Friday Afternoon in Jerusalem

Friday Afternoon in Jerusalem

The sun was shining.

The weather unseasonably warm.

So I went off to see what was happening in the Old City.

Kotel security on Friday near Kotel

Police vehicles lined the area outside of the Western Wall Plaza.

Crowd at Kotel on Friday summer like day

Thousands of people were out in the warm midday sun.

Arab Market near Jaffa Gate.

Outdoor cafes were popular, it was a perfect day to sit and enjoy. As I strolled sipping an ice coffee, I noticed all the people eating ice cream, young and not so young.

On the way home I witnessed one of the nicest acts of kindness.

Female beggar sitting in chair and young woman stops to chat with her

This young woman stopped to chat with one of the people lining the stairs collecting money. I wondered how many ever tried to speak to this woman?

Mamilla Mall was busy. People coming and going, shopping and eating.

Pleasant sights and sounds to end another busy week.

שבת שלום

Shabbat Shalom.

Jerusalem: Trees This Tu Bishvat

Jerusalem: Trees This Tu Bishvat

When we were young in the US,  Tu Bishvat meant a bit of bukser,  dried black carob pods, which were nearly impossible to chew.

image Israel tu beshvat, photo for Tu Bshvat , picture trees planted

Celebrating in Jerusalem is so very different and so much more tasty and colorful. 

Reuven and Nechama Rivlin Tu B'Shevat sedar at BEit Hanasi for One Family and agriculture growers

In past years, President Rivlin hosted Tu Bishvat seders, but he is in Greece this year, being hosted by the Greeks in presidential-style receptions.

Israel Knesset building flags, no people

Tu Bishvat  is also the date the Knesset opened in 1949. For the 50th year in present location, Tu Bishvat was celebrated in big way.

Parks and planting were my themes last year. 

View of Teddy Park with wall of old city

Teddy Park was lovely today, the fountain was going as two young men took photos.

In Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, renovations are slowly being revealed. I hope that in addition to these new cement tables and benches more trees will be planted, many were lost in snowstorms.

My dilemma was: what can be new this year, other than the using a different English spelling for ט”ו בשבט, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat?

Tu Bishvat dried fruit at night outside shop for sale

Outside on the streets, dried fruits and nuts were on display well into the night before the holiday.

Fruit decorated baked goods in shop window before Tu Beshvat

Fresh fruits top these luscious baked goods displayed in one cafe window.

Almond tree blooming in Jerusalem, Israel, in Valley of Cross for Tu Beshvat

With the warm and wet winter, almond trees were in bloom in time for Tu Bishvat this year.

Then this morning a friend wrote of a deadly threat to Jerusalem’s towering palm trees. The red palm beetle, a native of the Far East, has come here from Jordan and attacked our palm trees.

View of Palm trees at Belgium Embassy

I had noticed that the palm trees by the Belgium Consulate were cut back drastically.

Yemin Moshe trees Jerusalem Israel

It was a bright sunny day, so I set off to see for myself. There were dead leaves hanging on these palm trees in Yemin Moshe.

French Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel palm leaves brown

The palm trees in front of the old French Hospital did not look healthy.

US flag on City Hall in Kikar Safra

Last month when I was in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, I took this photo of the large flags on display. I noticed the palm trees at the other end of the plaza were surrounded by blue barriers used for crowd control. Now I regret not taking a photo.

Those towering trees were taken down in the middle of the night, after a diseased one fell.

Kikar Safra all palm trees cut down Jerusalem Israel

Today men are finishing up their work and removing the stumps.

Sawdust from palm tree stumps in Kikar Safra

The last of the stumps of the towering palm trees is being ground into saw dust.

Kikar Safra after diseased palm trees removed

Kikar Safra plaza is filled with wood chips, where the palm trees once towered overhead.

Jerusalem Old City from Jaffa Gate to Kikar Safra protected tree

The walking path from Kikar Safra toward Jaffa Gate has a palm tree protected by a fence, and the sidewalk is built around it. Trees are important enough to build around them.

Even before the State of Israel was founded, trees have been important. The JNF, the Jewish National Fund, raised money to plant trees to make the barren land green.

Tu Bishvat is called the New Year for Trees. This year we will need a lot of new trees to replace those that were lost.

But on this happy holiday, I can not end on such a sad note. It was a beautiful day to be outside. All around Israel, people are planting new trees.

Tu Beshevat almond blossoms Jerusalem Israel

The almond trees are blooming. The sun was shining after days of rain. I met friendly tourists from South Africa who assured me that South Africans really do like Israel.

So Happy Tu Bishvat!

I am going to eat some dates, this year they were plentiful and inexpensive, so we got a big box.

New Arab Girl Photos

New Arab Girl Photos

Times are a changin’.

Women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to attend sport events.

In a few months, women in Saudi Arabia  will be allowed to drive a car.

Photos of the new Saudi auto dealership for women only

show women covered in black from head-to-toe.

In Iran, Wednesdays have become protest days for women,

removing their white head coverings in protest to Islamic rulers.

And in Israel?

In Jerusalem, Israel, head coverings are important.

Without a red hijab,

Girl wearing red hijab in Israel restaurant in Mamilla Mall

how could we know this young woman in Aroma was an Arab girl?

World Champion gold-medal winner Anna Muzychuk

became news when she refused to wear an abaya

for the World Championship chess tournament held in Saudi Arabia.

Around the same time,

an interesting tourist group of women arrived

Arab girls at Western Wall plaza

at the Western Wall Plaza.

Escorted by two men,

a group of young women in traditional Muslim dress

Arab girls going to Western Wall

mingled with locals and other tourists.

I was on my way home, but I

Arab girls Jerusalem Israel

stayed to watch the reaction to the women at the Kotel,

the Western Wall, on that sunny afternoon.

Arab girls close to Kotel

There was none.

As they went close to the Kotel and stood there

Muslim women at Kotel

no one seemed to pay attention – but me!

Kotel, Arab women on Western Wall plaza

They took the normal tourist photos.

As the women wandered through the crowd,

 even their male escorts gave them space.

One woman waited outside the toilets for her friends.

Arab girl at Western Wall Plaza alone waiting for friends to come from toilets

Did anyone take notice?

From my vantage point above,

Arab girl alone in prayer in Jerusalem Israel near rest rooms

I noticed her taking the time to offer a prayer.

Her shoulder bag was from Milli Gorus,

which started in Turkey in 1969,

and is the most influential Islamist organization in Germany.

However, I am not sure where they live.

Arab tourism has increased,

and Muslim groups from Turkey and England are not unusual.

Next time I see a group of  young Muslim women

I plan to ask them where they live and how their trip is.

Will these women go back home and tell the truth?

In their traditional dress,

no one bothered them as they walked freely.

Muslim women walk pushing children in little cars in Jerusalem Israel First Station, Hatakana tourist site

 Israeli Arab girls and women in malls

or older women alone on side streets

know they have nothing to fear.

As a friend noted about 15 Real Photos of Arab Girls,

“Because somehow the “nude” got attached,

it will remain viral.

It will outlive the mythical cockroaches in a nuclear war.”🙂

Last year that post had almost 15,000 views,

my hope is some of those voyeurs

from every country in the world,

will see the truth about what is really happening

on these Jerusalem, Israel streets,

these real photos of Arab girls.