Fire and Smoke

As the Passover holiday approached, the streets of Jerusalem filled with smoke.

On Sunday there were lines of people waiting near the steaming pots of boiling water to kasher metal utensils, and





blow torches were used to burn

every last bit of a crumb

off of metal oven racks.


Monday morning things really heated up, and smoke filled the air,

as people came to burn their chametz, any bread product had to be disposed of during the morning hours.







Young  and old came to Bustan Brody Garden

where one large fire was organized for the neighborhood turning it into a major social event.

The air filled with smoke,

it was hard to breathe,

but even these dogs who

had to wait while their

 owner socialized,

did not complain.

Pre-Passover Ins and Outs

When Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was in Jerusalem last week most people hardly noticed.  Da Silva only made it into the headlines when, after having refused to visit Theodor Herzl’s grave, he and his wife Leticia  placed a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat during their visit to Ramallah.

Lady Ashton, the Foreign Minister of the European Union was in and out of Jerusalem, as was American negotiator George Mitchell.  Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon was in Jerusalem, then he visited Gaza;



but he did not see Gilad Shalit who has been held in Gaza for almost four years.  Shalit’s captors will not allow a visit from the International Red Cross; will they provide matzahs for the Passover holiday? On the street near the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, the tent and vigil for his release continues, 1366 days and counting.


Important for English speakers in Jerusalem was the opening of  a new, larger home for AACI,

 The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel.











 The Glassmans, major donors who helped

build the headquarters,

were in from Canada for the dedication.




Reports of rioting were very ” in” this week; however, the sounds of helicopters overhead

and those flying in and out of the Knesset’s helicopter landing pad were the only sign of trouble,


as in most neighborhoods people moved around as usual.








Unless,  slashed car tires 

 in a quiet residential neighborhood

may not have been just 

“simple” vandalism.





The heat wave is out and cold weather in; and a rain briefly cleaned the dirt out of the air.

Dirt is out, and cleaning is very in; 

vacuum cleaners, cleaning supplies and kitchen appliances are on sale everywhere.


During the year you never know what you will find out on the streets of Jerusalem,

 especially as people begin their Passover/Spring cleaning.










Large items                                                                                             and small

 or whole trees are put out with the trash,









even the baby’s bath.

 The BBQ and cover

 were put out

and gone in no time.










Mattresses and more mattresses,

everything but the kitchen sink was set out by the curb…


yes – everything,

or carried out.


Not everything is out these days:








the new H & M clothing store in the Malha Mall

is very “In”.



Much to the chagrin of working parents, school is already out


 for the Passover holiday, but day camps are in,

and children are out in the parks. 

And of course, around Jerusalem’s trash bins

 the cats are always in and out!

Chag sameach, Happy Passover!

Jerusalem Half Marathon

 Early morning rain cleaned the air and cool temperatures were perfect  for 

the 18th Jerusalem International Half  Marathon 

and 10-Kilometer Run on March 18, 2010. 

The beautiful weather and street closings provided 3,500 runners,

including Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, ideal conditions for the run.

Not everyone was aware of the race, though;

 drivers got out of their cars to discuss the situation,

some people left taxis to walk to their destinations.

At 10:00 am the lead car started the 10k  race from Givat Ram. 

The first runners came down Burla Street and turned to the park.

It was a colorful day, as runners wore

 red shirts,

lots of blue shirts,

some yellow shirts,

and green shirts.

Whether  going it alone..

or running in the pack,  everyone turned out to run for

 personal satisfaction and sport,

and for Shalva, the Association for the Mentally and Physically

Challenged Children in Israel,

which also had a special 400-meter race for 150 special needs children.

So much positive energy in Jerusalem.


In  2011 the first Jerusalem full marathon began,

so this race also became the last half marathon race day.

Hurva…No Longer

When Jordan attacked Jerusalem during the War of Independence and captured the Old City in 1948, the Jordanian Legion destroyed many synagogues, including the largest one in the Jewish Quarter.

In 1967 the Jewish Quarter came under Israeli control and in 1977 an arch was built to remember the Hurva or the Ruined Synagogue, on the spot where synagogues have been successively built and destroyed since the second century.












September 2009


                 After years of delay and debate,








     a week before the March 15, 2010 dedication date,

     the construction was nearing completion,

     but there was still plenty of work left to do.

However, as the sun was setting on March 14, 2010,

 the synagogue was ready. 

 Torah scrolls were brought up from the Kotel, the Western Wall, under a chupah, a special canopy.









Hundreds of men danced in front of the procession,

as thousands of people along the route sang, clapped and took photos. 








Wndows, except the large one in the center, were covered

so that images could be projected on the structure,

                                                                                              and colorful flags were hung all around. 



A huge crowd filled the central square of the  Jewish Quarter as people enjoyed the live music.



The restored synagogue will not be exactly the same, however,

as this time the building is air conditioned.

The official dedication ceremony marks an historical end and a new beginning;

may this site become a place of prayer and study and see no more destruction.

What a Difference a Day Makes!

At first it seemed that no one even noticed,

 United States Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting  Jerusalem.

There is a difference when you are not number one,

but only number two.

As Vice-President Biden was to arrive, it was quiet around the Citadel Hotel.

 Biden arrived for breakfast at Beit HaNasi, the President’s Residence, 

on the first day of his visit. 

No United States flag was flying to greet a Vice-President. 

The temperature was already rising, 

the dirty air was not good for clear photos.

There were no paparazzi around Beit HaNasi,

  just a few big vans, some red police tape and one ambulance.

Security was very light, a real contrast to the bus blocking this intersection

and many streets being closed for hours before President Bush’s visit. 

At least the US Vice-President rated a security helicopter circling overhead

when he was arriving and leaving from meetings.

No complaints were heard from the residents of Jerusalem,

who were able to get around both by car and on foot. 

Unless you were stuck in traffic when his entourage was on the move,

you would not have known that Joe Biden was here.

Then, an announcement about new housing plans in the northern

Jerusalem neighborhood of  Ramat Shlomo 

and reports of his visit made headlines around the world.


A little perspective on housing:

to get anything built in Jerusalem takes time, a lot of time.

Something as simple as the addition of a small porch,

that all the neighbors agree on, can take ten years to be done legally.

One of Jerusalem’s biggest problems is the lack of housing,

especially affordable housing.

After the Safdie Plan failed to pass due to environmental concerns

there simply are not enough places for the people to live.

The real shame is that media coverage and world’s outrage

at this badly-timed announcement seems to have left no time

and space to cover the really disturbing news

of the massacres going on in Nigeria,

including  the slaughter of many young children…

When Vice-President Joe Biden left for Tel Aviv today,

the entire world was aware of his every move.

What a difference one day makes in Jerusalem!

This is Apartheid?

 Israel Apartheid Week is reported to be growing on college campuses;

its participants must  have never spent any time in Jerusalem.

Arab families often visit Gan Sacher and other Jerusalem parks.

 This is apartheid?

"Arab women", "Palestinian women"

 Hospitals are fully integrated; staff, patients, and visitors.

This is apartheid?

"Arab women", "Palestinian women"

 Shopping malls are open to all customers.

"Arab women", "picture Arab women" "Palestinian women"

These ladies hailed a taxi on King George Street

after a successful shopping day at Ben Yehudah Mall.

"arab women" , "Female shopper", "Palestinian woman"

Arab women shop on Jaffa Street on a regular basis, 

often shopping alone.

This is apartheid?

"arab women", "Israel abusing rights"

 Arab women walk freely in old neighborhoods, 

and in new areas. This is apartheid?

"arab woman and child","Palestinian boy".

However, with small children in hand,

women may not be able to move around quite so easily.

It is not simple for anyone to get a driver’s license in Jerusalem,

but the option is available to all.

  Arab girls wait to ride on a regular public city bus. 

"Palestinian family", "Israeli occupation",

As the world media focused on stone throwers,

this family was walking in nearby Baka. 

There are fewer photos of Arab men,

"arab man", Palesinian man", "Israeli oppresion"

 because unless they are with women dressed in traditional clothes

it is often hard to pick them out in a crowd. 

"racism in Israel", "racist Israel"

Yes there are serious problems, but

no legislation exists that discriminates against blacks.

Holy sites are open to people of all faiths.

"Palestinian woman", "abuse in Israel"

Democratically elected Arab members in the Knesset speak,

vote and can propose laws.

Jerusalem may have plenty of problems,

but this is not apartheid.

Shushan Purim Day in Jerusalem

On Monday Shushan Purim schools were closed, 

 the Jerusalem Theater had a special musical program;

 the Purim songs were loud and lively, the entertainers tried their best,

but at times there were more tall people than short people in the lobby.

The busy streets of Jerusalem were quieter than usual, as many businesses were closed, and the rainy weather kept people indoors. It was hard to guess how many late night party-goers were off to a slow start on Shushan Purim.

A major afternoon celebration was organized at the new Mamilla Mall,

next to the Old City.

 Street entertainers were popular with the crowd.

If you look above the street,

you’ll see that Peter Pan traded in his regular hat for a warmer one.

 Photographers were trying to capture the moment. 

             It was a great day for hot chocolate or coffee.

Ben Yehudah Street had its share of people for celebrations

and a bit of smoke from firecrackers.



 Machane Yehudah Market, the shuk,

as always, had its share of colorful customers.

  There were some scary looking

characters on the sreets,

but for the most part…

the day was about princesses and butterflies, color,

                                                                and of course, hats.

Rosh Chodesh Adar 5773, updated for Purim 2013