Jerusalem is Not in Israel – Ask the USA Embassy

Renewing your USA Passport in Tel Aviv, Israel

A (not so) funny thing happened at the USA embassy today as we were updating one of our kid’s USA passport. On the form it asks for your child’s place of birth. We wrote Jerusalem, Israel.


The (very friendly) employee at the embassy must process hundreds of these passport requests every week. He asked us a few questions, in Hebrew since the local processing staff at the embassy are Israelis. He reviewed the form in our presence to make sure everything was filled out correctly. He then  asked what city was our child born, and we responded “Jerusalem”, he very quickly and matter-of-factly crossed off “Israel” from the form, so that it was plain to see.

I wonder if there are other cities of birth in the world for which the country is left blank on the passport application of our beloved USA?

Jerusalem Is Ours

Nadav Shragai does a good analysis in today’s Haaretz of how Jerusalem is the key to the entire Mid East peace process.

When it comes to Jerusalem, there is no need to mention either natural growth or natural development; what is at stake is nature itself, the nature of our connection to this city and the realization of the right that is rooted in our religion, our history, and 2,000 years of memory and longing, during which the Jewish presence in Jerusalem never ceased to exist.

I wonder how many of our political leaders adhere to this sentiment?

Palestinians angered by Netanyahu peace terms

I still can’t believe that headline!
— Satire begin
Those crazy Palestinians. Look how far this has gone. Now when you offer them a state of their own, not only don’t they take it, but they get angry at you for offering it! It reminds me of the typical Jewish mother. Guilt, guilt, guilt. “What, we’re not good enough to live with you? You want to send us to our own place? After all we’ve done for you. After all we’ve been through together? tsk…
Satire over –

Extremist Poster of Obama as an Arab in Jerusalem
Extremist Poster of Obama as an Arab in Jerusalem

You would think that on the day Bibi Netanyahu actually utters the words “We’ll accept a Palestinian State” that finally the world would show some positive emotion. The EU has already said that it’s not enough. The US and Obama gave a tepid response. The Arab League, buoyed by the lukewarm response of the western world, snapped at Israel and demanded that not one iota of land ‘settled’ could be built on, including the 40,000 citizen ‘settlement’ of Ariel (which was the actual example given by the Egyptian Minister).

In effect, however, the underlying argument the world is trying to shove down our proverbial throats is “Jews can’t live in Judea & Samaria, period.”

Gay Pride Coming to Jerusalem

Gay Pride Jerusalem - Source Jpost
Gay Pride Jerusalem - Source

On the heels of the Sabbath parking lot riots, the Jerusalem Mayor’s office and the ultra-orthodox haredi groups are set to square again in 2 weeks for the upcoming Gay Pride Parade.

Mayor Nir Barkat will have his hands full with trying to please all the factions in his city government and not allow the anger from last week’s riot spill over to the other hot issue.

Sukkot in Jerusalem is Electric

The crowds, the energy, the excitement.  Those of us who are fortunate to live in Israel and live in or close enough to Jerusalem, know that this coming week of Sukkot is perhaps the best time of the year.

Narrow Alleyways in Jerusalem's Old City

Just like in ancient times when the Temples stood, throngs of Israelis visit Jerusalem from all over the country, along with Jewish tourists from the Diaspora.  The electricity in the air is truly amazing.

Sukkot is one of the three Festivals which include Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot that Jews are commanded to literally go up with their feet (“aliyat regel”) to Jerusalem.  It is a positive commandment described in the Torah that all of Israel should rise up to Jerusalem and be seen by His Temple.  Today, we are not commanded to go Jerusalem on these three festivals as the Temple no longer stands, however, it is customary, particularly for observant Jews, to visit Jerusalem at least once during the 7 day Festival (the 8th day, Simchat Torah/Shemini Hag Ha’atzeret, is actually a different holiday that G_d gave to the Jews as an extra show of His appreciation for the Chosen People.

In this photo, throngs of visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City push their way to the Western Wall on the day of the renewed ceremony  “Birkat Kohanim”, where thousands of Kohanim bless the nation as was done in ancient times.

Blessing the four species at the Western Wall
Blessing the four species at the Western Wall

A central part of the Festival of Sukkot is to take four species from the land, an Etrog, Hadas, Arava, and Lulav (Citron, Myrtle, Willow, and Palm Branch) and to make a blessing on them.  The reason is not given in the Torah, however it is a positive commandment for all of Israel.

Large Lulav and Etrog

A Very Large Lulav and Etrog

Jews are commanded on Sukkot to live 7 days in a Sukkah, which reminds us of the Children of Israel who lived forty years in sukkot (temporary dwellings) ‘booths’ in the desert on their journey from Exodus of Egypt into conquering the Land of Israel.

Today, many strictly observant Jews still abide by this commandment and dwell in their sukkot for all seven days.  Others prefer to sleep in their houses.

One of the truly amazing sites in Israel during the Sukkot holiday is to see so many sukkot attached to homes, apartments, businesses, schools, shopping malls, restaraunts, and every where else (even on the beach!).  We wish all Israel a happy and enjoyable Sukkot Holiday!

Sukkah Decorations

Sukkah Decorations

The Police, Mahane Yehuda, and Me

You may ask yourself, what do the police and the shuk Mahane Yehuda have in common with me?

A while back, I was at the Shuk in Jerusalem (Israelis refer to Mahane Yehuda simply as “The Shuk”) which means “shopping area” in Hebrew.  As I am accustomed to do, I had my camera with me on that fine day.   I photographed some of the stalls, and generally blended in to the atmosphere.

I took a photo of this Arab worker sitting on an empty stall.

Worker sitting on empty stall in Mahane Yehuda

Worker sitting on empty stall in Mahane Yehuda

Then, I panned my camera and took a photo of the shuk’s main road with my wide-angle lens.  Within 10 seconds, two policemen (whom you can see in the right corner of the photo) had confiscated my camera, asked to see my ID card, and were questioning me about my ‘suspicious’ activity.

I told them to relax and that I was doing an article for a newspaper in the USA.  Along with my strong American accented Hebrew, there was little to cause them further suspicion.  Then, they wanted to take the film in the camera since I had photographed them.   I then reasoned with them further that with such a wide-angle lens it would be hard to discern their faces, much less their identities.

After a few tense minutes, (the time it takes for a not-so-smart policeman in any country to understand an argument with logical reasoning), they returned my camera to me with the caveat that I could not photograph them anymore.  Once I had the camera back in hand along with my ID card, I jokingly told them that without some more photos of them, I wouldn’t be able to share with them the article I would be writing about the Shuk…  I never did get their names!

Enjoy the photo, i hope it was worth it…

Shuk Mahane Yehuda - The photo that caused a stir
The photo that caused a stir