Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut 2020

Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut 2020

Seeing the world 20-20 used to be an expression of sight.

Hindsight was considered 20-20. This year 2020 took on new meaning.

This year Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, and Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day, moved from the Jerusalem streets to the clouds, to Zoom, and went online.

Until this year, in Jerusalem, Israel, tens of thousands headed to Har Herzl Military Cemetery to visit graves of fallen soldiers on Yom HaZikaron, then on Yom Haatzmaut people gathered in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, and every other Israeli green space for a mangal,  a barbeque, a huge family and friend-filled day.

Israeli Independence Day at Gan Sacher in 2017

Crowds and traditions and the plastic boppers for Yom Haatzmaut parties had grown to huge proportions.

And then there was this year’s schedule:

Lockdown until 8:00 pm on Wednesday night.

Independence Day at Israeli President house in 2017

The Presidential reception for foreign diplomats serving in Israel

Diplomat reception at Beit Hanasi in 2017

was an impressive gathering in the Beit Hanasi back garden.

Yom Haatzmaut at Beit Hanasi 1969 Diplomat Reception

Hundreds of dignitaries filled the area for the event.

This year is Israel’s 72 Independence Day celebration.

Israeli President and Foreign Minister raise a glass in toast with foreign diplomats for Independence Day
photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz joined President Reuven Rivlin at Beit Hanasi before the holiday and raised a glass to the diplomats who watched from a safe distance at home on their screens.

Monday, April 27

8:00 pm – one-minute siren
8:01 pm – ceremony from the Kotel, Western Wall
9:00  pm- Songs and readings in remembering the fallen

Screen shot of Kotel cleared before Yom HaZikaron

For Yom HaZikaron, the Kotel, Western Wall is cleared as usual for the main national opening ceremony.

military guard at flame for Yom Hazikaron at Western Wall

In the past, as seen for many years, the honor guards stood in dress uniform.

Memorial Day at Western Wall 3 in uniform with masks

Again in 2020, the uniforms, but with masks, and the huge crowd was missing.

Western Wall for yom hazikaron

The memorial flame was lit and the Israeli flag lowered.

Western Wall for Memorial Day state ceremony

The ceremony filled the plaza and was televised live.

It can be found on YouTube.

Israeli President Rivlin wearing a mask at Yom Hazikaron ceremony at Western Wall

Seeing President Rivlin stand wearing a mask during Hatikvah after speaking,

Kotel for Yom Haatzmaut ceremony beginning Yom HaZikaron

and honor guard standing with social distancing – was surreal and 2020 strange.

The siren sounded as usual, but even masks could not hide all the emotions.

Crowd and stage in Sultan's Pool for night of music on Yom Hazikaron

The huge musical events in the Sultan’s Pool – not this year.

Tuesday, April 28

11:00 am – two-minute siren
11:02 am – national memorial ceremony from Har Herzl
1:00 pm – a memorial ceremony for victims of terror

5:00 pm – a full lockdown – only leave home for an emergency

7:40 pm – ceremony ending Yom Hazikaron and the beginning of Yom Ha’atzmaut, the annual torch-lighting ceremony

Grave on Israeli Memorial Day with flag and flower

Israeli Memorial Day with flags and flowers was held but no visits to graves this year on the day.

To remember fallen soldiers and victims of terror

Yizkor memorial ribbons and pins and crowds might have been fewer in number,

but the number of online live and video opportunities has never been greater.

And at sunset on Tuesday night, Yom Haatzmaut celebrations started.

Israeli Independence Day signs, celebrating Independence at home 72

New signs lined the Jerusalem streets, “We are celebrating Independence at Home 72.”

The official state ceremony is broadcast annually on Israeli television before a huge crowd.

Israeli Independence Day stage at Har Herzl

This year the colorful sets and 12 honored torch lighters were prerecorded and available on social media outlets.

Still, lots of lights, but the number of performers was greatly reduced.

Coronavirus reduced IDF march of flags at Mount Herzl for Independence Day Yom Haatzmaut 5780

The IDF flag parade had fewer participants but marched again with social distancing.

Yom Haatzmaut at Tower of David

Jerusalem’s official municipal event was held at the Tower of David, a very different event. The Mayor welcomed the audience at home. Rachaeli Fraenkel spoke and musicians sang prayers. No production numbers or dancers, simple and no pulsating lights.

Late-night music was provided by performers who rode around to various neighborhoods.

Wednesday, April 29

10:00 am – annual Jerusalem broadcast from Beit Hanasi
11:00 am – annual World Bible Quiz

3:22 pm  – IAF flyovers saluting medical workers

7:30 pm – Israel Prize Ceremony

I did not go to the President’s house today as I had wanted.

Israeli President House on Independence Day

The big Outstanding Soldiers of the Year event is to be at some future time.

Israeli President Rivlin

However, this year the President came to my house for Yom Haaztmaut.

His official presentation “All Israel from Jerusalem” ended with the Israeli Philharmonic playing Hatikvah.

However, I liked this prayer group gathered outside on the streets also ended with Hatikvah.

Yom Haatzmaut Google with Israeli flag

This was the year Yom Haatzmaut went online, from Jerusalem out to the world.

You can just google it from anywhere now.

Tanach Hidon on Yom Haatzmaut from Jerusalem Israel

Or watch the popular International Bible Quiz competition HERE.

Yom Haatzmaut flyover in Jerusalem Israel

The annual airshow did not happen, but an IAF did flyover the Knesset and Israeli hospitals to honor hospital workers.

The 2020 Israel Prize Award ceremony at the end of Yom Haatzmaut was also prerecorded and broadcast online.

After Israel Independence Day IDF band on Facebook

And at night after Yom Haatzmaut 2020, the IDF provided more music on Facebook with”Party like it’s 1948.”

Now you can join in anytime to celebrate Israel’s 72 Independence Day at home.

It’s possible from your homes around the globe this year.

Jerusalem Independence Day dinner for two

We’re celebrating and staying off the Jerusalem streets, this year 2020.

Let’s hope we can all celebrate together, next year in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem: Flags, Flames, Flyovers, Flowers and Finally Fireworks

Jerusalem: Flags, Flames, Flyovers, Flowers and Finally Fireworks

After the Passover holiday flags begin to appear on the Jerusalem, Israel, streets.

Flags for Israeli Independence Day

Flags on supermarket fences,

Israeli flags on private vehicle

and flags on all types of vehicles.

Israeli flag on gate of community center on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem

Flags large and small are displayed on community and public buildings.

Israel flag large on building

These new apartment buildings win for the longest flag I have seen this year.

Air stunt Israel Independence Day practice

The annual practice flights for Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day, included a new stunt.

That fourth plane was not out of formation, but had turned upside down in a spin.

Airplanes practice for Israel Independent Day in Jerusalem

Look high above the Knesset building, in the clouds to see it coming back in formation.

However, this video clip of one maneuver should give you a better idea.

Helicopter before Israel Independence day

This is one helicopter circling over Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s house.

On Yom Ha’aztmaut the President hosts the first of a long day of events, and helicopters fly over at the opening.

Memorial flame outside Israel President's Residence

Outside of Beit Hanasi, besides the flags there is a memorial flame.

Before the festivities of Yom Ha’atzmaut,  Yom HaZikaron, Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and Victims of Terrorism is commemorated.

A siren is sounded for one minute at 8:00 pm and another at 11:00 this morning.

Shops were closed last night. Jerusalem streets were quiet.

Memorial services were held at the Kotel, Western Wall, with President Rivlin, while hundreds of smaller solemn gatherings were held in Jerusalem.

Most Israeli cities have their own military cemetery and memorial, but the largest is in Jerusalem.

Entrance to Har Herzl Military Cemetery

Extra flags were up after Passover at the entrance

Israeli flags on Mount Herzl

to the military cemetery on Har Herzl, where more flags were flying.

Israeli Ethiopian memorial in cemetery on Mount Herzl

There is a special memorial for Ethiopians who lost their lives.

Lone soldier graves on Mount Herzl Jerusalem Israel

A special section for lone soldiers is adorned with military souvenir flags.

The main section was being prepared immediately after Passover.

A shade from the sun and a small white plastic stool was placed by each grave.

I went early to get photos to share.

Cemetery on Mount Herzl close up of white stool for Yom HaZikaron

Today tens of thousands of people, from all over, will fill Har Herzl for Yom HaZikaron.

A photo without crowds of people would be impossible.

Jerusalem Israel military cemetery on Mount Herzl one grave of soldier who died 19 years old

Looking at the age here, I remembered being in the Beer Sheva Military Cemetery on Yom HaZikaron, in 2001, with a group of high school students after the March of Living trip to Poland.  What the teens noticed was how many of the stones had 19 as the age they died. A number so close to their age captured their attention.

On Yom HaZikaron, each grave will have a small flag and flower, as Israelis remember 23,741 fallen soldiers.

Memorial for victims of terror in Jerusalem

The 3,150 victims of terror are also remembered.

Pin for Yom HaZikaron with Red Everlasting flower Dam Hamaccabim flower

Since 1955, as on the traditional blue sticker for Yom HaZikaron, is the Dam HaMaccabim (Red Everlasting) flower.  The flower on a pin is new this year, part of the Dam HaMaccabim Project

“According to legend, every drop of blood of the Maccabees that fell to the ground was absorbed into the land, and from it sprung the beautiful flower with its blood-like red blossom…

The Israeli people have known so much bereavement over the years, and yet we are not a sad people…we have channeled our losses into a national culture of growth, of bringing forth new life…”

So again as the sun sets, the mood shifts.

Independence Day Jerusalem Israel street signs

Signs are up, ready for celebrating 71 years Israel Independence in Jerusalem.

Fireworks at Har Herzl for Israel Independence Day

Fireworks from Har Herzl will be seen over the Jerusalem streets as the festive celebrations begin.

A week of extreme highs and lows, joy and sadness, on the real Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem: Tisha B’Av Lows to Celebration Time

Jerusalem: Tisha B’Av Lows to Celebration Time

When we lived in Australia, Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, fell in winter.

It was a regular work day and school was not on holiday.

How different is the experience of Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, Israel.

Busy streets are shuttered at night, restaurants, wine bars and street cafes are closed.

For hundreds of years, Jews have been mourning and fasting on Tisha B’Av.

Stones left in pile from Second Temple next to Kotel wall Old City Jerusalem Israel

These stones next to the Kotel, the Western Wall, at Robinson’s Arch, are from the ruined Temple, and remain as a reminder.

Independence Park reading of Eicha

As a sign of mourning, every year Jews sit on the ground or on stones, or a low chair, to read Eicha, the Book of Lamentations.

Walk around Walls Women in Green on Tisha Be'Av

For the last 6 years I have joined in the Walk around the Walls, led by Women in Green.

Women in Green Walk around Walls of Jerusalem

Every year I am surprised by the size of the crowd, as hundreds of people of all ages join in, many carrying Israeli flags.

Walk around walls security leading way

Security led the way for the crowd walking around the walls. Security is always a concern, but I have never felt any danger.

New Gate, Jerusalem, Israel at night

First the walk passed New Gate,

Damascus Gate at night

then Damascus Gate,

People with Israeli flag walking by Flowers Gate Old City Jerusalem Israel

and Flowers’ Gate. On this walk I get to see parts of Jerusalem not on my regular routes.

Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich, MK Zeev Elkin, Marc Zell, Yehudit Katsover, Nadia Matar at Lion's Gate Old City Jerusalem Israel

At Lion’s Gate, there was a speech from MK Zeev Elkin, along with others. He also spoke six years ago.

Night at Lion's Gate Jerusalem Israel Old City

Lion’s Gate is where, in 1967,  Israeli soldiers entered to liberate the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation.

Lion Gate on Tisha BeAv for Women in Green

I am always amazed how many people stand and sit on the stones in the middle of the night to listen to speeches.

Lion's Gate security drone on ground after Walk around Walls Old City Jerusalem Israel

New this year were drones over the crowd.  The beautiful horses that used to patrol were missing.

Walls of Old City lit at night Jerusalem Israel

As I walked around to the Kotel, the Western Wall, the walls were illuminated.

Group hearing about excavations in Old City on Tisha Be'Av night

I was not alone as I passed a group listening to a guide in the southern wall excavation.

Night time Old City Tisha B'Av Jerusalem Israel

There were many tour groups and guides sharing the stories of ancient Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Old City section with stones from second temple time and new platform

Walking around to the Kotel, I looked in by Robinson’s Arch, the egalitarian section platforms.

There those ancient stones have remained at the base for millennia.

Western Wall section where stone fell

It is a vast area, and hard to photograph, especially at night. A crop of the photo shows the cracked stone which fell the next day, almost hitting a woman.

Koitel Tisha B'av night Old City, Jerusalem Israel

And as every year, tens of thousands of people were coming and going, sitting and praying, singing, and some even socializing.

Western Wall Plaza on Tisha Be'Av night man and children sitting on stones

They were sitting on the stones or walking somberly, remembering tragedies of old.

View at night of Kotel Plaza excavations

For over 6 years, near the Kotel Plaza under the stones, levels of history are being revealed.

Temple menorah lit at night in front of Hurva Synagogue on Tisha B'Av night

The replica of the golden menorah of the Temple was shining brightly in front of the Hurva Synagogue. It was moved recently when work began on a new elevator access to the Kotel.

Six years of walking around the ancient walls, a simple act that for so many years our ancestors could only dream about. The distance seems less each time, but the hour is always late.

Jerusalem Israel summer festival 360 degrees

A Jerusalem festival this week is called 360 degrees,

however, Tisha B’Av mourning revolves 180 degrees.

After the lows of mourning, the roller coaster of life returns to celebration.

After Tisha B’Av comes a big wedding season.

Jewish wedding in Ein Hemed Jerusalem Israel Judean Hills

A new family starting a new home in Israel.

The situation in Syria is getting more intense.

Hamas continues to burn the south.

However, families from around the world are coming together.

At this wedding in the hills of Jerusalem, as at all Jewish weddings, there is a song to remember Jerusalem.

Not just on Tisha B’Av, but every day, Jerusalem was and is in Jewish prayer.

After Tisha B’Av, so much is happening in Jerusalem, Israel, it is hard to decide what to do first.

For culture, there are large musical performances in Sultan’s Pool and free movies at night in the parks.

For sports fans, there is a street ball tournament and a basketball competition, plus flags are up for 52nd International Children’s Games, set to attract 2000 teenagers.

If you hurry, you could have an up close view, there is a special offer at Kikar Safra, one of the best Airbnb deals ever – HERE

For more Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, photos  HERE