Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem

 Did you hear about Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, Israel?

By now you must have heard that Mitt Romney was in Jerusalem

on the fast day of Tisha B’Av. 

 I had no details on the Romney press conference when I posted last week,

 but an hour later I had all the information I wanted.

What a wonder, the internet!

Even no food or water for 24 hours could not keep me away.

The Old City Walls were in the background as

"photo The Old City Walls'  "image mayor Jerusalem"

 Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat waited to welcome Romney to the stage.

"photo Romney", "image Romney"

Flags and a line of security lined the entrance route.

Already there have been hundreds of reports 

and millions of words written about the speech,

"Photo Romney Jerusalem", "image windmill", Picture Romney

which was given in the plaza near the Montefiore Windmill.

Only a small select crowd attended the Romney events.

However, what else did you hear about Tisha B’Av?

Did you hear that the night before, hundreds of people

"photo Tisha B'Av" , "image J street", "J Street photo"

   were out on the Jerusalem streets walking around the walls of

"photo  Jerusalem gate" . "picture Jerusalem",

 The Old City, passing first by the New Gate, new from 1887?

"photo light rail", "Jerusalem light rail image", Jerusalem photo

The new addition this year were the active Jerusalem light rail trains.

"picture east jerusalem", "photo J Street', Image crowd

As last year, Tisha B’av and Ramadan coincided,

"Damascus Gate photo", Image Damascus gate,. "Picture Shear Shcem.

so Damascus Gate at midnight was still celebrating.

"photo Damascus Gate"., "image horse", "security Jerusalem"

I only got one chance to take a photo, as security moved me away.

"Photo Jerusalem" Image jerusalem

Cameras and security were ready for trouble.

"dirty street" , "photo east  Jerusalem"

But the most shocking scene I could find was of all the garbage on the street.

The Women in Green had to petition the court to be allowed to walk,

though this was the 18th year for this event.

Like last year, I was impressed with the number of people

and the variety of the crowd that stayed 

so late at night for the closing speeches at the Lion’s Gate.

At 1:00am some marchers headed home while the buses were still running.

Others walked to the Dung Gate entrance to The Kotel, The Western Wall,

where many people stayed all night.

Tens of thousands of people,

peacefully celebrated Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem.

There was no violence, therefore it was not news.

This one minute video may help you feel the mood of the night.

"ramadan photos", "image Ramadan" , "picture Mamilla Mall

As I walked home at 2:00 am, the closed Mamilla Mall was full of people.

I noticed that it was decorated with strings of colorful lights

for the Muslim holy time of Ramadan.

Another sign of Israeli oppression?

For more on Romney visit click here.

 More photos from the Walk around the Walls.

Journeys to Jerusalem

Spring is usually the perfect season for a trip to Israel.

However, this year 15,000 runners in the Jerusalem marathon events

"marathon", "runners", "Old City"

ran in the cold and rain as they entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate. 

Marathon runners were not the only visitors to Jerusalem,

as tourists from all over the world have been coming in record numbers.

"J Street", "view", Old City, "steps"

I met up with one tour group called The Land and Spirit Mission sponsored by

 the Jewish Learning Institute, the educational arm of the Chabad movement.

"runner", "crowd at race", "marathon runner photo",

Near Jaffa Gate, they were able to learn about the Tower of David

and cheer on the leaders of the 10 Kilometer race.

Kosel, "men at Wailing Wall"  , "Western wall raining"

No matter the weather, visitors near the Kotel, Western Wall

"wailing wall"

 want to pose and smile for photos.

"men at wailing wall"

As one of the rabbis with the tour group spoke,

"women wailing wall"  "rain"

 some of the women climbed on chairs to see and hear.

 From the United States and from around the world, 150 participants

came to experience and learn more about Judaism and Israel.

"posed photo"

Rain, cold weather and grey skies could not dampen their spirits.

"group photo"

For some participants it was their first trip to Israel;

others had visited many times.  Jerusalem is always changing, 

 every day there is something new to see and discover.

"Mamila Mall", Old City, "east jerusalem"

One stop on the tour of the Old City was Mamilla Mall, 

once part of “no man’s land” during the years under Jordanian rule.

Now the new pedestrian shopping area has many restaurants

and is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

"Muslim market", "Jews in Muslim Quarter"

It is quite a contrast to the old Arab shuk.

"view", "Dome of the Rock", "muslim", East Jerusalem"

Going through the narrow streets of the Old City,

we found one of the most incredible views …and a bit of blue sky.

"street in Old City", "Hurva Synagogue" , "tour guide'

A few minutes later outside the entrance to the Hurva Synagogue,

while listening to the story of the restoration of the historic building,

it started to hail.

"big shul", "shul door", "open door"

A perfect time to go inside to see the impressive sanctuary.

"view", ""chandelier", "women sitting"

As women listened from above in the women’s section,

"photo Hurva", "Hurva synagogue picture"

 the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch,

spoke to the group.

He began by praising the Chabad rabbis in the audience

and their organization for their important work around the world.

There is wisdom of the head, the rabbi told the group, 

but the “Jewish people also have wisdom of the heart”. 

"Runners" , "running picture"

In the cold rain and hail, it is heart, not the mind, that kept the runners going.

Throughout the centuries the longing for Jerusalem inspired many

to take the difficult journey to Jerusalem.

So how could a little bad weather possibly ruin a trip to Israel?

The Land and Spirit Mission was organized by Zev Jacobson

and his team at Israel Maven Tours.

Israel Maven, dedicated to providing a high-quality trip to Israel

for individuals, families, communities, and corporations,

ran a great program despite the lousy weather.

 It was great fun to see some old friends and former neighbors,

"bag" , "tour bag", "people in the rain"

even if it was hard to photograph them dressed for the weather conditons.

Hope to see you too in Jerusalem…soon.

Jerusalem Marathon 2012 is Coming

The Jerusalem Marathon is coming.

 Jerusalem marathon sign image

Signs announcing the March 16th event seem to be everywhere.

For months now, the grounds near Gan Sacher, Sacher Park ,

Jerusalem marathon route image

both along the marathon route around the park 

and in the park have been improved.

Roads leading into the park have new bollards installed.

While around the world “Occupy” tent cities have been emptied, 

often by police on horseback in riot gear,

Gan Sacher park image, Jerusalem marathon image

the tents near the main entrance of Gan Sacher

occupy tent image, Jerusalem tent city

 are still occupied.

occupy tent image.Jerusalem tent city image

In spite of a rainy and cold winter,

Gan Sacher tent city image

families live in the makeshift dwellings.

tent city school trip image, Gan Sacher tent image

These young people may be on the ultimate social justice field trip,

occupy tent image , Jerusalem tent city image

 wanting to interview people who have refused offers of temporary housing.

With thousands of people expected in Jerusalem for the marathon,

it is hard to imagine that this scene

occupy tent image , "Jerusalem tent city"

and these structures will still be here next month

when the Second Jerusalem Marathon is run.

If you missed the marathon last year, be sure and see:

The 2011 Jerusalem Marathon