The seasons are changing.
Nights are cooler, days shorter,
clouds appear in the sky as the sun is setting.
The new month of Elul is beginning
שבת שלום חודש טוב
Jerusalem, old and new and constantly changing,
has been a constant theme
throughout the years at Real J Streets.
Once a derelict No Man’s Land,
a bullet-holed war zone between 1948-1967,
now Mamilla Mall is a huge success story.
Thousands of people come to shop and eat daily.
Often the parking lots are so full
that traffic backs up and honking cars are the norm.
On King George Street,
this abandoned building
has been an eyesore for years and a home to squatters.
But in Jerusalem what a difference a month makes–
now it is gone!
A white construction fence has appeared in its place,
which surrounds extensive excavation work.
From one opening,
you can see the Great Synagogue across
King George Street and the dome of Heichal Shlomo.
Work on the future Knesset Museum is
hidden behind these huge tarp coverings.
The difference that has occurred in a month
to the future We Work offices
at the old Mashbir site is obvious.
On the downtown Jerusalem streets,
change can be seen not only looking up,
but also be sure and look down.
Artists have produced new works
on mats laid down in busy plaza areas.
For the best angle from which to appreciate this street art
you have to take the time and stop.
Signs are up at Beit Avi Chai advertising
neighborhood tours with story-telling.
Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park,
has been a construction site all week.
But the barriers and the large stage to be built there for
the annual Beer Festival are only temporary.
as always the end of August,
the biggest deal on the Jerusalem streets
is the first day of school tomorrow.
For working parents, childcare
during the last two weeks of summer vacation
is often provided by grandparents and friends.
But, those without children also appreciate start of school,
as children were often brought to offices,
banks and many parents’ workplaces.
News outlets have started their annual interviews.
Yikes, now there are songs about school on radio.
The Prime Minister, President and mayors
will go to be photographed in a classroom.
I love how starting Kita Aleph, first grade,
is such a huge event in Israel.
Wishing all a good
and successful new school year.
No matter how you spell it,
Khutsot Hayotser or Hutzot Hayozer,
the annual Jerusalem International Arts & Crafts Festival
is a huge end-of-summer Jerusalem, Israel event.
It fills the Mitchell Garden,
with a massive stage and seating in the Sultan’s Pool,
and bustling alleyways in the Artists’ Colony.
Arriving before sunset,
the Tower of David can be seen in the background,
above the booths where 200 local artisans
display their works for sale.
For over 40 years,
a night-time Israeli family-fun tradition,
showcasing a wide variety of art forms.
At the extensive food court,
it is hard not to find some unusual and new food to sample.
Glass and wood, leather and ceramics, and metal work
are featured popular craft items.
This year, workshops were offered
by the Bezalel “White House” project,
organized by the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design,
with opportunities to learn from
talented students of the design school and purchase their handiwork.
But this festival is international too,
with exhibitors from Argentina and Armenia,
to Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe,
and Mexico in between,
plus Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
At one of several booths for Chinese wares,
there were smiles for photos,
while a llama stood on guard for Peru.
These Korean dolls were colorful and delicate.
Entertainment specially designed for children
and some shows to complicated to explain
went on after dark and well into the night.
every night, popular Israel musical acts
filled the huge Sultan Pool stage.
Every night tens of thousands of Israelis
celebrate the end of summer in Jerusalem, Israel at the fair.
The end of August, Tisha B’Av is over,
and Jerusalem festival season is in full swing.
While the Festival Ha’ira is still popular,
there is an annual Klezemer Festival,
and this sign is for new arts festival.
Walking by the Liberty Bell Park,
I was not only one scratching my head.
What was that thing in the park?
Train Theater has its annual Puppet Festival.
People were lined up to enter,
but something new lined the fence.
Inspired by the Prague Zoo,
posters by Michal Cihlar, a Czech Republic artist,
“Zoooo – You Wouldn’t have a clue?”
included a hoopoe, Israeli’s national bird.
While across the road in Bloomfield Gardens,
near the Montefiore Windmill,
Over the next two weeks,
audiences in the park can appreciate Shakespeare,
but be warned do not get too comfortable,
the audience changes locations 5 times.
Where else can you hear the Bard of Avon with this backdrop?
Nearby, also these last two weeks of August,
is Khutsot Hayotser,
the annual international arts and crafts fair,
with its concerts in Sultan’s Pool.
It is so huge,
I will save those photos for another time.
Since it opened and all summer long.
families have come to Teddy Park.
Children love to run in the fountain.
Lights and music at night,
with the water pressure changing,
what a way to cool off and have fun, and its free.
With the walls of the Old City in the background,
location is a bonus also.
The Beer and Wine Festivals are still to come.
But meanwhile with Tu B’Av parties and weddings,
it is hard to keep up with all the good things
happening on the Jerusalem, Israel streets.
Have you ever walked around Jerusalem?
That is, have you ever walked
around the Walls of the Old City?
On Tisha B’Av night for the last few years,
I have walked around the walls,
and this time I took photos to share with you.
Security was visible,
but not more than in previous years.
The route starts on Agron Street and goes past the hotels.
With King David Street in the background,
as we turned the corner headed to the Old City,
there were hundreds of people, young and not so young,
some walking with baby carriers and some with canes.
Distances are not what most expect,
for it take only minutes to
pass the first gate – the New Gate.
Everyone walks together as a group
carrying dozens of Israel flags,
on to a quiet Damascus Gate
and a quieter Flower Gate.
We walked by the Rockefeller Museum on the left.
Before you know it,
it is time to turn the corner.
The lights on the walls of the Old City
shone brightly against the dark sky.
Soon we approached the Lion’s Gate,
on a street closed to traffic and quiet,
in stark contrast to the Kotel,
the Western Wall.
Tens of thousands came to mourn,
some sit all night on the stones.
Every day thousand of people come to Old City,
but not many have walked around the walls.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour,
and perhaps you will come soon to see for yourself.
Jerusalem, Israel, on Tisha B’Av,
a unique experience.
Additional photos HERE
In the month of Av,
especially on Tisha B’Av,
terrible things have happened.
Jerusalem was destroyed,
but the Jewish people have returned.
The military cemetery on Mt. Herzl,
is filled with graves of fallen IDF soldiers,
their birthdays celebrated with photos.
So many rows of young people who will not age.
Michael Levin z”l is one lone soldier
from the United States who died ten years ago,
and there too many more to mention.
As the memorial service for Michael Levin ended,
another began nearby.
When a soldier dies in battle,
it is said he has “fallen.”
Falling is the precursor to getting up.
There are too many soldiers who fell too young,
but have left us with a mission and legacy to fulfill.
We must get up and carry on where they left off.
May their memories be for a blessing.