Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day Week

Before 1967, Jerusalem was a sleepy old place, divided by a No-man’s Land. The buses arrived from the Tel Aviv area, chugging their way slowly up the winding, twisting Route One.

Jewish tourists were denied access to the Old City from 1948 – June 1967. Jews were not allowed to live in the Old City under Jordanian occupation. One had to go to the roof of Notre Dame to view the forlorn site of the Jewish Temple centuries ago.

Oh, how things have changed!

This year the population of Jerusalem is projected to exceed a million people.

Mayor Moshe Lion spoke at the annual Yekiray Yerushalayim, Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day event held at the Israel Museum on May 6th.

The previous venue for the event has been the Tower of David which is now under renovation and filled with construction equipment to make it accessible. For centuries the Tower of David was used as a military fortress to keep people out, now it is being redone to welcome everyone.

Renovation work also continues in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

This area was fenced off after it was sprayed with a questionable chemical.

It’s the time of year I love, when multiple colors line the Jerusalem streets.

A long time favorite, these bird of paradise are near the Knesset.

Pretty image of weeds

Even the weeds looked attractive in the evening light this week.

Other signs of returning to life, as Jerusalem festivals are back. Some are hybrid, consisting of live and recorded presentations, as was The Jerusalem Writers Festival on May 3-5th.

President Reuven Rivlin came to the Jerusalem Cinematheque to kick off
the 4th International Conference on the Freedom of the Press hosted by the Jerusalem Press Club.

The five journalism prize finalists were able to attend the live opening event held in the small theater, but most of the conference was online.

The week after Lag B’Omer was a time for weddings and celebrations. As I walked thru Mamilla Mall all I had to do was to look up to find a wedding.

Ramadan continues for another week, nightly Muslim families come to celebrate in the Old City after day time fasting.

Muslim men arrived at Jaffa Gate, with prayer rugs over their shoulder.

President Rivlin received suggestions for forming a new government at Beit Hanasi, the President’s Residence. Are we on the way to election #5?

Museum of Tolerance

The Museum of Tolerance appears to be nearing completion,

while work on the Netanyahu house continues,

and road work – too many locations to keep track of closings.

This year Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, is to go for a full week.

Jerusalem Day Israeli flags dancing in street

Last year under the corona cloud and lockdown there were no large celebrations for Yom Yerushalayim, the flags and dancing and parades were missing from the Jerusalem streets. This year the event is to return beginning on Monday afternoon, May 10th. In the evening following Jerusalem Day, the traditional Flag Dance will take place in the Old City at the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, plus multiple other events and locations.

From the May 6 opening honoring accomplishments of long-time Jerusalem residents to the special Shabbat service at the Great Synagogue hosting the Jerusalem Mayor, and until a closing concert at Safra Square on May 13th– the celebrations have returned to Jerusalem.


A festive prayer service is to be held at the Kotel, in honor of 54 years since the liberation of Jerusalem. It will begin, at 7:30 pm, on Sunday, May 9th,  as usual, combined with prayers in memory of those killed and for the recovery of those wounded at the tragedy at Mt. Meron, as well as prayers of thanksgiving for the miracle of Israel’s recovery from the coronavirus. Added will be a mass “hagomel” blessing for the first time during the Jerusalem Day eve prayers to offer gratitude for Israel’s recovery following more than a year of the pandemic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGgZbjYo1wA

Everyone can join using the above link for the live broadcast on the platforms of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Jerusalem Municipality, and itraveljerusalem.

To conclude, I am sharing Eitan Asraf’s excellent video, with visuals and edits in under 8 minutes, he has captured a wonderful overview of Jerusalem. Jerusalem Day is to be extraordinary. City website HERE

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!

Week Filled with Ups and Downs in Jerusalem

Oh what a week this was!

I had to do this post over and over again.

A week of extreme ups and downs, more than the usual rollercoaster.

The flags were flying high as the last week in April began.

Israeli flags draped down on the Israel Museum.

The wind was blowing so hard, the canvas police post had to be held down.

Every day I walked a different route so I could share the news. One scene was this building rising and changing the Jerusalem skyline over Jaffa Road.

The winter igloo capsules at First Station were being removed and simple shades were taking their place as the summer weather arrived.

The new National Library building exterior is nearing completion.

The new Knesset Museum interior is finally beginning renovations.

The new municipal bike stations are being prepared in popular locations.

The week also began in Gan Haatzmaut, Independence Park with a ‘Justice for Sarah Halimi’ rally. When I tried to give directions to a couple in French, only a fractured Hebrew phrase came out of my mouth. Around the world, protests were held after the French court let her murderer go free.

Call it French Square or Paris Square, it’s been dug up and work has begun.

Then the Mayor’s Office announced a long list of planned new road work.

I lost count of how many times these have been knocked down replaced on the newly redone street by Paris Fountain.

Finally, there are signs up directing the way to the Kotel, Western Wall.

The week started with bagpipers out in their tartans for Palm Sunday.

Women in the Old City walked carrying a palm. Yesterday was the ‘Holy Fire’ and today is Orthodox Easter Sunday and holiday crowds are returning.

On Mondays, the bar mitzvahs go all day long, with songs and prayers.

I think it went a bit too long for one young fellow. I assume the corona dividers going back up was not his issue, more the long day and afternoon sun that got him down.

New welcome signs have been put up with corona regulations.

Progress finally is visible on the elevator up to the Old City from the Kotel.

Flags and flowers were up in the Armenian Quarter and looking good.

Floral wreaths were placed down along the wall for the April 25th Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day commemoration.

Then a few days later, the dedication of a new 180 car parking lot was held.

This was the site as archeologists went down below street level last month. It seems a major hotel will not arise any time soon in the Armenian Quarter.

But I predict traffic will increase greatly here as soon as the news of newly available convenient parking spreads.

New signs for the May 5th Jerusalem challenge race,

and May 14th special cycling event in Jerusalem went up near Jaffa Gate.

Ramadan continues another two weeks with signs posted each week for street closings around the Old City as tens of thousands of Muslims arrive to pray.

Shopping during the days of Ramadan is allowed, eating begins at sundown.

It was also Pesach Sheni, a month after Passover, and I found one man dressed for the occasion walking from the Old City to the light rail train.

Oh how nice, “return to routine” signs were up.

Also ‘Jerusalem is proud of you’ signs were posted over the streets.

New blue information signs are now on historical buildings of interest and popped up in many neighborhoods and popular Jerusalem streets.

And colorful flowers line many Jerusalem streets, I put more HERE.

By Thursday afternoon Lag B’Omer preparations were well underway,

Last year during the pandemic, Lag B’Omer was broadcast live from Meron.

Traditionally Mt. Meron, not Jerusalem, is the place to be on Lag B’Omer.

But large bonfires were prepared ready for the night long celebrations.

Fires were to be limited this year to only designated areas in Jerusalem. There were fewer than in past years, the smoke was not as strong, but we closed our windows anyway as night fell.

As I have written before Lag B’Omer is not my favorite holiday. Two years ago, for Lag B’Omer, I shared my photos of Meron on a quiet day.

This year, I was watching again on YouTube Live stream as the huge crowd was singing, responding loudly to the declarations recited at the end of the Yom Kippur service, and dancing…and singing in unison – Ani Ma’amin, I believe…

Then, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, the joy turned to tragedy.

What a night!

What a week of extreme highs and lows.

Sunday was declared a national day of mourning. The flags have been lowered to half-mast. However, there’s no wind to blow the flag over the Knesset. Today only rising temperatures.

Photo credit: Mark Neyman GPO

On Friday, President Rivlin lit 45 memorial candles, one for each life lost.

The greatest civilian disaster in Israel’s history reaches and touches everyone. This was a week of so many ups and downs

Photo credit: Mark Neyman GPO

Today President Rivlin visited the L. Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir to thank the staff for their tireless work in identifying the victims of the Har Meron tragedy.

And as President Rivlin said to the families of the victims: “It is hard to grasp the pain of the families who saw in Shabbat not knowing the fate of their loved ones and came from Shabbat to the cemeteries. I am with you in your pain; all Israelis are with you in your pain.”

When it is hard to find the right words, I will end with the traditional text appropriate to comfort mourners:

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Jerusalem Sounds of Music

Who would think the quiet sounds of Jerusalem parks would be a good thing? But children are back in school after a long year at home. Public parks are hosting group activities again, not just providing for family health and sanity with a break out of the house during the day.

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At Takhana Rishona, First Station, on a recent Friday morning, deliveries arrived early for open area dining, and inside seating dining as well.

An outdoor yoga class in the center tent area was happening,

as the aroma of fresh brew from the new coffee bar filled the air.

I was off to meet with Daniel and Yedidia Schwartz near JETH – the Jerusalem Entrepreneur Tourism Hub. A perfect location for their new tour innovation to begin.

Great seeing other groups also as we set off on foot from the Takhana.

The first stop was the Khan Theater, where Daniel, a professional tour guide, told us that the site was built in 1853 as a silk factory. However, it became a night hostel (a khan in Arabic) for Christian pilgrims on their way to Bethlehem, and Jewish travelers on the way to Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs. Since 1968, it has been a popular theater venue.

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Minutes away under the St. Andrew Scottish Guesthouse, near the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, is an archeological site of importance.

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A burial area from First Temple times, featuring posters with excellent explanations concerning the finds, including silver amulets with old Hebrew Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing engraved on them.

Daniel’s tour of Ketef Hinnom and the First Temple period burial site added a new dimension with additional and interesting information.

However, what distinguished this tour from others was the music. Daniel and his brother Yedidia, a professional violinist with the Jerusalem Symphony, entertained us, providing relaxing interludes along the way.

At one of my favorite off-the-street locations, there was time to sit and appreciate nature,

and historical sites, including the Tower of David, along the way to Yemin Moshe and Montefiore Windmill.

Yemin Moshe is a perennial favorite, who can’t but enjoy its beautiful lanes.

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Near the Montefiore Windmill, deserted for so long, people were enjoying the spring-like weather and being out and about again.

In the park area behind King David Hotel, the history of the hotel was retold as nearby groups were getting in their partying before Ramadan.

Celebrating graduation 2021 – and oh what a year it was.

The Lion Fountain had children splashing in the cool water again.

Tourists were learning about the Templar Meeting House next to the Orient Hotel. Tours are for Israelis, with most in Hebrew, as international visitors are limited until May 23rd.

After the Templar houses of Emek Refaim Street, we left for what was advertised as the “Secret Garden.”

In 1880, Martin Pauser built this building as a baker, and he also sold ice cream. During the War of Independence, women and children from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel took refuge here, on what is now called Patterson Street.

In the garden, the tour ended with more music – and wine. I refused to drink so early in the day. But seated in the lovely garden, I felt like I was on a holiday vacation far away – but yet so close to home.

At each stop on the tour, people who walked by would take out their phones and cameras to record the lovely sounds. This tour group was recording us at the last stop, so I finally decided time to take their photo in return.

But really, who could blame them?

The sounds of music and beauty were a treat to celebrate the opening up of Jerusalem streets after a year of repeated closures.

Jerusalem Photo Walks are starting again, in real life and online.

As a guest of Tour de Sound, another way to enjoy the Jerusalem streets

photo credit: Spokesperson Mayor’s Office

Also new – the municipality announces bike rental stations!.

Hope to see you all in Jerusalem one day soon.