In Jerusalem From Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

In Jerusalem From Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

In Jerusalem, Israel, before the Rosh Hashana holiday season, the variety of items for sale seems infinite. It is a time to purchase new clothes and pots and flowering plants, and for many also a time to clean.

Window cleaner stories above ground

Entering an apartment building, we looked up to see a window cleaner at work stories above us.

Plans are made either to travel or arrange seats in synagogues to pray and hear the shofar blown.

Annual Rosh Hashana ‘raising the glass’ celebrations were held at business and government offices.

One of my favorites is the reception held at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, before the Jewish New Year.

Diplomats arriving for Rosh Hashana

The red carpet is laid out. The State Chief of Protocol from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meron Reuben, greeted the arriving heads of mission for foreign diplomats.

Beit Hanasi diplomats before Rosh Hashana

With so many new ambassadors it is a good time for the international representatives to meet. There are 18 female ambassadors serving their countries in Israel.

Most of the male ambassadors wore business suits, as at the previous reception. 

Cat at President's house in garde

The Presidential cat was on watch, a sign of a special gathering.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister

While waiting in the main room before the president arrived, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely had a chance to talk with ambassadors.

Ambassadors to Israel from Jordan and Egypt at Presidents house reception

Of note this year in the front row, the only person in military uniform was B.G. Alaa Abu-Rukun, the new Military Secretary to the President of Israel, seated between the Ambassadors from Egypt and Jordan.

Jordan Ambassador shaking hands with President Rivlin in Jerusalem Israel

President Reuven Rivlin entered shaking hands with Ambassador from Jordan and others who stood as he passed to his seat.

Diplomats at Beit Hanasi for New Year reception

The room appeared full. I missed seeing the Ambassadors from Australia and the United States.

Ambassadors to Israel from Thailand and Slovak Republic

But had the pleasure to meet the Ambassadors from Thailand and the Slovak Republic,

New Year reception at Beit Hanasi for diplomatic corps

The head of the Diplomatic corps offered greetings during the formal program.

President Rivlin spoke as well.

Beit Hanasi piano played by 12 year old boy with autism

Musical protege Roi Mor, diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, has perfect pitch and played two of his compositions on the piano during the event. You could barely see the top of his head as he was seated at the piano.

Wine for New Year's toast at Israeli Presidents house for diplomats

Then it was time to go outside and ‘raise a glass’ to toast the New Year.

Reception in garden at Beit Hanasi for Rosh Hashana

Fruit platters, and of course, apples and honey round out the menu.

Photo of table with Rosh Hashana pomegranates and apples and honey

The presentation was much more elaborate two years ago when this event was last held.

President Rivlin with wine and apples and honey for Rosh Hasahana

President Rivlin put on a kippa to make a blessing on his wine and apples dipped in honey.

Last year because of time or budget, or perhaps Nechama Rivlin’s declining health, this reception did not take place.

Nechama Rivlin in 2016 without oxygen at Beit Hanasi reception

When I went to check previous Rosh Hashana receptions, I realized that only 3 years ago, she walked in without oxygen support.

Ambassador from Jordan shaking hands with Israel President Rivlin in Jerusalem at Beit Hanasi gardens

Ambassadors lingered in the Beit Hanasi garden to wish the Israeli President Shana Tova.

Diplomats at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

This is an important time for the diplomats to meet and mingle in a relaxed setting. More modest was fine. Most of those attending were new and did not remember the previous more elaborate affairs.

Gol Kolev with apple and honey at Beit Hanasi

Important are the apples and honey for a sweet year!

Israel President's Residence traffic outside.

As always, when the Presidential Rosh Hashana reception was over.  Traffic on Jerusalem streets near Beit Hanasi slowed to a crawl,  as diplomats were picked up and driven to their next appointments.

Photographers at Israel President Residence

The media ignored this event, but my friend Aleksandr and I enjoyed it.

Four years ago, Aleksandr pushed me into the crowded men’s section at the President’s synagogue so I could to get my shots, we have often worked together.

So to prepare for Yom Kippur 5780 which is Wednesday next week, here are videos from past years of selihot at Beit Hanasi.

With Yitzhak Meir and my close-ups.

Traditional prayers with Chaim Israel two years ago at Beit Hanasi.

Powerful – David D’Or’s Avenu Malkeinu.

The Jerusalem Municipality is sponsoring multiple traditional Selihot, musical selihot nights and tours, and events.

Tens of thousands will fill the plaza for late-night selihot at the Kotel, Western Wall before Yom Kippur.

Wishing all a גמר חתימה טובה,

may you be signed and sealed in the book of life.

Israel at 71 – Who Would Believe, Who Could Imagine?

Israel at 71 – Who Would Believe, Who Could Imagine?

On Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, Israelis celebrated 71 years since the state was founded.

Beginning with sunset, it was obvious to visitors that this was no ordinary day. At Mamilla Mall, shops were closed and restaurants were closing early on Wednesday.

Jerusalem memorial for remembrance day in Mamilla Mall

The Yizkor, Remembrance Day memorial with its floral wreath was displayed near the entrance.

Independence Day sign in Hebrew near Jaffa Gate Jerusalem Israel

By the walls of the Old City near Jaffa Gate, a large sign said ‘Happy Independence Day! 71.’

View of Tower of David in Jerusalem Israel from across the street near Teddy Park

The Tower of David stood tall against the blue sky, with the setting sun reflecting gold hues upon its stones.

Jerusalem Israel Tower of David free on Independence Day

On Yom Ha’aztmaut there was free admittance to the Tower of David, as well as to other attractions.

Entrance sign for Teddy Park in Jerusalem Israel

Across the road, there were big signs marking the entrance to Teddy Park.

Only one problem–for security reasons, no one was allowed to enter at this entrance.

Going around to the other entrance, I saw that hundreds had already arrived.

Men davening mincha in Teddy Park

A group of men had gathered for afternoon prayers. From Teddy Park, knowing which direction to face when you pray is easy. Jews pray towards Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and have done so for millennia.

Crowd in Teddy Park for Independence Day celebration at night in Jerusalem

Slow singing started at 6:00 pm. Though it was an unusually cold night for spring, thousands arrived and filled the park.

The music turned to loud and joyous as celebrations for Yom Haatzmaut began at dark.

Teddy Park was only one of many places in Jerusalem with free public music.

The list is too long for now, as neighborhoods gathered to celebrate with music and fireworks.

Jerusalem Israel celebrating Independence Day

At First Station there was a musical prayer service

First Station Yom Haatzmaut Prayer service led by Shlomo Katz

led by Rabbi Sholom Katz, and it was well attended again this year.

Independence Day 71 Israel in Jerusalem at night

It was hard to get a good photo of such a large crowd.

But this short video should give you an idea of the energy.

Scene from Yom Haazmaut at Har Herzl show

The main state event is held on Har Herzl and is televised.

Har Herzl for Israeli Independence Day 71

Tickets are in big demand for the open theater and stage near Herzl’s grave.

Israel Independence Day show at Har Herzl with Yuli Edelstein

The event was held under the offices of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev.

Israel Independence day at Mount Herzl

Military colors play a major part of the program, and IDF, Fire and Police participated.

Two female Israelis in military dress uniform at Har Herzl

 

To take close up photographs of so many soldiers,

Army colors at Har Herzl Yom Haaztmaut

or photos from a distance is an annual dilemma.

Israel Independence Day 71

This event might be better appreciated watching at home on TV.

The outdoor mountain setting can also be very cold and windy.

Look at screen on the upper left side of the photo, you will see that these marchers form a menorah.

Israeli army in formation for Independence Day show in tV

Special this year, at the base of the menorah were these soldiers in wheelchairs.

Yom Haatzmaut official opening ceremony

The program has musical numbers with fireworks.

The popular Shalva Band performed during the program.

The program also included 12 torches representing the 12 Tribes, lit by 16 individuals who had overcome difficulties, all representing the “Spirit of Israel.”

People celebrating Independence Day in Jerusalem

But in spite of staying up late celebrating, tens of thousands of Israelis were off to parks during the day.

In Jerusalem, there may be fewer hikers, but there are a whole lot of grills in the parks.

This year was the first time in long time I was not in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, for Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Highway outside of Modiin on Independence Day

Riding on Israeli highways, like this one toward Modi’in, is a time to remember the old Route 1, with its single lanes winding through the Jerusalem hills.

View of Modiin, Israel, new city built

The municipality of Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut developed from nothing but barren land, and is now a thriving and growing city of over 90,000 residents.

Then Yom Ha’atzmaut, with all its grilled food, concludes with the Israel Prize ceremony.

Israel Prize on Independence Day 71

A day which began with military honors at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, and a Bible contest for teenagers at the Jerusalem Theater, comes to an end with Israel honoring its citizens who have contributed to various fields of knowledge or a lifetime of service for the public good.

Israel Prize on Independence Day 71

Miri and Chaim Ehrental started Zichron Menahem after their son died of cancer.  It is an organization which has helped thousands of families cope with cancer.

Winners of Israel Prize on Independence Day 71

The laureates who accomplished so much in their fields bring honor to themselves and all Israelis.

As President Rivlin said in his Yom Haatamaut greeting, “Dear friends at home here in Israel and around the world. Happy Independence Day! Chag Sameach!  Israel is seventy-one years old. Who would have believed seventy-one years ago that we would build cities from the swamps? That roads and railways would cross the sands?  Who could have imagined then the wonder that is the State of Israel?”

Who would have believed, who could have imagined?

Israel at 71!

What’s New in Jerusalem?

What’s New in Jerusalem?

I am always looking for something new to share.

Jerusalem, Israel has new buildings towering over the old.

New building seen from nahlaot

These old houses are in Nachlaot near the Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk.

The new tower on Jaffa Road rises above in the distance.

View of Jerusalem, israel

This  photo looking towards the Old City was taken from the center of town.

A new view for me, how about you?

Look closely on the top right, after the snow and rain, the air was clear enough to see Jordan.

Tower of Ramon airport in Jan 2016

The official opening ceremony for the new Ramon Airport outside of Eilat was held this week.  The airport control tower was already visible from the road in January 2016.

Jerusalem WeWork site under construction

I have shared many photos of construction at the new WeWork building on King George Street.

Jerusalem WeWork opening

WeWork opened in October as announced and has been busy since.

But a block away on King George Street another landmark building has also been under construction.

January 2016 old Knesset site to be museum

In January 2016, the old Knesset building on King George Street began renovations.

May 2016 former Knesset Building on King George Street

When panels went up in May 2016, people stopped to look at the historical scenes depicted on them.

Israel Knesset Museum

On the right, a sign announced the future Knesset Museum.

Site of old Knesset to be new Knesset Museum

The large tarp with larger than life Golda covering the building was removed. The panels have faded. However, the new Knesset Museum is far from completion.

Park in German Colony where work is begin done underground

The park off of Rachel Imenu Street has been hidden behind construction fencing for a while.

This week it was announced what was happening behind those walls.

Park in German Colony where work is going on underground

On the surface it does not look impressive, but underground, an historic grotto was found.

Liberty Bell Park new playground Jerusalem Israel

Years ago a simple playground was located near the entrance to the Liberty Bell Park. It was demolished and the spot left vacant. Now after weeks of construction, Mayor Moshe Lion dedicated the new “Royal Playground” designed by Sue Ela.

Jerusalem House of israeli President back garden

The garden at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, looked green and new in the midday sun.

Basket of Israeli fruit at Beit Hanasi for Tu Bshvat

Inside the main hall baskets of fresh fruits decorated the table for a Tu Bishvat seder.

Israeli President hosts Tu Bishvat seder

Invited guests came from the agriculture and farming communities throughout Israel.

In the center of the hall was a display of ‘Seeds of Heritage’ ceramic plates by artist Orna Tamir Shestovich, with designs of plants and fruits of Israel.

Beit Hanasi holds Tu Bishvat seder

The seder included four glasses of wine, from red to white, and samples of the Biblical “Seven Species” connected to the land of  Israel.

Jerusalem Israel graffiti in Talpiot

Getting away towards the Talpiot neighborhood, new colorful paintings have appeared on the sides of buildings.

Talpiot Jerusalem Israel location to ear outside

Along the main road across from Hadar Mall is a red structure designed as an outdoor eating area,

Jerusalem Israel Talpiot red structure

and another one nearby for playing games.

Israeli, Jerusalem and state flags near Israeli President House

These flags outside Beit Hanasi are not new.

Flags near Prime Minister's house off of Keren Hayesod Street

However, these near the Prime Minister’s Residence are new. Last week workers were putting up new light poles from which these banners are hung. The Israeli and Jerusalem flags are the same, but note that the PM state flags are white with a blue symbol, the Presidential ones the opposite.

Kikar Tzion early morning

The sun rises over quiet Zion Square to start a new day.

Jerusalem old city walls afternoon reflections

In the afternoon after the snow and rain had cleared, the sky was bright blue. The strong light from the sun created reflections of palm trees on the walls of Old City.

Pink rose bud in jerusalem park

New flowers were forming in Jerusalem gardens and parks.

Banner near Jerusalem Prime Minister house

As usual a new demonstration was held near the Prime Minister’s residence.

Cat in jerusalem

And as usual, Jerusalem cats will pose for photos, or rather will stare you down in the warm sun and not be bothered enough to move. Nothing new in that.

So much more old and new on the Jerusalem streets.

So much more happening to share next time.