Shalom and Welcome to this week’s In Israel Blog
Last week (Monday) saw the annual commemoration of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah and as the sirens wailed out at 1000 Israel came to a literal standstill (even on the inter city highways) and everybody remembered. Holocaust Day is by design marked in the week before Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) to show the inter-connection and passage of history.
Tonight (Sunday) at 2000 and tomorrow at 1100 the sirens will again wail out, and everything will stop as Israel marks Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and pays homage to all those who have fallen over the years in defense of Israel or in acts of terrorism. Immediately following Yom HaZikaron comes Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) (Monday night & Tuesday.)
The transition from memorial to celebration is always very striking. The celebrations will begin at Har Herzl (the military cemetery in Jerusalem) with the traditional marching bands, performances and fireworks. There will be celebratory services in synagogues and throngs will pack the town centers to listen to concerts, watch the fireworks and to celebrate. On Tuesday, the roads will be jam packed as everybody visits friends or searches for a spot of green to hold the traditional barbeque (mangal) – in some cases even the grass on the central divide of a highway will suffice! Meanwhile, houses, cars and official buildings are all decked out in blue and white.
Last week I spent some time in the Galilee and Golan. On the way north I had the chance to observe some of the many storks that are migrating over Israel; they are very tame and in many cases fly very close to the roads.
Now that we are in spring (after Passover) we have had rain almost every day; and it was especially pleasant in the Galilee although there was a spring heat wave (hamsin or shaarav) last week. The forecast for Yom Haatzmaut is pleasant and not too hot.
Our recommendations this week are the views from Manara Cliff and Neve Ativ in the Golan. Manara is perched high above the Hulah Valley (from the West) and Kiryat Shemona – the views are outstanding and include Mount Hermon – there is also the added attraction of the cable car. Neve Ativ is a sleepy village in the foothills of the Hermon, but has equally spectacular views of the Hulah Valley (from the East) together with Nimrod’s Fortress (Castle). Both places make excellent bases to explore the Galilee or Golan.
The National Statistics Institute has just released figures showing that in the first quarter of 2011 there were 4.4 million tourist nights in hotels up 7% from last year. The well known Trip Advisor web site also awarded Jerusalem as one of the top 25 tourist destinations in 2011.
Israel Inside Out joins the rest of the country in remembering the fallen and celebrating the 63rd Independence Day.
Wishing you a very happy Yom Haatzmaut & Le’Hitraot from Jerusalem