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Israel marks Jerusalem Day with Fun in the Old City

20 May, 201220 May, 2012 0 comments Events Events
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Nineteen Sixty Seven was a tumultuous year for Israel, but it was also one crowned with the fulfillment of ancient hopes. For the preceding 2,000 years, Jews from every corner of the world had prayed daily for their people's eventual return to the Holy Land, and most importantly, to the holy city of Jerusalem. In 1948, Israel was reborn as a nation-state, but the fulfillment of Jewish hopes was incomplete with half of Jerusalem - the half containing the Temple Mount, the City of David and the Old City - under unrecognized Jordanian occupation.


The Six Day War changed all of that, and for the first time since 70 AD a united Jerusalem was under Jewish sovereignty.


Audio recordings of Israeli soldiers entering and conquering the Old City and the Temple Mount remain one of Israel's most stirring and treasured archives. So it is little wonder that, along with Independence Day, Jerusalem Day - the commemoration of the city's reunification - is today celebrated on almost equal footing with most of Israel's biblical festivals.


While all of Israel marks Jerusalem Day, obviously the proceedings are most lively in the holy city itself. So what is there to do on Jerusalem Day, should you find yourself in the city on this most momentous of occassions?


Jerusalem Syndrome Project


A new initiative in the days leading up to Jerusalem Day saw various parts of downtown Jerusalem turned into a living museum. There was outdoor poetry readings, art exhibits, a bountiful farmer's market of the kind that was once commonplace on the city's streets, and guided tours of unique and historical houses.


The Jerusalem Syndrome Project, which hopes to become a regular part of the Jerusalem Day festivities, was a colorful and vibrant way to get know the city and its recent history.


Day Tours


In addition to the usual Jerusalem day tours available year-round, the Hebrew University offered two special day tours in honor of Jerusalem Day. The first was a special look into one of history's greatest minds, Albert Einstein. The tour took place at the Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University, which houses the famous scientist's personal library of scientific, philosophical and religious literature.


The second event was a walking tour of the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus Campus, a part of Jerusalem that has seen more conflict than most over the past 100 years. Despite being situated on the eastern side of Jerusalem, the Mount Scopus Campus remained an Israeli-controlled enclave even during the Jordanian occupation. Needless to say, getting to and from work or studies was a harrowing ordeal!

 

Official Municipal Festive Ceremony

* 9:00 - Knesset's festive session in honor of Jerusalem Day (Invitations only)
* 12:00 - Annual commemoration ceremony for the fallen Ethiopian Jews
* 14:00 - State's memorial ceremony for the Six Days War fallen soldiers
* 15:30 - memorial ceremonies in memory of the fighters and gathering of veterans from the paratroopers and fighters brigade (organized by the Paratroopers Association) - near the monuments at Rockefeller Museum, Sheikh Jarrah, Givat Hatachmoshet, the American Consulate and the Lions Gate
* 18:00 - Invitation only State ceremony celebrating reunification of Jerusalem
* 21:00 - Public is welcome to a a sing along evening at Ammunition Hill (new amphitheater)


Tower of David Museum


A traditional Jerusalem Day reception, scheduled from 15:00 - 16:30 is held every year at the Tower of David Museum just inside the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. The museum is open free of charge to the public for Jerusalem Day. Anyone who is interested in the history of Jerusalem is advised to take advantage of the offer.


Jerusalem Day Ceremony


There are several official Jerusalem Day ceremonies, but many are invitation-only. But there is one in particular that is open to the public that should not be missed.


At 9:00 PM on the evening of Jerusalem Day, thousands will gather in the new amphitheater at Ammunition Hill, site of a critical battle during the struggle for control of Jerusalem. Ammunition Hill was the location of a fortified Jordanian position that Israel had to capture before advancing on the nearby Old City. The stories of heroism and personal sacrifice that eventually won the day will leave any visitor in awe. And the original trenches are still in place for visitors of all ages to explore.


Dance of the Flags Parade


The main event of Jerusalem Day is a massive parade through the city's streets that is attended by thousands of Israelis and foreign visitors. Most participants can be seen waving colorful flags and dancing to festive music. The parade ends with a lively event at the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem's Old City.


17:00 pm - Stage dances for thousands of celebrants (location still to be determined)
19:00 Main stage at the Western Wall Plaza


Safra Square

Guided-theatrical tours at Safra Square including tours through the buildings in the square, east & west viewing spots, Model House (a miniature model of the city).

Tours are one and one quarter hours and depart at 10:00, 12:00, and 14:00 from the Palms square at the entrance to Safra Square. Tours are free for the entire family.


Free Musical Concerts  - Sacher Park


All night long performances at Sacher Park are free in honor of Student Day and include some of Israel's most popular musicians:

* Aviv Geffen and The Tauyot
* Idan Raichel Project
* Hadag Nahash
* Sarit Hadad
* Berry Sakharof
* Mosh Ben Ari


Free Neighborhood Performances on May 20 including:

 

* Performances by bands and artists at the Dalia Park Amphitheater at Ramot - 20:00
* Opening performance by local band
* Singer Shlomo Gronich and the Ramatayim-Tzofim choir
* Dance stage - Ramon School at Har Homa - 21:00
* Dance stage - Beit Orot Yeshiva at Mount Scopus - 21:00
* Dance stage - Har Hamor Yeshiva at Kiryat Yovel - 21:00

 

Day Tours - For those seeking to experience ancient and modern Jerusalem, you can register for a comprehensive, professionally guided Jerusalem Day tour which is offered daily. The bus and walking tour includes the Mt. of Olives, Old City and New City attractions. For more information on this tour, which picks up daily from major hotels contact info@travelujah.com

 

Ryan Jones writes regularly for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to Israel. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

 

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