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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem Day’

The Heart and Soul of the Jewish People

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Yom Yerushalayim, which we marked this week, is a monumental day in Jewish history. It is a celebration of the first time in 2,000 years that Jews regained sovereignty over the Kotel, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site. And it is a time to thank God for giving us the extraordinary gift that is Jerusalem.

We were overwhelmed and outnumbered by our enemies in 1967, yet the Israel Defense Forces achieved a miraculous victory, reclaiming and reuniting Jerusalem in a defensive war. We salute and remember the brave Israeli soldiers who battled our antagonists and prevailed in just six days.

Many of us, young and old, sometimes take it for granted that we have control over Jerusalem and unfettered access to our holy sites. However, it is important to always recall that there was a time, not so long ago, when Jerusalem was off limits to Jews.

Understandably, it is difficult for younger people, who have never experience a divided Jerusalem, to fathom that there was an era when Jerusalem was not under our purview. For those who lived through it, it was extremely painful and especially frustrating that we were unable to visit Israel’s capital. Jews throughout the world prayed that Jerusalem would once again be ours and we yearned for the time we could once again bask in its holy glow. Now, years after Israeli forces achieved this remarkable feat, even the older generation can easily forget about the centuries when Jews were denied access to our most holy sites.

Yom Yerushalayim comes around once a year, but we must continually thank God for restoring our connection to Jerusalem and for keeping His promise.

Israel’s prime ministers have always maintained that Jerusalem is a “red line” that cannot and will not be crossed. Menachem Begin said it best at Camp David in 1978 when he quoted to President Jimmy Carter from the Book of Psalms: “If I forget thee, O’ Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I hold thee not above my highest joy.” He followed that by emphatically stating, “Jerusalem is the heart of Israel, the heart of the Jewish people.”

Moving forward, the greater Jewish community needs to put a renewed emphasis on shifting the focus to Jerusalem and highlighting its significance.

● We must urge our rabbinic leaders to double their efforts in educating our young people and reminding the older generation about the centrality of Jerusalem. A real in-depth understanding of what Jerusalem means to our people is paramount in order to preserve the rich history of this great city, mentioned more than 600 times in Tanach.

● It would behoove Jewish schools, summer camps, and educators around the world to continue developing and enhancing curricula aimed at transmitting to the younger generation a keen awareness and deep appreciation of the importance of Jerusalem in a historical, cultural, and religious context. Families must commit to visit the city to maintain a durable and unyielding connection with it.

● It is incumbent upon all of us to encourage and support settlement in all areas of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital, and no one in the international community is in a position to dictate where Jews are permitted, or not permitted, to reside within our own capital.

● We all must make the issue of Jerusalem a pivotal part of our lives. We can never take for granted the fact that the capital of the Jewish state belongs to us and is under our rule.

The holy city of Jerusalem is a vital connection to our past and an integral link to our future. With its unique religious and cultural significance, Jerusalem is the lifeblood of the Jewish people and the heart and soul of our nation.

Our children and grandchildren are the leaders of tomorrow. Someday they will be the stalwarts of the Jewish people. We must build a solid foundation for the future by instilling in them a love of Jerusalem and ensuring that they develop a deep appreciation God’s gift to us.

So, after observing Yom Yerushalayim and celebrating the 46th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, let us revitalize our efforts to underscore all that this holy city means to the Jewish people. Let us turn our attention to the importance of communicating to the younger generation just how fortunate they are to have a city they are able to call home.

Bibi Mocks Jerusalem Day

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

When God facilitated Israel’s unexpected and glorious victory in the 1967 Six Day War, it was very obvious to many of us that we were supposed to have rapidly and enthusiastically begun settling all of the Holy Land liberated as a result of that victory.

Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, Golan and the Sinai were pretty empty.  Those lands had never been independent countries.  There had never been a “Palestine,” sic, not there nor in pre-1967 Israel.  The Golan had been used as a launching pad for missile launchings and terror attacks on Jews in the valley below.  The kings of Jordan ignored and didn’t develop the Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria.

When we first began visiting Shiloh in 1981, the few phones were via old-fashioned operators.  It was Israel that brought in electricity, modern phone systems, piped water and sewerage. Remember that this was the late twentieth century when computers were becoming popular all over the developed world.  Shiloh, even though it has always been a well-known archaeological and Jewish religious site, was only reachable by a difficult to traverse path. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Jordan illegally had taken over all of that land and eastern Jerusalem.  They took advantage of their closeness to Israel to send in terrorists and have snipers shoot at Israelis.

The Sinai was a loosely controlled buffer protecting Israel’s south. But it, too, was a popular route for those who wanted to attack Israelis.

It’s now forty-six years after the Six Days War.  Egypt now “controls” the Sinai, since then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, soon after his historic election in 1977, gave it to Egypt.  And a very large part of Judea-Samaria is in the de facto and even de jure control of local Arabs and the P.A.

Jews who live in Judea-Samaria are treated as second class citizens of Israel.  We’re constantly maligned by politicians, the media and academics.  Even though we pay full taxes, we don’t get full benefits. One example is the “TV Radio Broadcasting Tax.”  All television owners in Israel, including Jews in Land liberated in the 1967 Six Days War are required by law to pay this tax.  Inspectors even go around the yishuvim, a.k.a., “settlements,” fining families who own televisions but don’t pay.  There’s a big problem here.  The Broadcasting Authority doesn’t broadcast to us.  We have never gotten the same television reception you’d get in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, kibbutzim all over or Eilat.

It’s also much, much more complicated to get building permits.  Supply and demand aren’t factors in government decisions.  It’s all politics.  The larger cities and communities in Judea and Samaria such as Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat and Ariel have suffered the most. Thousands of people want to buy homes in those communities and the government, that is, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,  keeps refusing to finalize permits, even after announcing that he is in favor of building.

Will this refusal by Bibi to sign the tenders break up his coalition? Many of Bayit Yehudi’s voters and MK’s won’t stand for it.  By refusing to allow building for Jews in Judea and Samaria, Bibi is making a farce out of our great 1967 victory.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

A Free Jerusalem, From 1967 Until Forever

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Today is Yom Yerushalayim – the 46th we have celebrated since the reunification of Jerusalem. From 1948 – 1967, Jews were barred from the Old City, from the Kotel and the Temple Mount – that was how the Jordanians and the local Arab population dealt with the issue of religious freedom – there was none. The U.N. did not condemn them; the world was silent while we could not visit our holy places.

In 1967, Israel was facing war with Syria and Egypt – the rhetoric and belligerent movement of their troops made their intention clear. Even as we launched a preemptive attack (though Egypt’s closing of the Straights of Tiran was clearly an act of war and intent), we sent a message to Jordan – stay out of this war. We don’t want to fight you….we will not attack.

Jordan sent back a clear message – we will fight with our brothers, and they attacked. Like the Egyptians and the Syrians, the Jordanians fell in days and what was known as the West Bank of the Jordan river, was conquered. Jews were allowed to their holy sites but we did not do what the Arabs had done. Though we found our holy places desecrated, we protected theirs. Centuries old Jewish grave stones were turned into bathrooms, smashed and crumbled, we rebuilt them.

We reunited Jerusalem – while allowing the Arabs access – virtually unrestricted – to all their holy places (there are times it is restricted to men over 40, for example – but this is usually when there is a clear danger of violence (or just after there was violence from there). We have never taken control and made it ours – as they did.

It was our Holy Temple – our Temple Mount – on which they built, centuries later, their mosques. If anyone is restricted today – it is Jews, who are warned they will not be allowed to visit the Temple Mount if they dare attempt to pray…can you imagine? Pray. We are not allowed to move our lips in a whispered prayer.

But for today, I will think of the greater celebration. The Temple Mount is not free, but the rest of Jerusalem is – free, free these last 46 years – for all.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

One Jerusalemite Recalls Dark Years under Jordanian Rule

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

“It felt like Messiah had come,” says Avigail Shlesinger, 81, about the day Jerusalem was liberated from Jordanian Legion rule, 46 years ago.

Shlesinger, who is a sixth-generation Jerusalemite, recalls what life was like in the Holy City during the time the Jordanians were in control of East Jerusalem, from 1949 to 1967. “It was a dangerous era,” she tells Tazpit News Agency. “There were areas in the city, like King George Street, where barriers had to be built to stop the bullets that Jordanian soldiers would shoot at us.”

“We felt like we were living under siege. It was dangerous to ride on busses and cars because stray bullets could hit anytime,” Shlesinger continues.

“When Jerusalem became reunited, I remember feeling that a very small city had suddenly become large.”

During the Jordanian rule, Jews were denied access to the Old City and Jewish holy sites such as the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, while Christians were granted only limited access to their sites. The Jordanians expelled all the Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and destroyed 58 synagogues and yeshivas. On the Mount of Olives, 38,000 Jewish tombstones were destroyed, and used to pave roads, build fences, and lay down latrine floors for the Jordanian army.

Shlessinger recalls that her grandfather’s yeshiva Torat Chaim, established by Rabbi Yitzchak Winograd in 1886, was the only yeshiva in the Old City that wasn’t burned down by the Jordanians. An Arab guard protected the yeshiva and safeguarded 3,000 holy books and the Torah Ark until the yeshiva students returned when the city was reunified.

For three millennia, since the time of King David, Jerusalem remained the center of Jewish faith. And after the Six Day War, for the first time in two thousand years, Jerusalem had come under Jewish sovereignty once more. The Israeli government mandated at that time that everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, has the right to visit all holy places within Israel.

Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerushalayim in Hebrew, marks the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and is being celebrated on the 28th of Iyar, which this year falls on May 8.

“We went from darkness to light,” concludes Shlesinger. “Today I appreciate Jerusalem so much – just to be able to walk safely on the streets and to pray at the Kotel anytime I want. My grandchildren carry Israeli flags and march in the Jerusalem Day parades. On Jerusalem Day, we celebrate the fact that this city has been home to eight generations of our family.”

Original Jewish Press Video: Beauty and Joy of Israel’s Heart – Jerusalem

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The streets of Jerusalem on the special day commemorating the city’s reunification. A celebration of youthful energy, enthusiasm, and love of the Jewish homeland. Everyone is included and dancing together from all backgrounds in an overflowing expression of unity. Original footage 2012 shot by JewishPress.com’s Jerusalem based videographer Natan Epstein. Music by Shlomo Katz, “There Will Be Heard”. Shlomo is seen performing at the concert next to the kotel (Western Wall of the Temple Mount) at the end of the video below.

If you are wondering where all the women are at the Jerusalem Day celebration, you can see them in the video made last year at the event by the Jewish Press’s own Yishai and Malkah Fleisher who captured the ladies side of the festivities in 2011.

The Man Behind the Curtain

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Last week on Jerusalem Day, we again marched through the Old City of Jerusalem in the traditional March of Flags. As every year, tens of thousands of flag-bearing marchers flowed onto the Western Wall Plaza from all its surrounding gates. Masses paraded all the way around the wall of the Old City…. Another idea from the creative mind of Yehuda Hazani.

He was not addressed as “rabbi” or “rebbe,” although he was a great Torah scholar. The March of Flags is the only event that bears his name, but he is also the one who came up with and led the mass marches of Gush Emunim (together with Rabbi Yaacov Novick), bringing masses of people to Sebastia, as well as the other great pioneering operations.

The public campaign that he organized used to be taught in schools of communications and governance. “Had he been alive in the days of Oslo, the agreement wouldn’t have stood a chance,” wrote leftist Professor Ehud Sprinzak, scholar, and expert on protest movements in Israel.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook used to refer to Hazani affectionately as “the assembler of great assemblies.” Hazani was one of the people who nurtured Gush Emunim, the grassroots movement that worked to resettle Jews in the territories liberated from Arab occupation in 1967, but always behind the curtain. Too little has been written about his character. He was an unknown figure to most of the public, a person who took care to be known only by those who had to know him.

A telling example: Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir came to pay condolences to the Hazani family when Yehuda fell from a cliff in the Judean Desert while hiking with his son. In the family’s modest home, Shamir met one of the great Haredi Torah scholars, and asked, “what is the distinguished rabbi doing here?” The rabbi said in response, “what is the distinguished prime minister doing here?” It was explained to both of them that Hazani was a great Torah scholar who took pains to remain anonymous, while at the same time he was a great political revolutionary behind the curtain. And both wondered, “where did he find the time?”

When I took long trips with him on the wayfares of Judea and Samaria, I saw him listening to recordings to make up what he was missing in the beit midrash (study hall). In days between activities he would return to his book stand at his place in Yeshivat Mercaz Harav to study and answer students’ questions.

His political doctrine is important and especially relevant in these days of such running around in the camp, of so many Knesset candidates, of Knesset lists and splits within lists. One individual who was on the committee that determined the list of Knesset candidates for the Jewish Home party before the last election told me that about 700 people had submitted their candidacy to the committee. Hazani would have laughed at that. He was close with the major politicians, and did not believe that the political system determined what would be. He didn’t rely on politicians, because he understood their secret weakness: their dependence on a supportive—and sometimes an oppositional—public.

Once Hazani drove over to me on a rainy day in his eternal moped, his great beard dripping with raindrops. “If we don’t go out now to protest against Kissinger (or was it Carter?), everything is liable to collapse.” Why not go to ministers, to the prime minister, to our members of Knesset? He went to them too, but he would say that in these matters everyone must tell himself that the fate of the entire Land of Israel is on his shoulders, and the entire world wants to steal from him his only precious possession.

I can guess what he would say to today’s religious Zionist youth who are running and fighting over spots and parties: if you really want to protect the Land of Israel, you have to go about the struggle as if the politicians didn’t exist.

The real fight is not in the Knesset. Netanyahu is not going to put up a fight against the New Israel Fund, and Netanyahu is not going to start a confrontation with the belligerent media, which have been attacking the government since it was formed. When Rabbi Levinger, half-paralyzed from brain damage, went to offer his condolences to Netanyahu after his father’s passing and asked what would be with the house in Hevron that had been evacuated, Netanyahu’s response was too true: “It’s not in my hands.”

To Influence, You Have to Demonstrate

In the absence of ideological rightist forces on the street to balance the pressure from the left, any rightist government will be pulled from the center to the left. In order to give the government enough room to maneuver to the right or at least the center, it is necessary to create an opposite magnetic pole. Just a simple matter of physics.

It’s wrong to think that everything stands to be solved by joining the Likud, lobbying the Knesset, or founding additional parties. Only external bodies can stabilize the political system.

A short story: Dov Shilansky, a dedicated member of the Knesset and champion of the Land of Israel, met us as we were moving around the Knesset with the new idea of putting together a project of foreign volunteers for the IDF.

“Oh, how much I envy you guys!” he said. “You’re free to act and plan. It reminds me of my days as a young person in the movement.”

“What’s keeping you from planning and acting?” we asked.

Shilansky sighed. “I’m my own master? I’m a slave…. Today I have to go to a bar mitzva in the north, and tomorrow to a wedding in Netanya. If I don’t go, I won’t be reelected. I have to deal with a thousand little requests from people, and there are committees and lots of party matters and quarrels within the faction. In short, I’m totally subjugated to a schedule that’s not mine and a set of priorities that’s not mine.”

The slogan that calls to stop demonstrating and become a part of the political process—”just one step from demonstrating to influencing”—is incorrect. To influence, you have to demonstrate. If you are a dedicated young person, don’t run for the Knesset. Run to the hilltops. Join the hilltop youth. Adopt the long dresses, the waving sidelocks and little kipot, the women’s pants and kerchiefs.

Join a framework outside of the Knesset instead of aspiring to “go far,” as it’s put by political commentators in the newspapers. The Knesset is not “far” at all. To go far it is necessary to return to the days of Gush Emunim.

Mount of Olives Community Suffers Big Jerusalem Day Attack

Monday, May 21st, 2012

A Jerusalem Day attack on Jews near the community of Maale HaZeitim in the Arab Ras al Amoud  neighborhood has increased tension between Jews and Muslims in the region, amid intensified demands from Jewish residents that Jerusalem police forces crack down on threats to security.

At approximately 10pm on Wednesday night, as the music of the celebrated flag-dancing “Rikudegalim” festivities in Jerusalem’s Old City reverberated on the Mount of Olives, a family returning from Jerusalem Day celebrations was brutally attacked in their car by 5-7 Arab men throwing large pieces of stone and firing firecrackers at the vehicle from the traffic circle preceding the entrance to Maale HaZeitim.  Most of the men wore kefiyyehs and other face coverings.

The traffic circle at the top of Ras al-Amoud, lined with an Arab restaurant, billiard hall, hair salon, produce store, mini-market, and taxi company dispatch center, has become a haven for terrorist activity against Jewish families, with Arab attackers hiding out behind a large green dumpster located at the far end of the circle.  Despite statements by store owners that they are not involved in the attacks, periodic assaults have reached a new level recently, with little children and other pedestrians being targeted by the terrorists.

The traffic circle is the only way to reach the Maale HaZeitim neighborhood from western Jerusalem, and despite the vulnerability of families there and their repeated reports to police of problems in their neighborhood, the Jerusalem municipality has not stationed a regular police presence on the site.  And despite occasional visits by border police and city police to Maale HaZeitim, the traffic circle 30-40 yards away from the neighborhood has remained dangerous, as security forces cannot see the circle from the neighborhood, nor reach it in time to stop an ongoing attack.

According to reports by the attacked family, the car ahead of them, driven by an Arab, slowed down during the duration of the attack, in order to prevent them from getting away. While the family suffered no physical injuries, their car suffered serious damage.

Border police were called in, arriving approximately 15-20 minutes later.  When they arrived, residents reported that they remained at the entrance of the community, until a few insistent residents urged them to go out to secure the circle on behalf of the many children and teenagers who would be returning by foot from Jerusalem Day celebrations in the Old City, just a 20 minute walk away.

Despite no emergency warning system in the community, news of the attack quickly spread between neighbors.  Approximately 20 minutes after the attack took place, some 15 to 20 men from the community walked to the circle and remained there for an undetermined amount of time.  No violence was reported.

Residents expressed outrage that guards stationed at the entrance to the neighborhood were aware of the masked men, but did nothing to either warn residents of the danger of travelling at the circle, or to remove the threat from the area.

“Instead of installing two or three cameras that will protect the people that are visiting the graves on the Mount of Olives, the government wired the mount of olives with hundreds of cameras protecting the dead, but where are the cameras protecting the living people?  It’s insane that after tens of cars and pedestrians in the last few months have ben stoned from the same place and from the same street, the police are not stopping it,”  Aryeh King, veteran resident of Maale HaZeitim and CEO of the Israel Land Fund told the Jewish Press.   “There’s no question that if the police and the authorities responsible for the security of the Mount of Olives really wanted, they could have stopped it a long time ago.”

“What happened last night, that on the day of the liberation and the unification of Jerusalem, it took more than 20 minutes for police to get to the place where Jews were being stoned, when at the same time there were thousands of police securing this special day in other parts of the city, is something that is unacceptable,” King said.  “Whoever cares about the Mount of Olives and for the people that are visiting the Mount of Olives, their voices need to be heard.”

Shani Hikind, the executive vice president of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, and the honoree of Monday night’s 3rd annual Ateret Cohanim Yom Yerushalayim Dinner, told the Jewish Press that the Jews of New York and across the world “cannot abide” attacks against Jews in Jerusalem.  “On behalf of Jews throughout the world, we deplore any acts of violence directed toward any citizen in Jerusalem. Nothing will be accomplished by efforts to intimidate and physically harm people in the capital of Israel,” Hikind said.  “Jerusalem will always be the united capital of our beloved Israel, and we are happy to celebrate Yom Yerushalyaim in New York City this evening.”  Her organization would respond to the attacks by “strengthening Jewish communities and neighborhoods throughout the capital – building more houses, bringing in more families.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jews-of-maale-hazeitim-decry-security-in-wake-of-major-jerusalem-day-attack/2012/05/21/

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