The Sights, Smells, And Sounds Of A Day In the Ancient Jewish Quarter Of Jerusalem

UPDATE: No terrorist incidents overnight.


As your humble servant prepares to return to the United States on Sunday morning, he spent a gloriously sunny day yesterday walking one last time this year in the labyrinthine streets of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

There were at least 10 bar-mitzvahs during one hour at the Western Wall yesterday morning.

So many amazing sights and sounds: the long, raucous “New Orleans” style bar mitzvah led down the streets of the ancient Quarter by a man blowing a trumpet, another on drums, and yet another on the shofar; the numerous bar mitzvahs at the Wall with mothers, sisters, and other female relatives ululating while standing on chairs in the women’s praying area so they could see into the men’s area where the bar mitzvah was taking place; the excited buzzing chatter of hundreds of elementary school and junior high school school groups darting in and out all over the Quarter; the orthodox haredi women pushing their baby strollers with a dozen children following behind, and the black dressed haredi men rushing to the Wall, or to their yeshiva, or who knows where . . .

Boys carrying freshly made Jerusalem "bagels" down the streets of the Jewish Quarter. You can imagine the wonderful smell. . .

And so many smells: the intoxicating smell of the coffee served by the folks at the Quarter Cafe with its commanding view of the Temple Mount, Western Wall, and Mount of Olives; the smell of the zatar that we sprinkled on our long, oblong Jerusalem bagels–and the smell of the hundreds of spices in the spice stalls everywhere;  the smell of the souvganiot (jelly donuts) and baking pitas in the bakeries that line the entrance to the Quarter; the smell of the ancient dust wafting through the air from all the archaeological digs and construction . . .

And so many fascinating people talked to:

the young Israeli train worker on the light rail so justifiably proud of the amazing new light rail system and so anxious to ask me what I thought about the train . . .

–the retired agronomy professor from Singapore in the shwarma place so happy to be in Jerusalem and so proud to discuss how Singapore has changed since your humble servant was there . . .

–the young Dutch woman working on water projects in Jordan and just in from Amman an hour before (amazed at how easy and fast it was to get from Amman to Jerusalem) who we happened to enter the Jaffa Gate with–and walk down through the Muslim Quarter with on our way to the Jewish Quarter . . .

–the colorfully dressed, wonderfully joyous tour group from Nigeria that your humble servant waded into thanking them for supporting Israel by coming here–and they in turn, rushing up, shaking my hand, and patting me on the back while telling me how much they love Israel . . .

and on and on and on.

Your humble servant has not even left Israel yet, but already he cannot wait for next year in Jerusalem.


This last group from Nigeria brings to mind that, as always,  around the first of the month, I would like to thank all of you dear readers for your amazing support of this blog–and, in honor of those wonderful Nigerians, let me mention today all the places in Africa home to readers of this blog in the last 21 days:

Rabat, Morocco; Tunis, Tunisia; Tripoli, Libya; Alexandria, Egypt; Asmara, Eritrea; Khartoum, Sudan; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; Ndola, Zambia;  Pretoria, South Africa; East London, South Africa; Capetown, South Africa;

and yes . . . Lagos, Nigeria.

Thank you to all of the israelstreet family–all over the world!


Have you ever wondered how the news of Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona became public?

On December 2, 1960, in a remarkable breach of diplomatic protocol, the U.S. State Department abruptly, with no forewarning to Israel or to France (the country helping Israel with the project) announced to the world that Israel had a secret nuclear reactor in Dimona. Two weeks later, on December 16th,  the New York Times ran the story. Eight days later, on December 24th, Gamal Abdel Nasser announced that he would send the Egyptian Army to Dimona to destroy the facility.

(I don’t guess they ever made it.)




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