Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

Sounds of Summer in Jerusalem

The birds are chirping.

The sounds of moving traffic fill Jerusalem streets.

An emergency vehicle siren blaring passes by.

The happy voices of children at play can be heard.

Sounds of summer fill the Jerusalem streets.

Magen David from wood constructed by Scouts in Jerusalem

The boisterous sounds from the Israeli Scouts returned to their Jerusalem base.

Jerusalem Western Wall divided for coronavirus

The sounds of prayer at the Kotel, the Western Wall have continued as numbers of prayer gatherings have changed.

View of Wilson Arch by Kotel Jerusalem Israel

The numbers inside the Wilson’s Arch area are limited but worshipers have returned.

Jerusalem Great Synagogue email announcing closed again no prayer services.

Sadly the Jerusalem Great Synagogue has been silent for months.

Beit Hanasi new ambassadors meet Israeli President
Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

The red carpet was out. Signing the guestbook was similar. For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus, President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of Colombia, Greece, Denmark, Romania, and Argentina to the State of Israel.

This could be the last time for Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Meron Rueben (far right) to present new diplomats, as he is to become Israel’s next consul-general in Boston.

Jerusalem Ambassadors at Beit Hanasi pass honor guard reduced because of COVID-19
Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

The honor guard, comprised of 8 people with flags, was standing where the band usually stood. The very downsized band to play anthems stood behind in the garden, shielded by bushes.

Beit Hanasi Ambassador from Thailand

Here the police band played for one of the past presidential red carpet welcomes.

Jerusalem Symphony performances broadcast on Facebook during corona closings

Jerusalem Philharmonic performed live and was streamed on Facebook.

Musicians in the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra at Jerusalem Theater

Beautiful sounds with distance and masks on stage.

Lights on Knesset at night for summer session

Also late at night, the lights were on at the Knesset, but for a change, the sounds were inside instead of outside from a protest.

Jerusalem Israel path near Israel Museum

Amazing that so close to the Knesset, below the Israel Museum is such a quiet spot.

View of Israel Museum from below in Valley of the Cross

March 1, 2020, I took this photo walking home from the museum.

Piece in Israel Museum

This image was taken the very next day. Who would imagine the only photo I took on March 2nd, would be the last one for months? Sadly, the Israel Museum like the Great Synagogue has remained silent because of COVID-19.

Lizard in Jerusalem Israel park

But in the quiet of these coronavirus days, the lizards and geckos have become regular visitors to the Jerusalem nature paths.

Jerusalem Israel police in Sacher Park

Police on a motorcycle at the entrance of Gan Sacher, Sacher Park was a new sight this week.

Police are handing out 500 shekel tickets to those not wearing masks.

Sign posted in Jerusalem about Netanyahi

New signs. Protest signs.  Sounds of protests are heard and seen.

Jerusalem Festival mekudeshet

Meanwhile, Mekudeshet is trying to provide Jerusalem with cultural events on the Sherover Promenade. Sounds from the big summer festivals are missing from the streets.

With tourists missing the usual sights and sounds and crowds of summer visitors in Jerusalem are missing.

new hotel in Jerusalem Israel Orient

The Orient Isrotel reopened on July 8 with an 85 % occupancy for Shabbat.

With the number of infected people rising, and restrictions changing, it is hard to keep up day to day, let alone week to week.

Red flower in Jerusalem in summer

But one thing that the novel coronavirus pandemic has not affected – the vibrant colors found along the Jerusalem streets.

The colors in nature seem to be thriving, even as the economy dips to new lows.

Flowers in Jerusalem in summer

So I will leave you with this image, and a wish for all to stay healthy and well, on or off the Jerusalem streets where ever you are.

And the sounds from last summer Old City Light Festival, when I wondered what would be next?

Never imagined there would be no festival and the sounds of silence.

Jerusalem Living with COVID-19

Jerusalem Living with COVID-19

In Jerusalem, Israel, during this time of isolation from COVID-19, as the novel coronavirus spreads around the world, it is not business as usual.

Jerusalem Israel view with chair outside COVID-19

Now that the sun has finally come out and the rain stopped I have moved my office outside.

Cafes are shut. Malls are basically shut. Food shopping is allowed.

The Machane Yehuda Market shuk with its open markets is closed.

However, as the coronavirus continues to spread and despite the difficulties, Israeli farmers produced 90 million pounds of fruits and vegetables, last week.

Avshalom Vilan, Secretary-General of The Israel Farmer’s Federation, spoke to journalists on a conference phone call about the successes and challenges of work amidst the pandemic, plans for the coming months and  cooperation with Palestinian farmers.

Vilan assured food for Passover will not be a problem. The 50 million eggs for Passover already arrived from Portugal!

Yoel Zilberman is the Founder and CEO of HaShomer HaChadashan and Chairman of SunDo, a start-up that connects farmers with volunteers.

For those wanting to do something in this time of increasing shutdown, SunDo is an App to volunteer to work in agriculture.

The museums are closed. However, the Israel Museum has had virtual tours available with a phone app for several years. Now those guided tours are being offered to people on the other side of the world, not just those wandering the vast galleries. The Tower of David Museum was to show off its latest virtual reality offering yesterday. Now it will really be just virtual for some time.

It is a time when apps and online classes and webinars can keep us busy 24/7.  ZOOM, and Facebook Live, and Netflix offerings seem endless.

I have not left the house, but keep up to date through Whatsapp groups, from MDA and United Hatzalah.

MDA has opened four drive-thru coronavirus test centers, with the first test site in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem Israel Corona test center drive thru in Arena Parking lot
MDA image

All sports events have been canceled. Near Teddy Stadium, on Monday night, March 22, the parking lot of Jerusalem’s Pais Arena a drive-thru COVID-19 test center for the Jerusalem area was opened. Hundreds of families may be in for a pleasant surprise to receive at Magen David Adom’s and Health Ministry’s “Drive and Test” compounds – a gift set, donated by Intel, in order to ease the isolation period.

These are family quality time game sets, to raise morale and relieve boredom. The gifts set produced by “Tsumi – The Israeli Center for Attention,” and donated by Intel; include variety of table – box games.

Jerusalem during coronavirus working at home outside on porch

My neighbor took advantage of the improved weather to work outside.   I decided not to share the image of other neighbors exercising on the roof.

Jerusalem street during Corona

Cars are out. Jerusalem is not yet on shutdown. Jerusalem has a large part of its economy based on tourism. With no tourists, the businesses that work with them and hotels suffer which exasperates the problem of families on poverty levels in serious ways. Deputy Mayor Fleur Nassan-Hahoum said retraining unemployed workers for positions in demand, like work in a mask factory in Talpiot is a priority.

Jerusalem Passover signs for street pickup of large items

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Municipality posted signs to clean up for picking up large items before Passover. I admit the sounds of the sanitation workers are comforting.

Israel Knesset view with Crown Plaza in background

What’s happening (or not happening) in the Knesset is a whole other story, not for now.

I have a list of topics I had wanted to share, but there was no time. I hope to keep these posts coming of what is really happening on and off the Jerusalem streets during COVID-19 isolation time.

In the ‘you can learn something new everyday’ department, from friends I learned of Beer Bread.

Picture of Corona Bread

So I made Corona Bread.

Mix – 3 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar and one bottle of warm Corona Beer.

Bake in a moderate oven, 350 F – 175 C degrees for almost an hour.

Best warm from the oven, but not so bad the next day either.

Something pre-Passover to do, easy, tasty and makes the houses smell good.

Smell is a powerful trigger for memory – may your memories of these crazy days be good ones.

What Everyone Should Know about Bursting Amygdalus Communis in Jerusalem

What Everyone Should Know about Bursting Amygdalus Communis in Jerusalem

The first thing to know is that amygdalus communis is the scientific name for the almond tree.  With Tu B’Shvat, the song of “almond trees bursting out” (or flowering) can be heard throughout Israel in school classrooms sung by small children wearing floral wreaths on their heads.

Every year when I review and remember past celebrations of Tu B’Shevat, I stress over how to spell ט”ו בשבט in English. I have found 8 options and already used two here.

Every year I want to bring to you something new and interesting.

Dried fruit and nuts fill the stores and markets as every year.

Carob tree near Paris Square in Jerusalem Israel

Carob trees tower over many Jerusalem, Israel streets. This tree is near the Prime Minister’s Residence. I wonder how many of the thousands protesting there noticed it?

For those of us who grew up in the US, Tu B’Shvat meant getting a piece of dark brown, dried out bokser.

Hard to chew and unattractive, why would anyone want to eat it to celebrate the holiday?

Buksor dried on sidewalk on Jerusalem Street

Along Jerusalem streets in time for Tu B’Shvat, there are piles of dried pods fallen from the trees, with new growth peaking its way through.

Knesset opened on Tu Beshvat

The Knesset opening and birthday are held on Tu B’Shvat. In honor of 50 years in its present location, in 2016 a major celebration was held.

Knesset synagogue in 2016 for Tu Bishvat

There was a special afternoon service in the old Knesset Synagogue followed by wine and fruit.

JNF 1928 photo of Girl Guides celebrating Tu Bishvat in jerusalem Beit Hakerem

These Girl Guides were celebrating Tu B’Shvat in Jerusalem in 1928, on an outing in Beit Hakerem.

Since Biblical times almonds, amygdalus communis, have been a sign of spring, a sign of new life and God’s promise.

“When Moses went into the tent of the covenant on the next day, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted. It put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. -Numbers 17:7

Tu Beshevat almond blossoms Jerusalem Israel

Almond, the first tree to flower before winter’s end, symbolized fast-moving events. “…the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home…” -Ecclesiastes 12:5

Anyone interested in the nature and the environment of Israel, with the special emphasis given to the linkage between the plants and Jewish traditions and literature, will appreciate the Hebrew website Wildflowers of Israel.

In addition, their English pages have a wealth of information. Hours of dedicated work have gone into research and photography devoted to the study of wild plants of the Land of Israel, a point of interest for people all over the world since Biblical times. In spite of Israel’s small size it has 2,500 plant species. There are about 100 plants mentioned in the Bible, and about 400 mentioned in the Mishnah and the Talmud.

Thanks to Sara Gold, my contact whenever I need information on a flower or plant. (I know next to nothing about Israeli flora and fauna.) Who knew aloe plants flowered?

In honor of Tu B’Shvat – I searched for the almond – Amygdalus Communis.

rakefet, flowers of spring in Jerusalem Valley of Cross

I searched in the Valley of Cross on the path to the Israel Museum, and there were no almonds bursting forth, but I did find these first flowers in bloom.

Safra Square, Jerusalem municipal government plaza

I went to see what new trees were planted in Kikar Safra, Safra Square.

Old City Jerusalem Israel walls tall palm trees

Thankfully some tall palm trees survived last year’s infestation and are standing tall.

Beit Hanasi flowers in Presidential gardens jerusalem Israel

I searched the gardens at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, and there were no almonds bursting forth, but these new potted flowers were enjoying the morning sun.

Kumquats ripe at President gardens Jerusalem Israel

In the Beit Hanasi gardens there are 60 olive trees, a line of kumquat trees ripe with fruit, but not one almond tree.

Lemon tree growing in Jerusalem Israel

Our lemon tree is full of ripe fruit too.  In my search this year, I found no almond blossoms in Jerusalem. It is still too early. They really do seem to burst out when they appear.

So it seems as of now, the best place to search and find those bursting Amygdalus Communis is Wildflowers of Israel – HERE.

Tu B’Shvat is to be celebrated beginning the night of January 20, and on January 21.

Jerusalem Martin L King Street sign with trees in background

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, falling the same day this year, here is a new photo of the Jerusalem street sign with trees in distance.

Fog in Jerusalem Israel so thick to obstruct view of Monastery, bird perched outside window.

Snow is in the forecast for Jerusalem. Rain has started to fall. After sunny morning weather, this photo is again appropriate.

Jerusalem weather and politics are hard to predict. Both can change quickly.

UPDATE:

Snow in Jerusalem Israel at night during storm

When snow started coming down, I grabbed phone and ran outside. This was best photo of predicted snow storm, to see real snow, back to 2015 HERE.

Shabbat shalom Tu B'Shvat

But greetings of a happy Tu B’Shvat and Shabbat Shalom, are good to be repeated every year.