Jerusalem Colors and Crowds of Sukkot

With so much to do in Jerusalem on Chol Hamoed Sukkot, it is hard to find the time and energy to keep up.

There is certainly too much to share in one post today.

However, one of the main events in Jerusalem, Israel, is the Sukkot holiday Birkat Kohanim at the Kotel, the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall.

A crowd with tens of thousands of people packed into the Kotel Plaza on Wednesday morning.

But to get to the Kotel this year was really aliyah l’regel. With streets in the Old City closed to cars and the shuttle from First Station only starting at 10:00 am – it was walk up or go home.

So people walked up the mountain path toward Zion Gate.

The view was quite impressive, the sky was bright blue, and it was a lovely time to walk in Jerusalem.

On the way, you pass a memorial stone for fallen soldier Shlomo Cohen.

Families were walking together, as were these two young women carrying lulavim.

One man was walking alone talking on his phone. So many people were coming and going on a road usually full of cars to the Old City.

And a few people stopped to rest along the way.

How do they count so many people walking in and out of the Old City?

It had been a few years since I was at the Kotel for Sukkot Birkat Kohanim.

But I wasn’t going to miss a chance to watch from the roof of the Aish HaTorah building.

People stood at every vantage point above the Kotel Plaza.

It was nice to see from above and not be packed into the crowd below.

Some people decided to listen from a shady location just outside the entrance and not come and stand in the sun-filled crowded Plaza.

Crowd control has greatly improved in the past 10 years, with marked exits.

What a crowd, so many people wanting to be in a small space!

Of course from my vantage point on the rooftop location, I took zoom shots.

‘Selfies’- on the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock in the background.

A group of Jewish tourists walked above as the prayers were said below.

Sukkot prayer in front of a model of the Jewish Temple on the Aish roof.

A woman above on a roof in the Old City unfurled an Israeli flag.

Everywhere, all around, people and sukkot!

And at night the Kotel Plaza was packed again with tens of thousands for the Remember Hakel event, to mark the special Torah reading once every seven years at the end of the Shemita cycle.

Sukkot in Jerusalem was such a colorful time again this year in 5783.

The Israeli President’s Residence reception on Sukkot to the public had some colorful moments, but more on that later. Off now to more events before the holiday week is over, which I plan to share next time.

My video from the Birkat Kohanim on Wednesday.

What a colorful week, with so much happening on the Jerusalem streets!

Multiple Views of Jerusalem

The views of Jerusalem are many and varied, nothing is simple or straight. Its politics is as complicated and twisted as its streets.

There is no grid or plan, but rather growth appears random.

The old and new mingle and mix.

The view from Hebrew University on Mount Scopus is familiar to many. The two towers in Arnona, are new on the horizon.

The view of the iconic Tower of David is a familiar one also. But even that well-known citadel is getting a facelift.

The view from Jerusalem to Jordan across the Dead Sea is less well-known but at sunset often dramatic and photo-worthy.

This week the sight of groups of young people touring again in Jerusalem was a pleasure to view. Unless you were trying to drive or walk as they crowded excitedly and noisily onto Jerusalem street corners trying to get across the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem panoramic view from Nefesh Benefesh porch

From the new Nefesh BeNefesh building at Cinema City, the panoramic view of the city includes the Israeli Supreme Court on the far right, well over Sacher Park and beyond, and toward the Nachlaot neighborhood.

Inside Cinema City, the center area was preparing for a summer indoor Ninja activity center

and the original fountain was gone.

This is a new view from The Valley of the Cross, the stone wall destroyed by flooding water four years ago near the Monastery is finally being repaired.

This is the summer of the food trucks – in Jerusalem again and areas around have proven to be a popular destination for families in the evening.

Jerusalem Food Truck Festival in Hinnon Valley at night with full moon

The views in the Hinnom Valley at night are captivating, as people try and decide which meal they will enjoy.

New to the Jerusalem streets is this green bike path. These old narrow streets are now less convenient for parking on the sidewalk with these lanes.

But it is where you look up, not down, that the most prominent difference is apparent.

These are not the familiar buildings in view of Jerusalem. The Vert Hotel on the far right started off as the Hilton and was the only tall building. Now with construction, the skyline is constantly changing as towers go higher.

And the Har Hamenuchot cemetery over the new Highway #1, grows up and out with new “residents” arriving regularly.

It has been a while since I was on the way out of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

The towers and skyline of Tel Aviv constantly amaze.

I went to attend the Jerusalem Post Women’s Entrepreneurship Summit led by Tamar Uriel-Beeri Managing Editor, and by Maayan Hoffman, Head of Conferences for Jerusalem Post.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum was the opening speaker.

It was exciting to attend a live event again after so long, to see friends and meet new people.

There were multiple panels and fireside chats, and speakers.

The legendary Israeli entrepreneur Yossi Vardi said he has been involved in startups since 1969, but judged by body language, Vardi was not used to being the only male on a long program with a list of female participants.

Tel Aviv was warmer and humid, and a different venue than usual.

However, the view at night of the lights was impressive.

Back to Jerusalem and the start of the Hebrew month of Av and the Nine Days. Time to remember the destruction in the past leading up to Tisha b’Av.

The view of the Temple stones remains as a physical reminder.

As Jerusalem grows higher and larger and more modern, the connection to the past and history of the old is constantly in our minds, even if our views are from different angles and lenses.

Hope you can come and see for yourself what’s new and the old in Jerusalem and on the Jerusalem streets on a photo walk.

Jerusalem Celebrates in July

The Jerusalem streets are back to normal!

After more than two years under the corona cloud and closings, the tourists and their tour buses are back clogging the Jerusalem streets. Family and Birthright tours and so many more are in Jerusalem this summer.

One day I had to pick from three things happening at the same time.

Sunday evening the sky was pure gold as the sunset. The weather has been fabulous for the new burst of tourist activity.

Machane Yehuda Market, shuk, is filled with colors of summer produce.

The variety and colors and flavors are always photo-worthy.

We had a photo walk thru the shuk, and it was fantastic to see it again.

Even better from the lens of fresh and young eyes.

Always something new to see in the shuk and on the Jerusalem streets.

Some of the images really pop out at you.

And the building! As the construction goes up and up, the skyline changes.

The huge Midtown Jerusalem project next to the old Shaare Zedek Hospital is going down and down, now that the plot has been cleared.

Even the citadel at the Tower of David is getting a makeover/repair.

Nearby in the valley, the Auto Food Festival is back until the end of August.

The Liberty Bell Garden was the scene of a youth festival. I was not allowed to enter, so no photos from that event.

However, with the music coming from the Shalom Hartman outdoor stage, it was hard not to stop on the way home.

Signs are up for summer in the neighborhood parks for July and August.

This summer Jerusalem celebrates Sport in July!

First, the Israeli Sports Championships were held last week.

The European Under 18 Championships were held at Givat Ram Stadium, morning and evening, and were open to the public. It was a big success according to those who attended, but there was no closing mega event due to concerns about the rising corona numbers.

The 21st Maccabiah is opening on July 14, with thousands of international Jewish athletes to compete. One Jerusalem event is a Night Run on July 18, registration for that race is open.

What’s bigger news than sports?

The signs are up on the Jerusalem streets -no parking near Beit Hanasi. The Israeli President’s Residence is to host President Joe Biden. He was last here as US Vice-President five years ago.

This visit has already produced an official logo and a 30-siren blasting motorcade late-night rehearsal thru the Jerusalem streets.

One topic said to be on the discussion agenda is the status of E 1.

E1 (short for East 1) includes the land area east of Jerusalem French Hill to Ma’ale Adumim.

Ma’ale Adumim is home to 30,000 Israelis.

From a lookout in Ma’ale Adumim, we went to see the contested area.

E1 covers an area of 12 square kilometers (4.6 sq mi).

From Ma’ale Adumim you can see across the wadi to Al-Eizariya or al-Azariya, familiar to Christian tourists as Bethany.

Also, there is the Israeli police station in E1.

And this lake – not what one expects to see.

Al-Eizariya is part of the story with its unregulated growth, the disposal of trash down the side of the mountain is easily visible.

But the bigger current issue is the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin site.

Repeatedly the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled this illegal encampment to be removed and at the last minute, governments have not followed thru.

The people living here were offered other options and refused.

On land outside of Ma’ale Adumim, the encampment has grown. The people who would want to move and improve their living conditions are forced to stay because of the politics of those who want Israel not to connect Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem.

The red warning sign in to Al-Eizariya warns Israelis of danger but does not say forbidden, we drove up to another lookout spot.

We could see one of the checkpoints back to Jerusalem was backed up and used another one to return. It will be interesting to see what the Biden visit stirs up in this already sensitive E1 area.

I felt it more important to go and see what the situation looked like than attend yet another session on antisemitism at Hebrew University with Deborah Lipstadt which was at the same time as the E1 media tour.

Remember she spoke in Jerusalem three years ago?

Deborah Lipstadt speaking on antisemitism at the Begin Center for the B’nai Brith Awards in 2019..

Back on the Jerusalem streets, the Sultan’s Pool is ready for those huge summer musical nighttime concerts again.

When the sun sets in Jerusalem the colors are not just Jerusalem of Gold. Look at this view over the Dead Sea to Jordan.

This is why I love to do the Jerusalem photo walks in the Yemin Moshe area. Hope you will be able to appreciate the view also and soon.