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To be in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day 2016

To be in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day 2016

Yad Vashem in the morning, the Western Wall at night.

Sunday, June 5, 2016, was Jerusalem Day.

Prof. Miriam Elman had a write up on the significance of Jerusalem Day and the liberation of the Old City, Jerusalem Reunited 1967: Three Israeli Soldiers, One Iconic Photo.

Soldiers at Western Wall Then and Now

The Israeli national holiday celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, after part of the city including the Old City, was under illegal Jordanian occupation since the 1949 Armistice Agreement was signed after Arab armies failed to destroy Israel in its War of Independence.

Jerusalem Day is a very nationalistic holiday, similar to our July 4th Independence Day, with flags displayed almost everywhere.

Tens of thousands of people stream into the city for the march towards the the Western Wall (the “Kotel”).

Many of the marchers enter through the Damascus Gate into and through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. In the past there have been incidents as the Jewish marchers passed through the Muslim Quarter (with each side blaming the other for the problems); the Muslims view it as a provocation, and the Jews view it as an expression of Israeli sovereignty. This year, according to news reports, there were no problems.

We were taking a tour of the Kotel Tunnels late in the afternoon. We timed it so we would exit near the Damascus Gate right around the time the marchers would enter the Muslim Quarter, about 6:15 p.m. However, as we reached the end of the tour, we were told that the Israeli Border Police had closed the exit from the Kotel Tunnels at the Damascus Gate for security reasons, so we had to reverse our path and exit from where we started, the covered entrance to the tunnel complex.

This is what we saw as we exited the tunnel tour entrance onto the Kotel plaza at about 6:30 p.m.:

For the next hour tens of thousands more people would stream from many directions onto the Plaza. The road leading down to the plaza from our hotel (The Sephardic House in the Jewish Quarter) seemed to be reserved mostly for women and girls. The road was completely packed for an hour with many thousands of female marchers entering the plaza. This photo doesn’t quite do justice to just how packed the roadway was for most of the time:

Jerusalem Day 2016 - Women walking to Western Wall

By 7:30, the Kotel Plaza was jam-packed, well beyond the usual security screening check points which were abandoned for the night.

Jerusalem Day 2016 - Western Wall Plaza Dusk

Jerusalem Day and the crowd at the Western Wall stood in stark contrast to how we spent the morning — at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center.

Yad Vashem Main Hall

The center was rebuilt a little over a decade ago and looked nothing like I remembered when I last visited over 30 years ago.

My favorite part still is the pathway of the Righteous Among Nations, honoring “Righteous Gentiles” who risked or gave their lives to save Jews during the war. It is a testament to the existence of good even in a time of such evil.

We previously wrote about one such person, American Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds – a Righteous Among the Nations.

US Army Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds Yad Vashem

There were many plaques along the path. Here are just three of them, picked at random.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to research them, but if readers were to do so and post the links, that would honor their memory. Righteous Among Nations Karla Andelova Weiss

Righteous Amond Nations Natalia Tomczak

Righteous Among Nations Kleopatra Polowska

Unfortunately, later in the evening I found out that I will have to cut my trip short because of a worsening illness at home. So as of now I will leave at the end of this week, after less than a week in Israel, eliminating completely my planned trip to the Lebanese and Syrian border communities, and Tel Aviv almost completely.

Barring further developments, my speech in Tel Aviv Thursday night still will happen. [Update – Speech canceled, I’m flying home immediately.]

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Comments

Miriam Elman | June 6, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Here is some further information I found (links below) on Karla Andelova Weiss, Natalia Tomczak and Kleopatra Pawlowska, recognized as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem (re, see Prof. Jacobson’s photos above):

Weiss: nicknamed ‘the angel’ at Ravensbruck concentration camp, she was active in the Nazi resistance. One of 114 Czechs honored at Yad Vashem as Righteous Gentiles. After the war she married the man she had saved, Ferdinand Weiss. They subsequently moved to Israel.

Tomczak: she sheltered and hid Jews who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Pawlowski: she and her elderly parents hid Jews who fled from a Polish ghetto that was near their home in Radom (Kielce). She was captured in 1943 and tortured by the Gestapo, and had to remain in hiding for the duration of the war. In 1947 she married the man that she and her parents had saved.

http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/righteous/milestone05.asp

http://db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=4017903

http://db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=4013676

Miriam Elman | June 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Here is some further information I found (links below) on Karla Andelova Weiss, Natalia Tomczak and Kleopatra Pawlowska, recognized as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem (re, see Prof. Jacobson’s photos above):

Weiss: nicknamed ‘the angel’ at Ravensbruck concentration camp, she was active in the Nazi resistance. One of 114 Czechs honored at Yad Vashem as Righteous Gentiles. After the war she married the man she had saved, Ferdinand Weiss. They subsequently moved to Israel.

Tomczak: she sheltered and hid Jews who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Pawlowski: she and her elderly parents hid Jews who fled from the Polish ghetto that was near their home in Radom (Kielce). She was captured in 1943 and tortured by the Gestapo, and had to remain in hiding for the duration of the war. In 1947 she married the man that she and her parents had saved.

http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/righteous/milestone05.asp

http://db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=4017903

http://db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=4013676

DieJustAsHappy | June 6, 2016 at 1:39 pm

What a wonderful, celebratory time for Israel. I had hoped to visit some day, but, alas, that’s no longer in the realm of possibility.

Prayers for all.

DieJustAsHappy | June 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm

You are welcome. These were certainly not what’s-in-it-for-me people. They knew, if they were caught, what would be in store for them.

To think what a struggle it has been for Jews, from ancient through to and including modern times, it is little wonder they so cling to their identity and their nation. Given the current condition of many nations, Israel seems to be that land of hope: yearning to be free in a land of their own.

Thank you for the interesting posts.

“Update – Speech canceled, I’m flying home immediately.”
I hope your voyage home is comfortable, and I pray for the health of your loved one.

Legal Insurrection readers will probably not be to shocked that I jumped on the chance to look at the life of Kleopatra Pawłowska.

Kleopatra Pawłowska, who had worked as a hospital nurse in Warsaw before the war, had many Jewish friends. During the occupation, Pawłowska was active in the underground of the Polish Workers’ Party (PPR) and her home served as a meeting place for the underground activists, who among other things, prepared “Aryan” papers for Jews in hiding.

Pawłowska, who during the occupation helped many Jews, came to the assistance of acquaintances in the ghetto that were ill. She would put on a band with a Star of David on her arm and rush to the ghetto to provide medical assistance to all those in need. Pawłowska placed her apartment at the disposal of Jews fleeing from the ghetto as a place of asylum, and often even gave fugitives her own bed.

Among the Jews that hid in Pawłowska’s home were some whom she had never met before, who survived thanks to her help in hiding them, before finding alternative hiding places. They included three members of the Weinberg family, Adam Szajer, Jerzy Gajewski, Helena Patalong, Jadwiga Hertz, Rega Reinberg, Halina Kotlicka, Pelagia Milska, Wanda Krasińska and three members of the Zilbercwajg family. Pawłowska never asked for or received anything for her help, which was motivated by humane principles and patriotism. In 1964, Pawlowska visited in Israel as the guest of honor of the survivors and their families.

http://db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=4016823

INteresting but misleading. The holiday is celebrated almost exclusively by national religious Jews in Israel. Most Israeli secular Jews take much less notice. They are in the majority by the way.

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