Rosh Chodesh Av at the Western Wall

In Jerusalem, Israel, on Rosh Chodesh Av, 

thousands of people had a very early start to their day.

image crowd at Kotel, Western Wall photo

Arriving near the Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza at 7:00 am, this was the scene.

image from Kosel women of wall

A group of young men, 

imge Kosel , picture Kossel

and boys,

picture women of wall, image Kosel protest

 one woman with a whistle and one with signs

image Women of Wall, photo Women of Wall

were protesting against the Women of the Wall’s Rosh Chodesh prayer service.

image Women of Wall, picture from Kosel

Not all the WOW were praying–

some were talking to the press, as there were plenty of cameras again.

image Kossel, Kosel men section photo, picture Kosel

The regular men’s section was not crowded,

Women of Wall , image Kosel, picutre Kossel

  Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Yitzhak Pindrus was there.

imgae Women for Wall, picture Women of Wall

It was the women’s section that was full.

Kosel picture, Kossel photo

Women for the Wall had brought out thousands of religious women and girls.

They continued to pray silently, in stark contrast to the noisy protesters,

image Kosel, Picture Kosel

though there was not enough space for all of them 

Women for the Wall, photo, Image Women of Wall

and the group extended well into the Western Wall Plaza.

 While the Women of the Wall and Women for the Wall were the center of attention,

 I liked these scenes.

scene from Women of Wall

At least a few of the security people found time to pray.

photo Bar Mitzvah at Kosel

And in the middle of it all there was a Bar Mitzvah celebration.

Wonder if someone thought that with an early start it would be less crowded? 

image Women of Wall , picture Rosh Chodesh Av at Kosel

The Women of the Wall were not happy with their site and the police.

image Women of Wall, picture Women of Wall at Kotel

After their service had ended, and after singing Hatikvah, 

the Women of Wall group continued singing before going to their buses.

There has been lots of chatter on Facebook about both groups, 

 with some good, some bad and some ugly comments. 

The two sides do not seem to be getting closer

and many people do not want to hear or think about this conflict any more.

But I would really like to know,

image Women of Wall, picture Kosel

what the Deputy Mayor was thinking at this moment?

Journeys to Jerusalem

Spring is usually the perfect season for a trip to Israel.

However, this year 15,000 runners in the Jerusalem marathon events

"marathon", "runners", "Old City"

ran in the cold and rain as they entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate. 

Marathon runners were not the only visitors to Jerusalem,

as tourists from all over the world have been coming in record numbers.

"J Street", "view", Old City, "steps"

I met up with one tour group called The Land and Spirit Mission sponsored by

 the Jewish Learning Institute, the educational arm of the Chabad movement.

"runner", "crowd at race", "marathon runner photo",

Near Jaffa Gate, they were able to learn about the Tower of David

and cheer on the leaders of the 10 Kilometer race.

Kosel, "men at Wailing Wall"  , "Western wall raining"

No matter the weather, visitors near the Kotel, Western Wall

"wailing wall"

 want to pose and smile for photos.

"men at wailing wall"

As one of the rabbis with the tour group spoke,

"women wailing wall"  "rain"

 some of the women climbed on chairs to see and hear.

 From the United States and from around the world, 150 participants

came to experience and learn more about Judaism and Israel.

"posed photo"

Rain, cold weather and grey skies could not dampen their spirits.

"group photo"

For some participants it was their first trip to Israel;

others had visited many times.  Jerusalem is always changing, 

 every day there is something new to see and discover.

"Mamila Mall", Old City, "east jerusalem"

One stop on the tour of the Old City was Mamilla Mall, 

once part of “no man’s land” during the years under Jordanian rule.

Now the new pedestrian shopping area has many restaurants

and is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

"Muslim market", "Jews in Muslim Quarter"

It is quite a contrast to the old Arab shuk.

"view", "Dome of the Rock", "muslim", East Jerusalem"

Going through the narrow streets of the Old City,

we found one of the most incredible views …and a bit of blue sky.

"street in Old City", "Hurva Synagogue" , "tour guide'

A few minutes later outside the entrance to the Hurva Synagogue,

while listening to the story of the restoration of the historic building,

it started to hail.

"big shul", "shul door", "open door"

A perfect time to go inside to see the impressive sanctuary.

"view", ""chandelier", "women sitting"

As women listened from above in the women’s section,

"photo Hurva", "Hurva synagogue picture"

 the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch,

spoke to the group.

He began by praising the Chabad rabbis in the audience

and their organization for their important work around the world.

There is wisdom of the head, the rabbi told the group, 

but the “Jewish people also have wisdom of the heart”. 

"Runners" , "running picture"

In the cold rain and hail, it is heart, not the mind, that kept the runners going.

Throughout the centuries the longing for Jerusalem inspired many

to take the difficult journey to Jerusalem.

So how could a little bad weather possibly ruin a trip to Israel?

The Land and Spirit Mission was organized by Zev Jacobson

and his team at Israel Maven Tours.

Israel Maven, dedicated to providing a high-quality trip to Israel

for individuals, families, communities, and corporations,

ran a great program despite the lousy weather.

 It was great fun to see some old friends and former neighbors,

"bag" , "tour bag", "people in the rain"

even if it was hard to photograph them dressed for the weather conditons.

Hope to see you too in Jerusalem…soon.

Mughrabi Bridge: Open–Shut

The news that

the Mughrabi Bridge was reopened

inspired a trip to the Old City today.

Entering the Old City by way of Jaffa Gate

as two beautiful horses were leaving,

meant having to be extra careful walking on the stones.

The scene outside the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza, seemed quiet and normal.

But there was one thing I really wanted to see today and there it was inside…

the fire engine that was there to keep the entire Middle East from igniting.

In case this wooden structure leading to the Temple Mount catches on fire,

this fire truck will be there to save everyone.

The Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza,

was the background for TV cameras,

 as both international journalists

and international sport teams were visiting today.

Wonder if they noticed that at 2:00pm,

the fire truck left.

For Muslims there are ten different entrances to the Temple Mount,

for Jews and other non-Muslims, this gate is, or was, the only way to go.

As Hamas celebrates 24 years,

I wonder if any of them have actually seen what the fuss is all about?

But they are so proud to have killed 1,365 Israelis and wounded over 6,000

in these last 24 years…would they care?

Post from two weeks ago on Mughrabi Bridge:

Mughrabi Bridge