Jerusalem: Tisha B’Av Lows to Celebration Time

Jerusalem: Tisha B’Av Lows to Celebration Time

When we lived in Australia, Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, fell in winter.

It was a regular work day and school was not on holiday.

How different is the experience of Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, Israel.

Busy streets are shuttered at night, restaurants, wine bars and street cafes are closed.

For hundreds of years, Jews have been mourning and fasting on Tisha B’Av.

Stones left in pile from Second Temple next to Kotel wall Old City Jerusalem Israel

These stones next to the Kotel, the Western Wall, at Robinson’s Arch, are from the ruined Temple, and remain as a reminder.

Independence Park reading of Eicha

As a sign of mourning, every year Jews sit on the ground or on stones, or a low chair, to read Eicha, the Book of Lamentations.

Walk around Walls Women in Green on Tisha Be'Av

For the last 6 years I have joined in the Walk around the Walls, led by Women in Green.

Women in Green Walk around Walls of Jerusalem

Every year I am surprised by the size of the crowd, as hundreds of people of all ages join in, many carrying Israeli flags.

Walk around walls security leading way

Security led the way for the crowd walking around the walls. Security is always a concern, but I have never felt any danger.

New Gate, Jerusalem, Israel at night

First the walk passed New Gate,

Damascus Gate at night

then Damascus Gate,

People with Israeli flag walking by Flowers Gate Old City Jerusalem Israel

and Flowers’ Gate. On this walk I get to see parts of Jerusalem not on my regular routes.

Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich, MK Zeev Elkin, Marc Zell, Yehudit Katsover, Nadia Matar at Lion's Gate Old City Jerusalem Israel

At Lion’s Gate, there was a speech from MK Zeev Elkin, along with others. He also spoke six years ago.

Night at Lion's Gate Jerusalem Israel Old City

Lion’s Gate is where, in 1967,  Israeli soldiers entered to liberate the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation.

Lion Gate on Tisha BeAv for Women in Green

I am always amazed how many people stand and sit on the stones in the middle of the night to listen to speeches.

Lion's Gate security drone on ground after Walk around Walls Old City Jerusalem Israel

New this year were drones over the crowd.  The beautiful horses that used to patrol were missing.

Walls of Old City lit at night Jerusalem Israel

As I walked around to the Kotel, the Western Wall, the walls were illuminated.

Group hearing about excavations in Old City on Tisha Be'Av night

I was not alone as I passed a group listening to a guide in the southern wall excavation.

Night time Old City Tisha B'Av Jerusalem Israel

There were many tour groups and guides sharing the stories of ancient Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Old City section with stones from second temple time and new platform

Walking around to the Kotel, I looked in by Robinson’s Arch, the egalitarian section platforms.

There those ancient stones have remained at the base for millennia.

Western Wall section where stone fell

It is a vast area, and hard to photograph, especially at night. A crop of the photo shows the cracked stone which fell the next day, almost hitting a woman.

Koitel Tisha B'av night Old City, Jerusalem Israel

And as every year, tens of thousands of people were coming and going, sitting and praying, singing, and some even socializing.

Western Wall Plaza on Tisha Be'Av night man and children sitting on stones

They were sitting on the stones or walking somberly, remembering tragedies of old.

View at night of Kotel Plaza excavations

For over 6 years, near the Kotel Plaza under the stones, levels of history are being revealed.

Temple menorah lit at night in front of Hurva Synagogue on Tisha B'Av night

The replica of the golden menorah of the Temple was shining brightly in front of the Hurva Synagogue. It was moved recently when work began on a new elevator access to the Kotel.

Six years of walking around the ancient walls, a simple act that for so many years our ancestors could only dream about. The distance seems less each time, but the hour is always late.

Jerusalem Israel summer festival 360 degrees

A Jerusalem festival this week is called 360 degrees,

however, Tisha B’Av mourning revolves 180 degrees.

After the lows of mourning, the roller coaster of life returns to celebration.

After Tisha B’Av comes a big wedding season.

Jewish wedding in Ein Hemed Jerusalem Israel Judean Hills

A new family starting a new home in Israel.

The situation in Syria is getting more intense.

Hamas continues to burn the south.

However, families from around the world are coming together.

At this wedding in the hills of Jerusalem, as at all Jewish weddings, there is a song to remember Jerusalem.

Not just on Tisha B’Av, but every day, Jerusalem was and is in Jewish prayer.

After Tisha B’Av, so much is happening in Jerusalem, Israel, it is hard to decide what to do first.

For culture, there are large musical performances in Sultan’s Pool and free movies at night in the parks.

For sports fans, there is a street ball tournament and a basketball competition, plus flags are up for 52nd International Children’s Games, set to attract 2000 teenagers.

If you hurry, you could have an up close view, there is a special offer at Kikar Safra, one of the best Airbnb deals ever – HERE

For more Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, photos  HERE

Federation General Assembly Goes out in New Style

The 82nd Annual General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America,

the GA, met in Jerusalem, Israel, over three days this week.

#JFNAGA photo, Netanyahu image, picture Prime Minister speaking

The first night Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was main speaker

at the Jerusalem International Convention Center – ICC.

I spent two days inside the ICC, following a program called

“The Global Jewish Shuk: A Marketplace of Dialogue and Debate,”

so it was great that the farewell ceremony was held outside.

image #JFNAGA, picture from end of Israel general assembly

These chairs and a small stage were set up for GA delegates

and many others in Kikar Safra, Safra Square.

image Naftali Bennett speaking, photo Naftali Bennett at GA

Minister Naftali Bennett was the featured government speaker,

and he showed off his best English for the Anglo crowd.

photo GA, chairmen of GA image, picture from Kikar Safra

Michael Siegal thanked Ronny Douek and

Susie and Michael Gelman for chairing the convention.

And then, 

picture walk to kotel, image GA leaders,

with Mayor Nir Barkat and Natan Sharansky at his side,

he led the crowd out of the government plaza

image GA walk to Western Wall, picture walking to Kotel

 to the sounds of a real brass band.

image walking along Old City walls.

With small US, Israeli and GA flags,

image Palestinian women, picture Israel Arab women, Israel apartheid

they walked along the Walls of the Old City,

picture walk to egalitarian service, GA mixed prayer at Kotel

past Jaffa Gate,

image walking to Kossel, Wailing wall

and up the narrow stone steps,

image women waving flags, picture women going to egalitarian service

with more music and more flag waving along the route.

image going to egalitarian service, image parade through old city.

These children waiting to cross the street in the Old City parking lot

got an eyeful as colorful entertainers joined the GA participants.

The route took them to the new area at Robinson’s Arch.

My challenge is to share with you what it looks like now.

image view of new section for public prayer, egalitarian section western wall, picture new Robinson's Arch

This metal platform is constructed up against the wall,

photo Robinson's Arch enlarged, new area of western wall for women and men

the same huge wall as the Kotel, the Western Wall.

giant stones photo, image large stones near western wall.

These massive ancient stones have not been moved.

image new section of wailing wall, picture women at wall,

From this platform one can reach up to place a note in the wall

from an area where men and women are not separated and can pray together.

image size of new section of western wall, picture egalitarian area, photo of Western Wall new section

This is the new area, the large platform on the upper left,

that Naftali Bennett talked about at the farewell ceremony,

 part of a temporay plan while Natan Sharansky

is trying to work out as a compromise

for Women of the Wall to have Rosh Chodesh singing

and other egalitarian prayer services.

image new area for public at western wall

A plaza open to the public was important for this group,

and the GA ended their conference here, as the sun was setting.

image Old City, photo of Jerusalem,

I passed thousands more tourists from around the world,

coming down the stairs to the Kotel, to the Western Wall,

to experience the ancient and holy place.

 I started to walk home,

after two days of going to exhibit booths,

listening to speakers, meeting new people, running into friends,

and talking and talking, talking too much,

and taking way too many photos.

One woman told me as we were walking, and yes, more talking,

that once she got to Israel, she has not been afraid even once.

I am so glad she also got to know the real Jerusalem streets.