This Year in Jerusalem, Best of Passover

This Year in Jerusalem, Best of Passover

Passover is one of the three festivals

on which there were traditional pilgrimages to Jerusalem.

This year on all the days of Passover

Old City on Easter and Passover

thousands of people walked to the Old City

Buses to Kotel on chol hamoed

or arrived by bus after bus, on the intermediate days of the holiday,

Western wall passover

 dressed in their holiday finest at the Kotel, Western Wall, plaza.

Kossel of Pesach

Prayers started early and

Davenng at Kossel for Pesach tefilla with tora chol hamoed

went well into the day, with participants all ages

Kotel on Pesach, women's section

on both sides of the mechitza partition,

Robinson's Arch Kotel Plaza Pesach

and in the new area where all pray together.

Holiday scenes from the Old City
view of Har Hazetim from Old City

included buses lining the road on the Mount of Olives,

Street scene Jerusalem, Israel Old City

as well as people coming and going as usual.

New to these ancient streets is

Train for tourists in Old City

the colorful tourist train which starts from Jaffa Gate

crowded street in Old City for Pesach

and shares the road with buses, cars, segways,

and pedestrians going in both directions.

This year since Passover and Easter coincided,

I was hoping to find more Easter scenes,

Copts in Jerusalem for Easter

but I came much too late for sunrise services.

I did spot a few men leaving the Old City,

perhaps they were Copts from Egypt.

Jaffa Gate on Pesach with man selling bread

 Easter buns and beigele were being sold by the Jaffa Gate

for anyone craving fresh baked goods on Passover.

However, there were more things to do in Jerusalem

View from gesher at Begin Center

than just going to the Old City.

Gan Paamon skate park

In the roller-blade/skate park in Gan HaPa’amon,

the Liberty Bell Park, Arab parents watched their children skate

along with Jews, both religious and secular.

Nearby, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Menachem Begin photo

had activities and free tours all day long.

I did not know that tours

had to be booked in advance.

But since we arrived at the end of the day,

we were able to wait a bit and join a tour.

I usually mention the tour on photo walks in the area.

Now that I finally took the tour myself

I will continue to recommend it

for its important historical information

presented in a modern, moving exhibit.

From old to new,

the evolution of the haggadah

was the theme of this  Kol HaOt event at Inbal Hotel.

Signs of the seder evolution of haggadah

Israeli artists displayed their works,

while speakers elaborated on seder symbols,

design, and the history of haggadot.

The page on the right which reads “Next year in Jerusalem”

illustrated with modern building cranes and trucks.

For me, an illustration of the transition from ancient to modern.

There is so much building in Jerusalem,

things are constantly changing.

Jerusalem Botanical gardens

A place where one can really appreciate the development

is the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens,

which also had free admission on Passover thanks to Bank Hapoalim.

The new entrance way

Jerusalem gardens view of pond

leads to the pond

people reflected in pond

where people gathered to enjoy nature.

eat matzah sandwiches and ice cream treats.

Pray Shin-Min

Shin-Min, “pray and and flowers will come out” in Japanese

is carved on this stone, but more than prayers went into

Botanical gardens

turning this old derelict space into

a beautiful, expansive nature area, with comfortable paths.

Tour in Botanical gardens on Pesach

Organized tours were available,

but the gardens are divided into well-marked growth areas,

such as Australia and South Africa,

and all the vegetation is identified.

Group on grass in Botanical Gardens

Groups or individuals could easily

meet, eat, and explore

bath in garden in Jerusalem Israel

this man-made oasis in the middle of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

There was much more to see in the Botanical Gardens,

Flowers, Botanical gardens Jerusalem

but the festive holiday meals involve lots of preparation.

Over the holiday, the overcast skies finally cleared.

Rain was predicted,

but only enough fell to get the dirt out of the air

and cover everything.

Passover greeting on bus

but not enough to ruin holiday outings

or the Passover greeting on the buses.

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.