Jerusalem Yom Kippur Eve

Oh Jerusalem!

When I lead photo walks, I try to arrive across from Jaffa Gate as the sun is setting to show off the Jerusalem of Gold. The sun reflected off the stones, depending on conditions, appears either golden or pink on cloudy days.

On Friday afternoon, before Shabbat, the Kotel, Western Wall, stones were pure golden hues, However, there was no one there to appreciate the moment. No crowds to pray afternoon or evening prayers.

At 2:00 pm on Friday, September 25, 2020, a lockdown was to begin, after a sharp rise in COVID-19, people are not to go more than 1 kilometer from home.

The Israel Museum and all others are again closed, this time until at least October 11, after the Sukkot holidays.

Most people, like the ants, were out busily preparing for whatever might be needed for holidays and the unknown weather- and whatever is to happen next.

Even before the lockdown announcement, for the solemn day of Yom Kippur, 61% of Jewish Israelis said that they do not intend to attend synagogue at all this year, and only 34% planned on coming to some or all of the services. In the past those numbers were much higher.

Now, like Rosh Hashana, we plan to be home and alone.

Yom Kippur services with reduced numbers of 20 are planned for outside. This is to be a holiday season like none other.

Bar Ilan University posted a day of Zoom live courses on Facebook on Wednesday for the public on various related holiday topics. The list of lectures, classes, and changing regulations seems endless.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is walk-library-corona-050-b.jpg

People were out on paths getting in their 1 kilometer from home walks.

I hope my less known route does not become as popular.

The Jerusalem Municipality sponsored programs and selihot for the week before Yom Kippur, with singer Moshe Louk scheduled for Wednesday night leading Piyutim.

Two years ago Louk led Selihot at Beit Hanasi, in the Israeli President’s Residence Synagogue. Sadly there will be none there this year.

Stores were closed and locked up on Friday afternoon.

I wonder how many businesses will never open up again.

The Jerusalem cats were out in full force on the streets Friday afternoon.

Major intersections were quieter, much quieter than a regular Friday.

Even the cats seemed quieter, waiting, not sure what would be next.

A sharp increase in the number of corona patients in the Arab sector was of concern. Large weddings were held in the afternoon to get around curfews.

Photo credit: United Hatzalah spokesperson

Jerusalem Municipality and United Hatzalah of Israel, with more than 20 EMS volunteers driving ambucycles, an ambulance, fly cars, and an ATV, drove through neighborhoods in order to spread awareness of the dangers of COVID-19 to the residents.

Mayor Moshe Lion also joined the procession in order to strengthen the efforts of the volunteers and encourage the residents to stay home and safe.

At the same time, nature seems normal, with shorter days, fall colors, and a new season.

President Rivlin’s term is up in July 2021. There will be no next year Selihot for him to host at Beit Hanasi.

This year with very limited numbers and restrictions on religious services.

The main Selihot erev Yom Kippur were very different.

The Kotel, Western Wall plaza was mostly empty during a live broadcast.

Meanwhile, thousands arrived by car to Jerusalem on Shabbat, and for two hours after, heading to Paris Square to protest against the government.

New bright lights lined Ruppin Street outside the Knesset as they met to work out the latest coronavirus regulations.

As Israel goes into the Yom Kippur holiday, with people alone at home, or on the streets fasting and praying, pray for wisdom and unity as well as health this year.

At the very first of many webinars on COVID-19, way back in March, the expert from South Korea stated the number one factor in controlling the virus was trust in the government.

May all be sealed for a good and healthy year.

Next Year in Jerusalem!

Yom Kippur in Jerusalem with Avinu Malkeinu

Yom Kippur in Jerusalem with Avinu Malkeinu

Where to go in Jerusalem, Israel for Selihot, special prayers said late at night or early in morning before Yom Kippur, gets to be a bigger problem every year as the number of options goes up.

Tens of thousands as usual gathered at the Kotel, Western WallHowever, true numbers are impossible to calculate, as people were turned away, the area was so crowded.

Hundreds were at First Station for musical Selihot. Even the Israel Museum hosted a special late Thursday night event.

Selichos at Government Square in Jerusalem Israel

From small synagogues, to the huge stage in Kikar Safra, Government Square, the options for Selihot and holiday musical programs seemed endless, religious and secular.

In some locations, weary parents brought their children to school before 6:00 am for special Selihot.

Booklet for Selichot at President House

For the fifth year, President Reuven Rivlin hosted an evening at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Shul of Israel Prescient at Beit Hanasi

The synagogue is located in a corner of the back garden with 12 seats for women in the back of this men’s section.

Garden of Beit Hanasi with young soldiers for selihot

Each year this evening has changed and grown, this year 500 soldiers and post-high school students were invited.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Beit Hanasi Synagogue

The service in the synagogue was recorded on video,

Screen showing selihot service at Beit Hanasi

and projected onto a large screen outside for all to see.

During selihot man taking video at Beit Hanasi

Some of the guests could not resist using phones for their own videos.

President Rivlin with Moshe Louk and David D'Or at selihot at Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Israel

The President and singers Moshe Louk and David D’Or came outside.

Young man taking selfie at Beit Hanasi with President Rivlin

At least one young man could not resist taking a selfie with them.

Instead of more photos, I thought better to share short video clips,

of David D’Or

and Moshe Louk songs before Selihot,

and one part of Selihot with traditional reading.

I did not get to the Kotel for the huge Selihot, so sharing this photo taken fro a video tweeted by Ari Fuld z”l.

 

Kotel selihot 5779 twitter of Ari Fuld

“The Nation has to bring itself to Israel. That takes moral codes, courage and strength… At the end of the day, success or failure is up to HaKadosh Baruch Hu alone.”

These are some of the last words Ari z”l posted on a Facebook video before Shabbat. On Sunday morning, on his way to the supermarket, Ari  was stabbed in the back by a young Arab. Mortally wounded, he chased after, aimed and shot to neutralize the terrorist.

How can we understand a culture where a 16 or 17-year-old could intentionally murder a stranger, a husband, son, brother and father of four, by stabbing him in the back?

Avinu Malkeinu by David D’Or ended the evening at Beit Hanasi.

Our father our king
our king, inscribe us
in the book of good life, in the book of good life.

Even more meaningful after the devastating news of yesterday.

שנה טובה ומתוקה וגמר חתימה טובה

Shana tova ve’mutuka ve’gmar Hatima tova

Wishes for a good sweet year and to be sealed for good year.

 

Time for Shabbat Shalom

Time for Shabbat Shalom

During the short weeks of Jewish holiday season, it is hard to keep track of time.

 

Birhat Kohanim at Kotel on Pesach 5777

Thousands gather at Kotel, Western Wall to pray, early morning and late into night.

rimon shabbos

It is time of pomegranates bursting on trees lining Jerusalem streets.

Shabbat shalom with flowers

Friday is time for fresh flowers and Shabbat Shalom greetings.

The time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur,

is time to wish all a good sweet and healthy new year.

שנה טובה ומתוקה וגמר חתימה טובה

Yom Kippur photo, bus with sign for holiday

May you be sealed for a good year.

שבת שלום