The Jerusalem streets were starting to fill up with holiday visitors. English speakers were asking for directions again. “Back to normal” was in the air.
And then – Omicron –
the latest reported corona variant and Israel’s borders are set to close again to tourists in a few hours. Returning Israelis will have to go into isolation.
The future is out of my control, but, I can share what’s new in the present.
The lights are on at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens for Hanukkah. The decorated trail is not a long one, but the classical music is lovely, and this display you see over the pond is a real winner.
Thanksgiving night the new Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Center was lit up for a special Thanksgiving dinner for lone soldiers and b’not sherut (volunteers). You could see the festive balloons in the window from the street.
Even the light of the night sky was impressive, but there is much more.
Here at the old Shaare Zedek Hospital on Jaffa Road is the art installation of Yehudis Barmatz-Harris. Notice the mobile on top of the photo – it is made of dryer lint. The artist takes materials others would throw away and uses them in her new media installations. Here she uses light to form the shadow of a woman by the rocking chair – a piece called Hush.
Only one bit the of 5th Jerusalem Biennale going on this month is titled “Four Cubits.” As we again ponder going back to our homes and isolations, 300 artists have created unique expressions from their time spent at home.
The old hospital is the proposed location of Canada Israel’s future building.
But meanwhile for the next four years, until they get all the necessary permits, the halls are to be filled with art and artists.
With the Biennale App, you could have your favorite piece of contemporary art hang in your home, as this woman uses the code on the wall.
The Jerusalem Biennale artists were so impressive I plan to write up as many of them as possible individually to highlight their creativity.
Here Motta Brim is showing one of his books – want to take a guess? The designs are baking papers from challah! And I throw mine out each week?
As you have heard many times, I love the night lights at the Tower of David.
In one of the recently renovated rooms is another Biennale exhibition, this one curated by Ariel Lavian.
Turkish and Israeli designers joined during the pandemic to create a contemporary jewelry exhibition in a guardroom of the Ottoman-built citadel at the Tower of David.
While some things were certainly not the same in Jerusalem, Israel, this year,
there were the familiar winter colors in Liberty Bell Park.
The Jerusalem Scouts have finally returned and are building again near their moadon, clubhouse.
Workers were even seen entering the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel. After a grand opening in 2016, it was locked for a very long time.
The Jewish Media Summit was held on December 8, and was a Zoom event this year.
In the past, UN Ambassador Danny Danon brought UN Ambassadors to see Israel, but this pandemic year he will settle for hosting them on Wednesday – online.
I am remembering that a year ago at the Jerusalem Biennale ziara was the theme of the large exhibit in the YMCA. Ziara: Moroccan Common Wisdom, was curated by Amit Hai Cohen. Along with seventeen other artists of Moroccan descent, the display included a wide range of contemporary pieces. The Moroccan heritage of ziara, the feeling of home, contrasts greatly with other Arab countries where Jews were persecuted and expelled, and this week Israel and Morocco announced that they will reopen their liaison offices and in time, establish diplomatic relations. Expect travel to increase to Morocco, as well as to the United Arab Emirates.
Danny Danon said today that he expects more countries to announce they will establish relations with Israel before January 20. There’s clearly a new paradigm in the Middle East.
With Jerusalem under coronavirus restrictions and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, I was afraid that I wouldn’t get new photos for Hanukkah, like these favorites, a huge menorah from an inner Jerusalem city plaza,
or this one on top of Hadar shopping mall.
But I was wrong!
No tiny viral bug was going to stop lights on Hanukkah in Jerusalem.
Attendance at the lighting of the large golden menorah near the Kotel, Western Wall, is restricted, but accessible to all online. On the first night, people were divided into socially distanced sections, with live music, and the Chief Sephardic Rabbi lit the oil lamps.
The traditional large Hanukah menorah is back near Jaffa Gate.
Without international tourists due to corona, popular sites are not crowded as usual.
However, again Jerusalem is encouraging Israelis to come and visit.
Signs are up for celebrating Hanukkah in Jerusalem – check the website – HERE
Public Hanukkah lightings are held nightly, (well the sign says 4:30 pm) here at Nayot Park, and multiple other community outdoor locations.
But in Jerusalem, even private homes have their menorahs or chanukiot, on display, here on an outer gate to a Jerusalem street, for all to see the lights.
So what’s new?
There’s a large modern chanukiah near the walls of the Old City.
A floral menorah with a dreydel on each side near Bloomfield Park and the Montefiore Windmill. Plus, I hear there is also another on the Tayelet.
And on Jerusalem traffic circles,
even with restaurants closed now, there was one on the street where people could take out food and eat outside.
There are new signs to keep Jerusalem streets clean! That yellow thing is a banana peel and a plastic bottle was on another.
There are multiple new areas to encourage sitting and enjoying nature.
With theaters closed during this pandemic year, three young actresses from Nurit Katzir Theater were performing on Jaffa Road on Friday.
So far the weather in Jerusalem has been pleasant to get out and about.
This year, Nes Gadol Haya Po, a special concert for Hanukkah by the Jerusalem Symphony will be broadcast online at 9:00 pm IT, December 15, details can be found HERE.
Restrictions due to coronavirus have limited inside gatherings, but have not stopped Hanukkah celebrations on the Jerusalem streets.
Even in a pandemic, there are plans for the annual candle lighting each night in Mamilla Mall, and tonight there is an event at First Station.
Now is a good time to remember, the famous menorah at Yad Vashem:
From generation to generation, the Hanukkah candles lit up dark nights.
Jerusalem is hosting events all week, hope to get out at night to the see.
The light projections and music near Jaffa Gate from 2016 were special.
We still have 5 more nights of Hanukkah. Check back next week to see the best of Hanukkah on the Jerusalem streets.