Did you See What’s Happening in Jerusalem in July?

As July begins, the days in Jerusalem do not feel shorter but are warmer.

The seemingly endless end-of-school-year events, when every grandparent, cousin, and neighborhood friend is called on to help watch the siblings who are not allowed to attend the nighttime extravaganzas, are ending.

The streets are getting more crowded as international visitors arrive.

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Tour groups abound inside Jaffa Gate,

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and near Zion Gate.

Mamilla Mall has new artwork ready, here my friend was tipping his hat to the new Einstein piece. If you missed the story of Einstein coming to Jerusalem check out Einstein House here.

There is still work to do on the new entrance at the Tower of David.

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New shops opened in the Old City.

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And this “temporarily” closed entrance to the Kotel Plaza is still closed.

But with the thousands of bar mitzvahs and other celebrations,

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the main entrance can be very crowded, and to get there

can be quite the experience with the sidewalk dug up.

There were bar mitzvah parties,

and more bar mitzvah parties,

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all day long on Thursday, so busy from early morning.

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I could not find the two families I was looking for,

and I did not go down to the shaded egalitarian section.

Walking out I marveled at the new go-to cars, going nowhere.

The salesman at the Armenian tourist store agreed it has been a long time since we have seen so much traffic and so many people in Jerusalem.

What else was happening?

The Shavuah Hasfer, Hebrew Book Week extended into Reading Month.

Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence hosted a special event sponsored by Beit Avi Chai on the 150th birthday of Hebrew poet/writer Nachman Bialik.

President Isaac Herzog spoke as did Beit Avi Chai’s David Rozenman.

Beit Hanasi has invested in new barriers – as the protests continue.

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center was the site of the First Pulse of Israel Conference. Itamar Marcus gave his presentation by video, as he was in the US speaking to Congressional committees on the antisemitism and Holocaust denial found in Arab media.

One slide was of journalist Muhammad al Burni, from Jordan, “I want to note a very important point regarding the fabricated Holocaust, truly fabricated” was the quote.

The mostly older audience heard from a new generation of pro-Israel success on Tik Tok and other social media to reach young users with the truth about Israel.

Journalist Sara Haetzni-Cohen, with a child on each side, received an award for her leadership role after the protests and destruction in Lod.

Going home that night I walked thru the Hansen House to see Design Week.

As usual, I marvel at the creativity and use of tech in the old leper hospital.

The Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha was also last week, and thousands of families came to the Old City of Jerusalem to celebrate and pray.

In July the festivals do not end – the Jazz Festival and Film Festival, and more,

and a new exhibit on food at the Islamic Museum in July.

Night is coming at shuk, Machane Yehuda market

Plus, the Machane Yehudah Market, the Shuk is celebrating its 100th year – with music and food to fill the narrow streets in and around with people and parties – more than usual.

Time to come and see the Jerusalem streets, constantly changing.

Five Jerusalem Events You Should Know About

With summer coming and the pandemic officially over, the crowds and tourists are returning to the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

So many good things are happening.

You will see blue and white flags flying.

Buildings rise higher and higher.

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Road works seem to be everywhere in Jerusalem.

A first this week – the security guard insisted on escorting me safely past the heavy equipment working on the road.

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A bit of surprise June rain and the grounds were still green.

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Yemin Moshe, as always a great location to stop and snap a photo.

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The fountain in Teddy Park is back on for summer fun near the Old City.

The old dragon in Liberty Bell Park is big and bright blue,

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and purple flowers abound around the Jerusalem streets.

However, this week I want to share 5 events you may not have heard about, not on the Jerusalem streets, but held inside involving thousands of people.

  1. The Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) held a quiz competition at the Jerusalem International Conference Center.

Throughout Israel, 5th and 6th-grade students competed on their knowledge of Israeli topics. The winning groups were set for a final round.

With a panel of judges, this was a more modest version of the youth Bible Quiz on Independence Day with the Prime Minister and Jerusalem Mayor.

Mostly enthusiastic young supporters from the various nine schools in the final quiz filled the auditorium.

I was so happy I was not a school chaperon as the questioning went on.

Also happy I did not have to answer the questions posed to the teams.

The competition included an impressive speed round.

In first place was Orot Etzion – Neve Daniel from Gush Etzion, and in second place was Jerusalem’s Yehuda Halevi School.

But at this event – all involved were winners!

The two young men who received the best score stayed afterward with their proud mothers to do a video for KKL-JNF.

2. The Jerusalem Prize for Israeli Unity was born as a social initiative on behalf of the families of the boys Yifrach, Shaar, and Fraenkel and the former mayor of Jerusalem MK Nir Barkat, after the kidnapping of Iyal, Gil-Ed, and Naftali z”l in the summer of 2014.

The prize was established in memory of the teens and the appreciation of the unity that enveloped Israeli society and Diaspora Jewry at the time.

At the ninth award ceremony held at Beit Hanasi, the only prize winner I was familiar with this year was Lori Palatnlk, founder of Momentum.

But Jerusalem, always a small world, I arrived home at the same time as my neighbor – who had been in the audience.

3. President Herzog was at the NBN Campus to open the day for the World Jewish Congress Jewish Leadership Bridge for the Future initiative.

International delegates sat with Israeli leaders at tables to meet and discuss the future.

4. This week started with volunteers from the past year Sherut Leumi honored, starting in the morning at the Beit Hanasi, President’s Residence.

Followed by an evening event in the Mitchell Garden for thousands.

The park was filled with food and activity options under a perfect blue sky.

The United Hatzalah volunteers are easy to spot in their orange vests.

Later, the Sultan’s Pool was the scene of entertainment for the volunteers who did their National Service in a vast variety of positions around Israel.

The week honoring volunteers ended at International Conference Center.

Unity was the theme, and Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah shared the space, but it was a men-only event with a musical program inside.

5. For this favorite annual event, you will have to wait until next week,

but here’s a clue about who were the sponsors.

Wonderful things are happening on and off Jerusalem streets.

Now you know about last week’s events with promises for the future.  

Why not come soon and see for yourself what’s happening in Jerusalem, Israel?

11 New Signs in Jerusalem

It was hard to keep up with all the things happening in Jerusalem this week.

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First, at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence,

the Sheba Medical Center celebrated 75 years by honoring donors.

The US was represented by Deputy Chief of Mission Stephanie L. Hallett who came with her husband.

Amazing to meet Rachel Heber who now heads Matanat Chaim, the Gift of Life, an altruistic kidney donation organization started by her husband Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber z’L who died three years ago at the age of 55, after contracting the coronavirus. Sitting next to her was Matnat Chaim CEO Sharona Sherman whose family are friends from Australia.

There was a short video on kidney organ donors and recipients.

Seated in the front row with his wife was Dan Levi, a kidney donor, who also spoke during the program. Sheba Medical Center has 10,000 employees, and a group of transplant doctors was included with those who attended the Beit Hanasi event. Hope to hear more of their impressive stories in the future.

New signs line the Jerusalem streets.

Protest signs continue to follow government officials where ever they go.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was the opening speaker at the economic Eli Hurvitz Conference sponsored by the Israel Democratic Institute.

Protest signs were also displayed inside, along with shouting throughout his attempts to deliver a prepared speech.

One of the most positive signs of the conference was when the Head of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron entered the room, he stopped to shake the Finance Minister’s hand.

With a hand in a sling, he stopped and posed on his way out, and mentioned he had lived and attended high school in Maryland.

A sign of the changing times–the old blah cement walls of Talpiot are being colored with bright new murals.

“This wall is also Temporary” is another Talpiot sign.

PICO Kids is in one of those old industrial buildings.

Their end-of-the-year program was based on Innovation for Sustainable projects conceived and built by young students.

Teams presented their completed projects to judges.

Working in teams these young minds and hands are training and building for the future, like this winning project in the clean energy category.

“Why fit in when you were born to STAND OUT” was this sign spotted in Tel Aviv, but the Tel Aviv adventure will have to wait until next week.

One sign of the complicated Israeli road-building progress is at the entrance of new road #16, which goes under Har Nof and saves Jerusalem drivers a huge amount of time.

Another new sign for summer events in Jerusalem city center,

and reading month, was added to the Jerusalem Book Festival signs.

Multiple Jerusalem streets were shut. Barriers with thousands of security watching were out for the Jerusalem Pride Parade. Though I have seen Benny Gantz before, on Thursday afternoon he appeared much taller than those around him as he arrived to speak to the group gather in the Liberty Bell Park prior to the march.

Signs, balloons, and banners at the start of the now annual march that begins at Keren Hayesod Street and goes to Independence Park.

More signs, across the way at Bloomfield Park where protesters against the Pride Parade were behind barriers and watched closely by police.

With streets closed, tourist groups had to walk to their hotels at the end of their day. But it was great to see tour groups back on the Jerusalem streets.

Mamilla Mall, as I took a quick walk thru to get to the Jaffa Gate.

After three years of waiting to see the Tower of David, Jerusalem Museum, I arrived for its opening night.

The new entrance was not ready to use.

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The public one day will come in this door, to learn the history of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, for now, we went through the passageway,

and down the new steps between ancient walls,

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to arrive at the impressive entrance hall gallery.

Here interactive, visual artistic works line the old walls,

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and the keys to Jerusalem are one of a few of the most historically important artifacts on display.

This new Jerusalem Museum needed a short video to give you a sample of the creativity involved.

So many new signs for the future, built on remembering the past.

Hope you can come and see the old and the new on Jerusalem streets soon.