In Jerusalem, Israel, as in most of the world, these have been unusual days,
days during which we have learned not to take things for granted,
Passover holidays in isolation and coronavirus shut-down.
After seeing them upright for days and unlit at night, I was excited to see the building cranes from the Jerusalem Gateway project moving again in the evening sky.
Slowly people began venturing out, walking on the path in a city.
The Kotel, Western Wall Plaza had a new arrangement on Friday Rosh Chodesh Iyar.
Prayer sections were set for regulated separation and distancing.
But, I am not sure how they managed in the rain Shabbat morning.
Oh, the excitement of seeing lights come on in the Knesset building as a unity government was being announced. So excited I only noticed later, that the large flag was down as Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780 was about to begin.
The symbolic memorial flame in place at the edge of the roof and small Israeli flags had been put in place.
However, this year will have little resemblance to last year’s celebrations with flames and flags.
As I went out on the porch to get ready for the Yom HaShoah memorial siren, police wearing masks and blue gloves were stopping traffic.
Even the Jerusalem city bus was stopped and did not breeze through.
Some travel and work restrictions have been lifted.
A student driver with the symbol of the learner car was in the lineup.
Seconds before the 10:00 am siren, all the traffic was let by.
The officers stood quietly in respect of the two-minute memorial siren.
They then started checking cars again before moving on to another location.
I was so focused on the traffic stop, I did not notice at first that flags were up over the street as usual for the holiday season. At least one thing was “normal” in this year of isolation and coronavirus.
A highlight of the crazy isolation day was a special Jerusalem volunteer project.
Today every Holocaust survivor in Jerusalem will have a volunteer standing outside their door during the siren at 10am so they don’t feel alone and wii receive a plant as a gift from the city of Jerusalem. Thanks to Mayor Moshe Lion for this moving initiative during times of Corona and well done to Nicky Cregor for executing this great project: as per Fleur Hassan-Hahoun on social media.
One neighbor had their Israeli flag out for Yom HaZikaron, Remembrance Day, and Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day.
However, In light of the restrictions on movement to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the celebrations for Israel’s 72nd Independence Day to be held at Beit HaNasi this year and the other locations will be recorded and broadcast, not live. I was planning to go, those were quite impressive and fun celebrations in the past.
Oh well, more seriously, families will not be allowed to military cemeteries as usual.
Bereaved families have been asked to make reduced visits to cemeteries in the days before Yom HaZikaron, Remembrance Day, subject to social distancing restrictions.
A general lockdown – similar to that which applied during Passover – will be imposed on Independence Day. The site at Har Herzl for Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day celebration was already well under construction at the beginning of March. That event also was pre-recorded, there will be no huge crowded stands as in the past or all day picnics and trips.
This year it’s back to small private parties and pleasures. We have a new package of hot dogs in the freezer. Maybe it’s time to clean up the backyard grill and just Zoom with friends and family.
The cold winter rains and cloudy skies are over for now and the String Bridge near the entrance of Jerusalem can be seen on a clear day. You never know what will happen (or not happen) next on the Jerusalem streets, as the Municipality is planning major musical productions throughout the city. And fireworks in some neighborhoods. But count on closures for the usual holiday travel time.
When planes fly over Jerusalem to practice for a Yom HaZikaron flyover Har Herzl Military Cemetery, people got excited and ran out to see. Good thing there were multiple flights and I was finally able to get a bit of video. Oh, they are loud and so very fast.
For Yom Haatzmaut, the President has a special message and a chance to have him come to your home in a hologram.
For now, you can take a tour of Bet HaNasi garden from anywhere in the world.
Weather extremes. Hot. Cold and wet. Sand filling the air, turning the sky yellow on Friday.
And we can keep on Zooming along, until next time.