Jerusalem Streets Busy Again

The Jerusalem streets are busy again–the traffic is unpredictable with backups and street closings. Ah, to be “normal” again.

An annual biking event was held for those up early enough to ride through the Jerusalem streets as the sun was rising on Friday morning.

This year it seems like people are trying to make up for lost ‘corona’ time by packing in events and programs and trips to Jerusalem.

With President Guillermo Lasso of the Republic of Ecuador and First Lady María de Lourdes Alcívar on their state visit to Israel, the sounds of official motorcade sirens returned to the streets.

Besides official meetings and a State dinner at Beit Hanasi, with the Israeli President and Michal Herzog, Ecuador opened an Innovation and Trade office in Jerusalem at Hebrew University, with a large delegation of ministers and business people.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz had a motorcade escort as she attended official events, such as going to Yad Vashem and meeting the Israeli Foreign Minister.

Though it was not on the official state list of events, she was accompanied by Israeli protocol and greeted warmly at the Kosovo Embassy in Jerusalem.

She was hosted at a reception held at the Jerusalem Embassy in Israel, where she spoke briefly to invited guests.

In her remarks, she called Charge d’affaires Ines Demiri ‘Ambassador,’ a title I believe she deserves for the work she has done this past year to promote Kosovo and joint business and travel prospects between the two countries.

Here we are in the middle of May and the week with Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut is always a busy time, but there was more this year.

The Michael Levin Base for lone soldiers and Bnot Sherut received a Sefer Torah dedicated by the Michael Levin Foundation based in the United States. Former Ambassador Ron Dermer was the featured speaker.

I loved how the crowd builds, as people come out and follow the Torah as it is carried joyously around the Jerusalem streets.

On the same day was the Nefesh BeNefesh Bonei Awards, this year held at Beit Hanasi for the first time. Olim, immigrants, who have contributed to Israel and its growth in various categories were honored.

Not all the honorees were able to attend. Dr. Jonathan Rieck was home sick with Covid, so his two sons accepted his honor. Entertainer Josie Katz also was not able to attend.

I got stuck standing in one spot for the entire program and was not able to get different angles of the speakers or the event.

I remembered a previous time I was in that one spot unable to move because of a live broadcast, but that time I did not complain.

As President, Isaac Herzog seems to enjoy greeting attendees after the events.

No longer under a news embargo is the news of the new state-of-the-art MDA blood collection center in Ramle.

On a media tour before the dedication, we watched as they prepared the facility.

The massive facility is so impressive I did a short video with some of the clips I took as we descended deep underground to see the new storage vault and largest door in Israel and much more.

The 2022 Jerusalem International Book Forum and Mishkenot Sha’ananim Writers’ Festival is back from May 15 – 19. Opening events at the YMCA.

Every Thursday, the Israel Museum’s Illustration Library is offering stories from its collection of thousands of children’s books from all over the world. Ages 3–8 | 4:30 pm Special activity | 5 pm Story hour | Free

The Israeli Ministry of Education is hosting the inaugural Education Innovation Conference on behalf of the OECD and reps from 18 countries are expected to arrive in Israel at the end of this month.

Flags are up for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day on May 29, 2022, and Jerusalem has prepared a long list of public events to celebrate 55 years.

But first, we have Lag B’Omer this week. With all the building and construction and park renovations, where will the kids make those huge bonfires?

After two years, much more is happening again on the Jerusalem streets!

Hope you can join us in the celebrations soon.

Tips for Touring in Jerusalem

Once again in Jerusalem, the weather has turned overnight, from freezing cold and cloudy to a full-blown sunshine heatwave.

Well, except when the next sand storm blows in to block the rays.

We asked for warmer and it’s here this week.

Lucky are all those thousands of returning tourists! People who have wanted to come but because of corona and closings were not able to get to Jerusalem sooner, they are arriving daily.

View of Kotel from Aish roof

The Old City should be buzzing this year with Passover, Ramadan, Easter Sunday, and Orthodox Palm Sunday coinciding.

But there is much more to do in Jerusalem!

Entrance to Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is a short drive, with the Aquarium nearby,

Jerusalem butterfly house

and it’s fun to check out the new butterfly house when the sun is shining.

Even at the Knesset, where you can book and join a free tour, there’s a large crane rising above the Knesset. Building construction is everywhere. Traffic is back and filling the Jerusalem Streets.

The Rose Garden and Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, are close to the Knesset.

Now that the 11th Jerusalem Marathon is over the park is much quieter than last week with tens of thousands of runners trying to stay dry.

Jerusalem Sacher Park Lion in new play area

The new playground is large with something for almost everyone. I am fond of that special Jerusalem lion.

However, I want to share some of the lesser-known spots for those who want some quiet time.

Jerusalem Gazelle Valley opening day
Entrance to Hansen House in Jerusalem

Hansen House Gardens are open to the public, plus the annual Design Week is happening soon.

How about a quiet nature spot to eat a picnic lunch off of Emek Refaim?

The Jerusalem Nature Museum is a local secret hideaway, saved from developers, slowly being renovated, and used for varied big events before Covid and starting up again taking advantage of outside spaces.

I love how this time of year flowers pop thru the old stones.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, I saw this week that signs have been posted to explain the old stones displayed in the gardens on the new audio tour. Tour groups are back at Beit Hanasi!

This week the water was turned on at Jerusalem’s new-old tourist spot.

New signs for France Square were posted.

Jerusalem Paris Fountain and French Square construction

After months and months of construction,

the France Square dedication was held.

Mayor Moshe Lion was surrounded by Israeli flags, but no French ones.

The previous dedication was done by then Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski with the Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe surrounded by media.

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The old Paris Square stone was not incorporated into the new plaza.

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Paris Square became known for the late-night anti-government rallies.

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For those who do not remember, the old design had a street,

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steps to the fountain area,

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and what Paris Fountain looked like before this renovation.

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The trees are not in full bloom, but the new France Square looks like the proposed design the city published.

For those breathing a sigh of relief that construction noise and protests are finally over at this junction of Jerusalem streets.

Wait.

The building at #62 King George Street is scheduled to come down and a new taller building is to replace it.

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The Jerusalem building that was considered new in 1965, at the edge of the city is now old and to be replaced.

Meanwhile, the fountain on or off seems to be a magnet for children.

A short video from the official dedication of France Square.

Or check out, one of my favorite Jerusalem views on a Jerusalem Photo Walk.

Looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the Jerusalem streets!

Jerusalem Marathon 2022

Neither rain, cold, wind, and mud,

nor the slippery stones of the Jerusalem streets in the Old City stopped the running of the Jerusalem Winner Marathon 2022.

The International Jerusalem Marathon 2020 was canceled after its launch due to the pandemic, but the miserably wintery weather of late March did not stop the March 25, 250,000 runners.

Sub-optimal conditions may have slowed down the full marathon times and kept spectators away, but the people of all ages, both at the starting and finish lines, were enthusiastic.

At the Tower of David the night prior to the Jerusalem Winner Marathon 2022 the foreign press launch was held.

The focus of the event, besides getting your press pass, was to meet Valentya Kiliarska, the Ukrainian marathon runner.

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Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion welcomed her to Jerusalem, Israel, at the Tower of David reception, on the night before the races .

I decided to let Valentyna tell you her story. Yes – did win, coming in first.

The signup and registration for the Jerusalem Marathon and EXPO were at Cinema City, the same as in October 2021.

The silver-studded dancer downstairs was new to the event this year, it was good to see him partying again.

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He was jiving at what has become the annual Jerusalem Marathon Pasta Party at Cinema City, the night prior to race day.

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Walking home through Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, my boots got covered with mud, in spite of these rolls of fake grass.

The park looked ready. Already wet, I was lucky to be able to get home before more rains soaked the grounds yet again.

My day started off with LOVE, the medical clown on a bicycle who, after posing for a photo, led a group of young staff at the barriers in exercises to warm up while standing long hours in the winter weather.

At corners and main Jerusalem street intersections, there was water and medical assistance and yellow raincoated marathon support workers.

I focused on the full marathon this year as they started on the long run around on the Jerusalem streets closed to traffic.

Some Jerusalem streets are blocked to pedestrians for the full marathon runners to pass without hindrance. Not everyone is happy about that.

Full marathon runners kept coming as I stood off the road.

Enthusiastic runners some dressed in costumes,

some with a shirt for a cause they were supporting,

and others in vivid colors.

Entering the park near the starting line, was one group meeting place.

Every year it is hard to find people, this year in the harsh and changing weather it was even more difficult.

This year a group with Ukrainian flags was at the starting line.

There were large puddles just past the starting line near the Knesset and Israel Museum.

Fewer spectators were in the park this year as supporters stood clustered in spots with less mud.

After completing the races, other than the full marathon, runners had to enter the soggy park grounds from the street and go through the mud to get their medallions.

Mayor Moshe Lion and his wife got a ride to the starting line. In my opinion, anyone who ran in this year’s weather deserves a medal!

The full men’s Jerusalem Marathon winner was Ageze Guadie, 33 years old, from Israel, with a time of  2:37:17.

In past years, I also loved sharing photos of groups of runners for good causes. This year it was too difficult to cover the entire park.

So I was happy to find these smiling young ladies,

and these colorful guys from South Africa and Australia.

Serious supporters stood at the full marathon finish line.

Watching for favorites to run those last meters and cross the line.

Standing with Ukraine at the start and finish line this year.

Also, receiving less attention than the full marathon winner was Masha Radko, also originally from Ukraine, who came in 2nd place for the women’s half-marathon.

Full marathon runners were headed to the finish line,

with more determined runners still coming,

as we headed home to warm up after hours in the rain.

When I prepared and posted this video, I had no idea who Tali was, but thanks to social media, I found out she is the daughter of long-time friends.

Never know what will happen on the Jerusalem streets.

I am looking forward to the warmer weather predicted soon.

Next week, will we be complaining about the heat instead of the cold?