Jerusalem, Past and Future

The spring holiday season has just ended with

Shavuot and Pentecost falling on the same Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands of people came from around the world

to celebrate peacefully in Jerusalem.

"picture Wailing Wall","photo Jerusalem", "image birds"

Something was making the birds crazy,

but otherwise it was a quiet, beautiful day,

  so there was hardly a mention in the mainstream media.

What image comes to mind when you hear the word Jerusalem?

"picture Jerusalem", "image Jerusalem, "photo J Street"

Perhaps it is the ancient walls of the Old City?

"picture Jerusalem","image flags", "photo Israeli flag"

But Jerusalem is a place of contrast and diversity, and is constantly changing.

"picture Safra Square", "image flags" , "photo J Street"

Just before the holiday weekend, I went to Kikar Safra, Safra Square

"sign image","photo Jerusalem", "Jerusalem picture"

 to the City Council meeting room for an exciting event.

The Jerusalem Business Network Forum Bio-Med  a group

formed to bring science industry to Jerusalem,

 launched the Burrill Israel Fund.

"picture Nir Barkat","photo Jerusalem mayor","image mayor Jerusalem"

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed Jeff Miller,

special advisor to Burrill & Co, who announced a $200,000,000

“super angel”  fund for Jerusalem Bio-Med development. 

The fund is backed by Steve Burrill, an US investor

who loves Jerusalem and invests in health care,

which he prefers to call “sickness and wellness.”

"picture Jerusalem deputy mayor", "photo Jerusalem", "image deputy mayor"

Deputy Mayors Naomi Tsur and Yitzchak Pindrus addressed the crowd

that included scientists, entrepreneurs, and lawyers.

Before entering politics, Mayor Barkat

was involved with development of the first internet firewalls

 and has worked to bring hi-tech and bio-tech industry to Jerusalem.

 Jerusalem is  known for science study and research.

  HUB (Hebrew University Biotech) has lab space for start-ups,

but until now Jerusalem 

has not been associated with the “Start Up Nation” image.

One fascinating innovation that was discussed was a device

enabling doctors to see under the skin before making surgical incisions.

"image Jerusalem", "photo city hall", "picture people talking"

People stayed for hours talking at the end of the meeting.  

The Mayor’s wish to see Jerusalem as a future center of  bio-tech

and to take “talent to the next step”

is  a step closer to becoming a reality.

Jerusalem Day – 45 Years United

The list of events that took place in Jerusalem

on Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, is too long to print.

"Har Hazesim photo","picture buses", "photo Yom Yerushalayim"

Thousands of people traveled by bus,

"photo bide ride","image bikes" , "picture Yom Yerushalayim"

hundreds rode bikes in from Gush Eztion

"photo flag parade","Image crowd flag parade","Picture Jerusalem"

and tens of thousands marched in the annual Flag Dance parade.

"picture Jerusalem streets", "photo Jerusalem", "image Jerusalem"

Jerusalem was a traffic nightmare with many sudden street closings.

"image Segway","photo jerusalems

 A Segway was one way to get through the sidewalk traffic.

With so many lectures, tours and varied activities available now,

people tend to forget that from 1948-1967, 

the Old City and the Kotel, the Western Wall, were under Jordanian rule.

 Jerusalem was a small, sleepy town divided by a wall and barbed wire,

a place where some Jews could not even see their former homes. 

"picture Old City walls", "photo soldiers", "Image Jerusalem"

  Jordanian snipers no longer shoot down over No Man’s-Land,

 now Israeli soldiers watch out from the walls of the Old City.

Distances are not so great,

"picture east Jerusalem","photo East Jerusalem", "Image east jerusalem"

and on a clear day Jordan is visible from the promenade of the Tayelet,

"image Al quds","photos Al Quds, "picture Al Quds"

located in an area once mostly agricultural and under British control,

"picture Al Quds", "photo Jerusaelm" "image Old City'

 but now famous for its view of the Old City Walls.

On Yom Yerushalayim I went on a walking tour of the area.

"photo UN building", "image UN Jerusalem" "picture Jerusalem"

We saw the United Nations headquarters 

'picture Jerusalem", "photo Tolerance monument","image Tolerance"

and a Monument of Tolerance.

How ironic that it was dedicated rather quietly,

around the time that 8 Mercaz Harav students were murdered.

To get to the center of Jerusalem, 

"picture Flags", "photo Flag dance","image Jerusalem"

where thousands of boys

"picture girls dancing", "image Jerusalem","photo flags"

and girls filled the streets singing and dancing,

I passed through the Liberty Bell Park.

"picture Arab girls", "photo Arab girls", "image Arab girls"

   Arab women and families who ignored PA-issued warnings 

were there as usual enjoying the pleasant weather.

"picture Jerusalem street", "photo Jerusalem", "image parade"

Tens of thousands of people filled the Jerusalem streets.

"picture Jerusalem flag", "photo large flag","image Jerusalem street"

Not all were religious, not all were teens, not all had Israeli flags,

and not one fired a weapon.

While I do not condone their bad behavior,

a statistically insignificant number of trouble-makers at Damascus Gate

 got the mainstream media attention.

 I would like to share with you a few scenes you may not have seen.

"picture Israeli soldiers","photo Israeli soldiers", "image Israeli soldiers"

 Mamilla Mall was packed with crowds coming and going to Jaffa Gate.

"picture Hurva" "photo Rova", "IMAGE old city"

Music and dancing filled the Rova, The Jewish Quarter plaza,

in front of the Hurva Synagogue, which in 1948 

was completely destroyed by the Jordanians and recently rebuilt.

"picture Kosel", "photo Al Quds","image Wailing Wall"

The Plaza near the Kotel, the Western Wall,

was full of people even before the Flag Parade arrived.

"picture Al Quds","image Wailing Wall", "photo sign"


from 1948-1967

" photo Jaffa Gate", "image girls", "picture Old City Walls"

 the plaza outside Jaffa Gate was not a safe place.

"picture Jerusalem street", "Photo Jerusalem","image Yemin Moshe"

Families did not stroll in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood.

"picture flag","photo Jerusalem street", "image Israeli flag"

Walking around The Old City Walls was impossible.

"picture east Jerusalem","photo Jerusalem" ,"image Jerusalem"

Jordanian east Jerusalem was off-limits. 

"picture Israeli flag", "photo sunset", "image Jerusalem"

The sun was setting after a beautiful Jerusalem spring day.

Then the party moved to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park

where live music blared all night for a crowd of thousands,

oh…and what a Sleepless Night it was:

Jerusalem Day  #45

More photos The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook page


The International Writers Festival is hosting events all this week 

in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first community to be built outside the walls 

"photo windmill", "image windmill", "picture Jerusalem windmill"

of Jerusalem, perhaps best known for its iconic Montefiore Windmill

which is now undergoing renovation.

This Jewish neighborhood was unsafe and deserted from 1948–1967.

In answer to a question the speaker encouraged writers to write about

 what they know.  What do I know?

"picture Yemin Moshe" ,"photo steps', "image Jerusalem"

 I know that it was not easy to get to the lecture hall as the narrow streets

"photo Jerusalem","image Yemin Moshe", "Picture Jerusalem Day"

were full of school children.

"picture Jerusalem", "photo Old City" "image Old City walls"

on their way to the Old City.

This week marks 45 years since the reunification of Jerusalem.

"photo Jerusalem","image J Street","picture interview"

As Channel 1 looked for a story at the Writers Festival,

"photo Jerusalem", "image double decker bus", "photo J Street"

I was amazed by the sight across the valley near the Old City walls.

"photo Jerusalem", "image J Street", "picture Jerusalem Day"

Hundreds and hundreds of Israeli school children

"photo Old City", "picutre Al Quds", "photo Al Quds"

were climbing the path towards the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

"picture Al Quds", "photo Al Quds", "Al Quds image"

In 1965 when Jerusalem was divided and under Jordanian rule,

 a Jewish person could not get near the Kotel, the Western Wall,

so this photo had to be taken at the edge of No-Man’s Land.

"photo Kosel", "image Kosel","picture Al Quds"

Next week for the Shavuot holiday, tens of thousands

 of worshipers will pack the plaza for the break of dawn services.

"picture east Jerusalem", "photo east Jerusalem", "image east Jerusalem"

 I stood on this pedestrian bridge watching 

"picture Al; Quds", "image J Street", "photo Jerusalem"

the endless stream of school children walking  on my left.

"picture nakba", Photo East Jerusalem", "image Nakba riots"

At that very moment, on my right

smoke was rising from Arab neighborhoods.

It was Nakba Day, the “catastrophe” or “disaster” the Arab world

has observed for 64 years because of the establishment of Israel.

"picture Arab girl". "photo Arab girl", "image Arab girl"

Below, an Arab girl was walking alone

"picture Palestinian boy","photo Palestinian child?,"image Palestinian boy"

and this Arab boy was hanging around the cinema.

They were heading home around the time PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was 

in Ramallah inciting the crowd with charges of “ethnic cleansing”.

"picture East Jerusalem", "photo Jerusalem" "image Arab boys"

I passed through the Liberty Bell Park

"Arab boys photos","picture Arab boys, "palestinian boys image"

and saw two Arab boys climbing on a sculpture in the gardens.

"picture Israel flag", "image Jerusalem Day", "photo Jerusalem street"

It is not easy to relocate under the best of circumstances,

but my Christian friends from Lebanon did it in America.

My Jewish friends from Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq and Morocco

lost everything when they were forced from their childhood homes,

but they moved on, and built good lives for themselves and their families.

Yes, there is a Nakba, a disaster and a real tragedy.

"east Jerusalem picture",

As long as the Arab world continues on its destructive path…

there is indeed a Nakba .

Hollywood Celebrities Tweet about Israel

Tourism in Jerusalem is growing, April numbers set a new record.

This week Birthright-Taglit is bringing  59 groups,

each with 40 young people, for their first visit to Israel.

Yet many people think Israel is a dangerous place to visit.

 What do you think you see in this photo?

"picture Zach Roerig", "photo Zach Roerig", "image Zach Roerig"

This is not a tourist getting attacked,

"photo Zach Roerig", "image Zach Roerig", "Zach Roerig picture"

but actor Zach Roerig of Vampire Diaries on the right,

with actor Eli Finish of the Israeli TV show Eretz Nehederet 

"picture martial arts class", "photo Jerusalem", "image AnnayLyn McCord"

at a special martial arts class held at the Inbal Hotel.

This week eight US actors were in Jerusalem

with America’s Voices in Israel – AVI tour.

AVI, along with the Ministries of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora and Tourism  

aims to give the celebrities a program that reflects their interests.

Their whirlwind visit ended with this class,

"picture Holt McCallany", "photo Holt McCallany", "image Holt McCallany"

also attended by Holt McCallany of Fight Club

"picture AnnaLynne Mc Cord","photo AnnaLynne McCord", "image AnnaLynne McCord"

and AnnaLynne McCord of 90210.

"photo Holt cCallany", "picture fighting", "image fight"

Holt enjoyed practicing with head coach Boaz Barr,

"photo ZAch Roetig", "picture Jerusalem", "Image fight"

as did Zach Roerig,

"photo AnnaLynne MCcord", "image karate kick", "photo Jerusalem"

 and beginner AnnaLynne’s high kicks impressed everyone.

"picture Zach Roerig", Photo Zach Roering", Image Zach Roerig"

Shortly after posing for a group photo, the Americans flew home.

"picture Jerusalem", "hotel lobby photo",  "image fans'

Israeli fans surrounded Eli Finish as soon as he entered the lobby,

while US stars Zach and AnnaLynne went unnoticed to their rooms.

Also on this tour were Paul Johansson (90210 & Atlas Shrugged),

Omar Epps (ER & House), Holly Robinson Peele (21 Jump St),

Mekhi Phifer (ER) and Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds).

We will have to wait and see if the tweets, Facebook photos

and blogs on this celebrity trip will be a positive influence

on how their fans view Israel.

I do know they had a great time and plan to return,

Zach said I could quote him…

“I’ll be back!”

Lag B’Omer Fire and Smoke

Meron and the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

may be the #1 most popular place to be on Lag B’Omer

but celebrations in Jerusalem are a close second. 

"photo Lag Ba'omer", "picture lag ba'omer", "photo Jerusalem"

Collecting wood for a medura, a bonfire, began before Passover.

"picture wagon","photo Gan Sacher", "image Lag Ba'omer"

Wood in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was carried in a little wagon,

"image Lab Baomer", "photo Jerusalem", "image car'

but I really liked this pile of wood being transported on top of a car.

"image Hebrew sign", "photo sgin", 'picture Jerusalem sign"

The sign says no fires, but before Lag B’Omer the dry grass is cut short,

because this park is one of the most popular places to make a medura.

"picture lag ba'omer", "photo fire", "image Jerusalem"

 Wednesday night small fires were lit all around Jerusalem.

In the Har Nof neighborhood preparations for large fires began in April,

"photo smoke","picture lagbomer","image Jerusalem"

 smoke from one of these fires could be found well into the day on Thursday.

As I said before some love this and some do not  and

miraculously once again there were no reports of major accidents.

There was one thing that was different this year,

"photo Netanyahu house","picture Netanyahu house", "image house Jerusalem"

the house of  Benzion Netanyahu z”l, was covered in black.

The house is located near one of  the busiest Lag B’Omer spots.

What a mess it would have been

if the Prime Minister was sitting shiva this week.


"photo lag b omer", "picture  balloon", "image balloon"

 Lag B’Omer is a happy time,

so we will end with a colorful photo.

Hope you had a good and safe holiday too.

Komen Israel Race for the Cure

The second Komen Race for the Cure was held in Jerusalem today.

"photo Komen March","picture March for Cure", "image sign"

Thousands gathered in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park,

"picture Arab girls", "image Arab girls", "photo Arab girls"

to help raise money for breast cancer research. 

"Arab women photo","picture Arab women", "image Arab women"

People came from all over Israel and all over the world to take part,

"Arab women photo","picture Arabh women","image Arab women"

including hundreds of Arab women

"image Arab girls","photo Arab girls", "picture Arab girls"

and Arab girls.

"photo stage", "picture Arab girl", "image sign"

From a large stage after warm up and exercise music played,

 US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spoke to the crowd in Hebrew.

"photo Mayor Nir Barkat", "picture Jerusalem mayor","image Nir Barkat"

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and his wife Beverly

led the crowd out of the park

"staring line photo","image Jerusalem march", "picture security"

to the starting line.

"picture starting line","photo balloons","image balloons at starting line"

Balloons were released after the mayor spoke

"picture Arab girls", "Palestinian photo","image Palestinian women"

and the march began

"picture Arab girls", "photo Arab women", Image Arab crowd"

going up Bezalel Street toward the center of town 

"picture Arab women", "photo Arab women", "image Arab women"

to King George Street.

"picture Arab women", "photo Palestinian", "image Palestinian"

The March then proceeded through the Ben Yehuda Mall

and to Yoel Salomon Street,

which was a great improvement over the previous route.

"picture Joe Lieberman","photo Dan Shapiro", 'image ambassador"

US Senator Joe and Hadassah Lieberman and Ambassador Shapiro

seemed to be really enjoying themselves. 

The mid-day weather was much cooler than the last march

"photo Palestinian", image Old City","picture East Jerusalem"

and there was plenty of water for everyone.

"picture Old City Walls" "photo Al Quds", "image Al-Quds"

Walking along the Walls of the Old City was perfect way to end the march.

"picture Arab girls", "photo Arab girl", "image yoga"

In the park after the finish line,

a yoga session was led by a breast cancer survivor.

"picture sign","image Eden Wellness","banner photo"

Sadly, not everyone survives breast cancer and

many people walked in memory of a friend or relative.

"picture toilet", "photo Palestinian woman", "image Palestinian"

Komen organizers should also be complimented for providing

toilets for the disabled at the beginning and end of the route.

"photo Old City" "image Old City"

For an event that received so little advance publicity,

it was bigger and better than last time.

"photo Arab woman", "image Palestinian", "picture woman"

It is not clear yet how much money was raised for cancer research,

but as people we passed on the way kept saying,

“Ayza yofi, ayza yofi“… this is beautiful, so beautiful.”

 There was no violence, 

 certainly no sign of apartheid on the Jerusalem streets today,

but there were a lot of pink banners and pink balloons.

Additional photos on The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook page.

Also see:

Arab Women Raced Through Jerusalem with Weapons

Netanyahus – Father and Son

  Benzion Netanyahu, father of Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu,

died and was buried in Jerusalem yesterday.

The son remembered his father in a moving eulogy.

"poster death notice", "image Netanyahu sign", "picture sign death notice"

The signs are up and  the week of shiva has begun.

In Jewish tradition the shiva, the seven-day mourning period, is observed

at the home of the deceased.

Benzion Netanyahu lived the last of his 102 years on a small Jerusalem street.

Neighbors all knew when the Prime Minister came for one of his regular visits,

as armed security would stop them from even walking in the area.

Most people were impressed by the respect of a busy son for his father

and accepted the frequent inconvenience.

"image street", "picture street Netanyahu", "photo street"

After the funeral, the one-way street was lined with security barriers.

"picture shiva entrance", "photo tent", Image Bibi"

A large security tent was put up outside the entrance of the house,

"picture Yoni Square", "photo Yoni Netanyahu sign" , "image Netanyahu shiva"

which is located at Yoni Square, named for Yoni Nentanyahu,

Benzion’s oldest son who commanded and was killed

in the Entebbe raid in 1976.

"picture Natan Sharansky", 'photo Natan Sharansky", "image Sharansky"

One of the first to arrive to pay his condolences was Natan Sharansky.

"J Street picture", "image J street", "photo J Street"

This week neighborhood patience will be tested as the street will be blocked.

Men in dark suits are wandering around the maze of streets

looking at the illogical street numbers,

"picture Netanyahy shiva", "photo diplomat cars", "image J Street"

while those with diplomatic license plates can park a bit closer.

Condolence messages have even been received from Arab countries.

People on the street looked sad as they passed slowly by the house.

Educated Israelis from left to right acknowledge the loss of a father,

who was an academic, a scholar and a brilliant editor of encyclopedias.

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

May the family be comforted with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.