Jerusalem 2021 New Year, New Beginnings

As 2021 begins, Israel has a population of 9.3 million. Already over one million Israelis have received vaccinations, while the number of those ill with COVID-19 keeps rising over 6,000 daily.

Sun set in Jerusalem Tower of David viewed from Jaffa Gate

For the third corona lockdown, traffic was heavy as the sun was setting.

Mamilla Mall was closing down with people doing last-minute errands.

The full moon was bright over the plaza inside Jaffa Gate.

Main streets usually filled with vehicles were quieting down.

Lights and holiday decorations were shown brightly at Kikar Safra, Jerusalem’s Municipal City Hall.

However, only blue decorative lights were on over Yoel Salomon Street.

The popular tourist areas again, or still, were closed to the public.

Jaffa Gate was shut again as in the previous coronavirus lockdowns.

Jerusalem’s Old City was one area where the lockdown was visibly enforced. IDs were checked, movement of more than half a mile from home was not allowed. Over 9,000 fines have been issued by Israeli police.

Inside Jaffa Gate, businesses were shuttered. The Post Office was open, but for a change, there was no line of people outside waiting to enter.

Construction work has proceeded apace during the entire time of the coronavirus restrictions. This man would not let me take his photo, but I was more interested in showing how those safety surfaces are crafted.

The Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, had more birds than people.

The divisions for limited prayer groups were intact, but there were no worshipers to be found in most of the sections.

Ah, but even on the most limited days, there was at least one selfie taken.

From the Old City, I decided to walk home by way of Jaffa Road.

The few shops that had been open the night before were now closed.

Street decorations were colorful, but with no one to appreciate them.

Finally, I got a photo of the large duck on Ben Yehudah Street without people in my way. Sadly the businesses in this popular tourist area was hit again hard by the lockdown.

I was not the only photographer out looking for lockdown scenes.

A woman was dropping off items for someone in one of the Jerusalem quarantine hotels where returning Israelis were required to stay.

It was reported 8,000 Israelis traveled to Dubai for the holiday weekend, escaping Israeli lockdown limitations.

Last week UAE guests were at the King David Hotel, and this week United States flags flew over as the Moroccan normalization negotiations proceeded.

At times it seemed as if there was no lockdown, traffic was moving along.

But at Takhana HaRishona, First Station, those clever plastic igloos were mostly empty, as take out food service is not allowed and restaurants closed.

One man found a warm and quiet location for his standing computer work desk at First Station in the midday sun.

With home food delivery allowed, motorcycles have been zooming around the Jerusalem streets, much more than in the past.

Small business owners had time to take end of year inventory, with no customers allowed, uninterrupted once again.

There was a big open sign, but even Aroma Express in Mamilla Mall was closed. No people. No reason to open.

The Teddy Park across from Mamilla has also been empty for days.

But, Thursday afternoon, Machane Yehudah Market, the shuk, looked alive.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Friday-COVID-Old-City-093-2-1024x712.jpg

Returning to the Old City on Friday, one could see and feel the lockdown.

Imagine having the opportunity to power wash the steps normally filled with people on Fridays.

Here is the food court in the Jewish Quarter without customers,

the entrance to the Kotel, without a line waiting to go thru security,

and no traffic at Sha’ar Ashpot, Dung Gate, near the Kotel entrance.

Photo credit: ADI

Vaccinations have been going at a rapid pace. ADI, formerly ALEH, inoculated 1,500 people in two days, and in a party atmosphere. Their residential students with severe challenges were some of the most vulnerable in the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Taking your dog for a walk has been allowed in all the lockdowns.

More and more people are out enjoying the pleasant weather and walking in the sunshine, with and without masks.

The signs above the Jerusalem streets advise for safety at home.

The Jerusalem streets give safety and health advice.

However, in many families there is still a revolving door situation with one family member or another in bidud, isolation.

Not just Bubby and Zayde (grandparents) in bidud.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, MDA teams have sampled more than 3,500,000 people.

Photo credit: A Y Altshul

With efficient testing and vaccinations, most Israelis are anxiously waiting for the revolving door situation to end.

The hope is in 2021, the beginning of the end of the coronavirus is in sight, this the last lockdown, and new light at the end of a year-long dark tunnel.

Take care and stay well, hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.

Winter Colors Jerusalem

It happens every, single year in Jerusalem, Israel.

One day it feels like summer, we’re wearing sandals, and the next next day, the temperature drops, it rains hard and we put on the winter boots and take out the sweaters and coats from their storage places.

The clouds fill the sky covering the sun and our stone homes retain the cold.

Out for a quick walk when it stopped raining, I was able to watch a helicopter land, not on, but near the Knesset Building.

The cloud formations were impressive as winter arrived in Jerusalem.

Venturing a bit from home, the last public phone booths had been removed in front of the National Labor Court, and only two white marks remained.

The Jerusalem street near the Prime Minister’s Residence is occupied.

New security barriers line the streets ready for the next protest.

But the coronavirus restrictions are loosening, small on-the-street businesses are allowed to open, joining the recently reopened beauty salons and essential businesses.

Jerusalem children’s playgrounds are getting serious makeovers.

The art at Mamilla Mall was changed, but few were around to view it,

or to take advantage of end of season sales for the last few months.

A pile of masks was on display for sale for the few who passed by.

A cafe had take out food and a few places to sit and enjoy the sun and the view.

Some stores closed, but others were being renovated to open or reopen.

Mamilla Mall wasn’t filled with happy visitors due to the COVID19 closures.

There were grey days – really for the birds.

Heavy rains created new temporary ponds and dampened moods.

But with winter in Jerusalem, new flowers emerged from the ground. It seemed I was not the first one to come by. Someone placed small stones around several of the first blooms.

Today the field had many more flowers and groups of students.

In Jerusalem we do not have the fall colors of the US Northeast, but we have a bit of orange,

and yellow,

and green,

and green with touches of red and light blue,

and fresh new winter greens.

A white US Capitol? was built along Azza Street during the time of closings.

There is blue sky when it peeks out from the clouds.

But in spite of all the closings, some things are happening.

President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Uzbekistan, and Latvia to the State of Israel in an official ceremony at Beit HaNasi, the President’s Residence.

The flags were raised and flying for each country. That “thing” hanging under the flag are dates on the palm tree. I decided to leave it for you to see.

The ceremonies were downsized due to coronavirus and weather.

But on a cloudy day, the colors were flying this week with more next week as more new Ambassadors present their credentials to President Rivlin.

So that’s it–another week of trying to make the best in these difficult times, sharing a few of the many colors of Jerusalem.

Wearing more than one hat is not always easy.

The Tower of David Museum is taking advantage of the lull in tourism to do a major renovation, but more on that next time.

Take care and stay well, and hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem Moving Outside: Summer in Sacher Park

Jerusalem Moving Outside: Summer in Sacher Park

Jerusalem, Israel.

The sun is shining. The hot days of summer are here.

Many people on my street went away for a holiday weekend.

Life appeared to be normal, except for a few masks.

Moving outside is now the “in” thing to do.

Signs for summer outside in Jerusalem Israel during coronavirus

New signs were posted for summer under the stars at the Kahn Theater and the Jerusalem Theater.

Cultural events were stopped and theaters have been shut for months.

However, construction and road work accelerated under corona closings.

Gardner planting new roses in Jerusalem Israel

The Jerusalem municipality gardening crews planted new roses.

Jerusalem Sacher Park entrance

One of Jerusalem’s largest public outside green spaces is Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

Sovereignty sign posted in Jerusalem Gan Sacher Park

One entrance to the park has a protest sign against building in the “White Ridge,” west of the city, proposed much needed new housing in the green Jerusalem hills.

This is one location that has greatly improved over the past few years.

Jerusalem Israel Savher Park entrance before marathon days.

The entrance before renovations often had signs posted. But oh that path!

Valley of Cross path toward Gan Sacher Park

This was the way the path looked before,

Walking and bike path Jerusalem Israel Valley of Cross

and this is the same path now divided for walkers and cyclists.

Jerusalem Sacher Park couple exercising

Gan Sacher is being well-watered and the grass is green.

Couple doing yoga moves in Jerusalem Park Gan Sacher

Enough space for almost private exercise under the trees.

Jerusalem Israel park Gan Sacher

Even this rock near an entrance was cleaned up!

Jerusalem Israel Gan Sacher Park

I went back to find a photo of before, yes it was that sad looking.

Jerusalem Israel two Muslim women walking in Gan Sacher Park

I passed two Arab women wearing masks on the walking path.

Masks are not required for exercise.

But police are giving out fines for those not wearing masks in public.

View of Sacher Park above the restaurant

The restaurant in the Gan Sacher was busy. People were eating in the open covered area and a few couples were sitting outside. Seems those seats and steps which were hard to understand in the past are brilliant for our new reality.

Sacher Park in Jerusalem play are with steps before renovation

At this time of year, the playground would be filled with children.

Lately, the play equipment in Gan Sacher stands empty.

Jerusalem Israel playground in Jerusalem Park

Notice the steps are gone. It will be interesting to see the results when completed.

Jerusalem park Gan Sacher Park

Lights on were on in the building with restrooms, but no landscaping around.

Jerusalem Gan Sacher 2019 sign for Passover

Passover 2019 there was green planted all around.

I stopped going inside to check, as every time I found it clean.

Restroom in Sacher Park under construction

I remember how thrilled to see when this was being built.

Jerusalem Israel old restrooms before renovations

The situation before was Outrageous!

Progress and changes in Gan Sacher over the years, included the picnic area.

Jerusalem Israel Gan Sacher Park cement tables i

February 2018 this was a new picnic area near the play equipment.

Those tables and benches looked sturdy. However, those round things near fields?

Guess I was not the only one confused. Were they to be used as seats or BBQ grills?

Truck in Sacher Park in Jerusalem Israel

But now those benches and tables and round things are gone.

Jerusalem Israel new picnic tables in Sacher Park

There are even newer picnic tables

Jerusalem Israel Sacher Park new eating areas

in several locations along the path inside Gan Sacher. 

Jerusalem Israel Sacher Park renovation

One area in front of the trees that border the Knesset has also been developed.

Old view of Gan Sacher when trees fell down

Remembering in March 2014, after storms, many of the old trees in that spot were down.

Some trees were marked to be saved. Some were removed.

Trees trimmed have come back to provide shade again.

Two Muslim women stopping in Sacher Park to take selfies

By the time I came around the park, the women had reached the same spot and were taking selfies.

It was time to walk home.

Road work along path in Valley of Cross in Jerusalem Israel

Not too long ago serious fire here had endangered homes on the streets above.

A few days ago the dried weeds were cut, the area was being replanted.

Jerusalem Rechavia view from Valley of the Cross

Today you can see the results of the new landscaping.

Jerusalem Israel Sacher Park

In spite of the summer heat, and in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, the Jerusalem park spaces are being upgraded and green.

Jerusalem summer activities for children in the city parks in summer 2020

New activities for young children are planned in the Jerusalem parks.

Broadway shows in New York City are closed until January.

Things may not be coming up roses everywhere but in Jerusalem,

there are new roses on the streets and people are moving on and outside.

Israeli Scouts Masada center open after COVID-10 closing

After months closed, the door to the Israeli Scouts Moadon was open.

The sounds of children’s voices could be heard again filling the Jerusalem streets.