The Western Wall Tunnel


Yom Yerushalayim (יום ירושלים), Day of Jerusalem, is the commemoration of the liberation of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, on 28 Iyar 57271 (June 7, 1967).

On May 16, 1967, Egypt declared a state of alert, carried out major troop movements in the desert Sinai and demands the departure of the UN forces. On May 23, 1967, it imposed a blockade of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships. Faced with this casus belli, on June 5, 1967 at 7:45 a.m., the Israeli air force attacked Egypt, destroying almost all of their air force. At 9:30 a.m. the Jordanians enter the conflict, then the Syrians bombard Israel. June 7 (28 Iyar), the Israeli air force destroyed the Jordanian air force and the Israeli paratroopers seized Jerusalem and all the western bank of the Jordan. The Israeli-Jordanian ceasefire takes effect the same evening. On June 8, Egypt also accepts a ceasefire. On June 9, Moshe Dayan decides to launch the Israeli army to conquer the Golan Heights. On June 10, the Syrians evacuated the plateau and a ceasefire took effect the same evening. Judea and Samaria, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights come under Israeli control, the navigation of Israeli ships is ensured and Jerusalem is reunited.

psalms 122 תְּהִלִּים
ג יְרוּשָׁלִַם הַבְּנוּיָה-כְּעִיר, שֶׁחֻבְּרָה-לָּהּ יַחְדָּו
3 Jerusalem which is built like a city of harmonious unity.

In December 2017, fifty years after the liberation of Jerusalem, in the tunnel, running along the outer wall of the Temple, close to the Holy of Holies, after 12 years of development, a synagogue funded by the Delek Foundation and Yitzhak Tshuva2 was opened. This underground synagogue has a very special atmosphere, with low vaulted ceilings and stone walls. The metallic spherical arch is crowned with a burning bush and its walls are engraved with the texts: Shma Yisrael (שמע ישראל – Listen Israel), Ana beKoach3 (אנא בכוח – By grace, by power) and Shir HaShirim (שיר השירים – The Song of Songs).

1 Shabbat takes precedence over this day which is moved to the next day if Iyar 28 falls on a Saturday or the day before, if it falls on a Friday.
2 Israeli businessman and billionaire, born in Tripoli in 1948, chairman of El-Ad Group, owner of the New York Plaza Hotel and the Delek Group conglomerate.
3 Ana beKoach: “Please, by the power of Your great right arm, free the bound nation“, liturgical poem recited during the morning prayer and after the counting of the ‘ Omer.

Riga, Latvia

The Jewish Museum of Riga (4) devotes a whole section to famous Jews born in Latvia. Among them: Chief Rabbi Avraham Kook (1865-1935), who was the mentor of the religious Zionist movement and the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine under the British Mandate, Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903-1994), Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997). On the building where Sir Isaiah Berlin lived is affixed a commemorative plaque. This building, like all those on the street, is due to the architect Mikhail Eisenstein (1867-1920), born in the kyiv region and father of the famous filmmaker Serguei Eisenstein > (1898-1948) director of the film The Battleship Potemkin, dealing with the 1905 mutiny of Russian sailors in Odessa.

The Holocaust resulted in the near-extermination of Latvia’s Jewish community. The Peitav Synagogue (1) is the only synagogue that was not destroyed during this period. Of the Choral Synagogue (2), only ruins remain which have been transformed into a Memorial. The ghetto has been transformed into a Latvian Holocaust museum.

Today, Riga has about 9,000 Jews and a community center (6) has been created by the chabads, (synagogue, mikveh, school, grocery store). A restaurant (5) is open in the basement of the museum.   

Meron, Upper Galilee, Israel

Lag Baʿomer (ל = 30 + ג = 3) – 33rd day of the omer)

The ‘omer (עֹמר) is an ancient unit of measurement used in Temple times, weighing between 1,560 and 1,770 kg. From the second day of Passover and until Shavuot, i.e. for 49 days, an ‘omer of barley was brought as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Hiloula of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohaï (1st and 2nd century), which takes place on the 33rd day of the ‘omer, is one of the most popular celebrations in Israel and the Diaspora. Meron, in the Upper Galilee in northern Israel, is particularly known for hosting the tombs of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and his son, Rabbi Eleazar bar Rabbi Shimon. It is the second busiest place in Israel. There are also the remains of an old 3rd century synagogue which suffered several earthquakes, as well as the tombs of Hillel Hazaken and Shammai (1st century BCE).

Tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess in Tiberias

Parashat Behar Sinai (בהר סיני On Mount Sinai),
Leviticus 25:1-26:2

The parashah cites the laws of chemita (שמטהremission, “fallow” ). That is to say that every seven years one should not take advantage of the land of Israel, nor cultivate it. The parashah also cites the laws of yôvēl (יובל – “jubilee). Every fifty years, alienated or pledged lands are freed, debts forgiven and slaves freed.

Pesach Chéni

A person who could not participate in the Passover sacrifice, can perform it a month later (14 Iyar), Numbers 9:5-14. Passover Sheni also gives rise to the celebration of Hilula1 of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess, who died on 14 Iyar during the 2th century, while he was in exile. At his request, he was buried standing, in order to better welcome2 the Messiah during the resurrection of the dead. His name is mentioned frequently in the Mishnah and his wife Brouria3 is one of the few women mentioned in the Gemara.

It is traditional to light a candle, give Tzedakah and say 3 times:
.אלקא דמאיר ענני
Ela-ha deMeïr aneni
D. from Meir – answer me.

1 Jewish custom of visiting the tombs of the tzaddikim (righteous) on the anniversary of their death, and commemorating this death by means of a festive ceremony during which the pilgrims make prayers, read Psalms and other texts sacred or considered as such (such as the Zohar).
2 In a attitude of prayer (Amida).
3 Daughter of Rabbi Hanania ben Teradion, one of the “Ten Martyrs”, burned alive wrapped in a Sefer Torah by order of the Roman Emperor.

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia


Parashat Emor (אמור – said) Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23

Leviticus , chapter 23
.ב דּבר אל-בני ישראל, ואמרת אלהם, מועדי יי, אשר-תקראו אֹתם מקראי קדש–אלה הם, מועדי
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them,
The days of the LORD, which ye shall observe, these are my solemnities.

Shabbat, Passover, the counting of the ‘Omer, Shavuot,
Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

In 1769, a certain Mr. Jew settled in Tahiti. He arrives on the Endeavour, the ship commanded by Captain Cook. In 1841, Alexander Salmon, an English banker settled there and married Princess Ari’ioehau Hinari’i Tepau a Tati. But truly the Jewish community was not created until the 1960s with the arrival of Jewish refugees from Algeria. In 1993, the Haava Vehahava Synagogue (אהבה ואהבה – Love and Friendship) in Papeete was built. It has a party room, a mikveh and a studio for visiting rabbis. In the prayer room with 60 places, the stained glass windows recalling the solemnities were made by Deanna de Marigny.

Kibbutz Sde Boker, Israel

David Ben-Gurion1, on May 14, 1948, declares the independence of the State of Israel.  The Independence Day Law was enacted the following year: It was decided to celebrate “State Day” on its Hebrew date, 5 Iyar, rather than the calendar date of May 14 and name2 Independence Day (יום העצמאות – Yom Haʿatzmaut). It is also recorded that the Shabbat takes precedence over this day, and that it must therefore be moved to the next day, if the 5th falls on a Saturday or to the eve, if the 5th Iyar falls on a Friday.

In 1950, David Ben-Gurion convened a commission which decided to pay tribute to those fallen during the war of independence on the eve of Yom Haʿatzmaut. Again, preeminence is given to Shabbat3. The Heroes’ Remembrance Day4 Act was enacted in 1963. Since the Six Day War of June 1967, the ceremonies of opening stand in front of the Western Wall. This day of commemoration was extended, in 1998, to Jewish victims of terrorism. The sadness of Yom HaZikaron begins with a ringing at 8 p.m. in the evening. Another bell will ring in the morning at 11 a.m. Israel is in meditation and mourns its 24,068 martyrs.

On May 15, 1952, in the Negev desert south of Beersheba on the road to Mitzpé Ramon, soldiers founded a kibbutz.  They decide to call it Sdé Boker (שדה בוקר – literally “herdsman’s field”), because they plan to farm there. In 1954, David Ben Gurion resigned as Prime Minister and joined the kibbutz; his dream, to make the Negev bloom. Returning to political life in 1955, he continued to live there. In 1962, institutes were initiated emphasizing environmental studies. David Ben-Gurion and his wife Paula are buried on the cliff overlooking the Zin Valley.

1 David Grün born in Poland in 1886 adopted the name Ben Gurion in 1909. He is the main national founder of the State of Israel. He was Prime Minister from 1948 to 1954 and from 1955 to 1963.
2 At the instigation of Avraham Elmalih (1885-1967) journalist, Zionist activist and Israeli politician.
3 Moved to Thursday if Yom Haʿatzmaut falls on a Sunday.
4 The full name: יום הזיכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל ולנפגעי פעולות האיבה (Day of Remembrance For The Victims Of The Desraeli And Desraeli Wars). >