‘Jerusalem Day’ is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar on the 28th of Iyar, which falls this year, on the upcoming Sunday, May 13th, 2018. It commemorates the date of liberation and unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.
Following the truce of the Independence War in 1948, Jerusalem was left divided with a border running in the middle of its streets between the Jordanian side and the Israeli side with a small area of ‘no man’s land’ in between. The Six-Day War in 1967 made the city whole again. I am proposing a trip that will take you to related heritage sites.
Trip Agenda Options
- Ammunition Hill – The northern battlefield heritage site
- The Old City Wall Promenade leading to the ‘Wailing Wall’
- Yvel Design Center – A present day Zionistic enterprise
This trip must begin on ammunition hill because that is where you’ll receive all the historical background. The visit starts with a tour of the museum, is followed by a tour of the battlefield and is concluded at the new commemoration hall built by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in collaboration with the families of the fallen soldiers.
The beauty of the museum is that after a preliminary film on the diplomatic atmosphere just prior to the war, it walks you through the events during the war on a daily basis. The museum presents the activities of all the brigades and units at all fronts, the challenges that they faced and how they coped with them through a series of original films and audiovisual testimonies. In addition, the museum displays a collection of various personal items from the battles, among them illustrations made by fighters during the war and the flag that was waved from the Western Wall at the end of the war.
The tour on the hill itself takes you through the bunkers and trenches. It provides a viewpoint of the city and a perspective of the proximity of the battlefield to the city. On top of the hill itself there is a memorial for the 66 Paratroopers Brigade that fought on ammunition hill.
In addition, there is a new commemoration hall that provides the collective spirit of the fighters and their families from all the units (Air Force, Paratrooper brigade, Jerusalem brigade and Harel brigade) regardless of rank and position. Aside from the personal photos and items on display, a digital summary on each of the 182 soldiers is available to make their stories more accessible. What was especially moving during my tour, was the personal story of the Marketing Manager, Alon Wald who presented the hall to the group. As son to a fallen soldier, Captain Rami Wald and as a Paratrooper and Officer himself, he was able to convey the sense of loss for those who had their lives before them but gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country.
I took a day tour, but they also have night tours. Additionally, I’ve included some related Jerusalem Day events on the bulletin that is on my ‘Members Only’ page. Subscription is free.
The Old City Wall Promenade leading to the ‘Wailing Wall’
As you can see from ammunition hill, the old city is nearby. A self-guided tour old city walls ramparts is a beautiful way to reach one of the gates that the soldiers entered from in order to reach the ‘Wailing Wall’. Although the city walls were originally built 4,000 years ago, the present walls were built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. They are ~4 km long, 2.5m thick and ~12m high.
The ramparts can be walked on via two routes each taking ~1.5 hrs since they don’t complete a full circle. The northern portion starts from the Jaffa Gate, just next door to the ticket office and continues to the Lions Gate from whence the Paratroopers entered the city. The southern portion starts from the Tower of David Museum, right across the street on the other side of the Jaffa gate and continues till the Dung Gate from whence the Jerusalem brigade entered the city. Tickets to both are sold in the Old City Information Office located just inside the Jaffa Gate. I took the southern route this time and took some lovely photos.
This is Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood, the first neighborhood to be built outside the old city walls by Sir Moses Montefiore in the 19th century. You can see the flour windmill that he helped build in order to assist the settlers financially.
The Armenian quarter, the smallest of the old city quarters, serves the Armenian community, the first nation to accept Christianity in 301 CE. The church with the dome is dedicated to two St. James, the brother of Jesus and James the Apostle, one of Jesus’s 12 followers.
The Dormition Church with it’s pointed dome and bell tower that commemorates the place of passing away of Mary who according to Christian tradition fell asleep and ascended into heaven.
You can either get off the ramparts at the Zion Gate (note: if you do, you can’t get back on) or continue till the end of the ramparts toward the Dung Gate. Just before you walk down you see in front of you the golden Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.
Once you get down, you will see the ‘Dung Gate’ to your right
and thanks to the Six-Day War, enter the ‘Wailing Wall’ area to your left
I was happy to see many school children on their way to the wall to celebrate the day.
Yvel Design Center
I was deliberating if I should include this in my post, but I was impressed by the sincerity of the Zionistic values of the company that to my mind continue the legacy. I’d first heard about ‘Yvel’ from a reader of mine who recommended it to me after one of my previous posts on Jerusalem. I wrote back that I’d keep it in mind and indeed the time has come.
Yvel, is an award-winning jewelry company specializing in natural pearls, that is committed to assisting new immigrants integrate into society. Around 90% of the current employees are new immigrants.
In particular, the founders, Isaac and Orna Levy have taken to heart the difficulties of the Ethiopian community and have established a school called ‘Megemeria’ an Ethiopian word meaning ‘Genesis’ in English or ‘Beresheet’ in Hebrew. The school accepts 20-22 students each year for professional education and training at no cost. In addition, the students are provided with a full stipend and assistance in job placement at the end of their studies.
A visit to the Yvel design center includes films telling the stories of ‘Yvel’ and ‘Megemeria’, a tour of the jewelry factory, a tour of the historic building that includes a wine cellar where they sell wines from all the vineyards in the region, an events hall and gorgeous display. Prices start at $50.
All profits generated from the ‘Megemeria’ students collection are put into a separate company that funds the school’s program.
The company is located just outside Jerusalem so you can visit it either coming or going from Tel-Aviv.
Address: 1 Yechiel Steinberg St., Ramat Motza, Jerusalem
You can buy lights snacks at ammunition hill, but for lunch, I’d recommend to stop at one of the restaurants on or near ‘Mamilla mall’ from where you can continue easily to Jaffa Gate: ‘Happy Fish’, ‘Rooftop’, ‘Café Rimon’, ‘Caffit Mamilla’, ‘Café Gregg’, ‘Kedma Brasserie’, ‘Luciana’ and ‘Satya Restaurant’.
A few suggestions include: ‘Hotel Prima Kings’,‘Gloria Hotel’, ‘Dan Boutique Jerusalem’, ‘David Citadel Hotel’, ‘Mamilla Hotel’, ‘National Hotel Jerusalem’, ‘Eldan Hotel’, , ‘Leonardo Plaza Hotel’, ‘Montefiore Hotel’, ‘David Citadel Hotel’, ‘King David Hotel’ and ‘Inbal Jerusalem Hotel’.
The trip took two half days. I’ve placed the locations on the map for your convenience.
This is what it looks like on the map:
Happy Jerusalem Day!