Surviving In Jerusalem After One Month Of War

We arrived in Israel in the middle of what is now called the Second Lebanon War.

I honestly lost track of the number of “Operations” and thousands of rockets since August 2006.

Now going into the second month of the current war, I started walking a different route each day on the Jerusalem streets to see what was happening posting daily on Facebook, and to share a photo essay here.

The Knesset was lit bright blue and white at night with the flag blowing in the breeze.

The blue and white Israeli flags get bigger and bigger, and traffic has returned to the streets.

The local bomb shelter is lit brightly at night, and thankfully we did not need it this past week.

One day there were sirens, lots of loud sirens. Fire trucks are not a common sound on Jerusalem streets. However, this incident seemed to have been nothing more than someone burning their midday meal.

The scene at the main entrance to Jerusalem has changed and is constantly changing.

This new sight is one example.

It is the entrance to the newly opened tunnel to exit Jerusalem to Route #1.

One exits after the traffic light, and goes under the Chord Bridge and out of Jerusalem.

But not everything was moving smoothly, the Museum of Tolerance was closed.

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It was the first time I had passed this art piece in Mamilla Mall and no live person was sitting there.

The Tower of David Museum is one of many Jerusalem museums slowly opening again.

I was pleased to see a lecture was being held when I walked by. The Tower of David Museum is one of the places hosting evacuees (from the South and North) who found refuge in Jerusalem.

International media crews are here in the thousands. I wonder if they noticed the Arab men and Christian priests who walked by outside Jaffa Gate, as on any regular Jerusalem day.

I was taking a video of a building’s active construction when this woman walked in front of my camera. Many times I saw Muslim women walking alone as a matter of course.

Not a sight I have seen reported anywhere. Not news.

Oh, what a beautiful view from the hills of Jerusalem, where 34 families from Sderot are staying.

The fire engine there is a classic, if not antique model.

But the washing machines are brand new and greatly appreciated. Providing meals three times a day is good. However, keeping the family clothes clean is a big challenge in all the locations for evacuees.

Students from the south are starting to go to school again in the new locations.

I have avoided going South for this latest war – it feels too much like ‘been there done that’.

This was the fence we saw at Kibbutz Alumim on a previous trip.

People searching online for bomb shelters found this from 5 years ago, and from 11 years ago.

One of my first glimpses at an Iron Dome posed ready toward Gaza on an Israeli kibbutz.

Ah, the view from the fields of Kibbutz Alumim toward Gaza – before October 7.

This was the sign warning of the border – not to cross.

In Jerusalem last week beds for the over 200 kidnapped hostages were prepared in Safra Square.

Yellow ribbons were put on the security fence at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Amazing that over 300,000 Israelis have returned TO Israel since the war started.

The long lists of funerals and the photos of the beautiful young faces lost are painful to look at.

However, this week began with an engagement party! The young couple brought together families from Australia, Belgium, and England to drink a l’chaim in Jerusalem and eat chulent on a Monday night!

We had a family Bar Mitzvah on Shabbat, except for one uncle in active service and two cousins working in the US – both sides of aunts. uncles and first cousins were able to celebrate together. Not so simple when the bar mitzvah boy’s family is over 60 people – during a war.

The paper cups had the slogan “United Together” and went with the blue and white theme.

Time to remember the good along with the very bad.

An M-4 or 16 slung over a shoulder has become a common sight on the Jerusalem streets.

It’s time to remember – we are the good guys.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, US Ambassador to Israel Jacob Joseph Lew presented his credentials to President Isaac Herzog on Sunday afternoon November 5, 2023.

Welcome to Jerusalem Ambassador Lew in these interesting times.

Here’s hoping for a shavuah tov on the Jerusalem streets and the rest of Israel and the world.

Time for Good News from the Jerusalem Streets

Where to begin and what is most important to share?

In these difficult days, people are grasping for good news to balance daily updates of deaths, funerals, and condolence calls.

In Jerusalem, more and larger Israeli flags are unfurling each day. This one is near Jaffa Gate.

After hearing the booms and seeing the Iron Dome interceptions in the sky over Jerusalem, it took a few days to venture out to see what was happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Workers were putting up more flags and flag poles to line main roads.

At Mishkanot Shaananim, I have never before seen a shelter notice posted at the auditorium door. The gruesome ZAKA press conference was held there for international journalists.

Did you see anything about ZAKA reported in your local media?

Outside was a MDA emergency motorcycle ready, but not needed.

And very close to the Montefiore Windmill, there were people preparing for a wedding. The stories of weddings during this time could fill a book. Each day news of more engagements keeps us smiling too.

People have come through with volunteering, donating, and sharing just about everything you could imagine in Jerusalem, and throughout Israel.

One Family Fund has been working overtime, the pile of donations so large it had to be moved outside.

International media crews have parachuted in by the hundreds and are looking for stories.

Will they include young Arab families walking freely on the Jerusalem streets?

The popular Mamilla Mall was almost deserted though a few shops were open and food was available.

Friday, I felt like Noah leaving the safety of my little neighborhood and went to the Tower of David.

For years I have been watching and waiting to see the new entrance in use. The Tower of David Museum is closed.

However, I was invited to take photos of a bat mitzvah girl from the south and her family, and it was an offer too hard to resist. It was a great volunteer project, much more fun than packing sandwiches for sure.

The security was strictly enforced to enter but once I got inside the view was as impressive as ever.

From the top of the Tower of David, there is one of the best views of the Temple Mount. It was good to see it very quiet on Friday after midday prayer time.

In this upside-down world of the Jerusalem, Israel streets, I smiled all the way home from the Tower of David after meeting bat mitzvah girl Rotem and her family.

Seeing young fathers dressed in army uniforms walking with children,

and others walking with weapons slung over their shoulders has become a comforting norm.

Then I saw these two women and had to ask if they knew each other before. They did not. A woman in Jerusalem was giving a woman from the south food and games and more for Shabbat.

Two strangers coming together in time of need.

Yes, Hamas is constantly firing rockets and missiles at Israeli cities. Hezbollah on the northern border is jealous of the attention and shooting at Israeli cities now also. Red alerts come in batches – anytime.

But for the moment at least, Jerusalem is quiet, some children are back in school, at least part-time.

More signs reading “One Nation as One” and “Am Yisrael Chai!” are being posted on Jerusalem streets.

Hopefully, there will be more good news to share next time from the Jerusalem!

Jerusalem was Quiet, but We Are Not Alright

Where to begin as we begin a new week, and a new month and no way to predict what will happen next minute on the Jerusalem streets?

Since the start of the war, EMT teams have treated thousands of casualties, including those killed, as well as those in serious, moderate, and mild conditions, including staff who were working on saving lives.

During one night this week, 3 MDA ambulances were damaged by Hamas in different locations, and efforts were made to put them back in service to continue saving lives.

Shrapnel kills. More have been killed by Hamas and injured since the initial Simhat Torah Massacre.

In Jerusalem, it was quiet on Shabbat. Perhaps too quiet?

Most everything has been canceled. What you should know:

The videos with shocking headlines in Arab media were of a few local Hamas supporters throwing rocks and setting tires on fire as security aimed to keep them out of Jerusalem. Remember while the “Day of Rage” was internationally celebrated, it was in Arabic all about saving Al-Quds – Jerusalem.

Please be vigilant, know Arab media distorts and lies. I will spare you videos with these 2 screenshots.

The Kotel, Western Wall was quiet, as holiday crowds were anxious to get home and flights were canceled. Meanwhile, El Al is working overtime to bring people and reserve soldiers home.

ZAKA volunteers held a special ceremony at the Kotel, their job dealing with honoring the dead has never been so difficult as the horrors of the past week unfold.

Sunday morning, more Israeli flags are seen along the Jerusalem streets. Not everyone was caught unaware in the morning, and it was a hard rain for a while.

After a week that felt much longer, Stage 1 is coming to an end. “We are striking Hamas decisively. So far, over 1000 terrorists have been killed, including senior commanders, and thousands of targets have been attacked, including facilities, weaponry, and terror bases. The terrorists will have nowhere to hide. Anywhere there are Hamas terrorists will be turned into ruins.”

The weather is said to be a factor in when stage 2 of Operation Iron Swords will begin. Every Israeli expert agrees this time IDF ground forces will have to enter Gaza to get to the Hamas organization hiding behind civilians and under hospitals and the Gaza streets.

I’ve seen tanks lined up and ready to go into Gaza in the past, but at the last minute, international pressure forced a “ceasefire.” Each time Hamas regrouped and came back again attacking civilians.

US Senators meet with President Isaac Herzog
Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)

US Senators meet with President Isaac Herzog on Sunday morning in Jerusalem, Israel.

I went to Kerem Shalom more than once, these photos are from May 18, 2016.

The variety and size of the trucks were what was shocking to see the first time.

Huge trucks, bigger than those I had seen on the US Interstate roads I traveled.

Other than Outback Australia the size of transportation of goods was like nowhere I knew of.

Regularly, even in times of conflict. Israel supplied Gaza with oil to cook and fuel to run engines.

The size and variety of what went into Gaza in the past was immense, where it went is another story.

The media has already turned against Israel defending itself. Over 150 hostages at last count, with many under the age of 18, are being held captive in Gaza. Before sending in more of those trucks, Israelis want the hostages back home alive and soon.

Civilians of all ages and children kidnapped and held captive began this humanitarian crisis.

A few positive voices have stood out including Douglas Murray responding to a belligerent Britsh talking head on “proportionality” and NYC Mayor Eric Adams, speech declaring, “We are not alright.”

Did you know the word Hamas means brutal, malevolent, unchecked violence?

לֹֽא־יִשָּׁמַ֨ע ע֚וֹד חָמָס֙ בְּאַרְצֵ֔ךְ”

“Hamas will never be heard of again in your land.” (Isaiah 60:18)

Hopefully, the Jerusalem streets will be filled with people again soon and the word of the prophet Isaiah will be fulfilled.