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Yom Yerushalayim
Diverse ways that Yom Yerushalayim is commemorated in Israel Print E-mail
Friday, 11 May 2018

When I was in elementary school in New York, my favorite holiday was Yom Yerushalayim. We wore blue and white, ate falafel and ice cream, sang and danced and did fun projects about the different gates of the city.

When I moved to Israel, I was surprised to see that Yom Yerushalayim was not celebrated on the same level as Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) as schools and workplaces are not closed and may people want to disassociate with the holiday altogether.

Everyone in Israel seems to have a different take on Yom Yerushalayim. What makes Yom Yerushalayim so controversial?

On this date, 28 Iyar 5727 (1967), the city of Jerusalem was reunited. There are a lot of controversies over whether Jerusalem is really united. There are even those who advocate for Jerusalem to once again be divided.

There are those who come to celebrate the holiday with singing and dancing, there are those who come to protest and there are those who don’t visit at all.

There are those who march in the Old City of Jerusalem and those who only march in the New City.

There are those who recite Hallel (prayers of thanksgiving) and those who recite Tachnun (a prayer that is usually skipped on holidays).There are those who recite a special “Al HaNisim”, “For all of the miracles” prayer in the Shmoneh Esrei and Birkat HaMazon and there are those who don’t.

There are those who make an effort to get to know the “other” and there are those who keep to themselves.

There are those who pray at the Tayelet, with a view overlooking the Old City, there are those who pray at the Kotel and those who go up to the Temple Mount.

There are those who believe that the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem and those who are not happy about the move.

No matter what our viewpoints or how we celebrate, at the end of the day, Jerusalemites are all living in Jerusalem together trying to coexist with each other 365 days a year and we deserve to have as much falafel and ice cream as we want any day of the year.

 
Jerusalem: A Modern Miracle Print E-mail
Friday, 03 June 2016

On Saturday night and Sunday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.

 

The reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 can be looked at as modern day miracles.

 

Rabbi Doron Perez, head of the World Mizrachi Movement in Jerusalem points out how miraculous it is that the Jews survived the exile from 70 CE to 1948. Rabbi Yaakov Emden says that the survival of the Jews in the horrific galut (both physically and spiritually) may be an even greater miracle than the exodus from Egypt.

 

Yet Rabbi Perez explains that the former miracles of the exile were hidden miracles of a people struggling to survive amidst tragedies and difficulties while the miracles of returning to the Land of Israel and returning to Jerusalem are even greater open miracles of triumph and redemption as the Jews began to thrive in their own land.

 

While Yom Haatzmaut marks our national freedom, Yom Yerushalayim , the day that we returned to the Temple Mount, The Kotel and the Old City marks our spiritual freedom.

 

The question now is how we appreciate the miracle of the return to Jerusalem. Are we taking advantage of the opportunity to pray at the Kotel? The past few years I was at the Kotel for Shacharit on Yom Yerushalayim with Religious Zionist students from all over the county yet on a regular basis it is mostly the Charedi community that takes advantage of the opportunity to pray there. Although the Temple Mount is technically “in our hands”, Jews are still being arrested for trying to pray there. Since September there have been many stabbings and attempted stabbings within the walls of the Old City (Lion’s Gate, Damascus Gate etc.). If Jerusalem is truly united, Jews should be able to walk freely throughout the city.

 

May we merit the miraculous time when Jerusalem will become truly united, where people of all religions will be able to pray at their holiest sites and walk the streets without fear.

 
Yom Yerushalayim, a Wedding Ceremony Print E-mail
Friday, 15 May 2015


This Saturday night and Sunday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. Religious Zionists celebrate Yom Yerushalayim with festive prayers including Hallel (Prayers of Thanksgiving) and the reading of the Haftara.

 

The Haftara  for Yom Yerushalayim is from Yishayahu 61:10-63:9. It is the same Haftara that is read on Parshat Nitzavim, the seventh Haftara of consolation.

 

The prophecy describes how mourning will turn into joy when the Jewish people return to the Land of Israel to rebuild and plant. The covenant between God and the Jewish people will be everlasting and is compared to the commitment of a bride and groom.

 

The opening sentence of the Haftara sounds very familiar: “Sos asis b’Hashem tagel nafshi b’Elokai”, “I will rejoice intensely with HaShem, my soul shall exult with my God.”

 

Many of these same words are used in the fifth of the seven blessings, read under the chuppa at a Jewish wedding: “Sos tasis v’tagel HaAkara, bikubutz baneha litocha bisimcha”, “Bring intense joy and exultation to the barren one through the ingathering of her children amidst her in gladness.”

 

When we say these words we pray that the joy and gladness of both Jerusalem and the new couple will be intense and never ending.

 

According to Tanchuma, Jerusalem will be comforted when her children are gathered to her in happiness.

 

Zion is like the bride and God is like the groom. Just as a groom will do anything for his bride, God will redeem and protect Zion.

 

In 62:4 we learn that Jerusalem will no longer be called “azuva”, “abandoned”, the Land of Israel will no longer be called “shmama”, “desolate” rather Jerusalem will be called “cheftzi bah”, “my desire is her” and the Land of Israel will be called “beulah”, “married.”

 

The second half of 62:5 is familiar from a song played at Jewish weddings: “Umesos Chatan al Kallah yasis alayich Elokayich”, “As the groom rejoices over the bride, so shall God rejoice over you.”

 

In 62:6, God assigns guardians to protect the walls of Jerusalem to keep the city safe (“Al chomotayich Yerushalayim hifkadeti shomrim kol hayom vikol halayla”). This prophecy is fulfilled in the days of Nechemia when the Jews return from exile and rebuild Jerusalem after the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash.

When the Jews return they will grow their own grapes for wine and grain for bread (62:8).

 

It is clear why this Haftara was chosen to be read on Yom Yerushalayim, the day that marks the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. The Jewish people have returned to the Land of Israel, the city is being built up, grapes and grains are once again growing in the land.

 

Amidst all of the joy of the wedding, we break a glass to remember the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

On Yom Yerushalayim, one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar, as we celebrate one of the greatest miracles in our time, we must remember that the prophecy will only be fully fulfilled when all of the Jews return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Beit HaMikdash.

 

In 1967 our soldiers said: “Har HaBayit Beyadenu”, “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” Today, unfortunately, Jews who visit the Temple Mount are harassed if they try to pray there.

 

That is our broken glass.

 

May the prophecies of Yishayahu be fulfilled speedily in our days.

 
Prophecies Being Fulfilled in Jerusalem Every Day Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 May 2009

 

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This Thursday evening and Friday is Yom Yerushalayim, the newest holiday on the Jewish calendar celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.

 

Living in Jerusalem, we are seeing prophecies fulfilled every day. Last week the Pope visited Jerusalem. His visit held up traffic for hours and many children had trouble getting to school yet his visit was fulfilling part of Zecharia’s prophecy (Zecharia 8:22) “Many people and mighty nations will come and seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem…”

 

In Yishayahu (Isaiah) 2:2-4, we read the following prophecy:

 

And it shall come to pass in the end of days

That the mountain of God’s house

Shall be set over all other mountains

And lifted high above the hills

And all the nations shall come streaming to it.

 

And many peoples shall come and say:

Come let us go up to the Mountain of God

To the house of the God of Yaakov

And He will teach us His ways

And we will walk in His paths.

 

For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah

and God’s word from Jerusalem.

 

And He will judge between nations

and decide between peoples.

 

And they will beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks,

 

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation

Neither will they practice war any more.

 

The amount of tourists from many different nations that can be seen visiting the Kotel (Western Wall) on almost any day of the week is a clear sign that “the nations shall come streaming in”.

 

The thousands of students who come to Jerusalem to study Torah each year are fulfilling the prophecy of “Ki M’Tzion Tetze Torah U’Dvar Hashem M’Yerushalayim”, “For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah and God’s word from Jerusalem”.

 

Now we just have to work on the most difficult task of all “Lo Yisa Goy el Goy Cherev, Lo Yilmedu Od Milchama”, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither will they practice war anymore”.

 
 
We Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 May 2008

Yom Yerushalayim, also known as Jerusalem Day or Jerusalem Reunification Day will take place this Sunday night and Monday. Yom Yerushalayim is the day that the State of Israel reclaimed the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967 and once again made it the undivided and eternal capitol of the Jewish people

Even though Yom Yerushalayim is not an official National holiday (schools and places of business are open), it is still celebrated as a religious holiday. Special prayers are added to the service including Hallel (the Thanksgiving prayer). Late in the day, there is a big parade in Jerusalem which is attended by students of all ages who will travel from throughout Israel to be in the city of Jerusalem for this momentous occasion.

Although Yom Yerushalayim is only celerated once a year, Jews throughout the world pray for the Peace of Jerusalem every day of the year.

In the Shmoneh Esrei/ Amida we recite the blessing of “V’liyerushalayim Ircha…” where we ask God to return to Jerusalem, dwell in it, rebuild it as an eternal structure and establish in it the throne of King David.

In Birkat HaMazon, Grace after Meals we recite “Uvenei Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh…” May You rebuild Jerusalem the holy city in our lifetimes…

At the end of the wedding ceremony we sing “Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim”, If I Forget You. O Jerusalem…

And of course, at the conclusion of Yom Kippur and as we end the Pesach seder we say “L’Shana HaBa B’Yerushalayim”, Next Year in Jerusalem!

Let’s focus on praying for a safe, peaceful and fully rebuilt Jerusalem speedily in our days!