Shabbat Shalom and Shana tova,
a healthy and happy New Year.
If you followed the headlines about Jerusalem, Israel, this week you saw elections, politics and more politics.
Our voting place was very quiet midday, though there were more party booths than last time. I went at that time hoping to interview voters in line, but there were none.
Jerusalem streets seemed strangely deserted on election day and the day after.
There were fewer paper ballots for political parties than the previous election so you might mistakenly think it would be simpler. President Rivlin has been busy working for a unity coalition government.
However, still, could we possibly go to election #3?
Meanwhile, I have cut an exhausting list down to 10 of many more happenings:
2. But back on the streets, “A new beginning” was posted on this construction site near where we voted. I could write new construction and building posts every week!
3. In honor of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, President Reuven Rivlin had his annual meeting with beekeepers. Three generations attended. The President was presented with new honey, branded with a photo of his late wife Nechama on the label dedicated to her memory.
4. You know it’s the end of summer, not only by the cooler evenings but also by the Jerusalem Theater festival.
On the nights from September 16-19, the plaza was filled with music and celebrants.
5. More music at First Station, with live music before Shabbat at Kabalat Shabbat and after Shabbat, at the Melava Malka celebrations. These are regular free events featuring various musical entertainers. The group Feter Hendel played for their first time at the open stage venue.
Beit Avi Chai is one of many other locations which has a special music event this week.
The streets of Yemin Moshe are usually dark and quiet at night.
6. However, the sounds of the Solomon Brothers’ musical selihot filled the alleyways after Shabbat for the first set of the Ashkenazi selihot, the annual prayers prior to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
As in the past, the women’s section was filled to overflowing and young women either stood outside to listen or left to find other services.
At the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, the choir and Chazan led selihot.
7. Same prayers, but a very different sound than the music of the Solomon Brothers.
Thousands attended selihot services at a long list of locations around Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, cafes lining the streets were filled with diners, and wine glasses emptied.
One couple was sharing a sushi platter, away from the cool night breezes.
Skateboarders were flying through the air in the Liberty Bell Park skatepark.
I passed dozens of tourists walking to late-night activities.
This time of year, before the holidays, weddings and engagement parties are planned.
But for the first time, I happened upon an elaborate set up for a wedding proposal! It looked like she said yes.
8. The Tower of David hosted the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize Award Ceremony.
Mazel tov to all!
Headlines were filled with political positioning. But of those sunsets this time of year!
We also hear people are reading fewer books.
9. But in Jerusalem book launches seem more frequent. I shared here about Rabbi Meir Soloveichik’s new book. Recently Freddy Freundlich’s Born on the Right Side of the Tracks was a compelling story. Last week Cheri Tenenbaum launched her personal story in “Woman of Few Words.”
“Palestine Posts” compiled by Daniel Chertoff with a first-hand account of Jerusalem in 1947- 1949 was launched. Chertoff read from the powerful and beautifully written letters of his father Mordecai Chertoff z”l who worked at the Zionist ‘Palestine Post’ which became the ‘Jerusalem Post’ during the critical years of the founding of the State of Israel.
10. Big excitement in sports – the Israeli Baseball team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020!
And what’s next? For Heaven’s Sake!
The Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, with 200 artists, 30 exhibitions in 14 venues. The full listings can be found HERE
From the land of milk and honey, it is time for apples and honey for the new year 5780.
Happy New Year from Jerusalem!
The Jewish holidays fall early this year.
Upon turning the calendar page to September, one finds that Rosh Hashana is only a week way.
Not sure where the summer went or how the time flew so fast.
Children are back in school and holiday preparations have begun.
Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, is getting a major make-over.
The new cafe should be finished for holiday crowds.
Music is filling the streets and concert halls.
Shir Chadash Synagogue on Emek Refaim sponsored a musical performance by Yehuda Katz.
Listen to a minute from the after-Shabbat performance in this video.
The streets of Yemin Moshe were quiet at night.
But inside the Yemin Moshe synagogue, the Solomon Brothers were leading selichot, the pre-Rosh Hashana prayers.
The twin lions in the Jewish Quarter near the steps to the Kotel, Western Wall, got a new coat of paint before the holidays. The next day, the eyes and detailing were added.
With construction for a new elevator access, the regular steps are blocked.
They had better work fast here before the holiday crowds arrive.
The moon was a brilliant orange color in the sky over the Kotel.
A bit of the sounds of the night. Amazing how fast the moon had moved, I tried to get in in the video and did not succeed.
Though it was approaching midnight, people were coming and going, but there were no overflow crowds.
The Robinson’s Arch area was empty as usual when I went to check.
However, at Heichal Shlomo, the overflow crowd was also at the back door trying to get inside.
The Old City and the Great Synagogue were not where the crowds were for the first night of these selichot prayers. They were at First Station.
Walking past the vendor stands and restaurants of First Station, in the Hangar
Yitzhak Meir was leading a musical selichot service.
His following has grown over the past few years, with a larger venue each year.
Thousands attended in the Hangar as he sang with musical accompaniment.
This was not your grandfather’s service, mumbling the words after midnight in a small shul.
You may not see this again, but approaching the New Year, Jerusalem mayoral candidates danced together at the conclusion of selichot.
The race could get nasty after the holidays, but at least for one night, the candidates joined hands and were singing and dancing together. These photos are screen shots from You Tube video.
Politicians were out the first day of school to be photographed with children going back to class.
Summer is over. Shana tova signs are up.
It’s buying and selling season in stores, at second hand fairs on Jerusalem, Israel streets,
and from pop-up vendors of all sort of housewares for preparing for holidays.
From huge holiday wishes from Friends of Zion,
to the Shana Tova gift basket I found at my door,
and another evening of selihot and prayers at First Station, many are the signs of Jerusalem preparing for New Year.
And yes already a week before Rosh Hashana, the first sukka was spotted.
Up on this porch, a family is prepared and ready in Mea Shearim,
At least for now, the faces of candidates for mayor are down, and holiday greetings are up.
Wishing all a successful school year and a very good New Year 5779.
שנה טובה וכתיבה וחתימה טובה