Jerusalem Streets See the Colors of February

Where should I begin to share a week where moods change as quickly as the weather?

It seemed every time I went outside the sun disappeared behind the clouds.

Often it rained, and rained hard.

But at least one evening I was in the right place at the right time to capture the colors in the sky, and with no filters, nature’s beauty appeared before the onset of darkness.

And look at this cactus, a wonder of nature growing so high and with new fruit.

The stalls at First Station were empty in the evening without the regular tourists in Jerusalem, Israel.

The carousel was wrapped in protective plastic and the Ferris wheel was not turning.

One Muslim man took advantage to say his nighttime prayers with no customers around.

I was on my way to the Menachem Begin Center for a program with Elliot Abrams and Dennis Ross.

Barbara Diamond moderated the live discussion as the two US experts discussed growing antisemitism.

A video with Bill Maher concluded the evening. His method of inserting humor while presenting historical facts that counter fictional narratives was greatly appreciated.

One of too many reminders of deadly attacks in Jerusalem is this memorial plaque listing the 11 names of martyrs murdered by a suicide bus bomber on January 29, 2004.

A reminder that 20 years ago, there were also calls for an intifada. Do people have such short memories?

Car-rammings became a new method of terrorism. Bigger, higher, and better bollards are now placed at Jerusalem bus stops to protect people waiting to board a bus.

But the Jerusalem streets, even during this October 7 wartime, are not shut down and dark.

The annual Shaon Horef, Winter Noise Festival is scheduled for the next four Monday nights on various Jerusalem streets.

The runners are out training for the Jerusalem Marathon set for the morning of March 8, 2024.

This week, at the Friends of Zion Museum, the Government Press Office held an evening event. Maayan Hoffman moderated a panel that included international journalists based in Israel.

CBN’s Chris Mitchell listened to Israel spokesperson Eylon Levy, while I was more focused on his socks.

Thousands of journalists came from around the world after the October 7 Massacre. I decided not participate in those early trips to see the death and destruction.

The panel with family members of the hostages was a somber conclusion to the evening. It boggles the mind that so many around the world deny the proof from videos and testimonies of survivors.

Some of the families of hostages have traveled the world to give testimony to get their stories told.

In the same place where the protest tents for the release of Gilad Shalit were, new are ones calling for the return of today’s hostages.

Frustrated after four months of captivity, protesters have taken to the Jerusalem streets calling for release.

The lights on Rivlin Street on the way to the Friends of Zion were twinkling on Thursday night.

I started on a positive note with colors in nature and want to end with one particularly colorful event.

Back on Thursday night, I was again at the FoZ for the opening of the Indigenous Embassy in Jerusalem with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The program began with a moment to remember those murdered in the horrors of October 7.

Then we heard about the love of Israel coming from around the world, from Hawaii to Tonga.

Traveling thousands of miles to stand with and pray for the people of Israel.

IEJ is to become a hub for indigenous peoples visiting Israel and a tangible expression of their support. IEJ will also support and promulgate the academic work being undertaken to respond to false narratives. 

However, IEJ does not purport to be an official representative of any of the governments that host nations of the respective indigenous peoples. It will engage in educational and cultural initiatives and mutually beneficial collaborative projects. 

The Solomon Brothers added musical highlights to the event. But, when many participants got up to dance to Hava Nagliah, I thought it was my time to go home.

It’s over ten years since Ryan Bellerose shared his enlightening essay on Indigenous peoples. I thought of him throughout the evening even though he was not there in person.

Closing with a video also from 10 years ago, the prayer for Israeli soldiers.

At that time IDF tanks were lined up along the Gaza border.

Then, international opinion forced a ceasefire.

Hoping for the return of all the hostages and less gloomy days ahead on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem Inside and Out

Is the winter weather getting you down?

Jerusalem has had cold and wet days, where the dampness chills to the bones, including inside the old stone buildings.

In only a few days last week, I attended two zoom funerals and learned that other people were not well.

So the sun was shining this morning and it was warm. I decided to get out and walk before the weather could go from spring to winter – again.

My social media is filled with flowers from the South, however, I love to walk in the Valley of the Cross and see the red against the green, much closer to home. Plus, no boring flat fields in the Jerusalem landscape.

If you want to see good landscaping and be warm–warm enough to fog your lenses–the new Butterfly House near the Zoo in Jerusalem is for you.

More on the butterflies at a later time, it is closer to the Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem, which is down the road from the zoo.

The Aquarium was one of the last places I visited and toured before corona shut down the Jerusalem streets and much of the world.

Back this week, it was good to hear the voices of children on tours. The volunteer diver was at work with someone watching that he was safe in the tank. Lots more on the butterflies and fish later, I had come for a special media opening event.

Artist Beverly Barkat was sharing the three-year intricate process that began with taking plastic waste collected around the world and brought to her doorstep and studio in Jerusalem.

She took those dozens of colors to form her Earth Poetica which is to go on exhibition in the lobby at New York City’s World Trade Tower. It was commissioned and designed for New York City but opened in Jerusalem for a six-month exhibit at the entrance of the Aquarium. A special stairway observation platform was built in the Aquarium lobby for visitors to view from various angles.

Hear the artist explain a bit about her complicated and impressive project.

Michal Herzog took to the podium at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence to speak eloquently at the Shloshim (end of thirty-day mourning period) for her mother-in-law Aura Herzog z”l. The President did not speak at the event in memory of his mother.

The event was sponsored by the Bible study organization 929, headed by Rabbi Benny Lau, whose mother attended along with other family and friends, to mark the beginning of a third cycle, dedicated to reading a passage of the Bible each day for 929 days to complete the entire text.

There were more impressive female speakers this week. One of the brilliant presenters at the AI Week Virtual Conference was Kira Radinsky. Over three days, with sixty-three Artificial Intelligence experts, she was not the only impressive woman speaking, to mention only two other standout names to watch out for, Sarit Kraus and Yonina Eldar.

However, the session I found most interesting concerned genealogy taking DNA identification to another level. DNA has been used to find 3rd cousins. With AI-enabled technology police were able to find the Golden State killer after 30 years. With data of age and sex, AI is able to pinpoint within 20 miles of home – and police collected DNA from a doorknob to seal the case.

I will skip the ways it can be used, say against secret agents working abroad, and leave it to your imagination for now, not give bad guys ideas.

There were so many online webinars, I forgot a few!

When the sun came out – I tried to get out. Work on Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, seems to not cease. Snowstorm damage is a great excuse to clean up, even on a shmita year when gardening is prohibited.

These floral wreaths were placed at the Candle Memorial in Gan Sacher dedicated to the two million people who died during the 900-day siege of Leningrad by the Nazis.

Also along the Jerusalem streets, there are new signs for the 120th year celebration of Shaare Zedek Hospital.

I was on my way to the VERT Hotel for the Besheva Jerusalem Conference.

The ballroom was full, long list of speakers, politicians, MKs, and Ministers.

How about this slide in one PowerPoint? Do you, or will we recognize Jerusalem if and when the Municipality develops its plans for growth?

The last, very last speaker on the second day, was the leader of the opposition who was not pleased that the participants of the last panel of the day were women who did not want to stop talking. Huge crowd, but most wore masks, and I tried to keep moving.

I had gone to see Rabbi Yehudah Felix receive a Jerusalem Prize for education. I will not mention how many years it has been since we have seen him and his wife. The smile was not for me, but his granddaughter who said “Saba smile!”

I took this photo on the way out and forgot to post it anywhere. I have been to who knows how many conferences and performances, but these guys were the best stagehands ever. Fast, efficient, and hard-working, so congrats guys. Maybe some readers will recognize them? Did not even leave a card as it was late, and all I wanted to do was get out and walk home.

While last week I was pleased to find four flowers close together,

today there were hundreds more and too many scenes to share here now.

I was not the only one out for a walk on the Jerusalem nature trails this week to get some sun and exercise. How exciting to see someone again after two years and recognize each other, with or without a mask! Aryeh was walking, but others have started training for the March 25th Jerusalem Marathon.

Also, Shaon Horef two years ago feels like a far-away dream. Now to see if these Monday-nights-in-February street events will get people to return to the Jerusalem streets and come out for Winter Noise.

I have had enough winter, but some nice noise sounds good to me.

Take care and hope to see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.