You haven’t heard much from us for a while since we’ve been very busy – having been inundated by visitors during the last month, which was totally different to all we’ve experienced since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The sifting site was full almost all hours of the day, and we were open six days a week. Despite Health Ministry regulations that limited us to 20 visitors an hour (towards the end of the month to 30), we were rewarded with more activity than in August of previous years. Thanks to the campaign by the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) and to cooperation with the Ammunition Hill visitors’ site, we welcomed a wide range of visitors from all over the country, who chose to come to Jerusalem instead of vacationing abroad.

Many of our visitors were quite surprised that they hadn’t heard of the sifting project until now. They were excited to discover that this wasn’t just another tourist attraction experience, but rather a chance to take part in an important and meaningful activity, with a tangible connection to heritage and values, by salvaging artifacts that would otherwise have vanished into oblivion had they not taken part in the sifting. We heard many visitors, moved by the experience, declaring that they would recommend friends to come and take part in the sifting – and indeed many visitors came in their wake.

With such a flood of visitors, we used up all the available earth at the Mitzpeh HaMasu’ot site that was waiting to be sifted and we had to quickly find a contractor to bring additional Temple Mount soil from our reserves. The new earth that was transferred to the sifting site yielded abundant and varied artifacts – we will report on them in due course.

We were also honored to host families who chose to celebrate bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies at the Mitzpeh HaMasu’ot site (there were also weddings but they didn’t include sifting…).

And now for the latest news – we’ve now just found out that our site has been awarded the Travelers’ Choice badge by Tripadvisor, the world’s leading tourist site. This means that the activity we offer to visitors at the sifting site is in the top ten percent of tourist attractions worldwide!

We hope we’ll have many more months like this, and that schools and other organizations arranging excursions to Jerusalem will choose to take part in the sifting. We also hope that visitors from abroad will be able to join us again in the sifting in the near future.

We wish all our readers a successful new school year.

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