25 New Reasons There’s Hope for Future in Israel

Human Rights Watch finally called Hamas’ firing on Israel a “war crime,”

however, a month after Operation Pillar of Defense,

 new rockets were launched toward Israel from Gaza that fell short.

As the year 2012 comes to an end, how about some good news?

Last week I got out of Jerusalem, Israel, and went south,

sign Gaza photo

    near the Gaza border, where the sign was only in Hebrew and Arabic.

Sign Kibbutz Alumim

Kinneret was kind enough to show me around Kibbutz Alumim,

field near GAza

whose fields are 4 kilometers from Gaza, which can be seen in the distance.

factory on kibbutz

Carrots from the fields are sorted in this factory,

bomb shelter

whose bomb shelter is at its entrance.

bomb shelter children playgournd

Another shelter is placed on the children’s playground

bomb shelter Israel

and all the housing has safe rooms added on.

cows photo

 Alumim also has cows and avocado trees,

sunset photo

and impressive sunsets.

Like a pearl that started from a grain of sand in the ocean,

in this seemingly unlikely place, and because of “the situation”

Mechinat Yonatan

a new program began called Southern Task Force-Yonatan

or Mechinat Yonatan, for Yoni Netanyahu.

Started last year by a few idealistic girls who found others on Facebook,

study group

this co-ed, religious group of 25 young people

are taking a year after high school to work on the kibbutz,

class room lesson

 study Torah, and volunteer in schools in nearby cities.

music photo

They get up early and work hard, but still find time to relax,

Israeli tank

and all of them plan to join the army next year.

With young leaders like these, I say we have 25 new reasons to hope

Mechinat Yonatan

 for a better future in Israel.


The young people I spoke with talked of wanting

to work the land, learn Torah, and make a difference.

As 2012 comes to an end, can you think of a better hope for the future?

To see more photos, click HERE.

Post-Hanukkah Post

Did you hear that loud noise yesterday?

No, it was not an explosion or a riot,

but loud sighs of relief that the Hanukkah holiday season is finally over.

Hanukkah candles

Hanukkah may last 8 days with lots of candles in the rest of the world,

but in Jerusalem, Israel, it seems to go on forever.

Hanukkah photo

First there are the trips to school performances for each child,

after which children have over a week of vacation,

while most parents still have to go work.

Then there is the challenge  

sugganiah photo

of eating suffganiot

picture Hanukkah

and keeping your face free of all that powdered sugar or chocolate on top.


It is truly a Hanukkah miracle to see how quickly those suffganiot disappear.

Ellie Klein donuts

Once again this year, the consumption award goes to Elie Klein, 

who ate 125 of these jelly donuts and raised $17,900 for 111 charities.


The open windows that displayed the Hanukkah lights

are now closed to keep out the winter cold.

Hanukkah photo

Eight nights of Hanukkah were enough.

Flower photo Jerusalem

It is winter-time and so cold inside, but look as

Flowers Jerusalem

flowers are popping up all around this week.

And believe it or not, I already heard people discussing Purim costumes!

Hanukkah – Holiday of Lights

 Hanukkah is called Chag Ha’Urim, the Holiday of Lights.

Haunkiah at Kotel, Menorah at western Wall , Wailing Wall

 At the Kotel, the Western Wall, is one of the most famous hanukiot.

One of my favorite things in Jerusalem at this time of year

is that the usually shuttered windows at night-time

Jerusalem at Hanukkah time

are opened to show the burning candles.

oil menorahs, Jerusalem photos chanukah

 They are wide open to let the Hanukkah lights shine out to the street.

menorah in window, Jerusalem photo

At this yeshiva, there were hundreds of lights burning,

oil menorahs, Jerusalem photo tours

wow, they use a lot of olive oil.

The view in the windows upstairs in the Bet Midrash,

Menorah, Jerusalem photo tour

 revealed the main celebration.

We not only saw the light, but also heard the music on the street below.

Jerusalem photography tour, candle lighting, oil menorahs, chanukios

May the special beauty of the Hanukkah lights from Jerusalem, Israel 

spread throughout the world.

Chaukah candle lighting, Jerusalem photography tour

Chodesh tov and Shabbat shalom

decorated Hanukkah cake, a great miracle happened here, Jerusalem photography tour

Hanukkah sameach!

Happy Hanukkah!

Counting Chanukiot or Hanukkiot

Yesterday, 834 people in a hangar in the Princeton, New Jersey airport 

set the Guiness world record for the most Chanukiot lit at the same time.

I do not know if we could even get that many people 

in Jerusalem, Israel, to agree on anything.

It is even hard to agree on the spelling in English.

Are they Chanukiot or Hannukiot?

This time of year in Jerusalem, Israel,


 Hanukiot, special Hanukkah menorahs,


pop up on top of buildings,


and are displayed in windows


in all colors and types.


They are sold at many craft fairs before the holiday 


and can be found on top of cars during Hanukkah.

We have done whole blogs on Just Chanukiot in the past

and Chanukkah lights.

So what is new and different this year?

I set out yesterday to check the Jerusalem streets, 

but did not get very far before the rain started.

rain in Jerusalem, mud puddles

There are those who count every single millimeter of water, 

 yesterday it came down in buckets.

When it rains in Jerusalem, the sky gets grey and the people go inside.

Israel Museum

At one popular destination is the Israel Museum, the garden was empty,

Israel Museum

as people looked for shelter and families filled the children’s sections,

hand made menorahs

where Hanukiot were made of recycled materials.

But I wanted to find the special Hanukkah exhibit

Israel Museum chanukiah

 on Hanukiot

Israel Museum, exhibit chanukiah

 from around the world:

menorah from Yemen, chaunkiah

simple ones from Yemen


as well as ornate ones from Europe.

Israel Museum, chaukiah

Families looked at the various small Chanukiot

Israel Museum, chanukkah

and admired the large ones,

large menorah, chanukia

while the weather outside also got plenty of attention.

I really wanted to go across the street to see the new

“Fire” exhibit at the Bloomfield Science Museum

But I was still wet, so I went home to get some hot tea and dry clothes.

Today the sun is shining again, it is a much better day for photos.  

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah Light from Jerusalem

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah.


I went to Mamilla Mall to watch the candlelighting of the large hanukiah

led by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.


Some of his followers came,


but hundreds were in the crowd that gathered and watched from below.


There were even a few who watched from above.


Inside the mall were many hanukiot,


and one very proud family posing with one of the artists.

That was going to be the theme of this blog:


the signs of family, creativity, happiness  and LOVE.

Then I got home and listened to the news of Hamas celebrations in Gaza

and Mashaal’s vow to continue fighting against Israel,

and not to give an inch.  So much for peace partners. 

Hanukkah is a celebration of good over evil and light over darkness.

So let me add a few other photos taken at Mamilla Mall all that

you will not see in the media stream media.


People of all religions were present at the candle lighting.


Arab girls were shopping in the mall as usual,


Arab young men were walking freely as usual, and there were even 


Arab boys out riding their bikes near the large hanukiah near the Jaffa Gate.

Even with hundreds of Hanukkah celebrants on the streets, as usual,

there was no sign of Apartheid or BDS – Boycott, Divestment or Sanctions.

Hanukkah time in Jerusalem, Israel and there is just too much to do,

but here is a great source for some of the top Jerusalem events.

Meanwhile, while Hamas prepares its babies to be killers,

please contrast to how children are “used” in Jerusalem.

May the light from Jerusalem, Israel continue to be a light unto the nations.

December, it’s Hanukkah in Jerusalem

Operation Pillar of Defense is over for most everyone,

wounded soldier

except for the wounded, and of course the families of those who were killed.

Iron Dome

The rockets destroyed by Iron Dome are less of a topic of discussion.

children playing in shelter, Sderot

Children in Southern Israel are no longer in shelters,

but have gone back to school,

Israel soldier

while their big brothers have returned to their regular military service.

Ethiopian children

The children of Kiryat Malachi still have a long, hard road ahead.

But enough of war and politics!  

The calendar has turned to December 

and Hanukkah is almost here!


That means it is strawberry season


and fresh citrus fruit abounds in the Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk.


Piles of dreydels are on display, 

sffganiah, donuts, suffganiot, jelly donuts.

platters of suffganiot, 

chaunkiah, street light menorah

and the streets are illuminated with colorful Chanukiot.

Chanukah bibs

Hanukkah is coming,

ready or not.