Thursday, May 25, 2006

Yom Yerushalayim, 2002

Four years ago, at the height of the intifada, just after the months where there was a suicide bombing almost every single day, the people of Yerushalayim celebrated Yom Yerushalayim to its fullest. Though everyone knew a victim, they were determined to forge on. It was one of the most inspiring nights of my 2 years in Israel.

One of the highlights every year is the march many hundreds (thousands?) of people make from Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav on the western side of Jerusalem across Rechov Yaffo (Jaffa Street) to the Old City and right up to the Kotel. In the yeshiva, there are a series of inspiring speeches from prominent rabbis and politicians. I must say that most were incredible speakers. With flags waving and loud singing, the crowds make their way slowly down the road, inspiring passerby to join in the march. There are a few vehicles, and I recall a friend jumping on top of one van with a group of guys for a while. There are police and soldiers guarding the yeshiva as the speeches take place before the march (the second year a close friend was on voluntary guard duty before walking with me on the march), and those same police and soldiers keep a sharp watch on the march itself - a march which is a prime target for a suicide bombing.

As the march continued, I remember that our group got slightly ahead of all the others, so we went back to rejoin them. Everyone staying together as much as possible is a theme, as everyone wants to show as much unity as possible. After passing the Tachana Merkazit (Central Bus Station) and Shuk (large Jerusalem Market), we came closer to the "Merkaz Ha'ir" - "Center of the City". Suddenly, the crowd stopped moving, stopped singing cheerfully, and formed a circle. As the circle formed, some people started singing sadly, almost in a lament. We were at the corner of Rechov Yaffo and HaMelech George (Jaffa St. & King George) - on the first Yom Yerushalayim since the infamous bombing of the Sbarro restaurant the previous August. 15 people, including 7 children, were murdered by a suicide bomber as they sat with friends and family in a pizza restaurant; 130 people were injured. Tears were flowing down the cheeks of all those present as the crowd stayed there for around 15-20 minutes before finally moving on. I was standing directly in front of where the Sbarro's restaurant had been (and now, is once again). I am finding it difficult to continue, so I will just sum up the rest of the march: After walking down Yaffo, the crowds walk through the gate into the Old City of Jerusalem. Rather than taking the normal circuitous route to the Western Wall, the crowd is escorted by the police straight through the Arab Quarter, singing all the way; the Arab community is placed under strict curfew on this night every year. After this portion of the march, which takes about 30-45 minutes, everyone finally reaches the security checkpoint. On this morning, I don't recall for certain, but I am reasonably sure they simply waved everyone through. Following this, everyone marches down the steps and up to the Kotel (Western Wall). The singing continues in full force as everyone forms a circle right in front of the Wailing Wall, dancing the night away. Finally, as it starts to get light, the minyanim start in order to daven k'vasikin.

This is too much for me: Suffice it to say that the march was inspiring, the davening incredible.

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach.


  1. you've really captured the atmosphere with this post.

    thank you and yom yerushalayim sameach.

  2. Awesome post! Great pictures! COME HOME!!!

  3. Ezzie, I propose we start a race. A race to see who makes aliyah first. First one to Israel has to save the other a nice seat next to them in shul. hehe. But I'm serious, let's go. NOW! or maybe after the CPA. I know Serach's cool with that. We can all live in one of your sisters/aunts/uncles house until we find jobs. No biggie.(I am serious btw)
    ANYWAY, about that post. I know I'm like really sensitive to this stuff, but yeah, slight shiver. Just seeing the pictures of all you guys. I mean, the next year when me, Rafi and "the roomates" were making fun of you and your "close friend [who] was on voluntary guard duty," it was a little different. When Dov H brought me to town for the first time he would tell me all these stories about the year before and without images his stories would only mean so much. But seeing Reuven's kippah (i rmmbr that kippah!) and all the other guys in those pictures and putting all your faces into the danger that was that entire year, it's really hard. It just occured to me how easy our year had it. Would I have been able to hitch as much as I did if I was in Israel a year earlier? Would I have had half as many interesting experiences? Would I have been able to make the most of the situation? It's amazing to have all this suddenly occur to me. The thoughts were always there, but to really feel it like I do right now is so wierd. But it doesn't bother me, cuz the truth is, I have had very many interesting stories and experiences. I have been many interesting places. I have seen my fair share of beautiful, amazing, spiritually-uplifting scenes and also shocking, depressing, even spirituality-bending sights, and all of these things have shaped the way I view Israel and the way I view the Jews who give up so much just to be a part of Ha'aretz. And all of these experiences have helped to instill in me the undying, unfaltering love that I have for our homeland. So, thanx for the post Ezzie. V'Yom Yerushalayim Sameach L'Kulam!

  4. awesome post and nice pics:) - -Just a quick question: Isnt Yom Yerushalayim tomorrow?

  5. for some much needed inspiration:

  6. Sarah - YY Sameach!

    OC - At the right time... :)

    Mordy - Heh. And I know you're serious. But all right, let's race. Loser pays for all-you-can-eat at the steakhouse every month for a year. Deal?

    It definitely was different the next year. In a way, I learned a lot more on the next year's walk; but the emotional aspect was missing. Your year was still rough (and wasn't that when they did the gas masks?), but nothing compared to what we were getting - though I'm proud to say that nobody I was close with left.

    I still hitched, though for about 3 weeks in March I think it was I took a lot more Beit Shemesh sheiruts.

    Speaking of Dov, we should write about meeting Mashiach, no? :)

    Heh - I noticed the kippah too - I have the same one. Gotta love that. And each person learns what they're supposed to (hopefully) from their experiences. You guys had other crazy things to learn from, and though you may not have had the extra level of worry, you also were able to get around more. Nobody was going to town after Cafe Rimon was blown to pieces our year - many guys weren't leaving the Moshav. There's a lesson in that, but those people then didn't get the experience walking around J-town.

    YY Sameach, man.

    Rabbi - You were as skinny then as you are now! And if you'd read all my posts, you'd see I linked to TWO people with that! ;)

  7. Wow! Wow, wow, wow. I was there (before the intafada, though). I will never forget the experience!

  8. i was posting for the benefit of those who dont have all day to read all of your posts...:)

  9. IH - It is incredible, isn't it?

    Rabbi - What, people work? Why?!

  10. who said anything about working?!:)

  11. Wow.I'm starting to regret not going to the parade. It's amazing how time heals. Who even thinks twice before going to Ne'eman (where S'barro used to be)? Thanks for the reminder of how lucky we are to be able to live in Israel,in a relatively quiet time. May it only continue in peace.

  12. Rabbi - Behave!

    KM - Amen. Thank you.

  13. Yom Yershalayim is one of the most amazing days of the year. I always remember feeling awestruck by the unity of all types of jews when I walked through shar shechem each year (I purposly walked through shar shechem cuz I did not usually walk that way. But the armenian shuk? Come on Ezzie, when did anyone go the long way to the kotel... I always walked through the shuk!). Also I was always saddend to see our holiest city being treated like garbage by the people who reside there now. If only we would have kicked everyone out of the old city in '67 the the old city today might be like the old city in Tzfat, jews everywhere and not the slightest bit of fear to go anywhere. Regarding what Mordy said... it is true that many people were afraid during my first year in Israel (I was there the same year as ezzie was) however, i felt that in some ways people were more determined and resolved not to let the terrorist stop their daily lifesyle. That is why I purposly went to Ben Yehuda the day after the bombings to be their to show solidarity and to mourn with my fellow jews. (I was not thier at the bombings thank G-d, I was busy watching Harry Potter, which the thursday before came out in the theaters... maybe I should write a letter to J.K.Rowling thanking her...). This is why me and my friends went to chevron when ever we could and went to Gush Katif (Gaza) for four or five shabbosim (cant remember right now) to show our support to the jews who lived their (who always begged us to come back and to bring as many people as we can). This is why I hitched all over the shomron and yehuda (west bank) and constantly went to more and more places as much as I could, to really feel how it was to live and be in Israel. To really feel that this land is our land the land that G-d has given us. But I dont know... maybe me and my friends were just crazy!

  14. i felt that in some ways people were more determined and resolved not to let the terrorist stop their daily lifesyle

    Absolutely. I went the next Motzei Shabbos to where they had a memorial event on Ben Yehuda, also for solidarity and to mourn. There's a blog on my 'roll called Bein Adam L'Chaveiro (in the friends/family section) where a guy named Oose describes how someone was sitting in his normal seat the night of the BY bombing in Cafe Rimon, saving his life.

    I too was determined to continue hitching; I didn't for those 3 weeks by request of my cousins who felt it was not proper to make my parents worry extra.