Best of Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut in Jerusalem

Best of Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel, for the Yoms 

as usual was overloaded with events,

 many this year influenced in anticipation of

Celebrating 50 years liberation of Jerusalem

50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem.

Israeli flags are draped down the sides of buildings.

Israeli flags Israel Museum for memorial and Independence day

These are at the Israel Museum entrance

where the dome of the Shrine of the Book can be seen.

Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Remembrance Day

for fallen soldiers and victims of terror,

began Sunday night with memorials throughout Israel,

and were accompanied by prayers, speeches and memorial flames.

The official state ceremony seen live on television,

was held at the Kotel, the Western Wall,

where President Reuven Rivlin lit the memorial light.

Ammunition Hill on Israel Memorial Day

Sponsored by the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin,

a memorial service was held at Givat HaTachmoshet, Ammunition Hill,

the site of deadly fighting to defend Jerusalem in 1967.

The program in English was live-streamed

and seen by over 16,000 people around the world.

All day Monday, tens of thousands of Israelis visited cemeteries.

Cemetery Jerusalem 1948-49

This cemetery has many graves from 1948-1950,

 the first years that Jews could not get to

the Mount of Olives due to the Jordanian occupation

and had to find new places to bury their dead.

One man standing by old grave in Jerusalem cemetery on Yom Hazikaron

On Yom HaZikaron, a man prayed by a grave.

Israeli military grave on Yom HaZikaron

A small Israeli flag with a black ribbon attached,

and small bunch of flowers, yizkor, remembers

Flowers, Israeli flag and black yizkor ribbon on 1948 grave

those much too young who died in war.

The cemetery is next to Harel Garden

Memorial wreath at Harel Garden Memotial

and Memorial wall, where this lone wreath was placed.

Walk around the memorial and you can see

At Harel Memorial distance to Gush Etzion lost in 1948 to Jordan

that Gush Etzion is 16 kilometers from Cinema City and

the Israeli Supreme Court and government offices.

Israel Yom HaZikaron at Har Herzel end of day

Tens of thousands came to Har Herzl Military Cemetery

during the day, to place flowers and to mourn,

remembering those lost to war and terror.

Woman sitting near graves of Har Herzl military cemetery Yom Hazikron

The crowds thinned at end of day,

Two soldiers walking on Har Herzl Cemetery

and all headed home from the Har Herzl Military Cemetery.

But as the sun set,

on another part of Har Herzl,

Stage ready for Yom Haaztmaut official televised program

the lights went on this huge stage,

celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day.

This year for the first time two non-Israelis were selected

with the honor of lighting one of the 12 memorial flames,

Rabbi Marvin Hier and Michael Steinhardt,

Two US honorees in Israeli ceremony

seen here before the official program began.

The show is telecast live and seen by thousands,

Show for Yom Haatmaut ceremony

but watching on TV you could not see them remove

the circle of fire used in one production number.

It is an extravaganza with set rituals,

Israel Independence day starts with lighting of ceremony torch

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat broke with tradition

when he joined with Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein

to light the official flame of Israel’s Independence Day.

waving flags and cheering

Seats were at a premium, the flag waving,

 cheering crowd did not need a lot of encouragement.

One of 12 torch lighters Chana Henkin

Besides the two Americans, I wanted to see Rabbanit Chana Henkin

 who was honored as one of the twelve torch lighters,

one for each tribe of Israel.

Dr Ahmad Eid speaks at Yom Haatzmaut ceremony

Dr. Ahmed Eid, an Arab doctor, was another honoree.

Military with flags at ceremony on Yom Haatzmaut on Har Herzl

The program featured songs and military colors.

Soldiers form a Jewish star during official ceremony for Yom Haatzmaut

For this shot, no seat in the stands would work,

Sunset at Har Herzl camera over head

only this overhead camera would do.

Afterwards celebrations went all night,

in too many locations to list, with prayers, songs and dancing.

Music for diplomats at Beit Hanasi Independence day

The next day at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence,

 120 outstanding soldiers were honored in the morning

Front row Beit Hanasi on Yom Haatzmaut

and in the afternoon rows of diplomats came,

Yom Haatazmaut at Beit Hanasi

along with one young Presidential grandson,

to pay their respects to Israel and hear the Prime Minister

and President speak on theme,”next year in Jerusalem.”

While the heads of consuls and foreign military were at Beit Hanasi,

Gan Sacher Yom Haatzmaut

thousands of Israelis were in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

Lone Soldier Center mangal Yom Haatzmaut

Most of the green spaces all over the country were full of Israelis.

On the radio were announcements of crowded roads to JNF parks.

Couch brought to Gan Sacher

This family brought a couch to Gan Sacher,

which is one way to make your holiday mangal, BBQ, feel like home.

I know this is getting way too long,

but there was so much more,

like the Bible Competition, free museums, and performances.

festive meals, and those IDF flyovers and stunts.

Israel, after 69 years

as President Rivlin said, is young for a country,

 under constant threat and repeated attacks,

yet has accomplished so much.

So it was,

Flowers at Beit Hanasi 69

from memorials to celebrating independence,

so much happening in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Passover Trekker’s Paradise

Jerusalem, Passover Trekker’s Paradise

Passover in Jerusalem, Israel.

Visitors arrive from around the world to celebrate

  spring and the holiday of Freedom

by eating matzah and enjoying holiday tiyulim, trips.

Birhat Kohanim at Kotel on Pesach 5777

Today, tens of thousands gathered at the Kotel,

the Western Wall, for Birkat Kohanim,

the Priestly Blessing, which is broadcast on loud speakers to the assembled

and to a world-wide audience on web cams.

The day was warm and overcast,

and there was no morning rain to interrupt the prayers.

The intermediate days of the holiday

are a popular time for Israelis to hit the road

and experience the natural beauty of Israel.

Roads have certainly been improved,

but the heavy holiday traffic

can make a short trip into a long one.

My first rule for a tiyul is to not to sit in traffic

 for extended periods of time.

Hiking train Israel Nahal Katlav

One of the Keren Kayemet, JNF, national parks

is located outside of Jerusalem, near Bet Shemesh,

with an information area next to BarBehar

Nahla Katlav trail

Off we went to explore Nahal Katlav.

This nahal, a dry waterbed,  is a tributary of the Sorek River.

Israeli hiking trail Nahal Katlav

The path begins with a jeep friendly road and good signs

explaining the various trails.

Hiking in Nahal Katlav Jerusalem HIlls

Oh, the beauty of the Judean Hills in spring!

The Israel Foreign Ministry calls Israel a “trekker’s paradise.”

View Jerusalem Hills

Looking down at the white and winding train tracks

below it is hard to disagree.

From the simple black trail, we started on to the blue trail,

Israel hiking trail in Judean mountains

which went down the mountain.

Flowers on trail Nahal Katlav

The red kalaniot are still in bloom,

and first buds of the Red Everlasting, Dam Hamakabim,

Wild flowers blooming in Judean Hills

and other colorful wild flowers lined the twisting trail.

Spring wheat in Jerusalem Hills

New wheat, bright green in color, grew near wild mustard.

Katlav is a evergreen shrub-like tree with red bark.

I did not get any photos of the katlav,

Israel nature path hiking trail

but I thought these trees along part of the path were interesting.

We were told that our tiyul, trek, would take two hours,

but it was much longer.

I never would have gone if I knew how challenging

the twisting trail down the mountain was going to be.

It was easier to admire the view and photograph

from the flat parts of the trail.

Nature trail Israel Nahal Katlav

After a while, walking and walking,

another blue trail sign assured us we were not lost.

Ah, but after going down towards the nahal,

Hiking trail Israel

except for being helicoptered out,

the only way out was to climb all the way back up to the road.

We saw hundreds of families

out for their Passover tiyul,

most of them were using the easier trails.

Thousands more families filled other park areas,

from north to south.

It is a holiday miracle more are not seriously injured.

I was especially happy to be in car on the way home

with everyone eating ice cream when it started raining.

and only had to imagine wet, slippery rocks.

I survived my Passover tiyul and

the seder plates are packed away until next year.

Every traditional seder ends with

Pesach seder plate for Happy Passover greeting

“Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Time to go see what else is happening on

the real Jerusalem streets now.

Still overcast, but rain has not started….yet.