Tips for Touring in Jerusalem

Once again in Jerusalem, the weather has turned overnight, from freezing cold and cloudy to a full-blown sunshine heatwave.

Well, except when the next sand storm blows in to block the rays.

We asked for warmer and it’s here this week.

Lucky are all those thousands of returning tourists! People who have wanted to come but because of corona and closings were not able to get to Jerusalem sooner, they are arriving daily.

View of Kotel from Aish roof

The Old City should be buzzing this year with Passover, Ramadan, Easter Sunday, and Orthodox Palm Sunday coinciding.

But there is much more to do in Jerusalem!

Entrance to Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is a short drive, with the Aquarium nearby,

Jerusalem butterfly house

and it’s fun to check out the new butterfly house when the sun is shining.

Even at the Knesset, where you can book and join a free tour, there’s a large crane rising above the Knesset. Building construction is everywhere. Traffic is back and filling the Jerusalem Streets.

The Rose Garden and Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, are close to the Knesset.

Now that the 11th Jerusalem Marathon is over the park is much quieter than last week with tens of thousands of runners trying to stay dry.

Jerusalem Sacher Park Lion in new play area

The new playground is large with something for almost everyone. I am fond of that special Jerusalem lion.

However, I want to share some of the lesser-known spots for those who want some quiet time.

Jerusalem Gazelle Valley opening day
Entrance to Hansen House in Jerusalem

Hansen House Gardens are open to the public, plus the annual Design Week is happening soon.

How about a quiet nature spot to eat a picnic lunch off of Emek Refaim?

The Jerusalem Nature Museum is a local secret hideaway, saved from developers, slowly being renovated, and used for varied big events before Covid and starting up again taking advantage of outside spaces.

I love how this time of year flowers pop thru the old stones.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, I saw this week that signs have been posted to explain the old stones displayed in the gardens on the new audio tour. Tour groups are back at Beit Hanasi!

This week the water was turned on at Jerusalem’s new-old tourist spot.

New signs for France Square were posted.

Jerusalem Paris Fountain and French Square construction

After months and months of construction,

the France Square dedication was held.

Mayor Moshe Lion was surrounded by Israeli flags, but no French ones.

The previous dedication was done by then Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski with the Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe surrounded by media.

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The old Paris Square stone was not incorporated into the new plaza.

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Paris Square became known for the late-night anti-government rallies.

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For those who do not remember, the old design had a street,

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steps to the fountain area,

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and what Paris Fountain looked like before this renovation.

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The trees are not in full bloom, but the new France Square looks like the proposed design the city published.

For those breathing a sigh of relief that construction noise and protests are finally over at this junction of Jerusalem streets.

Wait.

The building at #62 King George Street is scheduled to come down and a new taller building is to replace it.

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The Jerusalem building that was considered new in 1965, at the edge of the city is now old and to be replaced.

Meanwhile, the fountain on or off seems to be a magnet for children.

A short video from the official dedication of France Square.

Or check out, one of my favorite Jerusalem views on a Jerusalem Photo Walk.

Looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the Jerusalem streets!

10 Things to Love About Jerusalem

The sense of uncertainty about what will happen next is ubiquitous.

Israel’s borders are closing again and isolations are becoming mandatory. Will the US be the next to be declared a red country?

Tourists were coming back to Jerusalem and tour buses were seen on the Jerusalem streets. But how many trips have again been canceled? Long-planned meetings put on hold.

In our neighborhood, a school is back on Zoom classroom sessions with so many students sick with corona.

However, there are positive things to share from this week in Jerusalem.

I love that no matter how many times you walk down the same streets, there is always something new to see or a new angle to notice, as you can see here at the entrance to Mamilla Mall.

At Mamilla Mall, I stopped for a moment to take a photo of the men at the mincha minyan, praying outside in the middle of the day. I loved that friends who walked by also noticed and commented.

Amazing how a short walk becomes longer when you stop to talk with friends you have not seen in too long a time.

The construction is just everywhere, as the buildings go up and up.

The noise is often deafening as the digging goes on and on.

Most of King David Street is completed. But the next phase here at Mamilla Junction is beginning. Watch out, this week the extension to King Solomon Street is to be closed as the new water lines are installed.

Won’t we all love it when the roadwork is done?

At last, reconstruction work on the old Knesset Building, slated to become the new Knesset Museum, appears to finally be moving along.

The entrance to Balfour Street was open! It had been without a security guard, an exciting development for those of us who live in the area. We were forbidden to walk down the street, and now there is a sign to pull the pedestrian gate open.

A TV media crew was wandering around and taking a video. At one point in the recent past, there were five layers of security and a huge black curtain. Now, new security cameras have been installed instead.

I had to go back again to check if it was real. The last time I walked down this street was the summer Obama was running for US President (first time!) and Olmert was Prime Minister.

Here you can see what was blocked, under strict security and now is quiet.

Security officers dressed in black jackets on motorcycles were out along Jaffa Road. It was good to see them chatting rather than having serious work to do.

The annual Hanukkah decorations are gone and stowed away.

But Santa near Jaffa Gate in the Christian Quarter is still this month.

Reindeer have lit up the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens for the nighttime show since before Hanukkah.

The YMCA has more decorations and new lights this year.

At New Gate, a Christmas Market is open in the evenings until December 22nd, however, the sign says that it is limited to 500 people.

I am not sure I like it, but I am still amazed to see young children on the Jerusalem streets walking alone, like this little girl walking from New Gate,

or outside along the path by the Old City Walls going towards Jaffa Gate,

or little ones leading even younger ones in Nachlaot.

But for children, I just love the new lion in the Gan Sacher, Sacher Park play area.

This week the 11th Temech Conference was held at the Jerusalem Convention Center. Temech services Jewish businesswomen and entrepreneurs, and the conference is a popular annual networking event. I loved the various areas decorated for women to sit and talk.

The day-long programming was full of excellent speakers, so it was hard to catch up with friends you had not seen in too long. Plus recognizing new acquaintances from online meetings was a challenge. Did she seem so short or so tall, so thin?

When the Hebrew and the Anglo groups merged for a late lunch it was hard to get everyone in one photo, but safe to say most everyone was Energized.

In the Artist Colony across from the Old City walls is Kol HaOt, a studio for art with connections to Torah, and a venue for the Jerusalem Biennale.

During the corona lockdown last winter, 48 artists were able to use the space to create a piece based on one of the 48 ways Torah is acquired.

I loved many aspects of this 5th Jerusalem Biennale, but more another time.

Ready to walk home I heard music, the fountain was on at Teddy Park. The show went on and on – better to share a short video than a photo.

Winter music festivals are back! The 12th Hullegeb: Israeli-Ethiopian Arts Festival, Chaznut Performances, and more – I love the varied cultures.

Chagnival at HaMiffal is this week at The Miffal, however, not sure what it is.

I love what they did in the old abandoned building. Do people know about it?

I LOVE JLM, especially on a sunny winter day or a clear cool night.

I love to take a walk and see what’s happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Here’s hoping those millions of tourists that were expected before corona shut down the skies will be able to return –

and soon.

Jerusalem Making Memories and Building

What a week it was in Jerusalem, Israel!

A week of ups and downs, in the weather and news and events, hard to remember only a week ago was Hanukkah.

The blue sky and light clouds started the week off on a positive note.

Three (very) young musicians were taking advantage of the last day of the Hanukkah time off from school to play for people in Mamilla Mall.

Oh, the Jerusalem streets appear in a constant state of construction. King David Street road work goes on and on. When will this building be only a memory?

The gates were finally open to this Ivory Coast property the city has taken over after a long period of vacancy.

The Beit Hanasi, President’s Residence’ gates were open to welcome new Ambassadors to Israel this past week with the IDF honor guard.

The full honor guard and IDF band were all rehearsed and ready for the arrival of the new US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides on Sunday.

As he got out of the official limousine to the red carpet welcome, drops of rain started to lightly fall on the official reception.

Were his eyes closed for the playing of Hatikvah or did I just catch a blink?

Like all dignitaries, Ambassador Nides signed the official guest book. His son at his side, and the President with his wife at his side.

But unlike other new ambassadors, after lighting candles on the last night of Hanukkah at Beit Hanasi, Nides joined in the singing of Moaz Tzur while the audience was more restrained, despite Herzog’s encouragement.

The last day of Hannukah was a busy one with family parties and trips. Mostly trips in Israel due to the corona restrictions limiting travel.

But PM Bennett was able to welcome the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of Cyprus to Jerusalem for important meetings.

Also on the last night of Hanukkah, Rabbi Aharon Katz was asked to light the candles to start the opening of the World Championship Flag Football games at the Ramada Hotel.

Close to 900 people from 23 countries participated. The US won both men’s and women’s gold medals as expected and Mexico placed second in both. Where else do you find football players wearing a kippa than Jerusalem?

Mayor Moshe Lion made a grand entrance when he arrived late to the event, which ended with a loud and live band rocking the ballroom. For many of the participants, it was their first time in Israel but very limited due to the corona restrictions. Hope they have good memories and come back soon to see much more of the Jerusalem streets.

On a very different note, another meaningful program was held at the Jerusalem Theater on Wednesday evening as the weather turned cold and windy.

Artist Jacob Jay Garfinkel’s work lined the theater’s lobby walls with his photographs, special images of an item from a loved one lost too soon. His only son Elon z”l died at age 43, and this grieving father initiated an endeavor with OneFamily to make memories with victims of terror.

Families arrived to see the images posted on the walls.

A large crowd gathered for the opening night program as it started to rain.

The Minister of Culture and Sport Chili Tropper and Deputy Mayor Hagit Moshe sat in the front row and spoke. Miriam Perez, one of the grieving parents, sat in the crowd on the steps, wearing a royal blue jacket.

Friends and relatives of the Garfinkels were also in attendance.

Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, the father of Rivka Holzberg z”l spoke on behalf of the survivor families who participated in the Heirlooms: Memory and Cherished Objects.

This photo of OneFamily organizers includes Chantal and Marc Belzberg.

Jay (full disclosure: we have known the Garfinkels for many years) spoke movingly about his son and his work and the process of minimalism in photography.

His work very much broke a tenet of keeping emotion out of the photo.

Perhaps without reading, but beside each picture in Hebrew and English was a text of powerful explanation.

Gaston Perpinal, 15, of Ra’anna, immigrated with his parents from Argentina. A Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself at a shopping mall in Kfar Sava, killing him. Gaston was the driving force behind his parents’ moving to Israel. Six months after their Aliyah, he was murdered. With the objects of his youth gone, “there is one way in which I keep Gaston’s memory alive. A tattoo…”

The images were also on display up the stairs on another level.

One more caption by the photo of a uniform – AIMAN.

Staff sergeant Aiman Sharuf, 20, a border policeman from the Druze village of Ussifiyeh, was one of 14 persons killed on October 21, 2002, when a bus was blown up in a suicide attack by a terrorist driving an explosives-laden jeep near the Karkur junction. Aiman’s uniform still hangs in his bedroom in the apartment of his parents. His mother never washed it because “I want to smell it, and it still has his odor.”

Each of the 33 “simple” photographs in the exhibit packs not only powerful memories but messages of lives cut short.

Signs like these line too many Jerusalem streets, they remember the victims of terror murdered at various Jerusalem locations.

The sign has been placed on the wall of the new building that has risen on the site of Moment Cafe where a suicide bomber blew himself up in 2002, killing 11 people.

From terror and tragedy, making memories, and building on the Jerusalem streets. Hope you can see for yourself – and soon.