Jerusalem New Signs for Rosh Hashana

Jerusalem New Signs for Rosh Hashana

It was hard not to get whiplash in Jerusalem, Israel, this past week.

The extremes of the good news and bad were so sharp it was hard to keep up.

While the 4.5 million Israelis who usually go overseas for their summer holidays had to stay home because of the pandemic situation, Israel’s nature spots were fully booked. Now a holiday lockdown is predicted as the number of COVID-19 infections rises.

Schools opened. Schools closed. Classes were on Zoom. Students were home.

Oh, and there was a heatwave, making going outside unpleasant!

Light clouds in Jerusalem sky over Israel Museum at sunset

The humidity rose in the evening making the nights unusually uncomfortable. But over the Jerusalem streets, clouds produced lovely and colorful sunsets like this one over the Israel Museum, partially illuminated in the center of the photo.

Fixing street light over Jerusalem streets

The demand for electricity caused random power outages. However, these Jerusalem street lights did not go off in the morning light and needed professional attention.

Mask with Baltimore Orioles Baseball team

An unusual sports excitement, Dean Kremer, the first Israeli ever drafted by a US Major League Baseball team made his major league debut for the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched a great game, and even though they beat the Yankees, Israeli Yankee fans were impressed enough to take to social media.

Trying to get back to some sort of normal with coronavirus has been difficult for theaters, cultural festivals and events. The Film & Conversation group in Baka/Katamon is planning to move outside Beit Yehudit at night on 13 September.

Theater outside in Jerusalem Israel due to COVID-19

Signs were up for performances in theater courtyards.

"There are stars outside" Hebrew sign for theater in corona restrictions

The ‘Stars Outside’ signs were up again, trying to get audience to attend.

Jerusalem signs in Hebrew

The Hansen House announced a designer’s event.

Hebrew sign announcing community elections in Jerusalem Israel

And a new sign for new Jerusalem local elections in November.

Rosh Hashana begins on Friday night.

COVID-19 limited sellhot in Jerusalem Safra Square

After Shabbat, the Ashkenazim joined the Sefardim in Selichot,  who have already been saying them for a month. Due to COVID-19 regulations, this year there was a special prayer service with special seating in Kikar Safra, the Jerusalem Municipal plaza.

Yitzhak Meir leading a musical selhot in Kikar Safra

The late-night musical Selihot were led by Yizhak Meir and broadcast on YouTube and Facebook. An announcement was made at the end that people should not crowd, but leave in ‘capsules’ and small groups.

Screen shot of protesters in Jerusalem

Meanwhile, not far away, at the same time, the anti-Bibi protesters were back for the 12th week.

Sign in Hebrew for a successful year

The new Jerusalem street signs for a successful New Year,

Prosperous and happy new year sign in Jerusalem Israel

and a year of happiness.

Pomegranates growing in Jerusalem, Israel park area

Pomegranates are another sign of Rosh Hashana. 

Jerusalem street sign for Good New Year

Apples and honey and success are yet another New Year sign.

Avera Mengistu, Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul captive in Gaza by Hamas

Reports that Egyptians are now trying to get Hamas to release the bodies of Hadar Goldin, and Oron Shaul.  Avera Mengistu has been held captive in Gaza for six years.

It’s time to bring the boys home.

Selihot last year, over 1,000 people attended the Jerusalem Great Synagogue.

It has been closed since the spring and will remain closed for the High Holy Days this year.

Kotel for COIVD-19 selihot

The Kotel, Western Wall, usually crowded with tens of thousands for Selihot, had a limited crowd, divided into ‘capsules,’ and only filled up well after midnight.

What a year 5780 has been!

So there you have some of the ups and downs, good and bad, certainly different, of the past week

Coming in so strongly, the Hebrew year 5780 Jerusalem hit record numbers in tourism. It was then hit with a pandemic and closed borders to overseas tourists.

Now with prospects of normalization with Gulf neighbors, there should be euphoria. But new closures dampen holiday planning. No one really knows what will be for the next day, next week, next month, certainly not next year.

Hebrew sign for a year of good health

But as we begin 5781, wishing all a year of good health!

Hope to see you all again soon on the Jerusalem streets.

How to Spend Time in Jerusalem in 2020

How to Spend Time in Jerusalem in 2020

Time.

Time in Jerusalem, Israel, as in much of the world during the corona pandemic, has become a blur. Days have become weeks, then months and a New Year is almost here.

Since March 2020, an 8:30 backyard minyan, morning prayer service, has been one constant. No need for a watch. I could set my clock to the minute when they start.

We live in a “mixed” Jerusalem neighborhood, and there is no synagogue on our street. But starting after Purim, I have woken up to the sounds of morning prayers. As  I brush my teeth or stand at the kitchen sink, I have been able to receive the Priestly Blessing from a distant voice.

Kotel during coronavirus for morning services

The Kotel, Western Wall, in the morning, was set up for bar mitzvah groups in keeping with the latest COVID-19 regulations. This time of year the area is often packed with thousands of people.

Kotel Plaza divided into sections for late night selihot during coronavirus pandemic limitations on size of gatherings

But this year at night, there are chairs set for Selihot placed “socially distant” from each other.

Chairs placed in Wilson Arch Kotel at night

The Kotel area inside Wilson’s Arch was set at night, ready for the next morning.

This screenshot of prepared prayer spots feels frozen in time.

Jerusalem path near the Israel Museum above the Valley of the Cross

In the past, I walked the Jerusalem streets for hours, looking for crowds, people, and interesting sites to share. Now going out means staying away from those crowds and avoiding people.

Recognizing friends at this time is not so simple. With hats, sunglasses, and masks, someone who you have not seen a few months can be difficult to recognize.

Sign for New Year gatherings in Jerusalem Plarks

Over the summer during this coronavirus time, Jerusalem began offering park camping opportunities. Families were encouraged to come to outside green areas. A sign in Nayot Park is encouraging families to spend their holiday time in nature areas.

Bunch of grapes growing on Jerusalem street

One image for the passing of time are grapes ripening on the vine.

Polce vehicle turning to exit park area

No, this police vehicle was not trying to block these people. The driver was on this part of the path–with no vehicular exit–for his first and last time.  He got stuck, and had to back up and try and turn around to get out of the area.

old Belarusian flag, now used as the opposition flag in the rallies against Lukashenko

There have been eleven weeks of loud protests near the Prime Minister’s Residence and the Knesset. However, this was the first time seeing a protester near the Knesset with a Belarus flag.  His aim, which is for Israelis to pay attention to the situation in Belarus, worked – the large red and white flag got me to notice.

Jerusalem Israel Hebrew signs posted on street corner

As summer ends, new signs were up and it is time to support the Jerusalem Symphony.

At the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, there’s a  YEMEN Fest – מופע גרוב-ג’אז-פאנק

entrance of the Jerusalem Bible Lands Museum

There’s still time to book a tour in person or watch online at the Bible Lands Museum.

Jerusalem Yad Vashem exhibiit

After many months, Yad Vashem also announced it’s opening its doors at limited times.

Sacher Park new seating near the play equipment

The summertime weather was pleasant and  Jerusalem nights were cool. But now a heatwave has arrived.  It’s too hot for the play equipment or midday picnics in Gan Sacher. 

Jerusalem school year sign during coronavirus

School is to start on September 1, 2020. It’s going to be an interesting time for all.

The usual back to “Kita Aleph” – first-grade mega productions have been toned down. With COVID-19, it’s one parent, wearing a mask, holding the hand of a small child walking into the unknown new classroom. Capsules, masks, and moving online is the pandemic era new norm.

Wishing all students and teachers a good and healthy year!

Women soldiers in the Israel army

And now is the time for new Israeli recruits to the IDF to begin their army training.

Six years ago, Chazan Shai Abramson led the IDF Choir at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue.

As the Jewish holiday season with so many unknowns approaches is a good time to repeat the prayer for the Israel Defense Forces and all of Israel, and the world.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay healthy.

Hope to see you sometime soon on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem 7 New Signs and Colors for Elul

Jerusalem 7 New Signs and Colors for Elul

Jerusalem is working its way back.

It almost feels like a “normal” end of summer on the Jerusalem streets.

Parents are worried about school supplies, but even more about school openings.

Rosh Hodesh Elul was last week and religious schools have started.

Sacher Park in Jerusalem summer day

In Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, children played by day, and families filled the park in the evening.

Sacher Park clean up in morning after big night for Rosh Hodesh Elul

But by the morning of Rosh Chodesh, it was cleaned up and ready for the families to return.

Jerusalem street next to Sacher Park

The street along Gan Sacher which was filled with cars the night before was back to normal.

End of Summer events sign posted near Wolfson center across from Sacher Park

It’s lined with new Jerusalem signs for the end of summer events,

Hebrew sign Jerusalem stands with all of Israel during coronavirus pandemic

and this new one stating: Jerusalem stands with all of Israel.

Trying hard to get back to “normal” after COVID-19 closures.

Menachem Begin Center and Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem signs displayed on Jerusalem street corner

New end-of-summer signs for the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem were posted among other museums cautiously reopening with new entrance policies.

Giro stage in Safra Square for opening of cycling event

It was announced that Jerusalem’s Safra Square  is now a new  coronavirus-safe venue for cultural events, allowing concerts and performances to return after months of such events being prohibited.

One of many previous events, the Giro d’Italia opening was held in the large plaza area of the Jerusalem Municipal Building. Numerous concerts have been held there as well.

Cyclists from United Arab Emirates in Jerusalem for Giro d'Italia

The announcement of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to sign a normalization agreement made headlines. However, for the Giro, UAE riders–and Bahrain–were on the Jerusalem streets two years ago.

Jerusalem Israel view from top of Kikar Safra municipal building

One of the great views from the 6th floor of the Municipal Building is the Mount Of Olives

Jerusalem Har Hazetim grave stone of HaRav Avraham Kook

Gimel Elul was the memorial of the 85th anniversary of the passing of Abraham Isaac Kook z”l, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine in the Land of Israel.  Today’s commemoration was unlike other years and was a socially distanced and very limited event.

Rav Kook’s house has been kept as a museum, offices, and synagogue, while the area around HaRav Kook Street in Jerusalem has been built up.

Lion Fountain in Jerusalem Park near First Station with water

The Lion Fountain near First Station was a fun place during past summers.

bird in Jerusalem photo

Some of my favorite photos were taken there. This past week though,  the fountain was dry.

This has been a summer when most everyone has had to deal with changes.

Near Jerusalem Israel Museum sculpture The Struggle

I often pass “The Struggle” by Samuel Bar Even on my way to the Israel Museum.

Jerusalem path near the Israel Museum above Valley of the Cross

Israeli officials trying to keep the virus under control without lockdown is more of a struggle than my deciding which path to take each day.

Jerusalem Israel Museum open again after closing for months of coronavirus

A new welcome sign was posted at the Israel Museum. After being closed for months, it is open part-time, with restrictions and prior ticketing.

But no entrance fee for children in August as usual.

Jerusalem Israel Old City Western Wall Tunnel

Also, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced that the Western Wall Tunnel site was reopening after having been closed for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kotel in August 2019

Preparations are underway for Selichot, penitential prayers, at the Kotel, the Western Wall. It will NOT look like this photo from last August!

The first two weeks of the month of Elul will be a test for managing Selichot services at the Kotel prior to the upcoming peak-crowd days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Jerusalem sehilchos

The  Jerusalem Great Synagogue with its 1,200 seats is not to reopen for the High Holidays.

It is also not planning to open its doors for ShabbatSelichot, or the Sukkot holidays.

Water bottle disposal sign in Jerusalem to keep streets clean

The campaign to keep Jerusalem clean has been going strong all summer. New signs were posted for everyone to clean up their mess.

Jerusalem Israel pickup truck for things left on street

Here’s a new truck collecting discarded items along the street.

The truck stopped. A man jumped out and grabbed a sweater on the side of the road.

He tossed it into the back of the truck and drove off.

The days of furnishing your Jerusalem apartment with other folks abandoned property could be much harder now. Everyone will have to move quickly before that truck comes by.

Workers in Jerusalem filling a pot hole in street

This large truck and work crew arrived. They stopped traffic and blocked the street.

They repaired a pothole in a few minutes while I watched.

Jerusalem woman crossing street as traffic waits

Near the same spot the day before, this frail woman crossed the street.

What was newsworthy and worth sharing about that?

She stepped off the curb into traffic, not near crosswalks. However, cars in both directions stopped. They waited until she safely crossed to the bus stop. And, not one car behind them honked!  I wished I had taken a video.

Exit of Jerusalem Israel Museum toward the Knesset

This is the view on the way out of the Israel Museum. The Israel Knesset Building is across the way. “LAST HOPE” is painted on the pavement. Tonight we will find out if the “unity” government can agree on how to proceed with a budget or if we go to a fourth election this year.

It has been a crazy year, with struggles not only to cross the street but for many to survive.

Much of Jerusalem’s economy is based on international tourism.

The closed skies due to the coronavirus pandemic have led to extremely dire financial situations.

Selihot at the Kotel, will not be the same as in the past. There are planned Selihot tours in the Old City, limited in numbers and with social distancing precautions. As with all tours and sites, check ahead to make sure you have a spot and a ticket.

It’s been an unusual summer with few tourists on the Jerusalem streets.

Flowers planted near Jerusalem street

However, as we enter the month of Elul and look forward to a New Year, colorful flowers are blooming to brighten the Jerusalem streets.