During the first nine days of the Hebrew month of Av, the time of mourning and fasting for the destruction of Jerusalem's ancient temples and other national calamities, several groups commemorated tragedies old and new.
Can't see player? Click here for video coverage of Women in Green march and Homesh gathering.
On Saturday night, thousands joined the grassroots movement Women for Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green) in their annual march along Jerusalem's Old City walls. The group's leaders declared that all of Israel must remain in Jewish hands. Marchers read the biblical Book of Lamentations as is customary on the Ninth of Av, the 24-hr. fast which began the same night.
Also Saturday night, thirty families from the now-desolate Homesh recited the Book of Lamentations at the site of the former community. The group has set as its goal the rebuilding of the town of Homesh as a first step in rectifying the damage of Ariel Sharon's 2005 Disengagement Plan, in which Israel demolished 25 of its own towns with the stated purpose of improving its security situation.
An event organizer at Homesh told those gathered:
"Jerusalem and Samaria were always connected: in the time of the Temples, during their destruction, and in 1967, when both areas were liberated. So too today, those who destroyed the Jewish towns of northern Samaria wish to divide Jerusalem, and those who strive to return to Homesh are struggling to strengthen the Holy City."
The emotional service in Homesh, which mourned the destruction of Jerusalem in ancient times, was heightened by the destroyed surroundings, leaving many in tears.
On Sunday, several hundred Jews ascended the Temple Mount in several groups. Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute led an early-morning group to tour the mount and noted the Moslem reaction to the presence of Jews there. He said, "When the Moslems see groups of Jews touring the mount, they realize that we haven't given up on it."
Photo: Temple Institute
Photo: Temple Institute
Rabbi Richman elaborated on the importance of visiting the Temple Mount. "Visiting the Temple Mount is crucial for the Jewish experience as well. The common understanding amongst Jews is that we mourn for the Temple during the nine days of Av. It is almost as if we do that, then we don't have to think about the Temple for the rest of the year. But, when you ascend the Temple Mount, you see with your own eyes the destruction continuing and you connect in a deep way."
Only certain areas of the Temple Mount are permitted to visit according to Jewish Law.
Israel News Photo: Ben Bresky
The Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel held an evening of commemoration and solidarity for Gush Katif at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue on Thursday.
Can't see player? Click here for conference commemorating Gush Katif refugees.
Anita Tucker, an English-speaking farmer and 29-year resident of Gush Katif, said, "These three years have been much more difficult than the rockets… it's hard to believe, but it was much more difficult."
Right-click here to download this amazing address by Anita Tucker
Since being expelled from their homes, many families from Gush Katif now live in trailer homes and remain unemployed. The Young Israel event raised funds for Gush Katif expellees and Sderot residents who cannot afford dental work or children's school supplies.