Friday Afternoon in Jerusalem

Friday Afternoon in Jerusalem

The sun was shining.

The weather unseasonably warm.

So I went off to see what was happening in the Old City.

Kotel security on Friday near Kotel

Police vehicles lined the area outside of the Western Wall Plaza.

Crowd at Kotel on Friday summer like day

Thousands of people were out in the warm midday sun.

Arab Market near Jaffa Gate.

Outdoor cafes were popular, it was a perfect day to sit and enjoy. As I strolled sipping an ice coffee, I noticed all the people eating ice cream, young and not so young.

On the way home I witnessed one of the nicest acts of kindness.

Female beggar sitting in chair and young woman stops to chat with her

This young woman stopped to chat with one of the people lining the stairs collecting money. I wondered how many ever tried to speak to this woman?

Mamilla Mall was busy. People coming and going, shopping and eating.

Pleasant sights and sounds to end another busy week.

שבת שלום

Shabbat Shalom.

Jerusalem: Trees This Tu Bishvat

Jerusalem: Trees This Tu Bishvat

When we were young in the US,  Tu Bishvat meant a bit of bukser,  dried black carob pods, which were nearly impossible to chew.

image Israel tu beshvat, photo for Tu Bshvat , picture trees planted

Celebrating in Jerusalem is so very different and so much more tasty and colorful. 

Reuven and Nechama Rivlin Tu B'Shevat sedar at BEit Hanasi for One Family and agriculture growers

In past years, President Rivlin hosted Tu Bishvat seders, but he is in Greece this year, being hosted by the Greeks in presidential-style receptions.

Israel Knesset building flags, no people

Tu Bishvat  is also the date the Knesset opened in 1949. For the 50th year in present location, Tu Bishvat was celebrated in big way.

Parks and planting were my themes last year. 

View of Teddy Park with wall of old city

Teddy Park was lovely today, the fountain was going as two young men took photos.

In Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, renovations are slowly being revealed. I hope that in addition to these new cement tables and benches more trees will be planted, many were lost in snowstorms.

My dilemma was: what can be new this year, other than the using a different English spelling for ט”ו בשבט, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat?

Tu Bishvat dried fruit at night outside shop for sale

Outside on the streets, dried fruits and nuts were on display well into the night before the holiday.

Fruit decorated baked goods in shop window before Tu Beshvat

Fresh fruits top these luscious baked goods displayed in one cafe window.

Almond tree blooming in Jerusalem, Israel, in Valley of Cross for Tu Beshvat

With the warm and wet winter, almond trees were in bloom in time for Tu Bishvat this year.

Then this morning a friend wrote of a deadly threat to Jerusalem’s towering palm trees. The red palm beetle, a native of the Far East, has come here from Jordan and attacked our palm trees.

View of Palm trees at Belgium Embassy

I had noticed that the palm trees by the Belgium Consulate were cut back drastically.

Yemin Moshe trees Jerusalem Israel

It was a bright sunny day, so I set off to see for myself. There were dead leaves hanging on these palm trees in Yemin Moshe.

French Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel palm leaves brown

The palm trees in front of the old French Hospital did not look healthy.

US flag on City Hall in Kikar Safra

Last month when I was in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, I took this photo of the large flags on display. I noticed the palm trees at the other end of the plaza were surrounded by blue barriers used for crowd control. Now I regret not taking a photo.

Those towering trees were taken down in the middle of the night, after a diseased one fell.

Kikar Safra all palm trees cut down Jerusalem Israel

Today men are finishing up their work and removing the stumps.

Sawdust from palm tree stumps in Kikar Safra

The last of the stumps of the towering palm trees is being ground into saw dust.

Kikar Safra after diseased palm trees removed

Kikar Safra plaza is filled with wood chips, where the palm trees once towered overhead.

Jerusalem Old City from Jaffa Gate to Kikar Safra protected tree

The walking path from Kikar Safra toward Jaffa Gate has a palm tree protected by a fence, and the sidewalk is built around it. Trees are important enough to build around them.

Even before the State of Israel was founded, trees have been important. The JNF, the Jewish National Fund, raised money to plant trees to make the barren land green.

Tu Bishvat is called the New Year for Trees. This year we will need a lot of new trees to replace those that were lost.

But on this happy holiday, I can not end on such a sad note. It was a beautiful day to be outside. All around Israel, people are planting new trees.

Tu Beshevat almond blossoms Jerusalem Israel

The almond trees are blooming. The sun was shining after days of rain. I met friendly tourists from South Africa who assured me that South Africans really do like Israel.

So Happy Tu Bishvat!

I am going to eat some dates, this year they were plentiful and inexpensive, so we got a big box.

Long and Short of VP Mike Pence Jerusalem Visit

Long and Short of VP Mike Pence Jerusalem Visit

As always there is much happening

on these Jerusalem, Israel streets.

However, local news was overshadowed by

Knesset sign with US flag for Pence visit

the arrival of US Vice-President Mike Pence.

Flags on main streets,

US and Israeli flags on street near Knesset

while large flags, lined his motorcade route.

The visit was for two days.

Pence arrival in Jerusalem

Video cameras were ready at the official welcome

by the Prime Minister’s Office early Monday morning.

Honor guard for Pence arrival at PMO

An honor guard was getting ready for red carpet

greeting of the Tourist of Week.

The Vice-Presidential vehicle pulled in

VP Pence and Israel PM Netanyahu

and Vice-President Pence lined up with

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and

Head of State Protocol Meron Reuben,

surrounded by the watchful eyes of security.

View of arrival on Pence in Israel at PMO

After the White House press entered,

this was best photo I could get over the crowd.

The entire event took minutes,

and everyone went home.

Then in afternoon,

Security outside Knesset for Pence, end of motorcade

the Vice-Presidential motorcade arrived at the Knesset.

Before the Vice-President’s Knesset speech,

Thank you banner outside Knesset before US VP Pence spoke plenary session

supporters with thank you welcome banners lined the road.

Outside Knesset security watching people hold thank you banners for Pence

Security seemed a bit confused,

but did not complain about a positive demonstration.

Tuesday morning as I was walking near Mamilla Mall,

Trump bus in Jerusalem

I finally got my photo, not only of the Trump bus,

Bus painted to welcome US VP Pence to Jerusalem

but also one of the Welcome Pence buses.

Slow going from blocked streets and security,

was theme over the time of Pence visit.

But waiting in security line for the

Kotel, Western Wall,

Display boxes for Pence visit to Kotel

I was able to see these two display boxes,

for the Pences’ visit, carried by security,

also go through security checks.

It is hard to describe the layers of security.

View of white cloth covering view to Western Wall for Pence visit

 Routes to he Kotel Plaza were draped in white,

to block all views.

Pence visit view of Kotel

The entire area was closed to the public for hours.

Since the weather forecast was for rain,

tents and covers were constructed.

A small platform was constructed for media.

Kotel birds on stones

I took advantage of higher and closer spot to admire the birds.

However, the main event was eclipsed,

Male photographers at Western Wall

by female journalists who did not like being behind the men.

Once it was evident it would not be raining,

the white covering was removed.

As a short female photographer who is often blocked,

I was satisfied to stand on a chair supported by the barrier,

but others around me were furious.

More upsetting to me, was to see security blocking

the official White House press travelling with the VP.

White House press trying to get in to Western Wall area for Pence visit

They only had a few minutes to get in position,

we had been waiting for over two hours already.

On entering,

Pence with leaders of Western Wall Heritage Foundation

Vice-President and Karen Pence stopped to watch a video

about the Western Wall, giving

Western Wall as VP Pence arrived

 security and White House cameras time to get in place.

Pence at Western Wall with rabbis

Pence looked at a large book of Tehilim, Psalms,

with the two rabbis from the Western Wall.

VP Pence Jerusalem Western Wall

Blocking my shot (only can use the word now,

with so much insane security all around,

who knows how much trouble I would be in)

was a tall security guy in purple shirt!

Close up of VP Mike Pence at Western Wall

I got the photo, plus

 another 400, if you are interested,

Karen Pence at Western Wall with women saying psalm

but turned my attention to Karen Pence.

She was accompanied first to the display case,

then to another large Tehilim book,

by the two rabbis’ wives and Western Wall spokeswoman.

Karen Pence at Western Wall on visit to Jerusalem

Karen Pence stood alone,

and spent a much longer time

with her hand on the stones of the Wall.

Security for Pence visit to Western Wall

The entire time from when motorcade entered the plaza

until they raced away was 30 minutes.

Pence visit to Western Wall security on roof tops

From rooftops,

Western Wall for Pence visit

to the roads leading to the Old City,

vehicles and pedestrians were stopped.

Karen Pence shops in Arab shuk near Jaffa Gate crowd gathers until she leaves

A crowd gathered near Jaffa Gate as

Karen Pence stopped to do a bit of shopping,

before heading back home.

As I finally headed home,

Streets closed for VP Pence visit in Jerusalem

the road to the King David Hotel was still blocked.

Oh, so different from Vice-President Biden’s 2010 visit.

Azzza Street without cars at sunset on wet day

After the motorcade passed on the way to the airport,

it was getting dark on wet Jerusalem streets.

Some roads were still empty

while others were filled with blocked traffic.

The predicted rain waited and began to fall,

but did not spoil the visit.

Lots of waiting for events lasting minutes,

the significance of which we can only guess,

not your usual week in Jerusalem,

or maybe it really was.