Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day Week

Before 1967, Jerusalem was a sleepy old place, divided by a No-man’s Land. The buses arrived from the Tel Aviv area, chugging their way slowly up the winding, twisting Route One.

Jewish tourists were denied access to the Old City from 1948 – June 1967. Jews were not allowed to live in the Old City under Jordanian occupation. One had to go to the roof of Notre Dame to view the forlorn site of the Jewish Temple centuries ago.

Oh, how things have changed!

This year the population of Jerusalem is projected to exceed a million people.

Mayor Moshe Lion spoke at the annual Yekiray Yerushalayim, Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day event held at the Israel Museum on May 6th.

The previous venue for the event has been the Tower of David which is now under renovation and filled with construction equipment to make it accessible. For centuries the Tower of David was used as a military fortress to keep people out, now it is being redone to welcome everyone.

Renovation work also continues in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

This area was fenced off after it was sprayed with a questionable chemical.

It’s the time of year I love, when multiple colors line the Jerusalem streets.

A long time favorite, these bird of paradise are near the Knesset.

Pretty image of weeds

Even the weeds looked attractive in the evening light this week.

Other signs of returning to life, as Jerusalem festivals are back. Some are hybrid, consisting of live and recorded presentations, as was The Jerusalem Writers Festival on May 3-5th.

President Reuven Rivlin came to the Jerusalem Cinematheque to kick off
the 4th International Conference on the Freedom of the Press hosted by the Jerusalem Press Club.

The five journalism prize finalists were able to attend the live opening event held in the small theater, but most of the conference was online.

The week after Lag B’Omer was a time for weddings and celebrations. As I walked thru Mamilla Mall all I had to do was to look up to find a wedding.

Ramadan continues for another week, nightly Muslim families come to celebrate in the Old City after day time fasting.

Muslim men arrived at Jaffa Gate, with prayer rugs over their shoulder.

President Rivlin received suggestions for forming a new government at Beit Hanasi, the President’s Residence. Are we on the way to election #5?

Museum of Tolerance

The Museum of Tolerance appears to be nearing completion,

while work on the Netanyahu house continues,

and road work – too many locations to keep track of closings.

This year Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, is to go for a full week.

Jerusalem Day Israeli flags dancing in street

Last year under the corona cloud and lockdown there were no large celebrations for Yom Yerushalayim, the flags and dancing and parades were missing from the Jerusalem streets. This year the event is to return beginning on Monday afternoon, May 10th. In the evening following Jerusalem Day, the traditional Flag Dance will take place in the Old City at the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, plus multiple other events and locations.

From the May 6 opening honoring accomplishments of long-time Jerusalem residents to the special Shabbat service at the Great Synagogue hosting the Jerusalem Mayor, and until a closing concert at Safra Square on May 13th– the celebrations have returned to Jerusalem.


A festive prayer service is to be held at the Kotel, in honor of 54 years since the liberation of Jerusalem. It will begin, at 7:30 pm, on Sunday, May 9th,  as usual, combined with prayers in memory of those killed and for the recovery of those wounded at the tragedy at Mt. Meron, as well as prayers of thanksgiving for the miracle of Israel’s recovery from the coronavirus. Added will be a mass “hagomel” blessing for the first time during the Jerusalem Day eve prayers to offer gratitude for Israel’s recovery following more than a year of the pandemic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGgZbjYo1wA

Everyone can join using the above link for the live broadcast on the platforms of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Jerusalem Municipality, and itraveljerusalem.

To conclude, I am sharing Eitan Asraf’s excellent video, with visuals and edits in under 8 minutes, he has captured a wonderful overview of Jerusalem. Jerusalem Day is to be extraordinary. City website HERE

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!

Jerusalem Sounds of Music

Who would think the quiet sounds of Jerusalem parks would be a good thing? But children are back in school after a long year at home. Public parks are hosting group activities again, not just providing for family health and sanity with a break out of the house during the day.

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At Takhana Rishona, First Station, on a recent Friday morning, deliveries arrived early for open area dining, and inside seating dining as well.

An outdoor yoga class in the center tent area was happening,

as the aroma of fresh brew from the new coffee bar filled the air.

I was off to meet with Daniel and Yedidia Schwartz near JETH – the Jerusalem Entrepreneur Tourism Hub. A perfect location for their new tour innovation to begin.

Great seeing other groups also as we set off on foot from the Takhana.

The first stop was the Khan Theater, where Daniel, a professional tour guide, told us that the site was built in 1853 as a silk factory. However, it became a night hostel (a khan in Arabic) for Christian pilgrims on their way to Bethlehem, and Jewish travelers on the way to Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs. Since 1968, it has been a popular theater venue.

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Minutes away under the St. Andrew Scottish Guesthouse, near the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, is an archeological site of importance.

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A burial area from First Temple times, featuring posters with excellent explanations concerning the finds, including silver amulets with old Hebrew Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing engraved on them.

Daniel’s tour of Ketef Hinnom and the First Temple period burial site added a new dimension with additional and interesting information.

However, what distinguished this tour from others was the music. Daniel and his brother Yedidia, a professional violinist with the Jerusalem Symphony, entertained us, providing relaxing interludes along the way.

At one of my favorite off-the-street locations, there was time to sit and appreciate nature,

and historical sites, including the Tower of David, along the way to Yemin Moshe and Montefiore Windmill.

Yemin Moshe is a perennial favorite, who can’t but enjoy its beautiful lanes.

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Near the Montefiore Windmill, deserted for so long, people were enjoying the spring-like weather and being out and about again.

In the park area behind King David Hotel, the history of the hotel was retold as nearby groups were getting in their partying before Ramadan.

Celebrating graduation 2021 – and oh what a year it was.

The Lion Fountain had children splashing in the cool water again.

Tourists were learning about the Templar Meeting House next to the Orient Hotel. Tours are for Israelis, with most in Hebrew, as international visitors are limited until May 23rd.

After the Templar houses of Emek Refaim Street, we left for what was advertised as the “Secret Garden.”

In 1880, Martin Pauser built this building as a baker, and he also sold ice cream. During the War of Independence, women and children from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel took refuge here, on what is now called Patterson Street.

In the garden, the tour ended with more music – and wine. I refused to drink so early in the day. But seated in the lovely garden, I felt like I was on a holiday vacation far away – but yet so close to home.

At each stop on the tour, people who walked by would take out their phones and cameras to record the lovely sounds. This tour group was recording us at the last stop, so I finally decided time to take their photo in return.

But really, who could blame them?

The sounds of music and beauty were a treat to celebrate the opening up of Jerusalem streets after a year of repeated closures.

Jerusalem Photo Walks are starting again, in real life and online.

As a guest of Tour de Sound, another way to enjoy the Jerusalem streets

photo credit: Spokesperson Mayor’s Office

Also new – the municipality announces bike rental stations!.

Hope to see you all in Jerusalem one day soon.

Jerusalem Returning to Life with New Colors

Imagine seeing more people you know in one day on the Jerusalem streets than in the entire past year!

The Jerusalem streets are coming alive again.

Shabbat morning the weather was lovely for a long walk. I passed people returning from prayers at the Kotel, Western Wall, and friends who had taken one of many morning nature walking tours. A family was celebrating the birth of a baby daughter – one year ago – in a park near their home.

There were new colorful art pieces in Mamilla Mall for the holiday season. I will have to go back with my camera to share some of the fun artwork.

The large blue flag of Kosovo was flying on their new Embassy opened in Jerusalem on Keren Hayesod Street.

Paris Fountain in France Square was gone, removed to start the renovation.

It will be some time until King David Street is open to traffic.

But the King David Hotel is one of the dozens opening to the public now, of course, with restrictions.

After construction work is completed, too often ripped up again and redone.

These metal moveable bollards will now make it possible to get into the Netanyahu family’s private driveway.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem posted very clever signs. Here an ancient icon sits on a suitcase near Bloomfield Gardens on King David Street.

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In another of their series ‘Returning to Life’ signs, a statue is holding a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate the reopening. L’chaim to life.

The BLMJ YEMEN exhibit is to close on April 30th. It was a favorite exhibit. During Passover, March 29- April 2nd there are free admission and tours.

The opening venues require registration and numbers are limited.

On the streets, however, more and more people are seen sitting at cafes.

Tourists and student tour groups are back in the Jerusalem parks.

The Pais Arena announced 6 nights of – “All the World is a Stage” concerts.

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One concert was Hanan Ben Ari performing to a live and excited audience.

Pools are reopening, a guard was sitting outside of the YMCA entrance.

This past week was Passover holiday preparation time – which in Jerusalem means fresh garlic in the Machane Yehudah Market, the shuk, piled high.

This man was walking home with a large bag full of fresh garlic. Not only did he stop so I could take his photo, but he also insisted I wait until he took it out of the bag so I could get a better image of his proud purchase.

A musician in the shuk was being recorded, another sign of “normal.”

Restaurant and cafe owners were smiling to see customers to serve again.

Politicians were in the shuk campaigning, but not on the day I was there noticing the new roof and lights and colorful upgrades.

The protesters near the Prime Minister’s residence are always on the street. I wonder if they will pack up after the election on Tuesday?

Sadly, 6025 was the rising number of corona deaths this past year.

The Central Election Committee has set up tents at the Knesset ready to start counting the votes on election night.

Election Tuesday is a day off from work and a good time to come to Jerusalem to see the colors in nature.

One never knows what you will see on the Jerusalem streets, I often repeat.

For instance, as I was hurrying, late one morning to meet a friend in the shuk for coffee – another first time in a year event,

I saw a man along a nature path beginning his prayers, and using his blue face mask to cover his head instead of a kippah.

It was a difficult year, especially for those involved in tourism, and of course, for those families who were affected by illness and coronavirus.

But this past week with loosened restrictions and spring weather, more Israelis were able to enjoy the colors and sights both on and off the Jerusalem streets.

As we will say next week at the seder “Next year in Jerusalem!” for all.