I dedicate this column to my mother who loves Yerushalayim and whose birthday it is today, June 16.
I was born in the U.S. and moved to Israel with my family when I was one year old. I guess I would call myself a Sabra, which refers to a child born in Israel. This term also refers to the mentality and state of mind, which makes the difference between being an Israeli and coming from any other country.
A large part of my childhood was spent in Jerusalem. There is really no other city in the world like this holy city. There might be more beautiful cities in Israel and around the world, but this is the only city that has a ‘heart.’ The Jerusalem of biblical times and that of today share a secret and memories of times gone by. Sometimes I walk along a certain path and I think of our forefathers who walked this same path. Every stone has a story to tell and each tree has its own song that it whispers every night as the sun goes down. Never has there been a city that so many tears have been shed over, and will continue to be shed until the final redemption.
Living in Jerusalem is also very demanding. It is written that the land of Israel is acquired with many hardships, and Jerusalem even more so. Since G-d chose to dwell in Jerusalem and build his home on Mount Moriah, that makes this city the holiest place on earth. However, where there is holiness and goodness there must also be the opposite attributes in order for the forces of the world to have their place. If there is only goodness then there is no free will and we would be like the angels. G-d has all the angels in heaven near him doing his every command, and yet He has greater joy from his children down on earth than all of his heavenly court.
Living In Jerusalem isn’t so easy. People with different religions and different views want this city to belong only to them. So every Jew that lives in Jerusalem is actually contributing to a greater cause. He is saying to Hashem that since you picked this city to be your home, I pick it as well, in spite of any challenges that it entails. Rental and sale prices are more expensive than elsewhere in Israel, and yet when one lives here they pay the price because of the closeness to Hashem. And this itself creates an energy that everyone feels when they live in this city. I live here and every morning when I wake up I appreciate the miracle that is Jerusalem.
A few weeks ago we celebrated Yom Yerushalayim. It is hard for me to describe the strength and unity I felt as I proudly walked among the thousands of men, women and children dancing through the streets to reach the Kotel, the western wall. 50 years ago our brave soldiers didn’t reach the Kotel with music, dancing and Israeli flags. They got there with blood and tears. When the entire Jewish nation received the Torah they stood there as one. That is how I felt when I got to the Kotel, we were as one man with one heart and one nation undivided. There were no politics, no high officials, just love, togetherness and lots of gratitude to G-d who made this celebration of Jerusalem possible.
I feel honored to be part of such a special nation with such a strong connection to this holy land and to the almighty above. And I dream of the time when the third temple will be rebuilt, may it be soon.