Colorful Week in Jerusalem

Will it rain tomorrow?

How cold will it be today?

In Jerusalem, Israel, the weather is a constant topic of conversation.

Last week was unusual, with pleasant weather, not too hot, not too cold.

A great week to get out and get some sun before the winter rains return.

My colorful week with good weather began with one of the best views of the Jerusalem Old City from the Tayelet.

Sigd this year was downsized to a few “capsules” with three Kessim at the dais to lead the traditional prayer service which was broadcast live.

Seated a few meters away was “capsule 3” Kessim in a group, socially distanced sitting under their colorful umbrellas. The annual observance in other years attracted thousands for prayers and after the fast a major party, but due to corona restrictions, it was extremely limited this year.

This woman was keeping her distance as she faced Jerusalem’s Old City, but I noticed her cell phone.

This man sat on a wall at the Tayelet, but without the view.

Was he watching the prayers broadcast on his phone?

Security was in place. However, sadly due to COVID-19 few people came.

These new buildings sprung up near the Tayelet and they are part of the change in the neighborhood.

Ahdeya Ahmad Al-Sayed, President of the Bahraini Journalists Association, said she will never forget the photos from Jerusalem of Israel and Bahrain.

The red and white flags of Bahrain were at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, as the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, His Excellency Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani, signed the official guest book before meeting with President Rivlin.

The King David Hotel was open, but King David Street was closed.

I got a photo of the Bahrain and United States flags on the hotel with the Israeli flags as official state meetings were held inside.

The real streets were not involved with meetings unless the drivers were stuck in traffic, which was an all too common occurrence before the coronavirus pandemic.

Now is the time for fall colors – rare and appreciated in Jerusalem.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Knesset-building-garden-outside.jpg

The garden outside the Knesset was more colorful than usual this week.

The flower bed on Herzog Street had reached peak color.

The floral butterfly near Gan Sacher, Sacher Park was past prime time.

It’s time to pick those olives, otherwise, they end up on the ground under the trees, and turn into squashed overripe purple globs. Plenty of photos of those streets, but not such a pretty sight.

Blue skies and white clouds were great for walking this past week.

This path, empty in the past, became so popular I went off to look in different directions.

Groups of children were in parks taking advantage of the sun.

Jerusalem parks were green and filled with student groups.

Jerusalem green spaces were alive with the sounds of children’s voices.

In Nahlaot, where space is dear, green vines grew on and over the streets,

and flower beds add color along the walls in the old narrow lanes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Jerusalem-synagogue-sets-up-area-outside.jpg

Coronavirus has moved synagogue prayers outside to the Jerusalem streets,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Jerusalem-Israel-tent-outside-of-yeshiva-building.jpg

and study centers out of the buildings into covered open shelters.

Communal street lending libraries were open when other public ones were closed for browsing due to virus limiting restrictions.

Gan Sacher was green and full of life, as couples strolled in the midday sun, taking advantage of days without rain.

It was a colorful week, with people taking the time to get away from their screens and go outside, from the Tayelet to the Jerusalem Rose Garden where before corona I led nature photo walks.

But I will save those many photos, and share one of my favorite sights this past week before I close.

A woman taking her youngsters out for a walk using one of those rolling pens. The old ones from kibbutz days were made of wood, but this one was made from light metal. They were such a cute sight on their outing.

The Jerusalem new winter signs are up, for “a warm winter and health – because in Jerusalem winter is winter.”

So when the weather is good, it’s good to get out and see the autumn colors.

Take care everyone and stay well.

Jerusalem Locked Down

In the middle of a conflict, later called the Second Lebanon War, I made aliyah and moved to Jerusalem, Israel.

I accompanied missions to southern Israel during multiple “operations.” We watched early Iron Dome successes over our heads at a rest stop café. From our van (buses were too big to exit in time) we ran to a ditch during a red alert. Crowded into a family’s bomb shelter in a border community during one warning siren, the mother could tell where the rocket landed by the sound. The bomb shelter was her children’s bedroom, they had never known another existence.

I used to really get around. Israel is really not so big.

There were northern border excursions during “heightened” alerts.

In an Arab town with Yassir Arafat and Abu Mazen photos looking down at me, I sat and listened to a woman’s land ownership story go unchallenged. For sure, I was very careful to stay with the group that time.

Even during the “stabbing intifada” I was out on the Jerusalem streets.

And then came along the microscopic novel coronavirus and I stayed home.

Finally, and for many weeks my morning walk was aimed to avoid people.

As the end of the second lockdown came to an end, I decided it was time to get out again and see what was really happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Some people used the time at home to improve their front porch gardens.

The building construction was so overwhelming, it requires a post of its own in the future. As you can see, there was no ban on building construction.

With less cars on the roads, road work closed and changed many streets.

Shops in Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall were closed during the lockdown.

The end of February was the last time I had gone to the Old City.

Usually, this area outside of the Old City near Jaffa Gate is filled with traffic, day or night. Not during this lockdown.

Usually, this area outside of Jaffa Gate, is filled with people.

Jaffa Gate was closed, as it was during the first lockdown.

Security was posted at the entrance, checking vehicles and pedestrians.

I had to show my press pass to enter. There was security at all gates. With the one-kilometer distance restriction, only residents were allowed to enter.

The only crowd I saw was waiting outside the Old City post office.

The stores inside Jaffa Gate were closed, as they have been for weeks. The tourism business has been extremely hurt for months.

The Armenian way had more flags than usual, but what was a very busy road in the past, with people and cars, day and night, was mostly empty.

There is a new archeological stop in the Rova HaYehudi, Jewish Quarter, but no visitors to learn the stories of these ancient finds.

A couple of the food places in the Jewish Quarter had take out prepared food, but no sit-down dinners or the usual walking noshers in sight.

There were more construction workers than worshipers near the Kotel, Western Wall. Construction of the new elevator is finally moving along.

The 1-kilometer distance regulation was enforced with more security by the Kotel. Showing my press pass was not enough, the guard wanted me to get close and hand it over for inspection.

I decided not enter the empty plaza to get to the partitioned area.

Two workers were on the scaffolding doing repair work along the Western Wall near the Southern Wall. More on that later also.

Jerusalem’s usually vibrant Old City was locked down and quiet.

What a contrast to the the traffic on other Jerusalem streets last week.

The sounds of traffic could be heard as the sun rose this morning, October 18, as some restrictions were lifted. The idea is to open slowly to avoid the increase in coronavirus cases as happened after the last COVID-19 lockdown.

This morning the family Whatsapp had the smiling faces of the under 6-year-olds off to gan, nursery school for the first time – again – this year.

The “Time” exhibit opened at the Islamic Museum in August.

What a time it has been! This most unusual holiday season is over.

Despite these crazy times of political and health uncertainty, the sunsets last week were colorful spectacles.

Nature, the sun and moon, the seasons changed as usual, despite the pandemic.

Another day, I also walked into town for the first time in months – but will save those lockdown photographs for next time.

חודש טוב

This image from Yoel Salomon Street of the hanging umbrellas overhead waiting for the summer tourists who never arrived, was popular on social media as a Shabbat Shalom greeting.

So I thought to use it again for a new greeting of Chodesh Tov.

The new Hebrew month of Marcheshvan is here.

May it be a good month and good year for all.

Stay safe and well!

Rediscovering Ancient Jerusalem before Tisha B’Av

Rediscovering Ancient Jerusalem before Tisha B’Av

Oh, Jerusalem.

How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people!

So begins Eicha, the Book of Lamentations read at night on Tisha B’Av.

We are in what is known as the Nine Days that end with Tisha B’Av, Wednesday night, and Thursday, August 29 – 30, 2020.

With the COVID-19 restrictions, the Old City will not be teeming with crowds as usual.

Jerusalem Western Wall plaza view

This view from the step toward Plaza of the Kotel, the Western Wall, is well known.

Jerusalem on eve of Hodesh Av leading Israeli rabbis praying during corona virus pandemic

The area inside called Wilson’s Arch is not as familiar. This inside space had been closed much of the time due to coronavirus restrictions.

Jerusalem Israel chief rabbis praying at Kotel on Rosh Chodesh Av

However, this week on the eve of Rosh Chodesh Av, leading Israeli rabbis attended a special afternoon service to pray for health and relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

Underneath the Jerusalem streets, excavations continue with new finds.

Jerusalem Archaeological discovererstorage center from the days of Kings Hezekiah and Manasseh (8th
Photo credit: IAA

A significant administrative storage center from the days of Kings Hezekiah and Manasseh (8th century to the middle of the 7th century BCE) was recently been exposed in an archaeological excavation near the US Embassy in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem City of David Pilgrim Path

Restoration work has progressed on the Pilgrims’ Path.

Jerusalem road excavated City of David

This is the road underground which runs from Shiloah Pool to the Old City, where the Jewish Temples once stood.

Important Pilgrim path from Shiloah Pond to Har Habayit and Temple Mount

The actual old stones remain along what was the busy route on the holidays thousands of years ago.

Excavation of new entrance to Western Wall Plaza

Three years ago when it was first opened to media,

this video was recorded for an official explanation.

Scene of Jerusalem Cardo in time of Rome

The Roman market place might have looked like this scene.

Drainage path under Jerusalem during Roman times

Under Pilgrim Road, the drainage system has also been excavated. This is where the last Jews hid until the Romans found and murdered them.

Looking for any bones or stones or coins sifting project

The earth removed was carefully searched for bits of history, last year we participated in the sifting project. The best we found were nice pieces of pottery.

Ancient Roman coin found by City of David

However, discoveries include this Roman coin issued after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Five years ago the exhibit “By the Rivers of Babylon” opened at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, see HERE – and is still a favorite.

With only limited attendance allowed in museums now due to corona health restrictions, new for this year is a virtual tour of BLMJ exhibit HERE now you can see for yourself,

Bible lands Museum Jerusalem artifacts from Roman destruction of Temple times

The Romans destroyed the Temple and leveled Jerusalem.

The Jewish inhabitants were murdered or exiled.

Jerusalem Israel Western Wall stones of destruction from Rome

Stones of destruction as they remain today.

Walk around Walls Women in Green on Tisha Be'Av

For the first time in many years, I do not plan to walk around the walls of the Old City on Tisha B’Av.

Western Wall Plaza view at night

Crowds will not pack into the Kotel, Western Wall plaza this year.

Old City Jerusalem Menorah for Temple lit for Tisha B'Av

COVID-19 restrictions are limiting the annual walk to 50 people.

How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people!

Next year in Jerusalem, even for those of us in Jerusalem has taken on new meaning.