12 Signs of Seasons in Jerusalem

12 Signs of Seasons in Jerusalem

Elul.

Countdown time to Rosh Hashana.

Early morning, the sounds of the shofar are heard on the streets.

Late night pre-selichot musical programs are announced daily.

Pomegranates growing on tree Jerusalem, Israel

Pomegranates are a favorite sign of the season.

Lime tree in Jerusalem

Limes ready to pick off the tree are another sign.  These annual fruits shine in morning sun.

Jerusalem Mayor campaign sign

Another season of election campaigning has begun.  Yellow “Ofer Berkovitch for our  Mayor” banners hang from buildings.

Jerusalem Mayor race Moshe Lion

Moshe Lion is running for mayor again. This was one of the early signs for his campaign.

His new posters “Lion, Rosh Ha’ir Bulldozer” just don’t work in English. I missed getting a photo of the huge one on the side of a bus, but here is one on the bottom left.

Rachel Azaria, Yossi Havilo, and Yossi Daitch have announced that they are running for Mayor.

Jerusalem Mayor race Zev Elkin

Zeev Elkin, also a candidate for mayor, was bigger than life up on the side of this building near the entrance to Jerusalem.

Campaign poster for Elkin with Prime Minister

Small Elkin signs showing the support of the Prime Minister are posted. Elkin has been making appearances and speaking at Jerusalem synagogues.

Avi S running for Mayor of Jerusalem

New Year greetings from candidate Avi Salman are now on the wall near where Elkin’s huge poster had been.

Arieh King for Jerusalem Israel Mayor

And Aryeh King’s face is popping up on signs along the road.

The only sure thing about this race for Mayor of Jerusalem is that there is no sure thing.

New playground at Jerusalem Israel Liberty Bell Park

A sign of an election season?

Work is progressing on a new playground in Liberty Bell Park. A playground was on this spot, was taken down, and is finally being rebuilt with interesting cement shaped slides and more.

Zion Square dug up under construction

For many years this spot was historic Kikar Tzion, Zion Square. Now it is ripped up and a construction site.

Jerusalem Israel street sign wrong.

A fence surrounds the mess. There is a ramp to enter the bank and an arrow directing to Yoel Salomon Street.

Sign for Jerusalem Israel Gateway Project with spelling error due to being short on space

In case you could not read the small orange sign easily, here is one from another location.

I sure hope the construction in Jerusalem is planned better than these warning signs.

Some days it seems that half of Jerusalem is torn up and under construction.

Jerusalem Israel bike path construction

From Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, to Nayot Park, to Malha, sideways are under various stages of construction for a continuous bike route.

I will skip the protest signs and end with one of my favorite signs of the season, perhaps the year.

Jerusalem Israel street sign welcome to first grade in school

“Shalom Kitah Aleph.” Welcome to first grade students.

Beit Avi Chai is having a special “letters festival” for children entering first grade, with live music, workshops, and more.

The biggest sign of the season as summer ends is preparation for the new school year.

 

5 Jerusalem Tu B’Av Scenes Not in Headlines

5 Jerusalem Tu B’Av Scenes Not in Headlines

The full moon was shining over the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

Red balloons were tied outside of restaurants, street cafes, and wine bars.

Celebrations had begun for Tu B’Av, the “Jewish Valentines Day,” the week after  Tisha B’Av. 

Extra security was posted along the path between Yemin Moshe and Sultan’s Pool, where the Jerusalem Film Festival was having its opening night.

Scene 1:

Female Israeli security guarding at night Jerusalem

In the shadows, were three Ethiopian-Israeli women in uniform posted on guard duty by the gate.

Artists Colony at night Jerusalem Israel

The Artists’ Colony was empty, until the International Arts Festival, from August 6 – 18.

Teddy Park Fountain lit at night Jerusalem Israel

But nearby the fountain in Teddy Park was full. Day and night, all summer long, one hears the squeals of children enjoying the water and at night, there is music too.

Scene 2:

Jerusalem Teddy Park Fountain at night Muslim women and children and Jewish women and children

Teddy Park is a place where Muslims and Jews come together regularly, night and day.

Lights on walls of Jerusalem Old city at night

The Old City Walls were lit for the Tu B’Av crowds to enjoy.

Israeli Squash Tournament near Jaffa Gate Jerusalem Old City

In keeping with the RJS theme: “What will you find next on the Jerusalem streets?” the Israeli Squash Tournament was being held near Jaffa Gate.

Israel Squash Tournament in Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate

Israeli athletes competed in a specially constructed area,

Israeli Squash Tournament at Jaffa Gate

playing for large trophies,

Israel Squash Tournament trophies

lots of large trophies and medals for various age groups.

People watching Squash Tournament including Jerusalem Mayor

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was sitting front and center watching a game.

Scene 3:

Arab couple and children watching Squash Tournament in Jerusalem Israel near Jaffa Gate

As they strolled through the plaza, this young Muslim family stopped to watch.

People watching Squash Tournament in Israel near Jerusalem Jaffa Gate

However, I thought this was one event best seen on TV.

Jaffa Gate Tower of David full moon

The moon was shining above as I walked from Jaffa Gate to the Kotel, the Western Wall.

Night of Tu B'Av men at Kotel

The men’s section had many empty chairs and tables.

Tu B'Av women at night at Kotel praying

However, the women’s section was filled with hundreds of women–there was not one empty seat.

Scene 4:

Women praying at Kotel on Tu BeAv

One group praying together was of special interest. Israeli women from across the religious spectrum came from north and south to pray together.

After praying in unison at the Kotel, dozens of women arrived to join them for a Tu B’Av celebration nearby.

Tourists at night at Kotel taking photos

The Old City was filled with thousands of people, tourist groups, and Israelis of all ages. Photos and selfies galore were taken by excited visitors.

Scene 5:

IDF soldier carrying a baby being helped by Haredi men near Kotel on stairs

I will leave you with one last scene on the stairs near the Kotel.

A young IDF soldier was holding a baby on this left arm and a folded stroller on his right arm, with backpacks dangling over his shoulder and his kippa in his hand.

First, one man insisted on taking the stroller from him and up the stairs. Then another young man turned to help to carry the backpacks.

None of these five scenes are considered headline worthy.

But all happened on the night of Tu B’Av on the Jerusalem streets.

With headlines of division, strikes and protests, 5 scenes of comfort, of rays of light in the darkness.

 

Syrians Looking to Israel for Safety

Syrians Looking to Israel for Safety

When you were young, what did your parents tell you when you didn’t want to eat all your dinner?

Parents around the world told their children to finish all the food on their plate, “because children were starving in China” or “hungry in Africa.”

In Syria, a mother told her young son, “If you do not finish your dinner, “Big Zionists will come and drink your blood.”

Imagine this young man’s surprise to find himself taken to Israel by the IDF for life-saving medical treatment, waking up in a hospital where the signs were in Arabic and the staff spoke his language.

Arab couple walking outside Galilee Medical Center

One of the northern Israeli hospitals treating wounded Syrians is the Galilee Medical Center (GMC). It has taken over 1,500 of the 5-6,000 Syrians that Israel has treated.

What began with seven patients on February 16, 2013, has grown over the years. Word slowly traveled back over the border that if you want the best medical treatment, go to Israel.

Syrian man in Jerusalem Israel who was treated in Israeli hospital

Treating patients from Arab countries, Gaza, or Syria, is not new.  A Syrian father who accompanied a son to Jerusalem for medical treatment, fell ill, and was treated in a hospital in Jerusalem in May of 2014. Here he is recuperating on a bed in the center of Jerusalem.

Then, as now, for their safety when they return to Syria, no names, no photos of faces are used to identity these patients. Having received life-saving treatment which is only available in Israel could be a death sentence for those patients when they return to Syria.

Farm land in Galil on way to Golan Israel

On a trip to the Golan from Jerusalem, Israel, one passes cultivated fields.

Israeli cemetery with new apartments being built near by

Rising apartment blocks for housing are seen, even on the outskirts of a municipal cemetery.

Galilee Medical Center map of northern Israel

This map of northern Israel shows the Nahariya area where the GMC is located.  More than 800 Katyushas were fired here during the Second Lebanon War, one hit and destroyed an entire department on the 4th floor of the hospital.

Pleasant scene in Golan guest houses Alonei Ha'Bashan

The northern border has been quiet for the last few years of the “Good Neighbor” policy.

Galilee Medical Center underground surgery area

But the GMC Underground Hospital unit is ready if the need arises to evacuate patients again.

Syrian man being treated in Israel hospital

This Syrian patient, Hani from Ghutta, near Damascus, has been receiving treatment for two years. Currently there are 40 Syrians at GMC and more at other northern Israeli hospitals.

Jeeps for ride to Golan Heights

Jeeps are necessary to get to the Golan Heights vantage point, as a bus could not safely navigate the narrow and winding roads up the mountain.

Syrian border from Israeli Golan Heights

This is the view from the Bashan Hazaka observation point,

Syrians near border of Israel for safety

and a close up view of the area in southern Syria, near the Israeli border.

View of Syria from Golan Heights

This is the view to the left, and  at the bottom of the photo, there is a yellow sign warning of land mines.

Southern Syria mountain top close up

Here is a close up of the top of the hill that appears in the distance in the previous picture.

Golan Heights view of Syria

Look to the right, from the observation point and one sees a cluster of trees.

From Israel Golan Heights Syrian refugees near border

However, in a close up of the area, one sees the tents more clearly.  These green IDF tents were supplied to homeless Syrians.

Syrian refugee camp as seen from Golan Heights

Displaced Syrian refugees have come to the border of Israel for their own safety.

From Golan Heights tent in Syria for refugees

Bringing their families and whatever they can schlep, they are getting away from the Russians bombing from above and Assad’s forces, aided by Iran and Hezbollah, shooting to kill on the ground.

Syrian Israeli border rusty tank

Reminders of the previous Israeli-Syrian wars are still around, as evidenced by the rusty tank in the bottom of this photo.

Abandoned Syrian bunkers on Golan Heights

At the observation point on top of Bashan are remains of Syrian bunkers and old army vehicle.

Abandoned Syrian bunkers on top of Golan Heights

In the past the Syrians were here shooting down at Israelis over the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee.

Head of IDF medical unit in Golan Heights pointing to Syria

Lt. Colonel Dr. Tomer Koller, the medical officer of the Bashan Division in the Golan Heights, showed us the area where tens of thousands of Syrians are encamped. Those in need of medical treatment come there to find assistance.

How could anyone think it is a good idea to “give back” the Golan Heights to Syria?

view of Kinneret at sunset

After many years, the Kinneret  is again under threat from the intensified Syrian civil war.

The IDF Good Neighbor Operation has been helping.

Israeli residents in the north have gathered aid to send.

Mendi Safadi of the Safadi Center is working to open schools for the children displaced in Syria.

Frontier Alliance International (FAI) is working with IDF to get international doctors into Syria to help with the medical crisis.

Arab countries have shut their borders to Syria.

Where have the UN, EU, and human rights organizations been all these years?

Because of the growing humanitarian crisis, fleeing Syrians are flocking to the Israeli border.

Perhaps the next generation in Syria will not be taught to fear “blood thirsty Zionists.”