Jerusalem Sounds of Music

Who would think the quiet sounds of Jerusalem parks would be a good thing? But children are back in school after a long year at home. Public parks are hosting group activities again, not just providing for family health and sanity with a break out of the house during the day.

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At Takhana Rishona, First Station, on a recent Friday morning, deliveries arrived early for open area dining, and inside seating dining as well.

An outdoor yoga class in the center tent area was happening,

as the aroma of fresh brew from the new coffee bar filled the air.

I was off to meet with Daniel and Yedidia Schwartz near JETH – the Jerusalem Entrepreneur Tourism Hub. A perfect location for their new tour innovation to begin.

Great seeing other groups also as we set off on foot from the Takhana.

The first stop was the Khan Theater, where Daniel, a professional tour guide, told us that the site was built in 1853 as a silk factory. However, it became a night hostel (a khan in Arabic) for Christian pilgrims on their way to Bethlehem, and Jewish travelers on the way to Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs. Since 1968, it has been a popular theater venue.

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Minutes away under the St. Andrew Scottish Guesthouse, near the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, is an archeological site of importance.

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A burial area from First Temple times, featuring posters with excellent explanations concerning the finds, including silver amulets with old Hebrew Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing engraved on them.

Daniel’s tour of Ketef Hinnom and the First Temple period burial site added a new dimension with additional and interesting information.

However, what distinguished this tour from others was the music. Daniel and his brother Yedidia, a professional violinist with the Jerusalem Symphony, entertained us, providing relaxing interludes along the way.

At one of my favorite off-the-street locations, there was time to sit and appreciate nature,

and historical sites, including the Tower of David, along the way to Yemin Moshe and Montefiore Windmill.

Yemin Moshe is a perennial favorite, who can’t but enjoy its beautiful lanes.

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Near the Montefiore Windmill, deserted for so long, people were enjoying the spring-like weather and being out and about again.

In the park area behind King David Hotel, the history of the hotel was retold as nearby groups were getting in their partying before Ramadan.

Celebrating graduation 2021 – and oh what a year it was.

The Lion Fountain had children splashing in the cool water again.

Tourists were learning about the Templar Meeting House next to the Orient Hotel. Tours are for Israelis, with most in Hebrew, as international visitors are limited until May 23rd.

After the Templar houses of Emek Refaim Street, we left for what was advertised as the “Secret Garden.”

In 1880, Martin Pauser built this building as a baker, and he also sold ice cream. During the War of Independence, women and children from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel took refuge here, on what is now called Patterson Street.

In the garden, the tour ended with more music – and wine. I refused to drink so early in the day. But seated in the lovely garden, I felt like I was on a holiday vacation far away – but yet so close to home.

At each stop on the tour, people who walked by would take out their phones and cameras to record the lovely sounds. This tour group was recording us at the last stop, so I finally decided time to take their photo in return.

But really, who could blame them?

The sounds of music and beauty were a treat to celebrate the opening up of Jerusalem streets after a year of repeated closures.

Jerusalem Photo Walks are starting again, in real life and online.

As a guest of Tour de Sound, another way to enjoy the Jerusalem streets

photo credit: Spokesperson Mayor’s Office

Also new – the municipality announces bike rental stations!.

Hope to see you all in Jerusalem one day soon.

Jerusalem Time is Flying

October the holidays are over. It’s time for Jerusalem and the Jerusalem streets to get back to “normal.”

Sure.

Two weeks after the end of the holiday season and we changed the clocks, falling backward into standard corona time.

I hate changing the clocks any time.

It’s been a time when it’s hard to keep up with the news bulletins.

First the normalization agreements between Israel and UAE and Bahrain. The United Arab Emirates diplomats arrived in Israel to sign trade agreements. Israeli travel companies are busy working out how to proceed with daily flights as an option, even with COVID19.

Sudan has joined the Gulf states making positive connections with Israel. Did you know Golda Meir and Israel were the first to acknowledge Sudan’s independence? The opening of air space alone is a big deal. Other financial deals we will wait and see.

The old holiday signs were replaced new ones from Mayor Lion for a successful new academic year. However, Hebrew University was open for less than a week and closed today, due to a computer problem.

The nursery schools were allowed to open under the new COVID19 restrictions. But most students are still at home, zooming and waiting to get back to classrooms and their friends.

One group was meeting in an outdoor open area under today’s cloudy sky.

Dog school, however, seems to be going strong in spite of corona.

During this time many Jerusalem streets have gotten a new look.

Some streets are unrecognizable with constantly changing barriers and infrastructure improvements.

The Great Synagogue is still closed, but a covering provides shade for limited prayer outside in the plaza.

During the lockdown, I was finally able to get a photo of the horse in Gan HaSoos, the Horse Park. Usually there are people around or on it.

In town was a bloodmobile site and new art pieces, but the clothing stores were closed. The supermarket and WeWork were allowed to be open.

Ben Yehuda Street was basically deserted during the lockdown.

Stores shuttered with people allowed only 1 kilometer from home.

The Light Rail was running, but Jaffa Road appeared midday as quiet as early morning, instead of the busy shopping location it had become.

Too many of the Jerusalem streets and alleyways were too quiet.

The First Station area has announced a development plan but needs the tourists to come back for businesses to reopen.

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Construction has been ongoing.

But too often it seems to be workers redoing areas where work was just done?

With all the challenges and noisy protests, closings and corona, suffering, and death, I am happy to share, young couples have found new ways to meet with theaters and museums, hotel lobbies, and cafes closed.

Walking and talking in nature is new norm, with or without a mask.

So the clocks have changed, the days are shorter, but the clouds make for colorful sunsets.

Today is Aliyah Day. In spite of a pandemic people have arrived home to Israel on a regular basis, and the number of applications is causing inpatient waiting times.

The real Jerusalem streets – good, bad and not so ugly.

Stay well and hope to see everyone here soon. At least flight times from most parts of the world should be shorter now with flights to Israel allowed over so many new Gulf countries.

Next year in Jerusalem! (or Dubai?)

From Jerusalem, Education Uniting and Empowering

From Jerusalem, Education Uniting and Empowering

Another incredible week in Jerusalem, Israel, as tens of thousands filled hotels and their buses made their way through the Jerusalem streets.

Unity Prize Awards at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

The Unity Prizes were awarded at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. With the Gesher Foundation and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Fraenkel, Ifrach and Shaar families initiated these awards four years ago.

The families of the three murdered teens Eyal, Yifrach, and Naftali z”l wanted to find a meaningful way to express their appreciation for the unity and support they felt during those difficult days.

Unity Prize founders three families Fraenkel, Ifrach and Shaar at Beit Hanasi for Unity Awards Ceremony

The program was held in the main hall and included music and entertainment, with the families and prize winners filling the room.

Boca Florida winner of Unity Prize in Jerusalem Israel at Israeli President House

Boca Florida won a prize for Jewish Engagement, unity in Jewish education. Representatives from Florida came to Jerusalem to receive their award.

Unity Prize winners.

Other winners were Runners without Borders, TEC Center, Koolulam, and a special Global life achievement went to Birthright.

Three video clips were included in last week’s Shabbat Shalom greeting. They can be seen HERE.  

Soon after I left Beit Hanasi, there was another event in the gardens of OneFamily.

One Family hosts Rudy Giuliani in Jerusalem Israel

Photo ops with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani were popular that night.

OneFamily guest Rudy Giuliani poses for photo on way out of One Family dinner event

Giuliani was mayor at the time of September 11 terror attack. He spoke of dealing with victims of terror in the aftermath and emphasized the good and important work of OneFamily helping victims of terror in Israel.

Not all of his remarks would be considered politically correct, but here is one short clip on Arafat and the PLO.

Jerusalem Israel, President's house garden with busts of former presidents and Theodore Herzl

Beit Hanasi, as usual, was a busy place all week. The presidential gardens were ready for numerous international guests.

AJC Board of Governors line up to enter Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

The leadership of American Jewish Committee (AJC) lined up so politely to enter. Should I confess that I smiled and went in the other door to bypass the line?

Bedouin Ahlam Alsana speaking at ICC for AJC in Jerusalem Israel

At AJC closing plenary, one of the many faces of Israel, Ahlam Alsana, stressed the importance of education in her remarks.

Shavuah HaSefer at First Station Jerusalem Israel

For locals, it was the annual Shavuah Hasefer, Hebrew Book Week, again held in First Station. As every year, thousands of volumes were for sale, attracting young and old.

Jerusalem Israel actors at First Station

A volunteer student theater group performed as families gathered before the entry gate opened.

Jerusalem Israel First Station

After their performance, confetti covered the ground and the actor/painter was back at his easel at work.

Another “you never know what you will find” scene for sure.

School end of year performance in Jerusalem Israel

You never know what you will find at those end of school year performances filling schedules in June. Mega events, with professional staging and lights, lasting well into the night – for elementary school. Interesting, as college graduations in Israel are so low key compared to US.

Jerusalem Israel Orient Isrotel

The new Orient Hotel was the scene of a gala dinner celebrating the 80th year of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Steinsaltz Center contribution to education.

Books of Adin Steinsaltz

What other dinner gala featured a wall of impressive books, under the authorship of one person?

Rav Adin Steinsaltz with son and grandson enter gala tribute for his 80th birthday in Jerusalem Israel

Rabbi Steinsaltz was escorted into the full banquet hall by his son and grandson.

Singer Avraham Fried in Jerusalem, Israel for Steinsaltz Gala in honor of Rav Adin 80th birthday

Popular singer Avraham Fried gave a powerful performance.

Eightieth birthday Rav Adin Steinsaltz in Jerusalem Israel

The key note speaker was Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who spoke about power and knowledge.

To end with some inspiration, take two minutes and listen to a brief clip from his insightful remarks.

So much is happening in Jerusalem.

Israel Festival has ended. Jerusalem Design Week has begun.

Then on June 27, begins another week of the annual Light Festival in the Old City.

But for this week if there was one overshadowing theme, it was that education is the key.

Education should be everyone’s birthright, not only the privileged.

Am Yisrael Chai.