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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem Day’

Joy Of All The Earth: Meditations on Jerusalem

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Have you ever met anyone embracing seventy names? Have you ever tried searching for an item that has seventy names?

If you haven’t located that elusive city connected to seventy identities, a plane, bus or the light rail can transport you to it: a holy spiritual center, an ancient modern city – combinations that evoke weird and wonderful reactions from devotees and detesters, the sane and insane.

There is no other location with seventy exquisite names – Ohaliba, Gila, Yedidut, Shalem, etc. – names that express sentiments of love and joy, of friendship and peace; seventy choice callings found in Tanach and Talmudic texts, known foremost as Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is not my birth city. Jerusalem is my home. Sacred and ancestral, it is the city of kings and prophets, a city that has known countless wars and total destruction. Yet our generation has merited a revitalized Jerusalem, a thriving city atop layers of antiquity, Israel’s captivating capital.

Modern-day Jerusalem is nothing short of a miracle and one of the days for celebration is the 28th of Iyar, Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day. Not everyone revels on that joyous occasion; the defeated abhor Jewish expansion, Jewish presence, and Israeli success. Some prefer life as it was pre-1967; a city of barbed wire, sporting a belted waistline, mapped in green.

But I, who have lived here for fifty-four years, and nearly everyone else who experienced a Jerusalem divided by ugly concrete walls and twisted piercing wire, where Jordanian Legionnaires on Mamilla rooftops shelled and fired at Jews below, cannot ignore the miraculous fulfillment of prophecies worthy of celebration.

* * * * * Malls are not my favorite shopping habitat. Some are so overwhelming in size and sound, so excessively commercial, so physically exhausting. Still, there is one mall, only one, that touches a chord in my heart; not because of fashionable shops, cafés, or the artwork displayed, although admittedly they enhance the atmosphere. My affection stems from historical significance, a sense of triumph when reflecting, when sitting on a bench or walking along the stony paths surrounding the mall.

It is on Jerusalem Day, when I visit Mamilla, built above ruins of a shopping street opposite the Old City walls, that I reminisce.

Mamilla is an elongated stretch, a street that includes upscale housing, hotels, plus a mall – and Jerusalem Day is when I recall that 66 years earlier Jewish shops were looted and destroyed and shopkeepers were chased and slain by Arab marauders who thirsted for the area to be rid of Jews forever.

In their lust for blood, they turned the street into ruins. Few aspired to live or pursue business ventures in bombed-out buildings on the Jordan-Israel armistice line, on land that no one ever imagined would one day become coveted, exclusive property. Ironically, the word Mamilla, which may be Arabic, is strongly rooted in Hebrew: maleh, mimale, i.e., full, and fulfilling.

* * * * *

The Six-Day war was fought fiercely and swiftly. Israel did not expect to fight on three fronts. King Hussein’s decision to join the Egyptians and Syrians and declare war, forced Israel to defend Jerusalem by opening a third front.

On June 5, 1967, Jerusalemites sat in bomb shelters. I was among them, a 26-year-old mother of two young children, an American who had never experienced war and was traumatized by events surrounding the seemingly peaceful Rechavia neighborhood where we lived.

Mamilla, an ugly border street, was only a few blocks away. An army platoon was stationed in our backyard, situated in the Rechavia Valley. Three weeks before the war kindergarten children started filling protective sandbags while the Chevra Kadisha dug graves for the anticipated mass fatalities.

IDF General Staff Visits Kotel

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Senior IDF officers visited the Western Wall today to prepare for next week’s Jerusalem Day celebrations in the capital.

Members of the IDF Joint Chiefs of General Staff held prayer services led by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites, including special prayers for the State of Israel and the welfare of IDF soldiers.

Following the service members of the General Staff participated in a guided tour of the Western Wall plaza and observed archeological digs nearby.

Rabbi Rabinovitch said the IDF is a link in the chain of Jewish tradition. “Without a past, we have no future,” the rabbi said, adding that the study of history has a tremendous value for the Jewish People. “It is particularly moving to see this esteemed group, people that understand the significance of Jewish tradition,” he said.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said the visit reflected the values on which the IDF is built.

“We know there is a foundation to our existence, a strong base for layer upon layer of the Jewish People in history, with a special task on this earth.

The visit ended with a closed session, held in a room that was recently revealed inside the Kotel Tunnel excavation site. The generals said the site for their weekly meeting emphasised the importance of unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

By the Law Among Nations, Jerusalem Belongs to Us

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Contrary to the claims made by Palestinian leaders, various NGOs, and certain members of the international community, international law fully recognizes the Jewish people’s claim to Jerusalem, where they have historical roots dating back over 3,000 years and have been the largest ethnic group in the city since 1820.

Ernst Frankenstein, a British authority on international law said, for example, that the Jewish people have a right to their ancestral homeland and ancient capital city in Jerusalem based on the fact that the Jewish people never relinquished their historic claims to the area.

Furthermore, Frankenstein claimed that Roman, Byzantine, and other successors lacked a “continuous and undisturbed presence” in Israel that would dispossess the Jewish claim to the land. In fact, the Ottoman Turks, who owned the Land of Israel prior to WWI and the British Mandate, renounced their claim to all of the land of Israel in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923When the Balfour Declaration was drafted there was no Palestinian “nation.” In 1919, Palestine was a sparsely populated land where Lord Balfour claimed that only 700,000 Arabs lived, of whom a large number migrated within recent history.

In contrast, there were far more Jews in the world in need of a homeland in 1919 than there were Arab residents in Israel and there existed a significant Jewish minority that continued to live in Israel. As the Blackstone Memorial, signed by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Melville Fuller, proclaimed in 1891, Israel, which included Jerusalem, is the “inalienable possession” of the Jewish people “from where they were expelled by force.”

The Balfour Declaration was drafted with the goal of establishing a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel. The “civil and religious” rights of the Arabs were to be respected, yet politically, the country was supposed to belong to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration was ingrained into international law at the San Remo Conference. Through San Remo, “The Jewish people have been given the right to establish a home, based on the recognition of their historical connection and the grounds for reconstituting this national home,” Jacques Gauthier, an expert on international law, had explained.

Thus, the Palestine Mandate, which included a united Jerusalem was established with the goal of guiding “towards independence and self-governance those races, peoples or communities who for various reasons are not yet able to stand alone” – in this case the Jewish people – according to J. Stoyanovsky writing in The Mandate for Palestine. Around the same period of time, the international community discussed setting up mandates to assist other nations in similar situations, such as the Armenians, although in their case it wasn’t implemented.

Contrary to Palestinian claims, none of the resolutions passed since the San Remo Conference renounce the Jewish claim to a united Jerusalem. U.N. Resolution 181, although it called for Jerusalem to be an international city, never held any force under international law and it was rejected by the Arab side. Furthermore, the resolution states that a referendum was to be held after 10 years to determine changes to the city’s status; since Jerusalem had a Jewish majority, it was expected that a united Jerusalem was to become a part of Israel after 10 years. Furthermore, U.N. Security Resolution 242, of which all peace negotiations are based on, deliberately makes no mention of Jerusalem and does not call upon Israel to withdraw from all of the territories it captured in 1967. And finally, when Jordan controlled east Jerusalem, Jordan’s annexation of the area was never recognized by the international community; and since that date, Jordan has relinquished all of her claims to Jerusalem.

Thus, Israel has the strongest claim to Jerusalem according to international law.

Visit United with Israel.

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.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/one-jerusalemite-recalls-the-dark-years-under-jordanian-rule/2013/05/08/

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