sidewalks have been busy!

Besides people out walking more during the limited distance restriction,

there have been plenty of two wheelers of many types and kinds and skills.

I will spare you all the photos this week of bikers who nearly ran me over.

We continue to have to deal with noisy protesters day after day after night.

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Ah, but Jerusalem the center of the world, is quieter than usual.

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However wandering the Jerusalem streets there was still music to be heard.

And signs of spring to see in nature, even in this locked down week.

Hard to believe this was Tu Bishvat last year, remembering a favorite and beautiful moment, Hatikvah – the hope at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence – BCE – Before Corona Era.

What a contrast to this year! And next year?

No one knows what will be or even who will be the next Israeli President?

Hope and flowers and continued vaccination campaign…and partial lifting of restrictions to begin this week.

Hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets. Take care and stay well out there.