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.

 

New Color in Jerusalem

Passover preparations and Israeli children

  being out of school on vacation all week,

plus the arrival of holiday visitors,

are keeping people very busy.

The 120 members of the 20th Israeli Knesset

were sworn in yesterday,

and then they all went on a month long recess.

There were two special ribbon cutting events

that I want to make sure you know about.

Sunday was the special launch of an

 environmental program called the “Green Knesset.”

The dairy cafeteria inside the Knesset building has

image Knesset inside

 large windows to let sun in to heat the room and floor,

and special shading to keep heat from sun out in summer.

But now the “Green Knesset” has added

image bins to recycle bottles

special bins for recycling,

and at meetings water will no longer be served in bottles,

 saving 60,000 plastic bottles per year.

Water, paper and electricity are to be conserved.

No more large mountains of paper for the budget,

as each member will get a disk on key instead.

Those responsible for the first stage of the

 sustainability project gathered together on the Knesset roof.

image Yuli Edelstiein and other dignitaries at Kneset

 Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein, smiling on the left side,

was the featured speaker

Israel Knesset building

and was honored to cut the ribbon on the roof

roof of Israel Knesset solar panel field

in the middle of the 1,406 solar panel field.

The next day a very different green project was opened,

the Jerusalem, Israel, nature reserve – the Gazelle Park.

opening Gazelle Valley nature park

The area where gazelles had roamed free,

did not go to real estate developers,

Jerusalem, Israel new park large water area

but back to nature and the people.

On opening day, thousands of all ages attended,

walking trail in Deer Valley Park

 walking nature trails,

Jerusalem Israel park

and listening to stories near the restored Orchard site.

sign in Valley of Gazelle water system

The water system is designed to sustain the plant and animal life.

Green spot in Jerusalem, Israel

In Israel, the end of winter means green grass,

dotted with colored wild flowers.

gazelle puppet on opening day of Gazelle Park

This was the only gazelle I saw on opening day,

but real ones are to have an area in which to roam free once again.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat smiling with children taking photos

Mayor Nir Barkat was smiling and posing for photos,

Nechama Rivlin cuts ribbon at Gazelle Park

and the ribbon was cut by First Lady Nechama Rivlin.

large nature park in Jerusalem, Israel

This Passover one does not have to drive or sit in car for hours to visit a park,

as the nature reserve is large, free to the public,

and open from 7:00 am to dark, 7 days a week.

Gazelle Valley 302b

Happy Spring Holiday.

פסח שמח

Happy Passover!

Jerusalem Spring

 Syria is lifting emergency law after 48 years and

the ‘Arab Spring’ is grabbing headlines coming from the Middle East.

News of the murder of an anti-Israel Italian ISM member in Gaza,

came as Jews were busy shopping before the Passover holiday.

Many Arab shoppers were also in the stores buying the potato noodles and matzah.

 Daniel Viflic, the 16-year-old riding on a school bus who was injured by an anti-tank missile from Gaza,

died from those injuries and was buried just before the holiday began.

A tragic beginning…

for the Jerusalem spring.

There were photos of President Peres visiting the Shalit family and reports of new negotiators, but

 Gilad Shalit missed the Passover seder for the fifth year,

the protest tent was dark and empty on Tuesday night.

Nevertheless, Jerusalem spring

 is a time of families get-togethers,

 

and fanning

the flames

of the mangal in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park–

that has evolved into a Passover holiday tradition.

While millions of people take to the roads to travel North,

many others descend on Gan Sacher to picnic,

to play ball,

to relax,

to take a walk,

and enjoy nature.

It is a place

 where even used coals can be shared and the news can be forgotten…at least for a bit.

Happy Passover… it’s time to eat.