Tisha B’Av Around Jerusalem

Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, Israel, is unique.

On the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av,

for centuries, Jews around the world

people sitting on stones for Tisha B'Av

 sat on the ground as a sign of mourning for Jerusalem,

and read Eicha, the Book of Lamentations.

 I went to ‘Walk Around the Walls’ again after Shabbat.

Last year Tisha B’Av coincided with Ramadan

and even at midnight there was a huge crowd

at Sha’ar Shechem, Damascus Gate.

Damascus Gate at night

   This year all was quiet,

women in Green walk around walls

as the Israeli-flag waving crowd walked by,

street in East Jerusalem

with only a few Arabs in sight near police barriers.

Tisha B'Av Women in Green

Going past Herod’s Gate,

night in Jerusalem, Israel

the atmosphere was very different

from Tisha B’Av of last year.

Although it was a few days ago,

I still want to share that night,

Jerusalem Israel at night

and the beautiful sites around the Old City Walls.

As Lion’s Gate and midnight approached

Jerusalem Israel walking at night

   we passed this man walking with two young boys.

Jerusalem Israel at night

Spectacular views were of Har Hazetim, Mount of Olives,

Jerusalem Israel at night Old City Walls

across from the Old City Walls,

Jerusalem Israel Old City excavations.

and the impressive major excavations.

But most impressive,

Wailing Wall at night

was the huge crowd at the Kotel, the Western Wall,

where tens of thousands came,

Tisha b'Av in Jerusalem, Israel

some to sit and sing sad songs,

Tisha b'av Jerusalem,Israel

others to pray, or to spend the night.

Jerusalem,Israel at night

People were coming and going all night long

to the Old City of Jerusalem.

But nearby at Sha’ar Yaffo, Jaffa Gate,

Jerusalem,Israel Mamilla Mall at night

 Mamilla Mall was closed and quiet,

as were all entertainment and most food places.

Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, Israel,

is not like anywhere else in the world.

More photos of Walk on Facebook, HERE.

But,

after the mourning of Tisha B’Av comes

Tu B’Av,

and party time celebrations grow every year,

Tu b'Av

this one is to take place in the Jerusalem Forest.

Tisha B’Av Night in Jerusalem

Tisha B’Av Night in Jerusalem

Tisha B’Av night in Jerusalem, Israel,

is unlike anywhere else in the world.

Businesses are closed and restaurants shuttered.

photo Ramadan at night

Walking in front of me as I headed toward Jaffa Gate,

which was decorated with Ramadan lights,

were a group of Muslim men and boys out to celebrate.

Behind them were three Jewish men on their way to the Old City.

photo moon over old city of david

Entering Jaffa Gate I love to see the moon over the lights of the Tower of David.

photo western wall

Near the Kotel, the Western Wall, were thousands of people, many sitting on the ground.

photo Western Wall Tisha B'Av

The diversity of the crowd was obvious.

I did not stay too long because again ,

I wanted to see the 19th Walk Around the Walls of the Women in Green.

photo Jerusalem security

Security was stronger this year.

The crowd was large for the middle-of-the-night starting time.

Due to Ramadan celebrations again this year,

 the group had to wait for several hours to start their walk.

DSC_3194b

The route goes around the walls of the Old City, and partially along the Light Rail tracks.

photo Damascus Gate at night

The Damascus Gate was busy and active with Ramadan celebrations.

photo gate of Jerusalem

At Herod’s Gate,

Israeli police, some on horses, observed to insure that the two crowds would not mix.

photo East jerusalem

For the late hour, there were still a lot of people out.

photo walk of Women in Green

At the Lion’s Gate there were speeches,

women sitting on ground

while hundreds of people sat and listened, 

photo Women in Green on Tisha Bav

 I decided to head home.  It was already after 1:00 am.

While the rest of the Jerusalem streets were quiet,

photo Western Wall on Tisha BAv,

the Old City, the Kotel, and the Jewish Quarter

were all filled with thousands of people.

While some left even more kept coming.

Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem looks like a big party.

 

After the Fasts

Not eating or drinking is called a “fast,”

but without water and morning coffee…”slow” would be more accurate for me.

 The Tisha B’Av fast started on Monday, August 8, 2011 at nightfall,

this post should have been out on Tuesday, but even after the fast…sorry–still slow.

 Mourning the destruction of Jerusalem in the reunified Jerusalem

is a unique experience.

 Tens of thousands of people gather at the Kotel, the Western Wall,

and sit on low chairs or on the stones to recite the sad verses of Eicha and Kinot.

For so many centuries,  The Book of Lamentations asks…Alas, how could it be?

Some opt to sit

 alone,

while others prefer to sit in small groups.  Many stay all night.

As the Jewish Quarter closed for the fast day,

 much of the Muslim Quarter was open

with colorful displays of food to break the Ramadan fast.

Colored lights lined the way of most

but not all the alleyways.

For the seventeenth year in a row,

  Women in Green assembled a large group in Gan Ha’atzmaut, Independence Park

 for prayers and speeches, followed by a walk around the walls of the Old City.

This year they shared the park with the “tent city” protesters

and the night with Ramadan celebrations.

 The march was to begin at 11 pm, much later than usual because of Ramadan.

 For the first time the marchers had to watch out for an empty light rail train.

  It was well after midnight when the group arrived at

Sha’ar Shechem,  the Damascus Gate.

Street vendors and Israeli flags filled the sidewalk and on to the street

 and families and more vendors kept coming.

 Security personnel watched the quiet scene.

After passing Herod’s and Lion’s Gates


the end of the route was in sight.

Dozens of idle buses lined the road ready to transport

 the hundreds of people still coming and going after 1:00am.

The Kotel entrance plaza was a busy place all night.

Near Jaffa Gate a new table was set up to sell photos of the Baba Elazar z”l.

While tens of thousands of people were out on Tisha B’Av in the Old City,

a few minutes away this normally busy intersection was deserted.

This year, Ramadan coincides with the month of August,

so devout Muslims will fast all day and at night crowds will gather to eat and shop.

Abu Sharif, a member of the PLO and former advisor to Arafat,

has called for “Friday intifadas during Ramadan”.

Walking around the Walls on Tisha B’Av concluded peacefully.

Last year thousands of Muslims prayed in Jerusalem every Friday of Ramadan.

It is possible to share the streets of Jerusalem peacefully.

 After the fast, as Israelis head to the airport and up north on vacation

…at least the streets should be a little less crowded.

 

More photos of  Walking around the Walls on The Real Jerusalem Facebook Page.