See the Official Knesset Welcome for US Congressmen in Jerusalem

When the Knesset wants to grant special visitors a special welcome, it is something impressive and colorful to see. This past week a US Congressional bipartisan delegation arrived in Jerusalem, Israel.

An IDF band was out before the event rehearsing the Star Bangled Banner and other musical pieces.

The honor guard was lined up and getting ready.

Inside the Knesset building the hallways were quieter than usual for an opening summer session of the plenary.

These two quietly watched the Knesset corridor near the entrance as usual.

Outside on the entrance plaza, a memorial wreath was prepared for the US House of Representatives to place near the memorial flame.

A special area was marked off for the visiting Congressmen and women.

Photographers moved to get to the best locations for the best images.

The Israeli Speaker Amir Ohana welcomed US Speaker Kevin McCarthy on the red carpet. Notice in the background a group of young children was also invited also to welcome the Congressmen.

After the national anthems and honor guard, McCarthy stood by the memorial flame before entering the building.

Here is a brief video of the ceremonial arrival, given to special guests.

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There was a brief signing of the guest book and short welcome speeches.

Invited guests, including Ambassadors to Israel, were offered an elaborate buffet, but the US delegation was not there but in another location.

To my surprise, long-time serving Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer who I had been looking for and I met in the elevator.

His aide offered to take a photo, so how could I refuse, but sharing the original with you here. He is quite tall and I did the best I could to stand on my toes – I guess that explains the position of my hands.

The main event took place in the Knesset Plenary Opening Summer Session, where US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was given the honor to speak.

Followed by a press conference, with Israel and US, signing an agreement.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog and US Deputy Chief of Mission Stephanie L. Hallett sat in the front row, as the 17 members of Congress who arrived with the Speaker as part of a bipartisan delegation stood behind McCarthy for questions.

International news sources picked up the firm responses to the Russian journalist’s question. But as usual, there was more to the story that did not get the same coverage. The bipartisan comradery, the honor McCarthy gave to Hoyer to speak first before questions began, and which I recorded.

And the fact the Knesset both inside and out was on its best behavior for a really feel-good day dominated by mutual respect and binational affection.

It was a glorious day on the Jerusalem streets, with just enough wind for great blue and white and red-white-and-blue photos.

Shushan Purim-Night

After many days of sunny, warm weather,  just in time for the Purim holiday celebrations, very heavy rains turned Jerusalem cold and grey.  At times the fog was so heavy the Knesset building was barely visible. The amount of rainfall over the Purim weekend totaled about 20 cm or nearly 8 inches.

Flooded streets made it hard to get around,

but the rain did not stop this bike rider Sunday evening.

All over Jerusalem, many people dressed in costumes and gathered to read Megilat Esther.

There were some good hats

and some great hair.

Inside  was bright and colorful,

but outside everyone hurried to  their cars, homes 

 the city of Jerusalem though was just beginning to party.

There were so many events it was impossible to cover them all;

however, there is another day…

Purim sign

Happy Purim!

Updated Rosh Chodesh Adar 5773, Purim 2013