Jerusalem Streets Preparing for Passover, Protests, and Spring Holiday Time

The week before Pesach, Passover, many houses are turned upside down and kitchens are cleaned and changed over for the holiday.

Children are out of school – but are they ready to help and clean?

The current Knesset is on recess after a tumultuous session. 

The good news, the Knesset Museum is showing positive signs of progress.

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One place you did not find me was standing on the street across from Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence waiting to photograph Knesset Members coming and going for meetings on a judicial reform compromise.

I did pass by Natan Sharansky but decided not to put my camera in his face.

Not only pots, pans, and kitchenware are out on the Jerusalem streets, but large displays of toilet paper stand there next to the fresh produce.

Some streets were easier to access than others this week due to the protests.

Plenty of Israeli flags were flying above the streets, as usual before the spring holidays, while others were carried to protest locations.

People came from all directions, for both a protest against the government, as well as one supporting Judicial reform. Sorry for those who arrived in Jerusalem by train on Monday and had to walk, as buses were not getting through the blocked streets.

The fountain at France Square was behind a barrier. I will spare you photos of the stronger metal barriers found on more and more Jerusalem streets.

In spite of it all –

Signs have gone up on old buildings to go higher in remodeling projects.

The Jerusalem skyline is changing as new buildings go higher and higher.

One hundred and twenty-five years later, Theodore Herzl would certainly not recognize Jerusalem today.

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Beit Avi Chai has new posters announcing spring and summer events.

A new non-profit called OurPeople was established to help Russian-speaking Olim who have come recently in increasing numbers.

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This is one room in the new business complex that OurPeople opened this past week on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem.

Love those old tiled floors in all the rooms.

The spring weather has not been the best, but nevertheless, there were activities for young families in the parks on Shabbat.

And on Friday there was a bike ride around Jerusalem. Those Jerusalem streets were not closed for long when the dozens of bikes went by.

The Community Center on HaPalmach Street held a mini-fair on Friday. The weather was cold, but the families attending seemed to be enjoying the events, especially those inside. Notice the box outside for food donations of chametz, food not for Passover use goes to those in need.

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It seems as if all the Jerusalem flower beds are constantly dug up and replanted with new flowers for the spring holiday time.

And weddings! So many weddings with people coming from around the world to get married in Jerusalem before Passover.

The hotel had changed over to Passover-only food. But unless you saw the sign on the front door or missed seeing bread on the table you would never have known. Amazing what can be done using potatoes these days!

Government offices are to be closed from Wednesday, April 5, through Saturday, April 15, 2023. But the rest of the country will be busy exploring and enjoying nature parks and museums.

In Jerusalem, there are too many things happening to mention now.

Will have to see how many I am able to attend in the short time of Chol HaMoed, the intermediate days this year, starting with Birkat Cohanim, Priestly Blessing scheduled for next Sunday morning.

Happy Passover on the wall of Old City Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate

Happy Passover


The Real Jerusalem Streets

Passover in Jerusalem

How is this Passover different than all other Passovers?

Passing people while walking on the Jerusalem streets, I think they look familiar. However, I am not certain if I know them from 20 years ago, 2 years ago, from online meetups, or if they look like their parents?

As the sun came out over the Jerusalem streets, people returned to Jerusalem’s Old City by Jaffa Gate – in spite of terrorist threats and rioters.

In every generation, they rise against us to annihilate us. שבכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותנו

But the Holy One, Blessed is He, rescues us from their hand. והקודש ברוך הוא מצילנו מידם

Not my words, but from the Passover Hagadah, from the paragraph that begins – והיא שעמדה – which we recite year after year at the Passover seder.

First, the different look at Jaffa Gate, lovely at night with new lighting.

For the first time, an international food festival was held outside the walls of the Old City the nights before Passover. The array of different kosher cuisine, beginning with the US and burgers near the Tower of David was impressive.

Tables and chairs were placed at the food venues for patrons to sit and eat. I was amused by the signs ‘not to sit on the rocks’ which were covered by the fabric.

Entertainers were out along the route of this new food festival.

I decided a short video would share the event better, with its music.

I was out on Palm Sunday, but I was late getting to the Old City. That’s why I was excited to see a man walking in the distance with a long green thing.

Only when I got home I realized it was a light bulb, not a palm branch.

However, later at Mamilla Mall, there were still a few of the faithful out on the streets with their palm branches in hand after dark as I headed home.

For Orthodox Palm Sunday, I arrived in the Old City in time to see people walking with long, short, and decorated palm branches.

What is different this year, is that Passover, Easter, and Ramadan all also fell on Sunday. It was good to see the Old City streets filling with visitors and international tourists again.

Security was visible at critical junctions in the Old City.

The Rova, Jewish Quarter, was alive again after two years of corona closings. Tour guides were out again sharing their knowledge with family groups.

Passover matza was being given away outside of Jaffa Gate.

And freshly baked Arab beigele were for sale just inside Jaffa Gate.

The Passover rolls looked like real bread in Mamilla Mall.

Walking from Jaffa Gate toward the Kotel, the Western Wall, the new pizza shop is open for Passover.

Birkat Cohanim at Western Wall

The large Birkat Cohanim, Priestly Blessing at the Kotel, is again to be held twice to keep the size of crowds in the Old City down and is scheduled for Monday and Wednesday. Monday morning saw the plaza full for the online live broadcast. There’s still time for you to participate live on Wednesday.

However, already on Sunday, there were people arriving all day.

I wonder how many noticed the broken windows in the Al Aqsa mosque?

Trudging home in the heat, after spending hours walking and photographing in the Old City, how nice it was to be offered a bottle of water. Thank you Iriya, Jerusalem.

Four days before Passover is יו”ד ניסן Yud Nissan. For those not familiar, I decided to share a special trip in 2019.

Israel cleared the landmines, then a pandemic shut down the tourist site.

But as the holidays and tourists return to the Jerusalem streets, they will see the Jerusalem and Israeli flags flying over the streets.

Signs are up for a blue and white Yom Haatzmaut, Israel Independence Day.

But first, we have a week of Pesach, Passover to celebrate with thousands back on the Jerusalem streets and many more away in national park sites enjoying the warm weather and water spots filled after winter rain.

Much more on Passover next time!

Chag Pesach Sameach!

Passover — This Year in Jerusalem

Passover — This Year in Jerusalem

Cold. Wet. Rainy. Hail. Thunder.

These are not words one normally associates with Jerusalem, Israel, on Passover.

The holiday of spring feels more like winter this year.

Kotel for Birkat Chohanim

However, tens of thousands of people crowded around the Kotel, the Western Wall,

Kotel for Birkat Kohanim on Pesach

and the Western Wall Plaza for the annual Passover Birkat HaKohanim, the Priestly Blessing.

In Talpiot, the bowling alley had a long, long line of people waiting to roll.

Due to the weather, museums with free entrance for children were more popular this year than traditional tiyulim, hikes in the countryside. The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem was “packed.”

Pesach section in Israel Museum

The Israel Museum has a special section devoted to Passover.

There is even a video where one can watch how matzah is made by hand.

Pesach seder plate in Israel Museum

Special, distinctive seder plates are on display as well.

1925 silver seder plate in Israel Museum

This is a 1925, three-tiered silver seder plate from Vienna with three sections for matzah.

Men cleaning notes from Western Wall Kosel before Pesach

The annual Passover clean up of notes left in the Kotel stones was done a week before the holiday.

Jaffa Gate Jerusalem Israel

On that morning I entered the Old City by way of the Jaffa Gate,

Jerusalem Israel inside Jaffa Gate

and unlike this morning, the plaza area inside was quiet.

Jerusalem Israel Jewish Quarter street

It was possible to get this photo without any people.

Jerusalem Israel Hurva Synagogue Old City

Next to the Hurva Synagogue in the Rova, Jewish Quarter, this man sat and talked on his phone near the golden menorah.

Kotel in women's section with a little girl and boy dancing.

In the women’s section a young boy and girl had plenty of room to dance.

View from steps of Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem Israel Old City

This is the area that was entirely filled with people today in spite of the cold weather.

Jerusalem Israel view of Kotel

In the area where a stone fell last year, blue scaffolding was next to the wall.

Old City Jerusalem new steps and elevator

And new stairs have been added near the elevator which is still under construction.

View of Har HaZeitim from Old City

The ancient Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery still looks the same.

Near Zion Gate view of Yemin Moshe Jerusalem Israel

The wet winter was great for greenery, as seen in this view of Yemin Moshe.

Jerusalem Israel view of Artists Colony from Old City

Mitchell Park nearby next to the Artists’ Colony is also full of green.

King David Hotel in Jerusalem Israel

Wild flowers behind the King David Hotel stand out after the spring rains.

For Passover in shuk covered with foil for holiday food

In the Machane Yehudah Market, the shuk, this store covered its counters with foil, and was ready to put out its kosher for Passover food before the holiday.

Piles of fresh garlic on street before Pesach

One of the annual sights and smells of Passover on Jerusalem streets are the piles of fresh garlic for holiday cooking and to be dried out to use for the rest of the year.

Jerusalem Israel Passover preparation on street

And of course, around Jerusalem huge vats of boiling water were ready to kasher metal utensils.

Gardeners going to clean up Jerusalem Israel public spaces before Passover

One new and welcomed sight this year was these young men wearing gardener vests and carrying brand new shiny rakes and rolls of garbage bags. Mayor Moshe Lion had announced that the municipality was going to clean up public areas. Too bad I was on my way home and did not take the time to follow them to see their work area.

Happy Spring Holiday sign in Jerusalem Israel

Chag Aviv Sameach in Yerushalayim.

Happy Spring Holiday in Jerusalem.

Tomorrow is to be warmer and it should  start feeling like spring again on the Jerusalem streets.