Jerusalem Getting Ready for Hanukkah

Jerusalem Getting Ready for Hanukkah

It’s the week before  חנוכה  and spellcheck has decided Hanukkah is the correct spelling in English.

At least one thing should be easier this year, with that problem decided.

In Jerusalem, Israel, before we began preparing for Hanukkah, international visitors took priority.

The President of Chad Idriss Deby dropped by for a quick visit.

Seems it went well, as our Israeli PM is planning a trip to Chad soon to set up diplomatic relations which were severed in 1972.

Czech flag for President in jerusalem Israel

The President of Czech Republic Milos Zeman and his wife were here on a state visit.

The Czech delegation got the presidential treatment with flags flying and state dinners and lunch. Zeman brought along a large entourage, making for long motorcades on the Jerusalem streets.

reduced GPO photo by Mark Neiman

The third Jewish Media Summit was held in Jerusalem, with over 100 people coming to join us from 30 countries. It included days of intense sessions, listening, talking, travelling and eating.  I found it interesting how new social media has been accepted and promoted along with conventional journalism, so very different from the past Jewish Media Summits. For a change I decided to sit at Beit Hanasi with President Rivlin and our group and use this GPO photo.

Jerusalem is going digital sign

I am not sure how many in Jerusalem noticed those visitors. But as more of these signs have popped up, Jerusalem residents will notice the city is going digital. Quick and easy service, no standing in line for municipal services. Sounds good, we will have to see how that goes.

Jerusalem Kikar Zion in morning after renovation

The renovation in Kikar Tzion, Zion Square, after being a construction site all summer, seems to have gone well.

Cofizz on Ben Yehuda closed

The copycat five shekel coffee and food place on Ben Yehuda Street seems not to be doing well. This one was closed midday, as the original 5 shekel Cofix announced joining with Rami Levy for future projects.

It was time to prepare for Hanukkah in Jerusalem.

Thousands of big people were sitting on little chairs and watching hours of Hanukkah song and dance performances by young children.

Did you get your Hanukkah stamps? The Israel- US joint venture was launched earlier this month.

Chanukah in Israel supermarket

Jerusalem supermarkets have displays with hanukkiot, Hanukkah menorahs.

Ready for Chanukah

Shop windows are ready with Hanukkah gift suggestions.

JErusalem Waldorf Astoria menorah ready for Hanuka

The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem readied their large hanukkia last week,

Window display at Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria menorah

and a gold and silver hanukkia was on display in this window.

Chanukah Lights on poles for Hanuka

Electric hanuikkot are lining some busy Jerusalem intersections.

Jerusalem, Israel on Hanukkah 5778

The hanukkia is up and ready for another year at the Kotel, Western Wall.

Chanuka sign for neighborhood events.

Hanukkah celebrations are planned for the week in various Jerusalem neighborhoods.

The Chabad hanukkiot have been placed on corners all around Jerusalem.

JErusalem for Chanuka donuts

And donuts, almost everywhere suffganiot of all types can be found.

I am looking forward to something new this year for Hanukkah. The Jerusalem Hanukkah Parade is to include 8 giant balloons like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Hard to imagine a Golden Dragon with over 200 people holding it as it proceeds down Jerusalem streets. That is a sight I want to see and share.

And we had two weddings this week.

With all the good, the crazy, the busy, so much happening in Jerusalem.

 

17 Years Southern Israel Under Attack from Gaza

17 Years Southern Israel Under Attack from Gaza

The last Israelis in the Gaza Strip were forced from their homes 13 years ago.

Since 2001, 25,000 rockets and missiles have hit southern Israel from Gaza.

Eighty-one communities are under fire, on the front line of a war zone.

Seven months ago a new terror method by the Sons of Zawari in Gaza began in the form of fire kites and balloons.

Damage from fire balloons and kites along highway in southern Israel

These blackened areas show the result of this assault on the environment.

One of the southern border cities most under attack is Sderot.

New train station in Sderot is bomb shelter

The new Sderot train station has a cement bomb shelter cover.

Sderot train station is bomb shelter Israel

From the highway the train station appears inconspicuous.

Caterpillar Park in Sderot Israel for protection of children from rockets

Because of missile and rocket attacks, in 2008, the ‘Caterpillar’ park was established as a safe haven for children on playground when an alarm is sounded.

Inside caterpillar cement structure for child to run in Sderot Israel playgournd

The Legacy Heritage “Park of Good Wishes” has grown over the years.

More cement pipes have been added as missiles continue to fall.

Bomb shelters in school in Ashkelon Israel

Not only in Sderot, but in Ashkelon as well, all new school buildings have cement roofs.

Half a billion dollars has been spent to provide bomb shelters in southern Israel.

This month a bomb shelter “safe room” saved a mother and her three children when a rocket made a direct hit on her house in Beer Sheva.

Sderot school with bomb shelters on field where children play

Not only safe rooms, but these decorated free standing bomb shelters have been erected in this new school playground next to the garden that the children are tending.

Sdeort AMIT high school southern Israel

Bomb shelters stand near bus stop for the local AMIT high school. Solar panels are visible over the cement roof that was added to protect students.

Israel bomb shelter near road

A street crossing, a bomb shelter; seconds to run to safety has become a way of life.

new building in Sderot Israel seen from view on Hesder Yeshiva roof

In spite of all, Sderot is growing and it is hard to keep up with the building demand.

Sderot view from top of yeshiva

In all directions, construction and cranes are a regular feature in Sderot.

Display in Sderot police station of rockets from Gaza

Meanwhile, the missiles, rockets, qassams collected and displayed in the Sderot police station have multiplied.

View of northern Gaza from Israel border

Near the Israel border Gaza and the sea are in full view.

Northern Gaza near Israel border

With a zoom lens from this Israeli vantage point Gaza looked peaceful.

Gaza as seen from Israel border

Northern Gaza has expanses of open land.

Northern Gaza view from Israel border

I will not flood you with all the photos like this I took of Gaza.

Ashelon power plant which supplies electricity to Gaza

But here is the Ashkelon power plant which supplies Gaza with power, even when Isarel is under attack.

Under the white balloon is the security camera operating over the the Erez Crossing.

Security wall in southern Israel

Behind this security wall 81 Israeli communities are growing, but weary of being under fire.

This wall decorated with the way to Shalom, Peace, looks much the same as it did my last visit.

Here is photo of the second wall in 2016.

Thousands of visitors have come through, and added their ceramic pieces to the wall.

Today the path to peace only appears further away.

Netiv Ha'Asarah entrance moshav near Gaza border

Netiv Ha’Asharah is a lovely, growing moshav on the border.

Israel near Gaza border art piece decoration

Thousands of residents of the south go about their daily lives under constant threat.

Netiv Ha'Asara new house olive tree as sunset.

Building new homes, planting new olive trees, working, trying to protect and provide for their families.

However, tired of being on front line of war zone, after years of feeling they are ignored, the “backyard” of the country, residents are speaking up.

Walking home on a recent Friday night after dinner, Miri’s family was in the open, not near a shelter when missiles from Gaza fell on Sderot without warning. There was nothing to do but cover their children with their bodies. This is not a way to live, she and others are demanding action.

A group of students who have grown up under threat from Gaza terror are marching, on their way to Jerusalem.

One hundred high school students are on a five-day walk from Sderot to Jerusalem, Israel to the Knesset.

Quiet for 17 years, but no longer, residents of south want to live in peace and have their anguished voices heard.

For more information: check Sderot Heritage Center: HERE 

Tuesday or Sunday, Election and Harvest Week in Jerusalem, Israel

Tuesday or Sunday, Election and Harvest Week in Jerusalem, Israel

Sunday.

One thing people mention they miss most living in Israeli is Sunday.

In Israel it is a regular week day, with school and work beginning bright and early Sunday morning.

No more Monday morning blues in Israel, by Monday evening the week feels half over.

View of Kotel and Har Habayit from Rova Jerusalem Israel

In Jerusalem on a Sunday we can enjoy special scenes like this one in Old City, but it’s not a day off.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018, was a national holiday, Election Day.

Elections for local governance and municipalities in Israel are held every 5 years.

Many olim joked that having this Tuesday off from work made it feel like Sunday.

Sadly in Jerusalem even though it was not a work day, the turnout was low.

Apathy with only a 30% voter turnout?

Ofer Berkovitch for Jerusalem Mayor

A runoff election is to be held in two weeks between Ofer Berkovitch and Moshe Lion.

Meanwhile, the future leadership of Jerusalem, Israel, is an unknown.

Line of tourists going into Jewish Quarter Old City Jerusalem Israel

Nevertheless, tourists keep coming by the tens of thousands. One part of a group in this photo was heading into the Old City near the Jewish Quarter.

Har Hazetim and view from Old City Jerusalem Israel

Seeing the grave stones on Har Hazetim, the Mount of Olives, with the Arab buildings up next to, and even on top of ancient Jewish graves, is another visual tourist experience.

Soldiers and tourist near Zion Gate in Jerusalem Israel entrance to Old City

Entering the Old City through Zion Gate, with its bullet-marked stone walls, is often the route for tourists and new IDF soldiers to learn history first hand.

The symbol of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is a sword wrapped by an olive branch.

Olives and olive oil have connection to Eretz Yisrael going back thousands of years.

While elections are every five years, harvesting olives has been an annual event for centuries.

Jerusalem Israel President House Olive tree in back ground

There are 60 olive trees on the grounds of Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Among other things I learned this week, olive trees can live 2,000 years.

So important is the harvesting of olives there is a special word for it in Hebrew, מסיק, masik.

Jerusalem Israel olive harvest

So this week after the first winter rain, President Rivlin invited olive growers to help him harvest the presidential olives.

Israel President at Biet Hanasi

President Rivlin and his wife Nechama came out to greet the invited guests, Arab, Jewish, religious, secular, of all ages, some seventh-generation farmers.

Those little orange rakes were good for official photographs.

But the serious harvesting was done by large electric tools.

Cat in garden of Israeli President in Jerusalem Israel

And as usual in the Presidential gardens, the Presidential Cat was on guard supervising.

The fall season is not just for harvesting olives.

post for annual Oud Festival in Jerusalem Israel

The annual Oud Festival is coming up soon.

Sugganiot ready for Hanukah

And suffganiot, those Hanukkah donuts, are appearing and disappearing from bakery shelves.

Jerusalem Israel message of support with Pittsburgh on walls of Old City

And with all this happening, a shadow over this past week was cast by the unthinkable events in Pittsburgh which we learned about after Shabbat here in Jerusalem. As young people gathered Sunday night to sing Hebrew sad songs in Zion Square, this message of support was shown on the walls of the Old City.

Up-down, another roller coaster week, but if you want to end on a positive note, meet one of Israel’s proud olive growers.

Not everyone in Israel wants to go into hi-tech, some still believe in value of agriculture.

The sun is shining, the weather cooling, and it’s a great time to get out and walk around to see what else is happening in Jerusalem, but watch out for those black overripe olives that have fallen on sidewalks.