Passover is one of the three festivals
on which there were traditional pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
This year on all the days of Passover
thousands of people walked to the Old City
or arrived by bus after bus, on the intermediate days of the holiday,
dressed in their holiday finest at the Kotel, Western Wall, plaza.
Prayers started early and
went well into the day, with participants all ages
on both sides of the mechitza partition,
and in the new area where all pray together.
Holiday scenes from the Old City
included buses lining the road on the Mount of Olives,
as well as people coming and going as usual.
New to these ancient streets is
the colorful tourist train which starts from Jaffa Gate
and shares the road with buses, cars, segways,
and pedestrians going in both directions.
This year since Passover and Easter coincided,
I was hoping to find more Easter scenes,
but I came much too late for sunrise services.
I did spot a few men leaving the Old City,
perhaps they were Copts from Egypt.
Easter buns and beigele were being sold by the Jaffa Gate
for anyone craving fresh baked goods on Passover.
However, there were more things to do in Jerusalem
than just going to the Old City.
In the roller-blade/skate park in Gan HaPa’amon,
the Liberty Bell Park, Arab parents watched their children skate
along with Jews, both religious and secular.
Nearby, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center
had activities and free tours all day long.
I did not know that tours
had to be booked in advance.
But since we arrived at the end of the day,
we were able to wait a bit and join a tour.
I usually mention the tour on photo walks in the area.
Now that I finally took the tour myself
I will continue to recommend it
for its important historical information
presented in a modern, moving exhibit.
From old to new,
the evolution of the haggadah
was the theme of this Kol HaOt event at Inbal Hotel.
Israeli artists displayed their works,
while speakers elaborated on seder symbols,
design, and the history of haggadot.
The page on the right which reads “Next year in Jerusalem”
illustrated with modern building cranes and trucks.
For me, an illustration of the transition from ancient to modern.
There is so much building in Jerusalem,
things are constantly changing.
A place where one can really appreciate the development
is the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens,
which also had free admission on Passover thanks to Bank Hapoalim.
The new entrance way
leads to the pond
where people gathered to enjoy nature.
eat matzah sandwiches and ice cream treats.
Shin-Min, “pray and and flowers will come out” in Japanese
is carved on this stone, but more than prayers went into
turning this old derelict space into
a beautiful, expansive nature area, with comfortable paths.
Organized tours were available,
but the gardens are divided into well-marked growth areas,
such as Australia and South Africa,
and all the vegetation is identified.
Groups or individuals could easily
meet, eat, and explore
this man-made oasis in the middle of Jerusalem.
There was much more to see in the Botanical Gardens,
but the festive holiday meals involve lots of preparation.
Over the holiday, the overcast skies finally cleared.
Rain was predicted,
but only enough fell to get the dirt out of the air
and cover everything.
but not enough to ruin holiday outings
or the Passover greeting on the buses.