How is this Passover Different than all others?

Passover, Pesach how is this Passover holiday 5784/2024 different from all others?

The new National Library of Israel was open and offered organized tours. This room is filled with unique volumes and ancient works in a modern technological setting.

There is an old colorful illuminated Haggadah used for Passover in the past.

This is the only surviving copy of the first Haggadah printed, in Spain in 1482.

There are also on display two printed in 1952 for the IDF. After 10,000 copies were printed, this secular version which removed Divine deliverance was suppressed at the last minute. Prime Minister Ben Gurion had them collected and destroyed, with only 20 copies surviving.

The National Library was not the only busy place over the holiday time, Mamilla Mall had new art pieces.

Extra security was visible in Mamilla Mall and at other popular tourist locations.

The sign near Jaffa Gate welcomed all with greetings for a Happy Passover.

Once again dozens of museums throughout Israel were open, including the Tower of David Jerusalem.

The Burnt House Museum in the Old City was also one open without an entrance fee.

It was good to be inside on the extremely hot intermediate days of Passover this year.

Despite the intense heat and security concerns, tens of thousands of people arrived Thursday morning for the Birkat Cohanim, Priestly Blessing at the Kotel, Western Wall.

The Kessim, Ethiopian religious leaders were easily spotted standing under their colorful umbrellas with a crowd of followers around them near the live cameramen and the stand for emergency medical care.

The women’s section was especially crowded in the few shaded areas.

However, people were standing in the sun on the rooftops all around the Western Wall plaza for the view.

One man found a quiet spot from the Aish building for a few minutes of private introspection and prayer.

The Chief Rabbis and dignitaries had their vantage point above the crowd.

This year at the end of the morning service with the Birkat Cohanim, special prayers were added for the safe return of the hostages and security in all of Israel.

The family of hostage Eliya Cohen had attended the service at the Kotel and were leaving as more people arrived by way of Jaffa Gate.

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Thousands of people kept coming and going all day and most of the night to the Old City of Jerusalem.

What was different this year was that the crowds were somewhat smaller. Some families who usually come did not. However, other families were in Israel many times, but their first time for Pesach!

This year a cloud hung over the festivities, wanting the hostages to be returned to their families so they too could enjoy the holiday of Pesach, of freedom from bondage.

Everyone is concerned for the safety of soldiers and civilians both north and south and civilians, under constant rocket fire.

More images posted on Facebook HERE

The Haggadah reminds us each year, that enemies arise, but ends with “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Hoping next year to welcome you all to the Jerusalem streets.

How many empty chairs for Passover seder this year?

Passover 2024 or Pesach 5784, will be different from last year on the Jerusalem streets.

The Chag Aviv, or the Holiday of Spring, can be seen in nature as the bees have returned.

As usual, baskets for unopened bread products can be found on the Jerusalem streets,

plus special bins to burn the bits of bread and crumbs on Monday morning before the holiday begins.

However, this year there will be thousands of empty seats at the Seder table on Monday night.

National Library of Israel entrance with faces of the murdered

The faces of the 1,200 murdered in the October 7 Massacre were illuminated in the new National Library.

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence a ceremonial presentation of certificates was held.

The families of the three young Israelis who escaped from their Hamas captivity in Gaza, only to be shot by friendly fire were acknowledged.

Iris Haim mother of Yotam Haim, posed and smiled for a photo. There were more than the usual amount of hugs and tears that day. I refrained from photographing the most powerful scenes.

The next day back at Beit Hanasi, 30 nurses were honored in advance of International Nurses Day. Even though the audience was asked not to photograph, phone cameras were used repeatedly by family members and friends. Each nurse was called up by name and her story was briefly recounted. One was the nurse in Beeri on October 7. One had been taken captive to Gaza on October 7. The hospitals mentioned were from the north to the south of Israel.

One of the nurses was Talya Slotki, the Nursing Coordinator in the Pain Clinic at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, who was awarded an Honorable Distinction for Bravery and Heroism.

Her husband, Rabbi Shmuel Slotki shared their story with our solidarity mission at the beginning of January along with a video of his sons and family.

On the morning of October 7th, their two sons, Noam and Yishai, left their home when the attack began and traveled south to join in the brave defense of the besieged communities along the border. Both sons fought heroically before falling in battle.

For the next week, their exact whereabouts and fate were unknown, before the family was informed that both sons had been killed.

Following the completion of the shiva, Talya continued to work to provide critical medical care in addressing and alleviating pain. Among many of her patients have been soldiers evacuated from the fields of battle who were treated for a wide range of injuries – many included painful orthopedic wounds and burns that have required intensive attention and care.

As I read about the commendation that Talya Slotki received, I remembered when Rabbi Slotki entered the room to speak to our group. Rabbi Doron Perez left his spot at the front of the room and went to hug him.

At 97 days from October 7, Rabbi Perez and supporters completed a Torah in the merit of the return of the members of the Perez tank crew missing since the day Hamas started the war by invading Israel.

A month ago the Perez family had a funeral to bury a bloody shirt after a video was found showing that the young soldier who held off the invasion was not only injured but killed. He was no longer counted among the 133 hostages still possibly alive in Gaza.

As we approach 200 days from the Shabbat Simhat Torah massacre and anticipate Passover the remaining hostage’s fates are unknown.

Table set for Passover meal

Passover tables are being prepared for the seder meal and retelling of the story of freedom from Egypt. The freedom of Israeli hostages and the many empty chairs at the seder are very much in mind.

In addition, the tens of thousands from north and south are still under constant rocket fire and unable to be home for all these months, as well as the soldiers on duty to protect against further attacks.

But to end on a brighter note, the colorful spring flowers are as usual lining the Jerusalem streets.

Now it’s time to finish preparing for Passover.

Hebrew sign Happy Passover, bus sign in Hewbrew

Passover Kosher and Happy

Remember, the Hagaddah ends with “Next year in Jerusalem!” Let’s hope we can all celebrate once again joyfully on the Jerusalem streets!

Jerusalem 6 Months After Forced into the October War

Sitting down to do a weekly post it’s impossible today not to mention last night.

Iran’s attack on Israel overnight, 331 missiles were launched, including:

185 surface-to-surface missiles, 36 cruise missiles, and 110 ballistic missiles. Plus 180 drones for good measure.

All were intercepted except for 7 of the ballistic missiles.

Jerusalem, Israel had its share of interceptions, with one loud siren warning in the middle of the night..

So tired today that my watch ended up in the washing machine for a full cycle.

Surprisingly good news, it has the correct time and is still working!

Since October 7, the cloud formations at sunrise and sunset have been amazing.

A memorial event was held for Lucy Dee and her daughters murdered by terrorists on October 7, 2023.

Rabbi Shlomo Katz joined Rabbi Leo Dee in the new social hall in Efrat in memory of Lucy Dee.

Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi spoke brilliantly as usual.

The hall was crowded to the max with friends and family and for words of Torah, comfort, and song.

The military cemetery in Gush Etzion has grown too crowded these past 6 months.

The new bright colors of spring flowers in Jerusalem offer contrast to lives lost too soon.

Rosh Chodesh Nissan has long been a time for anticipating spring and new life.

This past week a special Women’s Rosh Chodesh event was held at the Yeshurun Central Synagogue.

Hundreds of women and girls filled the sanctuary to hear Sivan Rahat Meir speak.

And join the main event –the musical Women Unite in Prayer – Hallel Nissan – Ricka Razel.

For those who love to hear women singing and celebrating – YouTube HERE

Afterward, walking on Keren Hayesod Street I noticed a new sign for US offices,

and for a new place to eat (and drink) that just opened.

And while stopping to speak with a long-time friend, it started to rain!

Spring rain is good for the new flowers, this Jerusalem flower bed now has two yellow ribbons.

The lions were bright yellow on Friday in the Old City.

Hundreds of children, parents, and grandparents attended special events before the Passover holiday.

It was also Eid al Fitr and hundreds of Muslim families were out near Jaffa Gate on their way to Old City,

and in Mamilla Mall celebrating the end of Ramadan.

So life goes on in Jerusalem, shopping and preparing the Passover, but under the constant reminder of the hostages who are still in captivity to come home and the threat from Hamas and Iran.

Day or night, highlights and beauty abound on the Jerusalem streets.