Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of Israel’s miraculous victory over combined Arab forces in 1967, began last night (Thursday). Usually the chag is marked with festive prayer services in synagogues around the country. This year, because of the restrictions of the coronavirus, the festivities have either been online or in a much smaller format than we are used to. However, these last couple of weeks the Israeli authorities have begun lifting these restrictions, and tonight my own shul opened its doors for the first time since shortly after Purim, with a festive prayer attended by up to 50 men. The service was broadcast by Zoom to the rest of the community.
This year we mark the 53rd anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, as well as the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights (and the Gaza Strip but that’s another story) in the Six Day War. The day is not a national holiday in Israel but it is (usually) celebrated with special ceremonies, prayers and celebrations in schools, municipalities, youth clubs, and of course throughout Jerusalem.
Since the country is slowly emerging from its corona lockdown my cousin took the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem at sunrise and she took these beautiful pictures, above and here below:
Just in time for Yom Yerushalayim an incredible discovery was made near the Kotel, the Western Wall, in the Old City: a series of underground rooms, a courtyard and more. Watch this video:
The Jerusalem Post reports on this remarkable archeological find:
Two thousand years ago, Jerusalem residents were storing food and water, cooking, maybe even living in a unique subterranean multiple-room structure barely 30 meters from the holy Temple.
This new discovery was unveiled by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation on Tuesday ahead of Jerusalem Day.
Descending into the underground chambers from the Western Wall Plaza – glaring with light and still under the coronavirus regulations and a heat wave – is nothing less than a journey back in time before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, when the city was still bustling with Jewish life and rituals.
“At the time of the Second Temple, 2,000 years ago, this was a public area, the civic center of ancient Jerusalem,” Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon, co-director of the excavation on behalf of the IAA together with Tehila Sadiel, told The Jerusalem Post. “We think that the public street passed just a few meters from here, and we are standing next to what we archaeologists call the ‘big bridge’ that connected the upper city to the Temple itself.”
Clay cooking vessels, oil lamps and stone containers, useful to store water and minimizing the risk of giving it ritual impurity according to Halacha, are among the objects retrieved by the researchers so far, allowing them to assess that the carved structure was in use in the first century CE. How much earlier it was actually built remains a mystery, one of the many that will be addressed as the studies proceed.
Western Wall Heritage Foundation director Mordechai “Suli” Eliav said in a press release: “I am excited, on the eve of Jerusalem Day, to reveal to the Jewish nation a new treasure trove of impressive and fascinating findings that shed light on life in Jerusalem throughout the generations in general and on the eve of the destruction in particular.
“This finding epitomizes the deep connection of Jews with Jerusalem, their capital. Even when there were physical limitations, prayer at the foot of the remnant of our Temple never ceased, and this is tangible evidence of this.”
Despite the fact that archeological discoveries like this prove beyond a doubt the connection between the Jewish People and Jerusalem, and despite numerous documented historical facts like the San Remo Conference which granted the Jewish People the right to all the lands in what is known as the Entire Land of Israel, up to and beyond the Jordan River, and despite the documented history of the theft of this land by the Arabs between 1948 and 1967, many of the world’s nations do not want to accept that the Jews, as represented by Israel, have returned to these lands. Moreover they strongly object to Israel applying sovereignty to the territories liberated from the Arabs in 1967 – something that should have been done on the Seventh Day (but that’s another matter).
There is finally a President in the White House who approves of Israel’s intentions to apply sovereignty, and his Ambassador to Israel has actively encouraged Israel in this, but as anyone could have predicted, many people, including Jews, are not happy. Why? Because Jews. Because the world cannot get used to the idea of the independent strong Jew, the one who has shed the Exile and returned home, the Jew who refuses to cower before the gentiles. Sadly there are many Jews themselves who cannot shed the “galus Jew”, the feeling of fear or trembling at what the Gentiles will say, and they work to undermine our sovereignty, not only in our holy places, but in all the Land of Israel.
We have much work to do!
Let us go back to those dramatic days of the Six Day War which Israel so unexpectedly won, and won so decisively, recapturing our holy places:
And for an insider’s view of the nerve-wracking decisions which had to made by the Israeli leadership at the time, here is a clip from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films acclaimed documentary “The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers”. This clip features Ambassador Yehuda Avner, who was chief aide, English language notetaker, and speechwriter to Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Shimon Peres.:
On a personal note, I give thanks to Hashem that I fulfilled not only my own dreams but the dreams of my ancestors when I made aliya over 42 years ago to Jerusalem. That is where I spent my first few years in this country and that is where I met my husband. And though we moved to Petach Tikva when we got married, Petach Tikva itself, the first settlement established outside Jerusalem in 1878, was founded by Jerusalemites, and so to this day Petach Tikva follows Jerusalem customs concerning life-cycle events, Shabbat and festivals.
Jerusalem is thus never far from my heart, and of course never far from the heart of every Jew.
May next year’s Yom Yerushalayim be celebrated in full glorious technicolour instead of the necessary restrictions imposed this year. As the country starts to open up, may the streets of Jerusalem be once again thronged with pilgrims and worshippers, as the prophet Zecharia said:
כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה שַׁבְתִּי אֶל צִיּוֹן וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם וְנִקְרְאָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם עִיר הָאֱמֶת וְהַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת הַר הַקֹּדֶשׁ. כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת עֹד יֵשְׁבוּ זְקֵנִים וּזְקֵנוֹת בִּרְחֹבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם וְאִישׁ מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ בְּיָדוֹ מֵרֹב יָמִים. וּרְחֹבוֹת הָעִיר יִמָּלְאוּ יְלָדִים וִילָדוֹת מְשַׂחֲקִים בִּרְחֹבֹתֶיהָ.
Thus said Hashem: I have returned to Zion and I will dwell within Jerusalem, and Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the Mountain of G-d the Lord of Hosts the Holy Mountain. Thus said Hashem the Lord of Hosts, the old men and old women will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, and each one will have a walking stick in his hand becauuse of their great old age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in the streets.
We see these miracles with our own eyes daily. How can we deny the reality of G-d’s miracles?
!זה היום עשה ה’ נגילה ונשמחה בו
This is the day that Hashem made, we will rejoice and celebrate on it!
Chag Same’ach Jerusalem! Chag Same’ach Judea, Samaria, Golan and Binyamin, they too were liberated during the Six Day War through Hashem’s miracles and the soldiers’ bravery.