Jerusalem Light Rail Rolls (Roils) On

Dear Angry Driver,

Please do not complain that you received a traffic ticket in Jerusalem

  because you were on the light rail tracks when the light turned red.

For too many years, too many Jerusalem streets looked like this.

It is a big deal for us in Jerusalem to finally be able to get anywhere…

even though it may take still a very long time.

Luckily only one man has been seriously injured, in this area of the tracks…so far.

As you sit in your private vehicle, we are standing on the train without room to move,

that is, assuming that we can elbow our way inside.

For the first few months of operation the Light Rail train ride was free of charge,

but as of December 1, 2011, we get to pay for the privilege.

One has to get through the crowd to swipe their Rav-Kav card on this machine

before a roving inspector arrives to scan your card to check for payment.

Dear Angry Driver, there is also a large fine for those who haven’t paid their fare.

At least CitiPass employed a small army to help educate the suffering public,

most are ignorant about how to put money on those Rav-Kav plastic cards.

You must  not remember the Jaffa Street of the last few years,

as the new Jaffa Street scene bears little resemblance to it.

But in constantly changing Jerusalem… this tranquil scene will not last for long.

This corner of King George and Jaffa Streets, which housed Sbarro before a

suicide bomber blew himself up murdering fifteen people, is slated for renovation.

The major construction mess of a multistory building will be upon us once again.

And Angry Driver…be happy you only got ONE ticket.

There are several locations in Jerusalem where teams of police

 regularly wait and pull over car after car and ticket the drivers.

You didn’t see the one white car that got through with the taxis,

while both police officers were busy writing up tickets on each side.

Wonder if he had any idea of just how lucky he was?

Dear Angry Driver, maybe you could tell him?

Occupied on Sukkot

At present, hundreds of cities around the world are being occupied,

as “Occupy” protesters take to the streets and people are living in tents.

This week in Jerusalem, as they do every year for the Sukkot holiday,

thousands of people leave their homes to occupy… sukkot.

Sukkot can have one of the best views of the Kotel, the Western Wall,

or be on the back of a truck,

or even on the back of a camel.

 With or without a welcoming sign… all around Jerusalem this week,

 thousands of sukkot are being occupied.

At night when the lights go on

they stand out


bright against the dark sky.

Some are long with simple white walls,

others with patterned fabric.

Some are tucked away off the street

and some are large and imposing on a roof top,

while others appear small and alone.

Some sukkot are public

and some very private.

There is one sukkah that is now dark and unoccupied.

It is the enlarged sukkah built in the Shalit protest area,

near the Prime Minister’s residence.  The Shalit family has left Jerusalem,

they and their supporters went home before the holiday began.

Also, it seems… not occupied on Sukkot

are the new light rail trains.

Their drivers have barely started to work,

but are already on strike and the trains are not running today,

one of the busiest tourist days of the year.

Moadim L’Simcha from Jerusalem!

Mazel Tov

After almost ten years and countless delays, the Jerusalem light-rail system

opened to the public on Friday, August 19, 2011.

Since August 2008 Jaffa Street has been closed to traffic.

On Friday morning, Yehuda the shoemaker was smiling,

his greeting was not good morning, but “mazel tov!”

There were lines to get the RavKav fare cards, but all rides are free for two weeks.

 In the city center trains were often very crowded

and there were still more passengers who were ready to try to push in.

“Zeh lo New York”, this is not New York, said one woman,

but at times it felt like the New York City subway… only with air conditioning.

Special staff was busy trying to keep people off the tracks,

but accidents seem bound to happen in the open spaces.

Passing the walls of the Old City,

the train was not as crowded and you could hear the cell phone conversations.

On many of the trains children sat on the floor,

 for thousands of families the train ride was the day’s entertainment.

Cameras of all types were out to document the day.

Slowly the train went through the Shuafat and Beit Hanina neighborhoods,

some boys hopped on to ride for only one stop.

It took 45 minutes to reach the end of the line, then a long wait to come back.

The train ahead had trouble in the Pisgat Zev station,

providing  plenty of time to look over our driver’s shoulder.

Announcements had warned of possible delays,

people got on and then immediately got off, not sure how long the wait would be.

It was afternoon prayer time as the train passed the mosque on the return trip.

If you really had to be somewhere,

 the bus was the preferred way to go, as regular traffic was light.

Travel through the Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk, area seemed to take forever.

Then, the view from the bridge was impressive,

impressive enough to get some people up from their seats.

The ride over the bridge seemed very quick compared to the rest of the route.

Thousands of people came out Friday for the havaya, the experience…

like an amusement park ride.

More time was needed to complete the entire route,

but I was satisfied to get my shoes fixed and get home before Shabbat.

Mazel tov!

How many passengers will pay to use the light-rail?

Was it worth all the time and cost?

The saga of the Jerusalem light-rail continues…