In Jerusalem, Life After All

Some weeks are easier than others to find good news to share from the Jerusalem streets.

Within 1000 steps from where I live in Jerusalem, Israel, four families have lost their sons in battle since October 7. This week another 15 young men lost their lives fighting for Israel.

The reclaimed President’s Hotel has regular dance classes. The music can be heard in the evening.

Inside there were few people, but the art exhibit, “Life, After All,” lined the walls.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, the Jerusalem Unity Prize awards were presented

The Jerusalem Prize for the Unity of Israel was initiated by the Yifrach, Shaer, and Fraenkel families with former Jerusalem Mayor MK Nir Barkat, stemming from the deep sense of unity felt throughout Israeli society and the Jewish Diaspora following the kidnapping and murder of their sons Eyal, Gil-Ad, and Naftali in the summer of 2014.

Ten years have passed, and the families have pursued life after their tragedy.

Knesset members were in attendance, even though they were not called to speak.

On most occasions in Jerusalem, a yellow chair stands empty ready for hostages to return.

In time for Shavuot, the Chabad House of Rechavia led by Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg celebrated their new location, with Rabbi Meir Goldwicht as guest speaker.

On Shavuot night, the list of locations and speakers all night long was way too long to list.

Then at dawn, tens of thousands of people walked to the Kotel, Western Wall, to pray.

The Jewish Agency Building was lit with a special Happy Holiday Shavuot message.

Signs are up for the annual June Shavuah Hasafer, Hebrew Book Week.

The Eid al-Adha the Muslim holiday, “Feast of Sacrifice” is on Sunday through Thursday, June 19, 2024.

The government announced an extension for residents who have been evacuated from their homes, in the hotels and temporary housing solutions, financed by the state, until 15 August 2024.

As life goes on, even as the war in Gaza goes on, the northern front continues to escalate and businesses have suffered greatly. The OU Israel hosted a successful fair for businesses before Shavuot.

Israeli Lebanese border wall section painted

With the attacks by Hezbollah from Lebanon increasing, it seemed like a good time to go back and look at a trip to the northern border 4 years ago, Israel’s Northern Exposure. The only thing that has changed is that those tens of thousands of residents have been out of their homes for over 8 months.

Man on Lebanese border with Israel

Oh, and missiles, rockets, and deadly drones are being shot at Israelis rather than photographs.

The funeral of Eliyahu Moshe Shlomo Zimbalist לוויה של אליהו משה שלמה was on one of the hottest days of the year. Har Herzl has seen too many fallen soldiers whose families will have the task of going on after the loss of the finest these past months.

May their memories be a blessing

May we see joy, music, and life return to the Jerusalem streets.

What you did not see in Jerusalem this week

The Real Jerusalem Streets was started because what was reported in the media was not what I saw every day walking around the Jerusalem streets.

So what was happening in Jerusalem that did not make the international headlines?

Eight months into a war – this week in Jerusalem, Israel.

Buildings in Jerusalem are rising higher, as seen from the Nefesh BeNefesh Campus at Cinema City.

Road construction is challenging as one never knows what will be open or closed.

At NBN the audience was filled with young adults at the evening session of a financial conference on Sunday night. Seeing all the English-speaking Olim asking questions and learning how to live financially smarter lives in Israel was an impressive way to begin the week.

There are colorful quilts exhibited at the Jerusalem Theater, art, and culture with music each night.

Colorful lights line the footbridge over the Hinnom Valley at night.

New signs are posted for the upcoming events, on the right is for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day.

Yom Yerushalayim is celebrated for more than one day, as there are events most of the week. One program at night was held at First Station, Takhana HaRishona.

These two women strolled through the audience, as the music began after speeches.

As usual, the crowds at Damascus Gate get international attention.

Since most of the reports on Jerusalem Day over the years are critical and negative, I again walked the entire route to see for myself.

The FlagDance/Parade/March (whatever you want to call it) begins for the men on King George Street.

The street was so crowded I decided not to walk down to the Great Synagogue as usual.

As usual, I found the number of baby strollers to be the most dangerous part of the route.

Spectators lined the route along Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park.

Security was heavy with many roads closed. My neighbors were on the way to dinner and not allowed to walk this way on the day of the Pride Parade last week.

At the corner near Mamilla Mall, a sound truck was blasting music, with young men dancing on top.

As we turned toward Damascus Gate, a woman dressed as a bride was being photographed in the middle of the road and groups would sing and dance around her.

Emergency crews were prepared and ready to respond.

The gorgeous horses were ready and watching also.

As thousands and thousands of people, many with Israeli flags, walked quietly and peacefully.

At Damascus Gate security was visible from all angles.

Yes, the crowd was large and loud. I think much larger than in recent years that I have walked the route.

I got an early start, the way narrows, it’s very crowded, and is not so pleasant to be in.

Inside Damascus Gate, where each year media photographers wait to find trouble, was a female clown blowing bubbles and giving out little red heart stickers. This area is known as a “flash point” so anyone wanting trouble knows where to be and when, and again I missed violent interactions.

The security along the Via Dolorosa where the Flag Parade goes was lined with security.

When I say security, I mean police, border police, and more.

Walking were not rowdy teens, but individuals and school groups.

I wondered if they knew this young man was videoing everyone from a small camera.

I was told a YouTube influencer was doing a video here.

A father and son originally from the US stopped to pose with their flags.

Here you can see the extra layer of security this year.

Shops were closed. But many shops have had little business for the last 8 months because of the lack of tourists, because Hamas started a war on October 7.

While many places were selling bottled water, one woman poured cups of water to drink for free.

At the narrowing near the Kotel, Western Wall, I was relieved not to be stuck in a crowd.

At the Kotel Plaza, groups were dancing and singing for hours before the main event.

So the real news this year was the size of the crowd. Possibly 100,000 people celebrated the reunification of Jerusalem 57 years ago. The media focused on 18 rowdy individuals who were arrested and ignored the big picture.

As I headed home early, I passed these girls arriving by way of Jaffa Gate on the Armenian Way.

Thousands and thousands of young women, some louder than the boys.

They kept coming and coming

and coming, as I walked back on Agron Street.

The Jerusalem Flag/March/Parade was not about a few troublemaking male teens, but tens of thousands of people out on a warm day celebrating Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

And on the way home, celebrations for the holiday of Shavuot this week had begun with these cheese tortes ready in the bakery window.

Chag Shavuot Sameach

Am Yisrael Chai!

Take a walk and see what’s new on the Jerusalem streets

How is it already June?

Where has the time gone, it is a blur.

However, even in these difficult, somewhat sad, days, there are good things to report and some “normal” life has returned to the Jerusalem streets.

Immediately after Lag B’Omer, Jerusalem parks were filled with celebrations and birthday parties.

And the time quickly becomes wedding season as the Jerusalem hills are filled with music.

The community garden in Baka has developed since it began in 2017.

The community space has a book corner I passed on my way to an event honoring writers.

Eylon Levy delivered the keynote address at the 32nd annual Bnai Brith World Journalism Awards at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Walking through First Station with the rows of empty market stalls the absence of tourists is obvious.

Yellow chairs, yellow ribbons, and blue and white flags are seen on the Jerusalem streets.

The KumKum Tea House is adorned with purple flowers and a British flag.

The play areas of this Jerusalem nursery school have cheerful designs on the protective fence coverings.

Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence hosted the Michal Sela Hackathon where innovative ideas were presented for safety at home. Sela’s sister founded the Forum after in 2019 Michal’s husband killed her in their home.

Thursday’s Jerusalem Pride Parade was smaller this year and featured families of hostages.

As usual, the Jerusalem streets in the area were closed for many hours with thousands of security officers.

Yellow flags lined the Jerusalem streets along with rainbow-colored ones this year.

The Liberty Bell Park was cleaned up shortly after the crowd marched to Independence Park.

Impressively cleaned – I could only find one poster on the ground as I walked through the park.

No photos from Independence Park, Gan Haatzmaut, however, security would not let me enter.

I would have made a fuss, but I did not want to be late for a special lecture by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz.

Then, on Friday morning Jerusalem streets were closed for hundreds of riders in the large biking event.

Jerusalem streets will again be closed this week for Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day with thousands more Israel flags and multiple events marking 57 years of reunification of Yerushalayim.

This flag down the Citadel Hotel wall should be one of the longest for the Flag Parade on Wednesday.

Never know what we will see next on the Jerusalem streets.

Today I got a ride home because it was too hot to walk down past the Israel Museum. However, I got photos and videos of the fire raging where I would have been walking.