Seen in Jerusalem positive to balance too many lows

This week in Jerusalem, Israel, had too many lows.

However, here are a few positive stories to balance life on the real Jerusalem streets.

An invitation to the Tower of David Museum is one I always try to accept, not just for the photos at sunset.

Going thru the new entrance is still a novelty, an amazing blend of old and new.

I hope to go back soon to explore the new areas that were visible at night.

As I walked up this well-lit staircase I remembered when it was still a dangerous construction site.

A sign of our times, a sign with directions to one of the protected areas.

There was an evening program, an Israeli sing-along with live music with the words on the screen. Israelis sing sad songs on Tisha B’Av. They sing on Yom Kippur Night. They sing as the day shifts from Yom HaZikaron to Yom Haatzamaut. This night the list of songs included Adon Olam.

The appreciative audience included young children and adults of all ages.

There were lights on the flags on the side of the Jerusalem Theater.

Across the street, the lights were on at the new Theatron Hotel. Instead of the expected international tourists, this hotel, like most in Jerusalem, is hosting citizens from north and south who had to evacuate.

Praying for soldiers, hostages, evacuees, and the injured was first on the agenda for an evening program organized by three Jerusalem synagogues.

With children, grandchildren, sons and daughters, and close friends involved in the war in Gaza and along the northern border hostilities – everyone knows someone in harm’s way. Rabbi Dr. Alex Mondrow discussed coping during the crisis and trauma.

Baking. Yes, one extremely active group has been baking for soldiers. The Baking Battalion should have enough stories and videos to fill a book. Part of my contribution last week were vegan oatmeal cookies.

It is hard to ignore the profound sorrow of families of fallen soldiers, especially lone soldier parents. The family of Rose Lubin came from Atlanta, GA to sit shiva, and thousands came and stood quietly in line waiting to offer a few words of comfort.

It is hard to calculate how many hugs from “strangers” Rose’s mother received.

The tragic deaths are growing and getting closer to home. Yosef Chaim Hershkowitz’s parents live nearby in Jerusalem, and the family sat shiva for one day in Jerusalem.

Again, there was a crowd and a line of people waiting to have a few seconds to mumble a few words of comfort and move along. They barely had time to say the traditional greeting:

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

“May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

As we left, more and more people were arriving. And sadly, this will not be the last shiva visit this week.

Signs are up. However, the new Jerusalem pool opening is hardly news now.

There were jugglers on the Jerusalem streets on Friday near the Pillbox. Only when I got home did I notice the poster in the photograph and decided not to edit it out.

People are out eating in Jerusalem street cafes again when the weather is warm. Hostage posters ended up in this image too; they are plastered all around and I have yet to see one taken down.

New long Israeli flags are displayed on buildings.

At first, I was impressed by the flag on the Museum for Islamic Art.

But, wow, the ad space on the side of the building is filled with the #BringThemHomeNow poster.

The red strollers with hostage posters are sad to see.

These children have been held hostage in Gaza for over 6 weeks, and now the weather is turning cold.

The way to Gaza is the name of a small Jerusalem side street.

It is off of Gaza Street, across from the current Prime Minister’s home. I decided though the security was low when I passed by, that it was better to refrain from taking photos of the new security being constructed.

But I also decided to save the best for last to end on a positive note!

The gates for the Hansen House were open on Thursday afternoon.

A new exhibit has opened upstairs “A Smart Home in a Dumb Body” by Guy Goldstein.

And downstairs is the Toldot Printing exhibit.

In the always fascinating space on the lower part of Hansen House.

But where were all the people?

Hundreds of people were outside on the Hansen House grounds.

Piles of produce were brought from southern farmers (most of it picked by volunteers since many foreign workers were killed or captured on October 7 or went home) for sale in Jerusalem.

This is one of the locations where people in Jerusalem are trying to help by supporting southern agriculture.

Even the paper cups are going blue and white, “Together we will prevail.”

Hope to see you soon the the Jerusalem streets.

Hatikvah

Surviving In Jerusalem After One Month Of War

We arrived in Israel in the middle of what is now called the Second Lebanon War.

I honestly lost track of the number of “Operations” and thousands of rockets since August 2006.

Now going into the second month of the current war, I started walking a different route each day on the Jerusalem streets to see what was happening posting daily on Facebook, and to share a photo essay here.

The Knesset was lit bright blue and white at night with the flag blowing in the breeze.

The blue and white Israeli flags get bigger and bigger, and traffic has returned to the streets.

The local bomb shelter is lit brightly at night, and thankfully we did not need it this past week.

One day there were sirens, lots of loud sirens. Fire trucks are not a common sound on Jerusalem streets. However, this incident seemed to have been nothing more than someone burning their midday meal.

The scene at the main entrance to Jerusalem has changed and is constantly changing.

This new sight is one example.

It is the entrance to the newly opened tunnel to exit Jerusalem to Route #1.

One exits after the traffic light, and goes under the Chord Bridge and out of Jerusalem.

But not everything was moving smoothly, the Museum of Tolerance was closed.

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It was the first time I had passed this art piece in Mamilla Mall and no live person was sitting there.

The Tower of David Museum is one of many Jerusalem museums slowly opening again.

I was pleased to see a lecture was being held when I walked by. The Tower of David Museum is one of the places hosting evacuees (from the South and North) who found refuge in Jerusalem.

International media crews are here in the thousands. I wonder if they noticed the Arab men and Christian priests who walked by outside Jaffa Gate, as on any regular Jerusalem day.

I was taking a video of a building’s active construction when this woman walked in front of my camera. Many times I saw Muslim women walking alone as a matter of course.

Not a sight I have seen reported anywhere. Not news.

Oh, what a beautiful view from the hills of Jerusalem, where 34 families from Sderot are staying.

The fire engine there is a classic, if not antique model.

But the washing machines are brand new and greatly appreciated. Providing meals three times a day is good. However, keeping the family clothes clean is a big challenge in all the locations for evacuees.

Students from the south are starting to go to school again in the new locations.

I have avoided going South for this latest war – it feels too much like ‘been there done that’.

This was the fence we saw at Kibbutz Alumim on a previous trip.

People searching online for bomb shelters found this from 5 years ago, and from 11 years ago.

One of my first glimpses at an Iron Dome posed ready toward Gaza on an Israeli kibbutz.

Ah, the view from the fields of Kibbutz Alumim toward Gaza – before October 7.

This was the sign warning of the border – not to cross.

In Jerusalem last week beds for the over 200 kidnapped hostages were prepared in Safra Square.

Yellow ribbons were put on the security fence at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Amazing that over 300,000 Israelis have returned TO Israel since the war started.

The long lists of funerals and the photos of the beautiful young faces lost are painful to look at.

However, this week began with an engagement party! The young couple brought together families from Australia, Belgium, and England to drink a l’chaim in Jerusalem and eat chulent on a Monday night!

We had a family Bar Mitzvah on Shabbat, except for one uncle in active service and two cousins working in the US – both sides of aunts. uncles and first cousins were able to celebrate together. Not so simple when the bar mitzvah boy’s family is over 60 people – during a war.

The paper cups had the slogan “United Together” and went with the blue and white theme.

Time to remember the good along with the very bad.

An M-4 or 16 slung over a shoulder has become a common sight on the Jerusalem streets.

It’s time to remember – we are the good guys.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, US Ambassador to Israel Jacob Joseph Lew presented his credentials to President Isaac Herzog on Sunday afternoon November 5, 2023.

Welcome to Jerusalem Ambassador Lew in these interesting times.

Here’s hoping for a shavuah tov on the Jerusalem streets and the rest of Israel and the world.

11 New Signs in Jerusalem

It was hard to keep up with all the things happening in Jerusalem this week.

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First, at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence,

the Sheba Medical Center celebrated 75 years by honoring donors.

The US was represented by Deputy Chief of Mission Stephanie L. Hallett who came with her husband.

Amazing to meet Rachel Heber who now heads Matanat Chaim, the Gift of Life, an altruistic kidney donation organization started by her husband Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber z’L who died three years ago at the age of 55, after contracting the coronavirus. Sitting next to her was Matnat Chaim CEO Sharona Sherman whose family are friends from Australia.

There was a short video on kidney organ donors and recipients.

Seated in the front row with his wife was Dan Levi, a kidney donor, who also spoke during the program. Sheba Medical Center has 10,000 employees, and a group of transplant doctors was included with those who attended the Beit Hanasi event. Hope to hear more of their impressive stories in the future.

New signs line the Jerusalem streets.

Protest signs continue to follow government officials where ever they go.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was the opening speaker at the economic Eli Hurvitz Conference sponsored by the Israel Democratic Institute.

Protest signs were also displayed inside, along with shouting throughout his attempts to deliver a prepared speech.

One of the most positive signs of the conference was when the Head of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron entered the room, he stopped to shake the Finance Minister’s hand.

With a hand in a sling, he stopped and posed on his way out, and mentioned he had lived and attended high school in Maryland.

A sign of the changing times–the old blah cement walls of Talpiot are being colored with bright new murals.

“This wall is also Temporary” is another Talpiot sign.

PICO Kids is in one of those old industrial buildings.

Their end-of-the-year program was based on Innovation for Sustainable projects conceived and built by young students.

Teams presented their completed projects to judges.

Working in teams these young minds and hands are training and building for the future, like this winning project in the clean energy category.

“Why fit in when you were born to STAND OUT” was this sign spotted in Tel Aviv, but the Tel Aviv adventure will have to wait until next week.

One sign of the complicated Israeli road-building progress is at the entrance of new road #16, which goes under Har Nof and saves Jerusalem drivers a huge amount of time.

Another new sign for summer events in Jerusalem city center,

and reading month, was added to the Jerusalem Book Festival signs.

Multiple Jerusalem streets were shut. Barriers with thousands of security watching were out for the Jerusalem Pride Parade. Though I have seen Benny Gantz before, on Thursday afternoon he appeared much taller than those around him as he arrived to speak to the group gather in the Liberty Bell Park prior to the march.

Signs, balloons, and banners at the start of the now annual march that begins at Keren Hayesod Street and goes to Independence Park.

More signs, across the way at Bloomfield Park where protesters against the Pride Parade were behind barriers and watched closely by police.

With streets closed, tourist groups had to walk to their hotels at the end of their day. But it was great to see tour groups back on the Jerusalem streets.

Mamilla Mall, as I took a quick walk thru to get to the Jaffa Gate.

After three years of waiting to see the Tower of David, Jerusalem Museum, I arrived for its opening night.

The new entrance was not ready to use.

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The public one day will come in this door, to learn the history of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, for now, we went through the passageway,

and down the new steps between ancient walls,

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to arrive at the impressive entrance hall gallery.

Here interactive, visual artistic works line the old walls,

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and the keys to Jerusalem are one of a few of the most historically important artifacts on display.

This new Jerusalem Museum needed a short video to give you a sample of the creativity involved.

So many new signs for the future, built on remembering the past.

Hope you can come and see the old and the new on Jerusalem streets soon.