The Jerusalem streets were wonderful on a sunny December day, feeling like spring and all was well.
Then the next day is cold and wet and dreary. The threat of possible rockets is constant.
Time has become a blur as the war in Gaza rages on. Plus, rockets from Lebanon are killing soldiers, as residents from northern as well as southern cities have been evacuated. Many “safer” locations have had rockets from Gaza aimed at them as well. The loud booms of the Iron Dome interceptions are heard overhead in still too many locations as we approach Day 80 of a war Israel did not start or want.
In this time blur, it was a stark reminder of Hanukkah only a week before, when I finally got to Jaffa Gate, and the large menorah was still there. The Am Yisrael Chai banner is a sign of the times.
Mamilla Mall had more visible security.
But contrast to the past weeks, the Arab shoppers were back in the crowds as usual.
Near the Kotel, on the plaza of the Western Wall, an IDF ceremony was happening as the Kotel walls turned to gold in the afternoon sun, but without the usual supportive family crowds watching.
Interesting how many of the men went to put on tefillin after the young recruits were excused.
Also, some of the women went to pray before leaving Jerusalem’s Old City.
The number of people entering army service and the increase in interest in making aliyah is impressive.
What a contrast to what one might assume in wartime!
The work on the elevator from the Jewish Quarter is visible now, but the steps are still the only option.
Unless you walk this way –
and oh the contrast, to see this road without the usual constant flow of traffic.
And the Armenian road is easy to walk through without the cars being too close for comfort.
And the contrast for the holiday season to see the Plaza at Jaffa Gate without the holiday crowds – so sad.
However, at least the week started with something positive to share.
At Beit Ha’am, formerly the Gerard Behar Theater, off of Bezalel Street hosted a special event.
This was my first time inside, even though I walked by many times and watched the opening night crowds arrive in March 2022.
Before the Solidarity Concert in support of Israel, featuring the heads of European Opera Houses began, an announcement was made informing the audience that the theater is a protected space and therefore to stay put if an alarm sounds. Jerusalem has caught up with the North and South, we also have to know the closest safe location.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was the first speaker of many on video presented on the large screen. In contrast to many performances, the opening song was HaTikvah by the opera singers.
From the Augsburg Opera House in Germany, the director shared his support for Israel.
Behind each performer, a background was projected, appropriate for the piece based on location.
Among the participating opera houses were the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra,
and the Teatro del Maggio.
Compliments to the pianist who besides accompanying all the singers moderated the program.
Some faces and locations were easier to place together, such as the Geneva Opera House.
Culture and music should transcend politics, was the theme “knowing no borders.”
The colors and sounds were beautiful inside the theater in contrast to the war raging not too far away.
A fascinating evening of live opera was shared on a stage in Jerusalem for the public to attend for free.
The photos are a glimpse of the event, and snippets of the two-hour program are in this 9-minute video.
More photos were posted on Facebook HERE
And if you have only 2 minutes – Ott Maaten, director of the Estonia National Opera was my favorite speaker. Listen to part of his remarks. Hatikvah opened the evening and “If I Forget Jerusalem” was near the end.
A friend remarked later, where were Prague, Spain, Berlin, and the other major opera houses?
But to start the week after Hanukkah, the opera was a welcome relief from reality.
Back on the Jerusalem streets, the posters of the hostages are a reminder no one in Israel needs.
In contrast, to leave you with the beauty and color of birds of paradise,
and of the color of the clouds at sunset this time of year in Jerusalem, and all of Israel.
Fresh produce from volunteers helping Israeli farmers means the best does not go for export but stays on our tables to appreciate and enjoy.
And December in Israel means it’s strawberry season!
Even the strawberry packaging has an Israeli flag this year.
The holiday lights have been up all month at the YMCA in Jerusalem, Israel. Hoping to see more international tourists here next year in Jerusalem so all will be able to celebrate the holidays fully.
The Tower of David is offering holiday tours. There are markets to support artists open with free entrance from 9:30 – 2:30 pm again on Friday. We keep fighting terrorism, day by day, minute by minute, doing the best we can under the circumstances and a big welcome to all who have come to support Israel at this time.