Take a walk and see what’s new on the Jerusalem streets

How is it already June?

Where has the time gone, it is a blur.

However, even in these difficult, somewhat sad, days, there are good things to report and some “normal” life has returned to the Jerusalem streets.

Immediately after Lag B’Omer, Jerusalem parks were filled with celebrations and birthday parties.

And the time quickly becomes wedding season as the Jerusalem hills are filled with music.

The community garden in Baka has developed since it began in 2017.

The community space has a book corner I passed on my way to an event honoring writers.

Eylon Levy delivered the keynote address at the 32nd annual Bnai Brith World Journalism Awards at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Walking through First Station with the rows of empty market stalls the absence of tourists is obvious.

Yellow chairs, yellow ribbons, and blue and white flags are seen on the Jerusalem streets.

The KumKum Tea House is adorned with purple flowers and a British flag.

The play areas of this Jerusalem nursery school have cheerful designs on the protective fence coverings.

Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence hosted the Michal Sela Hackathon where innovative ideas were presented for safety at home. Sela’s sister founded the Forum after in 2019 Michal’s husband killed her in their home.

Thursday’s Jerusalem Pride Parade was smaller this year and featured families of hostages.

As usual, the Jerusalem streets in the area were closed for many hours with thousands of security officers.

Yellow flags lined the Jerusalem streets along with rainbow-colored ones this year.

The Liberty Bell Park was cleaned up shortly after the crowd marched to Independence Park.

Impressively cleaned – I could only find one poster on the ground as I walked through the park.

No photos from Independence Park, Gan Haatzmaut, however, security would not let me enter.

I would have made a fuss, but I did not want to be late for a special lecture by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz.

Then, on Friday morning Jerusalem streets were closed for hundreds of riders in the large biking event.

Jerusalem streets will again be closed this week for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day with thousands more Israel flags and multiple events marking 57 years of reunification of Yerushalayim.

This flag down the Citadel Hotel wall should be one of the longest for the Flag Parade on Wednesday.

Never know what we will see next on the Jerusalem streets.

Today I got a ride home because it was too hot to walk down past the Israel Museum. However, I got photos and videos of the fire raging where I would have been walking.

What’s New and Different on the Jerusalem Streets?

With the end of May 2024, summer is returning to the Jerusalem streets.

A sure sign is finding that ants have returned to the kitchen.

On a quiet day when news is bleak, a quick walk to the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens to witness the new season is an effective antidote. The pond is filling with the green leaves of the lilies, and this year it is lined with Israeli flags.

More and more new flags are hanging over the Jerusalem streets, some never noticed before.

The Jerusalem Writers Festival is returning on May 27- 30 in Mishkenot Sha’ananim as in the past.

Jerusalem Education Week is back again with various activities for teachers, students, and parents.

The programs are to be held all week. However, this year it ends with a special Kabbalat Shabbat at the Nature Center in memory of Yossi Hershkovitz הי”ד on Friday afternoon.

Orient Isrotel Hotel was again the scene of the Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society.

The good food and conversations in the main lobby and

the main room set to accommodate the dozens of speakers and media were similar to past years.

The Israeli President Isaac Herzog opened the first day of the two-day conference.

The large screens projecting the speakers were the same, as here with the former commander of the elite IDF unit 8200 Nadav Zafir, founder of Team 8.

US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew was listed on the program in “Conversation with Yohanan Plesner.”

The former US Secretary of the Treasury Lew declined to get involved with the current political situation saying his area of expertise was more in “capital markets” in response to one of IDI President Plesner’s questions.

Israeli entrepreneur and innovator Yossi Vardi was back as usual and Jack Lew stopped to speak with him.

What was different from last year?

The Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion wasn’t on the program, nor was the head of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Economy Minister Nir Barkat were also absent this year.

The reception Smotrich received last year, with signs and shouting and boos, made it impossible to hear his prepared remarks.

This year at the conference, I only heard one man shouting at a speaker. He was quickly silenced by people sitting near him. With many economic concerns because of the war, the atmosphere was much calmer this year.

Hansen House announced a new exhibition this week “In-attention” showcasing new tech and design.

This Jerusalem Design Week focused on supporting initiatives and actions that turn our gaze inward.

The value of culture has been put to the test. With these works, “the creators hope to heal and redesign the future, and consider the day after the current crisis.”

This one was simple fun. Tossing a small ball into the net of the left, the ball was propelled across and then shot back and forth – over and over, as I watched. As always, something unusual at Hansen House!

New signs were up this week, the one on the top left confused me initially. In the Clal Building, the Jerusalem Street Orchestra is holding a concert on Wednesday night, May 29. The concert was already sold out when I figured out what was happening.

The Moon Grove was the site of major Lag B’Omer bonfires in the past.

But this year the big fires were very different.

The main one in Meron was banned because of Hezbollah rockets and fears of a large crowd gathering.

Photo credit: Western Wall Heritage

One of the multiple sites this year was near the Kotel, Western Wall late at night.

Lag B’Omer fires were never my favorite, but I would have watched this one. However, none of the Kotel webcams showed the fire, music, and crowds dancing.

New flags and old were seen this week on the Jerusalem streets.

“We are stronger together.”

As protests grow, time moves slowly, one constant endures: there is always something new to see on the old Jerusalem streets and we never know what will happen next.

What Happened on Israel Independence Day 76 Celebrated in Jerusalem?

In Jerusalem this past week we celebrated Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s 76th Independence Day immediately preceded the Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

However, Israel 76 was not like those in the past, with an ongoing war and hostages held in Gaza.

Every year, the official state Yom Hazikaron ceremony was held at the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, and was again broadcast live on television with the Israeli President speaking.

One of the hardest battles for Jerusalem in 1967 took place at Givat Hatachmoshet, Ammunition Hill.

Today it is a museum and memorial for Israeli soldiers who fell in 1967, and it was the setting for a Yom Hazikaron ceremony hosted by the Michael Levin Base for lone soldiers and b’not sherut. This was one of many ceremonies throughout Jerusalem this year specially designed for English speakers.

Robin Lubin, mother of Rose Lubin h”yd, who was murdered while on guard duty in the Old City, spoke movingly of her daughter’s commitment and and service fighting in the south after October 7, before she returned returning to Jerusalem where she was murdered by a terrorist.

Not all the fallen soldiers were Jewish; Sufian, a Druze Israeli, was eulogized by Efraim Abrams, his partner in the Combat Engineering Corps. They were the first armored bulldozers to enter Gaza.

Rabbi Leo Dee said the Yizkor and Kaddish, then spoke of his wife and daughters, Lucy, Maia, and Rina h”yd, who were murdered last year as they drove to a holiday family get-together on Passover.

In the cold and wind, 900 people sat and appreciated the impact of the impressive memorial service broadcast live online for those who could not attend in person. More Yom HaZikaron photos HERE

Multiple large musical prayer services and transitions from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut ceremonies in Jerusalem made it hard to decide which one to attend. We opted for a smaller meaningful local Israeli one in Modiin, where the youthful flag dancers had practiced to perfection, or close enough.

The Hidon HaTanakh, International Bible Quiz, was held as in the past at the Jerusalem Theater on Yom Haatzmaut morning with the 16 international contestants down to the last eight finalists.

Then down to four, the final two teens tied for an exciting finish. Last year two girls tied. The big difference this year was that the President and Prime Minister did not attend, so there was no visible security, no metal detectors, and no standing in line outside in the sun. However, you needed a ticket to get into the auditorium, as every seat was filled by family and friends. Impressive was how the audience respected each participant with applause whether the answers were correct or not. More photos HERE

From the Jerusalem Theater, it was a race to get around the corner to Beit Hanasi, The Israeli President’s Residence for the annual Diplomatic Reception. I love those hats lined up on the table, this year placed so that Herzl could gaze at the display of the international military officers in attendance.

While the world media makes it sound like Israel is alone and isolated, it was uplifting to see so many different uniforms and countries represented.

International military attaches and their spouses in traditional dress were willing to pose for a photo.

Smiling ambassadors from far and wide were attending the reception.

Ok, not all were smiling all the time, but they accepted the President’s invitation.

The annual official posed photo for Israeli Independence Day 76 was taken as usual.

The President spoke and there was a carefully planned program to reflect the current situation.

Everyone entering the Beit Hanasi grounds passed this display of yellow tee shirts, one for each hostage.

The food served was outstanding, for more on Beit Hanasi for Diplomats see HERE

Did you know that May 15 is Declaration Day? Israel Forever Foundation and Elana Heidelman want to make sure the world knows and for the second year hosted a special event – on May 15, 2024.

The speeches from the Ambassadors to Israel from the Philippines, Guatemala, and Uraguay were warm and positive. More Declaration Day HERE

And finally, to close off another busy week of the ‘Yoms,’ there was a special opening at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem of the “KUMA” exhibition, the work of Eitan Rosenzweig, hy”d, the gifted artist and poet, was only 21 when he was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip.

Yet, even at such a young age, he left behind a treasure trove of artistic creation. His talent and explosive creativity are evident in his works, with his masterpiece KUMA being an award winner in high school.

The material found in his sketchbooks was amazing! More photos from KUMA HERE

To close out a week of highs and extreme lows, the flowers and flags of the Jerusalem streets, displayed in front of the home of a fallen soldier, with the sign – AM YISRAEL CHAI!

Next week is Lag B’Omer. Time to cut the tall dry weeds and see if people will follow the instructions not to light fires. Here’s to hoping for a safe and quiet week on the Jerusalem streets.