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!

Look at Sukkot in Jerusalem

The best time to be in Jerusalem, Israel, is for the Sukkot holiday.

The sounds of Selihot and Yom Kippur prayers leave the Jerusalem streets. Then the Jerusalem streets fill with tourists. Too many drivers do not know which way to turn, excited to be for the first time, or back again to look and see the changes since their last trip.

For those of you not able to look for yourselves, here is a bit from the beginning of Sukkot 5784.

Look up and count the number of porches with a sukkah.

Look how volunteers made sure lone soldiers had a sukkah in Jerusalem, Israel at the Michael Levin Base.

Look closely to get the perfect etrog and lulav, here at the Arba Minnim Market off of Jaffa Road.

You did not have to look far for your Arba Minnim, right after Yom Kippur the stands pop up everywhere.

Look who we found at Machane Yehudah Market, walking in the shuk – the amazing singer Shulem Lemmer. Tens of thousands of visitors have arrived for the holiday, it’s fun to see who is on the Jerusalem streets.

Look out for those new heavy ad boards being installed at new tower construction sites.

An annual fun photo is the kosher Pizza Hut hut ready for the Sukkot holiday.

Look how along Jaffa Road, there is one sukkah after another with food to serve to hungry visitors.

Look out for a runaway sukkah! The girls walked by after this sukkah rolled away into me as I walked by.

Take a look at the huge sukkah in Safra Square, which covers an area of 800 square meters and holds up to 650 people. The work on the sukkah began weeks before the holiday, with a team of engineers and designers planning the design, and formulating safety measures, so it should stay in place.

Look how decorations are installed in the largest sukkah where programs are scheduled all day every day of this week during Chol Hamoed Sukkot.

Not only are daytime activities planned, but also at night. At the First Station sukkot line the center of the space filled with people, while smaller sukkot were off restaurants on the side.

The annual Sukkot Street Festival on Derech Beit Lechem was held on Sunday night, October 1, 2023.

A bit of something for everyone, but loved looking at this multi-generational chess setup.

Wondering where else chess games are part of street festivals instead of beer and liquor?

Arts and crafts jewelry and everything from shoes to colorful sukkah decorations lined the street.

Martial arts, music, and activities for children. Lots of children! Look out below, for the little ones walking.

Painting a wall mural was another colorful family activity. One young artist had a special advantage.

At the same time, Rabbi Goldberg of Chabad on King George Street welcomed everyone to his party.

Grand Sukkot Celebration Simchat Beit Hashoeva, featuring Chassidic Rock Superstar Barak Grossberg, had a drum circle and crafts for children, and dancing along with the live music of Chabad of Rechavia.

On the way home the sukkah of Chabad of Talbiya-Mamilla ready for the public to use.

And a look at our modest sukkah at home lit up at night – before the rain started. It was cloudy, cooler, and humid, but the sound of rain was still a surprise.

The cloudy damp weather did not deter the tens of thousands who attended the first of two Birkat Kohanim Priestly Blessings planned for Sukkot this year. Here is one photo published by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation showing part of the crowd this morning.

But there seemed to be more cell phones than Kohanim (those saying the blessing) this year.

The service ended with a call for shalom and unity, and Shema Yisrael.

Another annual popular event is tomorrow at Beit Hanasi, Israel President’s House Open sukkah with a sports theme this year. It’s one of the very few times the public is invited inside the gates.

The signs are up and the Jerusalem streets will fill with tens of thousands on Wednesday for the Jerusalem Marches. Look out for more next week from these busy Jerusalem streets!