This was quite an amazing week in Jerusalem. On Monday the Pope went to the Kotel. And on Wednesday, so did Justin Timberlake. Meanwhile, Jews celebrated Yom Yerushalayim with prayers and flags.
Top: Crowd gathers at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue for Leil Yom Yerushalayim.
Bottom: Chazzan Chaim Adler with the Great Synagogue choir directed by Elli Jaffe.
On Leil Yom Yerushalayim, Tuesday May 27, OU Israel and the Jerusalem Great Synagogue sponsored holiday davening featuring Chaim Adler, the synagogue’s Chief Chazzan, accompanied by the synagogue’s choir under the direction of Elli Jaffe.
On Yom Yerushalayim, Wednesday May 28, Yom Hallel was said in modern orthodox synagogues around the world to commemorate the miracle that took place in our lifetimes.
Yom Yerushalayim is a day for remembering.
First and foremost, there are those who fought – and some who died — to take back the Old City and to restore Jewish sovereignty to the Kotel.
Who among us does NOT remember Abba Eban, Israel’s ambassador, speaking at the UN in June 1967.
For the first few days of the Six Day War, most Jerusalemites were in shelters. There was a news blackout. They really didn’t know what was happening in their divided city.
As quickly as it began, the fighting ended. 28 Iyar became a significant date in the history of Yerushalayim. In military terms, this is the day that IDF Paratroopers entered the Old City’s Lion’s Gate and made their way to the Kotel.
Another iconic image from June 1967: Chief IDF Rabbi Shlomo Goren sounds a shofar at the Kotel.
Yerushalayim was a very different city then. There was only one traffic light: at the corner of King George St. and Jaffa Road.
There were remnants from the war all over the city.
Immediate changes were significant. The Jewish Quarter of the Old City became Jewish again. The rubble that was heaped on the Kotel was slowly removed.
That was then.
Yerushalayim today is three times larger than it was in 1967. About 900,000 people are at home in the center of the Jewish world.
The modern city has a few more traffic lights than it had in 1967. Today there is also a freeway and a light rail system.
Yerushalayim today has something for everyone. From archeological excavations to an annual marathon with more than 26,000 participants. Universities, high tech industry and modern hospitals. Theatre, food and museums.
But more than that, Yerushalayim is once again the center of Jewish learning. Religious schools, yeshivot and michlalot have returned to the city. Young Jews from around the world join their Israeli counterparts to learn ancient Jewish texts in a modern framework.
OU Israel is proud to be part of this rebirth.
An estimated 60,000 people take part in our activities annually. These include shiurim, tiyulim and special events. The Avrom Silver Jerusalem College for Adults offers 70-80 lectures for men and women every week. L’Ayla is dedicated to providing educational and social opportunities for women.
It’s true, like any city Yerushalayim has its share of problems, some of which OU Israel helps to ameliorate with programs for troubled teens and those at risk.
After 47 years, Yom Yerushalayim deserves to be part of the Hebrew calendar. Look at our city. Our accomplishments are sufficient reason for waving flags and saying Hallel.
This is the day Hashem has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.