New Signs of Spring in Israel

New Signs of Spring in Israel

Pesach, Passover,  the holiday of Freedom and the holiday of Spring,

begins two weeks into the Hebrew month of Nisan.

Spring flowers in Jerusalem, Israel in Beit Hanasi garden

In Israel, spring is a time of green and of spring blooms of all colors popping up in the warm sun after the winter rain.

Clouds in sky, power lines and green along road in southern Israel

On a recent trip south toward the Negev, clouds billowed over the power lines.

Negev green after winter rain as seen from highway

All along the highway, green was the predominate color.

Fields of green vegetables are ready to pick for the holiday tables.

Hasslat Gush Katif vegetable packing plant in southern Israel

Our trip was to see a new vegetable packing plant in the Negev called חסלט Hasalat.

The facility was impressive on many levels.

Trucks unloading vegetables at packing plant in southern Israel

The size and capacity are impressive. Those openings are for two large trucks filled with produce to be delivered.

Vegetables marked with red stickers were rejected by packing plant for kosher customers

Not all produce is accepted, and these crates with red stickers contained rejected produce.

Gush Katif packing plant water being checked for insects

Samples of deliveries are washed and rinsed and checked in the lab, through a series of fine filters.

Man inspects for tiny bugs in vegetables in southern Israel packing plant

The specially trained inspectors are looking for insects less than a millimeter in size.

Man uses magnifying glass to examine small bug found in vegetable rinse water in packing plant in southern Israel

They know how to tell tiny insects that are not easily washed away from those that are.

Packing Gush Katif vegetables in southern Israel

Once the produce has been checked and declared clean, it then to goes to the packers, who have to dress warmly, as the rooms are kept cool.

People inspecting cabbage in packing plant Israel Gush Katif

The cabbage checkers check and recheck for insects, before the cabbages are sent along to be put in plastic bags.

Work room in Hasslat packing plant for Gush Katif vegetables

This is a large plant, with multiple rooms that process a variety of vegetables.

With Passover approaching, the demand for romaine lettuce will surge.

Ready-cut carrots, parsley and cabbage for salads will also be in great demand.

Israel green from winter rain people working in fields

Along the road agricultural workers were working in the green fields.

Bomb shelter on farmers for safety from Gaza missiles in southern Israel

These bomb shelters for farmers were built for protection as the rockets rained in from Gaza.

Now they are being used for storage, but if an alarm sounds, in the Negev there is no time to head home. Some workers have less than fifteen seconds to run to shelter.

After 12 years, Gush Katif produce, though no longer from Gush Katif, stands for quality and bug-free vegetables with low pesticide use, and some are grown organically.

Cabbage growing in hot house in southern Israel

Farmers are growing in special green houses in the Negev, sending their produce to be packed at Hasalat and then sent to stores in Israel and around the world.

Not all the farmers who left Gush Katif have permanent homes yet, so many years after they were expelled.

Kfar Darom building sites ready, but still no homes built

These are the housing plots for the new Shavei Darom community.

Gush Katif Kfar Darom playground built though no homes yet

The JNF playground is built and ready, but there are no children yet to play there.

Kfar Darom mikvah built before any homes Gush Katif

The community mikvah is state-of the-art with access for those with disabilities.

Land for homes Kfar Darom Gush Katif to rebuild

The Shavei Darom infrastructure is ready, but there are no homes built yet.

12 years after the destruction of Gush Katif, those expelled are still living in temporary residences.

Southern Israel bomb shelter next to bus stop

Bomb shelters next to bus stops are real and ready.

Cabbage in hothouse in Southern Israel for Gush Katif vegetable

But it was good to see that greener days are ahead for some of the former residents of Gush Katif.

It’s also good to see the new signs over the Jerusalem streets for Passover.

Street sign Happy spring holiday

 Chag Aviv Sameach Be Yerushaliyim

Happy Holiday of Spring in Jerusalem.

 

KING DAVID: Lasers New Light from Jerusalem

KING DAVID: Lasers New Light from Jerusalem

I love going to the Tower of David.

Visits to the Tower of David Museum for fashion, photos of the old days, or the 100 years celebration of Allenby, all were fascinating.

Nothing tops the photo ops of night-time events in the citadel of the Tower of David.

Night at Tower of David Jerusalem, Israel

Waiting outside at night, dwarfed by those ancient towering stone walls, an awesome feeling to historical past, that never gets old.

Jerusalem Israel Tower of David at night

The views inside the citadel, on the platforms above Jerusalem, Israel, are amazing.

A chance to see the new night experience KING DAVID, was not one to pass up.

Jerusalem, Israel, Tower of David citadel at night

Pre-show lighting of the inside walls runs for 15 minutes, as up to 420 visitors are seated.

Modern laser technology casts words on the walls of old.

Tower of David pre-show lighting for KING DAVID

On a cool, humid night, the city lights turned the sky shades of pink, not the usual black sky, contrasting with the intricate light patterns.

One is to imagine David escaping to the oasis of Ein Gedi by the light projections all around the inside walls.

Tower of David Museum flowing waters on walls of citadel

Cascading, flowing water is yet another scene.

Introducing KING DAVID new sound and light show Tower of David

After the introduction of the evening, the sound of the musical performance surrounds, while the laser projectors illuminate with 250,000 lumens and 35 million pixels.

KING DAVID show begins with art inspired by his story Jerusalem Israel

David has inspired countless works of art by major sculptors and painters over the centuries.

In this latest creation, scenes change rapidly, going through the life story of King David.

KING DAVID scene of Ruth in fields of Bethlehem Jerusalem Israel Tower of David

The historical narrative begins with Ruth, David’s great-grandmother, gathering wheat from the fields.

Scene young David at Tower of David show Jerusalem Israel

There is David as a shepherd tending to his flock in the pasture, and here with Samuel the Prophet.

Not all is bright and cheerful.

There is the story of fighting the Philistines and David with Goliath.

Nit laser and sound show Tower of David Jerusalem Israel

Can you find what is real and what is light projected against the stone walls?

Tower of David night show scene with harp Jerusalem Israel

David the musician plays the harp for King Saul, as walls are made to resemble tents.

Scene in Tower of David 12 tribes of Israel Jerusalem

The 12 Tribes of Israel settled in Israel with Jerusalem as their capital.

Tower of David laser and light show KING DAVID Jerusalem

The Ark of the Covenant is brought to Jerusalem.

Scene of celebration Tower of David story of KING DAVID

People dance and rejoice in the streets of Jerusalem.

Tower of David light show KING DAVID Jerusalem Israel

There are so many stories of David’s life, each one famous on its own.

Scene with King playing card Tower of David show Jerusalem Israel

The Tower of David Museum ‘Night Spectacular’ centered on the building of Jerusalem over the centuries.

This new night light spectacular features, David, King of Israel, David HaMelech.

Tower of David scene of David the Poet with psalm on wall Jerusalem

You see his palace, to enter by candle light.

Besides being a warrior, David is also credited with composing the Book of Psalms.

Jerusalem rejoicing in final scene of KING DAVID at Tower of David

For the finale, after King David looks out into the starry night sky above Jerusalem, the City of David, doves fly above musicians and joyous people.

Musical ending for KING DAVID at Tower of David Jerusalem Israel

Let’s all pray for peace in Jerusalem.

The Night Spectacular has been running for ten years,

and will continue to be shown.

One of the most famous psalms, Chapter 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd” is featured in the following video.

Still not enough? The following is a two-minute video of the early action of the laser and light show which runs 31 minutes.

KING DAVID opens at the Tower of David on April 1, 2018.

What a Week in Jerusalem: Presidents, Parliamentarians, Ambassadors and More

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,

Street sign George Washington in Jeruaslem

here in Jerusalem, Washington is honored all year long, and  Abraham Lincoln is right around the corner. 

The annual Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization, COP, had over a hundred leaders participating in this year’s mission.

Football numbered shirt presented to President Rivlin in Jerusalem

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.

Malcolm Hoenlein looks up at Jewish football player Geoff Schwartz at CoP dinner in Jerusalem Israel

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.

Ambassador Friedman and Tammy Friedman

Also at the opening gala were US Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy.

Dr Leah Goldin with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem

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.

Parents of Avera Mengistu at dinner CoP to raise awareness of their son held captive 3 years by Hamas

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.

Five former Israeli Ambassadors speak to Conference of Presidents at Waldorf Astoria

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.

Israeli Knesset hosts International Parliamentary heads at conference

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.

Insights into Israel Bedouin girl at Israeli University excelling in STEM education

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.

African American basketball players in Israel

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.

Jerusalem Marathon 2018 huge announcement near Jaffa Gate

Out on the streets, this week’s Jerusalem’s Shaon Horef, Winter Noise, location was Jaffa Gate.

Shaon Horef שאון חורף ן Old City Jaffa Gate

Light projections and music played on inside Jaffa Gate at multiple locations.

Tower of David for Shaon Horef Jerusalem Monday night event in Februrary

Hundreds of people were climbing the steps throughout the Tower of David after dark.

Music and dancing at Jaffa Gate for Winter Noise event

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.

Jerusalem Israel wild flowers growing in Valley of Cross

This was not a week to be cooped up all day in meetings! Look down and you see flowers blooming.

Clouds and colored sky photo Jerusalem sunset over Israel Museum

Look up and you could see magnificent sunsets.

Jerusalem Marathon finish line ready for races in March

A finish line is up next to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, for the Jerusalem Marathon on March 9.

Happy Purim Jerusalem street posters

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.