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

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.

After the Fasts

Not eating or drinking is called a “fast,”

but without water and morning coffee…”slow” would be more accurate for me.

 The Tisha B’Av fast started on Monday, August 8, 2011 at nightfall,

this post should have been out on Tuesday, but even after the fast…sorry–still slow.

 Mourning the destruction of Jerusalem in the reunified Jerusalem

is a unique experience.

 Tens of thousands of people gather at the Kotel, the Western Wall,

and sit on low chairs or on the stones to recite the sad verses of Eicha and Kinot.

For so many centuries,  The Book of Lamentations asks…Alas, how could it be?

Some opt to sit

 alone,

while others prefer to sit in small groups.  Many stay all night.

As the Jewish Quarter closed for the fast day,

 much of the Muslim Quarter was open

with colorful displays of food to break the Ramadan fast.

Colored lights lined the way of most

but not all the alleyways.

For the seventeenth year in a row,

  Women in Green assembled a large group in Gan Ha’atzmaut, Independence Park

 for prayers and speeches, followed by a walk around the walls of the Old City.

This year they shared the park with the “tent city” protesters

and the night with Ramadan celebrations.

 The march was to begin at 11 pm, much later than usual because of Ramadan.

 For the first time the marchers had to watch out for an empty light rail train.

  It was well after midnight when the group arrived at

Sha’ar Shechem,  the Damascus Gate.

Street vendors and Israeli flags filled the sidewalk and on to the street

 and families and more vendors kept coming.

 Security personnel watched the quiet scene.

After passing Herod’s and Lion’s Gates


the end of the route was in sight.

Dozens of idle buses lined the road ready to transport

 the hundreds of people still coming and going after 1:00am.

The Kotel entrance plaza was a busy place all night.

Near Jaffa Gate a new table was set up to sell photos of the Baba Elazar z”l.

While tens of thousands of people were out on Tisha B’Av in the Old City,

a few minutes away this normally busy intersection was deserted.

This year, Ramadan coincides with the month of August,

so devout Muslims will fast all day and at night crowds will gather to eat and shop.

Abu Sharif, a member of the PLO and former advisor to Arafat,

has called for “Friday intifadas during Ramadan”.

Walking around the Walls on Tisha B’Av concluded peacefully.

Last year thousands of Muslims prayed in Jerusalem every Friday of Ramadan.

It is possible to share the streets of Jerusalem peacefully.

 After the fast, as Israelis head to the airport and up north on vacation

…at least the streets should be a little less crowded.

 

More photos of  Walking around the Walls on The Real Jerusalem Facebook Page.