In Jerusalem, Israel, waking up on Tuesday morning the official email began:
* From yesterday (4 May 2020), additional businesses and activities will be allowed to open including: Libraries, all kinds of non-medical treatment on the human body, complementary medicine, hotels and guest houses, nature reserves, heritage sites, national parks, zoos and safaris. Activity at swimming pools will be permitted for competitive athletes and therapy.
* Malls, open-air markets and gyms will be allowed to open on 7 May 2020.
Restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 were working. Special intensive care units were closing.
People were looking forward to getting out of isolation and their homes.
Clouds were began gathering over the Israel Museum.
Clouds were filling the sky over the Jerusalem streets.
The large flag on the Knesset was blowing in the wind.
The weather forecast had called for rain. Rain in Jerusalem in May?
It was raining in the north. Then Tel Aviv, even Beer Sheva had rain. Clouds started to change over Jerusalem.
The clouds in the sky turned dark.
The sky over the Israel Musem appeared almost black.
Then winter-like weather in May pelted Jerusalem with rain, heavy rain.
Dark enough in the middle of the day for some of the street lights to go on.
But by the time the sun was to set, the sky began to clear.
It was a sunset that colored the sky. Facebook was filled with photos taken as the colors changed.
After a day of crazy weather, as the sky cleared, the birds came out again.
* The restriction on praying more than 500 meters from the home or workplace is canceled; the restriction of no more than 19 people for prayers in an open space remains in force.
For the next few days, up to 300 worshipers will be allowed to come to the Western Wall plaza simultaneously, contingent on them wearing masks. Should all of the prayer areas become full, worshipers will be requested to wait outside the entrances to the Western Wall, with the required distances between them, until space becomes available.
Late at night the Kotel, The Western Wall had people coming and going again.
Bar/bat mitzvah families can return to celebrate at the Western Wall in accordance with regulations.
The Health Ministry calls on the public to continue listening to the directives on physical distancing, wearing masks and maintaining hygiene, in order to ensure public health and continue the common struggle against the spread of the coronavirus.
The lions in the Old City are ready with masks, though not social distancing.
Always something new to see on the Jerusalem streets.
Meanwhile another crazy weather day, and new storytime by Pres Ruvi:
Stay well, everyone, and safe inside or outside your house.
From Jerusalem, Israel, on Monday, April 20, 2020, at 8:00 pm (Israel time), the official Opening Ceremony for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780 will be broadcast from Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance, onYad Vashem’s website and Facebook page.
Following the advice of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, in his autobiography “Man’s Search for Meaning” – “What matters is to make the best of any given situation.”
This year the ceremony was pre-recorded without an audience due to restrictions of the pandemic coronavirus COVID19.
The ceremony will comprise traditional elements, including prerecorded video remarks by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Naomi Cassuto will speak on behalf of the survivors.
Yad Vashem Council Chairman and Holocaust survivor Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will kindle the Memorial Torch as he has done many times in the past.
In this photo, the Rabbi is pointing to himself as a child soon after liberation, sitting with a group of US army soldiers and other Jewish survivors.
During the ceremony, six traditional memorial torches will be lit.
The stories of six Holocaust survivors featured this year are the following: the first torch– Zohar Arnon–second– Aviva Blum-Wachs;third–Haim Arbiv; fourth- Leah Reuveni; fifth–Avraham Carmi; and sixth– Yehuda Beilis.
In the past, a child or grandchild assisted each torch lighter,
often wearing an IDF uniform. Frankl’s words: ‘to turn from tragedy and suffering to human achievement and accomplishment’ are exemplified in the faces of those lighting the memorial torches.
Israeli singers Shiri Maimon and Shai Tzabari will participate in the ceremony, which will also include narrative pieces written by Holocaust survivor Jack Weber, and recited by Israeli actor Zohar Straus. The MC for the ceremony will be Danny Cushmaro.
The ceremony will feature the traditional memorial service, including the recitation of a chapter from Psalms by Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau. The Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef will recite the mourner’s Kaddish, and Cantor Daniel Dahan will recite El Maleh Rahamim, the Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs.
To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, when public gatherings have been banned in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide, Yad Vashem has asked the public to participate in an international campaign to record themselves reciting the names of Holocaust victims, and share the video on social media using the hashtags #RememberingFromHome #ShoahNames.
“Join us and mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year from your homes,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “Help us to restore the memory of those murdered during the Holocaust, as you do each and every year. Although the circumstances this year are unique, the message is still the same: We will never forget their names.”
Photographs are from RJS previous visits to Yad Vashem.
Background noise interfered with our recording in the private room where the torch lighters and their invited family members gathered before the ceremony. It was a very different feeling than the ominous silence during the short videos presented during the ceremony relating each of the survivor stories. In this room, this gathering felt more like a party. A celebration. A triumph of good over evil. We survived. Proudly, see what we have accomplished.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At home with my zoom lens, I can get a decent image of Nahlaot.
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.
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.