Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembered in Jerusalem

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembered in Jerusalem

They tried to kill us. We are here.

The official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day took place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Warsaw Ghetto Square of Yad Vashem, on Mount of Remembrance, near Har Herzl in Jerusalem, Israel. 

Holocaust Memorial IDF honor guard

The IDF honor guard posed for photographers before the ceremony.

Two women greeting at ceremony for Yom Hahsoah

For the invited guests it is a time to see and greet long time friends.

Group of German journalists for Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem Israel

This year a group of German journalists attended.

Holocaust memorial Israeli President Rivlin first speaker

After dark, the Israeli flag was lowered to half mast, and a ceremonial flame was lit.

Israeli President Rivlin at yad Vashem

President Reuven Rivlin was the first speaker.

Israeli Prime Minister at Yom Hashoan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke next.

There were musical interludes, and dramatic readings.

Six torches lit by survivors at Yad Vashem for Yom Hashoah

Before each one of the six survivors lit their torch, a short video about their lives was screened.

Each flame represents one million lost souls, murdered in Holocaust.

Honor guard at Holocaust Remembrance Day opening ceremony at Yad Vashem

Meanwhile, the honor guard stood at attention the entire time.

Netanyahu greeting honor guard

As last year, the Prime Minister went to shake hands with the soldiers in the honor guard.

Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem head of IDF speaking with Sara Netanyahu

As last year, while the event was being televised, movement was restricted. (Ok, I thought it was much better this year, maybe because there were fewer foreign photographers?) But as soon as the official program was over, I was able to go up front and take this photo. The honor guard was still at attention, but the rest of us were talking and heading home.

At Yad Vashem, the crowd stood still for HaTikvah.

HaTikvah, The Hope, takes on greater meaning when remembering the past.

The Jerusalem Municipality also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a ceremony held in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, the mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, city council members, survivors, attended the event, which was open to the public. This year the ceremonies were under the theme “War Within a War – the struggle for survival of Jews in the Holocaust.”

Zichron B’Salon, Memories in Living Room, hosted dozens of smaller, parlor meetings in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day. In private homes throughout the city of Jerusalem survivors retold their stories in these more intimate groups and settings. President Reuven Rivlin hosted a group in Beit Hanasi on Sunday morning as he has done for the past several years.

Restaurants and entertainment venues were closed at night.

The next morning on May 2, a memorial siren sounded at 10:00 am.

A wreath laying ceremony was held at Yad Vashem.

Organizations, communities, schools, and businesses held programs, with survivors speaking.

The Knesset had a special recitation of names of Nazi victims.

Israel memorial day flame on Jerusalem synagogue

Flags on public buildings flew at half-mast and memorial flames were displayed.

Child survivors are aging.  We cannot change the past. Now that they have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they are celebrating.  The grandchildren and great-grandchildren are the future.  “This is our revenge,” I have heard over and over. They are celebrating life. We are here.

Light a torch at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah

So many stories. So many memories of tragedies and miracles.

Six million murdered by Nazis is too hard to comprehend.

Where were the civilized countries? Canada. British in Palestine. The United States.

All turned their backs.

To conclude, one memory, from one friend from Kristalnacht, the night the world turned dark.

Jerusalem Old and New in Sacher Park on Passover

Jerusalem Old and New in Sacher Park on Passover

Jerusalem, Israel.

So many extremes, highs and lows, and contrasts of old and new.

Monastery in Valley of Cross on Passover and Easter in Jerusalem

The ancient stone monastery in the Valley of the Cross is surrounded by new spring wild flowers and a sea of green after a winter of significant rain.

Valley of Cross bike path in Jerusalem Israel near Sacher Park

The new biking/walking path leading to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, from the monastery not only has new benches, but also a shaded area to rest in the midday sun.

Sacher Park in Jerusalem on Pesach, family in matching outfits

It is nothing new that on Passover, families in Gan Sacher could be seen walking in matching spring outfits. On outings with five young children in a busy public area, it is a good idea to let everyone know to which family they belong.

Gan Sacher picnickers on Pesach in Jerusalem park

As usual, family and friends reunited for picnics in the park.

In 2011, the situation in Gan Sacher was outrageous.

The lack of proper public facilities was shocking.

Sacher Park holiday sign on public toilet building Jerusalem Israel park

This building with proper toilets has been in use for a few years.

Clean and ready bathroom for disabled and place to change babies in Jerusalem park

While it is not new, the toilets and the handicapped facilities were clean and stocked with supplies.

This baby changing area is also near the entrance on the women’s side.

It was midday and crowds were still not large, but such a drastic improvement in the situation must be noted and complimented.

Jerusalem Sacher Park new stairs to fitness equipment park improvement

New stairs lead up to the fitness exercise equipment area.

Sacher Park children's play area with people picnicking.

Nothing new with many families near the play area.

Two Jerusalem gardeners in Sacher Park on Pesach

Remember those yellow vests on the new gardening staff before Passover?

This clean up team with those vests was a new sight in Gan Sacher.

Sacher Park on Passover Jerusalem Israel

Little children running in the park is not new.

Sacher Park new paths for disabled access

However, wheelchair access is new.

Finally there are easy access routes into and through the main areas of the park.

Sacher Park walking path and new shaded area

Young couples meeting and walking around is not new.

But notice the new benches and sun shade they are passing.

Sacher Park on Pesach with men watching for fire hazzard

Also new, quality control workers were wearing those black tee shirts with identification in white on the back. This pair had just instructed a family to move their grill to a safer spot.

Friends said the smoke from grills got so strong later in the day, they are thinking not to return next year.

Mangal on Pesach in Gan Sacher

Not everyone was an expert at grilling, but no worries. One man stopped to help another get his fire going to cook his hot dogs.

Gan Sacher on Passover Jerusalem Israel

Families were filling the park with tables, tents, and chairs,

Boy with big box of matza on Peasach in Jerusalem Israel park

and at least one big box of matzah.

Notice the warning sign in the distance. Large areas were fenced in and off limits to park visitors. Renovations are still ongoing. The Jerusalem Marathon crowds walking on the muddy grounds was not good for the grass.

Sacher Park on Pesach afternoon

But the new paths were marked and the smooth red area is perfect surface for wheelchairs and baby strollers.

Man walks down stairs to Sacher Park

New steps lead down from the street corner.

Gan Sacher on Pesach afternoon

However, some people like to enter Gan Sacher the old way.

More and more people were arriving to celebrate the spring holiday.

Near Sacher Park flowers in shape of butterly

New construction can be seen in the distance over the butterfly flowers located outside the park.

Valley of Cross, Jerusalem, Israel Easter time with spring flowers

Walking home, I went back past the old monastery again.

With Passover, Easter and Orthodox Easter, and Druze Nabi Shu’eib, Baha’i Ridvan, Muslim Lailat al Bara’ah, this was a very busy spring holiday season on the Jerusalem streets. Hotels were near capacity with tens of thousands of visitors.

Large flags on Jerusalem municipal building.

Before the ‘Happy Spring Holiday’ signs come down, the flags are already being put up for the Yoms.

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Yom HaZikaron, Remembrance Day for Israel’s Fallen.

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day.

No down time in Jerusalem, Israel, on these busy streets..

Passover — This Year in Jerusalem

Passover — This Year in Jerusalem

Cold. Wet. Rainy. Hail. Thunder.

These are not words one normally associates with Jerusalem, Israel, on Passover.

The holiday of spring feels more like winter this year.

Kotel for Birkat Chohanim

However, tens of thousands of people crowded around the Kotel, the Western Wall,

Kotel for Birkat Kohanim on Pesach

and the Western Wall Plaza for the annual Passover Birkat HaKohanim, the Priestly Blessing.

In Talpiot, the bowling alley had a long, long line of people waiting to roll.

Due to the weather, museums with free entrance for children were more popular this year than traditional tiyulim, hikes in the countryside. The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem was “packed.”

Pesach section in Israel Museum

The Israel Museum has a special section devoted to Passover.

There is even a video where one can watch how matzah is made by hand.

Pesach seder plate in Israel Museum

Special, distinctive seder plates are on display as well.

1925 silver seder plate in Israel Museum

This is a 1925, three-tiered silver seder plate from Vienna with three sections for matzah.

Men cleaning notes from Western Wall Kosel before Pesach

The annual Passover clean up of notes left in the Kotel stones was done a week before the holiday.

Jaffa Gate Jerusalem Israel

On that morning I entered the Old City by way of the Jaffa Gate,

Jerusalem Israel inside Jaffa Gate

and unlike this morning, the plaza area inside was quiet.

Jerusalem Israel Jewish Quarter street

It was possible to get this photo without any people.

Jerusalem Israel Hurva Synagogue Old City

Next to the Hurva Synagogue in the Rova, Jewish Quarter, this man sat and talked on his phone near the golden menorah.

Kotel in women's section with a little girl and boy dancing.

In the women’s section a young boy and girl had plenty of room to dance.

View from steps of Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem Israel Old City

This is the area that was entirely filled with people today in spite of the cold weather.

Jerusalem Israel view of Kotel

In the area where a stone fell last year, blue scaffolding was next to the wall.

Old City Jerusalem new steps and elevator

And new stairs have been added near the elevator which is still under construction.

View of Har HaZeitim from Old City

The ancient Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery still looks the same.

Near Zion Gate view of Yemin Moshe Jerusalem Israel

The wet winter was great for greenery, as seen in this view of Yemin Moshe.

Jerusalem Israel view of Artists Colony from Old City

Mitchell Park nearby next to the Artists’ Colony is also full of green.

King David Hotel in Jerusalem Israel

Wild flowers behind the King David Hotel stand out after the spring rains.

For Passover in shuk covered with foil for holiday food

In the Machane Yehudah Market, the shuk, this store covered its counters with foil, and was ready to put out its kosher for Passover food before the holiday.

Piles of fresh garlic on street before Pesach

One of the annual sights and smells of Passover on Jerusalem streets are the piles of fresh garlic for holiday cooking and to be dried out to use for the rest of the year.

Jerusalem Israel Passover preparation on street

And of course, around Jerusalem huge vats of boiling water were ready to kasher metal utensils.

Gardeners going to clean up Jerusalem Israel public spaces before Passover

One new and welcomed sight this year was these young men wearing gardener vests and carrying brand new shiny rakes and rolls of garbage bags. Mayor Moshe Lion had announced that the municipality was going to clean up public areas. Too bad I was on my way home and did not take the time to follow them to see their work area.

Happy Spring Holiday sign in Jerusalem Israel

Chag Aviv Sameach in Yerushalayim.

Happy Spring Holiday in Jerusalem.

Tomorrow is to be warmer and it should  start feeling like spring again on the Jerusalem streets.