Jerusalem Lighting up for Hanukkah

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.

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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.

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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.

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But meanwhile for the next four years, until they get all the necessary permits, the halls are to be filled with art and artists.

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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.

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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.

Avi Lavian at Tower of David for Jerusalem Biennale

In one of the recently renovated rooms is another Biennale exhibition, this one curated by Ariel Lavian.

Necklace in Tower of David for Biennale

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.

After many months the lights are on in the Gan Sacher play area.

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The long slides and accessible play areas in the public park were empty before the Tuesday grand opening, but full when we walked by Thursday evening.

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This specially designed Jerusalem lion is one of my favorites.

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There were lots of entertainers, and this pair managed to impressively balance in the grass at the opening event.

The Jerusalem Mayor and Deputy Mayors and representatives of the Kraft family were present for the ribbon-cutting as children crowded around.

The Sacher Park Kraft Family Sports areas were lit up at night. Anyone for tennis? The new courts were empty and the gate was open when I went by.

The entrance to Balfour Street and the official Prime Minister’s Residence was also empty as I went by last night. Oh, how different from the past.

The lights are ready to return to Liberty Bell Park and the Train Theater.

The new campus for the Train Theater is ready to open on Hanukkah with multiple shows and new theater venues, large and small, inside and out.

The large theater has this impressive seating ready to roll out when the lights go on for entertaining hundreds of children over the holiday week.

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So there you have it. Life has become a balancing act. The goal is to keep going and stay healthy as the variants rage and change.

I will leave it to this guy on his unicycle to entertain at the traffic lights.

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Jerusalem is ready for holiday visitors with signs of Hanukkah lights – November 28 – December 6, 2021, festivals, light tours, and more,

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and for drivers, there are warnings not to drink and drive.

I thought to conclude with more colorful lights in the Botanical Gardens.

As children begin holiday week, hopefully, filled with lights and wonder,

may all be blessed with color and lights and good health.

May we see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.

It’s Hanukkah in Jerusalem

Hanukkah is the time of miracles.

While some things were certainly not the same in Jerusalem, Israel, this year,

Jerusalem Liberty Bell Park autumn colors

there were the familiar winter colors in Liberty Bell Park.

Israeli Scouts build near their club house

The Jerusalem Scouts have finally returned and are building again near their moadon, clubhouse.

Israeli Antiquities in Jerusalem

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.

GPO Jewish Media Summit Zoom panel

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.

Hanukiah in Jerusalem near Museum of Tolerance and Friends of Zion Museum

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,

Hanukia on top of Hadar Mall for sixth night of Hanukkah

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.

Western Wall menorah lighting first night of Hanukkah 2020 corona restricted

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.

Jaffa Gate large menorah on Hanukkah with Tower of David in background

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.

Jerusalem streets signs to Celebrate Hanukkah in Jerusalem

Signs are up for celebrating Hanukkah in Jerusalem – check the website – HERE

Large Menorah near Jerusalem Nayot Park for Hanukkah

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?

Two young men walk by Tzahal Square new Hanukkah menorah in background

There’s a large modern chanukiah near the walls of the Old City.

Hanukah menorah in flower bed near Jerusalem Bloomfield Garden

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.

Jerusalem traffic circle Hanukkah menorah for holiday

And on Jerusalem traffic circles,

Hanukkah menorah in restaurant table, outside as restaurant closed for COVID10

even with restaurants closed now, there was one on the street where people could take out food and eat outside.

Jerusalem street signs to keep city clean

There are new signs to keep Jerusalem streets clean! That yellow thing is a banana peel and a plastic bottle was on another.

Man sitting in new Jerusalem outdoor area

There are multiple new areas to encourage sitting and enjoying nature.

Three young actresses performing on street theaters closed

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:

Hanukkah menorah display in Yad Vashem of photo and real menorah from Germany with Nazi flag in background

In 1932, Rachel Posner wrote in German, on the back of her photograph, “Their flag wishes to see the death of Judah, but Judah will always survive, and our light will outlast their flag.” In 1934, the Posners left Kiel, Germany for Israel.
Man and daughter looking at Hanukkah menorah outside

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.

https://youtu.be/4gFfRaR2XyM

The light projections and music near Jaffa Gate from 2016 were special.

Happy Hanukah poster color projection on wall of Jerusalem Old City near Jaffa Gate in 2016.

We still have 5 more nights of Hanukkah. Check back next week to see the best of Hanukkah on the Jerusalem streets.

Meanwhile, stay well.

חג חנוכה שמח

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.