I started calling this time “The Revenge of the Introverts.” One of my daughters said her extroverted friends are going crazy, sheltered at home, socially distancing, and you would think that I, a very social extrovert, would be going This week in Israel, in the middle of a serious heatwave, we marked “Yom Yerushalayim,” Jerusalem Day. When you came on your Momentum trip to Israel, you, like most people, took it for granted that you can go to the Old City, pray at the Kotel, dine in Mamilla Mall. But not so long ago, none of that was possible.
In 1947, the UN created a plan to establish a Jewish state with Jerusalem designated “international.” Israel accepted the proposal, but its neighbors did not, and war broke out, with Jordan seizing East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Kotel (Western Wall). All Jews were forced out, 58 synagogues destroyed, and the holy cemetery on the Mt. of Olives plundered and desecrated, with broken tombstones used to make roads and outhouses.
In 1967, the Six-Day War broke out in response to aggression by Egypt. Israel told Jordan that they would not attack Jordanian-held Jerusalem or the West Bank if they would remain quiet and not enter the war. Jordan did not listen, and soon Israel was at war on three fronts: Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.
In what can only be called miraculous, not only was Israel victorious, but East Jerusalem was ours! A Shofar blew at the Kotel, and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared the following:
“This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.”
We are blessed to live here. May we continue to merit that blessing, and may Israel remain the undivided and eternal capital of the Jewish people now and always.