Jerusalem Streets Summer Scenes

Summer is here in Jerusalem, Israel.

Love it when the weather person announces “hotter than usual.” It’s that time when it is good to stay off the Jerusalem streets during the day.

Some scenes are still consistently good like at Jaffa Gate.

Zahal Square is pretty much the same when the Light Rail trains are not going around the corner.

The new Superbuses are out and running a new route around the Old City. Egged green buses no longer have the monopoly on the Jerusalem streets.

There are bikes to rent at 25 docking stations at key Jerusalem locations –another new means of transportation, not all are blue, some are yellow.

The King David Street renovation goes on, constantly changing, and frustrates drivers, even those who thought they were familiar with the Jerusalem streets.

The residents near Paris Fountain who thought that with the anti-government protesters gone they would have some quiet now found out they were wrong.

The digging in France Square extended into the street, closing lanes and backing up traffic. This is always one of the noisy locations during the summer as visitors try to figure out which lane they should be in and the drivers behind are not patient.

Oh and the Gan HaSoos, Horse Park renovation!

The question this summer – “Is there one Jerusalem street not under construction?”

At least in some locations, you can get a history lesson as you sit in traffic.

New bus lines mean new bus station signs.

And new night bus lines are running late hours. Good – the city is planning ohel, late-night locations for teens to hang out.

Been out of Jerusalem to Gush Etzion lately?

The second tunnel is well underway to change and improve driving to and from Jerusalem on Route #60.

Tourists are here. Jerusalem hotels are back in business.

Some hotels have new names to learn and new owners.

Tourists will find new street installations, adding color over the streets off of Ben Yehuda.

Colorful kites are flying high nearby.

A major project by women of Jerusalem is to decorate all the trees in Zion Square, and it is attracting attention.

Two children were fortunate enough to find time to enjoy the cooling mist at the off Jaffa Road location.

On Ben Yehuda, stores are trying to attract roaming tour groups.

Kikar Safra, Safra Square, was setting up for the annual basketball event.

However, I found the new exhibition on the walls much more interesting.

The Lonka Project includes 360 survivors’ portraits from 35 countries. Each unique brilliantly done image is accompanied by a short biography. 

I was impressed to see a former neighbor and friend’s photo on the wall.

Oh, the stories! In 1942, Helen Brashatsky was born in Auschwitz. A Christian doctor sheltered her and her mother. After the war, they came to Mandatory Palestine, where she married Muhammed Jabarin, converted to Islam, and changed her name to Leila. Only after she registered as a Holocaust survivor did she tell her 8 children and 30 grandchildren.

Sonia Kam and her sister were born in Germany and separated during the war. Never could they have imagined that years later a close relative would be the Israeli ambassador to Germany.

Music from the Liberty Bell Park, the Israel Museum, and the Mekudeshet Festival on the Sherover Plaza on the Tayelet will fill the Jerusalem streets.

Also music at the Jerusalem Theater and Yellow Submarine, and Outline Festival is back again this week in Jerusalem.

The International Arts and Crafts Fair is to return to Mitchell Garden and the Sultan’s Pool with have major musical performers each night.

Going almost 24/7, Shabbat-friendly activities for kids at First Station to Shakespeare in the Park in August, day or night, something is happening on the Jerusalem streets this summer.

And if it gets too hot outside, it’s a good time to stay inside and watch the Israelis perform at the Olympics.

September Begins with Week of Firsts in Jerusalem

September Begins with Week of Firsts in Jerusalem

What a week it was in Jerusalem!

September came in with a blast. Jerusalem, Israel, was hit with a heatwave.

The first time in over a century temperatures soared to such record-breaking September highs.

Balloons the first day of school in Jerusalem welcome to first grade

Despite the heat, on the first day of school with corona restrictions, “Shalom Kita Aleph” balloons welcomed the first-grade students, but celebrations were scaled down. Parents with multiple children need a computer to program to help keep the times straight. Some schools closed after one day, or three days, due to a person diagnosed with the virus, others are struggling along to keep up with changing rules and regulations.

The big news this week was not on the Jerusalem streets, but in the air from Jerusalem to Abu Dhabi. The Israeli and US diplomatic delegations, along with journalists, traveled on an El Al flight. El Al flew over Saudia Arabian airspace, another significant first. OU kosher meals were available for the Israeli delegation in UAE for official meetings, provided by the UAE.

El Al photo of UAE waving good bye to US and Israeli delegation
El Al Photo

From dozens of impressive images of the historic visit, this photograph of the El Al plane leaving to return to Israel was one of the most popular. As the first Israeli-US delegation departed, their hosts waved goodbye at the end of a red-carpet visit.

Thani Al Shirawi, Deputy Managing Director of Oasis Investments, a founding member of the UAE Israel Business Council, is eager for the first open business deals.  As he put it: “It’s easier to do business with our cousins.” The Israeli-UAE business community has had connections for years, but not in the open. Israelis used passports from other countries to enter the UAE.

Technology and tourism hubs to Asia and the world will be available for the first time. Collaboration in agriculture and water technologies between UAE and Israel is another big first for potential in the future.

But, back to the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

The Prime Minister of Kosovo announced he is planning to open an embassy in Jerusalem, establish diplomatic relations and deepen bilateral relations.

Finish line for Jerusalem Winner Marathon placed before race was postponed

For the first time, The Jerusalem Marathon 2020 was canceled this week.  Originally set for March, the finish line was up when the event was postponed until November. Organizers are now hoping for the March 2021 Jerusalem Marathon. Wars, bombs, and stormy weather did not stop the marathon from successfully running for the past decade. However, a tiny virus has stopped travel and curtailed this event and much more from happening.

Jerusalem not to let trucks polluting air to enter

This week Jerusalem announced new regulations for clean air, and polluting trucks will not be allowed in the city.

According to Mayor Moshe Lion: “Since taking office, I have set myself the goal of making the capital of Israel the cleanest city. We will continue to concentrate efforts and work for the improvement of the quality of life of the residents in any way. I call on all residents of Jerusalem to keep our Jerusalem clean – For our benefit! “

Cleaning streets has been an ongoing project during corona.

For the first time I saw how they filled those trucks from active fire hydrants – and oops.

Also this week Moshe Lion announced: “The disabled public bravely faces its challenges every day and we must ask at all times how the city can help and assist in terms of accessibility and belonging. I will continue to work for every person with equal disabilities.”

Jerusalem street near Israel Museum new public seating

And that day I saw these new benches were installed near the Israel Museum.

Public bench in Jerusalem Israel

Seating, social distanced and accessible from the street, is now available across from the Knesset.

Knesset floral clock outside campus

From that bench, you can sit and see the Knesset clock, and really watch the time go by in Jerusalem.

Not sure where the time went, but Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew New Year, is less than two weeks.

Usually, for Selihot, tens of thousands crowd into the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza. This year for the first time due to COVID-19 restrictions there is a lottery for spots for Selihot at the Kotel. Only 2,500 people will be allowed to attend each night. Hurry, the deadline to submit a request in the lottery is up at midnight tonight.

However, there’s a new option in Jerusalem for Selihot this year.  Yitzhak Meir is to be at Kikar Safra to lead Selihot for a limited live outdoor audience with coronavirus regulations.  But those who cannot attend in person can view the musical service to be shown live on Facebook.

Five years ago, Yitzhak Meir sang for a much smaller crowd in the Beit Hanasi Synagogue invited by President Reuven Rivlin.

Selihot at beit hanasi 5780

I am assuming a big crowd invited to attend Selihot in the Israeli President’s gardens will not happen this year.

However, Selihot tours in the Old City are being advertised.

One of my favorite memories.

Coming back from the Kotel, I heard singing and followed the sounds to this chazan.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, what a year this has been!

We started off not sure how to write the year 5780 in Hebrew, was it תש”פ  or  תש”ף.

At least this 5781, we know how to spell the New Year – תשפ”א.

May it be a good and healthy new year for all.

 

 

Jerusalem 7 New Signs and Colors for Elul

Jerusalem 7 New Signs and Colors for Elul

Jerusalem is working its way back.

It almost feels like a “normal” end of summer on the Jerusalem streets.

Parents are worried about school supplies, but even more about school openings.

Rosh Hodesh Elul was last week and religious schools have started.

Sacher Park in Jerusalem summer day

In Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, children played by day, and families filled the park in the evening.

Sacher Park clean up in morning after big night for Rosh Hodesh Elul

But by the morning of Rosh Chodesh, it was cleaned up and ready for the families to return.

Jerusalem street next to Sacher Park

The street along Gan Sacher which was filled with cars the night before was back to normal.

End of Summer events sign posted near Wolfson center across from Sacher Park

It’s lined with new Jerusalem signs for the end of summer events,

Hebrew sign Jerusalem stands with all of Israel during coronavirus pandemic

and this new one stating: Jerusalem stands with all of Israel.

Trying hard to get back to “normal” after COVID-19 closures.

Menachem Begin Center and Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem signs displayed on Jerusalem street corner

New end-of-summer signs for the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem were posted among other museums cautiously reopening with new entrance policies.

Giro stage in Safra Square for opening of cycling event

It was announced that Jerusalem’s Safra Square  is now a new  coronavirus-safe venue for cultural events, allowing concerts and performances to return after months of such events being prohibited.

One of many previous events, the Giro d’Italia opening was held in the large plaza area of the Jerusalem Municipal Building. Numerous concerts have been held there as well.

Cyclists from United Arab Emirates in Jerusalem for Giro d'Italia

The announcement of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to sign a normalization agreement made headlines. However, for the Giro, UAE riders–and Bahrain–were on the Jerusalem streets two years ago.

Jerusalem Israel view from top of Kikar Safra municipal building

One of the great views from the 6th floor of the Municipal Building is the Mount Of Olives

Jerusalem Har Hazetim grave stone of HaRav Avraham Kook

Gimel Elul was the memorial of the 85th anniversary of the passing of Abraham Isaac Kook z”l, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine in the Land of Israel.  Today’s commemoration was unlike other years and was a socially distanced and very limited event.

Rav Kook’s house has been kept as a museum, offices, and synagogue, while the area around HaRav Kook Street in Jerusalem has been built up.

Lion Fountain in Jerusalem Park near First Station with water

The Lion Fountain near First Station was a fun place during past summers.

bird in Jerusalem photo

Some of my favorite photos were taken there. This past week though,  the fountain was dry.

This has been a summer when most everyone has had to deal with changes.

Near Jerusalem Israel Museum sculpture The Struggle

I often pass “The Struggle” by Samuel Bar Even on my way to the Israel Museum.

Jerusalem path near the Israel Museum above Valley of the Cross

Israeli officials trying to keep the virus under control without lockdown is more of a struggle than my deciding which path to take each day.

Jerusalem Israel Museum open again after closing for months of coronavirus

A new welcome sign was posted at the Israel Museum. After being closed for months, it is open part-time, with restrictions and prior ticketing.

But no entrance fee for children in August as usual.

Jerusalem Israel Old City Western Wall Tunnel

Also, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced that the Western Wall Tunnel site was reopening after having been closed for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kotel in August 2019

Preparations are underway for Selichot, penitential prayers, at the Kotel, the Western Wall. It will NOT look like this photo from last August!

The first two weeks of the month of Elul will be a test for managing Selichot services at the Kotel prior to the upcoming peak-crowd days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Jerusalem sehilchos

The  Jerusalem Great Synagogue with its 1,200 seats is not to reopen for the High Holidays.

It is also not planning to open its doors for ShabbatSelichot, or the Sukkot holidays.

Water bottle disposal sign in Jerusalem to keep streets clean

The campaign to keep Jerusalem clean has been going strong all summer. New signs were posted for everyone to clean up their mess.

Jerusalem Israel pickup truck for things left on street

Here’s a new truck collecting discarded items along the street.

The truck stopped. A man jumped out and grabbed a sweater on the side of the road.

He tossed it into the back of the truck and drove off.

The days of furnishing your Jerusalem apartment with other folks abandoned property could be much harder now. Everyone will have to move quickly before that truck comes by.

Workers in Jerusalem filling a pot hole in street

This large truck and work crew arrived. They stopped traffic and blocked the street.

They repaired a pothole in a few minutes while I watched.

Jerusalem woman crossing street as traffic waits

Near the same spot the day before, this frail woman crossed the street.

What was newsworthy and worth sharing about that?

She stepped off the curb into traffic, not near crosswalks. However, cars in both directions stopped. They waited until she safely crossed to the bus stop. And, not one car behind them honked!  I wished I had taken a video.

Exit of Jerusalem Israel Museum toward the Knesset

This is the view on the way out of the Israel Museum. The Israel Knesset Building is across the way. “LAST HOPE” is painted on the pavement. Tonight we will find out if the “unity” government can agree on how to proceed with a budget or if we go to a fourth election this year.

It has been a crazy year, with struggles not only to cross the street but for many to survive.

Much of Jerusalem’s economy is based on international tourism.

The closed skies due to the coronavirus pandemic have led to extremely dire financial situations.

Selihot at the Kotel, will not be the same as in the past. There are planned Selihot tours in the Old City, limited in numbers and with social distancing precautions. As with all tours and sites, check ahead to make sure you have a spot and a ticket.

It’s been an unusual summer with few tourists on the Jerusalem streets.

Flowers planted near Jerusalem street

However, as we enter the month of Elul and look forward to a New Year, colorful flowers are blooming to brighten the Jerusalem streets.