Jerusalem Riding the Waves of August

Jerusalem Riding the Waves of August

From Jerusalem, there is good news and bad news.

Rollercoaster days with ups and downs.

Highs and lows with COVID-19.

Beautiful, happy weddings and sad, sad funerals.

Crazy times with closings and openings.

Yet 140 new Olim arrived from France.  We know that others are arriving daily without a big reception, to go into a two-week quarantine, before starting their new lives in their new home.

The seasonal international tourists are missing from the Jerusalem streets.

The Pianos Festival went online this year.

However, the seasons and nature are consistent.

Jerusalem Valley of the Cross

The days are growing shorter with the end of August rapidly approaching.

Gan Sacher in Jerusalem Israel

The well-watered grass in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park is ready for guests.

Jerusalem pizza truck in Gan Sacher

The Jerusalem Mayor’s office announced the removal of public telephones. But Jerusalem has added food trucks in various park locations. Friday morning, pizza was available in Gan Sacher.

Drive-in movies are being shown at the First Station parking lot. Regular theaters are still closed to Corona restrictions.

Shaon Horef, the Winter Noise Festival held on Jerusalem streets on Monday nights in February, got lost in the news of approaching novel coronavirus. Now Jerusalem is trying for Shaon Horef  on August summer nights with music and performances on various streets.

COVID-19 activity in Jerusalem Israel exercise in park

 

The parks are sponsoring Sport and Fitness for retired folks.

Among the other options are biking, flower arranging, yoga and Pilates, and Segway tours.

Family with a flying toy in Jerusalem park

Not sure who was having more fun here, the father controlling the flying toy or the kids who sat to watch.

Corona Hebrew advertisement for party for youth

Parties for the youth are planned in the Jerusalem parks.

Young couple meeting on a date in Jerusalem Israel park

And Jerusalem parks are, as always, perfect for a first date, another sign of this season.

The Jerusalem municipality has offered to host weddings at various scenic locations:

Tayelet Haas Promenade empty on Friday after terror attack

the Promenade at Armon Hanatziv,

I love Jerusalem in flowers.

the Bloomfield Gardens near the Montefiore Windmill,

Jerusalem Israel Bell Park in summer

and the Liberty Bell Park.  They are also some of my favorite Jerusalem locations.

Protesters sitting on Jerusalem street near the Prime Minister's Residence
Photo credit: Shifra G

Those noisy protests near the Prime Minister’s Residence continue.

View of Israel Museum Dome over Dead Sea Scrolls

The Israel Museum was closed for months but there is some good news there.

People standing outside the Israel Museum entrance in Jerusalem

 Museum galleries are scheduled to open this Thursday.  The employees protesting last week are to return to work.

Valley of the Cross in Jerusalem new landscaping

From a distance I noticed the all-black covering put on the back of city promotional signs along Hazaz Street, part of the black shirt anti-government protest.

Valley of the Cross new landscaping and flowers along exercise path

However, looking closer to the new landscaping along the street, there are new flowers emerging.

Friday afternoon in Jerusalem man selling flowers before Shabbat on street corner

This pink sign is one of the Jerusalem promoting tourism which were covered in black. But I took this photo to share a sign of normalcy. Friday morning flowers were being sold for Shabbat.

Jerusalem Israel sunset

The sun has risen and set.

Lime tree with fruit in Jerusalem Israel

The limes on the tree are growing and almost ready to pick.

Closeup on a rose in full bloom with small insect

I thought I had found a perfect rose for a closeup.

Only when I got home a saw there was an insect crawling on it.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon announced,”Following the global tourism crisis, we decided to advance the upgrade work and infrastructure related to tourist areas throughout the city. Upgrading King David Street is a complex upgrade project that affects transportation throughout central Jerusalem.”

The Israel National Library on Givat Ram announced, including their online sessions, will be closed for lack of funding.

Jerusalem Israel national Library building construction

But, construction on the new National Library is going strong. This is how the roof looked today.

Jerusalem Israel view from city center toward Old City

So there you have it, not all good, part of what’s happening on the Jerusalem streets this week.

I miss attending events at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. The very restricted number of programs now are limited to the Government Press Office only, not open to those of us with GPO cards.

Israeli President on phone
Photo credit: Mark Neyman

Today President Rivlin spoke on the telephone with people who have requested help via the coronavirus hotline opened by Beit HaNasi.

Let’s hope we can all ride these waves safely.

Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

The birds are chirping.

The sounds of moving traffic fill Jerusalem streets.

An emergency vehicle siren blaring passes by.

The happy voices of children at play can be heard.

Sounds of summer fill the Jerusalem streets.

Magen David from wood constructed by Scouts in Jerusalem

The boisterous sounds from the Israeli Scouts returned to their Jerusalem base.

Jerusalem Western Wall divided for coronavirus

The sounds of prayer at the Kotel, the Western Wall have continued as numbers of prayer gatherings have changed.

View of Wilson Arch by Kotel Jerusalem Israel

The numbers inside the Wilson’s Arch area are limited but worshipers have returned.

Jerusalem Great Synagogue email announcing closed again no prayer services.

Sadly the Jerusalem Great Synagogue has been silent for months.

Beit Hanasi new ambassadors meet Israeli President
Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

The red carpet was out. Signing the guestbook was similar. For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus, President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of Colombia, Greece, Denmark, Romania, and Argentina to the State of Israel.

This could be the last time for Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Meron Rueben (far right) to present new diplomats, as he is to become Israel’s next consul-general in Boston.

Jerusalem Ambassadors at Beit Hanasi pass honor guard reduced because of COVID-19
Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

The honor guard, comprised of 8 people with flags, was standing where the band usually stood. The very downsized band to play anthems stood behind in the garden, shielded by bushes.

Beit Hanasi Ambassador from Thailand

Here the police band played for one of the past presidential red carpet welcomes.

Jerusalem Symphony performances broadcast on Facebook during corona closings

Jerusalem Philharmonic performed live and was streamed on Facebook.

Musicians in the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra at Jerusalem Theater

Beautiful sounds with distance and masks on stage.

Lights on Knesset at night for summer session

Also late at night, the lights were on at the Knesset, but for a change, the sounds were inside instead of outside from a protest.

Jerusalem Israel path near Israel Museum

Amazing that so close to the Knesset, below the Israel Museum is such a quiet spot.

View of Israel Museum from below in Valley of the Cross

March 1, 2020, I took this photo walking home from the museum.

Piece in Israel Museum

This image was taken the very next day. Who would imagine the only photo I took on March 2nd, would be the last one for months? Sadly, the Israel Museum like the Great Synagogue has remained silent because of COVID-19.

Lizard in Jerusalem Israel park

But in the quiet of these coronavirus days, the lizards and geckos have become regular visitors to the Jerusalem nature paths.

Jerusalem Israel police in Sacher Park

Police on a motorcycle at the entrance of Gan Sacher, Sacher Park was a new sight this week.

Police are handing out 500 shekel tickets to those not wearing masks.

Sign posted in Jerusalem about Netanyahi

New signs. Protest signs.  Sounds of protests are heard and seen.

Jerusalem Festival mekudeshet

Meanwhile, Mekudeshet is trying to provide Jerusalem with cultural events on the Sherover Promenade. Sounds from the big summer festivals are missing from the streets.

With tourists missing the usual sights and sounds and crowds of summer visitors in Jerusalem are missing.

new hotel in Jerusalem Israel Orient

The Orient Isrotel reopened on July 8 with an 85 % occupancy for Shabbat.

With the number of infected people rising, and restrictions changing, it is hard to keep up day to day, let alone week to week.

Red flower in Jerusalem in summer

But one thing that the novel coronavirus pandemic has not affected – the vibrant colors found along the Jerusalem streets.

The colors in nature seem to be thriving, even as the economy dips to new lows.

Flowers in Jerusalem in summer

So I will leave you with this image, and a wish for all to stay healthy and well, on or off the Jerusalem streets where ever you are.

And the sounds from last summer Old City Light Festival, when I wondered what would be next?

Never imagined there would be no festival and the sounds of silence.

Jerusalem: Summer 2020 Starting Ready or Not

Jerusalem: Summer 2020 Starting Ready or Not

Skies over Jerusalem, Israel, were not as bright this morning, with a partial eclipse of the sun. Sadly, my attempt to get a photo failed.

June clouds over Jerusalem Israel skyline

However, the clouds over the Jerusalem streets last week were amazing.

June clouds over Jerusalem Israel streets

Here’s another image of clouds with a view of the center of town.

Summer is a time for a vacation in Israel. After inbound tourism to Israel had reached a historic high of 4.55 million tourists at the end of 2019, the industry expected to break another new record of 5 million tourists in 2020. But as a result of the global tourism crisis, the tourism industry in Jerusalem has been hard hit.

Some smaller venues and the Tower of David Museum have started to open.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem closed because of coronavirus regulations

But the Israel Museum gates are shut. It stands empty at the start of summer. In the past, it would be a time filled with people of all ages from around the world.

Israel Museum no people grounds empty midday in June COVID-19

I always wanted a photo of the Israel Museum’s  ‘Turning the World Upside Down’ by Anish Kapoor without people standing around and in my way. Certainly, I never imagined it would be finally possible with the world turned upside down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. As people around the world Zoom into funerals, conferences, and weddings, standing outside the Israel Museum all I needed was a simple zoom lens.

Construction on Israel National Library progress even during coronavirus restrictions and closings

However, across the street, the National Library construction was proceeding and visible well above ground. Interesting to compare to what the library site was like five years ago. 

The larger hotels, like the King David, Crown Plaza, and Orient are still closed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Israel’s first international state visitor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem. In the framework of the G2G meeting between the governments of Israel and Greece, he met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greek and Israeli flags at Beit Hanasi for official state ceremony

Before COVID-19, Greek officials were received at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence with blue and white flags.

And an honor guard red carpet welcome, with national anthems, and media invited to attend and record.

But, the current smaller-scaled reception resulted in the signing by ministers of three MOUs – on cyber, agriculture, and tourism. Plus, it was announced that it will be possible for Israeli tourists to travel to Greece and possibly return from Greece and Cyprus without a quarantine requirement by August 1, 2020.

Prime Minister of Greece and President of Israel at Beit Hanasi
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

Besides the important agreements, there was an official photo with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece and President Reuven Rivlin at Beit Hanasi.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece:and Israeli President at Beit Hanasi bump elbows
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

And the new coronavirus greeting of bumping elbows and not shaking hands.

There was also to be an official visit from Cyprus, but it was postponed as the numbers of coronavirus cases has started to rise again in multiple Israeli locations.

Knesset in 2017 opening session Tzipi Hotovley

It was announced that MK Tzipi Hotovely is leaving the Knesset to replace Mark Regev as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The usual anti-Israel sources are protesting the appointment. Remembering when Brazil would not accept Dani Dayan?   The best thing that happened to Dayan was when he went to New York as Israel’s General Counsel and has done an outstanding job.

View of Gaza from Israel where IDF monitors border

Back in November 2018, we were on a media tour near the Israeli border to see the IDF view of Gaza.

Israel Gaza border Tehilla Friedman on tour

There was Tehila Friedman in her signature red hat having a private guided tour. With the new Knesset arrangements, Tehila is one of the newest Knesset members. As Knesset members, the two female politicians are from different parties with very different political views, but both are concerned with the welfare of Israel.

New Jerusalem Israel summer tourist hamburger food trucks

The red food truck came back, with labeling for burgers, both meat and vegan burgers.

I love the name of Beyond Burgers in Hebrew – ביונד מיט-הדור הבה

In time for today’s International Yoga Day, Abraham Hostel announced rooftop Yoga.

What a contrast to two years ago and the big events for the first day of summer.

Man praying in Valley of Cross park area

Now a man praying alone in nature is more likely scene than group yoga.

Wildflower in Jerusalem Israel park area

The summer flowers around are blooming.

The sights and smells of summer abound.

Wild flower in Jerusalem Israel

Even this bead tree or Indian lilac flowers were pretty, though it’s toxic and intrusive.

The pleasant senses of nature will have to suffice.

This summer of 2020 the large annual festivals are not happening.

Protests from the cultural community, one of the daily protests near the Prime Minister’s Office and Knesset, could be heard from kilometres away.

I will leave you with one of the favorite sights and sounds from the Jerusalem Light Festival of 2018.

Here’s to hoping next year – or better – this year to see you on the Jerusalem streets.