Jerusalem Lighting up for Hanukkah

The Jerusalem streets were starting to fill up with holiday visitors. English speakers were asking for directions again. “Back to normal” was in the air.

And then – Omicron –

the latest reported corona variant and Israel’s borders are set to close again to tourists in a few hours. Returning Israelis will have to go into isolation.

The future is out of my control, but, I can share what’s new in the present.

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The lights are on at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens for Hanukkah. The decorated trail is not a long one, but the classical music is lovely, and this display you see over the pond is a real winner.

Thanksgiving night the new Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Center was lit up for a special Thanksgiving dinner for lone soldiers and b’not sherut (volunteers). You could see the festive balloons in the window from the street.

Even the light of the night sky was impressive, but there is much more.

Here at the old Shaare Zedek Hospital on Jaffa Road is the art installation of Yehudis Barmatz-Harris. Notice the mobile on top of the photo – it is made of dryer lint. The artist takes materials others would throw away and uses them in her new media installations. Here she uses light to form the shadow of a woman by the rocking chair – a piece called Hush.

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Only one bit the of 5th Jerusalem Biennale going on this month is titled “Four Cubits.” As we again ponder going back to our homes and isolations, 300 artists have created unique expressions from their time spent at home.

The old hospital is the proposed location of Canada Israel’s future building.

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But meanwhile for the next four years, until they get all the necessary permits, the halls are to be filled with art and artists.

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With the Biennale App, you could have your favorite piece of contemporary art hang in your home, as this woman uses the code on the wall.

The Jerusalem Biennale artists were so impressive I plan to write up as many of them as possible individually to highlight their creativity.

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Here Motta Brim is showing one of his books – want to take a guess? The designs are baking papers from challah! And I throw mine out each week?

As you have heard many times, I love the night lights at the Tower of David.

Avi Lavian at Tower of David for Jerusalem Biennale

In one of the recently renovated rooms is another Biennale exhibition, this one curated by Ariel Lavian.

Necklace in Tower of David for Biennale

Turkish and Israeli designers joined during the pandemic to create a contemporary jewelry exhibition in a guardroom of the Ottoman-built citadel at the Tower of David.

After many months the lights are on in the Gan Sacher play area.

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The long slides and accessible play areas in the public park were empty before the Tuesday grand opening, but full when we walked by Thursday evening.

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This specially designed Jerusalem lion is one of my favorites.

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There were lots of entertainers, and this pair managed to impressively balance in the grass at the opening event.

The Jerusalem Mayor and Deputy Mayors and representatives of the Kraft family were present for the ribbon-cutting as children crowded around.

The Sacher Park Kraft Family Sports areas were lit up at night. Anyone for tennis? The new courts were empty and the gate was open when I went by.

The entrance to Balfour Street and the official Prime Minister’s Residence was also empty as I went by last night. Oh, how different from the past.

The lights are ready to return to Liberty Bell Park and the Train Theater.

The new campus for the Train Theater is ready to open on Hanukkah with multiple shows and new theater venues, large and small, inside and out.

The large theater has this impressive seating ready to roll out when the lights go on for entertaining hundreds of children over the holiday week.

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So there you have it. Life has become a balancing act. The goal is to keep going and stay healthy as the variants rage and change.

I will leave it to this guy on his unicycle to entertain at the traffic lights.

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Jerusalem is ready for holiday visitors with signs of Hanukkah lights – November 28 – December 6, 2021, festivals, light tours, and more,

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and for drivers, there are warnings not to drink and drive.

I thought to conclude with more colorful lights in the Botanical Gardens.

As children begin holiday week, hopefully, filled with lights and wonder,

may all be blessed with color and lights and good health.

May we see you soon on the Jerusalem streets.

The End of August in Jerusalem

Another week flew by in Jerusalem, Israel.

Shabbat morning I was not the only one taking a walk on the Jerusalem streets before the heat of the day.

Without his usual entourage, I almost didn’t recognize Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion with two security guards dressed in short sleeve shirts. It looked like the CEO of the Jerusalem Development Authority was the fourth person walking along looking at Azza Street.

Clouds of smoke covered the sun in the Jerusalem sky last week as the Jerusalem Forest burned out of control for two days. Homes and businesses were destroyed. People raced to put possessions into their cars and escape the flames. Hospital patients had to be evacuated until fire units could control the burning forest under windy conditions. Everyone was relieved when the winds and flames ended.

As usual, along with the bad, many new, good things were happening too.

Docu.text, the annual documentary film festival, was held by the National Library this past week.

The new Israel National Library complex under construction is an impressive sight at night. Looking forward to when it will finally open.

The new Train Theater is to host the annual International Puppet Festival.

The name now makes sense, as this is the original Train Theater being restored on the new campus, located at the end of the Liberty Bell Park.

It is located next to the expanded parking lot across from First Station. But be warned; I have seen cars circling around and around looking for a spot.

The Jerusalem Theater is preparing to celebrate its 50th year.

The opening night of the 38th Jerusalem Film Festival, JFF is set for August 24th, again at the Sultan’s Pool near the Cinematheque. However, this year there is a new addition, Film Truck, which will have showings in various Jerusalem neighborhoods – for free.

Quentin Tarantino received a special award from Mayor Nir Barkat five years ago and is to be back again this year in Jerusalem for the JFF opening.

Dr Ruth and President Reuven Rivlin

At the last big JFF opening night, BC, Before Corona, Dr. Ruth was a special guest, along with then-President Reuven Rivlin.

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Speaking of the former president, he was back at Beit Hanasi with new President Herzog and Prime Minister Bennett to welcome back the Israeli Tokyo 202 Olympic athletes.

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Cameras were readied in the main diplomatic hall of the Israeli President’s Residence.

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There were selfies galore with the two gold medal winners.

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Smiles, hugs, and kisses, as the athletes, coaches, and supporters celebrated Israel’s success at Tokyo 2020 games.

And of course, there were speeches also.

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Coming outside for official photos, President Herzog stayed for more and more poses with the medalists.

For even more of those smiles, check on Facebook HERE

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PM Bennett left followed by his security detail.

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Back at Balfour Street, the ugly added layers of security have been removed. Protesters are now in Ra’anana, where the Prime Minister lives, rather than near the official residence in Jerusalem.

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Families are getting in their last days on the Jerusalem streets near the end of August, and hopefully before the start of a new and better school year,

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Ben Yehudah is one of many locations with people listening to music and finding places to eat on the cooler summer evenings.

Big concerts at Kikar Safra, Jerusalem City Hall Plaza, are now accompanied

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by long lines of people waiting to get their jabs. Vaccinations are now going to be available in a long list of Jerusalem neighborhoods also.

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Those random Jerusalem street closings still continue to challenge drivers.

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And those building sites go up (after going deep down first) all over the Jerusalem streets!

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Get ready for The Jerusalem Night Run to launch the Maccabiah Games to be held in Jerusalem, set for August 29th.

The Israeli athletes on the Paralympic teams are on their way to the Tokyo Games. They receive less attention than the main Olympic events but have a tradition of more medalists.

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And as August comes to an end and we approach the New Year, a shemittah year. Planting on new traffic circles has been sped up.

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The new outside locations need to be planted before the restriction of planting begins with another shemittah cycle.

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Gardeners are busy now, but they won’t be as busy next year.

A favorite sight this time of year on the Jerusalem streets–pomegranates are ripening on the trees. And those in the know cover the ripe fruit to protect it from the birds.

So there you have it, some of the good things happening in Jerusalem to balance the bad ones that make headlines.

Take care and stay well, the new year will be here soon.