A Tale of Two Events: Obama’s Speech vs Natural Wave

As seen in Boston this past week, some events grab the public’s attention in a way that others do not.

For example, take the the near epic response to the bombing at the Boston Marathon compared to the ho-hum attitude of ‘oh, it’s another bombing in the Middle East.’

Before President Barak Obama gave his speech in Jerusalem last month every centimeter of the grounds around the area of the venue

Bomb search teams

was searched by teams of security experts looking for explosives.

Waiting to go through security Obama speech

This was a very hard to get into ‘invitation only’ event. Yet, after standing in line for hours the selected attendees then had hand their hands wiped for traces of chemicals before they could enter the building.

Obama speech in Jerusalem

Millions of words have been printed on Barak Obama’s speech and the audience response. His quick retort after an Arab student shouted out from the balcony received enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Arab students at Obama speech

Many stayed around and looked pleased to give interviews to the local

Obama speech in Jerusalem

and international press after President Obama left the stage.

This was so unlike any Israeli event I have attended: there was only one speaker, no introductions, and no closing words. And the speech started before it was scheduled to a waiting audience.

To top it off, there was no food!  Well, no free food, water cost NIS 10 a bottle! Talk about the US – Israel divide.

Can you imagine any major Israeli event so short on programming, everyone on time and no food?

Two girls with Welcome to Israel cake

These two girls brought President Obama a “Welcome to Israel” cake into the main auditorium. Hard to imagine getting that past US security!

After getting a special White House Press Pass and being at the hyped event of year, I left that day with an uneasy, almost sad feeling which was hard to describe.

It took a very different event on Yom Hashoah for me to figure out what was so unsettling.

Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Israel Forever Foundation and the Municipality of Jerusalem sponsored an evening to introduce the Adopt-A-Safta initiative to Jerusalem.

You may not have heard about it unless you saw the Facebook invite, but people were turned away due to the overwhelming response.

Yom Hashoah audience

The program started with traditional Holocaust slides and sad music,

Ceremony for Yom Hashoa photo image

followed by the lighting of six large memorial candles.

Adopt A Savta come to Jerusalem

The audience was asked to observe a minute of silence.

Adopt a Savta on Yom Hashoa

This room was so overcrowded, people were sitting on the steps. No one asked them to stand. But everyone rose for the moment of silence.

They stood up in a flowing motion that was like a powerful natural wave. It was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.

That was the light bulb moment. That was it. I figured out what had bothered me so much at Obama’s speech to the Israeli public.

The moving, sincere gesture of the young people in this audience, was so authentic as compared to the reaction of the Obama audience,

Barak Obama speech in Israel

where only a few began to applaud and stand,

Audience Obama speech in Jerusalem

influencing others in the crowd to follow.

On Yom Hashoah night I went home feeling inspired and uplifted.

It was inspiring to see so many concerned young people who wanted to not only remember, but to make a difference and improve the future. 


About the Author
Tired of only seeing negatives images of Jerusalem in the media, I started taking pictures of what is really happening, to show the world the real Jerusalem streets..