5 Jerusalem Tu B’Av Scenes Not in Headlines

5 Jerusalem Tu B’Av Scenes Not in Headlines

The full moon was shining over the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

Red balloons were tied outside of restaurants, street cafes, and wine bars.

Celebrations had begun for Tu B’Av, the “Jewish Valentines Day,” the week after  Tisha B’Av. 

Extra security was posted along the path between Yemin Moshe and Sultan’s Pool, where the Jerusalem Film Festival was having its opening night.

Scene 1:

Female Israeli security guarding at night Jerusalem

In the shadows, were three Ethiopian-Israeli women in uniform posted on guard duty by the gate.

Artists Colony at night Jerusalem Israel

The Artists’ Colony was empty, until the International Arts Festival, from August 6 – 18.

Teddy Park Fountain lit at night Jerusalem Israel

But nearby the fountain in Teddy Park was full. Day and night, all summer long, one hears the squeals of children enjoying the water and at night, there is music too.

Scene 2:

Jerusalem Teddy Park Fountain at night Muslim women and children and Jewish women and children

Teddy Park is a place where Muslims and Jews come together regularly, night and day.

Lights on walls of Jerusalem Old city at night

The Old City Walls were lit for the Tu B’Av crowds to enjoy.

Israeli Squash Tournament near Jaffa Gate Jerusalem Old City

In keeping with the RJS theme: “What will you find next on the Jerusalem streets?” the Israeli Squash Tournament was being held near Jaffa Gate.

Israel Squash Tournament in Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate

Israeli athletes competed in a specially constructed area,

Israeli Squash Tournament at Jaffa Gate

playing for large trophies,

Israel Squash Tournament trophies

lots of large trophies and medals for various age groups.

People watching Squash Tournament including Jerusalem Mayor

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was sitting front and center watching a game.

Scene 3:

Arab couple and children watching Squash Tournament in Jerusalem Israel near Jaffa Gate

As they strolled through the plaza, this young Muslim family stopped to watch.

People watching Squash Tournament in Israel near Jerusalem Jaffa Gate

However, I thought this was one event best seen on TV.

Jaffa Gate Tower of David full moon

The moon was shining above as I walked from Jaffa Gate to the Kotel, the Western Wall.

Night of Tu B'Av men at Kotel

The men’s section had many empty chairs and tables.

Tu B'Av women at night at Kotel praying

However, the women’s section was filled with hundreds of women–there was not one empty seat.

Scene 4:

Women praying at Kotel on Tu BeAv

One group praying together was of special interest. Israeli women from across the religious spectrum came from north and south to pray together.

After praying in unison at the Kotel, dozens of women arrived to join them for a Tu B’Av celebration nearby.

Tourists at night at Kotel taking photos

The Old City was filled with thousands of people, tourist groups, and Israelis of all ages. Photos and selfies galore were taken by excited visitors.

Scene 5:

IDF soldier carrying a baby being helped by Haredi men near Kotel on stairs

I will leave you with one last scene on the stairs near the Kotel.

A young IDF soldier was holding a baby on this left arm and a folded stroller on his right arm, with backpacks dangling over his shoulder and his kippa in his hand.

First, one man insisted on taking the stroller from him and up the stairs. Then another young man turned to help to carry the backpacks.

None of these five scenes are considered headline worthy.

But all happened on the night of Tu B’Av on the Jerusalem streets.

With headlines of division, strikes and protests, 5 scenes of comfort, of rays of light in the darkness.

 

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

Best of Passover in Jerusalem

Best of Passover in Jerusalem

The Passover holiday in Jerusalem, Israel, is always a busy time with so much to do.

After days of cleaning and shopping, and a late night seder, what next?

This year I decided not to spend hours in the car along with millions of other Israelis going to lush camping sights and sandy beaches, but rather to stay home and explore what Jerusalem has to offer.

Now to share with you some of the best of Jerusalem for Passover this year 5778.

Where else to start, but with food.

Jerusalem Israel humus shop closed for Pesach

Some restaurants like this new humus place were closed tight for Passover.

Kosher for Pesach Holy Bagel and Shwarma in Old City for Pesach

But not to worry, in Jerusalem, there was an abundance of kosher for Passover places to eat. This Holy Bagel in the Old City is not only mehadrin kosher, but “KOSHER without fear of legumes!”

Pesach pizza and matza in Mamilla Mall for Pesach

With baskets of matza on the table, this potato crust pizza looked good enough to eat. People were standing in lines for seats to taste for themselves.

Pesach in Jerusalem food displayed in window for Pesach

Pizza, rolls, sandwiches, pies, cakes and more…one of the best places for Passover food is in Jerusalem, Israel.

Pesach crowd in Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem, Israel, with two Muslim women walking through the mall

Mamilla Mall was busy and crowded with local shoppers and international tourists, plus entertainment and performances for children.

Pesach in Jerusalem, people dressed in varied clothing

Another favorite was seeing the clothing in the Old City, with many dressed in their holiday finest, wearing every type of outfit imaginable.

View of Tower of David inside Citadel on spring day of Passover

With so many activities for families, it was hard to decide what to do first, as dozens of museums and sites were free for children. The Tower of David had families walking, touring, and climbing.

Ramparts walk in Jerusalem on Pesach

From the Tower of David you could see the Old City ramparts walk with tourists going along the top of the walls of the Old City.

Volunteers pouring water to give away to visitors to Old City on Pesach

Days were warm and the sun beat down midday. But volunteers were in several locations in Old City offering cups of water, free to all who walked by.

Menorah in Rova in front of Hurva Shul for construction of new elevator to Western Wall Kotel

The Golden Menorah was moved near the Hurva Synagogue, where tourists were busy taking photos.

Construction fence at site of new elevator for access to Kotel near steps where menorah had been before in Jewish Quarter

This menorah is a photo posted near where the gold one was located. The Western Wall elevator is to be constructed here.

Remember I said every type of clothing imaginable? How about a Betar uniform from the 1920’s?

Pesach crowd in Kotel plaza after Birkat Kohanim on Pesach

It was reported 100,000 people were at Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing, Monday morning.

Afternoon of Chol HaMoed Pesach at Kotel

In the afternoon and for most of the week, the Western Wall Plaza was still filled with families.

Visitors to Western Wall Plaza from Rova on afternoon of Chol HaMoed Pesach

All day long tens of thousands of people came and went from the Old City.

Visitors line up to go to Temple Mount on Passover afternoon

This line was not at the security entrance leading to the women’s section, but just a long line of tourists waiting to access the Temple Mount.

Pesach afternoon and egalitarian space at Western Wall was empty

The egalitarian section, however, was almost empty. On the right of this photo, if you look very closely, you can see children playing near the stones from the Second Temple.

While so many were in the Old City, other Jerusalem locations were also holiday destinations.

Gan Sacher on Pesach with people grilling and lounging

In Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, smoke filled the air with dozens of extended families grilling meat for large meals, with boxes of matza on the tables.

Passover in Jerusalem, Israel, in Gan Sacher

Children were playing as family members and friends were sitting and talking or playing sports.

Another extremely popular destination was the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.

Botanical Gardens pond on Passover

Thousands of people wandered the grounds over Passover.

Pond lily in Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

I was fascinated by these flowers in the pond. There is so much beauty in what was formerly a garbage dump.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens children's activity on Passover

There were planned and supervised activities for children,

Boy and girl looking at flowers in Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

as well as colorful flowers to capture their attention.

Jerusalem park on Pesach with people eating and grilling

Nayot Park was one of dozens of Jerusalem parks where grills were going, smoke was rising, and matza was on the table.

One parking spot is worth standing until your car arrives in Jerusalem on Passover

Driving in many locations took much longer than usual. Finding parking was not always easy. A free parking spot in a good location was worth saving.

There were varied musical events at night, too numerous to list.

Old places like Hansen House were full of activity.

So much was happening in Jerusalem this Passover week.

More photos: Old City HERE    Gan Sacher HERE   Botanical Gardens  HERE

I will end with a video of the Birkat Kohanim,

Pesach in Gan Sacher two little boys palying

and one of my favorite photos, of these young cousins getting to know each other at a Gan Sacher picnic.

Wishing all a good holiday and Shabbat Shalom