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,
here in Jerusalem, Washington is honored all year long, and Abraham Lincoln is right around the corner.
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.
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.
Also at the opening gala were US Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Out on the streets, this week’s Jerusalem’s Shaon Horef, Winter Noise, location was Jaffa Gate.
Light projections and music played on inside Jaffa Gate at multiple locations.
Hundreds of people were climbing the steps throughout the Tower of David after dark.
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.
This was not a week to be cooped up all day in meetings! Look down and you see flowers blooming.
Look up and you could see magnificent sunsets.
A finish line is up next to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, for the Jerusalem Marathon on March 9.
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.