My grandfather left Russia as a teenager for the US in the early 1900s.
Often I have thought about how different life would have been if he stayed in Odessa with his brother. Families were kept apart for decades by the Iron Curtain. A medical emergency and a “random” encounter involving a neighbor and a photo brought our cousins from the FSU back into our family and our lives.
Especially this week the impact has been hard to ignore.
The sun was shining after days of rain, so glad it was nice to get out again and the first thing I did was walk to Jaffa Road.
Yes, it was true. The Putin Pub had covered over its sign and only a faint ‘P’ could be seen. No, I was not the only one stopping to take photos.
But much more to share of what was happening in Jerualem this past week.
The changing Jerusalem, Israel, skyline will be a shock to those who have not been here the past two years during the pandemic closings.
Though most restrictions are to be lifted on March 1st, there are plenty of tourists walking on the Jerusalem streets now. Tour guides had extremely difficult times during the past two years. It was good to see my friend with a nice group again.
After missing last year, the Conference of Presidents was back in town.
New Conference CEO William Daroff had a lot to smile about.
In one of the sessions on the record and extremely timely, the US, China, and Russia, oh, and Iran situation were discussed. Anna Greifman stated the West does not understand Putin’s ideology and the Russian mindset. Some of those “experts” who said he was merely threatening are those pushing for concessions to Iran.
This was a conference very much still concerned with corona. Hand sanitizer and tea anyone?
Each day a negative antigen test was required to attend.
Networking in the hall while waiting for corona tests results was not so bad.
Back in Jerusalem, Erick Stakelbeck was filming in the Conference Green Room.
US Ambassador Tom Nides attended two nights in a row. On Monday night he was there briefly but sat with Bahrain and Israelis at the feelgood session featuring discussions on the Abraham Accords.
Charge d’affaires Ines Demiri of the Kosovo Embassy in Jerusalem spoke.
The Ambassador from Morocco told of how he had covered most of Israel since he arrived, there are so many Moroccans for him to meet.
The Ambassador from the United Arab Emirates also spoke in English to the dinner crowd, consisting of mainly American presidents and leaders of Jewish organizations.
The positive atmosphere and exchanging of business cards,
and of course selfies. Who would have imagined this two years ago when the CoP last was able to meet in Jerusalem.
They boasted of being the last conference before corona shut the borders and were proud to be the first back in Jerusalem, Israel.
But I did not hang around for dinner or the rest of the night program. While some night spots are still shuttered and dark, the Shaon Horef, Winter Noise street festival was back for the first of four Monday nights.
This colorful light projection was on Shushan Street, advertised as the main location of the event.
Though the evening was cool, thousands were out on the streets for entertainment. This year an app was available with information on times and performances.
Food and drinks were available in the area, not the most fashionable one, as you can see, but that is the idea, to bring people back to these streets.
I was back for a daytime photo to share and he wanted his photo taken.
The fashionably dressed tourists were back in Mamilla Mall.
It has been a long time since I have seen such a large busload of tourists headed to the Monastery of the Cross.
There are protest signs near the Supreme Court building,
and a protest tent near the Knesset,
but next to the Prime Minister’s official residence, it’s quiet enough just to stroll by.
Purim and days of celebration are back soon to Shushan Street.
Jerusalem Marathon signs are being posted for races at the end of March.
Even though the Omicron seems to be hitting many who have been careful for the past two years, the Jerusalem streets are filling with multilingual voices again.
A new Jerusalem photo op for tourists awaits near the Old City.
Hope to see you soon on or off the Jerusalem streets!