Oh, what a week it was.
The Jerusalem streets are always bumpy with highs and lows, nothing seems to be straight or planned with logic. Maps and photos can not capture the topography of Jerusalem.
When the week and day start with the heaviest dust storm you have experienced, how nice it was to wander on the Jerusalem streets, just as the sun is beginning to set. The dust cloud lifting was a perfect opportunity to take a photo of the sun in the sky from a newly developed area in the Baka neighborhood.
I was on my way to a post-Passover Mimouna celebration (delayed for one night) with a gorgeous table laid out for the invited guests.
Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum was a marvelous hostess! Her boundless energy greeted each person who arrived over several hours as if they were as important as the Mayor of Jerusalem who arrived late.
Flyover rehearsal for Yom Haatzmaut, Israel Independence Day was another favorite high of the week. New stunts are planned for this year!
The first time back to Har Herzl, after two long years for an event, I walked past the military cemetery on my way to Yad Vashem.
The official Israel State Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day took place on Wednesday, at 8:00 pm, in Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem, on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Israel.
The testimony videos are readily available on the Yad Vashem website and are highly recommended, with subtitles in Hebrew and English.
I decided to share with you behind-the-live camera scenes.
Leaders of the several international interfaith groups in attendance found
the atmosphere is different from watching on a screen alone from home.
It seemed to me that more international media was on site this year, after corona severely limited attendance to the ceremony for the past two years.
The faces of the torch lighters standing proud, each with a horrific story of their survival but beaming with the hope of future generations, are inspiring and uplifting, as seen here – Zvi Gill,
The numbers of survivors decrease but young leaders and IDF groups are seated in the back each year. It is not common to see children attending, but David brought his young son to Yad Vashem for the powerful event.
In the large crowd, it was not possible to find them afterward for a comment or to find long-time friends from overseas in attendance.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s son and family seated in the center of the second row were a focus of the media.
Former President Reuven Rivlin met with and posed with some of the GPO photographers he spent time with over the years.
Former Prime Minister and now Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu made a much less dramatic and quieter entrance than in the past.
The IDF Honor Guard was back on stage standing at attention as usual.
The new Prime Minister and President of Israel made their entrance along with their wives and a few other Israeli officials with multiple cameras aimed close to their faces.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau lit the flame as he has done in the past.
The crowd watched the TV live stream broadcast projected on a screen.
I was able to get close to Naftali Bennett speaking for the first time as Prime Minister at the Yad Vashem ceremony.
How sad that Shmuel Blumenfeld z”l passed away after doing his video, two weeks before the ceremony, but his son Aryeh was present and lit the torch in his honor and memory.
Each year the survivors are assisted by a close relative, often a grandchild serving in the Israel Defense Force. Their faces show expressions of defiance and survival against incredible odds to move forward and rebuild their lives.
Before leaving the plaza, President Isaac and Michal Herzog went to speak with the honor guard after the ceremony ended.
Benjamin Netanyahu did also before making a quiet exit from the plaza.
Ayelet Shaked stopped for a photo with an admirer on her way out.
And Walter Bingham, 98 years young, standing straight and strong, a survivor originally from Germany, still working as a professional journalist, was honored with a special seat.
From the Yad Vashem entrance lit at night,
I walked down Har Herzl past the military cemetery entrance again, where Israeli flags had been lowered to half-mast for Yom HaShoah.
Further, on the way home, I passed the blue and white lights and flags that were ready for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut to follow this week.
The crowd always stands at the end of the official opening Yom HaShoah commemoration in Jerusalem, Israel to sing HaTikvah – The Hope.
The Jerusalem streets are not straight, but there is always hope.