One of the major events of the whole trip I took to Israel was Jerusalem Day and the celebration taking place in Jerusalem. The morning started off with more delicious foods for breakfast at the hotel.
I love when the hotel makes eggs to order.
On this day the group left early in the morning, and we decided to go off on our own, mostly to get a chance to sleep in and then to shop a little on Ben Yehuda Street. If you aren't familiar with Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda Street is a famous pedestrian street that is filled with food stands, souvenir shops, street performers, and a mix of tourists, especially late at night.
Rachel and I spent some time shopping and checking out the baked goods. Everything looks so good.
Despite looking around the bakeries, we held off and went to lunch at the Waffle Bar. I'm not kidding, I waited a year to eat at this place. Every time I passed this place last year I wanted to check it out but it was never a good time for waffles (I know, I know, it's always a good time for waffles!). There was one by our hotel, so we all went for lunch.
I thought these plates were so cute with the chocolate splatter decoration.
Rachel and I ordered a laffa toasted sandwich. Laffa is a flat bread that is popular here.
My mom and Joe also ordered one to split. Since the intention was to order a waffle, we thought it would be more than enough food if we split our meals. We were right!
After some serious consideration, we settled on the caramel apple waffle. Wow, this was amazing!
As we were finishing up the meal many groups walked by singing and chanting since it was Jerusalem Day. This is celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem, which happened in 1967, so this was 45 years since Jerusalem was returned to the Jewish people after brutal battles against the Jordanians since they were currently occupying Jerusalem.
Later that evening I got ready to head to the ceremony for Jerusalem Day. This was the official ceremony. My group, from JNF, had VIP seats at this ceremony, which included all the important figures in Jerusalem, and Israel in general. Both the President and Prime Minter spoke. Therefore security was insanely tight, as you can imagine.
It is hard to see, but Netanyahu is entering, and Peres, along with the Mayor of Jerusalem were also entering.
Here you can see the IDF soldier singing the Israeli national anthem.
The ceremony started with a ceremonial torch lighting.
The ceremony continued with entertainment. Here are some dancers performing for us. Remember, this is a huge honor as they were dancing for the Israeli President and Prime Minister. This is just as much of an honor as it would be for anyone to perform for Obama.
Shimon Peres spoke first.
Here he is heading back to his seat.
Next up Netanyahu spoke. He gave an amazing speech. It was certainly an honor to be there with him and the other figures to hear what they had to say about Israel and honor the reunification of Jerusalem.
Here he is headed back to his seat.
Of course he had his security following behind him.
As soon as the ceremony ended, our JNF group continued to with a ceremony for the rope cutting of this Amphitheatre at Ammunition Hill, the location of the famous battle that led to the Israeli's reclaiming the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (the old city). Here is Bruce Gould ready to do the final dedication of this multimedia venue that he generously donated to have built here. We were here the other day for a ceremony, but this was the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
There was a lot of singing and dancing going on here.
Here is Katcha (very well known war hero in Israel, Shimon "Katcha" Cahaner) with Bruce as they cut the ribbon.
Then Bruce gave a wonderful speech talking about why this project was important to him.
When we got back to the hotel we all headed to dinner because it was getting late. Tons of people were in the mall, singing and chanting, waving flags, and celebrating that they could do this in this very city. Until this day 45 years ago, Jews were not allowed in Jerusalem.
Dinner was at the mall, at a restaurant called Cafe Cafe.
Can you guess what's inside?
Shakshouka! This is a traditional dish of eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.
My mom had some pasta.
Rachel also ordered pasta, but hers had lots of veggies, and some halloumi cheese on the side.
This was a really great and was wonderful to be able to celebrate this with so many important people, as well as all the Jews in Israel. Thank you to all the Israeli soldiers that fought to bring Jerusalem back to the Jews, and to Israel, and thank you to those that continue to protect this country so that the Jewish people can have a place to call home.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been to an event with dignitaries or other VIPs? Does your city have any special holidays or days of remembrance?