One Night at 26th Jerusalem Book Fair

The Jerusalem International Book Fair has been around for 50 years.

The last one held at the Jerusalem International Convention Center

 was very impressive,  so it was no surprise to once again see 

Jerusalem Book Fair photo, Jerusalem photo tours

the huge halls filled with books and people.

Jerusalem book fair pictures, Jerusalem photo walk

Not just English and Hebrew books, but magazines and digital texts,

Jerusalem book fair photo, Jerusalem photos

from countries and languages all around the world.

Jerusalem book fair picture

The variety of presenters

Jerusalem book fair photo, Jerusalem picture

and visitors was, as always, vast and impressive.

And as in the past, there were many literary cafes and lectures,

all open to public and free of charge.

This year the interest in one event stood out from all the rest.

Jerusalem book fair,

Hundreds of people were not allowed up the stairs

Jerusalem book fair image crowd

and even a few who did get up were stopped by another red barrier.

If this had been a soccer match or concert, there would have been a riot,

as those who arrived on time were so angry not to be allowed in.

But this event was called “The Leader, The Rabbi and The Professor” 

in honor of the publication of “Radical Responsibility:

Celebrating the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks”

and featured Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Lord Jonathan Sacks,

Professor Moshe Halbertal of the Hebrew University, 

and Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau of Kehillat Ramban in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem book fair speakers

First speaker was Rabbi Lau, followed by

Professor Halbertal, seated on the far left, both of whom spoke in English.

Chief Rabbi Sacks in Jerusalem, photo rabbi, Jerusalem book fair

So when Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks began in Hebrew,

the crowd was a bit surprised, but he soon switched to English too.

Jerusalem book fair crowd

And what a crowd it was, as there was not an empty chair.

Jerusalem book fair image

Interesting was the number of young people who came early and got seats.

young boy watching video

This young man in the back of the room found a comfortable spot,

but did not seem too interested in the speakers and did not stay for long.

Jerusalem book fair

So to my friends who were outside and did not have a press pass to get in:

Look at the sea of people who arrived before you and did get in.

Jerusalem book fair crowd

The room was hot and crowded, but

 people were smiling and laughing as Rabbi Sacks finished his remarks.

Jerusalem book fair image

Some in the audience ran out as soon as possible,

but many crowded around to get photos

Chief rabbi Sacks at book fair

and Rabbi Sacks’ autograph in their newly purchased book.

Jerusalem book fair

On the way out, Professor Halbertal

Jerusalem book fair photo

and Rabbi Lau were stopped by well-wishers.

I am not sure if the large crowd came to hear a free lecture,

the Chief Rabbi, Rav Lau or the Professor or all or none of the above.

Jerusalem book fair photo

But many of them stood around afterwards and bought books.

So even though many people say that the written word is dead,

 books are alive and well and thriving in Jerusalem, Israel.

Was this book launch a major success,

that is still up for debate.

However, for all those denied entry, the video is out and here it is:

Updated: February 26, 2013

Two Different Worlds

In many parts of the world books may be going out of style, 

but in Jerusalem book launches happen all the time.

People come to buy the book,

 hear the author talk about it and stand in line to have it autographed.

One such event–of exceptional proportions–took place this week, 

when former Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau came to Jerusalem

to introduce the English translation of his autobiography,

entitled, “Out of the Depths.”

A long line formed as people waited for an hour to have

Rabbi Lau sign their book before the 8:00pm lecture was to begin.

Rabbi Lau spoke in English in the main sanctuary of The Great Synagogue,

where he pointed to the spot where in 1993 he was sworn in as chief rabbi.

He told the audience of his childhood during World War II:

how as a small five-year old, he lost family and home.

A thousand people listened as he told of the trauma of his mother 

pushing him away from her, off the train and to certain death,

towards his older brother and a chance to live. 

From the depths of the Buchenwald concentration camp

he arrived in Eretz Yisroel after the war, an eight-year old with no education,

but was able to continue the long line of his family’s rabbinic dynasty.

As Rabbi Lau spoke I was thinking of a different world.

We were travelling in and out of Jerusalem a few times this week

and each time we had to wait as cars were searched.

Sometimes the person at the front of the line had his papers examined.

Today an Arab woman was found trying to get in a 30 cm knife,

yesterday 19 pipe bombs were found before they could be used.

Dozens of medical cases came into Israel this week and

 88,000 flowers from Gaza were exported through Israel.

Leaving the building, 

if you look to the right you will see this sign.

The survivors of the Holocaust lived through the worst of times,

from less than nothing, they went on to build new lives and families.

The world has given millions and millions of dollars to the PA,

 what have they built?

More photos from the book signing:

Chanukah Lights

One of the names of Chanukah is Chag ha’urim, the Holiday of Lights.

In Jerusalem on the first night of the holiday,

one could find both large public flames

and small private ones.

This bright chanukiah was on display in Mamilla Mall,

but the mall itself, inside

and out, was full of lights.

Each night of Chanukah, hundreds of people tour the Jewish Quarter of the Old City,

many are families with young children who run excitedly through the streets,

counting the lights,

 low and high above.

Some of the flames burn quietly inside a residence,

while others are placed outside by the door post

and closely attended.

The large chanukiah, at the Kotel, the Western Wall, received attention

when it was lit by the chief rabbis on the first night of Chanukah.

However, near by a couple of hours later, these two boys to the left,

  lighting two small candles attracted people who joined in the singing…

maybe off-key, but sharing the light and mood in the spirit of the holiday.

A new Chabad menorah was put up in Mamilla Mall this year

and a crowd gathered waiting for

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger to light it for the first time.

 Chanukah lights burned in a pizza shop in the Old City,

in windows in the city center

and in many windows all around Jerusalem.

So many Chanukah lights and this year for the first time there is a fire truck ready…

 by Mughrabi Bridge at the Kotel Plaza.

Happy Holiday!

Please decide for yourself on the singing:

chanukiah: a special menorah for Chanukah, 8 lights are the same one for each night

and 1 larger the shamash that is used to light the flames of

 the Chanukah lights.