Digging Up and Cleaning Up the Jerusalem Streets

Digging Up and Cleaning Up the Jerusalem Streets

Oh, Jerusalem,

Jerusalem, Israel where the very old and new come together.

Where the ancient and the future collide on the streets.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem Israel as seen over the Valley of the Cross

Winter clouds drift over the Israel Museum overlooking the Valley of the Cross.

Old street morning scene in Jerusalem Israel

A street scene in Mea Shearim is another classic image.

Jerusalem Israel sign for construction of Gateway project

However, the Gateway Project at the entrance of Jerusalem seems to be constantly changing.

Jerusalem Israel street near entrance to city

Indeed, new roads and traffic patterns have been a topic in the past. 

Construction in Jerusalem Israel

Rising above a road out of Jerusalem are new housing projects of Ramat Shlomo.

Jerusalem Israel hills where new roads have been built

To build many of the roads, large sections of the Judean Hills have to be blasted away.

Jerusalem Israel tree preservation

When there is a tree to be saved, it is tagged for preservation.

Jerusalem Israel old Kraft Stadium

Remember Kraft Stadium, the scene of countless night football games and the Woodstock Revival?

Digging for new project at site of old Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem Israel

It is now only a memory as digging has begun on a massive municipal project.

The old Kraft Stadium was next to Jerusalem’s Gan Sacher, Sachar Park.

New paths in Jerusalem Israel Sacker Park

The new biking and walking path in Gan Sacher is now complete.

Jerusalem Israel Park pedestrian tunnel painted with colorful graffiti

At night the path is well lit and much more pleasant to use.

Gan Sacher Park with construction

However, the other side of Gan Sacher is one big construction site.

Jerusalem Park Gan Sacher

The clock is ticking for a new memorial to be ready in the park for its dedication with Vladimir Putin attending.

Jerusalem Israel Sache Park

The Russian President is to arrive with 39 other world leaders for a special Holocaust commemoration at Yad Vashem on Thursday, January 23rd.

Jerusalem residents have been complaining and bracing for major traffic delays for days already.

Presidents, the King of Spain, and Prince Charles of Great Britain and their extended entourages are among the expected guests.

Israeli President Formal hall ceiling

The President is hosting a major dinner reception in Beit Hanasi, the official Israeli President’s Residence, on Wednesday evening for the world leaders.

They even cleaned up the panels on the ceiling in the main hall.

Ceiling of Israeli President Residence

The brightness of the colors so noticeable, I had to take a photo.

Road work on Jerusalem Israel street CAT piece of equipment

Jerusalem is famous for its cats, but a new bred of CATs are now all over the Jerusalem streets.

Electric bus on Jerusalem Israel streets

One of the new Jerusalem electric buses went by.

Construction of new sidereal in Jerusalem Israel

Drivers try to maneuver around closed intersections during the construction of new sidewalks.

Ambulance in Jerusalem Israel construction area

Walking along Azza Street has been a challenge. With work done day and night and in the rain, even for emergency vehicles, it is challenging.

This bus stop was removed the next day, people had to stand and wait in the rain.

Jerusalem Israel construction site Muslim man using work vest as prayer rug

But while walking, I discovered an alternative use for those safety vests, a handy substitute for a Muslim prayer mat.

Clean up street in Hebrew on Jerusalem Israel street

Oh, the new Jerusalem streets, and trying to keep them clean.

Jerusalem Israel feel good signs along main road

Feel good signs have been posted along the main street.

Jerusalem Israel cleanup poster to keep city clean

“Jerusalem is your home, keep it clean,” reminds the new bus stop sign.

Oh, there is more, the light rail construction has whole neighborhood streets dug up.

Fire performance on Jerusalem Israel Ben Yehudah Street

You never know what you will find next on Jerusalem streets – this fire dancer was new to see.

Jerusalem Ben Yehudah at night

However, along Ben Yehudah Street and Zion Square – music, a common sight.

Jerusalem is ever-fascinating and changing.

Yemin Moshe Jerusalem Israel young woman taking a photo

We had a wonderful time in Yemin Moshe on a photo walk.

Tourists on top of Jerusalem Tower of David

Old or new, day or night, whether you look down or up,

millions of tourists have found what’s happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Come see for yourself.


A Tale of Two Hadrans in Jerusalem: Talmud Torah

A Tale of Two Hadrans in Jerusalem: Talmud Torah

Jerusalem, Israel.

This week we had heavy rain and flooded streets.

View of Jordan from Jerusalem Israel

But after the rain, the air and sky were so clean and clear, from a building in downtown Jerusalem you could see the mountain ranges in Jordan in the distance past the Old City walls.

No Hate No Fear in Jerusalem Israel at Jewish Agency Building on King George Street

In a week of international antisemitic attacks, the Jewish Agency building on King George Street was prepared for hundreds to attend a rally coinciding with the NO HATE, NO FEAR rally in New York.

There were Israeli political and religious issues, election dramas and more.  But as antisemitic incidents were ongoing and being reported in New York City, a major event at MetLife Stadium also caught media attention. There were Israelis who traveled to New York to join the 90,000 celebrants of Siyum HaShas on January 1, 2020, in the cold open-roof sports stadium.

For those who do not know, the Siyum HaShas, was a celebration at the end of learning all the volumes of Talmud, one page a day, which takes over 7 1/2 years.

In Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, there were multiple celebrations, large and small, held for more than a week.

Mizrachi audience at International Conference Center

At the Jerusalem International Conference Center – ICC, thousands attended a Siyum HaShas program held in English.

The Keynote address was given by Rabbi Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University.

Jerusalem Israel audience of one Siyum HaShas at Binyunei HaUma

The Religious Zionists gathering heard from multiple speakers, male and female, all Torah scholars and popular teachers.

Rav Rimon in Jerusalem speaking about halaka and new AI technoolgies

One was Rav Yosef Rimon who in his short allotted time connected the Torah to not only science but AI – artificial intelligence in our daily lives. I do not think he has a robot loading a dishwasher in his kitchen, certainly not in my old Jerusalem stone dwelling.

Jerusalem Conference Center sign in Hebrew for Siyum HaShas

After the opening sessions, everyone, including the hundreds of overflow room participants who had watched a live-streamed video of the speakers, went upstairs to the main auditorium.

Reserved seating at front of Siyum HaShas in Jerusalemsrael

On the main floor were men, with senior rabbis in the front in reserved seats with their names.

Yedidya Meir mc of Siyum HaShas in Jerusalem

The moderator was Yedidya Meir, whose wife Sivan Rahav Meir had spoken earlier downstairs.

Chazan Shai Abramson singing with choir to open Siyum HaShas

Chazan Shai Abramson sang accompanied by a male choir and band as the audience was finding assigned seats.

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau speaking at Siyum HaShas in Jerusalem Israel

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau spoke in Hebrew about the significance of the event.

Siyum HaShas audience in Jerusalem Israel

Men and boys filled the main auditorium, while some women were seated upstairs in the balcony.

Music at the Siyum HaShas in Jerusalem Israel

The musical interludes were popular Israeli male performers. At the end of the evening, the audience was up and dancing to the lively Hebrew songs.

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau at Siyum HaShas

I left early but had the pleasure of helping Rabbi Lau find his way out to a taxi.

The construction near the ICC is ongoing, and each visit is a challenge to find where to enter and exit with the constant changes. But that topic will wait for next time.

Jerusalem Israel crowd in lobby for Siyum HaShas for women

Three days later I was back at ICC for another Siyum HaShas. Same venue, very different crowd.

Jerusalem Israel Siyum HaShas for women

This Siyum HaShas was for Women,  organized by an organization called Hadran.

For 7 1/2 years, women also were opening the pages of their Talmud’s daily to study every day, in small groups, in study halls of seminaries, with online courses led by female scholars.

Jerusalem Israel Siyum HaShas for Women Rabbi Riskin in video

Rabbi Steven Riskin was one rabbi featured in the video presentation.

Rabbi Chaim Brovender at Siyum HaShas for women in Jerusalem

Rabbi Chaim Brovender, with a white page in his hand, was also one of the first rabbis to teach Talmud to women.

Rav Benny Lau at Siyum HaShas in Jerusalem Israel

For this Siyum HaShas, Rabbi Benny Lau introduced himself as Noa’s husband. He started 929, which studies a portion of the Bible each day. He is the nephew of Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.

Siyum HaShas Esti Rosenberg and Mikhal Tichonskinky

The names were reversed for two prominent female teachers of Torah and Talmud for women. Esti Rosenberg mentioned her grandfather Rav Soloveitchik z”l who was one of the early leading rabbis to teach Talmud to girls. Most of the impressive female educators on stage spoke in Hebrew, with English surtitles projected above.

All-day before the evening event was a day of learning for women at the ICC, with female scholars presenting in English and Hebrew.

Rav Yonaton Sacks speaking in video message to Siyum HaShas

One of the only things, other than the venue, the programs had in common was a video greeting in English by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

Michelle Cohen Farber

The founder of Hadran, Michelle Cohen Farber, has led an online study group for the past 7 1/2 years and propelled this unique first-time event.

Rachelle Fraenkel at Siyum HaShas with women hadran

Rachelle Fraenkel, an expert educator, was an impressive moderator. She called representative women of various organized learning groups on stage for the concluding ceremony.

Woman who did Daf Yomi in Jerusalem Israel

Women who completed the study cycle of learning a page of Talmud a day were asked to stand.

They were cheered and applauded for their accomplishments by the mostly female audience.

Koolulam at ICC for Women's Siyum HaShas man taking photos

There were men in attendance, even the man doing the video was impressed enough to take some video on his phone.

Siyum HaShas in Jerusalem Israel sign for Men's Entrance

Oh, there were other Siyum HaShas events, even at the ICC on another night. This sign was left up pointing to the Men’s Entrance. I did not go looking for the Women’s Entrance. The Pais Arena also held one of the largest gatherings.

In a week of troubles and protests, and more happening in Jerusalem, we also had a week where the study of Jewish law was valued and celebrated.

A week where women stood proudly on the ICC stage to celebrate learning Talmud.

No Jerusalem event is complete without music!

For this Siyum HaShas Koolulam was there, so watch out for their video.

And as Rachelle Fraenkel said at the end of the evening, this event had to conclude with Hatikvah.

Please note as one study cycle ends, the new one begins the next day. For some of the women, it was their first, others have started learning Talmud again and again, while others are just beginning on their journey.

More photographs of the National Mizrachi Siyum HaShas  HERE

More photographs of the Hadran, Siyum HaShas for Women HERE

Jerusalem, Israel Diverse and Democratic

Jerusalem, Israel Diverse and Democratic

Jerusalem, Israel is a busy place in the winter holiday season.

“It is no surprise that both the Jewish and Christian traditions share holidays of light – the light of faith and hope, even in the face of darkness…

As guardians of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the State of Israel is committed to religious freedom for all,” said President Reuven Rivlin.

“Jerusalem must serve as a model for peace and harmony between religions.”

Jerusalem Israel for Hanuka at Old City Jaffa Gate near Tower of David

This past week Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem lights on Agron Street for Hanukkah

Also this year Hanukkah coincided with the Christmas holiday season.

Neutral lighting lined some of the major streets.

Hebrew University had no classes on December 25th.

construction on Jerusalem Gaza Street backed up in morning

Traffic volume plus street repairs created backups even when the sun was shining.

In the rain? Forget getting anywhere in the usual amount of time!

Jerusalem Israel YMCA Christmas tree in lobby

In the past inside the YMCA was a sure bet for finding a holiday tree and decorations.

Jerusalem Christmas decorations at YMCA

This year the outside tree was decorated and additional lights placed at the entrance.

Suffganiot and Christmas tree at First Station

This year at First Station along with those Hanukkah donuts there was a Christmas tree.

Hanuka and Christmas in Jerusalem Israel

The banner sign at First Station next to the Hanukkah menorah had greetings for Hanukkah and Christmas.

Jerusalem Hotel in Old City with Christmas light

The lights at night in the Old City were bright inside of Jaffa Gate.

Santa in Jerusalem Israel for Christmas

That Santa Claus was not out at night when I looked for him, but he appeared in his annual spot near Jaffa Gate the next day.

Jerusalem Israel New Gate decorated for Christmas holiday

Inside the New Gate decorations greeted the holiday crowds to the Christian Quarter and churches.

Lights on Jerusalem Israel French Hospital at night in holiday season

Outside of the Old City walls, the lights on the St. Lous French Hospital brightened it up at night.

Jerusalem December Holiday crowds

The holiday week crowds filled the narrow streets in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City.

It’s official. A record number of holiday tourists were on the Jerusalem streets this year.

Israeli president cat in Beit Hanasi garden

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, the Presidential cat was watching over the grounds at the annual New Year reception for the heads of the Christian denominations in Israel.

An Israeli police officer taking a group photograph for New Year reception

Inside at the reception guests posed and smiled for photos.

Christian leaders in Israel at Israeli President's Residence for annual New Year Reception

Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri;  the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; the representative of the Armenian Patriarchate; head of the Franciscan Order in Jerusalem, the Custos of the Holy Land; and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Archeparch of Akka (Akko) were among the participants.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem spoke on behalf of the religious leaders.

In his remarks President Rivlin invited the Pope to the dedication ceremony for the Land of the Monasteries project in 2020, saying:

“We are about to finish clearing all of the mines from the Land of the Monasteries at the very beginning of the coming year. Already the number of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land is increasing each year. Just this year, close to 900,000 pilgrims visited the Land of Monasteries. We are working hard to complete the development of the entire area by the end of 2020.”

Land mines placed in old buildings for security near Jordan River Kasser-Al -Yahud

As part of this initiative, land mines laid in the 1970s for security reasons, which prevented access to the area, have been cleared.

Kasser Al Yahud area building of old

The process has been an ongoing project in the ancient area, which has been under development to a new tourist center for years.

Kasser al Yahud Israeli and Jordanian border

The area is called Qasr-Al-Yahud where the Jordan River is divided between Jordan and Israel.

Interior Minister MK Rabbi Aryeh Deri at Israeli President's house for new year reception for Christian leaders

Minister of the Interior, Aryeh Deri: “Freedom of worship and religion in Jerusalem, the Holy City, will be preserved for all and we will continue to preserve Jerusalem as the Holy City for all religions. Unfortunately, we live in an era when antisemitism raises its head around the world, most recently in the terrible incident in Monsey, New York. We must all fight antisemitism wherever it occurs, and we must all reject and condemn it in a loud and clear voice against any outbreak of antisemitism and violence.”

Israeli president shaking hands at new year reception with christian leaders

In his remarks, the President once again repeated, “We must remember that we are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together, and we, therefore, must advance initiatives which will benefit all of us.”

“In a few weeks, I will host leaders from around the world at Yad Vashem, to commemorate seventy-five years to the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and to call on all humanity, to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and fight antisemitism and hate.”

Antisemitism is becoming more blatant around the world.

Meanwhile, the Israeli leadership has become more “relaxed” and welcoming to religious diversity in Jerusalem with more neutral holiday lights and greetings, and enticing more Christian pilgrims to Qsar-Al-Yahud and other locations.

Some will find this very positive.

Others will find it the opposite.

The discussion of Israel, Jewish and democratic and diverse, will not cease with a new government.

But I will end with something new for me, I had to take out the video for this one.

Always something new on the Jerusalem streets.