Jerusalem Making Memories and Building

What a week it was in Jerusalem, Israel!

A week of ups and downs, in the weather and news and events, hard to remember only a week ago was Hanukkah.

The blue sky and light clouds started the week off on a positive note.

Three (very) young musicians were taking advantage of the last day of the Hanukkah time off from school to play for people in Mamilla Mall.

Oh, the Jerusalem streets appear in a constant state of construction. King David Street road work goes on and on. When will this building be only a memory?

The gates were finally open to this Ivory Coast property the city has taken over after a long period of vacancy.

The Beit Hanasi, President’s Residence’ gates were open to welcome new Ambassadors to Israel this past week with the IDF honor guard.

The full honor guard and IDF band were all rehearsed and ready for the arrival of the new US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides on Sunday.

As he got out of the official limousine to the red carpet welcome, drops of rain started to lightly fall on the official reception.

Were his eyes closed for the playing of Hatikvah or did I just catch a blink?

Like all dignitaries, Ambassador Nides signed the official guest book. His son at his side, and the President with his wife at his side.

But unlike other new ambassadors, after lighting candles on the last night of Hanukkah at Beit Hanasi, Nides joined in the singing of Moaz Tzur while the audience was more restrained, despite Herzog’s encouragement.

The last day of Hannukah was a busy one with family parties and trips. Mostly trips in Israel due to the corona restrictions limiting travel.

But PM Bennett was able to welcome the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of Cyprus to Jerusalem for important meetings.

Also on the last night of Hanukkah, Rabbi Aharon Katz was asked to light the candles to start the opening of the World Championship Flag Football games at the Ramada Hotel.

Close to 900 people from 23 countries participated. The US won both men’s and women’s gold medals as expected and Mexico placed second in both. Where else do you find football players wearing a kippa than Jerusalem?

Mayor Moshe Lion made a grand entrance when he arrived late to the event, which ended with a loud and live band rocking the ballroom. For many of the participants, it was their first time in Israel but very limited due to the corona restrictions. Hope they have good memories and come back soon to see much more of the Jerusalem streets.

On a very different note, another meaningful program was held at the Jerusalem Theater on Wednesday evening as the weather turned cold and windy.

Artist Jacob Jay Garfinkel’s work lined the theater’s lobby walls with his photographs, special images of an item from a loved one lost too soon. His only son Elon z”l died at age 43, and this grieving father initiated an endeavor with OneFamily to make memories with victims of terror.

Families arrived to see the images posted on the walls.

A large crowd gathered for the opening night program as it started to rain.

The Minister of Culture and Sport Chili Tropper and Deputy Mayor Hagit Moshe sat in the front row and spoke. Miriam Perez, one of the grieving parents, sat in the crowd on the steps, wearing a royal blue jacket.

Friends and relatives of the Garfinkels were also in attendance.

Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, the father of Rivka Holzberg z”l spoke on behalf of the survivor families who participated in the Heirlooms: Memory and Cherished Objects.

This photo of OneFamily organizers includes Chantal and Marc Belzberg.

Jay (full disclosure: we have known the Garfinkels for many years) spoke movingly about his son and his work and the process of minimalism in photography.

His work very much broke a tenet of keeping emotion out of the photo.

Perhaps without reading, but beside each picture in Hebrew and English was a text of powerful explanation.

Gaston Perpinal, 15, of Ra’anna, immigrated with his parents from Argentina. A Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself at a shopping mall in Kfar Sava, killing him. Gaston was the driving force behind his parents’ moving to Israel. Six months after their Aliyah, he was murdered. With the objects of his youth gone, “there is one way in which I keep Gaston’s memory alive. A tattoo…”

The images were also on display up the stairs on another level.

One more caption by the photo of a uniform – AIMAN.

Staff sergeant Aiman Sharuf, 20, a border policeman from the Druze village of Ussifiyeh, was one of 14 persons killed on October 21, 2002, when a bus was blown up in a suicide attack by a terrorist driving an explosives-laden jeep near the Karkur junction. Aiman’s uniform still hangs in his bedroom in the apartment of his parents. His mother never washed it because “I want to smell it, and it still has his odor.”

Each of the 33 “simple” photographs in the exhibit packs not only powerful memories but messages of lives cut short.

Signs like these line too many Jerusalem streets, they remember the victims of terror murdered at various Jerusalem locations.

The sign has been placed on the wall of the new building that has risen on the site of Moment Cafe where a suicide bomber blew himself up in 2002, killing 11 people.

From terror and tragedy, making memories, and building on the Jerusalem streets. Hope you can see for yourself – and soon.

From Jerusalem – Shana Tova

Oh, what a year this was in Jerusalem, in Israel, and in the world!

Hard to believe I used to worry about things being the same year after year in Jerusalem and finding new things to share with you.

But now it’s time to say goodbye to the challenges of 5781 and welcome the new year 5782, beginning on Monday night.

The clouds in the night sky covered the Knesset.

Nature has been a constant this past year, but which will come first – the first rain or the budget – or – oy – another election?

The new sign at the bus stop reminds us of a sweet summer in Jerusalem.

Sports fans are celebrating Israel’s win over Austria 5-2 and advancing in the World Cup competition.

The Paralympics in Japan received less attention than the Olympics, but as usual, Israelis received medals in those races. Nine Israeli athletes received medals of which 6 were gold medals.

The Jerusalem Night Run included a group of visually impaired runners.

The winner in the Jerusalem Night Run received almost no attention. The event was much more modest than the last Jerusalem Marathon.

A book launch for the book ‘Hidden Heroes’ brought together Russian refusniks and individuals who worked for their release. More on that another time.

Tours are back at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. The table buffet was set with sweets for the annual Israeli President’s New Year Diplomats Reception, not for the tourists from Kiryat Gat.

However, there was time for a photo with Herzl next to the pomegranates.

Last year, the 5781 annual diplomat event was all online.

For 5782, President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal hosted a live event. All the diplomats lined up to shake hands, pose, and have their photos taken.

The new Ambassador from Morocco was the only one to make a presentation to the new Israeli President.

The Egyptian Ambassador has been to Beit Hanasi many times.

But the Ambassador from Bahrain, Khaled Al-Jalahma, made his first appearance at Beit Hanasi.

Still serving as Military Secretary to the President of Israel is B.G. Alaa Abu-Rukun, and he and the ambassador agreed to stop, pose, and smile for me.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived late and spoke briefly at the formal part of the program inside, where everyone was required to wear a mask.

The diplomats were then asked to go outside, and take a glass of wine or juice to raise for a toast, l’chaim,

and taste an apple in honey for a sweet new year.

Apples and honey can be found on the new Jerusalem street signs.

Signs for a sweet year for 5782

and a healthy one, line Jerusalem streets,

along with the new signs for the new school year. Classes have started even as the number of corona cases rises. One girl in our family was in school for only one day before returning to zoom school.

When corona closings started last year, outside minyanim popped up and out on many Jerusalem streets. For Rosh Hashana 5782 outside prayers are again recommended, but not mandated. Thousands were at the Kotel, Western Wall, divided into sections, for selihot after Shabbat.

The rules keep changing to keep us on guard. Tour groups are to be allowed into Israel soon with no mandatory quarantine.

Now to prepare holiday meals, starting back slowly from no guests for so long. Oh, the days when eight at the table was a normal day.

After taking photos of hundreds of dignitaries and not being in any of them,

I finally gave in and had my photo was taken with the oldest working journalist in the world, 97 1/2 years young Walter Bingham.

As 5781 comes to an end – Shana tova!

Jerusalem 15 Happenings for Bright Summer

The Jerusalem summer of 2021 is looking to be brighter and so much better than last year.

In 2020, Jerusalem, Israel gatherings were limited because of the multiple and changing coronavirus restrictions. Museums shuttered. Theater lights were dark. Festivals were canceled.

See what’s new and what’s happening again in Jerusalem for this summer:

The wooden structure, called Ester Tower, in the Hansen House garden, was lit at night for Design Week. Talented artists prepared other unique and original pieces for the Runaway Circus theme of the annual event.

The fullest IDF band in recent memory was assembled on July 6th, for Israel’s outgoing 10th President Reuven Rivlin to welcome Israel’s 11th President Isaac Herzog to Beit Hanasi, the President’s Official Residence.

The sculpture of Reuven Rivlin in the garden was unveiled in the morning.

During a rehearsal break, members of the honor guard were able to see the ‘heads’ and read histories of the former Israeli Presidents.

The full red carpet was rolled out for the arrival of the official motorcycle-led motorcade in the early evening after the Knesset swearing-in ceremony.

President Isaac and Michal Herzog were escorted in by the IDF military and Beit Hanasi personnel.

Former President Rivlin waited to escort the new occupants inside to the main reception room where the Beit Hanasi staff and family waited.

Warm speeches and hugs, and more children than usual filled the room.

Stopping on the way out to sing Hatikvah for the live stream and cameras,

the Herzogs waved goodbye to the former president,

who was accompanied by Rivka Ravitz and her staff who also are moving on.

But not only was it good to be back again at Beit Hanasi this week.

It was good to see the fountain and lights back on in Teddy Park!

Last year it was not operating and no children were having fun in the cooling water as it stops and starts and pulsates upwards overhead.

Groups are back in the parks, tour groups and tour buses are again seen on the Jerusalem streets.

First Station was busy when it was allowed to be open over the past year. Starting soon in July at First Station there will be a new activity: ice skating.

Signs are up for the annual Beer Festival July 21-23, again to be staged in Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park.

The Wine Festival is to be back on July 26-27th at the Israel Museum.

The annual Street Ball Festival is set for July 27-28, and the Outline Festival “layers” August 5-12th.

Food Trucks are back in Hinnom Valley from now until the fall.

Jerusalem signs are up for summer in the neighborhood. In August there will be street performances and street installations along nine main Jerusalem streets.

Sultan’s Pool and Safra Square concerts are to be back again bigger than ever.

Camping sites for families are planned in six Jerusalem parks on July 29 from 4:30 pm to July 30 at 10:00 am.

Urban nature events and guided tours will augment the end of August Silchot tours.

At the Botanical Gardens, a Snow Kingdome is to run from July 25 – August 31st, with ice figures and lights.

Work at the Tower of David is ongoing, but events were also announced.

So much and more happening in Jerusalem for a busy and bright summer! See full details of Jerusalem summer events

Let us know what you decided to do this summer on the Jerusalem streets.