Celebrating Yom Yerushalayim 2020

Celebrating Yom Yerushalayim 2020

Yom Yerushalayim 5780, Jerusalem Day 2020, marks the 53rd year of the liberation of Jerusalem from Jordanian rule and the return of Jews to the Old City after 19 years of exile.

With restrictions due to pandemic COVID-19 still enforced, the usual large public musical gatherings did not happen. However, multiple events were held and broadcast live. The backyard minyan in the back of our house concluded their morning prayer service with the singing of HaTikvah.

Music going around to neighborhoods on Jerusalem Day

A truck blasting holiday music went around Jerusalem streets on the eve of Yom Yerushalayim. I noticed later all the Israeli flags on the cars following behind.

Israeli Ethiopian memorial in cemetery on Mount Herzl

It has become a tradition on the eve of Yom Yerushalayim to remember the Ethiopians who died on the treacherous journey to reach Jerusalem. The annual ceremony is held at Har Herzl near the monument in their memory.

Ethiopians who died on journey to Israel remembered before Jerusalem Day
Photo credit: Mark Neyman

Here President Rivlin greets the religious leaders after the official state event, held before a much smaller audience this year.

New olim from Ethiopia arrive in Israel
photo credit: Shlomi Amsalem

Later in the day, Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Isaac Herzog and the new Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata welcomed 119  new olim from Ethiopia to Israel. Each year for Sigd, I marvel at how they prayed toward the holy Temple in Jerusalem,  yearning to return to Zion, long before Herzl and political Zionism.

Kotel for Yom Yerushalayim restricted for COVID19

At night the scene at the Kotel, Western Wall, was also different than in the past, divided into sections and numbers greatly limited.

Kotel for Yom Yerushalayim with large Israel flag

This Israeli flag displayed before the evening prayers was not small at all!

Jerusalem Day special prayer book at Western Wall

There was a live broadcast of the special evening service, with a special prayer book,

Rabbis at Kotel for Yom Yerushalayim prayers

and with the Israeli Chief Rabbis in attendance.

Cantor Shai Abramson once again led the service with his powerful and impressive voice.

Flagdance at the Kotel on Yom Yerushalayim coronavirus

Thousands of people singing and dancing with flags – not this year.

But there was an enthusiastic FlagDance of coronavirus proportions.

Remembering fallen soldiers at Ammunition Hill official state ceremony

At Ammunition Hill the official state celebration of the liberation of Jerusalem 53 years ago began with remembering fallen soldiers.

President Rivlin speaking on Yom Yerushalayim
photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

President Rivlin spoke and also Prime Minister and Jerusalem Mayor.

Ammunition Hill on Yom Jerusalem 2020

Fireworks ended the program which included musical performances.

The traditional celebration at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav was held outdoors this year, and featured the Prime Minister as a speaker.

Each year the Mayor of Jerusalem rushes from one event to another.

The rest of us have to decide where to go and how to get around the crowds.

This year it was not such a big problem.

Everything was new and different this year and most of it online!

Musical performance near old City walls for Jerusalem Day

Want more? See 2 hours of Jerusalem songs from Yom Yerushalayim   HERE

I love Jerusalem on Tel Aviv municipal building

Even Tel Aviv lit up its love for Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim.

This video was taken 5 years ago, but it’s worth sharing again to hear such beautiful voices.

I posted the video on LinkedIn for Yom Yerushalayim, and surprise!  I found out that the ‘soldier’ on the left is the cousin of an old friend!

On or off the Jerusalem streets, there is always something happening.

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!

Happy Jerusalem Day

 

Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut 2020

Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut 2020

Seeing the world 20-20 used to be an expression of sight.

Hindsight was considered 20-20. This year 2020 took on new meaning.

This year Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, and Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day, moved from the Jerusalem streets to the clouds, to Zoom, and went online.

Until this year, in Jerusalem, Israel, tens of thousands headed to Har Herzl Military Cemetery to visit graves of fallen soldiers on Yom HaZikaron, then on Yom Haatzmaut people gathered in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, and every other Israeli green space for a mangal,  a barbeque, a huge family and friend-filled day.

Israeli Independence Day at Gan Sacher in 2017

Crowds and traditions and the plastic boppers for Yom Haatzmaut parties had grown to huge proportions.

And then there was this year’s schedule:

Lockdown until 8:00 pm on Wednesday night.

Independence Day at Israeli President house in 2017

The Presidential reception for foreign diplomats serving in Israel

Diplomat reception at Beit Hanasi in 2017

was an impressive gathering in the Beit Hanasi back garden.

Yom Haatzmaut at Beit Hanasi 1969 Diplomat Reception

Hundreds of dignitaries filled the area for the event.

This year is Israel’s 72 Independence Day celebration.

Israeli President and Foreign Minister raise a glass in toast with foreign diplomats for Independence Day
photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz joined President Reuven Rivlin at Beit Hanasi before the holiday and raised a glass to the diplomats who watched from a safe distance at home on their screens.

Monday, April 27

8:00 pm – one-minute siren
8:01 pm – ceremony from the Kotel, Western Wall
9:00  pm- Songs and readings in remembering the fallen

Screen shot of Kotel cleared before Yom HaZikaron

For Yom HaZikaron, the Kotel, Western Wall is cleared as usual for the main national opening ceremony.

military guard at flame for Yom Hazikaron at Western Wall

In the past, as seen for many years, the honor guards stood in dress uniform.

Memorial Day at Western Wall 3 in uniform with masks

Again in 2020, the uniforms, but with masks, and the huge crowd was missing.

Western Wall for yom hazikaron

The memorial flame was lit and the Israeli flag lowered.

Western Wall for Memorial Day state ceremony

The ceremony filled the plaza and was televised live.

It can be found on YouTube.

Israeli President Rivlin wearing a mask at Yom Hazikaron ceremony at Western Wall

Seeing President Rivlin stand wearing a mask during Hatikvah after speaking,

Kotel for Yom Haatzmaut ceremony beginning Yom HaZikaron

and honor guard standing with social distancing – was surreal and 2020 strange.

The siren sounded as usual, but even masks could not hide all the emotions.

Crowd and stage in Sultan's Pool for night of music on Yom Hazikaron

The huge musical events in the Sultan’s Pool – not this year.

Tuesday, April 28

11:00 am – two-minute siren
11:02 am – national memorial ceremony from Har Herzl
1:00 pm – a memorial ceremony for victims of terror

5:00 pm – a full lockdown – only leave home for an emergency

7:40 pm – ceremony ending Yom Hazikaron and the beginning of Yom Ha’atzmaut, the annual torch-lighting ceremony

Grave on Israeli Memorial Day with flag and flower

Israeli Memorial Day with flags and flowers was held but no visits to graves this year on the day.

To remember fallen soldiers and victims of terror

Yizkor memorial ribbons and pins and crowds might have been fewer in number,

but the number of online live and video opportunities has never been greater.

And at sunset on Tuesday night, Yom Haatzmaut celebrations started.

Israeli Independence Day signs, celebrating Independence at home 72

New signs lined the Jerusalem streets, “We are celebrating Independence at Home 72.”

The official state ceremony is broadcast annually on Israeli television before a huge crowd.

Israeli Independence Day stage at Har Herzl

This year the colorful sets and 12 honored torch lighters were prerecorded and available on social media outlets.

Still, lots of lights, but the number of performers was greatly reduced.

Coronavirus reduced IDF march of flags at Mount Herzl for Independence Day Yom Haatzmaut 5780

The IDF flag parade had fewer participants but marched again with social distancing.

Yom Haatzmaut at Tower of David

Jerusalem’s official municipal event was held at the Tower of David, a very different event. The Mayor welcomed the audience at home. Rachaeli Fraenkel spoke and musicians sang prayers. No production numbers or dancers, simple and no pulsating lights.

Late-night music was provided by performers who rode around to various neighborhoods.

Wednesday, April 29

10:00 am – annual Jerusalem broadcast from Beit Hanasi
11:00 am – annual World Bible Quiz

3:22 pm  – IAF flyovers saluting medical workers

7:30 pm – Israel Prize Ceremony

I did not go to the President’s house today as I had wanted.

Israeli President House on Independence Day

The big Outstanding Soldiers of the Year event is to be at some future time.

Israeli President Rivlin

However, this year the President came to my house for Yom Haaztmaut.

His official presentation “All Israel from Jerusalem” ended with the Israeli Philharmonic playing Hatikvah.

However, I liked this prayer group gathered outside on the streets also ended with Hatikvah.

Yom Haatzmaut Google with Israeli flag

This was the year Yom Haatzmaut went online, from Jerusalem out to the world.

You can just google it from anywhere now.

Tanach Hidon on Yom Haatzmaut from Jerusalem Israel

Or watch the popular International Bible Quiz competition HERE.

Yom Haatzmaut flyover in Jerusalem Israel

The annual airshow did not happen, but an IAF did flyover the Knesset and Israeli hospitals to honor hospital workers.

The 2020 Israel Prize Award ceremony at the end of Yom Haatzmaut was also prerecorded and broadcast online.

After Israel Independence Day IDF band on Facebook

And at night after Yom Haatzmaut 2020, the IDF provided more music on Facebook with”Party like it’s 1948.”

Now you can join in anytime to celebrate Israel’s 72 Independence Day at home.

It’s possible from your homes around the globe this year.

Jerusalem Independence Day dinner for two

We’re celebrating and staying off the Jerusalem streets, this year 2020.

Let’s hope we can all celebrate together, next year in Jerusalem.

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780

From Jerusalem, Israel, on Monday,  April 20, 2020, at 8:00 pm (Israel time), the official Opening Ceremony for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780 will be broadcast from Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance, on Yad Vashem’s website and Facebook page.

Following the advice of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, in his autobiography “Man’s Search for Meaning” – “What matters is to make the best of any given situation.”

This year the ceremony was pre-recorded without an audience due to restrictions of the pandemic coronavirus COVID19.

Stage at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah with memorial flame lit

The ceremony will comprise traditional elements, including prerecorded video remarks by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Naomi Cassuto will speak on behalf of the survivors. 

Yad Vashem Council Chairman and Holocaust survivor Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will kindle the Memorial Torch as he has done many times in the past.

Rabbi Y M Lau pointing to himself as a child in large photo in Yad Vashem

 In this photo, the Rabbi is pointing to himself as a child soon after liberation, sitting with a group of US army soldiers and other Jewish survivors. 

Survivors and young relative lighting flame at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah

During the ceremony, six traditional memorial torches will be lit.

The stories of six Holocaust survivors featured this year are the following: the first torch– Zohar Arnon– second– Aviva Blum-Wachs; third–Haim Arbiv; fourth- Leah Reuveni; fifth–Avraham Carmi; and sixth– Yehuda Beilis

Lighting memorial flame at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah

In the past, a child or grandchild assisted each torch lighter,

Light a torch at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah

often wearing an IDF uniform. Frankl’s words: ‘to turn from tragedy and suffering to human achievement and accomplishment’ are exemplified in the faces of those lighting the memorial torches.

Israeli singers Shiri Maimon and Shai Tzabari will participate in the ceremony, which will also include narrative pieces written by Holocaust survivor Jack Weber, and recited by Israeli actor Zohar Straus. The MC for the ceremony will be Danny Cushmaro. 

The ceremony will feature the traditional memorial service, including the recitation of a chapter from Psalms by Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau. The Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef will recite the mourner’s Kaddish, and Cantor Daniel Dahan will recite El Maleh Rahamim, the Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs.

To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, when public gatherings have been banned in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide, Yad Vashem has asked the public to participate in an international campaign to record themselves reciting the names of Holocaust victims, and share the video on social media using the hashtags #RememberingFromHome #ShoahNames.

Yom Hashoa victims photos at Yad Vashem

“Join us and mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year from your homes,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “Help us to restore the memory of those murdered during the Holocaust, as you do each and every year. Although the circumstances this year are unique, the message is still the same: We will never forget their names.”

Photographs are from RJS previous visits to Yad Vashem.

For the ceremony when Shimon Peres was President click here.

Background noise interfered with our recording in the private room where the torch lighters and their invited family members gathered before the ceremony. It was a very different feeling than the ominous silence during the short videos presented during the ceremony relating each of the survivor stories. In this room, this gathering felt more like a party. A celebration. A triumph of good over evil. We survived. Proudly, see what we have accomplished.

Behind the scenes with RJS in 2016 click here.

To conclude, HaTikvah from last year

The Hope for better times ahead for all.

Never Again.

#RememberingFromHome #ShoahNames.