10 New Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

10 New Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel streets are beginning to sound more ‘normal’ as everyone is struggling to come back after the COVID-19 pandemic closings. There have been almost daily protests across from the Knesset and Prime Minister’s Office. Noisy protests and counter-protests near the Prime Minister’s Residence have grown in size and volume.

Image of new moon in the early night sky over Jerusalem

Another month. Another new moon. The first sign of summer was seen in the sky over Jerusalem. A normal sign of passing time.

View of Kotel from webcam as evening as lights go on

The Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, has been divided into prayer spaces, size-dependent on changing regulations.

Kotel for Maariv with COVID_19 sections

Limited numbers of people are allowed in the spaces wearing masks.

Synagogues and businesses are slowly opening also under new health regulations. But I can still set my clock to sounds of the 8:30 am morning minyan coming from a backyard service nearby.

Hotels and restaurants and international tourist affiliated businesses are trying to survive, to revive, and not close forever.

Last week the Prime Minister of Greece came to Jerusalem. But the Foreign Minister from Cyprus decided to arrive in Israel by helicopter for a quick and abbreviated visit in the airport area for discussions with new Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

The numbers for coronavirus infections has started going back up.

However, it is still the graduation season. The President and Prime Minister spoke at the Israeli Air Force graduation last week. The IDF officer graduation is to be held on Wednesday evening. These events are more restricted than usual because of the coronavirus. Taking a helicopter to the bases in the south – what a great way to go.

Jerusalem Israel path in city that looks like forest

This path may seem like far in the forest but it’s minutes away. Sounds of laughter were coming from a party on the right side and an art class was ending on the left side of the path. Sorry, no photos to share. I decided they deserved to keep the privacy they were seeking in this wonderful nature spot.

Valley of Cross in Jerusalem old olive press site near Knesset

Finding a quiet area as restrictions are lifting in Jerusalem is still possible.  These old stones are from an old olive-oil making facility.

Israel Knesset view with Crown Plaza in background

Look across the street in one direction and there is the Knesset.

Old site in the Valley of the Cross near Israel Museum

Another angle with a better view of the olive press.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel

And above there is the Israel Museum.

Usually this time of year in Jerusalem the calendar is filled–day and night.

Reuven Rivlin hosts HRH Prince William Duke of Cambridge at Israeli President Residence

Two years ago Prince William was in town.

Guest book of Israel President signed by HRH Prince William in Jerusalem Israel

I had forgotten about his signature in the official guest book.

His Royal visit was the same time as WeWork Creative Event at the Pais Arena.

Those big conferences, big weddings, and big official visits are memories now.

OurCrowd Global Summit this year was one of the last big events to be held in Jerusalem.

OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference was held online as a Zoom and Facebook event.

Remember Elli Q from OurCrowd three years ago?

During the innovation conference online, Dor Skuler mentioned the benefits for isolated seniors. In the US, people will have to pay to install Elli Q to talk to their relatives, however, his robot is available at no charge. I asked and was told “she” is still not in a human shape on purpose.

Remember the tour of Hansen House ten years ago?

Jerusalem Israel Hansen House entrance from outside gate

Hansen House announced ‘Unplugged’ a musical patio series with nine shows now to August 19, with a live audience limited to 120 participants.

Hansen Hospital courtyard

In the past events have been held in the courtyard.

Hansen House at night venue for events

Recently, before corona, food and music at night had become popular.

Romeo and Juliet in Jerusalem Israel Hebrew adaptation

Last year even Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet performed in Hansen House Gardens.

Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra performs after corona virus pandemic closing

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra was back at the Jerusalem Theater with a live audience and also available on Facebook and YouTube now.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra played at the Jerusalem International Conference Center for the first time since the pandemic closings, but not to a full audience.

Friday afternoon people returned to the First Station for a musical Kabbalat Shabbat.

Signs for musical performances in Jerusalem Israel summer of 2020

New signs are posted for other musical events now and in the near future.

May 4th has been a day for “Star Wars” celebrations – as in “may the ‘fourth’ be with you.” Nothing was done this year because of the COVID-19 closings. It was to be shown at First Station by the Israeli Outpost of 501st Legion at a free special outdoor screening for families of Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back but was canceled shortly before show time.

Israel's 501st Legion outpost members at opening of Afikim seventh run for charity Jerusalem to Eliat

Members were out in force at First Station for the Afikim race from Jerusalem to Eilat in January. I would assume sounds and sabers will be found at the event planned early enough for children to attend and enjoy.

Shaon Horef, those Monday nights in February when sounds of live musicians filled Jerusalem streets, are looking for new acts to do a series on August Monday nights.

Thank you to medical care workers in Jerusalem Israel in Hebrew

Thank you signs to medical workers are still all over the Jerusalem streets.

Sounds of music and celebrations are starting to be heard on the streets.

Let’s hope the numbers of infections stay down.

 

Jerusalem Streets Cleaner after COVID-19 Closures

Jerusalem Streets Cleaner after COVID-19 Closures

Creating. Innovating. Resilience. Responding to challenges.

Oh, with at least a dash of chutzpah too–all are important to living in Israel.

In Jerusalem last week the news highlighted the story that the old street Bezek payphone booths were to be converted to defibrillator stations. Mifal HaPayis and MDA have begun to place AEDs at crucial public places under a joint venture.

Israeli defibrillator posted on street with connection to MDA
Photo Credit: Iki Maimon

As part of the project, 600 initial advanced devices will be deployed with wireless communication to MDA’s 101 Emergency Call Center.

Also new on the Jerusalem streets, small refrigerators would host ‘food salvage’ – good food placed inside free for anyone in need to take.

Jerusalem Israel Knesset as seen over the Valley of the Cross

The Knesset was finally back in business. Then it closed.

A member of Knesset was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Visitor Entrance to Israeli president residence being disinfected for coronavirus
Photo Credit: Tomer Reichman

At Beit Hanasi, a staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus, so the President’s house is getting a thorough cleaning.

Spraying street to clean during COVID-19

I’ve lost count how many times our street has been cleaned.

Jerusalem COVID 19 disinfection

But this is the first time I saw them spraying inside this passageway.

Jerusalem Israel park with new rubbish bag

Check out the brand-new garbage bags in the old cans!

Jerusalem Israel park path fixed

And they patched up parts of this path.

Jerusalem Israel new traffic lights

New traffic lights were installed at this dangerous pedestrian crossing.

Valley of the Cross Monastery repair

Even the monastery in the Valley of the Cross was cleaning up this week.

Cleaning dried weeds at Jerusalem Valley of the Cross

The dry foliage is a serious fire hazard. So glad to finally see the dried weeds being cut.

Jerusalem food truck

Getting ready to host visitors in Jerusalem?

Park benches are social distanced in Jerusalem Israel

These socially distanced park benches are ready.

Valley of the Cross in Jerusalem Israel man sitting in dried grass

Or go for the extreme social distancing, alone with nature.

Slowly Jerusalem seems to be coming back from the coronavirus shut down.

Jeruslaem street signs in Hebrew for cinema

The signs were still up for the end of March Brain and Art Week at the Cinematheque.

Many cultural events were canceled and some programs have moved online.

The 2020 Israel Festival has rescheduled for September.

Night lights at Israel Museum

The hilltop was dark after Shabbat, these usual Israel Museum lights did not go on.

However, The Islamic Museum announced its reopening.

Trespassing exhibit at LA Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem Israel

Trespassing” will be on display until the end of the month.

Tower of David image for BANAI exibit

 Bachora and Meir Banai with their eldest son Shmuel – 1915    Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Photographic Archives

The Tower of David Museum will be re-opening its doors this week on June 17 – and opening a brand new exhibition BANAI, the personal story of the Banai family while painting a much broader panorama with a saga going back to 1881 when Rachamim Bana came to the Holy Land from Shiraz, Persia.

Kikar Musica sign in Hebrew posted in Jerusalem

Kikar Musica, Music Square, off of Yoel Salomon Street is offering live events again.

And planning for the future, Avraham Fried wants to perform in Sultan’s Pool at the end of August.

Two years ago, Fried was the featured entertainment at Rabbi Steinsaltz’s 80th birthday bash at the Orient Hotel. Oh, that was a busy week with June events.

The big hotels are still dark, but working on reopening plans with the new Ministry of Health guidelines.

The Jerusalem streets are getting back to business, slowly, but cleaner and better than before.

 

Jerusalem, Israel – Shavuot 5780

Jerusalem, Israel – Shavuot 5780

I used to complain that Shavuot in Israel lasted only one day and was over too quickly.

Tens of thousands of people would stay up all night, learning and studying at various venues and then converge at the Kotel, the Western Wall, for dawn prayer services. Eat and sleep and the day was over, with not enough time for guests.

Well, not this year. With Shabbat immediately following, we ended up with a two-day holiday in Israel as well as those living outside of Israel.

I got what I asked for, and I’m happy to go back to one day next year when Shavuot falls on Monday.

Valley of Cross in Jerusalem Israel summer dried grasses

In Jerusalem, the summer sun has dried the tall green growth in the Valley of the Cross.

Nature and seasons appear unaware of a pandemic and are unchanged.

Jerusalem Israel Valley of Cross with Israel Museum on top of hill dried weeds of summer

While the Israel Museum on top of the hill suffers from the novel coronavirus affecting its closure, the weeds below in the valley have flourished.

Cinema City in Jerusalem Israel photo from opening days

Not far away is Jerusalem Cinema City, also trying to come back after COVID-19 closures.

Jerusalem Cinema City mural of Moses and 10 Commandments

On my first visit to Cinema City, I took this photo of a wall mural.

Where else but Jerusalem would you find Moses with the Ten Commandments on the wall next to the movie theater escalators?

Blind man and IDF soldier who helped him across busy intersection in Jerusalem

While I was searching for that old photo I found this one taken the same day.

In this upside-down coronavirus time, would an IDF soldier walk so close to a stranger?

IDF Soldier helps man with a blind walking stick across busy Jerusalem intersections

Has the time come when helping a blind man cross a busy street is not a good thing?

The official announcement:

Following the closure of educational institutions against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis, and the gradual return to routine, it was agreed that students should receive educational continuity until the beginning of August. This will significantly reduce the financial burden of their parents and reduce gaps in Israeli society.

With an outbreak of COVID-19 among students and teachers at one large Jerusalem secular high school, it is closed again today. And before I could publish this today, another high school has announced closing for the week due to an infected teacher.

However, tomorrow senior citizen sessions are scheduled to reopen, in limited numbers with only physical and art activities in person.  The rest will remain in Zoom.

The Jerusalem Film Festival announced plans to hold the festival in a regular format this summer following the decision by Israeli authorities to allow the reopening of cinemas in the country from June 14.

The event is now to run August 20-30, just over a month later than its originally scheduled July 16-26 time slot.

Meanwhile, in the theme of the Shavuot holiday, I thought to share a few short film clips from the King David Night Show at the Tower of David.

King David the warrior in battle,

and David the Poet.

In past years, the seemingly endless list of Festivals began after Shavuot.

The Light Festival in the Old City in particular was popular, filling the streets at night.

Remember when Damascus Gate was lit like a giant pinball machine for Jerusalem Light Festival?

My all-time favorite light projection was also at the Damascus Gate.

This morning the Temple Mount was reopened after  a two-month closure.

Muslim worshipers crowded through the Green Gate to enter.

Non-Muslims lined up to go up the ramp to Mughrabi Gate.

This video is from years ago. Will the Old City return to the old “normal”?

For Shavuot services at the Kotel this year, tickets were required to enter. A limited number were distributed by lottery.  Each ticket had the name and ID number on them.  Late at night after Shabbat was over, there were people on the plaza and near the Kotel, but not in the large numbers we were accustomed to in the past.

Shavuot cheese cake for Israeli security with President Reuven Rivlin
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

One of my favorite images from Shavuot 5780 was of President Reuven Rivlin serving cheesecake and lemonade to security forces on the eve of the holiday. It was a year since his wife Nechama passed away, and he said it was something she would do, so he did it in her memory. The cemetery at Har Herzl where she is buried is under construction now and even the presidential family could not go on her yahrzeit.

The sun is shining and temperatures are pleasant out on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem is planning to temporarily close thirteen city center streets to traffic, hoping people will come back to dine at the outside tables. Ads have been placed to get Israelis to come to Jerusalem. With international tourism halted, Jerusalem’s tourist-based economy needs desperate measures with so many businesses suffering and forced to close.

What will happen next? We will have to wait and see.

Jerusalem construction cranes visible over the Knesset

The numbers of construction cranes seem to multiply overnight.

Hope to see you all in Jerusalem soon.