What a Week in Jerusalem: Presidents, Parliamentarians, Ambassadors and More

The third week in February is always a busy time in Jerusalem, Israel.

Unlike the US, where only one February weekend celebrates President George Washington,

Street sign George Washington in Jeruaslem

here in Jerusalem, Washington is honored all year long, and  Abraham Lincoln is right around the corner. 

The annual Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization, COP, had over a hundred leaders participating in this year’s mission.

Football numbered shirt presented to President Rivlin in Jerusalem

COP Presidents were greeted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who received this numbered jersey from a visiting US football player, who were in Israel on a tour.

Malcolm Hoenlein looks up at Jewish football player Geoff Schwartz at CoP dinner in Jerusalem Israel

Jewish football player Geoff Schwartz presented COP CEO Malcolm Hoenlein with a shirt.  Hoelein is looking up, seconds before he stood on a chair to get a better view.

Ambassador Friedman and Tammy Friedman

Also at the opening gala were US Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy.

Dr Leah Goldin with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem

President Rivlin consoles Dr. Leah Goldin, mother of Hadar Goldin z”l, whose remains are being held captive in Gaza.  There was another birthday of Hadar’s this week, 3 1/2 years after Hamas killed him, after agreeing to a cease fire.

Parents of Avera Mengistu at dinner CoP to raise awareness of their son held captive 3 years by Hamas

Also sharing their plight with the Presidents were the family of Avera Mengistu, and their spokesperson.  Over 3 years ago, the mentally challenged Avera wandered over the Gaza border and was kidnapped by Hamas.

Five former Israeli Ambassadors speak to Conference of Presidents at Waldorf Astoria

This was a not just a week for presidents, but for ambassadors too. On the dais in the Waldorf-Astoria Jerusalem ballroom, these five former Israeli ambassadors to the US, Moshe Arens, Sallai Meridor, Ron Prosor, Zalman Shoval and Itamar Rabinovich, shared their experiences.

Israeli Knesset hosts International Parliamentary heads at conference

At the Knesset, over 30 International Parliamentary Heads came to Jerusalem to share their knowledge at a Knesset Conference.

With all these important international leaders in Jerusalem, the most impressive session I attended went unreported.

Insights into Israel Bedouin girl at Israeli University excelling in STEM education

Entrepreneurs Dr. Yossi Vardi and SanDisk CEO Shahar Bar-Or, introduced Sereen to the COP Presidents after lunch at the Inbal Hotel.

Sereen is a 15 year-old Bedouin girl who grew up near Beer Sheva, and is an outstanding STEM student in an Israeli university. Her father’s cousin is a professor in both Stony Brook and Ben Gurion Universities, and promotes good education as key to success. Sereen, seated on the left wearing a dark hijab, is at the table with other promising Israeli young women. Her very proud mother is seen on the right in a tan colored head covering.

African American basketball players in Israel

Presidents, parliamentarians, and ambassadors, and even professional football players, are not the real streets. A new book “Alley-Oop to Aliyah” tells us about over 800 African-American basketball players who came to Israel over the years to play basketball. They loved it. Some stayed and made aliyah, and their children are playing ball and serve in the IDF.

Jerusalem Marathon 2018 huge announcement near Jaffa Gate

Out on the streets, this week’s Jerusalem’s Shaon Horef, Winter Noise, location was Jaffa Gate.

Shaon Horef שאון חורף ן Old City Jaffa Gate

Light projections and music played on inside Jaffa Gate at multiple locations.

Tower of David for Shaon Horef Jerusalem Monday night event in Februrary

Hundreds of people were climbing the steps throughout the Tower of David after dark.

Music and dancing at Jaffa Gate for Winter Noise event

The presidents were so close, they could have wandered over to see the crowds and danced along next to the walls of Tower of David at this free event.

Jerusalem Israel wild flowers growing in Valley of Cross

This was not a week to be cooped up all day in meetings! Look down and you see flowers blooming.

Clouds and colored sky photo Jerusalem sunset over Israel Museum

Look up and you could see magnificent sunsets.

Jerusalem Marathon finish line ready for races in March

A finish line is up next to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, for the Jerusalem Marathon on March 9.

Happy Purim Jerusalem street posters

But first Purim.  Jerusalem street signs wish everyone a “Happy Purim.”

Preparations for costumes and food and meals are well under way. Young school children can be seen wearing their crowns on the streets. The not so young are also planning their holiday costumes.  There may be presidents this week, but next week there will be queens and kings and many more important personalities.

Eight Days of Hanukkah: Not Enough in Jerusalem

Eight Days of Hanukkah: Not Enough in Jerusalem

Hanukkah time in Jerusalem, Israel,

is always a busy time of year.

This past week the world has had Jerusalem

in its headlines after US President Trump acknowledged

Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

US flags flying in Israel on street where US consulate is located.

US, Israeli and Jerusalem flags

were flying on Agron Road

along the street of the US consulate building.

No photos are allowed of that building,

so this corner view of the

Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria will have to do.

Old city walls of Jerusalem Israel seen from King David Hotel with US, Israel and EU flags near pool

The Israeli, US, and EU flags were on display behind

the King David Hotel with

 the walls of Old City in the background.

Chanukia on display in Mamilla Mall as people walk under in mall

Hanukkah menorahs are placed in hundreds of locations.

Choir performs at Hanukkah performance for grandparents in Gush Etzion Efrat

Thousands of school performances

large, and not-so-epic, have been held.

So what about the “tense” situation?

On road to Efrat red warning Israel prohibiting Israelis to enter way to Bethlehem

Those red signs and IDF security posts

are the norm for the outskirts of Bethlehem.

Muslim woman and child in Liberty Bell Park in Jeremiahs Israel

Parks may be a little less crowded,

but I did not find the that the “situation”

was much different than usual.

There are neighborhoods of New York,

Washington, DC, and Chicago,

I would never walk through,

and where driving can be dangerous.

The Tower of David Museum opened a new exhibit,

A General and a Gentleman

Allenby at the Gates of Jerusalem;

there was no way I was going to miss this event in the Old City.

Macabees to Allenby poster

Since the viewing Balfour-Allenby Exhibit

at the Israel National Library,

I have anxiously awaited December 11, 2017.

December is an important month for religious holidays.

Exhibit in Tower of David Museum for 100 years Allenby

Hanukiot are on display,

text description Allenby

this photo has the explanation.

There are dozens of original photos.

Keep in mind that World War I was first time soldiers

had cameras on the battlefield.

Not exactly Facebook live, but they captured memories

now frozen in time for over 100 years.

Three photos were ordered destroyed for proper procedure of British Narrative of war

The collection of authentic items and research is impressive.

Three official photos from the series are missing;

they were destroyed as they did not fit the British war narrative.

The exhibit runs until the fall of 2018,

but on December 11, 1917,

General Edmund Allenby entered through Jaffa Gate

to an impoverished Jerusalem.

100 years after actor dressed as General Allenby enters Jaffa Gate Jerusalem Israel

Actors recreated the event,

and thousands of spectators, local and international,

Actor as General Allenby on steps of Tower of David Museum

crowded in to watch the reenactment of the original ceremony.

‘General Allenby’ spoke, and his heirs who came from England

joined local dignitaries, past and present.

Thousands were in the streets of the Old City,

without violence – so not news.

But about that rusty key of the city,

Actors Allenby and Lawrence of Arabia at Tower of David Museum after reenactment holding key

Mayor Nir Barkat did not keep it.

Allenby took it out of his pocket as he spoke to

Lawrence of Arabia after the program

inside Tower of David.

Facebook photos of A General and A Gentleman

Street sign in Hebrew for Chaukkah event in Jerusalem

Here’s hoping people will not miss the multitude of events

Poster in Hebrew for Hanukkah event in Old City Jerusalem Israel

 planned this week in Jerusalem.

School is out.

Museums are free for children.

Too many events to list, but here is a link

to some of the Jerusalem Hanukkah events.

Menorah for Channuka on roof top in Jerusalem Israel

From Cinema City to Safra Sqaure to Yes Planet,

look up and look around.

There is, as usual, too much to do on Hanukkah.

In Jerusalem, eight days are not enough.

חנוכה שמח

Happy Hannukah!

Hebrew sign on bus in Jerusalem Israel Old City

Time to get going,

the first day is almost over.

What’s Happening on Jerusalem Streets after Holidays?

What’s Happening on Jerusalem Streets after Holidays?

After the chagim, after the holidays.

 The holiday visitors have gone.

Now what? Plenty.

The universities are finally starting.

The Knesset is back in session after long break.

Way too much is happening in Jerusalem to keep up.

Tower of David citadel view

The imposing Tower of David (ToD)

View inside the Tower of David fortress

was open for the launch of its new Innovation Lab.

New location for crusaders inside Tower of David

These old statues were being relocated,

and over 20 technology startups in augmented reality/virtual reality,

AR/VR, were being presented.

Innovation Lab technology at Tower of David Museum

Click and see history of 3000 years unfold!

Innovation Lab launch virtual reality glasses in Tower of David

With glasses like these,

one day you will be able sit at home

and feel as if you were in Herod’s old fortress.

Innovation Lab technology robot controlled by eye movements using these glasses

And with these glasses,

eye movements can operate a robot.

Much more is happening and planned for AR/VR.

It all sounds like science fiction,

but is being developed daily to enhance the museum experience

and improve quality of life.

Oh the contrast of old and new!

Christian pilgrims dance and sing in Jerusalem Israel

Outside those walls of the Old City, near Jaffa Gate,

these Christian tourists were singing and dancing,

while across the street a woman was sorting

Arab women collecting olives taken from tree near Mamilla Mall Jerusalem

the olives she had just taken from this olive tree.

Olive harvesting is nearly finished for this year.

However, new festivals are beginning.

Here are 3 favorites of new Hebrew signs.

Until I saw it in English,

I had hard time understanding,

Eclectic Jerusalemite sign in Hebrew

the Lev Smadar Theater is hosting “Eclectic Jerusalem” cultural films.

Street sign for OutLIne contest

Then there is this sign for an illustration and poetry,

“Out-Line Festival.”

Street sign for Animation event in Jerusalem Israel

And how about an International Animation Festival

in Jerusalem, at Cinematheque?

Not enough?

Houses WithIn, now called “Open House”

starts on Thursday, with 117 interesting and free tours.

Some are fascinating sites open to public,

some are announced as free access,

others were fully booked at warp speed.

Poor Folks’ Cemetery or the Har Herzl military cemetery,

famous private homes

or the Jerusalem home of the Electric Company, are a few options.

Jerusalem Israel Pillbox in Rechavia open for first time to public

The Pillbox in Rechavia was opened last year.

It was less than comfortable inside and a worse photo op,

but it was  interesting to hear about.

Photos from the International Jerusalem

Jewish Contemporary Art Bienalle will have to wait for next time.

Oh and soon, Open Restaurants – 5 days, 100 options!

More next time,

will see how many I can get to.

So much is happening on the Jerusalem streets.