IN ADVANCE OF YOM YERUSHALAYIM
THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
Farley Weiss, National President
Yom Yerushalayim is a monumental day in Jewish history. It is a celebration of the first time in 2,000 years that Jews regained sovereignty over the Kotel, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site. And it is a time to thank G-d for giving us the extraordinary gift that is Jerusalem.
We were overwhelmed and outnumbered by our enemies in 1967, yet the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces achieved a miraculous victory when they reclaimed and reunited Jerusalem in a defensive war after Jordan launched an attack against them. We salute and remember the brave Israeli soldiers who battled our antagonists and prevailed in just six days, retaking Jerusalem and the Kotel along the way.
Many of us, young and old, sometimes take it for granted that we have control over Jerusalem and unfettered access to our holy sites. However, it is important to always recall that there was a time, not that long ago, when Jerusalem was off limits to Jews.
Understandably, it is difficult for the younger generation, who did not experience a divided Jerusalem, to fathom that there was an era when Jerusalem was not under our purview. For those who lived through it, it was extremely painful and especially frustrating that we were precluded from visiting Israel’s capital. Jews throughout the world prayed that Jerusalem would once again be ours and we yearned for the time when we could once again bask in the holy glow of this righteous and radiant city. Now, years after Israeli forces achieved this remarkable feat, even the older generation can easily forget about the centuries that Jews were denied access to our most holy sites.
We must thank G-d on Yom Yerushalayim for restoring our connection to Jerusalem and for keeping His promise. It is a day to reflect and appreciate the great gift that He has given us. And it is the perfect occasion to focus on the vital role that a unified Jerusalem plays in the lives of the Jewish people.
Israel’s prime ministers have always maintained that Jerusalem is a ‘red line’ that cannot and will not be crossed. Prime Minister Menachem Begin said it best at Camp David in 1978 when he quoted to President Jimmy Carter from the Book of Psalms. “If I forget thee, O’ Jerusalem, may my right hand lose her cunning,” said the Prime Minister. “Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I hold thee not above my highest joy.” He followed that by emphatically stating that, “Jerusalem is the heart of Israel, the heart of the Jewish people.”
Moving forward, the greater Jewish community needs to put a renewed emphasis on shifting the focus to Jerusalem and highlighting its significance.
The holy city of Jerusalem is a vital connection to our past and an integral link to our future. With its unique religious and cultural significance, Jerusalem is the lifeblood of the Jewish people and the heart and soul of our nation.
Our children and grandchildren are the leaders of tomorrow. Someday, they will be the stalwarts of the Jewish people. We must build a solid foundation for the future by instilling in them a love of Jerusalem and ensuring that they develop a deep appreciation for the wonderful gift that G-d gave us. On Yom Yerushalayim, let us remember that investing time and energy in order to preserve and promote Jerusalem is our best investment for the future of our people.
So, on this Yom Yerushalyaim, as we celebrate the 46th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, let us revitalize our efforts to underscore all that this holy city means to the Jewish people. Let us turn our attention to the importance of communicating to the younger generation just how fortunate they are to have a city that they are able to call home.
From our actions we should be fortunate enough to merit the age-old command of Isaiah the Prophet (Chapter 62:1): For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.
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