18 Good Things in Jerusalem: From Yom Kippur to Sukkot

Oh what a different year this is in Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, Israel was the destination for millions of visitors for the autumn holiday season. The streets were filled with rental cars and excited tourists.

This year due to the coronavirus restrictions, the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza is mostly deserted, day and night time.

The area inside the Wilson’s Arch is closed again.

For Yom Kippur most synagogues were closed.

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Some synagogues made use of their outdoor spaces with tents.

Pop-up street services were held by small groups of neighbors coming together. Doing the best they could manage with cars, cyclists, children on noisy scooters, and dog walkers coming through the random plastic chairs spread around.

  1. The sounds of prayers filled the Jerusalem streets.

In spite of COVID-19 restrictions, hundreds of cars noisily made their way to Jerusalem and to the Knesset after Yom Kippur.

After months of loud late night disturbances in Jerusalem, the black shirts were again on their way in the morning to the Knesset.

Loud, some profane, some with young children, they paraded and screamed in the midday sun. The over the top display could still be heard when after midnight the Knesset voted to limit the protesters numbers and locations to one kilometer from home. Rules the rest of the country we’re supposed to follow.

The protesters are getting more than their share of headlines and filling news feeds. COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem, the deaths tragic.

I have decided to share good things happening you might have missed.

2. The weather has cooled, colorful clouds cover the Knesset at sunset.

That bit of red is a postal truck, nice to know the mail has not stopped moving during the latest set of lockdown restrictions.

The big crane on the left is for the new National Library under construction.

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3. Building has continued all these months of pandemic.

I am fascinated by the work on the library roof structure. One day in the future I will share the progress with you.

4. The Harvest Moon was shining bright.

Mars was too far away to get a good photo of both together. However, a Blue Moon is due to appear the end of the month. Another chance.

Photo credit: GIRO PR

5. Israeli Start-Up Nation was on the front line of the Giro d’Italia.

In the international bike race, Maglia Azzurra, King of the Mountains, was Rick Zabel representing Israel in the blue uniform.

6. There are quiet spots to meet and keep your distance in Jerusalem.

Hotels are closed again with the new COVID-19 restrictions. A few had opened partially over the summer for Israeli guests.

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Photo credit: United Hatzalah spokesperson

7. Lights were visible at night at the Crowne Plaza.

The hotel had been dark every night, closed since March. Presently, United Hatzalah workers are based in the conveniently located hotel.

8. Mayor Moshe Lion said keeping Jerusalem clean is a priority.

The Jerusalem Municipality clean up trucks have become a regular sight on the Jerusalem streets. The days of furnishing your apartment with cast-offs off the street are over unless you are very quick before a truck arrives.

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Photo Credit: Jerusalem Mayor Spokesperson

9. Three Machane Yehudah Market, shuk, streets got names and signs,Ha-Tut” or “Strawberry” Street was one.

Photo credit: Jerusalem Mayor Spokesperson

Another was “Arbaat Haminim” or “Four Species” Street. The sign over a nearly deserted street which would have been packed with shoppers any other year before the Sukkot holiday.

Men looking at etrogim

Thousands of careful shoppers would have come to select their etrog and luluv and greens for their four-holiday species as in this old photo. This year the small kiosks on Jerusalem streets in various neighborhoods filled the void.

lulav sukkot

The Kotel, Western Wall would be packed with tens of thousands of people for the Sukkot holiday in the past.

Not this year. Numbers are extremely limited and distanced.

The huge Birkat Kohanim – Priestly Blessing did not happen this year.

A lone kohen did the blessing on the second day of Sukkot.

On Monday, October 5, the corona style Birkat Kohanim was recorded and put on YouTube for all to have a front-row view. HERE

10. With the impending corona restrictions, many sukkot were put up early, before Yom Kippur instead of after or last minute.

On roof tops,

and on porches,

and even our open-air sukkah for two instead of twenty was ready early.

11. Imagine, a sukkah in Dubai ready for kosher meals!

12. A sign of normal in crazy times! Cut palm branches tied to top of a car to take home for the sukkah.

This will be the year a small porch sukkah is “in” in Jerusalem.

With fabric walls up on a porch,

or tucked away in the garden.

Reuven Rivlin greets public at open house on Succos

Last year President Rivlin was surrounded by crowds of visitors for the annual Open Sukkah at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Two years ago he invited the public to the presidential sukkah that had a health theme at a press conference before Sukkot.

13. President Rivlin’s last open house as President will be virtual.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020, between 10:00 and 12:30 Israeli time – join in www.sukkot-president-science.co.il 

The broadcast will be available on Beit HaNasi’s Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channels.

No need to put on shoes, stand in a long line in the hot sun to enter, or even leave your house to attend this year.

Sukka photo, Image unusual sukkah

No big public Sukkot public events in parks are to be held this year.

15. However, this mobile sukkah is to be out on our Jerusalem street.

The sound and light shows will not have hundreds of people each night.

I couldn’t decide which to share, so here are two segments from shows:

16. City of David Sound and Light Show Finale

17. Tower of David Museum Night Show on King David

18. Such clever work by talented friends Jessica and Yael!

Moadim l’simcha.

Jerusalem Sukkot Highlights

Jerusalem Sukkot Highlights

The fall holiday season in Jerusalem, Israel, has come to a close.

Monday night,  the Jerusalem streets from First Station to the Kotel, Western Wall, to the Gur Hassidic Center, and dozens of other locations were filled with live music and tens of thousands dancing with Torahs for Hakafot Shniot.

Fall flowers in Jerusalem

Tourists prepared to go back to their homes, as Jerusalem fall flowers were in full bloom.

In the first year of Reuven Rivlin’s presidency, there was no line on the street outside of Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, for the annual Sukkah Open House.

This year 8,000 people came. For many, it was their first time inside the usually closed gates.

The theme in the President’s public sukkah was Israeli grapes.

Sukkah at Israeli President Residence for open house 5780

Barrels of wine were in the sukkah this year, but no samples were offered. Artificial grapes hung from the top of the sukkah.  A large wheelbarrow outside the sukkah was filled with a variety of grapes that were consumed before I thought to take a photo.

Zeev and Maria Elkin at Beit Hanasi for Sukkot

MK Zeev and Maria Elkin were at Beit Hanasi early for the intermediary days of Sukkot event.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem at Beit Hanasi for Sukkot

Activities for children included making a Bar Kochba coin sponsored by the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

President Rivlin at Sukkot at Beit Hanasi

When President Rivlin made an appearance, he was surrounded by media.

Reuven Rivlin in main hall Beit Hanasi on Sukkot

Crowds were both outside and inside the main hall,

President Rivlin on Sukkot with public and man takes selfie

in the big sukkah, 

Sukkot at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem with President Rivlin

and outside on the back lawn.

Street closings in Jerusalem for holiday os Sukkot

Crowds. Crowd control. Closed streets. All have becomes constants of Jerusalem holiday seasons.

Crowds walking near Old City walls Jerusalem Israel on Sukkot

Even late at night, tens of thousands of visitors walking to and from the Old City is a common Sukkot sight.

Jerusalem on Sukkot holiday people dressed in holiday clothing.

Families dressed in their best holiday clothing, day or night, head toward Jaffa Gate.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced that 2.5 million people visited the Kotel, Western Wall during the month.

Man holding esrog as big as his head in Jerusalem at night on Sukkot

Perhaps not the best, but surely the biggest etrog I saw, was the size of the man’s head.

Sukka in Kikar Safra Jerusalem Israel

The huge sukkah in Kikar Safra, Municipal Plaza, welcomed the public.

Jerusalem Sukkot concert at Kikar Safra

Free, live musical concerts attracted crowds to Kikar Safra on several nights.

The list of free and fundraising concerts and events in Jerusalem was long and diverse.

Restaurant sukkot on Jaffa Street near light rail tracks Jerusalem Israel

Day and night the sukkot lining the light rail tracks on Jaffa Road welcomed the tired and hungry .

Mafidal sign for Jerusalem arts festival

One Jerusalem festival was set for holiday visitors.

Jerusalem cultural festival signs Manofim

The 11th Manofim Jerusalem Contemporary Art Festival opens soon,

Oud Festival signs in Jerusalem

followed in November by the Oud Festival for the 20th year.

The 4th Jerusalem Biennale which opened October 10 goes through November.

There are 14 locations, 200 artists and 500 works in this Jerusalem contemporary art event.

Jerusalem Biennale sukka at Heichel Shlomo

So I will end with another view of Rabbi Yitzchok Moully’s sukkah constructed of reflective plexiglass exterior panels at Heichal Shlomo.

So many photos from Jerusalem Biennale, it needs a post of its own. Coming soon.

So much happened over Sukkot holidays, so much more happening on Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem Sukkot Ready or Not

Jerusalem Sukkot Ready or Not

Sukkot.

Ten years ago, the first RJS blog was published on Sukkot – Holiday Crowds in Jerusalem.

The holiday season crowds in Jerusalem, Israel, have arrived again.

The first day of the holiday was a beautiful day, but the next day there was a sound and and light show the likes of  I have never seen in Jerusalem.

Thunder and lightning went on and on, long enough to finally get a good video on the 7th attempt.

Open sukkah with President Shimon Peres

The late President Shimon Peres hosted the Beit Hanasi open houses back in the early days of RJS.

Beit Hanasi sukka decorating with Ruvi Rivlin and children

This year President Reuven Rivlin invited children into his sukkah to help him decorate.

Israeli Presidential cat in garden at Beit Hanasi

The Presidential Cat was in the garden to supervise.

Sukkah at Beit Hanasi for the Israel President

Children were busy making decorations and paper chains.

As Sukkot holiday approaches in Jerusalem,

Lookup!

Jerusalem building with a sukkah

Sukkot are popping out on porches,

Jerusalem sukkah on a porch made of wood

on a low balcony,

Jerusalem sukkah on a porch

or on stilts to support the sukkah as it extends off the porch.

Jerusalem large sukkah for a restaurant

Restaurants need a large sukkah to accommodate holiday crowds.

The sukkot in the above photos have bamboo mats used on top as s’chach. 

Jerusalem boy cutting palm branch for top of sukkah

This is the time of year in Jerusalem to trim the palm trees, so that the large branches can be put on top of the sukkah.

sukkos

Searching for the perfect species in the main market near Machane Yehuda is an annual sight.

Sukkos in Jerusalem people selling lulav and estrog

In Jerusalem, also, popup shops for lulav and etrog were easy to find.

Sukkot birchat kohanim 5780 at Kotel

Tens of thousands gathered at the Kotel, the Western Wall, for Birchat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing which was broadcast live.

These were the usual sights throughout Jerusalem, Israel this week.

But I will end with ‘not your average sukkah’  –

Sukka photo, Image unusual sukkah

While nothing has been quite like this sukkah on a camel from years ago,

here is another unique sukkah, outside of Heichal Shlomo on King George Street.

Sukkah for Jerusalem Biennale reflective on King George Street

As part of the Jerusalem Biennale, is this ‘reflective sukkah’. The outside walls work as distorted mirrors. Look closely, see if you can find me in the photo?

The plaza in front of the Great Synagogue is in the background.

I hope this last photograph does not make you dizzy.

This week of Sukkot holiday meals and the overwhelming number of events did make me dizzy.

So much happening on the Jerusalem streets on Sukkot!

And you never know what will happen next.

Thunder and lightning on Monday night and again on Tuesday afternoon!

Jerusalem Sukkot thunder and lightning storm on Sukkot

When they say something moves as fast as lightning, yes, it moves fast and is hard to capture.

Many sukkot were blown down in the stormy weather.

Jerusalem home sukkah

I am now more satisfied to share this year’s modest decorations.

Happy that our sukkah is still standing!

Moadim L’simcha!