December in Jerusalem has been marked by cooler and shorter days, but gloriously sunny daytime hours.
After two weeks in the United States, it was good to be back out walking on the Jerusalem streets again. In New Jersey, I was one of the very few people who walked anywhere. I found most people just hopped into a car even to do short trips of a couple of blocks.
When I returned the skyline was different, as the Jerusalem Gateway project proceeds near the entrance to Jerusalem, Israel.
One massive construction site fills the area behind the old Shaare Zedek Hospital, with other large buildings going up on Jaffa Road in the distance.
Not been to Jerusalem lately to see the structures rising to the sky?
The new building construction seems to be everywhere!
Finishing details outside, but more to do inside this renovated apartment building.
After the last two years, Jerusalem appears to be getting back to life as we knew it. Crowds are filling the Old City in spite of the summer sun and heat.
The large number of visitors during vacation time means that getting a bus back to the city from outside the Kotel Plaza can be a challenge. People waiting (as seen here on the bottom right) have been known to pack on the city buses leaving the timid tourist behind.
Yes, this entrance to the Kotel plaza really was closed, temporarily to enter from the Jewish Quarter. I tried to warn people not to head down the stairs.
This was the main entrance to the Kotel, Western Wall the afternoon I went last week along with hundreds of others.
In spite of the number of visitors, the egalitarian section which is shaded from the blazing sun was nearly empty, as usual.
The main reason I went during the day was to check out the free shuttle from First Station to the Kotel. This stop near Dung Gate is where it was located before the vans stopped running during the pandemic.
The new vans do not look like the ones in the past, but run on the same schedule, every 20 minutes on the hour. Arrive one minute late and you will have to wait for the next one, as I did. They run on time.
They also stop at the Ir David nature activity, on the way to the Old City.
The Tower of David has an event with Knights. Only in Jerusalem can a period of persecution become a family fun activity, I was reminded of the Jerusalem Knights Festival – 12 years ago. Where has the time gone?
At night, there are the new little cars to drive for site seeing.
But also a special bus runs at night to see Jerusalem’s iconic buildings lit.
The water at Teddy Park across from Old City walls is still popular.
I was on my way to the Artists Colony, for a lecture by Irvin Ungar at the Kol HaOt gallery on the artist Arthur Szyk.
The slides presented of Szyk’s vast artwork were fascinating.
UN Security Council, 1948
(To the greatest mockery of them all, the Security Council of June 1948)
“We agree with you on every point, except your stubborn insistence on surviving…”
Note China, Syria, and Belgium sitting at the table facing an Israeli in chains in Szyk’s political cartoon from 1948.
Also later that night was the opening of the International Puppet Festival.
Smoke and skaters entertained the public as the audience was allowed to enter the Skating Park at Jerusalem’s Liberty Bell Park for free.
Mime actors and lights enthralled the young families up close.
There was action all around the skateboard peaks and valleys,
and spaces for the audience to sit and watch.
The new Train Theater hosted varied theatrical and puppet performances inside and out all week.
And by day, the Teddy Park water fountain was filled again with families at the end of the summer holiday time.
Perhaps the oldest and most Israeli festival Hutzot Hayozer is back again next to the Artists Colony and Teddy Park.
Israeli products, arts, and crafts were again featured in various booths. I went early to surprise one businesswoman setting up her space.
The big stands in the middle area held international booths in the past.
But this time, the booths from various countries were replaced with international food offerings.
I suppose Israelis who did not travel overseas this summer, consider this their end-of-summer splurge. First, you pay to get in. Then you pay again for your food. There is a different musical performance every night.
You can go for the golden seats set up in Sultan Pool, as thousands come each night for the shows. They come year after year, except during the corona time.
Besides the dozens of young security staff on guard, a fire engine waits inside ready for an emergency.
But not far away is something new, very new.
The new StandwithUs sign is on King David Street by the King David Hotel.
Stand With Us has opened its new educational center with a program designed for groups to explain – What is Zionism.
Breaking down the Jewish story into sound bites to keep it simple.
The Israel story in its simplest form, indigenous roots, exile, and liberation, SWU is trying to reach the new instant information generation.
The Jerusalem, Israel story is not short and goes back thousands of years.
The infamous “green line” is barely green, but I passed over it this week
to get to the New Gate of the Old City for a new Jerusalem street festival.