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 Remembering in Time of COVID19

Jerusalem Remembering in Time of COVID19

In Jerusalem, Israel, as in most of the world, these have been unusual days,

days during which we have learned not to take things for granted,

Passover holidays in isolation and coronavirus shut-down.

Building cranes moving again after Passover and coronavirus stop

After seeing them upright for days and unlit at night, I was excited to see the building cranes from the Jerusalem Gateway project moving again in the evening sky.

Jerusalem two people walking on path coronavirus time

Slowly people began venturing out, walking on the path in a city.

Kotel on Friday Rosh Chodesh Iyar during coronavirus

The Kotel, Western Wall Plaza had a new arrangement on Friday Rosh Chodesh Iyar.

Kotel on Friday Rosh Chodesh Iyar during COVID 19

Prayer sections were set for regulated separation and distancing.

But, I am not sure how they managed in the rain Shabbat morning.

Knesset lights on before announcement of unity government

Oh, the excitement of seeing lights come on in the Knesset building as a unity government was being announced. So excited I only noticed later, that the large flag was down as Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780 was about to begin.

The symbolic memorial flame in place at the edge of the roof and small Israeli flags had been put in place.

However, this year will have little resemblance to last year’s celebrations with flames and flags.

Traffic stop with police wearing masks COVID 19

As I went out on the porch to get ready for the Yom HaShoah memorial siren, police wearing masks and blue gloves were stopping traffic.

Bus stopped for police check during coronavirus

Even the Jerusalem city bus was stopped and did not breeze through.

Some travel and work restrictions have been lifted.

A student driver with the symbol of the learner car was in the lineup.

Seconds before the 10:00 am siren, all the traffic was let by.

The officers stood quietly in respect of the two-minute memorial siren.

Jerusalem Israel street traffic at police check Corona

They then started checking cars again before moving on to another location.

I was so focused on the traffic stop, I did not notice at first that flags were up over the street as usual for the holiday season. At least one thing was “normal” in this year of isolation and coronavirus.

A highlight of the crazy isolation day was a special Jerusalem volunteer project.

plant as a present from the city of Jerusalem.
From Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum

Today every Holocaust survivor in Jerusalem will have a volunteer standing outside their door during the siren at 10am so they don’t feel alone and wii receive a plant as a gift from the city of Jerusalem. Thanks to Mayor Moshe Lion for this moving initiative during times of Corona and well done to Nicky Cregor for executing this great project: as per Fleur Hassan-Hahoun on social media.

Israeli flag for Independence Day

One neighbor had their Israeli flag out for Yom HaZikaron, Remembrance Day, and Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day.

Music for diplomats at Beit Hanasi Independence day

However, In light of the restrictions on movement to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the celebrations for Israel’s 72nd Independence Day to be held at Beit HaNasi this year and the other locations will be recorded and broadcast, not live. I was planning to go, those were quite impressive and fun celebrations in the past.

Oh well, more seriously, families will not be allowed to military cemeteries as usual.

Bereaved families have been asked to make reduced visits to cemeteries in the days before Yom HaZikaron, Remembrance Day, subject to social distancing restrictions.

Independence Day site on Har Herzl in Jerusalem

A general lockdown – similar to that which applied during Passover – will be imposed on Independence Day. The site at Har Herzl for Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day celebration was already well under construction at the beginning of March. That event also was pre-recorded, there will be no huge crowded stands as in the past or all day picnics and trips.

This year it’s back to small private parties and pleasures. We have a new package of hot dogs in the freezer. Maybe it’s time to clean up the backyard grill and just Zoom with friends and family.

Sting Bridge in Jerusalem at entrance to city

The cold winter rains and cloudy skies are over for now and the String Bridge near the entrance of Jerusalem can be seen on a clear day. You never know what will happen (or not happen) next on the Jerusalem streets, as the Municipality is planning major musical productions throughout the city. And fireworks in some neighborhoods. But count on closures for the usual holiday travel time.

When planes fly over Jerusalem to practice for a Yom HaZikaron flyover Har Herzl Military Cemetery, people got excited and ran out to see.  Good thing there were multiple flights and I was finally able to get a bit of video. Oh, they are loud and so very fast.

For Yom Haatzmaut, the President has a special message and a chance to have him come to your home in a hologram. 

For now, you can take a tour of Bet HaNasi garden from anywhere in the world.

Weather extremes. Hot. Cold and wet. Sand filling the air, turning the sky yellow on Friday.

And we can keep on Zooming along, until next time.

Being a Part of History in Jerusalem

Being a Part of History in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel is preparing for Pesach, Passover, in a very different way than usual.

Our lives have changed drastically in a short time of a few weeks.

I decided to take time from my Pesach preparations to share some of the good things happening in Jerusalem and beyond.

The lime tree in the garden started blooming yesterday. In spite of Corona, the cycle of spring has officially begun.

First blossoms on lime tree in Jerusalem garden

In Israel starting on the first of the month of Nissan, on seeing the first blossoms on trees one should say the following blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא חִסַּר בְּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיּוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת לֵהָנוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, Who has withheld nothing from His world, but has created in it beautiful creatures and trees for human beings to enjoy.

Israeli President Rivlin making blessing on trees in time of coronavirus at Beit Hanasi
Photo credit: Mark Neiman / GPO

President Rivlin went out to the garden at Beit Hanasi to make the blessing.

He and his staff were wearing masks at per official instructions.

President Rivlin selling chamezt in time of corona virus remotely
Photo credit: Mark Neiman / GPO

President Rivlin’s office also sent out this photo of him and Director-General of Beit HaNasi Harel Tubi selling Israel’s chametz in a video call to the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shlomo Amar.

In Jerusalem, Municipality volunteers handed out over eleven thousand food packages to help the elderly and quarantined residents, three times last week. Thousands of people volunteered daily in Jerusalem delivering food, making phone calls, bringing medicines to the sick, doing good and feeling good, to 12,500 seniors alone at home. Other private volunteer groups have been formed in Jerusalem around the country to assist those in need.

Jerusalem, Israel During Corona Ramada Hotel closed and light shape of heart
Photo credit: Ramada Hotel

Similar to Tel Aviv municipality, the Jerusalem Ramada Hotel, and empty hotels across Israel lit their windows in the shape of a heart to send a message of solidarity and love to the people of Israel during this difficult time. More and more empty hotels are being converted to “melonit,” locations for those with mild cases of coronavirus to be quarantined.

Israeli child being tested for COVID-19 in a MDA emergency van
Photo credit: MDA spokesperson

MDA has set up more and more test sites for testing coronavirus.

A team of over 40 medical experts & engineers from Israel released blueprints for AmboVent, a low-cost, medically tested #COVIDー19 ventilator device, made from off-the-shelf components, to answer the worldwide need for emergency equipment. 

In a recent tweet, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh claimed that Israel and its policies thwart efforts to protect Palestinians from the spreading Coronavirus.

COGAT visual of materials going into Gaza March 22- 28 during corona virus

While around the world countries closed borders, Israel kept the border to Gaza open. COGAT published its information in an easy to read format. In case the small print is hard to read, 145 tons of medical supplies were sent into Gaza by way of Kerem Shalom Crossing last week. Yet Israel haters have not ceased their campaign of lies against Israel.  What they should be questioning is where all the tons and tonnes of materials go.

IDF Twitter image of Palestinian doctors training in Israel for coronavirus
Photo Credit: IDF

This photo of Palestinian Authority doctors training in Israel to learn how to treat COVID-19 did make some news sites.

It is interesting that it made the news because, for years, there have been medical training sessions for doctors from Gaza and Arab countries in Israel.

Australian doctor training medical specialists in Israeli hospital

In November 2017, four pediatric emergency room medical specialists from Sydney, Australia came to a Jerusalem hospital to train medical experts from Gaza, Iraq and other Middle East unmentionables.

Jerusalem hospital were Australian doctors are training in pediatric emergency room procedures.

I have over 500 photos of the Israeli and Arab doctors and nurses working together. The smiling group selfie images to home countries were my favorites. However, for privacy’s sake, I am only sharing this one group photograph.

A big van with loud music playing is making the rounds in Jerusalem as well as other Israeli cities. One day there was loud music coming from the direction of the Israel Museum over the Israeli Scouts base. I tried to get a video for you to hear, but it was difficult over the sounds of traffic and birds.

Truck spraying Jerusalem streets coronavirsu

No moving music truck was spotted on our little street. However, for a second time, the street was sprayed this morning by the municipality.

So I am off the streets for a while, with plenty of Zoom sessions to follow and connect.

GPO Zoom live with Rav Lau and Zvika Klein

Sunday evening Rav Yisrael Meir Lau was the first speaker for a Government Press Office Zoom session live with journalists and rabbis from around the world. Rav Lau stressed we have a common enemy, and with this new enemy the virus, there is no east or west. We have no choice, he said, but to be united. Peace. Friendship. Even love.

View of Nachlaot in Jerusalem Israel

At home with my zoom lens, I can get a decent image of Nahlaot.

Jerusalem Israel Knesset and Crown Plaza

The Knesset is quiet, as is the Crown Plaza Hotel behind it.

Sorry, still no new unity government to report.

President Reuven Rivlin has gone into a grandfatherly Saba Ruvi mode with another story time.

At least we can all learn the classic Israeli children’s stories and with the English translations, a bit of Hebrew too.

Photo Credit: Micha Mitch Danzig

These lights in Tel Aviv were of the Azrieli Tower windows illuminated with “Shema Yisrael HaShem Elokeynu HaShem Ahad – Listen Israel, the L-rd is Our G-d, the L-rd is One.”

Pesach this year coincides with Easter, and Ramadan begins right after.

Tens of thousands will be disappointed not to be on the Jerusalem streets for these religious holidays.

However, here’s hoping for a happy and healthy holiday to all, and one day we can retell the stories of the time of the historic pandemic.