Inside Three Jerusalem Landmarks

It is exciting to see tour buses back on the Jerusalem streets. Israeli tourists have been around for a while, but with the big buses with foreign tours lined up in traffic, it feels like “normal.”

New lighting highlights the grandeur of the Great Synagogue and Heichal Shlomo at night. This is one of the many new attractions on the Jerusalem streets.

I want to take you inside three special locations and show events that were not so easily visible to the onlooker.

The first was at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, where the only glimpse of Angela Merkel was her motorcade making an exit after lunch.

It was a private lunch for two, the German Chancellor and the new Israeli President, and the caterer had a very little clean-up to cart away.

This was the week of Yom HaAliyah, Aliyah Day which is set for the Hebrew month of Cheshvan to coincide with the biblical portion where Avram is told to go to the holy land.

Multiple events were held, the first of which was at Beit Hanasi, honoring five Olim, immigrants who have made important contributions. The only one I knew before the award ceremony was Yosef Abramowitz, who posed with his daughter in the garden before entering the main hall.

President Herzog was not shaking hands as he entered the room with masked honorees and their guests. Not quite back to normal.

Masks are still the law inside for groups, but waving is allowed.

After speeches and a video of the impressive accomplishments of the five Olim, there was a photo-op with the President and Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration┬áPnina Tameno-Shete, who made aliyah from Ethiopia, and former head of Mossad Efraim Halevy.

In the field of sport, Sergei Vaisburg, the Olympic coach was honored and called up his gold medal-winning star pupil Artem Dologopyat to the stage.

The honorees in the center: a physician from South America, a musical artist from Ethiopia, a Ukrainian sports coach, a French linguist, and a solar energy innovator from the United States.

And here, at last, unmasked for another official photograph.

The second is the new Museum of Tolerance, which opened its doors to two big events, even though the outside areas are not completed.

The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference last year was only online but this year it was live and held inside the new museum. It was also broadcast.

While waiting to get a tag, (yes ID tags are back again) two years since the last one, I took this photo of the lobby area. Not my first photo attempt, but that one I cannot show you. A security officer with a dog walked by and was not happy to have his photo taken.

With the Israeli President and Prime Minister speaking first in the morning in the auditorium, there were multiple levels of security to get past.

Here is Sylvan Adams, one of the dozens of interviews over the course of the day which included Israeli Ministers, politicians, and tech leaders.

I missed the breakfast food and by noon was anxiously awaiting something to eat, and as you see I was not alone. It’s been so long since I attended an event I forgot to take along an emergency snack. Lox and cream cheese in a croissant seems to be the new “in” finger food.

Yossi Cohen’s interview comments on Iran were popular with the media. All the speakers have been written up and you can find them easily with a Google search.

So I will share what you did not see. Liat Goldhammer was speaking with Maayan Hoffman about their company’s process with fabrics that saves water in the thread-dying process.

These Sonova masks were all around, and it was a light bulb moment.

Who else remembered the Overall Festival at the Tower of David?

I heard the same pitch line two years ago with Shay Herchcovici, founder of Nano Textiles. I left the room to find Shay and confirm he was indeed the guy behind the Sonovia masks. Back to networking, at his request to meet someone important, I introduced him to Laurence Weinbaum, the director of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.

The afternoon was filled with experts and panels,

and more panels, with lunch, served at 3:00 pm.

Hum, when was my last meal out? Hard to remember.

On a program that ran late most of the day, Mike Pompeo was early.

He did not stick around long but stopped for a few minutes to speak in the hall before leaving and returning to the US.

Now for the third location of interest: in a blog, I did on the exhibit highlighting the British Mandate at the Tower of David, the exhibit on the British contributions and changes, included movies.

How many times have I walked by quickly and ignored these golden arches on Shamai Street?

But on Thursday night I entered the Cinema Hostel, one of the “new from old” tourist lodgings dotting the center of Jerusalem around King George and Ben Yehudah Streets.

As a fan of a previous Tour de Sound tour, we accepted an invitation to hear music from old movies. John Williams and Raiders of Lost Ark was great to start an evening of musical Cinema Nostalgia, performed by Daniel and Yedidia Schwarz with Paul Salter.

Aladdin was one of the more colorful videos on the screen.

From where we were seated, we could the kitchen and hostel guests walking by from time to time.

Guests’ rooms were located down the hall behind the musicians.

The media room is upstairs.

There is also a bar, which is kosher and dairy, and was filling up quickly as we left after the unique concert.

Not quite the same as the 1,400 seat Orion Theater of old, but a different and unique way to spend an evening. Friends recalled going to the large old Israeli movie theaters, with bottles and garinim thrown on the floor.

So here were three events off the Jerusalem streets from this past week, as things appear to be getting back to normal, with masks and green passes.

Stay well and hope to see you soon.

Jerusalem New and Old

While so much in Jerusalem is old, much is also new. It is hard to tell which stones on the ground are really the old ones. Even some buildings are made to look old.

Amazing Old and New in Jerusalem looked so very different 3 years ago.

Walking along Hanasi Street, you can see new signs outside of Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s official residence, marking fifty years in the present location.

Images from the past complement the sign with more detailed information.

It’s been Middle Eastern hot this past week. I have refrained from midday excursions, as it was not pleasant to walk under the blazing sun.

But how nice to see the shade provided in children’s play areas in new Jerusalem parks, even if very few children were out playing.

Covered play areas have been a given in Australia for decades, finally, they are in more and more Jerusalem parks.

And now there is a shade for this school, finally, work has been done over the summer after years of neglect.

Families are busy getting ready for school to start on September 1st and hoping for a better new year after the difficult conditions with COVID-19.

Others families were busy with weddings. Mazel tov to Ilanit and Meir!

With new online participation, one can now dance at more than one wedding at a time.

Engagement setups are always fun to see in this popular area. I did not stop to watch if she said yes to the “Marry Me” at the end of the floral runway.

Who would have imagined the first night of selihot online from Bahrain!

Some old scenes never really get old. The Kotel Plaza, Western Wall, visible in the distance with dramatic lighting is one of my favorites.

Notice many men were distanced from one another, that was new this year.

This is my favorite location for photographs, but new this time, I had to show a green pass to gain access.

The selihot tours of the Old City annually draw large crowds. On Thursday night the crowds were so large that cars were gridlocked and parking was scarce in the surrounding area.

New this year, uniformed police on a walking tour with young boys.

Mamilla Mall was busy, busy, busy, you name the hour, Israelis came.

Amazing as soon as one store goes out, a new one comes in the rental spot.

The old Arab souk, however, depends on foreign tourism and was not busy.

For selihot this year, the old prayers have a new look. The Great Synagogue was open again to those with the green pass. The main musical event was held at Binyunei Hauma, the Jerusalem International Conference Center, with the Mayor and a long list of performers.

This year musical Selihot services moved outside in Yemin Moshe, with the walls of the Old City in the background.

The new sounds could be heard around the old neighborhood streets,

from multiple locations late into the night,

Selihot services were held inside synagogues and outside on porches.

This week the 38th international Jerusalem Film Festival was back.

The live audience gathered in the Sultan’s Pool amphitheater with the huge screen, not far from the Tower of David at sunset.

Former president Ruvi Rivlin came with his daughter Rivi and sat in specially reserved seats a few rows back.

The front row was not easy to photograph from the angle that President Herzog’s new security team demanded.

Herzog spoke, then when he announced that he was leaving, the audience responded with audible displeasure.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and others stayed to see the new animated feature film about Anne Frank.

Here is an old sight, the beigelah guy seated by the Cinematheque sign looking for hungry customers.

A week filled with new and old. New technology lets us participate in a Selihot program in Bahrain and witness weddings from afar.

And in the dentist’s office, this cube became a new tooth, in less than half an hour, to replace my broken molar.

As always there was more, but time now to wish you well and hope to see you soon on the (cooler) Jerusalem streets.

Next week is Rosh Hashana, a New Year.

Oh, where did the time go, the new gap year students are arriving?

7 positive things in Jerusalem this week

Oh, what a year it has been in Jerusalem, Israel!

Oh, what a week it has been!

Where to start?

It’s been a year since Jerusalem’s Old City walls were lit with flags of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in honor of the Abraham Accords.

This week the first Israeli baby was born in UAE, Mia’s father is the Israeli General Consul in Dubai. Because of coronavirus normalization has not gone as fast as many would have liked.

Still waiting to show new Twitter friends the real Jerusalem streets when they are finally able to travel here.

Too many lights over the Jerusalem, Israel streets to see the meteor show, but we did have a clear view of the new moon, over the entrance to the city filled with construction cranes. Building and moving are major themes this week in and around Jerusalem.

New decorations keep popping up over the city center.

People have returned in large numbers to the outdoor spaces.

During the heat of the day, I try to stay off the streets. Jaffa Gate was not filled with the usual tourists, but a slow, steady stream of visitors.

Large gatherings are in danger of being canceled with the new COVID19 regulations and rising numbers of people sick with coronavirus.

However, small musical groups played along Ben Yehuda mall, with children and cats as part of the audience. When it gets so hot, the cats are smart enough to avoid the Jerusalem streets until late in the day.

At Zion Square, the renovated plaza with benches and shade, people appreciated having a place to sit under the newly colorfully decorated large trees.

The tours for Israelis who are not leaving for summer vacation, as usual, are popular and seen in many locations.

This tour group was in the area behind the King David Hotel.

Competing with a performance of Shakespeare in the Park. Theater in the Rough is back! Last year these annual outdoor events were not held.

This week the segway tours and dog walkers passed by on one side.

While from Bloomfield Park, one could also see the Tower of David where people flew by on a wire.

This year it’s Henry IV in Motion performed until the end of August.

This is the only Shakespeare group in the world acting with the wall of the Old City as background. An annual favorite on mine, more HERE

From Hansen House, the towering structure called Ester is still an impressive sight at night.

Lights lead into the former leper hospital from the main gate to the renovated new cultural venue.

I had not noticed these gravestones in the back garden before this week.

I assume that the lights and stands were set ready for one of the scenes of a theatrical performance taking place at Hansen House. With theaters closed so much of the past year, acting companies moved venues and outside.

The new Agam-designed mezuzah on Heichel Shlomo said to be the largest in the world, is easily seen from outside, but not so easy to photograph.

Not all construction work seems to have progressed this past year, it appears that the Knesset Museum still has a long way to go.

In the past year, Beit Avi Chai moved most of its programs online.

New corona warnings and rising numbers were announced this past week. While signs with Miriam Perez urging people to come to Jerusalem and enjoy the festivals and happenings are all around. Not elected Israeli President, she is donating money from her new modeling ad campaign to good causes.

Meanwhile, if the people who are walking on the Jerusalem streets look up from their phones, they will see that there are flowers blooming all along the streets.

There are these new lights near the Prime Minister’s residence to light up the night at the entrance to Balfour Street.

The month of August is half over, and it’s summer holiday time.

However, the big question is whether all schools will open on time.

No one really knows what will be next, but if you want to see the latest Corona regulations updated from Prime Minister’s office I posted HERE

New Rosh Hashanah art posters are up along the streets.

Hard to believe the year 5781 is almost over. Oh, what a year it was!

It’s the count-down time to the holidays. Selihot services and various selihot tours have been announced, too many to mention. No idea where we will be praying this year.

But for the first time in over a year, we had family for Shabbat dinner. Plus I was ready with some of it in time for a photo, chicken was still in the oven.

Oh, what a week it was!

What will happen next on the Jerusalem streets?