Rosh Chodesh Sivan at the Kotel, the Western Wall,
was not just any old prayer time for the new month.
The Women of the Wall were coming to pray at the Kotel.
Until Friday, I had stayed away from this monthly event,
figuring that there was enough publicity without me.
This time I had to see for myself what was really happening.
Arriving at 6:30 am,
the size of the huge crowd and the press were overwhelming.
The press has covered the dreadful behavior of Haredi men.
Most were young boys, but there are no excuses for their acting like animals.
The shouting, pushing, and deafening whistles were so upsetting,
the experience is impossible to express adequately in words.
What in the world did they think they were accomplishing?
How could any rabbi condone this?
Throwing of a bag full of sewer water was most shocking,
its stench lasted all morning.
Police grabbed the suspect immediately, however.
I wonder if the two girls on the right
will ever forget being in the middle of such a distressing scene?
Here one woman is being pulled back by security.
There were several incidents of Women of Wall supporters
going over toward barriers to provoke the men.
The media that gathered around the Women of the Wall
at times outnumbered the number of women inside the police circle.
Security people certainly outnumbered the WOW supporters,
and were everywhere recording the events.
Were there any empty spaces for watching the scenes unfold?
Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovitch,
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzchak Pindrus,
and other officials were present for some of the time.
Security did a great job to keep control of the mob-like crowd,
and kept them away from the Women of the Wall in the plaza.
I was able to fill an entire photo album called Bad Boys - Wall of Shame,
though of course, not all present were abusive or involved directly.
But as usual, there was more happening than the press showed.
There were those who were actually trying to pray at The Kotel
for the morning service for Rosh Chodesh.
And there were thousands and thousands of women and girls,
who came to support a new group called Women for the Wall.
That beautiful scene at the Kotel did not make the news,
even though their numbers were by far the greatest.
As we enter the Shavuot holiday, a time of beginnings,
a time to remember acts of goodness,
it is acts of goodness that will bring our salvation,
not acts of provocation or baseless hatred.
More photos from WOW and W4W
In most of the world you would be lucky to find people
celebrating or even remembering Jerusalem Day.
But here in Jerusalem, the celebrations,
events and ceremonies are too many to list, everything
from Mayor Nir Barkat and Rav Shear Yashuv Cohen
speaking on Shabbat at the Great Synagogue,
to a rock concert in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park,
attended by hundreds with the music going all night until 7:00 am.
Took too many photos again this week, so for now I will
share a few favorites from Yom Yerushalayim,
Jerusalem Day, in Jerusalem, Israel.
Kotel Man? What a great costume on this actor,
who was standing at the entrance of
the Tower of David Museum, which was open and free to the public.
Mayor Nir Barkat and his wife Beverly, greeted people and posed
for photos, and I recognized this couple from the neighborhood.
One family presented the mayor with a gift.
I wonder where this will hang?
Then they posed for a photo.
As every year,
prizes were given here at night to special Jerusalem residents.
Of course, flags lined the Jerusalem streets,
and covered countless shoulders.
These boys posed outside the entrance to the Kotel, the Western Wall,
after asking me to take their picture.
On such a busy day, at least one girl was able to find a quiet spot.
Closed to traffic, Agron Street was anything but quiet.
A group of boys were jumping and waving flags on top of this van,
as others danced wildly to gang-man style blasting music in Hebrew.
Tens of thousands of people,
boys and young men,
father and sons,
and of all ages,
packed King George Street in front of the Great Synagogue.
Girls trying to pass by had to hold on not to get lost in the crowd.
Then Rabbi Chaim Druckman arrived,
as the Flag Parade was ready to dance and march its way to
the Kotel, the Western Wall, for hours more of celebrating,
46 years of reunification of Jerusalem.
If you have any doubts about why this day is significant,
checkout a special post in IsraellyCool
and for more photos of Jerusalem Day, click HERE.
Threats from Syria and Iran prevail in the headlines.
The Iron Dome has been moved to the north.
Civilian air space in northern Israel has been closed.
In the days before aviation,
it was the railway that connected to Jerusalem to the north.
With the advance of air travel and opening of the modern Malha Station,
the historic Jerusalem Railway Station was closed
and for years, at best,
it was a showcase for colorful graffiti on boarded windows.
But this week in Jerusalem, Israel, the old railway station has reopened,
along with Milton’s Way, a walking and biking path
that finally emerged from behind the construction fences.
There is still more work to be done,
but the 8 kilometer trail is coming to completion.
The station is already a new site for wedding photos,
even as it is getting ready to roll.
The new Old Jerusalem Railway Station was lit up last week,
for a grand opening party.
that seemed endless at times,
the end of the railway and trail renovation is in sight.
Some interiors still have to be renovated,
but the main plaza is looking good
and the bike racks are ready.
It will be some time until walkers have any shade from the sun,
but even at mid-day the trails are already in use.
The Jerusalem Railway Station is to be open on Shabbat
with mostly non-kosher restaurants.
After this major face lift,
it is set to be the new major tourist attraction in Jerusalem.
In many places around the world a big community bonfire
for Lag Ba’Omer is considered a major celebration.
The thirty-third day of counting the Omer which started on Passover
has become a day of weddings, bar mitzvahs and musical celebrations.
However, this minor Jewish holiday
has escalated to gigantic proportions in Israel.
Meron was so over-crowded this year that the security services closed it off,
buses stopped running and many were stranded for hours.
And, this year it was hot, really hot.
Many photos were published of men standing
around large Lag Ba’Omer bonfires in religious neighborhoods.
However, in open spaces all around Jerusalem, Israel
thousands of people lit medurot, bonfires.
Some were tended by children,
while others were large family gatherings.
These modest sized fires were not lit just to burn any
and every bit of collected wood, but were also used for cooking.
This man used a long stick to remove dozens of cooked potatoes.
It was good to see that his water can was so handy,
as heavy winds this year caused sparks to fly and clothes to burn.
As always with so many small children around so many open fires,
the low number of serious accidents is nothing short of miraculous.
And this year we had two nights and two days for Lag Ba’Omer!
Since the real time fell out right after Shabbat, the Chief Rabbis
said to wait and celebrate instead on Sunday night.
So this year for two nights smoke filled the night air.
As you might have guessed I am not a big fan of these hot, smoky nights.
And school vacation was extended from one day to two days off!
While the Knesset is dealing with future school vacation days,
parents and children needed something to do on Lag Ba’Omer.
One activity was again organized by Chabad Rechavia.
This year their parade stopped traffic on Ramban Street.
Along with the marching drum band were this large Torah and candle,
as young and not so young,
marched to King George Street.
Rabbi Goldberg and so many cute kids were smiling,
as they gathered in the plaza of The Great Synagogue for music.
One small Lag Ba’Omer celebration, one small step.
“I love all Jews.”
What a feel-good event, in spite of the temperatures,
and I am not just saying that because the Rabbi’s mother is a fan.
For Lag Ba’Omer, one medura, bonfire, night is enough for me.
Now I must run,
as it’s time to get some cookies and milk ready,
no school today.
More parade photos HERE.
Wow, did I make a mistake;
I thought this was going to be a quiet week.
It began as the extra Israeli flags were taken down.
(Make sure you did not miss all blue and white photos
from Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day in Jerusalem.)
Then came unseasonable, heavy rains and cold temperatures,
it felt more like winter than spring.
The doormen of the Citadel Hotel had out their large umbrella stand,
it was not an easy time to stay either dry or warm.
Then the rain finally stopped on Sunday evening and the sun came out,
and everything in Jerusalem turned green.
First, I went to see the Cool Globes on exhibit near Jaffa Gate.
These 18 large globes, each a unique work by a different artist, were
installed for Earth Day and will remain in place through the summer.
Then I walked over to the YMCA for the opening of the first
International Jerusalem Symposium on Green & Accessible Pilgrimage.
There were way too many events and speakers to list here, but
Forsan Hussein, CEO of the Jerusalem International YMCA
welcomed the many international visitors to the city of Jerusalem.
Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, who started the green and accessible initiative,
posed with Dr Jose Bernal-Stoop from Mexico on the left
and Count Phillippe Piccapiertra,
the Grand Chancellor of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem.
While there are always thousands of international visitors
who arrive in Jerusalem, Israel, daily, this
gentleman is the only one who I know who walked here from Sweden,
and I have to add that
Nilsson Jorden, a Brother of the Military and Hospitaller Order
of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, has a great sense of humor too.
When I told him what I had written about him on the opening night
I was very relieved when he laughed.
I had not heard of this Order before, but their plan to make
The Old City accessible to all by way of special scooters sounds amazing.
Many Interfaith sessions and discussions were held,
Imam Farid Ansari of the Muslim America Dawah Center of Rhode Island,
seen here with Rabbi Amy Levin, came in specially for this symposium.
There was such an ambitious program with so many initiatives and
progressive ideas to improve use of natural resources for the future,
that I will have to share more on this another time.
But now on the Jerusalem streets, it is that time of year,
when young people have started gathering every bit of wood, old trees,
or beware, even watch out for your outdoor furniture,
and anything else that that will burn for the Lag B’Omer bonfires.
Safed Mayor Ilan Shochat, in his excellent presentation,
did mention what the four ancient Israeli cities have been known
for centuries for four elements,
Tiberias = water, Safed = wind, Hebron = land
Jerusalem = the city of “fire.”
Watch out for those fires this weekend!
Let’s hope we can keep Jerusalem green and accessible to all.
More photos from conference HERE