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Yom Yerushalayim
Wedding Season Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 May 2023

This Thursday night and Friday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day.

Yom Yerushalayim comes at the height of the spring wedding season in Israel which begins on Lag Ba’Omer and goes until early July.

Unfortunately, there was a small glitch in the kickoff of the wedding season this year, Operation Shield and Arrow, a war on the border of the Gaza strip.

Brides and grooms who were supposed to get married in Southern Israel last Tuesday, on Lag Ba’Omer, received calls from their wedding halls on the morning of their wedding that their celebrations would have to be moved as there was a chance that rockets would be launched from Gaza. Those who wanted to keep the special date of Lag BaOmer had to find a new hall further north that could accommodate them on such short notice. It was a nerve racking experience for many couples but in the end the Jewish people came together and made it happen! Thanks to the help of social media, networking and television coverage, the weddings were moved to the Jerusalem area or further north.

On Yom Yerushalayim we read the Haftara from Yishayahu 61:10-63:9 which compares the covenant between God and the Jewish people to the commitment of a bride and groom.

The opening sentence of the Haftara, “Sos asis b’Hashem tagel nafshi b’Elokai”, “I will rejoice intensely with HaShem, my soul shall exult with my God” reminds us of the fifth of the Sheva Brachot, seven blessings, read under the chuppa, “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.”

We pray that the joy and gladness of both Jerusalem and the new couple will be intense and never ending.

In Yishayahu 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.”

The prophecy of Yishayahu was fulfilled in the days of Nechemia when the Jews returned from exile and rebuilt Jerusalem and it is being fulfilled today by the Israeli soldiers who work around the clock to make sure that we are protected and safe and ensure that the weddings during this very busy season go on as planned!

The Temple Mount, Judaism’s Holiest Site Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 May 2020

This Thursday night and Friday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, which commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. This is an exciting day as between 1948 to 1967 Jews were not able to access a large portion of Jerusalem including Har HaBayit, The Temple Mount and the Kotel, The Western Wall.

The Temple Mount, the spot where both the First Temple and Second Temple stood is Judaism’s holiest site.

At the end of Shmuel Bet (Samuel II) 24:18-25 we read about King David’s purchase of the Temple Mount amidst a plague:

Gad (the prophet) came to David the same day and said to him, “Go and set up an altar to God on the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi.” David went up, following Gad’s instructions, as God had commanded…So Aravna went out and bowed low to the king... And Aravna asked, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David replied, “To buy the threshing floor from you, that I may build an altar to God and that the plague against the people be stopped. And Aravna said to David, “Let my lord the king take it and offer up whatever he sees fit. Here are oxen for a burnt offering, and the threshing boards and the gear of the oxen for wood…The king replied to Aravna, “No, I will buy them from you at a price, I cannot sacrifice to HaShem, my God burnt offerings that have cost me nothing,” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built the altar to God and sacrificed burnt offerings and offerings of well being. God responded to the plea for the land, and the plague against Israel was stopped.

In Divrei HaYamim II (Chronicles II) 3:1 we see that is the spot where King Shlomo (Solomon) built the First Temple:

Then Solomon began to build the house of God in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where God had appeared to his father David, at the place which David had designated, at the threshing floor of Arnan the Yevusi.

Although King David was the first one to be officially told where the Temple would be built, the Midrash, Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer teaches us that Adam, Hevel, Noach and his sons already brought sacrifices there. This is the spot which is called “HaMakom”, “The Place” throughout the Torah as well as where Akedat Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac took place and Yaakov’s dream with the ladder where he declared (Breisheet 28:17) “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.”

Since 1967, Jews have been permitted to visit the Temple Mount under certain restrictions, but aside from a few special minyanim that Rabbi Shlomo Goren was able to set up in the summer of 1967 and shortly after, Jews have not been allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, even silently.

Many will say that we have the Kotel, so there is no reason to pray on the Temple Mount. However, when you check your history books you will find that the Kotel has only been considered a holy site for the last 400 years, during the time periods when the Temple Mount was inaccessible to Jews and it can’t be compared to the Temple Mount, the spot which has been holy since the beginning of time and where both Temples stood.

In Yishayahu (Isaiah) 2:2 we read “In the days to come, the mountain of God’s house shall be established on top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”

Yishayahu 56:7 adds “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

It doesn’t make sense that the holiest site in Judaism is not open for Jewish prayer. The Temple Mount should be open to all who want to pray without having to worry about being arrested.

Jerusalem’s fertility issues Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 May 2019

Many of us are familiar with this verse from Tehilim 113:9 (part of the Hallel service which we say on most holidays including Rosh Chodesh as well as in Religious-Zionist circles on Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim) “Moshivi akeret habayit, em habin smeacha, Halleluya”, “He transforms the barren wife  into a glad mother of children. Halleluya.”

The midrash, Psikta deRav Kahana 20 teaches:

There are seven women who are called akara (barren): Sarah. Rivka, Leah, Rachel, Manoach’s wife (Shimshon’s mother), Chana and Zion (Jerusalem).

The midrash then goes through the different verses which show us how each of these women made the transition from being childless to having children:

Sarah (Breisheet 11:30) is described as akara, “Sarai was barren, she had no child” and later (Breisheet 21:7) after the birth of Yitzchak “She said ‘Who would have said to Avraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have given birth in my old age.’”

Concerning Rivka we read, (Breisheet 19:21) “Yitzchak prayed to God opposite his wife for she was barren. God granted his prayer and Rivka, his wife, conceived.”

Breisheet 29:31 states that “God saw that Leah was the hated wife and opened up her womb…” In Breisheet 30:20, Leah declares “…Now my husband will make his main home with me, for I have borne him six sons.”

In Breisheet 29:31, Rachel is called an akara, “…and Rachel remained barren.” Later, (Breisheet 35:24) we read in the listing of the tribes: “The sons of Rachel were Yosef and Binyamin.”

Manoach’s wife, Shimshon’s mother’s story is found in Shoftim 13:3, “An angel of God appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Behold now- you are barren and have not given birth, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.’”

We read about Chana in Shmuel Alef 1:2 “…Pnina had children but Chana had no children.” In Shmuel Alef, 2:21, we see that not only did Chana give birth to Shmuel, but she had other children as well: “For God had remembered Chana and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters (in addition to) the boy Shmuel who grew up with God.”

Concerning Zion (Jerusalem), Yishayahu 54:1 states “Sing out of barren one who has not given birth,  break into glad song and be jubilant, you who have not been in birth’s travail.”  And in Yishayahu 49:21 we read “And you will say in your heart, ‘Who has begotten me these? For I have been bereaved and alone, an exile and a wanderer- so who has reared these? Behold, I had been left by myself; where are these from?”

Why is Jerusalem on the list of the barren women?

Just as our foremothers who were unable to conceive were blessed to give birth to the leaders of Israel, so too should Jerusalem no longer be desolate, but rather filled with her children.

On Yom Yerushalayim, this Saturday night and Sunday, we will see how true this prophecy has become. Jerusalem will be crowded with her children, the Jewish people who will fill the streets singing and dancing, thanking God for the opportunity to live in and rebuild Jerusalem.

In the Sheva Brachot (seven blessings) at a marriage ceremony we recite, “Sos tasis v’tagel ha’akara, b’kibutz baneha l’tocha b’simcha”, “Bring intense joy and exultation to the barren one through the ingathering of her children amidst her in gladness. Blessed are you God, who gladdens Zion through her children.”

May all those who are waiting to have a child be blessed like our foremothers and the City of Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom & Yom Yerushalayim Sameach,

Sharona Margolin Halickman

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!