What’s New and Different on the Jerusalem Streets?

With the end of May 2024, summer is returning to the Jerusalem streets.

A sure sign is finding that ants have returned to the kitchen.

On a quiet day when news is bleak, a quick walk to the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens to witness the new season is an effective antidote. The pond is filling with the green leaves of the lilies, and this year it is lined with Israeli flags.

More and more new flags are hanging over the Jerusalem streets, some never noticed before.

The Jerusalem Writers Festival is returning on May 27- 30 in Mishkenot Sha’ananim as in the past.

Jerusalem Education Week is back again with various activities for teachers, students, and parents.

The programs are to be held all week. However, this year it ends with a special Kabbalat Shabbat at the Nature Center in memory of Yossi Hershkovitz הי”ד on Friday afternoon.

Orient Isrotel Hotel was again the scene of the Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society.

The good food and conversations in the main lobby and

the main room set to accommodate the dozens of speakers and media were similar to past years.

The Israeli President Isaac Herzog opened the first day of the two-day conference.

The large screens projecting the speakers were the same, as here with the former commander of the elite IDF unit 8200 Nadav Zafir, founder of Team 8.

US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew was listed on the program in “Conversation with Yohanan Plesner.”

The former US Secretary of the Treasury Lew declined to get involved with the current political situation saying his area of expertise was more in “capital markets” in response to one of IDI President Plesner’s questions.

Israeli entrepreneur and innovator Yossi Vardi was back as usual and Jack Lew stopped to speak with him.

What was different from last year?

The Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion wasn’t on the program, nor was the head of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Economy Minister Nir Barkat were also absent this year.

The reception Smotrich received last year, with signs and shouting and boos, made it impossible to hear his prepared remarks.

This year at the conference, I only heard one man shouting at a speaker. He was quickly silenced by people sitting near him. With many economic concerns because of the war, the atmosphere was much calmer this year.

Hansen House announced a new exhibition this week “In-attention” showcasing new tech and design.

This Jerusalem Design Week focused on supporting initiatives and actions that turn our gaze inward.

The value of culture has been put to the test. With these works, “the creators hope to heal and redesign the future, and consider the day after the current crisis.”

This one was simple fun. Tossing a small ball into the net of the left, the ball was propelled across and then shot back and forth – over and over, as I watched. As always, something unusual at Hansen House!

New signs were up this week, the one on the top left confused me initially. In the Clal Building, the Jerusalem Street Orchestra is holding a concert on Wednesday night, May 29. The concert was already sold out when I figured out what was happening.

The Moon Grove was the site of major Lag B’Omer bonfires in the past.

But this year the big fires were very different.

The main one in Meron was banned because of Hezbollah rockets and fears of a large crowd gathering.

Photo credit: Western Wall Heritage

One of the multiple sites this year was near the Kotel, Western Wall late at night.

Lag B’Omer fires were never my favorite, but I would have watched this one. However, none of the Kotel webcams showed the fire, music, and crowds dancing.

New flags and old were seen this week on the Jerusalem streets.

“We are stronger together.”

As protests grow, time moves slowly, one constant endures: there is always something new to see on the old Jerusalem streets and we never know what will happen next.

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.