Before Yom Kippur,
tens of thousands flock to the Old City,
and to the Kotel, the Western Wall,
for special selihot prayers.
The sounds of piyutim could also be heard coming
from the Israel Museum and the plaza at Kikar Safra.
In recent years a growing number of people,
in religious neighborhoods,
such as Sha’arei Hesed and Nahlaot,
come on organized tours to see and hear.
Some alleyways were dark and quiet,
while many others were filled with tour groups,
some with professional guides and musicians,
religious and secular,
Hebrew and English,
and students of all ages.
Certain locations in Nahlaot
were more popular, like this one with its striking wall art.
Often another group was waiting,
so it was time to move along.
On Rabbi Aryeh Levin Street
by the house of Rabbi Aryeh Levin z”l,
a must-stop-and-see-and-learn spot in Nahlaot.
For decades Rav Levine z”l taught in Jerusalem,
and is remembered for his many acts of kindness,
visiting and caring for Jewish prisoners and the sick.
Our group went past a busy restaurant,
inside a Nahlaot courtyard
and up the stairs to see the synagogue of Rav Levin z”l,
Beit Knesset Ahdut Yisrael,
the Unity of Israel.
Memorial plaques line the walls
for Jews who perished in War of Independence in 1948,
mostly women and children,
and for former Israeli Presidents
Yitzhak Shamir z”l and Menachem Begin z”l.
Rabbi Aryeh’s grandson had some great stories to share.
Many of the tours ended at this bakery in Geula.
It is open 24/6.
As you can see it was busy at midnight.
I am not sure how many could read the signs
calling for modest dress and pure speech.
Another sign is to harder to explain,
but will interest those who know
about the Shuk Kapparot.
On Tuesday morning, erev Yom Kippur,
it will be filled with live chickens and thousands of people.
Meanwhile, as on most nights in Machane Yehuda Market,
thousands of people were partying,
eating and drinking with loud background music.
As I walked home, well after midnight,
I passed more people coming.
Fathers and young sons,
young women looking for sehliot prayers in Sha’arei Hesed.
I do not know if they found what they were seeking,
but I do know that despite all the large posters and promotions,
the only place to find Matisyahu on October 13,
the Thursday night after Yom Kippur,
will be in the shuk.
His performance has was cancelled and rescheduled for May.
Touring the Jerusalem, Israel, streets late at night
it is hard to believe that so much is going on.
The traditional greeting before Yom Kippur is
G’mar Hatima Tova.
There will be no bus service on Yom Kippur,
but in Jerusalem even the buses get in the pre-holiday mood.