Jerusalem was full of revelers yesterday, and not only because of Israel’s Eurovision victory: This year the capital hosted its 51st Jerusalem Day. Arriving in Jerusalem among thousands of others, mechina students participated in a wide range of activities in the city’s honor and in memory of the Ethiopian Jews who died on their journey to Zion.
In addition to Jerusalem Day, yesterday was the official day of memorial for the Jews who died on the way from Ethiopia to Israel. Taking part in the events were the students of the Gal Leadership Academy, who trekked overnight from the outskirts of Jerusalem to Mount Herzl and the Old City. Their aim: to feel some part of the hardship that Ethiopian Jews endured and of their longing for Zion. In Jerusalem, the students participated in the state memorial ceremony for Ethiopians who died on the way to Israel, and in the Jerusalem Day festivities.
The students of Mechinat Avner–Akko have a connection to Jerusalem Day all their own: their mechina is named after Avner Shimon Getz, who fell in the Six-Day War during the advance on the Western Wall. The students arrived in the capital on the Saturday night before the festivities, entered the Old City singing energetically, and finally made their way to the Western Wall Plaza, following in the wake of the paratroopers of 1967.
The three student groups at Mechinat Tzahali set out separately last week for an intensive unit on Jerusalem, in which they learned about the city’s culture, unique history, and importance to the Jewish people. The climax of the unit came on Jerusalem Day, when the students participated in the traditional flag parade.