In Jerusalem, Israel,
the 4th session of the 20th Israeli Knesset
opened this week after a long break.
Early on, nearby streets were closed to traffic
but closings did not prevent protests.
In the road near the Israel Museum,
were visually impaired folks with their guide dogs.
Closer to the Knesset there were more groups protesting.
Once getting past the protesters,
and while waiting in the security clearance line,
I saw the flags were being changed.
Israeli flags came down, and Georgian ones went up,
which meant a leader of Georgia
(not the US state) is soon on his way to Knesset.
here is the mandatory photo of the Knesset.
But, who else
takes the Knesset view of where I live?
Arriving early takes off timing pressures,
so there was plenty of time to oblige these young men with a photo.
Being one of the first ones in the plenary hall
meant that I could get the seat behind the webcam.
WomenWagePeace were there early too,
and saved front row seats in the visitors’ gallery.
MK Oren Hazan was one of first
members of the Knesset to arrive,
but there were no infamous selfies like with Trump.
He only wandered over to talk with the opposition.
I wonder what they were saying?
But promptly at 4:00 pm,
the international ambassadors were seated
and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived.
President Reuven Rivlin and Speaker Yuli Edelstein
took their seats at the dais and
the session was called to order.
Many seats were still empty.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was one late arrival.
selfies galore from spectators,
and MKs could also be found with cameras in hand.
The diversity of guests seated
throughout the galleries was obvious.
As the Speaker and President spoke,
the room was respectfully, boringly quiet.
But as the Prime Minister got into his remarks,
Yair Lapid might have said something,
but this MK would not stop shouting and was removed.
It was quite a show to behold
as Knesset members exited stage left.
When the Prime Minister returned to his seat
after touting Israel’s successes,
and responding to shouts from the opposition
by calling them “sourpusses,”
his ministers rose to shake his hand.
There were handshakes from coalition,
and more selfies.
MK Miri Regev seemed to be having a great time.
Though he was one of last to arrive,
MK Aryeh Deri had MK Avigdor Liberman’s ear.
You know the expression,
“Read my lips?”
many of those who spoke to the
Prime Minister covered their mouths,
like Mk Ofir Akunis above.
The leader of the opposition MK Yitzhak Herzog
was the final speaker in this part of the program.
The crowds filed out, as more visitors waited to get in.
The Jerusalem streets were quiet
as the sun was setting,
and traffic returned to the littered, post-protest streets.
What an afternoon.
For more of the experience, here is a one minute video,
as stills could not capture it all.
Now I am left wondering
how does anything get done in the Knesset?
The Passover and Easter celebrations are now over.
However, the spring holiday season in Jerusalem, Israel,
is far from over.
As soon as those Passover dishes are put away,
it is time for the roller coaster of emotional ‘Yoms’:
Holocaust Remembrance Day,
the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror,
which is immediately followed by
Israel’s Independence Day,
and this year is a big 50 for
As soon as the celebration of freedom ends
international guests gather at Yad Vashem,
for the official opening ceremony for Yom HaShoah,
to remember the 6,000,000 Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Each year 6 survivors are honored with the lighting of a memorial flame.
Here the honorees posed for a photo before the televised ceremony,
each with their own incredible story.
The lights on the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Plaza
serve as a hauntingly beautiful background at sunset.
Taps is sounded by a lone IDF trumpeter,
and the honor guard and all assembled stand as the Israeli flag is lowered.
Six survivors lit flames, aided by either a child or grandchild,
with some of the young relatives currently serving in the IDF.
The next day, there is another ceremony, less well-known,
which is held in the Knesset.
The Knesset entrance plaza has new landscaping,
where the flags fly all day at half-mast.
Israeli flags were featured on the Knesset pins given out to guests.
Again, six survivors lit memorial flames.
This survivor is 100 years old.
The President and Prime Minister attended and spoke,
and the Chief Rabbis added traditional Jewish memorial prayers.
In this televised ceremony as well,
a short video of the survivors’ harrowing stories was shown.
At the ceremony, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein,
led the reading of a list of names of those who did not survive.
The Prime Minister, President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,
and members of Knesset, all added names of family members
to the list of those who were murdered,
“To every person there was a name.”
from the retelling of darkness in the Chagall Hall of the Knesset,
one exits to the sight of the blooming roses in the Rose Garden.
Along with with flowers in bloom,
the Yoms are a time of blue & white Israeli flags,
huge ones down sides of buildings,
tiny ones blowing from car windows,
big ones on schools,
and small ones on a cafe table.
Signs are up for celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut,
Israel’s 69 years of Independence,
but first there will be Yom HaZikaron,
a time to remember those who gave their lives
with annual memorial flames displayed on buildings.
Jerusalem and Israeli flags are flying above the Jerusalem streets,
along with this new white flag,
which marks 50 years of the liberation of Jerusalem,
Hotels are booked out
and flights are hard to come by,
as tens of thousands plan to join in the celebrations of
filling the Jerusalem streets with more flags
and joyous days of celebrations.