How phenomenally and joyously fortunate we are to live in a time when the entire city of Jerusalem – Ir Hakodesh, the Holy City – is once again ours, the eternal capital of the State of Israel and of the Jewish People. This city, uniquely mentioned and indeed repeatedly featured in the Hebrew Bible, is foundational for us, the only people, religion, and nation to have ever held the sacred city of Jerusalem as its capital. The Jewish People is filled with gratitude to Adonai for our having returned home after all these years of forced cruel exile.
The 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar is Yom Y’rushalayim, Jerusalem Day – the day on which during the Six Day War Israel liberated eastern Jerusalem, the Old City, the Temple Mount, the Kotel. This year, as Yom Y’rushalayim falls on May 24, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967, the reunification of Jerusalem restored to Jewish sovereignty.
As we continue to experience overwhelming feelings of gladness, gratitude, and wholeness, we recall the inspirational words spoken in that sacred place on that momentous day to mark the victory, the miracle, and the redemption. Thus said Brigadier General Shlomo Goren, Chaplain of the Israeli Defense Forces (later to become Chief Rabbi of Israel): “I am speaking to you from the plaza of the Western Wall, the remnant of our Holy Temple. ‘Comfort my people, comfort them, says the Lord your God.’ ‘This is the day we have hoped for, let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.’ The vision of all generations is being realized before our eyes: The city of God, the site of the Temple, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the symbol of the nation’s redemption, have been redeemed today by you, heroes of the Israel Defense Forces. By doing so, you have fulfilled the oath of generations: ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning.’ Indeed, we have not forgotten you, Jerusalem, our holy city, our glory. In the name of the entire Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, I hereby recite with supreme joy, Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, who has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this day. This year in Jerusalem – rebuilt!”
Chag sameiach – happy Yom Y’rushalyaim, happy Jerusalem Day!
Rabbi Jonathan Pearl