In Jerusalem, Israel, before the Rosh Hashana holiday season, the variety of items for sale seems infinite. It is a time to purchase new clothes and pots and flowering plants, and for many also a time to clean.
Entering an apartment building, we looked up to see a window cleaner at work stories above us.
Plans are made either to travel or arrange seats in synagogues to pray and hear the shofar blown.
Annual Rosh Hashana ‘raising the glass’ celebrations were held at business and government offices.
One of my favorites is the reception held at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, before the Jewish New Year.
The red carpet is laid out. The State Chief of Protocol from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meron Reuben, greeted the arriving heads of mission for foreign diplomats.
With so many new ambassadors it is a good time for the international representatives to meet. There are 18 female ambassadors serving their countries in Israel.
Most of the male ambassadors wore business suits, as at the previous reception.
The Presidential cat was on watch, a sign of a special gathering.
While waiting in the main room before the president arrived, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely had a chance to talk with ambassadors.
Of note this year in the front row, the only person in military uniform was B.G. Alaa Abu-Rukun, the new Military Secretary to the President of Israel, seated between the Ambassadors from Egypt and Jordan.
President Reuven Rivlin entered shaking hands with Ambassador from Jordan and others who stood as he passed to his seat.
The room appeared full. I missed seeing the Ambassadors from Australia and the United States.
But had the pleasure to meet the Ambassadors from Thailand and the Slovak Republic,
The head of the Diplomatic corps offered greetings during the formal program.
President Rivlin spoke as well.
Musical protege Roi Mor, diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, has perfect pitch and played two of his compositions on the piano during the event. You could barely see the top of his head as he was seated at the piano.
Then it was time to go outside and ‘raise a glass’ to toast the New Year.
Fruit platters, and of course, apples and honey round out the menu.
The presentation was much more elaborate two years ago when this event was last held.
President Rivlin put on a kippa to make a blessing on his wine and apples dipped in honey.
Last year because of time or budget, or perhaps Nechama Rivlin’s declining health, this reception did not take place.
When I went to check previous Rosh Hashana receptions, I realized that only 3 years ago, she walked in without oxygen support.
Ambassadors lingered in the Beit Hanasi garden to wish the Israeli President Shana Tova.
This is an important time for the diplomats to meet and mingle in a relaxed setting. More modest was fine. Most of those attending were new and did not remember the previous more elaborate affairs.
Important are the apples and honey for a sweet year!
As always, when the Presidential Rosh Hashana reception was over. Traffic on Jerusalem streets near Beit Hanasi slowed to a crawl, as diplomats were picked up and driven to their next appointments.
The media ignored this event, but my friend Aleksandr and I enjoyed it.
Four years ago, Aleksandr pushed me into the crowded men’s section at the President’s synagogue so I could to get my shots, we have often worked together.
So to prepare for Yom Kippur 5780 which is Wednesday next week, here are videos from past years of selihot at Beit Hanasi.
With Yitzhak Meir and my close-ups.
Traditional prayers with Chaim Israel two years ago at Beit Hanasi.
Powerful – David D’Or’s Avenu Malkeinu.
The Jerusalem Municipality is sponsoring multiple traditional Selihot, musical selihot nights and tours, and events.
Tens of thousands will fill the plaza for late-night selihot at the Kotel, Western Wall before Yom Kippur.