Jerusalem Center of the World

The observation gleaned from Mark Twain’s Notebooks and Journals that “Jerusalem is mournful, dreary, and lifeless,” is certainly out of date.

The world’s attention on Jerusalem focuses in with a microscope intensity and scrutiny like no other place on earth.

Ah, Jerusalem the Center of the World!

Yes, that is the name of the sculpture in Teddy Park by David Breuer-Weil and if you look closely you can see my reflection there in the center.

It was good to get out and walk again this week, between the winter rains.

I love the orchids that grow inside this time of year,

while the trees are in bloom outside.

The new Jerusalem winter bus stop sign snowman was pristine white.

Where snowplows left piles, now the grey ice is only good for jumping on.

Trees fell and branches are blocking sidewalks all around Jerusalem.

Construction equipment also blocks sidewalks as building goes on and on.

We maneuvered around the mess in the aftermath of the snow.

It was cleaned up today, sharing to show the large size of the area.

Love the trees full of oranges, even more, the smell of those fresh lemons.

To begin the week, the Kosovo Embassy in Jerusalem hosted an event for the International Holocaust Day. The photos of Charg√© d’affaires Ines Demiri’s family who were affected by the Holocaust lined the wall.

Government officials from Kosovo were able to participate online. It still impresses me that a country which is over 95% Muslim has a Jewish woman heading its embassy in Jerusalem and so many women in high positions in government.

Another interesting event was held at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, as Michal Herzog welcomed the spouses and partners of diplomats serving in Israel. Each woman (only women this time, though there are more female ambassadors each year) stood and introduced herself. The daughter of an Israeli Ambassador to Brazil, Michal Herzog was able to respond to a comment in Portuguese, which she learned as a child.

The short video shown on past Israeli Presidents included the famous scene at the United Nations when then Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog showed his disgust at the UN resolution equating Zionism to racism by tearing up the piece of paper at the UN podium.

Skipping here the upsetting UN and Amnesty International report, rather,

instead on the day the sun came out and rain was predicted – again –

I was not the only one in the Liberty Bell Park. These women asked an Israeli couple walking by to take their photos with the Liberty Bell.

Watching a group stop in the park for lunch, the cats were ready and waiting to clean up the leftovers.

People were at the Lion’s Fountain and the water was flowing.

The blue sky and white clouds were picture-perfect.

There was enough wind so the windmill moved a little in the breeze.

Yemin Moshe was inviting to stroll through as always.

The light, the weather, the season create unique opportunities for a photo.

There were photo shoots for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and more, but will give them their privacy, as well as the young couples out for the afternoon.

I loved seeing a new sign for the Jerusalem Symphony performances in February. While I appreciated the online recordings this past year, it is good they are tuning up for a new Beethoven series. Even more exciting, Zubin Mehta is to be back to conduct the Israel Philharmonic on February 21st.

Design Week at Hansen House is scheduled for the end of June 2022, organizers have called for creators to submit their designs.

Are we finally coming out of the corona closings and preparing to get back to normal?

I certainly hope so.

Time for photo walks again!

Here’s a short preview, there is so much more to see.

Hope to see you soon in Jerusalem.

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¬†Pnina 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?