Jerusalem, Israel Diverse and Democratic

Jerusalem, Israel Diverse and Democratic

Jerusalem, Israel is a busy place in the winter holiday season.

“It is no surprise that both the Jewish and Christian traditions share holidays of light – the light of faith and hope, even in the face of darkness…

As guardians of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the State of Israel is committed to religious freedom for all,” said President Reuven Rivlin.

“Jerusalem must serve as a model for peace and harmony between religions.”

Jerusalem Israel for Hanuka at Old City Jaffa Gate near Tower of David

This past week Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem lights on Agron Street for Hanukkah

Also this year Hanukkah coincided with the Christmas holiday season.

Neutral lighting lined some of the major streets.

Hebrew University had no classes on December 25th.

construction on Jerusalem Gaza Street backed up in morning

Traffic volume plus street repairs created backups even when the sun was shining.

In the rain? Forget getting anywhere in the usual amount of time!

Jerusalem Israel YMCA Christmas tree in lobby

In the past inside the YMCA was a sure bet for finding a holiday tree and decorations.

Jerusalem Christmas decorations at YMCA

This year the outside tree was decorated and additional lights placed at the entrance.

Suffganiot and Christmas tree at First Station

This year at First Station along with those Hanukkah donuts there was a Christmas tree.

Hanuka and Christmas in Jerusalem Israel

The banner sign at First Station next to the Hanukkah menorah had greetings for Hanukkah and Christmas.

Jerusalem Hotel in Old City with Christmas light

The lights at night in the Old City were bright inside of Jaffa Gate.

Santa in Jerusalem Israel for Christmas

That Santa Claus was not out at night when I looked for him, but he appeared in his annual spot near Jaffa Gate the next day.

Jerusalem Israel New Gate decorated for Christmas holiday

Inside the New Gate decorations greeted the holiday crowds to the Christian Quarter and churches.

Lights on Jerusalem Israel French Hospital at night in holiday season

Outside of the Old City walls, the lights on the St. Lous French Hospital brightened it up at night.

Jerusalem December Holiday crowds

The holiday week crowds filled the narrow streets in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City.

It’s official. A record number of holiday tourists were on the Jerusalem streets this year.

Israeli president cat in Beit Hanasi garden

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence, the Presidential cat was watching over the grounds at the annual New Year reception for the heads of the Christian denominations in Israel.

An Israeli police officer taking a group photograph for New Year reception

Inside at the reception guests posed and smiled for photos.

Christian leaders in Israel at Israeli President's Residence for annual New Year Reception

Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri;  the acting Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; the representative of the Armenian Patriarchate; head of the Franciscan Order in Jerusalem, the Custos of the Holy Land; and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Archeparch of Akka (Akko) were among the participants.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem spoke on behalf of the religious leaders.

In his remarks President Rivlin invited the Pope to the dedication ceremony for the Land of the Monasteries project in 2020, saying:

“We are about to finish clearing all of the mines from the Land of the Monasteries at the very beginning of the coming year. Already the number of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land is increasing each year. Just this year, close to 900,000 pilgrims visited the Land of Monasteries. We are working hard to complete the development of the entire area by the end of 2020.”

Land mines placed in old buildings for security near Jordan River Kasser-Al -Yahud

As part of this initiative, land mines laid in the 1970s for security reasons, which prevented access to the area, have been cleared.

Kasser Al Yahud area building of old

The process has been an ongoing project in the ancient area, which has been under development to a new tourist center for years.

Kasser al Yahud Israeli and Jordanian border

The area is called Qasr-Al-Yahud where the Jordan River is divided between Jordan and Israel.

Interior Minister MK Rabbi Aryeh Deri at Israeli President's house for new year reception for Christian leaders

Minister of the Interior, Aryeh Deri: “Freedom of worship and religion in Jerusalem, the Holy City, will be preserved for all and we will continue to preserve Jerusalem as the Holy City for all religions. Unfortunately, we live in an era when antisemitism raises its head around the world, most recently in the terrible incident in Monsey, New York. We must all fight antisemitism wherever it occurs, and we must all reject and condemn it in a loud and clear voice against any outbreak of antisemitism and violence.”

Israeli president shaking hands at new year reception with christian leaders

In his remarks, the President once again repeated, “We must remember that we are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together, and we, therefore, must advance initiatives which will benefit all of us.”

“In a few weeks, I will host leaders from around the world at Yad Vashem, to commemorate seventy-five years to the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and to call on all humanity, to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and fight antisemitism and hate.”

Antisemitism is becoming more blatant around the world.

Meanwhile, the Israeli leadership has become more “relaxed” and welcoming to religious diversity in Jerusalem with more neutral holiday lights and greetings, and enticing more Christian pilgrims to Qsar-Al-Yahud and other locations.

Some will find this very positive.

Others will find it the opposite.

The discussion of Israel, Jewish and democratic and diverse, will not cease with a new government.

But I will end with something new for me, I had to take out the video for this one.

Always something new on the Jerusalem streets.

 

Jerusalem Under Old Walls to New Northern Ramparts

Jerusalem Under Old Walls to New Northern Ramparts

Jerusalem, Israel, where the very old meets the new.

With so much happening on these Jerusalem streets, it is hard to keep up.

Thousands and thousands of visitors are filling the streets.

Drivers honking at the poor tourists trying to maneuver, unfamiliar with the crazy lights and the turns of the Jerusalem streets.

The Old City Walls are thousands of years old, but for this holiday season, there is also new.

New adventures and views for visitors to the Jerusalem Old City.

Damascus Gate at night of piano event in cave

Outside Damascus Gate at night, a familiar view.

We passed Damascus Gate walking around the walls on the night of Tisha B’Av.

Zedekiah's Cave in Jerusalem, Israel near Damascus Gate

Four years ago in Jerusalem, we descended into the nearby King Solomon’s Quarry,

Lights in Zedekiah's Cave for Piano concert

also called Zedekiah’s Cave, located close to Damascus Gate.

Solomon's Quarries for a piano performance

Down in the Zedekiah’s Cave was an amazing piano concert.

Piano music at Jerusalem light festival in Zedekiah Cave

For a Jerusalem Light Festival, Zedekiah’s Cave was also an impressive sight.

This week public concerts are held at night in the cave.

What else is new?

There have been popular Southern Ramparts Walks on top of the walls.

Now after 10 years of work, there is a new Northern Ramparts Path open to the public.

Roman Plaza Entrance to Old City

For our Northern Ramparts walk, we met at Zedekiah’s Cave and began next to Damascus Gate entrance, down at the Roman Plaza entrance.

First, we went down, and then up to the top of Damascus Gate.

Inside Damascus Gate at top in Old City Jerusalem

The top of Damascus Gate from the inside was another flight up.

Love the look of the stones against the clear blue sky!

Inside the Muslim Quarter on top

Looking down into the Muslim Quarter from above near Damascus Gate was a new sight.

Muslim Quarter Jerusalem Old City view from above

One view of the Muslim Quarter from above to the residential areas.

View of Jerusalem from top of Ramparts Walk

This was a view from the path on the wall toward northern Jerusalem with Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in the distance.

View from top of Old City Walls out to Jerusalem street

The newly opened walk goes around the tops of the Old City walls, on the right, a wide and straight part.

View from Old City walls to Mount Scopus

Looking out over the Rockefeller Museum from that part of the path.

View from top of Old City walls

And one more looking back toward Damascus Gate and the morning scene below.

Narrow stair way on Ramparts Walk

At times the path gets narrow with twisting metal stairs.

One place was so low I bumped my head. At 5 feet short, that was a first for me, other than on a very tiny plane.

View of rubbish inside the Old City Muslim Quarter on private land

Private land in the Muslim Quarter looks like a garbage dump.

But look not far in the distance.

View of Dome of Rock from Muslim Quarter area of Rampart Path

With a bit of zoom lens, you can see the domes of the Temple Mount.

View from Old City Walls nearing corner

Approaching the corner of the Old City wall, traffic below and Hebrew University in the distance on the left and Mount of Olives on the right.

Modern sports fields fill this corner of the Muslim Quarter.

A young woman takes a photo on Stork Tower on Jerusalem Old City Ramparts Path

At Stork’s Tower where one has incredible views.

New stones in Old City restoration marked

Not all are original stones. The new ones are marked with those black tags to show future historians what was recreated before 2020.

View from top of Old City Walls of Muslim cemetary

The new path provides an unprecedented view of the Muslim cemetery built along the northern wall.

View of Mount of Olives from Old City Ramparts Walk

Tourist buses lined up on the Mount of Olives, with the Jewish graves going back thousands of years on both sides.

View from Old City Ramparts Path of cemetery below

Storage? This structure is in the middle of the Muslim cemetery.

One more view approaching the Lion’s Gate.

Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage MK Ze'ev Elkin

MK Ze’ev Elkin – Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry and Mordechai Benita – Director-General of the ministry posed before the opening ceremony.

Opening of North Ramparts Walk

The tour guides and invited guests were waiting below.

Lions Gate from inside and above

As Zeev Elkin was speaking, I was watching a security guard leave her post and assist an old woman with a cane out of Lion’s Gate.

Jerusalem Minister Zeev Elkin cutting ribbon at opening of North Ramparts Walk

The official ceremonial blue ribbon was cut at Lion’s Gate.

Inside Lions Gate view from above

Inside of Lion’s Gate, from above, attracted my attention during speeches.

Old street in Jerusalem Israel

One old Jerusalem street on our way from Lion’s Gate inside the Old City walls.

Arab shop in Old City Jerusalem

Oops, was walking quickly and snapping as I went.

Arab man and woman sitting on side of street to sell in Old City

The scene approaching the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, from inside Old City.

Finally, back to familiar sites and scenes.

Cleaning notes from the Kotel before Hanukkah

Special cleaning for the notes left at the Kotel,

Menorah at Kotel for Hanukkah

as Western Wall prepared for holiday crowds and Hanukkah candle lightings.

View of Kotel and Har Habayit

Another beautiful winter day in Jerusalem, Israel.

Lots more photographs, but if you want to check out for yourself, please note:

The walks are not accessible to people with disabilities and wheelchairs.

Young children should be in a carrier.

South Walk:

Sun-Thur 9:00-16:00 (summer to 17:00, July-August to 22:00)

Friday and Holiday evenings 9:00-14:00

Exits – at Zion Gate and at the end of the Tekuma Garden (Jewish Quarter)

*Southern box office: At the southern end of the Cannon Plaza (the back entrance of the Tower of David, to the right side before of Jaffa Gate square)

North Walk:

Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 9:00-16:00 (summer to 17:00)

Exits – at the New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod’s Gate and Lions Gate

Ticket includes the Northern walk and entrance to the Roman Plaza.

* Northern box office: at the TICKETS OFFICE on the left-hand side, just after entering the Jaffa Gate, and at the Roman Square box office

Fees:

Adult – 20 NIS, student / retiree 10 NIS, child / soldier 8 NIS

The ticket is valid for both sections, for two days.

Tickets: PAMI website www.pami.co.il and at the box offices

 

Jerusalem After Holidays Now What?

Jerusalem After Holidays Now What?

What’s new in Jerusalem after the holidays?

Looking back at last year it seems much is the same. 

The universities are back in session.

A rocket from Gaza hit a home in Sderot.

Again, thankfully, the family was able to get to shelter and was not physically hurt.

View of Old City Jerusalem from other side of Yemin Moshe

Winter clouds hover over Jerusalem and the Old City as seen from Mishkenot Sha’ananim.

View from Yemin Moshe of Old City and road to Zion Gate

Holidays are over but tour buses line busy streets, coming and going from Zion Gate.

Houses Within in Jerusalem at Hansen House

The annual Jerusalem ‘Houses From Within’ was held at the end of October.

The sign was up for entry to the old leper hospital grounds, one of 200 sites open to the public.

But it is so different now, unlike the first tour nine years ago when it was in ruin.

Nine years ago the price of tomatoes made headlines, this year it is the scarcity of butter.

Jupiter and Moon in sky over Jerusalem Israel

Jupiter was in line with the moon. Crazy–this photo received hundreds of likes on Facebook.

Amazing. It is so fascinating what gets attention on social media.

The new moon and conferences galore begin as the holidays end.

The Herzl Conference on Contemporary Zionism ‘From Vision to Reality’ was a first-time event.

Jerusalem Har Herzl grave at night

The opening was held at night on Har Herzl close to Herzl’s final resting place, with the gravestone illuminated.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Former US Senator and Vice-Presidential Candidate Joe Lieberman was on the opening program, mentioning proudly that he has children and grandchildren who made aliyah.

Stanley Fischer at Herzl Conference in Jerusalem
Dr. Stanley Fischer was another featured speaker on the program, along with President Reuven Rivlin.

Leaders of Jewish Agency Board of Governors after showing of video remembering Pittsburgh

The annual Jewish Agency Board of Governors opened on a somber note with a powerful video remembering those murdered in Pittsburgh one year ago.

Prime Minister Netanyahu at Begin Center for Jewish Agency Board of Governors

PM Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors at the Begin Center.

Begin Center security for Jewish Agency Board of Governors

There was security for the Prime Minister, this time I got a photo as they were taking it away.

Stephen Harper in Jerusalem for gala dedication for Hula Lake Park Visitor Center

Security was at a high level at the Waldorf Astoria. But, unlike most events, security let guests at the KKL-JNF Gala get close enough to photograph former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper seated next to the Netanyahus. The new KKL-JNF visitor center in Hula Lake Park is dedicated in Harper’s honor.

Though busy with government and election drama, President Rivlin hosted a special meeting on antisemitism at Beit Hanasi, the President’s Residence.

Elan Carr and President Rivlin at Beit Hanasi

US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism Elan Carr attended.

Panel on antisemitism at Beit Hanasi

The panel also included the UK – Lord Eric Pickles, France – Frederic Potier, Germany – Dr. Felix Klein, and European Commission – Katharina von Schurbein. The consensus was that education is the key to combating antisemitism. Opinions once considered fringe are becoming mainstream on campuses and they are spreading. The problem is not a Jewish one, but one for all humanity.

BLMJ Glorious Martyr exhibit

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem shared important finds from an excavation in Beit Shemesh. Though no one knows exactly who the ‘Glorious Martyr’ was, the dig exposed a large Byzantine church, filled with hundreds of glass pieces and stone lamps.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem opening of Glorious Martyr

On opening night invited guests arrived to see the exhibition and hear from experts.

Seat of donor or high church official from Glorious martyr exhibit in BLMJ

A favorite object was this marble piece, probably the ‘seat’ of a high church official or donor.

Who knew hundreds of years ago donors had names on plaques in churches?

International Science Centers and Science Museum Day is November 11.

Jerusalem Science Museum play area

Look for free admission to the Bloomberg Science Museum and again the end of November.

The annual Piano Festival at the Jerusalem Theater is from November 13-16.

AniNation in Jerusalem street poster

But first will be the annual international Animation festival in Jerusalem – AniNation.

Science and tech and start-up conferences–always more happening on Jerusalem streets!

In honor of Aliyah Day, celebrated this week, time to share an old favorite.

Sign about learning to speak Hebrew

No government and elections looming.

Years of rockets from Gaza.

Serious threats from Lebanon and Iran.

Jordan, a very cold peace partner.

Rush hour traffic reaching nightmare levels.

Miracle in our times,

Am Yisrael Chai.