Jerusalem Streets Preparing for Passover, Protests, and Spring Holiday Time

The week before Pesach, Passover, many houses are turned upside down and kitchens are cleaned and changed over for the holiday.

Children are out of school – but are they ready to help and clean?

The current Knesset is on recess after a tumultuous session. 

The good news, the Knesset Museum is showing positive signs of progress.

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One place you did not find me was standing on the street across from Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence waiting to photograph Knesset Members coming and going for meetings on a judicial reform compromise.

I did pass by Natan Sharansky but decided not to put my camera in his face.

Not only pots, pans, and kitchenware are out on the Jerusalem streets, but large displays of toilet paper stand there next to the fresh produce.

Some streets were easier to access than others this week due to the protests.

Plenty of Israeli flags were flying above the streets, as usual before the spring holidays, while others were carried to protest locations.

People came from all directions, for both a protest against the government, as well as one supporting Judicial reform. Sorry for those who arrived in Jerusalem by train on Monday and had to walk, as buses were not getting through the blocked streets.

The fountain at France Square was behind a barrier. I will spare you photos of the stronger metal barriers found on more and more Jerusalem streets.

In spite of it all –

Signs have gone up on old buildings to go higher in remodeling projects.

The Jerusalem skyline is changing as new buildings go higher and higher.

One hundred and twenty-five years later, Theodore Herzl would certainly not recognize Jerusalem today.

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Beit Avi Chai has new posters announcing spring and summer events.

A new non-profit called OurPeople was established to help Russian-speaking Olim who have come recently in increasing numbers.

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This is one room in the new business complex that OurPeople opened this past week on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem.

Love those old tiled floors in all the rooms.

The spring weather has not been the best, but nevertheless, there were activities for young families in the parks on Shabbat.

And on Friday there was a bike ride around Jerusalem. Those Jerusalem streets were not closed for long when the dozens of bikes went by.

The Community Center on HaPalmach Street held a mini-fair on Friday. The weather was cold, but the families attending seemed to be enjoying the events, especially those inside. Notice the box outside for food donations of chametz, food not for Passover use goes to those in need.

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It seems as if all the Jerusalem flower beds are constantly dug up and replanted with new flowers for the spring holiday time.

And weddings! So many weddings with people coming from around the world to get married in Jerusalem before Passover.

The hotel had changed over to Passover-only food. But unless you saw the sign on the front door or missed seeing bread on the table you would never have known. Amazing what can be done using potatoes these days!

Government offices are to be closed from Wednesday, April 5, through Saturday, April 15, 2023. But the rest of the country will be busy exploring and enjoying nature parks and museums.

In Jerusalem, there are too many things happening to mention now.

Will have to see how many I am able to attend in the short time of Chol HaMoed, the intermediate days this year, starting with Birkat Cohanim, Priestly Blessing scheduled for next Sunday morning.

Happy Passover on the wall of Old City Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate

Happy Passover


The Real Jerusalem Streets

10 Facts for Tu Bishvat: All About Almonds:

The blossoming almond tree is the symbol of ט”ו בשבט -Tu Bishvat, the “New Year of Trees.” I love seeing the almond flowers appear to burst, literally overnight, into full bloom. The delicate and majestic flowers of the common almond, in shades of white or delicate pink, gradually envelop the exposed stems and can be observed in cultivated orchards and abandoned open areas.

Love the flowers, but the almond trees? The date of flowering is not always exact and often depends on the weather. This has been a relatively warm winter, and the weather caused this Jerusalem almond tree to bloom early.

  1. The spectacular flowers cover the tree in white or pink. They are fragrant and thus stand out in the landscape, becoming a symbol of Tu Bishvat. The almond is called shaked in Hebrew, which means the fastest or most diligent because it blooms first before all other wild and fruit trees in the country.

2. The common almond tree belongs to the rose family, this large family includes about 120 genera and 3200 species. It is common in most areas of the world, especially in temperate zones. Other members of the family are the fruit trees, plum, peach, cherry, and also rose bushes.

3. Four species of almond trees grow in the wild: Arabian almond, harem almond, small-leaved almond, and common almond. It is difficult to distinguish between them.

4. Although the almond is not included among the seven species in the Bible, it has a respectable place in our sources, mentioned many times in the Bible and the Talmud, as one of the five species of zimrat ha’Aretz, considered “the best produce of the Land,” included in the gifts that Jacob told his sons to take to the ruler in Egypt. (Genesis 43:11)

5. The fruit is wrapped in a green peel and changes its color to brown over time. When the fruit ripens, the peel splits in two and usually falls off. The almond seed remains on the tree wrapped in another extremely hard bark that is cracked only by pressure. Another bark envelops the seed cocoons. This shell is thin and brown in color. The part eaten is the seed. Almond fruits are also eaten whole before ripening when the seed coat is still green.

New almond trees blooming near the old Monastery in Jerusalem

6. But, BEWARE! In abandoned areas and orchards, bitter almond trees usually grow. They are used as a cultivar for the cultivated almond. Bitter almond seeds are dangerous to eat. They contain a substance called amygdalin from which the toxin cyanide is released.

7. However, almonds have long been considered a fine fruit for food and medicine. Maimonides praised them: “Almonds are the finest in fruits.” They have great nutritional value and contain, among other things, fat, protein, and calcium. The almond is considered the healthiest food out of 100 tested foods, including avocado and olive oil, (according to the FDA). It has been recommended to eat 7-12 almonds a day.

8. Do cultivated almonds grow in an orchard or vineyard? Planted almond trees grow in a kerem, “vineyard.” The term kerem “vineyard” usually refers to grapes, olive, and almond crops.

9. The Israeli almond industry is in development. In Israel, over 62,000 dunams of almond groves stretch from the south to the Golan Heights. Some of the new varieties have been developed at the Volcani Center.

Almond growing in Israel takes the environment into account, including low water consumption, and sophisticated and focused mechanization. Israel consumes about 10,000 tons every year. Most of the consumption comes from local crops and the rest will come from the United States.

10. Fast then slow? Almond ripening is very slow, in contrast to its agile flowering, it lasts about six months.

Only 5-10% of all almond flowers bear fruit.

I store almonds in the freezer to keep fresh and to keep them out of the way so as to not grab too many to eat at a time.

Almonds, nuts, and dried fruit have been piled high in the shuk, Machane Yehudah Market, and in supermarket displays and stores throughout Jerusalem, Israel over these past weeks.

The present Israeli Knesset building was opened on Tu Bishvat, but no big celebrations this year like 6 years ago for the 50th.

It was 2 years ago for Tu Bishvat, multiple large events were celebrated. The last event I attended at Beit Hanasi before the coronavirus closed the doors of the Israeli President’s Residence was the JNF-KKL Tu Bishvat celebration.

Here’s hoping next year we can celebrate Tu Bishvat together again!

Tu Bishvat Sameach!

My thanks, as every year, to a wonderful friend Sara for providing the information for all things almond and her amazing website with everything you would want to know about the Wildflowers of Israel.