In Jerusalem, Israel, the last week of November 2023 began with an important visitor.
Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, was open, but with less of the usual formality: no red carpets and no flowers decorated the stage in the main hall, just flags and two podiums.
The President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier was met outside and escorted in by the President of Israel Isaac Herzog as the media and staff watched.
The cameras were ready early, and I made sure to get a good seat.
Their speeches were broadcast live and are available to the public.
The large delegation that came from Germany was warmly greeted, but more importantly, the solidarity visit included traveling south to see the destruction of the Simhat Torah Massacre firsthand.
I wondered if they noticed the memorial candles for a fallen soldier, the son of Beit Hanasi staff member.
The yellow ribbons are still out.
The dog tags – “Bring them home – now” – are becoming more popular.
While some are so happy to take down the posters of the returned hostages,
the faces of the too many who are still held captive in Gaza are seen as life goes on slowly in Jerusalem.
After its grand opening, the Bezalel building is only open to students.
Haneviim Street was strangely lacking traffic, but the new buildings behind were easily visible over the old, showing the contrast on this old Jerusalem street.
People were on Ben Yehudah Streets and Zion Square, an interesting diversity of people as usual.
HaBoydem was open with their recycled fashions, it seems with all the donations to help southern families, the donated clothing for this charity keeps arriving in the original Talpiot branch.
The Farmer’s Markets keep popping up in various Jerusalem locations. I should have bought those orchids on the right when I saw them, as they were gone when I came back a few minutes later.
Perhaps fewer, but the young hijab-wearing women were also walking on Jaffa Road.
And as always, at Israeli medical facilities, Arabs both work and receive treatment.
Kikar Safra is the home of the Jerusalem municipality that has been working overtime to serve Jerusalem residents and the thousands of people from around the country who had to leave their homes under threat.
It was good to see tour groups as I walked around on a sunny weather day. Things are not always as they seem, as the sign warns that those cushions that look so inviting are made of cement.
Near Tzahal Square there was much less congestion than usual.
I had time to notice the Jerusalem lion on the bollards for the first time.
The view on the way to Jaffa Gate is an old photo favorite as usual.
This man sitting in his usual spot collected charity, a sign of returning to normal.
Traffic below coming and going from Jerusalem, who would have thought it a positive sight?
By Jaffa Gate, the tourists and birds were missing, but, as usual, a Muslim family walked by.
A week, that featured an emotional roller coaster of nights waiting to see which hostages would be released, ended with a Friday Fair at the Tower of David with no entrance fee.
An arts and crafts sale to aid southern businesses, at a time when culture is not seen as a priority.
In a city with too few tourists, there was live music at the popular tourist sight,
sweet treats to be designed and made,
and beer was sold, as well as food, at the Tower of David before Shabbat.
The flags were up on the JVP Margalit campus of Startup City Jerusalem, only I arrived after the Hackathon was over. It was hard to keep up with everything that was happening this past week.
However, from there I could see the sign announcing the Jewish Film Week at the Cinematheque, December 9 – 14, 2023.
Donuts. So hard to believe it will be Hanuka in a few days, as the past 2 months are a blur.
Today the traditional menorah, made entirely of bronze, standing over 2 meters tall and 2 meters wide, was placed in the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, a popular sight year after year.
The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem had a poster up along a Jerusalem street. Most museums have special activities planned for the week of Hanuka, especially for children.
Hannukah events in Jerusalem, many in libraries in various neighborhoods, already have begun,
December 2-15, 2023, check the link for registration information on Lights from Jerusalem events.
No idea what will be this year, but here’s a favorite from the past to brighten and lighten the mood.
Hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets!