Colors, Lights, and Highlights it’s Hanukkah Time in Jerusalem

The holiday of Hanukkah is a celebration of miracles and light over darkness.

How does one celebrate a joyous holiday under the cloud of a war when there are too many funerals?

Enjoying the colors in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens this time of year was a good way to start the week.

The lion on the nearby Jerusalem street was also looking bright and colorful.

The decorative holiday street lights were turned back on.

Posters for holiday events went up along the Jerusalem streets. Notice though it’s Jewish Film Week, the term festival is not used, as it seemed inappropriate in wartime.

Many activities for children are still being offered in the various museums and theaters.


Despite the war, the Sam Spiegel Incubator for International Cinema is to open on December 11, 2023.

It is located in the Beit Ha’am Complex off of Bezalel Street in Jerusalem, not far from Sacher Park.

This is the entrance to the Sam Spiegel building

across the plaza from the Ha’mal Otaf Salon for clothing.

Beautifully displayed clothing of all sizes, donated to be given for free, to any of the people displaced from their homes in the southern Israeli towns, who are being housed in Jerusalem, in private homes of strangers, and 70 Jerusalem hotels.

Volunteers work to make sure everything is organized and presented attractively.

Plus a special children’s corner has games, toys, and books in time for Hanukkah.

Walking by the Jewish Agency building I noticed for the first time that the menorah on the roof is for seven candles, not eight for Hanukkah.

However, there was a Hanukkah menorah, hanukia, outside Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

The attached sign explains that this is the hanukia of the Kibbutz Nir Oz dining hall.

Hanukkah at night–these lights inside highlight the numerous decorations on the window.

Jerusalem restaurants often have a hanukia in the window,

as does this beauty shop

and this store in Mamilla Mall.

The big hanukia of Chabad of Talbiya was back in Mamilla Mall with live music planned for each night.

After the hanukia was lit, the lively music was accompanied by singing and dancing.

With a smaller crowd than in past years, sufganiyot, traditional jelly donuts were plentiful.

You did not have to be Jewish to participate, these volunteers came from the US on a mission.

Two men came from Tel Aviv and were having a great time. They were sympathetic when I bit into a donut and realized it was a yucky chocolate in the center, not the anticipated jelly sufgania.

Here was a hanukia in a dreidel, not easy to photograph without reflections of the store signs. It was good to see people enjoying Hanukkah in one of Jerusalem’s tourist attractions.

The walls of the Old City were illuminated with a light projection near Jaffa Gate.

The plaza outside Jaffa Gate was sadly empty for a Hanukkah night. However, it was easier to get a clear shot of the new ‘I love Jerusalem’ hanukia.

Notice the Muslim woman out with her young children in Mamilla Mall. There are fewer Arab shoppers than usual, but even during this wartime, they still come, even after dark at night.

The Michael Levin Base was back at StandWithUs with the Solomon Brothers entertaining the lone soldiers and bnei sherut volunteers with their lively repertoire. Holidays for those without family in Israel can be difficult and being with a group is very important.

The special guest of the evening was Colonel Richard Kemp. If you do not know him, I am a long-time fan, take the time to look him up.

On the way home, I went to check out the lights at the YMCA. I think there are more this year.

People were out Friday in the warm weather, eating and talking at cafes, and preparing for Shabbat.

A hanukiah on the Chabad cars is a sign of the season, but there are way too many Chabad celebrations to attend them all.

Hanukkah Sameach

There were more parties, Hanukkah events, and musical performances, on the first night and every night.

Ready with the extras for our family Hanukkah party planned for tonight.

Best wishes for miracles and lights for Bringing the hostages home now.

With the courage of a lion, we will win.

Happy Hanukkah!

In Jerusalem one November week with highs and lows

In Jerusalem, Israel, the last week of November 2023 began with an important visitor.

Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, was open, but with less of the usual formality: no red carpets and no flowers decorated the stage in the main hall, just flags and two podiums.

The President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier was met outside and escorted in by the President of Israel Isaac Herzog as the media and staff watched.

The cameras were ready early, and I made sure to get a good seat.

Their speeches were broadcast live and are available to the public.

The large delegation that came from Germany was warmly greeted, but more importantly, the solidarity visit included traveling south to see the destruction of the Simhat Torah Massacre firsthand.

I wondered if they noticed the memorial candles for a fallen soldier, the son of Beit Hanasi staff member.

The yellow ribbons are still out.

The dog tags – “Bring them home – now” – are becoming more popular.

While some are so happy to take down the posters of the returned hostages,

the faces of the too many who are still held captive in Gaza are seen as life goes on slowly in Jerusalem.

After its grand opening, the Bezalel building is only open to students.

Haneviim Street was strangely lacking traffic, but the new buildings behind were easily visible over the old, showing the contrast on this old Jerusalem street.

People were on Ben Yehudah Streets and Zion Square, an interesting diversity of people as usual.

HaBoydem was open with their recycled fashions, it seems with all the donations to help southern families, the donated clothing for this charity keeps arriving in the original Talpiot branch.

The Farmer’s Markets keep popping up in various Jerusalem locations. I should have bought those orchids on the right when I saw them, as they were gone when I came back a few minutes later.

Perhaps fewer, but the young hijab-wearing women were also walking on Jaffa Road.

And as always, at Israeli medical facilities, Arabs both work and receive treatment.

Kikar Safra is the home of the Jerusalem municipality that has been working overtime to serve Jerusalem residents and the thousands of people from around the country who had to leave their homes under threat.

It was good to see tour groups as I walked around on a sunny weather day. Things are not always as they seem, as the sign warns that those cushions that look so inviting are made of cement.

Near Tzahal Square there was much less congestion than usual.

I had time to notice the Jerusalem lion on the bollards for the first time.

The view on the way to Jaffa Gate is an old photo favorite as usual.

This man sitting in his usual spot collected charity, a sign of returning to normal.

Traffic below coming and going from Jerusalem, who would have thought it a positive sight?

By Jaffa Gate, the tourists and birds were missing, but, as usual, a Muslim family walked by.

A week, that featured an emotional roller coaster of nights waiting to see which hostages would be released, ended with a Friday Fair at the Tower of David with no entrance fee.

An arts and crafts sale to aid southern businesses, at a time when culture is not seen as a priority.

In a city with too few tourists, there was live music at the popular tourist sight,

sweet treats to be designed and made,

and beer was sold, as well as food, at the Tower of David before Shabbat.

The flags were up on the JVP Margalit campus of Startup City Jerusalem, only I arrived after the Hackathon was over. It was hard to keep up with everything that was happening this past week.

However, from there I could see the sign announcing the Jewish Film Week at the Cinematheque, December 9 – 14, 2023.

Donuts. So hard to believe it will be Hanuka in a few days, as the past 2 months are a blur.

Jerusalem, Israel on Hanukkah 5778

Today the traditional menorah, made entirely of bronze, standing over 2 meters tall and 2 meters wide, was placed in the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, a popular sight year after year.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem had a poster up along a Jerusalem street. Most museums have special activities planned for the week of Hanuka, especially for children.

Hannukah events in Jerusalem, many in libraries in various neighborhoods, already have begun,

December 2-15, 2023, check the link for registration information on Lights from Jerusalem events.

No idea what will be this year, but here’s a favorite from the past to brighten and lighten the mood.

Hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets!

In Jerusalem many ways of giving and giving thanks

As we approach two months into Operation Swords of Iron, Jerusalem is slowly emerging from protected shelters to the streets, as the sirens warning of incoming rockets from Gaza have ceased.

Jerusalem of the City of Lions is roaring back to life.

New posters proclaim the City of Lions offers thanks to those who gave blood and offered assistance.

Schools have reopened with more blue and white and signs for the return of hostages.

Jerusalem also has given shelter to tens of thousands from the south and north who had to leave home.

People in Jerusalem have been giving mountains of clothes to those in need. Some families lost everything when forced to leave burning homes, lucky to escape and save their lives.

Here at one center set up by Chabad of Talbiyah upstairs in the Social Space, gives to those who need for free, more than clothes, most anything they need until they can go home.

From another Chabad house, a truck was waiting for donated food to take to soldiers serving in the Gaza border. The number of initiatives giving food would fill pages, including the Jerusalem Baking Batallion.

Also, the number of pop-up Farmers’ Markets in Jerusalem grows by the week.

Jerusalemites tend to buy more than they need to support the farmers and then have to figure out what to do with it all. We have enough avocado for every meal this week, but it is so good, no complaints.

Standing in lines waiting to pay, giving a little to help the struggling agricultural communities.

Also, too many fresh figs meant guess what cake for dinner?

And then another day and another location and another market near the public shelter.

The Tower of David Museum of Jerusalem is to hold a fair of artists from Jerusalem and from the communities of the conflict line from the north and the south who are hosted in the city.

The fair will be held before Hanukkah, on Friday, December 1st between the hours of 9:30 and 15:00.

Giving thanks, “Thankful & Grateful” was the theme of a special Thanksgiving dinner in Jerusalem.

Thursday night at the StandWithUs Center near the King David Hotel there was a meal hosted for lone soldiers and lone b’nei sherut (volunteers) who came from around the world to volunteer to serve in Israel.

Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings was served by volunteers from The Michael Levin Base.

The Solomon Brothers were back again playing American oldies to the greatly reduced number of Thanksgiving dinner participants, as so many lone soldiers were on active duty. But a Thanksgiving dinner-in-a-box was prepared for those on the front lines.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum and Stand With Us director Michael Dickson were smiling at the successful event. With them, was a dentist who came from the US, volunteering and giving dental care to those who need it. One did not have to be from the US to attend of enjoy the food and company.

A highlight of the program was a surprise guest from the US. James David Maslow has millions of followers on social media. However, when the musician/actor posted a pro-Israel comment after October 7 he received an astonishing number of antisemitic replies. With a few days free on his schedule, he took the time to come to Israel to give support.

The young people surrounded Maslow after he spoke. He took time to speak to them and take dozens of selfies. His Instagram posts were of the usual Israeli food and salads. But he also went to the south to report the situation from the standpoint of one who could have been on the stage at Nova where the massacre outside Kibbutz Reim occurred on the morning of October 7.

For dessert, there were donuts instead of pumpkin pie. Herby’s Bakery donated dinner rolls in the past, and this year gave boxes of donuts. Here a father who had arrived in the morning by plane from the US on Operation Hug agreed to pose with his lone soldier sons and a donut.

Hanukah is less than two weeks away with its sweet donuts, and it’s time to give thanks for what we do have, appreciate the miracles, and also, remember the fallen, captive, and injured.

There is a campaign in memory of fallen soldier Roey Weiser to post a photo on social media eating a donut with #donutsforroey. People and organizations have been posting photos on Facebook.

Sorry, I ate one too fast, so I shared the photo of the box before taking one of the plain glazed donuts.

Another sweet memory for educator and fallen soldier Yosef Chaim Hershkowitz, whose mother gave out chocolates after completing the shiva for her son.

Hershkowitz wrote to his students from the front, “There is no left, there is no right, there is no Haredi. There is a Jew!!!

Together we will prevail!”

Good must prevail over evil.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Hope to see you too soon on the Jerusalem streets!