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Day 3: Yad Vashem, the Kotel, and Rock 'n Roll

2014-01-21 04:12:58 PM


Another packed day, not just with one, but two prime ministers. Our day began with a debriefing by Fmr. Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. This man is extremely intelligent, articulate, and a great statesmen. I remember when he spoke at a university campus at UC Irvine, was heckled by Islamic students, and civil discourse on campus would never be the same. He spoke about the dangers of Iran but the reasons for optimism in a country that has a per capita income rivaling western Europe and a 5-1/2% unemployment rate.


From there, we went on an excursion to Yad Vashem where we'd meet both PM Harper and PM Natenyahu for a ceremony. Of course, most of us have already been, but it’s always fascinating to go with someone who’s never been before and “see” the experience through their eyes.


Of course, it’s never easy being at Yad Vashem, and bringing back all those feelings of our lost parents, grandparent, and the million and a half children murdered during the Shoah.


After we were broken up into smaller groups for private tours, we all gathered into the ceremonial room, a large atrium that is for special ceremonies. We patiently waited for PM Harper to finish his private tour of the museum, imagining his taking in all of the horrors contained with the museum walls.

(With Thornhill MP Peter Kent)


The mood, of course was quite somber, when Mr. & Mrs. Harper, Mr. & Mrs. Netanyahu, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and other dignitaries entered the room for the ceremony.


First Mr. Harper lit the eternal bonfire. He then laid down a wreath on behalf of Canada in memory of the millions murdered in the Shoah. Finally, we heard a Maley memorial prayer and the ceremony concluded.


We then made our way to the Kotel (Western Wall). Here’s where it all began to be worthwhile. Imagine driving nearly from one end of Yerushalayim to the other without a second’s delay for traffic. Because our bus was part of the PM’s motorcade, all traffic was cordoned off until our procession passed. To drive through the empty streets of Yerushalayim was both exhilarating and unsettling at the same time, but we made it to the Old City and the Kotel plaza in record time!


5:30 pm we’re at the Kotel.

(With MPs Mark Adler and Peter Kent)


(With Rabbi Yehoshua Weber, Clanton Park Synagogue)


A special part of the outdoor section of the Kotel, between the men’s and women’s section, was cordoned off for the PM to have a moment of solitude by the Wall. He entered with the chief rabbi of the Western Wall and a few others. PM Harper inserted a “kvittel” (note) into one of the crevices, said his own personal prayers with his hand on the Wall, and soon we were finished. We quickly davened Maariv and made our way to the buses.



JNF – Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael, who do the annual Negev dinner which this year honoured PM Harper, were hosts of tonight’s lavish dinner, which featured a who’s who of Israeli VIP’s. Both PM Netanyahu and PM Harper made toasts in honour of each other. Bibi thanked Mr. Harper for placing the truth as a higher priority than politics, and Mr. Harper reminded us all that words alone would not be enough to remain strong, that we had to retain our resolve to defend our people and land at all costs.


Then, it was time to have fun, and because the organizers know how much Mr. Harper loves oldies music, they brought in a band called The Sixties, who played really well. Then, Mr. Harper got into the action. He played and sang, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “Hey Jude”. The crowd went wild! Another great cap to a great day.


A song sheet from the evening so that we could help the Prime Minister in his mission:


Tomorrow is the last day of our delegation. We will be traveling up all the way north to the Hula reserve to bestow the official naming of the nature reserve in honour of Mr. & Mrs. Harper.


Then we’ll proceed to Tel Aviv U. where Mr. Harper will be bestowed with an honourary doctorate. Stay tuned!


Layla tov,


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