In Jerusalem Preserving and Presenting the Past in New Ways

In a week when war raged all around, there were still good things happening in Jerusalem, Israel.

We can not predict the future, but in Jerusalem, the past is being preserved and presented in new ways.

Our week began on the Tayelet, with the Old City in view, for a special morning prayer service. Preserving the past through prayer and continuing our tradition with a boy putting on tefillin for the first time a month before his bar mitzvah.

At Yad Vashem, the David and Fela Shapell Family Collection Center opened.

Entering the lobby of the new building, one sees a video art wall created by video artist Ran Slavin, entitled “122,499 Files.” It is a unique installation, showcasing over 100,000 artifacts, artworks, photographs, and documents from Yad Vashem’s collections, many of which are too delicate and fragile to be displayed. The innovative work includes many items being viewed for the first time, explained Simmy Allen, head of International Media Affairs and Communications, who led the tour.

The building is five stories, with four of them underground.

Outside near the entrance, you can look down and marvel at the details that went into the planning.

The advanced laboratories handle all aspects of preservation, from registration to storage to conservation; both for the museum’s use and archival purposes, ensuring that each item is treated with the utmost care and made accessible for future generations.

From textiles and preserving a prison uniform

or a woman’s cherished childhood teddy bear.

There are not many oil paintings of museum quality, as during the Holocaust people used whatever they could find to write or draw on. This large painting from Krakov in 1929 was on a table. Looking at the signature, I was surprised to see my grandfather’s family name before he changed it in the US.

Every item is treated with dignity. Some of the horrors are too difficult to view.

Yad Vashem holds approximately 227.6 million pages of documentation, 2.8 million Pages of Testimony, 541,500 Holocaust-era photographs, 31,000 artifacts, and 14,000 works of art. 

One emerges from the depths of the archives into the daylight and the newly landscaped campus.

Also opening this week was the new contemporary art exhibit at the Kishle in the Tower of David called “Umbilicus,” by curators Dr. Adina Kamien and Malu Zayon. Kishle means prison in Turkish.

The Tower of David Jerusalem Museum has been undergoing extensive renovations to make the ancient fortress accessible.

This was the entrance to the Kishle ten years ago when the public could first see the vast space near Jaffa Gate, following the extensive archaeological excavation in 1999-2000 led by Dr. Amit Re’em. 

Work on a new entrance ramp to replace the rickety metal spiral staircase was visible in 2023.

Today it is an easier climb, but there are plans to make it more accessible in the future.

In my November 2014 visit to the Kishle, the graffiti of the Irgun prisoners was visible on the exposed wall. Built by the Ottoman Turks as a jail in the 1800s, it was used by the British in the 1940s to hold captured Jewish militia members.

Today the archeological markings of excavation are visible, but also pieces of contemporary art. The Red Dream (Window) by Lihi Turgeman is displayed on that wall.

The new steps are more stable and an easier climb, and worth the effort to see 2,800 years of history presented in a new way with contemporary art.

Also this week, the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel opened its doors for Hebrew tours.

Located next to the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem and across from the Israel Museum, the grand opening was held in October 2016.

The carefully restored artifacts were shown briefly at the time.

There were centuries of glass pieces arranged in display cases.

Construction was well underway.

Landscaping had begun. Then its doors were closed and locked for years.

The proposed library was a mere shell on my first visit in 2016.

The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for Archaeology of Israel library

How good to see the dream of an extensive collection of all archeological works become a reality in 2023.

The trees have grown and the interior spaces are now in use. Now I’d like to see the deep underground lower levels where the most valuable pieces are safely preserved.

At Safra Square, very different memories are preserved and shared.

Veteran Jerusalemites are featured on large posters on each side of the government plaza this summer. This couple born in Ethiopia says “To arrive in Jerusalem was the fulfillment of a dream.” There are other posters with similar positive statements.

Also this summer, there is ice skating to keep cool at First Station, and music in the garden of the National Library of Israel.

The food trucks are back this year at the Tayelet, on Tuesday – Thursday evenings.

The decades-old International Arts and Music Festival will return to the Sultan’s Pool, where summer concerts have begun at night and the Jerusalem Film Festival will open this week.

So, with our thoughts and prayers for the safety of hostages and IDF soldiers, we can drink l’chaim.

Jerusalem, Israel, has much happening to preserve the good times along with its history.

Following the Signs of the Times on Jerusalem Streets

It was another one of those roller-coaster weeks.

With all the protests and bad news, good things were happening on and off the Jerusalem streets.

I found the lion! I heard it was moved to the Train Theater. Found it – on TOP of the main building.

To begin the week, I also found myself at the Yitzhak Navon Train Station.

And went inside to go to Tel Aviv University on Sunday evening.

The Nano Science Building was a construction site last visit, it is now an impressive structure.

It’s located near ANU – the Museum of the Jewish People on the Tel Aviv University Campus.

At ANU there is always something new and impressive to see.

However, I went for a special event on June 23 for International Widows Day.

At ANU, like most anywhere in Israel, October 7 is very much on people’s minds and hearts.

The entertainer arrived in his reserve duty uniform.

It was not part of his multi-costume changing performance.

New ads for summer are up on the Jerusalem streets , with ice skating returning to First Station .

Over 111 days later, the pain is no less.

But it is the end of June, and the graduation season is in full swing.

This was one of two engagements set up near the Montefiore Windmill on Thursday night,

while the music of the Jerusalem Street Orchestra performed at the On the Roof Festival nearby.

There was no water dripping from the large lion in the Lion Fountain.

First Station is going under serious changes. Looks like the early stage of the cable car is under way.

Went to check out the scene of the serious fire near the Israel Museum.

The damage was evident in the area closest to the museum.

I was going to the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem for an event honoring teaching innovation.

Tzemach David Foundation founder David Magerman and Rav Rimon were pleased to be at the inaugural event, presenting cash awards to Israeli teachers helping children of Olim adapt more easily to the Israeli school system.

A sign of the times: the daughter of an honoree was allowed leave from the IDF to attend, and her father was taking her back to her army base.

A child with a parent with a weapon slung over their shoulder is a common sight on the Jerusalem streets.

A sign of the times.

A time filled with trepidation to open the news each morning, but balanced with the births, graduations, weddings, and sounds of music on the Jerusalem streets.

How is this Passover Different than all others?

Passover, Pesach how is this Passover holiday 5784/2024 different from all others?

The new National Library of Israel was open and offered organized tours. This room is filled with unique volumes and ancient works in a modern technological setting.

There is an old colorful illuminated Haggadah used for Passover in the past.

This is the only surviving copy of the first Haggadah printed, in Spain in 1482.

There are also on display two printed in 1952 for the IDF. After 10,000 copies were printed, this secular version which removed Divine deliverance was suppressed at the last minute. Prime Minister Ben Gurion had them collected and destroyed, with only 20 copies surviving.

The National Library was not the only busy place over the holiday time, Mamilla Mall had new art pieces.

Extra security was visible in Mamilla Mall and at other popular tourist locations.

The sign near Jaffa Gate welcomed all with greetings for a Happy Passover.

Once again dozens of museums throughout Israel were open, including the Tower of David Jerusalem.

The Burnt House Museum in the Old City was also one open without an entrance fee.

It was good to be inside on the extremely hot intermediate days of Passover this year.

Despite the intense heat and security concerns, tens of thousands of people arrived Thursday morning for the Birkat Cohanim, Priestly Blessing at the Kotel, Western Wall.

The Kessim, Ethiopian religious leaders were easily spotted standing under their colorful umbrellas with a crowd of followers around them near the live cameramen and the stand for emergency medical care.

The women’s section was especially crowded in the few shaded areas.

However, people were standing in the sun on the rooftops all around the Western Wall plaza for the view.

One man found a quiet spot from the Aish building for a few minutes of private introspection and prayer.

The Chief Rabbis and dignitaries had their vantage point above the crowd.

This year at the end of the morning service with the Birkat Cohanim, special prayers were added for the safe return of the hostages and security in all of Israel.

The family of hostage Eliya Cohen had attended the service at the Kotel and were leaving as more people arrived by way of Jaffa Gate.

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Thousands of people kept coming and going all day and most of the night to the Old City of Jerusalem.

What was different this year was that the crowds were somewhat smaller. Some families who usually come did not. However, other families were in Israel many times, but their first time for Pesach!

This year a cloud hung over the festivities, wanting the hostages to be returned to their families so they too could enjoy the holiday of Pesach, of freedom from bondage.

Everyone is concerned for the safety of soldiers and civilians both north and south and civilians, under constant rocket fire.

More images posted on Facebook HERE

The Haggadah reminds us each year, that enemies arise, but ends with “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Hoping next year to welcome you all to the Jerusalem streets.