Sukkot in Jerusalem 2020

Oh, Jerusalem of 2020.

It used to be that “20-20” was an expression for hindsight.

This year of 2020 has taken on a different context with the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus has changed the world and certainly life as we knew it in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Israel, endured a holiday season so unlike recent years, the excited holiday crowds and tens of thousands of international visitors were missing from the Jerusalem streets.

The huge Birkat Kohanim at the Kotel, Western Wall, was extremely limited.

The Israeli Chief Rabbis, Mayor Moshe Lion, US Ambassador David Friedman attended, however, the main plaza was empty. People watched from home on a screen, on Facebook for a live stream of the service.

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On other days a lone Kohen could be found blessing the small prayer groups. Regulations for the holiday week this year limited outdoor groups to 20 people, and within one kilometer from home.

This was the year for the private home sukkah, tucked away in the garden,

or up on the roof,

in all shapes and styles.

Some sukkot blended into the architecture,

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while others were easier to see.

A wooden one on this small porch is an annual sight,

but there seemed to be many more new white walls in driveways this year,

as more people had to stay home and not travel near or far.

They were placed in parking spots next to apartment buildings.

On the last night of Sukkot, I took a walk around the neighborhood and found a friend eating dinner. This “communal” sukkah is shared by many people in the building, but this year families were eating at separate times and not sharing meals.

When I started going each year, President Shimon Peres was at Beit Hanasi, hosting the Israeli President’s sukkah which was open to the public.

But this year, President Rivlin missed out hosting the public, and the “open sukkah” was a two-hour program online, which included

the Israel Space Agency, a program involving young Israelis.

The little Professor G got my vote as the cutest presenter.

Photo credit: Aleksandr Tokar

Even the sukkah at the Kotel Plaza, though brightly lit, was much smaller this year and was used only by those who lived near by.

Instead of running around all night long in Jerusalem to attend classes, now one can sit anywhere in the world and zoom in and out to learn Torah.

This year went online for dozens of lectures for Hashana Raba.

And music – last year Akiva Tourgeman was singing at Beit Hanasi, this year he was on Israeli TV.

This year Tourgeman was on stage for Hashana Raba televised concert.

Yemima Mizrachi spoke and introduced Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and other performers on the outdoor stage for an online Hashana Raba event.

This was the year of the small sukkah and even smaller holiday businesses.

Hoshanot at the Kotel, were seen live on Facebook and now on YouTube.

The Jerusalem March with tens of thousands from around the world coming to show love for Jerusalem did not happen.

The Bible Marathon was run online, not over the Judean landscapes.

Tourism which had been in the millions of visitors, went down to zero.

Small business owners have really been suffering with forced closings.

This was a year to find simple pleasure in nature close to home.

Repurposed unused school lunch bags made into a sukkah decoration.

Of immediate family time together,

seeking quiet time and some sun up on the roof,

or on a rock in the park for solitude.

The Sukkot and Simhat Torah under corona limitations for many were at home, home alone without the usual dancing and large parties.

None of the crowds of past years.

Oh, Jerusalem of 2020!

The sun set on another holiday season so different than last year.

Sukkot 2020 one to remember or one to try and forget?

Next year in Jerusalem.

Special Sukkot Sukkah

Like every year, the Sukkot holiday is a busy time

in Jerusalem, Israel.

There is so much to prepare,

Sukkos Jerusalem

and great concentration is invested in

Jerusalem esrog market

every little detail.

I set out to find something new and different,

from the best of sukkot of the past years,

to add to favorite sukkot of Sukkot.

sukka Haas Promenade

The view from the sukkah on the Tayelet,

the Haas Promenade, was one of the best.

Kossel Succos

This huge sukkah under construction in the Kotel plaza,

the Western Wall, was impressive.

large cloth sukka on street

Large cloth sukkot line many streets.

Rova sukka

In the Rova, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City,

in front of the Hurva Synagogue

stands an impressive wooden sukkah.

sukka in Jerusalem Israel

The sukkah in the atrium of the Inbal Hotel

was decorated elegantly.

Jerusalem sukka on a roof

I caught the top of  this sukkah in Yemin Moshe,

peeking over the roof tops.

Jerusalem sukka

There were impressive wooden structures.

sukka Jerusalem

some hidden away in the Geula neighborhood.

But where could I find special and different for this year?

I went on a pre-Sukkot photo walk on Friday morning.

We started out in Mea Shearim,

but on the way to Machane Yehuda market,

I made a mistake and turned up the wrong alleyway.

Jerusalem sukka

There I found what seemed to be another wooden sukkah,

boards in alley in Geula

with a pile of junk nearby.

But sometimes.

one photo does not tell the whole story.

I was told that

Jerusalem sukka

people in the neighborhood had collected

all their old wooden doors and dressers and scraps of wood

walls of sukka Jerusalem

and given them to a group of young yeshiva men

who were living in their neighborhood,

so they could build their own sukkah.

It may not be the biggest or the prettiest sukkah,

 but it is one of my favorite stories.

Maybe the detour was not a mistake after all?

They posted this sign near the entrance:

Sukkot Jerusalem

הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סוכת דוד הנפלת

May the Compassionate One restore the fallen sukkah of King David.

Western WAll

As the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza fills

with tens of thousands of people for the Birkat Kohanim

and Hakhel prayers this year,

 the buses join in wishing everyone

sukka bus sign Jerusalem

Moadim l”Simcha.

11 Scenes of Erev Yom Kippur in Jerusalem

At the end of the Rosh Hashana holiday weekend,

some neighborhoods were piled high with garbage.

I will spare you those ugly photos this year

image holiday packaging

and only post this one of the holiday boxes, marked with dripping honey.

The city was prepared this time, no complaints about hauling it all away,

but plenty of complaints about time!

The usual change from Daylight Savings time before Yom Kippur

did not happen this year because of a new law in the Knesset,

so many woke up an hour off when their devices did not get that memo.

Some Apps are still off an hour,

image for Yom Kippur

but many of the buses did change to the Yom Kippur greeting,

to be sealed for a good year.

The change of seasons can be felt by the shorter days and cooler weather,

but days are still warm enough

image Arab woman

 to stroll down the street eating an ice cream cone.

On days leading up to Yom Kippur

image paroes before YOm Kipput

Chabad was out on the streets not only offering chance to put on tefilin,

but also to get a head start on Kaparot, using money,

instead of chickens to get rid of your sins.

image Pais Arena Jerusalem

The 11,000 seat new Jerusalem Payis Arena was filled

by those honoring the first  yahrzeit of Rav Ovadia Yosef.

image Jerusalem, Israel

The landscape in Jerusalem, Israel, is changing in all directions.

In time for the holiday tourist season,

image Hansen House

  the gates of the renovated old Hansen House are open.

image large sign in hebrew

For many locals the expansion of Hadar Mall in Talpiot

with a new supermarket opening was big news.

But this season, expansion and building features

image getting ready for holiday

 the walls of sukkot for the holiday next week,

image colorful decorations

with colorful decorations for sale.

image poster for Jerusalem Formula

And, next week is the Jerusalem Formula Road Show,

and if it is anything like last year

the Jerusalem, Israel streets will be filled with people and fast cars,

the opposite of Yom Kippur with no cars and people fasting.

Gmar chatima tova

may all be sealed for a good year.