Jerusalem Heats Up for Summer

Jerusalem Heats Up for Summer

It had to happen here in Jerusalem, Israel.

The hot weather had to arrive.

We are well into summertime in the Middle East.

This past week was still cool in the evening and pleasant.

But, today it’s hot outside.

French ceremony for Bastille Day

July 14th was Bastille Day, celebrated in France with an official ceremony including a military marching band – “Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood.”

Protest Rally in Jerusalem Israel near Prime Minister's residence
Photo credit: Shifra G

In Jerusalem, the 14th was marked by a huge protest rally under the banner of “Siege of Balfour.” Protests are allowed under Israeli law, even when COVID-19 restrictions are the most severe stages. Most other gatherings, on the other hand, have been limited in numbers to try to control the spread during this coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters late at night at Jerusalem Israel Paris Square set fire to a paper recycling container
Photo credit: Shifra G

After the main protest rally with its noise and drums and shouts, it quieted a bit near midnight. We could hear the noises a mile away.

There have been protesters near Paris Square for a month, close to the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Jerusalem protest tent near Prime Minister's residence with Gilad Shalit's parents

Gilad Shalit’s family was there for years until he was released from Gaza.

Most weeks since, someone has a protest there. I have taken photos, but not always shared them.

However, this was more than the regular noisy protest.

Jerusalem Israel recycle container set on fire by protesters
Photo credit: Micky Rosenfeld Israel Polie

A paper recycling bin was set on fire, and enough protesters to fill a bus were taken away by police after being sprayed by water.

Israeli Police truck on way to burning dumpster at Paris Square

The truck was a little late getting to the protest scene. After making a wrong turn, the driver had to back the oversized vehicle out of our small, one-way street VERY carefully.

These protests have made headlines. The social workers are still on strike, but they’re not violent, making them less newsworthy.

Nurses are ready to strike also?

No idea what next, but can share what did happen:

Jerusalem Israeli scouts in uniform

Israeli Scouts in uniform and masks met on Tuesday for an outing.

Young Jerusalem children meeting in a park area

A group of young children gathered in this shaded nature spot. I liked how their backpacks were hanging from a cord – carefully distanced. I was reminded of the days when parents thought that head lice was the worst possible of plagues.

President Rivlin watches Israeli football final from a box, as the only spectator
Photo credit Kobi Gideon, GPO

The Israeli Football (soccer) final had one spectator – President Reuven Rivlin.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin meets with IDF near Lebanon border
Photo credit: Kobi Gideon, GPO

Twenty years after the withdrawal from Lebanon, President Rivlin visited the northern border on Thursday, beginning his visit with the operations room at Camp Biranit. I thought the plates of healthy food on the table were interesting.

Hezbollah in Lebanon as seen from Israel

I have plenty of border photos from January. Seems so long ago, when I was near the Blue Line, on the Israeli border of Lebanon.

The Jerusalem Film Festival (JFF) announced the end of its plans to run a delayed physical edition at the end of August. Following a surge in COVID-19 cases, new restrictions on large-scale gatherings have been introduced.

Dr Ruth and President Reuven Rivlin

Last year President Reuven Rivlin was the honored speaker as the event was dedicated in memory of the wife Nechama z’L. Dr. Ruth was a special guest.

Opening night Jerusalem Film Festival 2019

In 2016, the Jerusalem Film Festival attracted even more photographers to the opening night in the Sultan’s Pool.

Quentin Tarantino received a special award from Mayor Nir Barkat before the film.

Director Quentin Tarantino received an award from Mayor Nir Barkat before the film.

Jerusalem Israel building National Library near Knesset and Israel Museum

Even as many restaurants, museums, and buildings are forced to close, construction

Building the Israeli National Library man on top of building site

on the new Israel National Library,

Man working with construction equipment in Jerusalem

and other Jerusalem building projects are proceeding.

Watering Sacher Park in Jerusalem Israel no Sunday morning

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was empty in the morning as sprinklers water the grass.

Jerusalem Valley of the Cross bike path and new landscaping

The path in Valley of the Cross leading into the park was quiet.

Then a few minutes later – it was best to get out of the way!

New grapes on Jerusalem streets

How many times I have walked by this location and not noticed the beautiful green grapes growing?

Grape vine over trash container on Jerusalem street

Maybe because I did not look up over the garbage bin to see them?

Too many people walk looking down at their phones not seeing what is around them.

Wearing masks. Not wearing masks.

Another week under coronavirus pandemic.

Always something different happening on the Jerusalem streets.

Flower growing in Jerusalem Israel in Valley of the Cross

While many people are suffering, nature is thriving.

Take care out there and stay well.

Jerusalem: Summer 2020 Starting Ready or Not

Jerusalem: Summer 2020 Starting Ready or Not

Skies over Jerusalem, Israel, were not as bright this morning, with a partial eclipse of the sun. Sadly, my attempt to get a photo failed.

June clouds over Jerusalem Israel skyline

However, the clouds over the Jerusalem streets last week were amazing.

June clouds over Jerusalem Israel streets

Here’s another image of clouds with a view of the center of town.

Summer is a time for a vacation in Israel. After inbound tourism to Israel had reached a historic high of 4.55 million tourists at the end of 2019, the industry expected to break another new record of 5 million tourists in 2020. But as a result of the global tourism crisis, the tourism industry in Jerusalem has been hard hit.

Some smaller venues and the Tower of David Museum have started to open.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem closed because of coronavirus regulations

But the Israel Museum gates are shut. It stands empty at the start of summer. In the past, it would be a time filled with people of all ages from around the world.

Israel Museum no people grounds empty midday in June COVID-19

I always wanted a photo of the Israel Museum’s  ‘Turning the World Upside Down’ by Anish Kapoor without people standing around and in my way. Certainly, I never imagined it would be finally possible with the world turned upside down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. As people around the world Zoom into funerals, conferences, and weddings, standing outside the Israel Museum all I needed was a simple zoom lens.

Construction on Israel National Library progress even during coronavirus restrictions and closings

However, across the street, the National Library construction was proceeding and visible well above ground. Interesting to compare to what the library site was like five years ago. 

The larger hotels, like the King David, Crown Plaza, and Orient are still closed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Israel’s first international state visitor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem. In the framework of the G2G meeting between the governments of Israel and Greece, he met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greek and Israeli flags at Beit Hanasi for official state ceremony

Before COVID-19, Greek officials were received at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence with blue and white flags.

And an honor guard red carpet welcome, with national anthems, and media invited to attend and record.

But, the current smaller-scaled reception resulted in the signing by ministers of three MOUs – on cyber, agriculture, and tourism. Plus, it was announced that it will be possible for Israeli tourists to travel to Greece and possibly return from Greece and Cyprus without a quarantine requirement by August 1, 2020.

Prime Minister of Greece and President of Israel at Beit Hanasi
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

Besides the important agreements, there was an official photo with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece and President Reuven Rivlin at Beit Hanasi.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece:and Israeli President at Beit Hanasi bump elbows
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

And the new coronavirus greeting of bumping elbows and not shaking hands.

There was also to be an official visit from Cyprus, but it was postponed as the numbers of coronavirus cases has started to rise again in multiple Israeli locations.

Knesset in 2017 opening session Tzipi Hotovley

It was announced that MK Tzipi Hotovely is leaving the Knesset to replace Mark Regev as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The usual anti-Israel sources are protesting the appointment. Remembering when Brazil would not accept Dani Dayan?   The best thing that happened to Dayan was when he went to New York as Israel’s General Counsel and has done an outstanding job.

View of Gaza from Israel where IDF monitors border

Back in November 2018, we were on a media tour near the Israeli border to see the IDF view of Gaza.

Israel Gaza border Tehilla Friedman on tour

There was Tehila Friedman in her signature red hat having a private guided tour. With the new Knesset arrangements, Tehila is one of the newest Knesset members. As Knesset members, the two female politicians are from different parties with very different political views, but both are concerned with the welfare of Israel.

New Jerusalem Israel summer tourist hamburger food trucks

The red food truck came back, with labeling for burgers, both meat and vegan burgers.

I love the name of Beyond Burgers in Hebrew – ביונד מיט-הדור הבה

In time for today’s International Yoga Day, Abraham Hostel announced rooftop Yoga.

What a contrast to two years ago and the big events for the first day of summer.

Man praying in Valley of Cross park area

Now a man praying alone in nature is more likely scene than group yoga.

Wildflower in Jerusalem Israel park area

The summer flowers around are blooming.

The sights and smells of summer abound.

Wild flower in Jerusalem Israel

Even this bead tree or Indian lilac flowers were pretty, though it’s toxic and intrusive.

The pleasant senses of nature will have to suffice.

This summer of 2020 the large annual festivals are not happening.

Protests from the cultural community, one of the daily protests near the Prime Minister’s Office and Knesset, could be heard from kilometres away.

I will leave you with one of the favorite sights and sounds from the Jerusalem Light Festival of 2018.

Here’s to hoping next year – or better – this year to see you on the Jerusalem streets.

Oh Jerusalem, What Days in May

Oh Jerusalem, What Days in May

In Jerusalem, Israel, waking up on Tuesday morning the official email began:

* From yesterday (4 May 2020), additional businesses and activities will be allowed to open including: Libraries, all kinds of non-medical treatment on the human body, complementary medicine, hotels and guest houses, nature reserves, heritage sites, national parks, zoos and safaris. Activity at swimming pools will be permitted for competitive athletes and therapy.

* Malls, open-air markets and gyms will be allowed to open on 7 May 2020.

Restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 were working. Special intensive care units were closing.

People were looking forward to getting out of isolation and their homes.

Clouds over Jerusalem Israel

Clouds were began gathering over the Israel Museum.

Jerusalem Israel cloudy sky in May

Clouds were filling the sky over the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem cloudy day white clouds over Knesset

The large flag on the Knesset was blowing in the wind.

Jerusalem Israel clouds in sky

The weather forecast had called for rain. Rain in Jerusalem in May?

Jerusalem sky pink clouds

It was raining in the north. Then Tel Aviv, even Beer Sheva had rain. Clouds started to change over Jerusalem.

Dark grey sky over Jerusalem streets

The clouds in the sky turned dark.

Black sky over the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

The sky over the Israel Musem appeared almost black.

Then winter-like weather in May pelted Jerusalem with rain, heavy rain.

Jerusalem Israel during a stormy day in May

Dark enough in the middle of the day for some of the street lights to go on.

Sunset after rainy day May in Jerusalem

But by the time the sun was to set, the sky began to clear.

May sunset with colorful clouds after rainy day

It was a sunset that colored the sky. Facebook was filled with photos taken as the colors changed.

Jerusalem Israel sunset with many colors

After a day of crazy weather, as the sky cleared, the birds came out again.

* The restriction on praying more than 500 meters from the home or workplace is canceled; the restriction of no more than 19 people for prayers in an open space remains in force.

For the next few days, up to 300 worshipers will be allowed to come to the Western Wall plaza simultaneously, contingent on them wearing masks.  Should all of the prayer areas become full, worshipers will be requested to wait outside the entrances to the Western Wall, with the required distances between them, until space becomes available.

Western Wall at night

Late at night the Kotel, The Western Wall had people coming and going again.

Jerusalem Western Wall divided into sections for social distancing opening up

Bar/bat mitzvah families can return to celebrate at the Western Wall in accordance with regulations.

The Health Ministry calls on the public to continue listening to the directives on physical distancing, wearing masks and maintaining hygiene, in order to ensure public health and continue the common struggle against the spread of the coronavirus.

Old City Lions wearing masks
Photo credit: Joshua Wander

The lions in the Old City are ready with masks, though not social distancing.

Always something new to see on the Jerusalem streets.

Meanwhile another crazy weather day, and new storytime by Pres Ruvi:

Stay well, everyone, and safe inside or outside your house.