As the year 5782 ends and 5783 begins,
wishing all a Shana Tov, a good and healthy year.
Jerusalem, Israel – what is really happening
This past week was a very busy one for most everyone, with annual fall events returning and new ones planned after two too quiet years.
While driving north we admired the beauty of the land of Israel.
At times it was hard to distinguish between the blue of the sky and the sea.
In the land of milk and honey, natural beauty abounds.
We learned about honey for the Rosh Hashana holiday
and also about bees at Neshikha in Kfar Hananya.
After we returned to Jerusalem, I made time to get to Takhana Rishona, First Station, on Thursday night,
where Silo, located off the parking lot, was hosting an event.
The Woodstock Revival crowd seemed pleased with the music.
Now hoping the crowds come back for the September 29th Ethiopian-Israel Festival for families that start at 4:30 pm.
However, this week’s highlight in Jerusalem was the annual Selihot service, very late at night after Shabbat.
Remembering back in 2015, Ohel Nechama Synagogue was so crowded with Yitzhak Meir leading a musical Selihot that I could not enter.
The Jerusalem Great Synagogue was where I ended up that year before going to the Old City for a memorable night of beautiful and inspirational music that filled the Jerusalem streets.
Thousands were back at the Great Synagogue this year, after two years of being closed for corona, for Selihot 5782, with an impressive choir and amazing acoustics.
I featured the impressive sound of the Great Synagogue with a series of short clips of other places I visited.
It was hard to leave, but the biggest show in town was still to come.
Deputy Mayor Arieh King introduced the Jerusalem municipality’s Selihot held in the large auditorium of the Jerusalem International Conference Center.
Idit Silman was one of several politicians running for the next Knesset at Jerusalem Selihot but she did not go after the media attention as did others.
Yitzhak Meir was the star attraction, drawing thousands, with those without tickets disappointed and frustrated outside the building trying to gain entry.
Meir was on stage accompanied by a group of musicians. His beard was longer and his tallis bigger than it was the past.
In 2015, then-President Reuven Rivlin had Yitzhak Meir lead the Selihot in the President’s Synagogue on the Beit Hanasi grounds.
Sephardi Jews started saying Selihot at the beginning of the month of Elul, and continue every morning for the entire month prior to Rosh Hashana. The first night of Ashkenasi Selihot began after Shabbat, with some in Jerusalem starting as early as 10:00 pm. Selihot with Yitzchak Meir began at 12:30 am.
The full 2 hours of Yitzhak Meir is available on YouTube HERE
Nights of public Selihot continue until Yom Kippur, one at Kikar Safra.
Selihot are held not only at synagogues but even at Jerusalem community parks.
As I walked home, one group was just finishing and more sessions are scheduled at the public park space near the major intersection.
The sounds of Selihot and music filled the Jerusalem streets.
Happy New Year! Chag Sameach!
Oh, what a year this was in Jerusalem, in Israel, and in the world!
Hard to believe I used to worry about things being the same year after year in Jerusalem and finding new things to share with you.
But now it’s time to say goodbye to the challenges of 5781 and welcome the new year 5782, beginning on Monday night.
The clouds in the night sky covered the Knesset.
Nature has been a constant this past year, but which will come first – the first rain or the budget – or – oy – another election?
The new sign at the bus stop reminds us of a sweet summer in Jerusalem.
Sports fans are celebrating Israel’s win over Austria 5-2 and advancing in the World Cup competition.
The Paralympics in Japan received less attention than the Olympics, but as usual, Israelis received medals in those races. Nine Israeli athletes received medals of which 6 were gold medals.
The Jerusalem Night Run included a group of visually impaired runners.
The winner in the Jerusalem Night Run received almost no attention. The event was much more modest than the last Jerusalem Marathon.
A book launch for the book ‘Hidden Heroes’ brought together Russian refusniks and individuals who worked for their release. More on that another time.
Tours are back at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. The table buffet was set with sweets for the annual Israeli President’s New Year Diplomats Reception, not for the tourists from Kiryat Gat.
However, there was time for a photo with Herzl next to the pomegranates.
Last year, the 5781 annual diplomat event was all online.
For 5782, President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal hosted a live event. All the diplomats lined up to shake hands, pose, and have their photos taken.
The new Ambassador from Morocco was the only one to make a presentation to the new Israeli President.
The Egyptian Ambassador has been to Beit Hanasi many times.
But the Ambassador from Bahrain, Khaled Al-Jalahma, made his first appearance at Beit Hanasi.
Still serving as Military Secretary to the President of Israel is B.G. Alaa Abu-Rukun, and he and the ambassador agreed to stop, pose, and smile for me.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived late and spoke briefly at the formal part of the program inside, where everyone was required to wear a mask.
The diplomats were then asked to go outside, and take a glass of wine or juice to raise for a toast, l’chaim,
and taste an apple in honey for a sweet new year.
Apples and honey can be found on the new Jerusalem street signs.
Signs for a sweet year for 5782
and a healthy one, line Jerusalem streets,
along with the new signs for the new school year. Classes have started even as the number of corona cases rises. One girl in our family was in school for only one day before returning to zoom school.
When corona closings started last year, outside minyanim popped up and out on many Jerusalem streets. For Rosh Hashana 5782 outside prayers are again recommended, but not mandated. Thousands were at the Kotel, Western Wall, divided into sections, for selihot after Shabbat.
The rules keep changing to keep us on guard. Tour groups are to be allowed into Israel soon with no mandatory quarantine.
Now to prepare holiday meals, starting back slowly from no guests for so long. Oh, the days when eight at the table was a normal day.
After taking photos of hundreds of dignitaries and not being in any of them,
I finally gave in and had my photo was taken with the oldest working journalist in the world, 97 1/2 years young Walter Bingham.
As 5781 comes to an end – Shana tova!