The Minimalist Guide to Jerusalem Between Passover and Lag B’Omer

The Minimalist Guide to Jerusalem Between Passover and Lag B’Omer

Oh, Jerusalem!

Does anyone else remember the good old days back in America?

The quiet time between Passover and Lag B’Omer. There were no weddings. Live musical performances were taboo. Parties were rare. Then starting on Lag B’Omer celebrations would begin again.

Not so in here in Jerusalem. There is no down time!

Jerusalem synagogue with Israeli flags in front

Flags, flags, more flags. In Jerusalem it is a season of flags and flowers and celebrations.

Eurovision was held in Tel Aviv, getting much media attention.

Stand with Us banner on tower on Ayalon Highway for Eurovivion visitors.

Driving through Tel Aviv on the Ayalon Highway, the only sign of Eurovision I saw was this huge banner from StandWithUs offering tourists a trip to see to see coexistence.

Head riders in GFNY

On the Jerusalem streets, GFNY, the cycling race where amateurs can ride with the pros, streets were closed on the first Friday morning in May.

GFNY riders cycling past the Knesset

Going past the Knesset the lead cyclists were going too fast to get a clear image.

Close to 900 riders took part in the race, which included three routes of various lengths.

Sign on Gaza Street for riders in GFNY

One warning sign was still left on Azza Street this week. I often say Jerusalem streets all go up!

At least on a bike, one has to slow down.

Happenings on Jerusalem streets seem to never slow down.

Sport Week in Israel is from May 17 – 24. On May 17th, there was another Jerusalem cycling event. But for that amateur race fewer streets were closed.

Also, there was the International Writers Festival and Jerusalem Book Forum, from May 12-16, for the less athletic types.  Authors and publishers came to Jerusalem from thirty countries, and the program included live music, panels discussions, and lectures in varied venues.

Jerusalem Prize winner Joyce Carol Oates

At the opening at the YMCA, Joyce Carol Oates received the Jerusalem Prize from Mayor Moshe Lion. In her acceptance remarks, Oates spoke about her grandmother who gave her an early love of books and writing.

one day conference held at Hanson house

The Hansen House hosted a Conference on Design.

It’s hard to keep track. So many different events and signs are posted.

US Embassy in Jerusalem one year sign by FoZ

The Prime Minister’s office announced that the PM was to mark one-year of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel.

I was on my way to the David Citadel Hotel for the event, when I noticed this sign.

Bus praising Trump by Friends of Zion Museum

In front to the hotel was a bus with “Thank you, President Trump, Thank You, America” boldly posted on the side.

David Friedman US Ambassador to Israel

It turned out to be an event with US Ambassador David Friedman.

Rabbi David Lau speaking about his family in Poland

On the stage Chief Rabbi David Lau spoke about mezuzahs.

A mezuzah was completed on stage with the Prime Minister and the US Ambassador.

Jerusalem US Embassy celebrated

A special silver case for the mezuzah was presented by the Friends of Zion to the US Ambassador for use on the new official US Residence in Jerusalem.

Sign on US Embassy in Jerusalem Israel

At the end of the program, a copy of the new Embassy sign was displayed on stage.

MK Tzipi Hotovely and Tammy Friedman were kind enough to pose with it for a photo.

That night included impassioned speeches, dignitaries, good food, and wine.

Night in front of US Embassy on May 14

But I think my favorite scene was on the way home. This pile of empty boxes was left on the street. Outside the former US Consulate, now the US Embassy Building, it looked like moving day.

Across Agron Street in Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park, was a large sign saying, “Happy Independence Day.”

Israeli flags were on light poles, decorated this month with Ramadan holiday lights.

In this time from Passover to Lag B’Omer, we have had no shortage of celebrations.

The Jerusalem Bird Observatory celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Roof of Jerusalem Bird Sanctuary in spring

On the day of the Jerusalem Marathon, its green roof was really green.

The rain was a blessing. There was more than usual this year.

Jerusalem Park dry grass

But now open areas are dry. A severe heat wave is on the way.

While the main Lag B’Omer celebration is in Meron,  young people in Jerusalem have been saving and storing wood for large holiday bonfires.

Chabad sign for Lag B'Omer march and celebration in Jerusalem

Signs are up. Parades. Parties. Carnivals. Music. Lag B’Omer ready.

The usual large bonfires are banned and fires must be more controlled this year.

Museums are free on May 23, Lag B’Omer.

US Embassy sign on Agron Street building on May 14, 2019

Welcome to Jerusalem Friedman family.

Hope you enjoy your new residence.

But be advised to keep your windows closed on  Lag B’Omer.

Always so much happening on the Jerusalem streets.

There was more, but as this is getting way too long, saving some special happenings for next time.

Here we go again, Happy Lag B’Omer!

Israel at 71 – Who Would Believe, Who Could Imagine?

Israel at 71 – Who Would Believe, Who Could Imagine?

On Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, Israelis celebrated 71 years since the state was founded.

Beginning with sunset, it was obvious to visitors that this was no ordinary day. At Mamilla Mall, shops were closed and restaurants were closing early on Wednesday.

Jerusalem memorial for remembrance day in Mamilla Mall

The Yizkor, Remembrance Day memorial with its floral wreath was displayed near the entrance.

Independence Day sign in Hebrew near Jaffa Gate Jerusalem Israel

By the walls of the Old City near Jaffa Gate, a large sign said ‘Happy Independence Day! 71.’

View of Tower of David in Jerusalem Israel from across the street near Teddy Park

The Tower of David stood tall against the blue sky, with the setting sun reflecting gold hues upon its stones.

Jerusalem Israel Tower of David free on Independence Day

On Yom Ha’aztmaut there was free admittance to the Tower of David, as well as to other attractions.

Entrance sign for Teddy Park in Jerusalem Israel

Across the road, there were big signs marking the entrance to Teddy Park.

Only one problem–for security reasons, no one was allowed to enter at this entrance.

Going around to the other entrance, I saw that hundreds had already arrived.

Men davening mincha in Teddy Park

A group of men had gathered for afternoon prayers. From Teddy Park, knowing which direction to face when you pray is easy. Jews pray towards Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and have done so for millennia.

Crowd in Teddy Park for Independence Day celebration at night in Jerusalem

Slow singing started at 6:00 pm. Though it was an unusually cold night for spring, thousands arrived and filled the park.

The music turned to loud and joyous as celebrations for Yom Haatzmaut began at dark.

Teddy Park was only one of many places in Jerusalem with free public music.

The list is too long for now, as neighborhoods gathered to celebrate with music and fireworks.

Jerusalem Israel celebrating Independence Day

At First Station there was a musical prayer service

First Station Yom Haatzmaut Prayer service led by Shlomo Katz

led by Rabbi Sholom Katz, and it was well attended again this year.

Independence Day 71 Israel in Jerusalem at night

It was hard to get a good photo of such a large crowd.

But this short video should give you an idea of the energy.

Scene from Yom Haazmaut at Har Herzl show

The main state event is held on Har Herzl and is televised.

Har Herzl for Israeli Independence Day 71

Tickets are in big demand for the open theater and stage near Herzl’s grave.

Israel Independence Day show at Har Herzl with Yuli Edelstein

The event was held under the offices of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev.

Israel Independence day at Mount Herzl

Military colors play a major part of the program, and IDF, Fire and Police participated.

Two female Israelis in military dress uniform at Har Herzl

 

To take close up photographs of so many soldiers,

Army colors at Har Herzl Yom Haaztmaut

or photos from a distance is an annual dilemma.

Israel Independence Day 71

This event might be better appreciated watching at home on TV.

The outdoor mountain setting can also be very cold and windy.

Look at screen on the upper left side of the photo, you will see that these marchers form a menorah.

Israeli army in formation for Independence Day show in tV

Special this year, at the base of the menorah were these soldiers in wheelchairs.

Yom Haatzmaut official opening ceremony

The program has musical numbers with fireworks.

The popular Shalva Band performed during the program.

The program also included 12 torches representing the 12 Tribes, lit by 16 individuals who had overcome difficulties, all representing the “Spirit of Israel.”

People celebrating Independence Day in Jerusalem

But in spite of staying up late celebrating, tens of thousands of Israelis were off to parks during the day.

In Jerusalem, there may be fewer hikers, but there are a whole lot of grills in the parks.

This year was the first time in long time I was not in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, for Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Highway outside of Modiin on Independence Day

Riding on Israeli highways, like this one toward Modi’in, is a time to remember the old Route 1, with its single lanes winding through the Jerusalem hills.

View of Modiin, Israel, new city built

The municipality of Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut developed from nothing but barren land, and is now a thriving and growing city of over 90,000 residents.

Then Yom Ha’atzmaut, with all its grilled food, concludes with the Israel Prize ceremony.

Israel Prize on Independence Day 71

A day which began with military honors at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, and a Bible contest for teenagers at the Jerusalem Theater, comes to an end with Israel honoring its citizens who have contributed to various fields of knowledge or a lifetime of service for the public good.

Israel Prize on Independence Day 71

Miri and Chaim Ehrental started Zichron Menahem after their son died of cancer.  It is an organization which has helped thousands of families cope with cancer.

Winners of Israel Prize on Independence Day 71

The laureates who accomplished so much in their fields bring honor to themselves and all Israelis.

As President Rivlin said in his Yom Haatamaut greeting, “Dear friends at home here in Israel and around the world. Happy Independence Day! Chag Sameach!  Israel is seventy-one years old. Who would have believed seventy-one years ago that we would build cities from the swamps? That roads and railways would cross the sands?  Who could have imagined then the wonder that is the State of Israel?”

Who would have believed, who could have imagined?

Israel at 71!