February and time for Presidents again in Jerusalem

Trying to keep an equilibrium as the weeks after the October 7 War continue.

The down feelings continue on the Jerusalem streets with too many funerals, and shivas to attend.

Can we also celebrate life events with joy when so many are in various stages of mourning?

Despite the unpredictable weather in Jerusalem, Israel, in the past, the month of February was a very busy time for conferences and international visitors.

In the US it is President’s Day. In Jerusalem, we have Lincoln and Washington Streets every day.

We had cloudy February days that made for dramatic skies over the Jerusalem.

We had the return of Shaon Horef, the Jerusalem Winter Noise Festival on Monday nights.

With Purim coming soon, appropriately the first events were held on Shushan Street.

The idea is to draw people to these small, once-neglected, city streets for food and fun.

Monday nights in February were not prime time for outings, even with tourists or conference delegates.

Now for Shaon Horef high tech has advanced from “maps to apps.”

Music, live and recorded, played by DJs, unpredictable as the February weather.

The avant-garde art and music of Shaon Horef are usually hard to describe.

This year there were fewer light projections on the buildings, but a few stores were open. Many with the yellow “Bring them home sign” in the window. Even when celebrating with music, beer, and food, the hostages are not forgotten in Jerusalem.

The volunteerism goes on as strong as ever, with baking, grilling, and the Jerusalem city farmers markets.

The Israeli municipal elections were postponed from the end of October until February 27, 2024.

Will be interesting who gets elected to the new City Council with a disrupted time to campaign.

Current Mayor Moshe Lion continued his city beautification with tens of thousands of flowers planted around Jerusalem.

But, there are locations in Jerusalem with natural beauty and tranquility.

I wanted to get closer to take a better photo of the wildflowers but decided not to bother the women who found the spot before I arrived there.

The weather has been wonderful for the flowers and green grass to grow.

Those yellow ribbons are tied around many trees along Jerusalem streets.

Yet, Muslim women still walk freely and ride public buses as before October 7, even as signs for the return of hostages line many Jerusalem streets.

The protest tent area near Balfour Street has a sign that says “We want them alive.” As of now, 32 hostages are known to be dead, murdered on or after October 7.

Oh, the euphoria last week when two male hostages were rescued by the IDF!

It’s hard to forget Hamas holds 134 hostages captive and 574 IDF soldiers have fallen since October 7.

But, the citrus fruits are ripe for picking along the Jerusalem streets,

and even the simplest flower is a sign of spring beauty and hope.

Balancing the dark days, a simple bat mitzvah celebration with close family and friends brings light.

I will close with the annual – It’s Presidents’ Week in the US and the National Leadership Mission of the Conference of Presidents is back at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem.

The CEO William Daroff, was smiling at the dinner at the Museum of Tolerance.

But notice, that he was wearing a yellow ribbon lapel pin and also one of the dog tags around his neck to remember the hostages in Gaza.

He had the challenge of finding the balance, the equilibrium between hosting a conference during a time of war and advancing good for the future.

Good to see friends back on the Jerusalem streets, hope you will come soon too.

New February Flowers and Flying Flags in Jerusalem

Another week wondering where to begin and what to include in what’s happening in Jerusalem, Israel.

When the rain stopped the clouds were impressive over the Israel Museum and the valley below. After the rain, green grass and wildflowers pop up from the ground to bask in the sunlight.

It’s always a good idea to take a moment to see the latest at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.

The pink cherry tree blossoms burst out last week.

New Israeli flags were posted on the fence around the soon-to-open Japanese Pagoda.

New flags line many Jerusalem streets.

Some new flags and a sign for a fallen soldier were put up across from his former home.

Sadly, too many new flags with the loss of another soldier, killed in the October 7 War.

Finally construction work is slowly resuming on the Jerusalem streets. The new path to the starting line of the Jerusalem Marathon has to be completed before the March 8 starting time.

The 13th Jerusalem Marathon will be held during these challenging times, “based on the spirit of struggle, perseverance, determination, and the victory of the human spirit, especially in times of war.”

On a visit to the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem this past week, under this large welcome sign were smaller posters of hostages kidnapped on October 7.

Inside on the second level is a new exhibit ‘Splinter From the Storm’ where contemporary art is interspersed with ancient artifacts.

Jerusalem has creative works found both inside museums and along the Jerusalem streets.

The juxtaposition of old and new is constantly changing as new buildings tower over the old.

Some things in the Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk, appear the same and constant.

However, seeing bread and rolls packaged in plastic and not in the open is relatively new.

It’s time to sign up for next year in schools as signs along a busy Jerusalem street remind us.

No need for “Bring them home now” signs as a reminder, but they are posted in many windows.

Tens of thousands were at the Kotel, Western Wall on Thursday afternoon, before Rosh Chodesh Adar to pray for the return of hostages. It got less media coverage than other rallies even with both chief rabbis participating in the prayer service.

Some relatives were there also, Bring Him/Them Home Now! can be seen almost wherever you go.

As sad as much of the past four difficult winter months have been, the first lupins have appeared as another sign of spring, new growth, and hope as the days get warmer.

New Am Yisrael Chai banners have appeared on some Jerusalem streets.

It is a good time to get up and go out and appreciate the sunshine.

Seeing what’s new and what else is happening on Jerusalem streets can help improve your mood any day.

In Jerusalem one November week with highs and lows

In Jerusalem, Israel, the last week of November 2023 began with an important visitor.

Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, was open, but with less of the usual formality: no red carpets and no flowers decorated the stage in the main hall, just flags and two podiums.

The President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier was met outside and escorted in by the President of Israel Isaac Herzog as the media and staff watched.

The cameras were ready early, and I made sure to get a good seat.

Their speeches were broadcast live and are available to the public.

The large delegation that came from Germany was warmly greeted, but more importantly, the solidarity visit included traveling south to see the destruction of the Simhat Torah Massacre firsthand.

I wondered if they noticed the memorial candles for a fallen soldier, the son of Beit Hanasi staff member.

The yellow ribbons are still out.

The dog tags – “Bring them home – now” – are becoming more popular.

While some are so happy to take down the posters of the returned hostages,

the faces of the too many who are still held captive in Gaza are seen as life goes on slowly in Jerusalem.

After its grand opening, the Bezalel building is only open to students.

Haneviim Street was strangely lacking traffic, but the new buildings behind were easily visible over the old, showing the contrast on this old Jerusalem street.

People were on Ben Yehudah Streets and Zion Square, an interesting diversity of people as usual.

HaBoydem was open with their recycled fashions, it seems with all the donations to help southern families, the donated clothing for this charity keeps arriving in the original Talpiot branch.

The Farmer’s Markets keep popping up in various Jerusalem locations. I should have bought those orchids on the right when I saw them, as they were gone when I came back a few minutes later.

Perhaps fewer, but the young hijab-wearing women were also walking on Jaffa Road.

And as always, at Israeli medical facilities, Arabs both work and receive treatment.

Kikar Safra is the home of the Jerusalem municipality that has been working overtime to serve Jerusalem residents and the thousands of people from around the country who had to leave their homes under threat.

It was good to see tour groups as I walked around on a sunny weather day. Things are not always as they seem, as the sign warns that those cushions that look so inviting are made of cement.

Near Tzahal Square there was much less congestion than usual.

I had time to notice the Jerusalem lion on the bollards for the first time.

The view on the way to Jaffa Gate is an old photo favorite as usual.

This man sitting in his usual spot collected charity, a sign of returning to normal.

Traffic below coming and going from Jerusalem, who would have thought it a positive sight?

By Jaffa Gate, the tourists and birds were missing, but, as usual, a Muslim family walked by.

A week, that featured an emotional roller coaster of nights waiting to see which hostages would be released, ended with a Friday Fair at the Tower of David with no entrance fee.

An arts and crafts sale to aid southern businesses, at a time when culture is not seen as a priority.

In a city with too few tourists, there was live music at the popular tourist sight,

sweet treats to be designed and made,

and beer was sold, as well as food, at the Tower of David before Shabbat.

The flags were up on the JVP Margalit campus of Startup City Jerusalem, only I arrived after the Hackathon was over. It was hard to keep up with everything that was happening this past week.

However, from there I could see the sign announcing the Jewish Film Week at the Cinematheque, December 9 – 14, 2023.

Donuts. So hard to believe it will be Hanuka in a few days, as the past 2 months are a blur.

Jerusalem, Israel on Hanukkah 5778

Today the traditional menorah, made entirely of bronze, standing over 2 meters tall and 2 meters wide, was placed in the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, a popular sight year after year.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem had a poster up along a Jerusalem street. Most museums have special activities planned for the week of Hanuka, especially for children.

Hannukah events in Jerusalem, many in libraries in various neighborhoods, already have begun,

December 2-15, 2023, check the link for registration information on Lights from Jerusalem events.

No idea what will be this year, but here’s a favorite from the past to brighten and lighten the mood.

Hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets!