Colorful Week in Jerusalem

Will it rain tomorrow?

How cold will it be today?

In Jerusalem, Israel, the weather is a constant topic of conversation.

Last week was unusual, with pleasant weather, not too hot, not too cold.

A great week to get out and get some sun before the winter rains return.

My colorful week with good weather began with one of the best views of the Jerusalem Old City from the Tayelet.

Sigd this year was downsized to a few “capsules” with three Kessim at the dais to lead the traditional prayer service which was broadcast live.

Seated a few meters away was “capsule 3” Kessim in a group, socially distanced sitting under their colorful umbrellas. The annual observance in other years attracted thousands for prayers and after the fast a major party, but due to corona restrictions, it was extremely limited this year.

This woman was keeping her distance as she faced Jerusalem’s Old City, but I noticed her cell phone.

This man sat on a wall at the Tayelet, but without the view.

Was he watching the prayers broadcast on his phone?

Security was in place. However, sadly due to COVID-19 few people came.

These new buildings sprung up near the Tayelet and they are part of the change in the neighborhood.

Ahdeya Ahmad Al-Sayed, President of the Bahraini Journalists Association, said she will never forget the photos from Jerusalem of Israel and Bahrain.

The red and white flags of Bahrain were at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, as the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, His Excellency Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani, signed the official guest book before meeting with President Rivlin.

The King David Hotel was open, but King David Street was closed.

I got a photo of the Bahrain and United States flags on the hotel with the Israeli flags as official state meetings were held inside.

The real streets were not involved with meetings unless the drivers were stuck in traffic, which was an all too common occurrence before the coronavirus pandemic.

Now is the time for fall colors – rare and appreciated in Jerusalem.

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The garden outside the Knesset was more colorful than usual this week.

The flower bed on Herzog Street had reached peak color.

The floral butterfly near Gan Sacher, Sacher Park was past prime time.

It’s time to pick those olives, otherwise, they end up on the ground under the trees, and turn into squashed overripe purple globs. Plenty of photos of those streets, but not such a pretty sight.

Blue skies and white clouds were great for walking this past week.

This path, empty in the past, became so popular I went off to look in different directions.

Groups of children were in parks taking advantage of the sun.

Jerusalem parks were green and filled with student groups.

Jerusalem green spaces were alive with the sounds of children’s voices.

In Nahlaot, where space is dear, green vines grew on and over the streets,

and flower beds add color along the walls in the old narrow lanes.

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Coronavirus has moved synagogue prayers outside to the Jerusalem streets,

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and study centers out of the buildings into covered open shelters.

Communal street lending libraries were open when other public ones were closed for browsing due to virus limiting restrictions.

Gan Sacher was green and full of life, as couples strolled in the midday sun, taking advantage of days without rain.

It was a colorful week, with people taking the time to get away from their screens and go outside, from the Tayelet to the Jerusalem Rose Garden where before corona I led nature photo walks.

But I will save those many photos, and share one of my favorite sights this past week before I close.

A woman taking her youngsters out for a walk using one of those rolling pens. The old ones from kibbutz days were made of wood, but this one was made from light metal. They were such a cute sight on their outing.

The Jerusalem new winter signs are up, for “a warm winter and health – because in Jerusalem winter is winter.”

So when the weather is good, it’s good to get out and see the autumn colors.

Take care everyone and stay well.

Online, In-Line Jerusalem

Days go by. Weeks go by.

Time during the COVID-19 pandemic has become a blur.

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Jerusalem tourism went from unprecedented highs down to zero.

Chayei Sarah in Hebron in past years became one giant Shabbat celebration with thousands crowding into the area around the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.

This year before Shabbat, Chabad of Hebron hosted an online celebration of this week’s Torah reading marking the death and burial of Sarah in Hebron. Three men danced to a downsized band in an area near the walls.

The OUD international music festival is going on line for its 21st year.

Ethiopian Sigd holiday and women praying.

Sigd celebrations in the past years were major events with tens of thousands on the Tayelet in Jerusalem for prayers and breaking the fast.

This year there are smaller events being organized for the November 15th and 16th holiday celebration, 50 days after Yom Kippur, one which started in Ethiopia centuries ago.

One year ago, the AYLN Wheels of Love cyclists arrived in Jerusalem at the end of their annual fund-raising ride. This year riders met as a virtual group on a Zoom event and raised funds for the special rehabilitation hospital without the ride up the hills of Jerusalem.

The annual Pianos Festival at the Jerusalem Theater was held online and shown on YouTube and Facebook – for free. No lines to stand in while waiting to enter the concert halls.

Standing in line for parking stickers at the city hall is history. Those cherished parking spot stickers can be gotten from home by registering with the municipality online.

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As corona lockdown restrictions were lifted to a second stage, the areas near the Old City walls were still quiet on the sunny first Monday.

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The entrance toward Jaffa Gate not crowded as in “normal” times.

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Jaffa Gate was open, and guarded by two security women.

Standard and Poor’s, the global credit rating company, left Israel’s credit rating unchanged at its high level during the global coronavirus crisis, as reported by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Construction in Jerusalem proceeded during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Signs for Museum Lane have gone up along the renovated street by the new National Library. One of the huge cranes has been removed from the building site across the street from the Knesset, while the 6th National Library film festival was run online.

Commerce moved online and in-person shopping came to a halt for months.

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Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall was filling with eager shoppers as stores on the street were finally allowed to open with four customers at a time.

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The longest line at Mamilla was waiting for Nespresso coffee.

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Shoe stores also had customers waiting in line.

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The store selling eyeglasses had a line. It had been allowed to be open during the lockdown and was often empty of customers.

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Walking by Kikar Safra, the Municipal Government plaza, the new landscaping was in full bloom, but the stones below were empty of people.

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However, minutes away on Jaffa Road, lines could be found outside many shops. Children need new clothing for size and season.

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The longest line award in downtown Jerusalem goes to FOX. I took a Facebook live video to show how far down the block people were waiting in line to enter on the first nice shopping day in town.

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Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road was coming back to life with stores open and people strolling in the midday sun.

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Ben Yehudah Mall looked so busy and full, I decided to go a different way.

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People ate lunches of takeaway food, sitting outside to enjoy the warmth of the sun on a November day.

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Shops on Yoel Salomon Street were open, but there were no lines when I walked by on my way home.

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The music was playing again on the oversized radio near Kikar Safra.

When the sun comes out, so do people.

Jerusalem, Israel shops and streets are slowly getting back to business and showing signs of renewed life. The youngest school students are back in class, while older students are online.

Hoping the corona numbers will stay down and we can see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.

Winter Colors Jerusalem

It happens every, single year in Jerusalem, Israel.

One day it feels like summer, we’re wearing sandals, and the next next day, the temperature drops, it rains hard and we put on the winter boots and take out the sweaters and coats from their storage places.

The clouds fill the sky covering the sun and our stone homes retain the cold.

Out for a quick walk when it stopped raining, I was able to watch a helicopter land, not on, but near the Knesset Building.

The cloud formations were impressive as winter arrived in Jerusalem.

Venturing a bit from home, the last public phone booths had been removed in front of the National Labor Court, and only two white marks remained.

The Jerusalem street near the Prime Minister’s Residence is occupied.

New security barriers line the streets ready for the next protest.

But the coronavirus restrictions are loosening, small on-the-street businesses are allowed to open, joining the recently reopened beauty salons and essential businesses.

Jerusalem children’s playgrounds are getting serious makeovers.

The art at Mamilla Mall was changed, but few were around to view it,

or to take advantage of end of season sales for the last few months.

A pile of masks was on display for sale for the few who passed by.

A cafe had take out food and a few places to sit and enjoy the sun and the view.

Some stores closed, but others were being renovated to open or reopen.

Mamilla Mall wasn’t filled with happy visitors due to the COVID19 closures.

There were grey days – really for the birds.

Heavy rains created new temporary ponds and dampened moods.

But with winter in Jerusalem, new flowers emerged from the ground. It seemed I was not the first one to come by. Someone placed small stones around several of the first blooms.

Today the field had many more flowers and groups of students.

In Jerusalem we do not have the fall colors of the US Northeast, but we have a bit of orange,

and yellow,

and green,

and green with touches of red and light blue,

and fresh new winter greens.

A white US Capitol? was built along Azza Street during the time of closings.

There is blue sky when it peeks out from the clouds.

But in spite of all the closings, some things are happening.

President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Uzbekistan, and Latvia to the State of Israel in an official ceremony at Beit HaNasi, the President’s Residence.

The flags were raised and flying for each country. That “thing” hanging under the flag are dates on the palm tree. I decided to leave it for you to see.

The ceremonies were downsized due to coronavirus and weather.

But on a cloudy day, the colors were flying this week with more next week as more new Ambassadors present their credentials to President Rivlin.

So that’s it–another week of trying to make the best in these difficult times, sharing a few of the many colors of Jerusalem.

Wearing more than one hat is not always easy.

The Tower of David Museum is taking advantage of the lull in tourism to do a major renovation, but more on that next time.

Take care and stay well, and hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.