From Jerusalem, Education Uniting and Empowering

From Jerusalem, Education Uniting and Empowering

Another incredible week in Jerusalem, Israel, as tens of thousands filled hotels and their buses made their way through the Jerusalem streets.

Unity Prize Awards at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

The Unity Prizes were awarded at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. With the Gesher Foundation and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Fraenkel, Ifrach and Shaar families initiated these awards four years ago.

The families of the three murdered teens Eyal, Yifrach, and Naftali z”l wanted to find a meaningful way to express their appreciation for the unity and support they felt during those difficult days.

Unity Prize founders three families Fraenkel, Ifrach and Shaar at Beit Hanasi for Unity Awards Ceremony

The program was held in the main hall and included music and entertainment, with the families and prize winners filling the room.

Boca Florida winner of Unity Prize in Jerusalem Israel at Israeli President House

Boca Florida won a prize for Jewish Engagement, unity in Jewish education. Representatives from Florida came to Jerusalem to receive their award.

Unity Prize winners.

Other winners were Runners without Borders, TEC Center, Koolulam, and a special Global life achievement went to Birthright.

Three video clips were included in last week’s Shabbat Shalom greeting. They can be seen HERE.  

Soon after I left Beit Hanasi, there was another event in the gardens of OneFamily.

One Family hosts Rudy Giuliani in Jerusalem Israel

Photo ops with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani were popular that night.

OneFamily guest Rudy Giuliani poses for photo on way out of One Family dinner event

Giuliani was mayor at the time of September 11 terror attack. He spoke of dealing with victims of terror in the aftermath and emphasized the good and important work of OneFamily helping victims of terror in Israel.

Not all of his remarks would be considered politically correct, but here is one short clip on Arafat and the PLO.

Jerusalem Israel, President's house garden with busts of former presidents and Theodore Herzl

Beit Hanasi, as usual, was a busy place all week. The presidential gardens were ready for numerous international guests.

AJC Board of Governors line up to enter Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

The leadership of American Jewish Committee (AJC) lined up so politely to enter. Should I confess that I smiled and went in the other door to bypass the line?

Bedouin Ahlam Alsana speaking at ICC for AJC in Jerusalem Israel

At AJC closing plenary, one of the many faces of Israel, Ahlam Alsana, stressed the importance of education in her remarks.

Shavuah HaSefer at First Station Jerusalem Israel

For locals, it was the annual Shavuah Hasefer, Hebrew Book Week, again held in First Station. As every year, thousands of volumes were for sale, attracting young and old.

Jerusalem Israel actors at First Station

A volunteer student theater group performed as families gathered before the entry gate opened.

Jerusalem Israel First Station

After their performance, confetti covered the ground and the actor/painter was back at his easel at work.

Another “you never know what you will find” scene for sure.

School end of year performance in Jerusalem Israel

You never know what you will find at those end of school year performances filling schedules in June. Mega events, with professional staging and lights, lasting well into the night – for elementary school. Interesting, as college graduations in Israel are so low key compared to US.

Jerusalem Israel Orient Isrotel

The new Orient Hotel was the scene of a gala dinner celebrating the 80th year of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Steinsaltz Center contribution to education.

Books of Adin Steinsaltz

What other dinner gala featured a wall of impressive books, under the authorship of one person?

Rav Adin Steinsaltz with son and grandson enter gala tribute for his 80th birthday in Jerusalem Israel

Rabbi Steinsaltz was escorted into the full banquet hall by his son and grandson.

Singer Avraham Fried in Jerusalem, Israel for Steinsaltz Gala in honor of Rav Adin 80th birthday

Popular singer Avraham Fried gave a powerful performance.

Eightieth birthday Rav Adin Steinsaltz in Jerusalem Israel

The key note speaker was Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who spoke about power and knowledge.

To end with some inspiration, take two minutes and listen to a brief clip from his insightful remarks.

So much is happening in Jerusalem.

Israel Festival has ended. Jerusalem Design Week has begun.

Then on June 27, begins another week of the annual Light Festival in the Old City.

But for this week if there was one overshadowing theme, it was that education is the key.

Education should be everyone’s birthright, not only the privileged.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Giving Thanks in Jerusalem

It is easy to forget about the Thanksgiving Holiday

when living in Israel.

Except for social media posts about the difficulty

of obtaining a whole turkey in a country

where so much turkey is consumed,

regular Israelis have no idea it is a holiday.

What is consuming everyone’s attention is that for

three days, arson-ignited forest fires are spreading,

forcing people from their homes,

with the latest fires raging in Haifa.

Thankfully,

I have not heard of any deaths,

but the destruction is massive.

Israel’s  working poor have a difficult time,

their basic monthly salaries are too low.

One set back with a sick family member

could tip the balance and set debts soaring,

causing families to lose their homes.

If you take the light rail train to the end of line

Pisgat Zev light rail trains street view

all the way to Pisgat Zev,

View street in Pisgat Zev

the northern Jerusalem neighborhood

with tens of thousands of residents

New construction in Pisgat Zev

you will see new construction projects underway.

Since it is further from the city center,

 rentals are more reasonably priced,

and therefore, it is home to some of Jerusalem’s poorest families.

This week I was inside several of their apartments:

religious, not religious, Ethiopian,

down-on-your-luck poverty does not discriminate.

an apartment in Pisgat Zev needing help

This kitchen with its wood trim looks lovely,

but it is a six-floor walk-up with no elevator,

makes it a lower rental property.

Israeli rentals, most often, do not come with appliances.

Oven in apartment that is broken

The oven was broken, and

 the tenant did not have money to buy a new one.

On the real Jerusalem streets,

not all is beautiful or perfect.

Thankfully, there are people trying to help.

as you will see at the end of this blog.

Meanwhile, if you have the time and money,

you could eat and drink every night in a different location.

Jerusalem winter festivals Hebrew signs

Hamshushalim in Jerusalem,

 special hotel deals and offers each December weekend,

has been going strong for years.

Open Restaurant is Jerusalem’s newest food festival.

From November 22-26,

tours, food, classes and more,

will be happening on the Jerusalem streets.

One event at the Hansen House has robots

serving as waiters for 3D printed food.

What a contrast to those struggling to get along.

There is so much to be thankful for every day.

This is first year in a long time,

I did not actively participate in a Thanksgiving Dinner for lone soldiers.

Hard to do it all, time is short,

I won’t keep you any longer today.

But if you are thankful for what you have,

consider helping those who are not so fortunate.

Here are links to three worthy organizations

I was involved with this week:

Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin

OneFamily

Give a Fridge Project 

Take a look and see what you can do

to make the world a better place.

Thanks from Jerusalem, Israel.

After Hail on Passover, What Next?

Hail in April,

in Jerusalem, Israel?

Not only was there a hail storm as the holidays ended,

April hail storm in Jerusalem

but this was the scene the next day also.

It looked and felt like winter, not spring.

scene of Jerusalem String Bridge during hail storom

The city looked black and white,

Hail stones from April storm

as 4 mm hail stones fell.

But now,

the Passover things are put away,

and visitors have returned home.

The Happy Passover signs on buses have changed,

bus sign in Hebrew

to wish Jerusalem riders “have a good trip.”

 The skies have cleared

Street near Kikar Safra

and people have returned to the streets,

two Muslim Girls walking in Jerusalem

 some of which are lined with flowers.

Pres and Mrs Rivlin

Two hundred and fifty invited guests associated with OneFamily

filled the main room

at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Home,

with President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin,

Tastes of Life

to launch a new cookbook.

“Tastes of Life” features foods that mothers made for their

children who were victims of terror.

Each mother shares not only a recipe,

but memories of their loved ones that are gone.

Very different,

but still another way to remember a lost loved one,

St Lousi French Hospital Jerusalem Israel

a new Healing Garden was dedicated by a New York family

in the Hosptial Saint Louis Francais.

In the sunshine, supporters of Kashouvot,

an organization advancing Pastoral Care,

heard the story of Randie Malinsky z”l

who passed away in October

after losing a battle with cancer.

Now hospice patients and families can sit in the garden,

French Hosptial Jerusalem

to talk or watch the light rail and the rest of the world go by.

The “French Hospital” was built in the mid-19th century

and stands next to the Notre Dame,

across from the Old City Walls, near New Gate.

It boasts the only strictly kosher nunnery in world.

Also this week for all to see,

car flag for Yom Haatzmaut

the first Israeli flags are flying from car windows.

Flags over Jerusalem Israel streets

And the large trucks have gone around hanging Jerusalem,

Blue and white flag

and large Israeli flags over the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

The radio is playing sad, slow music,

as soon it will be Yom Hashoah,

Holocaust Remembrance Day,

and the beginning of another busy holiday season.